“But we were hoping He was the One who would redeem Israel. And besides all this, it is the third day since these things took place.” Luke 24:21.
Have you ever thought about what everyone must have been thinking when Jesus had been crucified? Three days passed before the fulfillment of his prophecies took place. But what about the days in between?
Three days to wonder if Jesus was who he said he was.
Three days to go back to the familiar.
Three days to switch from hope to despair.
On Friday, the two disciples must have been scratching their heads, wondering if they had gotten it all wrong. Because time had passed, they thought Jesus was not going to be the One. Little did they know, on the road to Emmaus, Jesus was walking alongside of them, even when they didn’t recognize Him.
That is, until Sunday came.
A hopeless world quickly turned from despair to hope.
If you ‘re living in the in- between, don’t fear. In this ever- changing world, these are crucial times to cling to God more than ever. Cling to the promises of God. If your life looks more like Friday, hold onto hope that not all is lost.
Because it’s always Sunday somewhere.
When Sunday comes, hope is sure to follow.
When Sunday comes, we worship a risen Savior, the One even death couldn’t defeat.
In life, we have Fridays and Sundays in our lives. Sad days and happy days, and days somewhere in between. Rejoice everyday, because Fridays can be turned into Sundays if you look hard enough.
What is this you have done?
By Kathy Collard Miller and Larry Miller
In Judges 2:2, God asks, “What is this you have done?” of the Israelites after they resist his directions. He draws their attention to the reason for their current difficulties, which he has provided for the consequences of their disobedience. His intention is to motivate them to see the damage sin brings. Yet, they seem clueless. They don’t see the connection.
Clueless could really be every person’s middle name. At the time of temptation, we are blinded by the demand of our own desires, which seems absolutely reasonable to choose. We expect our choice will bring our good. And then God or people don’t respond according to our selfish expectations. We wonder why and act sinfully, feeling justified. Then we should ask, “What is this I’ve done?”
Judges 1 gives the back story to God’s question. The Israelites enter the land promised them by God, but they don’t fulfill their part of the covenant. God promises to empower them for war to take total possession of the land of milk and honey. Instead the Israelites allow many of the Canaanites to live among them.
As a result, God says, “You have not obeyed my voice. What is this you have done? So now I say, I will not drive them out before you, but they shall become thorns in your sides, and their gods shall be a snare to you” (Judges 2:2-3, italics added). He is asking them to evaluate their motives of demanding their own way, thinking the Canaanites offer some kind of benefit. They refuse the truth God will only drive out the Canaanites if they obey. God keeps his part of the covenant—the Israelites will still inhabit the land, but it won’t be as trouble free as it could have been. The remaining unbelievers will be a temptation for the Israelites to abandon worshipping their true Lord God.
What motivates the Israelites to disobey their loving Master who knows what is best for them. Are they worried? Their strong and courageous leader, Joshua, has just died and they are without leadership. After traveling together for a long time, each tribe has now gone off to inhabit their assigned land. Do they feel alone? On their own? Sometimes those are the feelings and lies we believe when God doesn’t seem faithful.
Often, we think God has promised us some “land,” and then obstacles block or hinder us from having complete fulfillment. There’s the possibility we didn’t hear correctly, or we have disobeyed. If some people are thorns in our side, what is God trying to reveal about the motives of our own hearts? Have we begun worshipping something or someone else rather than our faithful God? Has our trust in God diminished because what we thought was promised hasn’t occurred? Or maybe the thorny people are just the hazards of living in a sin-controlled world and their presence says nothing about whether we obeyed.
But we can be assured this fact is absolute truth: God is faithful. He always keeps his covenants and promises even if he must allow consequences for our disobedience. But like the Israelites, even consequences of “thorns” and “temptations” are God’s faithful calling to motivate us to turn back to him.
Almighty God, I praise you for your faithfulness, even though I am not faithful. Thank you for staying true in wanting my best.
The Millers have been in ministry since 1978 as speakers, authors, and lay counsellors. They married in 1970 and God empowered them to overcome the dysfunctional marriage and family they had developed early in their marriage. Larry is a retired police lieutenant from Huntington Beach Police Department. Both individually and as a couple they have authored over 55 books and spoken in nine foreign countries. They live in Southern California and are parents and grandparents. Visit them at www.KathyCollardMiller.com
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This guest blog is adapted from God’s Intriguing Questions: 40 Old Testament Devotions Revealing God’s Nature
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Part of the job of a disciple of Jesus is to build up and support other Christians in their walk with God. Sadly, if lifting and encouraging others is not a talent that comes naturally to us, this can be a challenge. Of course, in such a situation, it is wise to remember that God does not ask us to outwork anything he does not provide to us first. Although, a little guidance from others in the Christian community like you will find in the post below, doesn't hurt either!
Don't judge them.
It is easy to judge others. In fact, sometimes, we do this so quickly that it is automatic. However, the Bible warns us that judging others is terrible practice. In fact, one reason for this is because judging someone creates a barrier between you that can make a loving relationship that much harder. After all, if we hold negative judgments, then emotions like anger and even fear will become involved.
Additionally, the Bible suggests that by judging others, we are raising ourselves up into a God-like position. Unfortunately, we do so without having access to the motivations behind the person's actions. Something that only God has, and so is likely to lead to inaccurate or false judgments, which will serve only to tear others down rather than building them up.
Do support key stages on their walk with God.
Next, if you want to lift up your fellow Christians, supporting them as they hit the critical stages with their walk with God is an excellent idea. Of course, that means being there for them as they attend their first service or gathering, as well as outside of Church. In case they have any questions or worries, they need assistance with.
It also means being there to support them when they make the decision to get baptized and commit their lives to God. In fact, some people even choose to give gifts to commemorate this important step. Such as fancy bibles or religious jewelry like the pieces you can get from this website and others like it. While others opt to throw parties after the baptism service to celebrate, support, and welcome the new Christian into the fold.
Don't gossip about them to others.
Within the Christian community, you will find a real sense of trust and togetherness. Now that isn't to say that everyone will always get on, and agree with others' decisions. However, despite this, it is imperative not to give in to the temptation to gossip and spread the private news of others around.
In fact, doing so can be harmful is so many ways. The first is that it can create lots of opportunity for judgment and rejection. Both things that we wish to stay away from as Christians. Additionally, breaking trust in this way is also something that can hurt the person doing it as well. With this in mind, if you want to build up other Christians, be sure not to gossip about them behind their backs. Instead, forgive them or offer loving and constructive criticism if you think they are falling into sin.
This is a guest post from Brittany Fisher:
Easy Changes to Help You Gain Financial Freedom
Finances can often feel like a complicated subject. There are thousands of books on the topic, magazines dedicated to money management and investment; sections of the newspaper devoted to stocks and business, television channels exclusive to finances, podcasts, radio shows, and classes everywhere teaching some method or another on budgeting. While there’s a lot of information at your disposal, you don’t need to become a finance expert to have financial freedom. You can start improving your finances by implementing a few easy changes.
Look for Alternatives
We live in a world of options. No person or business has a monopoly on entertainment products or services, which gives you options on almost everything you consume. For instance, there are plenty of ways you can enjoy your favorite shows and movies. Streaming services are an affordable alternative to satellite or high-priced cable; and there are plenty of streaming device options that will suit your needs and offer you access to thousands of shows and movies.
If you enjoy audiobooks or books and pay for subscriptions, look into getting digitized library cards so you can tap into thousands of free book titles, including new releases. If you enjoy a gym membership, shop around to make sure you are getting the best deal in town. You don’t have to give up what you love to be smart with your money — just do a little research to ensure you’re getting the most for your dollar. You may find there are stores and providers that offer identical or comparable products or services at a lower price.
Change How You Give Gifts
Gift giving should be an enjoyable experience. Celebrating birthdays, weddings, holidays, new babies, and graduations should be stressless and not cause you anxiety about going into debt. When at all possible, plan ahead. If you know you will need to give gifts, as soon as possible, budget for the expenditure, shop sales and clearances, and use promo codes and/or coupons.
If you give gifts to groups of people, such as neighbors or co-workers, make homemade gifts that will show your effort and thoughtfulness while saving you money. Homemade gifts are not always cheaper than store-bought, of course, so do the cost benefit analysis first; but if you can save by making a crochet hat or baking cookies, that’s the way to go.
“One month free.” “3 months for only $24.99.” “Cancel any time.” “Check out these spoilers!” That’s how they get you. Whether you’re subscribing to certain lifestyle items, books, games, magazines, monthly beauty boxes, and/or food delivery, subscription prices can add up quickly. If you forget to cancel at the end of the promotional period or you don’t use the subscription enough, it’s time to cancel now. It may only be $9.99 here or $14.99 there, but over the course of the year, those costs add up. Don’t get rid of subscriptions you love and use all the time, but do take time to evaluate how often you use each one, why you have it, and if you still need it.
You don’t need to invest hours of your life every day to understanding finances in order to be financially smart. Budgeting and financial planning don’t need to be painful, either. Every so often, take a look at where you are spending money.
If you have extra money going out to overpriced goods or services, then you should look for alternatives. If you spend over your budget every year on gifts, then it’s time to look at other options and bring the joy back into gift giving. If you have memberships or subscriptions that drain your bank every month, then take time to evaluate what you actually use. Smart budgeting is not deprivation — it’s just planning.
Homes are no longer the place where we spend all day relaxing. They’re our home offices and even schools. With everything that you and your family are responsible for, it can be difficult to make your home feel relaxing, but it is incredibly important to make it so.
Here are a few ways that you can make your home now relaxing and help you feel more prepared for everything in your life.
You should take some time with your family members to pare down any belongings that you don’t really need or have a sentimental attachment to. There are quite a few different ways to do that, so search for the downsizing method that will work well for you.
No matter whether you’re relaxing in your kitchen or in your bedroom, you need to hide the clutter in your space. If there are things you can’t get rid of, like your pots and pans, it can help you to hide it behind screens or cupboard doors instead of having it all out in the open. This will make a huge difference in your mental health when you are relaxing, and in general in the space.
It can be really fun to decorate your house with all sorts of wacky objects that draw your eye, but you want to avoid going overboard with things that are distracting. Things that make noise and that catch your attention are more likely to distract you from your goal of relaxation. Noisemakers are also likely to stress you out when you hear them unexpectedly, so avoid them whenever possible. Funnily enough, the most relaxing color you can paint your walls is a pastel matte blue. It brings to mind the idea of the sky and water which is very relaxing.
One of the ways we sabotage our relaxation is by spending tons of time on our phones. Not only are the notifications addictive, but the blue light emitted from the screen also makes us much more likely to continue paying attention. That blue light also makes it harder for us to go to sleep at night, making us more stressed overall.
If you can, designate certain areas of your house phone free at certain times to maximize the amount of relaxation you can feel. When it’s bedtime, try and keep your phone on do not disturb and on night mode so that if you do have to use it, it does not emit as much blue light. Keeping your phone out of the bedroom altogether would be best for your relaxation and sleep habits.
If you find yourself struggling to relax regularly as well as struggling to sleep, there might be more to it than you think. Talk to your doctor to see if there might be a medical issue causing you to struggle. Medication and treatment for sleep disorders can make a huge difference in the level of stress and sleeplessness you feel.
Fears are a natural part of life, an honest and real emotion. Our hearts race. We tremble. We feel a nauseous sinking sensation in our stomach. We’re terrified. Frozen. We’re not going to be brave this time.
We’ve all experienced fear. Often it’s a healthy reaction to a dangerous situation. Other times, it’s rooted in past or recent trauma or chronic worry. Conquering a fear can offer countless opportunities and accomplishments we’ve previously avoided. Sometimes fear of loss or harm motivates a courageous act we wouldn’t otherwise consider.
Each of us must face our fears if we want to move ahead in life. Maybe it’s leaving home for the first time, moving, flying, heights, elevators, a job interview, starting a new job, public speaking, failing, or __________. My fear is dogs—especially barking dogs. I live in a rural area where most people own dogs. Heading out for a morning walk, I pray the armor of God (Eph. 6:10-18), and in a particular area, I recite the twenty-third Psalm. I refuse to let fear stop me from enjoying my hike. With God’s help, I overcome fear and proclaim 1 Chronicles 28:10: “Be brave, determined! And do it!” (msg).
My grandkids now have a cute little dog appropriately named Barkley. Gradually . . . bravely . . . I’m getting to know this little shaggy mutt and we’re becoming friends. Something those who know me thought could never happen. Actually, I didn’t either.
We usually try to avoid the object of our fear; but I can’t avoid all dogs.
If you’re afraid of heights, you might try to avoid high places, but that’s not practical either.
Sometimes, we’re afraid of failure so we don’t even try. I didn’t start writing until I was fifty years old. I’d never taken a writing class or had any aspirations of becoming an author, but I had started a Woman to Woman Mentoring Ministry at my church and other churches were asking how to start one at their church. I knew God wanted me to share this ministry, but I would have to write about it. I had never sat at a computer to compose, and I didn’t think it was even possible. All through seminary, I wrote my papers in longhand and my husband typed them into the computer. I was computer illiterate and had no desire to learn.
But with much prayer and prompting from God, I overcame my fears and doubts and sat down one day to type my thoughts into the computer. To my surprise, the ideas flowed as my fingers flew over the keyboard.
Then new doubts taunted that I was too old to start writing. But God reminded me that I was only getting older by the minute so I'd better start now. That was twenty books and twenty years ago. I’m so glad I didn’t let those initial misgivings stop me from the writing and speaking adventure God had planned for me if I would only trust and rely on Him.
God didn’t create fear, anxiety, doubt, or worry. He wants us to call on Him when we experience those mind hijackers: “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! . . . The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:4–7). Paul wrote these uplifting words while sitting in a Roman jail, not knowing if acquittal or beheading was in his future.
Overcoming some fears may require the assistance of counselors, therapists, or doctors. Admitting you need help and acquiring it is courageous. A friend recently shared wise words from Mary Anne Radmacher on a wall hanging in her home: “Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says I’ll try again tomorrow.”
In times of trial, we may find ourselves, by God’s grace, able to overcome our fears in an instant, or our journey could prove to be a long process. The triumph is always worth the struggle, as the Lord helps us remain brave and steadfast in the face of uncertainty. Let any fear or apprehension send you straight to prayer and reliance on God.
For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. 2 Timothy 1:7 (NLT)
What fear has been stopping you from something you want to accomplish?
*Any excerpts from Everyday Brave used with permission from Leafwood Publishers
Janet Thompson is an international speaker, freelance editor, and award-winning author of 20 books. Her passion is to mentor other women in sharing their life experiences and God’s faithfulness. Her new release is Everyday Brave: Living Courageously As a Woman of Faith available at Amazon, Christianbook.com, Barnes and Noble, and signed at author’s website.
She is also the author of Mentoring for All Seasons: Sharing Life Experiences and God’s Faithfulness; Forsaken God? Remembering the Goodness of God Our Culture Has Forgotten; The Team That Jesus Built; Dear God, Why Can’t I Have a Baby?; Dear God They Say It’s Cancer; Dear God, He’s Home!; Praying for Your Prodigal Daughter; Face-to-Face Bible study Series; and Woman to Woman Mentoring: How to Start, Grow, & Maintain a Mentoring Ministry Resources.
Janet is the founder of Woman to Woman Mentoring and About His Work Ministries.
Visit Janet and sign up for her weekly blog and free online newsletter at womantowomanmentoring.com.
About Everyday Brave: In Everyday Brave, Janet explores the extraordinary bravery of fifty ordinary women in the Bible. Twenty-eight women of today also give testimonies of realizing their strength and courage through God’s love. As Janet shares the stories of these women, she reminds us that the real heart and substance of bravery comes from unconditionally placing our hope in the only One who can give us the courage to stay the course.
For those with faith, church is very important. It’s a place where you can go to learn more about God, meet like-minded people, and be a part of a community. Moving to a new city can be very daunting. Not only do you have to find appropriate housing and pick the best school, but you need to find the right church too. The journey of finding a church isn’t easy, but once it’s done, you’ll see it was more than worth it. With that in mind, here are six tips to help you find a new church.
1. Get Recommendations From Friends
Before you move away, ask your friends, relatives, and colleagues if they know anyone who lives in your new city. Even distance connections between friends of friends can reveal options you might not have otherwise heard of or tried. As you meet people in your new home, you should explain to them that you’re new to the area and looking for recommendations for a new church.
2. Listen To Sermons Online
Many churches post their sermons online, either on their websites, social media, or a podcast. This means that you can begin listening to sermons before you even move to your new city. As you do so, you will be given a peek into the style of preaching, which will help you to narrow your options. Without even leaving the house, you can determine whether a church is right for you.
3. Read Through The Website
Most churches these days have a web presence. While many just have a website, others have social media too. You will also find churches with their own Wikipedia pages, such as Pare de Sufrir. Make sure that you read as much information as you can, including lists of staff, the events calendar, and stories of the ministries. This too, will help you narrow down your search.
4. Check Out Your Options
Although there’s a lot that you can learn about a church online, you can’t get a real feel for the place unless you visit. Once you begin seeing churches in person, you should try to attend more than once. After all, it can take a few weeks before you begin to feel comfortable in a new place. Sunday morning only comes around once a week, so try to visit another church in the evening.
5. Visit The Welcome Desk
When you attend a church, you should visit the welcome desk for more information. Many churches offer a welcome packet for visitors, which can help to answer a few of the questions you have. Even when a welcome packet isn’t offered, you should visit the welcome desk anyway. This gives you an opportunity to ask your questions and is a great way to get to know people.
6. Ask God For Guidance
When you open your eyes and heart to God, He will guide you. Although you’re able to do as you wish, God can show you where you need to be. All you have to do is ask. If you’re struggling to choose between two or more options, then pray about it. With any luck, God will direct you to the church that is best for you.
If you’re looking for a new church, hopefully, the advice above will be able to help.
We live in a consumer society, where we’re told we should only be loyal to products and brands if our wants and needs are satisfied. This is why it can be easy for churchgoers to have a low threshold for leaving a church. When the preaching loses luster, or another churchgoer begins to annoy you, it can be very tempting to move elsewhere. However, these reasons aren’t nearly good enough for leaving your congregation behind. Here are six good reasons to leave a church.
False Teaching Takes Place
The Bible may seem politically incorrect these days, but it is sure about the fact that not all we hear is true. Some information that comes our way is false, not to mention dangerous and evil. While you might think that these false teachings can’t infiltrate a church, that isn’t always true. When the word of Christ is no longer dwelling richly in a church, leaving is the best thing to do.
Unsuitable Leaders Are Established
There are good leaders and bad leaders in the world. This is something the Bible makes very clear. Any leader of a church must be a person of integrity, operating in holiness in private, as well as public. Most pastors do their best to live holy lives, but others hide sinful secrets. Rather than allow unsuitable leadership to drive you to sin, you should separate yourself from them.
No Opportunity To Serve
Every churchgoer should be serving in their church in one way or another. While some people welcome guests at the door, others teach Sunday School classes or take up the offering. If your church has no such opportunities to serve, then that is a good reason to leave. While this may be rare in churches, it does happen on occasion and can make church members feel unhappy.
Moved Too Far Away
Being an active participant in your church is difficult when you live very far away. You may find yourself attending fewer church events, which can pose challenges to your connection there. This is a fair reason for moving churches. With congregations all over the US, Universal Church makes this easy. Everyone should be able to attend a church where they can actively service.
Sin Is Going Unchallenged
Sinners should be called to account, not just for the sake of the sinner, but for the whole church community. When you allow serious sin to take place, it can impact every member of the church. The trouble is, there are situations in which leadership failure mean that sin is going unchallenged. If sin is prevalent in your church community, leaving may be the only option.
God Has Asked It
Far too many churchgoers use God as an excuse and scapegoat for their actions. However, that doesn’t mean that you should ignore Him when He does speak. When God asks you to leave a place and go somewhere else, you should listen. He won’t ever tell you to leave the church completely, but he may ask that you realign yourself with a different one.
Leaving a church is never easy, but, if you’re facing any of the situations described above, it may be your only option.
If you are unsure whether or not you should attend your local church the don’t worry, you have come to the right place. Whilst you may feel a little nervous about visiting a new church for the first time, there are lots of benefits to going along to service. Whether you’re looking for community or you want your children to find their faith, attending a church service could be an incredible experience. With that in mind, here are 5 reasons to consider going to your local church:
One of the best reasons to go to your local church is to experience a sense of community. There’s nothing better than being in a room of people that you know will support you no matter what and that’s exactly what church is. Whilst it may take some time to get to know those around you, you will soon become a close-knit family. For more information about building a community at church, you can visit this site here.
As well as building a community, you will have the opportunity to meet like-minded people. The great thing about going to church is that you already have one thing in common, you all follow the same beliefs when it comes to faith. If you're unsure on how to talk to people and get settled in, you already have a great starting topic. For more information about visiting your church for the first time, you can visit the Universal Church site here.
If you feel you have lost your way when it comes to faith going back to a regular church service could really help. Although you don’t have to go every single week in order to feel a connection to your faith, having a place where you feel supported is important. The more often you visit your local church, the more comfortable you will feel. If you feel as though you are losing touch with your faith, you can visit this site here.
For those of you that want to help their children discover their faith, attending church may be a great option. Whilst you don’t want to force them to attend, they will feel much better if you’re all going together as a family. If they’re at a young age, it will start to become a regular part of their life.
If you want to join a community that is regularly going to host events and get-togethers, your local church may be just what you need. If your local church doesn’t host activities, why not offer to help them organise some?
Are you unsure whether you should be attending your local church? What benefits could it bring to you and your family? Let me know what you think in the comments section below.
When my husband was a little boy, he enjoyed playing cards with his grandfather. He loved to play Rummy 500, where a player picks up one card on their turn and discards one into the discard pile. Once a player gets three cards in a row, either of the same number or in the same suit, he can put those cards down; lessening the amount he keeps in his hand. Often, his grandfather would pick up all the cards in the discard pile, only to get one set of three. When my husband asked him why he did that, he said, “the more you pick up, the more you put down.” Hand after hand his grandfather would match all of the cards in his hand and win. This seemed counterintuitive to my husband. How could picking up more result in winning a card game?
Because it wasn’t what his grandfather picked up that led to his wins, it was what he laid down. My husband could have picked up all the cards in the pile too, but still holding them when his grandfather discarded the last card in his pile would not allow him to win. It’s only when he chose to lay them down was how he won.
In Exodus 14:10-14, Moses gives the Israelites an interesting strategy to win the war against the Egyptians: “As Pharaoh approached, the Israelites looked up, and there were the Egyptians, marching after them. They were terrified and cried out to the Lord. They said to Moses, “Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die? What have you done to us by bringing us out of Egypt? Didn’t we say to you in Egypt, ‘Leave us alone; let us serve the Egyptians’? It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert!” Moses answered the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see the day you will never see again. The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” Exodus 14:10-14
The Israelites were terrified and cried out to the Lord for His help. Yet, He tells them once they laid down their weapons and their self -made plans for how to win the war and pick up their trust in God, He would fight for them. Ironically, it is in their ability to be still that God could do what only He could to win the war.
So often, I fight an uphill battle. I try so hard to create peace for myself by doing everything in my power to control the outcome of my circumstances. It’s not until I surrender my life to God’s trust and control that I can truly achieve the peace God desires for me.
It is in our stillness that God gives us peace. But we must lay down our desire to control and manipulate outcomes to achieve it.
What in your life must you lay down in order to achieve the peace you desire?
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