Friday, November 29, 2013

Thankful for a Ransom Paid

For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance—now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant. Hebrews 9:15 (NIV)

Recently several companies’ networks were attacked by a “ransomware” virus. Employees were notified that they could no longer open important files without an encryption code—a code known only to the originator of the virus. Supposedly, for a ransom fee, the hacker will provide the code, but it is suspected that any interaction with the hacker will merely open the door to more infections.

Someone did what employees have been trained not to do: open a file attachment from an unknown source. Apparently there was one person who broke this safety rule at each of several companies. Perhaps they thought, what are the chances of this doing harm? As a result, “business as usual” halted.

On a more personal level, we may know not to open suspicious email attachments, but where we might slip or struggle is with being steadfast in living a life on godly principles. The battle between the flesh and the spirit is intense. We do what we know we shouldn’t—what we don’t even want to do.

The devil dangles temptation in front of us and taunts with smooth talking, “Go ahead. What harm will this little sin bring you?” The consequence of sin is death, unless the ransom is paid. Thank God that His Son Jesus paid the ransom in full, that we can continue not only with the business of life as usual, but with joy and confidence in eternal life.
Thank you for suffering on the cross to pay the ransom for my sin.

© 2013 Nance

Friday, November 22, 2013

Christ is Our Support

Let your love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is wicked, cling to what is good. Romans 12:9 (NWT)

One learns so much from having a garden. I have planted all kinds of vegetables. Some need supports so they won't be trampled on. Cucumbers grow best on a wire trellis, as do the early spring peas and Christmas lima beans. All of these have curly tendrils that twist themselves around the wire to suppost the heavy vines. Without the support the vines would cling to the weeds and grass, even winding around themselves, choking their growth.

Are we not like the vines, needing support from a higher power so that we are not tangled up with the demoralizing traps of this world? Jesus always reaches to support us when sin tries to drag us down into the weeds of degradation.

Wire cages surround my tomatoes, peppers and rhubarb to protect them from deer that come and nibble off anything they can reach. Sometimes a few vigorous tomato stems stick out and I find the leaves and blossoms snipped off, leaving the bare stem.

We need Jesus' protection, much like the wire cage, so we do not fall prey to evil surrounding us. If we sometimes put ourselves unprotected into situations that will harm us, then we get "clipped" by the evil one. We may not know how to get back to the protection of our Savior, Jesus. If we stay in the protective arms of our Savior, He will make us grow and be fruitful.

Father, may I always cling to Jesus and remember that He is the support for my soul. Amen

(c) 2013 E. Bonnie Ryan

Friday, November 15, 2013

Pass the Blessings, Please!

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 5:18 (NIV)

Losing a loved one, being at odds with family, and having to make choices in difficult situations ­are times in which our hearts ache and we feel at a loss. It’s not always easy to count blessings or recognize lessons in time of despair—at least not in the moment.

In the past two years, I have been clearly, tremendously blessed. I’ve learned to be thankful to God for blessings unknown and not on my radar.
~  Could I have known that after forty-four years I would meet my late father’s best friend from childhood, who would come alongside me in faith and step into Papa’s shoes so honorably?
~  Did you know grocery stores are the perfect place to start bridging gaps or that coming home can make one feel safe and restore confidence?
~  Who would have thought that someone’s passing would reunite estranged siblings who have not gathered in the same room together in forty years?
I know now—and these are just a few morsels on my bountiful plate.
God is good!
As Paul said in Philippians 4: 12-13,”I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength (NIV).”
Pass the blessings, please. They are abundant.
Heavenly Father, at this time of thanksgiving and always, we give you thanks for the many blessings you bestow in our lives, those recognized and those unnoticed. We thank you for 
Christ Jesus. Amen.

© 2013 Atalie Shackelford

Saturday, November 9, 2013

No More Tears

“O my son Absalom—my son, my son Absalom—if only I had died in your place! O Absalom my son, my son!” 2 Samuel 18:33b (NKJV)

Many of my friends have lost children over the years. Just a few weeks ago, an automobile accident claimed the life of my husband’s nephew at the age of twenty five. Who could have guessed his teenage years were the twilight of his life? Who can fathom a parent’s anguish—preparing their child for a funeral instead of a future? David voiced his own grief, crying out the wish to take Absalom’s place.

God knows the anguish of losing a Son. In the fullness of time, God sent His Son to redeem us (Galatians 4:3-5). Jesus gave His life so we could live. His times, thirty three years, were in His Father’s hands.

Time is fleeting; life, fragile. Our times are in God’s hands, too (Psalm 31:15). The youth may approach death’s door, while the elderly may see the Lord’s return. We struggle, watching loved ones decline, grieving when they are gone. We weep at children’s gravesides, young lives cut short. Death seems so unfair.

But Jesus rose again, victorious over death and the grave. From His sacrifice sprang true, glorious, everlasting life. And again, in the fullness of time, God will bring unity to all things—in heaven and on earth—under Christ (Ephesians 1:9-11). In the end, God will wipe every tear from our eyes, and there will be no more death, sorrow, crying, or pain—those things will have passed away (Revelation 21:4). Praise the Lord! Our times are in God’s almighty hands.

Lord, you took our place, and conquered death. We trust that you hold us, and those we love, in your loving, nail scarred hands.
© 2013 Katherine A. Fuller

Friday, November 1, 2013


I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:14 (KJV)
            The new spin bikes are in at the gym, adding a smoother ride and more accurate gear lever to the cyclist’s experience. Topping both of those improvements is the monitor, which focuses the spinner on his or her personal goal for the ride. The monitor displays RPM, watts/calories, mileage, time, and the gear in use. There is no room for daydreaming or slacking off. The cyclist constantly watches the RPM, attentive to the target, and works to maintain speed at increased resistance to achieve a certain distance by the end of the class. When the hour is up, seeing the results brings more satisfaction and accomplishment than on the old bikes that didn’t display the goal in clear view.
            Without our life’s ultimate goal in clear view, it is easy to lose momentum, get side tracked, or coast along without doing the work that is set before us. We may finish short of our calling. To stay attentive to those things that really matter and to finish well, we need to maintain our spiritual RPM: reading, prayer, and meditation. With our RPM as priority, there will be a major difference in motivation, persistence, and result. We look forward to hearing the words as spoken by the master in the parable of the talents: Well done, my good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:21 ). 
            Lord, help me to live purposefully each day, so when my days wind down I can say, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (II Timothy 4:7).
©2013 Nance