God’s Purposes

Today’s Scripture is Proverbs 19:21 (NIV),

Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’S purpose that prevails.

Today’s blog post is by Steve Rivera…

How many times have we seen our plans “go up in smoke” during our lives?  It is nothing new.  It happens throughout the Bible.  How many of God’s prophets did not want to do what they were commanded to do –  i.e. Moses, Jonah?  Even our Lord had second thoughts in the Garden.  Yet, did not the outcome revert to what the Lord wanted in order to fulfill the Scriptures and His will?  How many times have you wanted to do something, were set on it, and yet God in His Wisdom changed your path, made you go in the opposite direction, and made you a better person for it.

Yet we always try to get our way.  I used to work in the World Trade Center in New York.  I was given a job offer that brought me to South Florida in 1984 – a few years before 9/11.  It was not on my radar.  I did not want to leave family and friends and start life all over again not knowing anyone.  Yet, the Lord said go, and so I did.  Would I have still been there if I had not listened?  Would I be here telling you about it today?  The Lord works in mysterious ways.

I have always had a desire to go to Alaska.  In 2001 I was scheduled to go with my Boy Scout Troop.  I had just met my future wife.  Something told me do not to go, for she would need me during that time.   I did not go and she had a crisis in her family that I was able to be there for.  The time was not right to go.

Again, in 2010 I was scheduled to go.  God’s plan was a no.  I lost my job and could not afford to do it.  It was a hard way to learn that when it is God’s will, it will be done.  Now in 2017 that desire was realized.  God put me in a position to go to Alaska but also to assist someone who had the desire longer than I and would need my help to realize their dream.

We must always just take the time to be still and listen.  In that way we can learn God’s purpose.  During this stretch time it is my desire that you all let God’s purpose prevail in your hearts.

Blessings

 

 

Recalling Milestones…

Today’s blog post is by Lisa Primavera…

This is the view that is just outside my office door.  I am thankful for this constant reminder of God’s power, ability and His faithfulness. Each day the sun rises and the waves roll in. Everyday is different, but everyday comes.

A beautiful serene picture. But, life isn’t always so photogenic.

Too often we read about, hear about and yes even face being overwhelmed.  When work, life, commitments, responsibilities become too much, we turn to alcohol, drugs, isolation, anger, and countless other methods to make it all better – to make the hurt go away. The end result – it doesn’t go away.  But, often the depression manifests and deepens with every new obstacle, crisis or dilemma. The mourning of a loved one, stress of a job, sickness, a broken relationship – these circumstances send us into a whirlwind of feelings of inadequacy, doubt and despair.  These feelings represent unbelief.

Unbelief allows my feelings to get the best of me. Do you do that too ?  When we need God most, we turn away, fighting to ” get over it”, “to handle it”, the result – we are thrown deeper into the throngs of frustration and depression – all unwarranted for the believer.

Psalm 77:13-15 written by David reminds us to not focus on our problems but to set our eyes upon God.

 O God! Your way is holy!
    No god is great like God!
You’re the God who makes things happen;
    you showed everyone what you can do—
You pulled your people out of the worst kind of trouble,
    rescued the children of Jacob and Joseph.

God, the one who not only created but can change the course of nature.  The one who tells the sun to rise and waves to stop and even the sea to be calm enough to be walked upon. Our circumstances are not exempt; nothing is too much for our God. It is helpful to look back on scripture to see how God has demonstrated His love for us and to those that went before us.  No circumstance was too much for God.  We see that His abilities are beyond measure, defying man’s ability over and over. Recalling personal milestones -God’s victories in our lives  – will remind us that He is in control, has always been and will always be. No matter how bad the circumstance is, God is greater.

And a walk by the sea is always good too.

 

Help’s coming…

Today’s Scripture is Psalm 20:6-7…

“Now this I know:
    The Lord gives victory to his anointed.
He answers him from his heavenly sanctuary
    with the victorious power of his right hand.
Some trust in chariots and some in horses,
    but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.” 

Today’s blog post is by Lisa Gonzales, Director of Children’s Ministry…

That clinches it—help’s coming,
    an answer’s on the way,
    everything’s going to work out.  Psalm 20:6 The Message

I’m not going to lie, I read the verse (above) about 15 times.  The first 14 times I got nothing.  It wasn’t until I read the Message translation (also see above) that I thought, “Oh, I get that!”  It’s funny because, as the Children’s Director, that’s what I do with the children every week.  I take scripture that is hard to understand and tough stories from the Bible and I bring it down to their level.  I try to relate it to their small, growing brains. I let them know that it’s ok to not understand the Bible sometimes and that as they grow up, the stories will start to make more sense and the words on the pages will begin to come alive.  And you know what?  Even when they become adults, they might still look at a verse and say, “Huh??”  – Just like I did this past week.

But most of the Bible is really just a few simple ideas.

  • God is the creator of all.
  • He loves us more than anything else.
  • He sent His son to save us from our sins.
  • If we believe in Him, He offers us eternal life.

So basically, “Trust in God, everything’s going to work out.” 

Of course, that’s way harder to do than to read.  I wish I had some great story to share with you about a time that I was so worried about something that I put my complete trust in God and it all worked out.  But, since I think blogs are written to be real and relatable – here’s the truth – I freak out all the time!  Do I pray when times are tough?  Absolutely!  Do I plead with God to make His answers visible to me?  You bet!  Do I panic and try to do things my way?  All the time! 

The Bible is hard to read and even harder to live by.  But, that’s ok.  I think realizing the NEED to trust in God and that His answer IS on the way is a huge step.  Just like I teach the kids on Sunday mornings, I too need to understand God’s basic truths, that “everything’s going to work out,” if we just have faith.

It really is that simple.

If only I were rich…

Today’s Scripture is 1 Timothy 6:17-19…

Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share.  In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.

Today’s blog post is by Rhonda Said…

How would you finish this sentence?  “If only I were rich, I would…”  Our first thoughts are likely things such as “pay off debt”, “take a vacation”, “buy a new car”, or “get the latest gadgets” because we define the word rich as having financial wealth. This is the type of wealth Paul is reminding Timothy to warn his parishioners about in 1 Timothy 6:17. Earthly riches are temporary and uncertain.  Financial wealth cannot be relied upon and does not bring true happiness in and of itself.

Instead, we should be encouraged to define the other ways in which we are truly rich (because we all are) and how we can share our wealth to help others, as God expects us to.  We can offer kind words of encouragement to a friend, we can lend a hand to a neighbor to complete a project, we can give a hug to someone who is feeling down, or we can give someone a ride to an event we are both attending.  We could also be generous with our time and talents in ways that spread the Gospel such as leading a small group Bible study, volunteering on a church committee, or participating in a mission trip.  Our hope should be in God and all of the great opportunities he provides us for our enjoyment.  It is through focusing on God that we are able to recognize our true wealth, a wealth that is not temporary, but one that becomes the firm foundation for our future eternal life with God.

So, I ask again, how would you finish this sentence? “If only I were rich, I would…”

Prayer for today:

Almighty Father,

Thank you for all of the riches in my life! Help me seek the opportunities You lay in front of me each day to share my time, talent, and treasure to help others and to spread Your Good News. When I place my hope in You, I feel the peace and grace of Your Spirit. As I continue my spiritual journey, encourage me to stretch beyond what I think I can do, and actually do what You know I can do. Amen.

Through God’s Eyes…

Today’s blog post is by Bernie Peterman, Business Administrator

One day, I was walking around my neighborhood – something I don’t do often because I don’t like to sweat – I started noticing people, houses etc.  I found my self talk to be something like, “man is this neighborhood changing,”  “Who would paint their houses that hideous blue or bright orange,” “When did THOSE people move in?”,  “OMG look at that guy, I don’t think he’s showered in weeks – Gross!”  Pretty negative – but that’s what my eyes saw

Then I read today’s scripture   Ephesians 1:18-19 (NIV)

I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength.

And, I thought, “what does that mean?”  So, I started wrestling with God’s words and my thoughts.  I realized that these words have both external and internal meaning.  Paul is praying that we see through the eyes of Christ (external) and that we then feel in our hearts (internal).

With this in mind, I walked around my neighborhood, (and, yes, sweated again). As I noticed people I saw a father and his son working on their yard together –  a father teaching his son.  I noticed the brightly colored houses and my self-talk was “Wow those bright colors add some liveliness to the drab beiges and grays of other houses.”  I found out “Those people” moved here from a different country, worked hard to start a new life, because their country had nothing to offer.  He completed college here and could finally buy his own house. I also wondered what the homeless man’s story was, “Why was he living on the streets?”

It wasn’t easy to change from looking through my jaded eyes to looking through Christ’s loving eyes. But the beauty and hope I saw was so much different than the negative and bleak I saw before.  It takes God’s mighty strength and incomparably great power – namely the Holy Spirit living in us – for us to see people and situations through hope, through beauty, through the idea that we are ALL children of God.  I was filled with peace and joy.

Considering the world we live in, it’s a stretch to live a positive, loving lifestyle – one where we view life from the eyes of our heart which is in Christ Jesus.  It’s a daily choice that gets easier as you practice doing it.    So take a walk around your neighborhood, or maybe a not so good neighborhood, and see the beauty and hope God has for all of us.  You will be stretched and hopefully awed by God.

 

 

 

 

 

Our Greatest Hope

Today’s blog post is by Annje Hutchinson, Administrative Assistant…

A few years ago, I was insecure, depressed and living in an abusive relationship. I finally got the courage to tell my mother what was happening at home and to beg for assistance. Her response was, “you’re sick and you need help.” I am thankful I was well grounded in my faith, because when you lose everything, including your family, you realize all you can depend on is God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit.

Romans 5:3-5 says:

Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

Through the next few months, I suffered through the loss of my home and family as I knew it. But God sees to it that His children do not suffer alone. My church family stood by me so I could persevere. They prayed for me, assisted with food, items I needed for my new life and even fellowship when I was down and didn’t think I could make it through another day.

Webster’s dictionary defines hope as a feeling of trust. Through my whole time of suffering, I learned to trust that God would provide for my needs like mana from heaven. God does not leave us to suffer for the sake of suffering, but to teach us perseverance, character and trust thereby giving us hope. Going through a difficult time can stretch us to what we might think is our breaking point. God promises to give us strength to persevere. This is our greatest hope in difficult times. The experience strengthened my faith, character and relationships with my Christian friends. I even eventually reconciled with and forgave my mother and today I have no shame… only Hope!