Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Bargains Galore!

Don’t you love a bargain? I know I do! So, this week is one of my favorites at our church. It is the week for bargains galore on literally thousands of items. Friday and Saturday, we are holding our yearly Flea Market for Missions!

Every day leading up to the event we are working to collect, price, and display items on tables and racks throughout our education wing. Each room represents a different mission that will benefit from the proceeds—purchasing gently-used purses raises funds for a local homeless ministry; buying still-serviceable household items or a few cute tchotchkes contributes to UMCOR (United Methodist Committee On Relief).

You should see the deals we have! That barely used game of Junior Scrabble for a $1 is a bargain for the buyer and helps provide a bargain price for a kid to experience the opportunities only a week at camp could offer.

But our church doesn’t offer bargains this week only. EVERY week, ALL week, we present the greatest bargain of all—the opportunity for anyone and everyone to meet Jesus and exchange sin and shortcomings for complete forgiveness. When Jesus died on the cross, he paid the price required to free us from the penalty of our disobedience to God. He offers that forgiveness to all who put their trust in him—ABSOLUTELY FREE!!!

How’s THAT for a real bargain?

For it is by God's grace that you have been saved through faith.
It is not the result of your own efforts,
but God's gift, so that no one can boast about it.
Ephesians 2:8-9
Be encouraged!

©2017 Pamela D. Williams

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Make This The Best Easter Season Yet!

Happy Easter

Easter is so much more than just a holiday. It is the celebration of an event that changed the world and is still changing lives today—the resurrection of Jesus the Christ. Why not make this the best Easter season ever? Open your heart to God by praying this prayer, and then allow God to speak to you through this excerpt from Proverbs31 Ministries.

Dear God, help me recognize Your voice calling to me this Easter. Empower me to experience Your love, though it is too great to understand fully, so I can know with confidence when You speak to me personally. Make me complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Do you know Jesus Christ? Many have heard of Jesus and know a little about Him. Many sing songs about Him at Christmas and Easter. Some think of Him as a teacher or perhaps the founder of a major world religion. But, do you know Him personally? Do you know that Jesus died and rose again, not to start a spiritual movement but because He loves you and wanted to provide a way for you to know Him?

The Bible tells the story of God’s love for people. In the beginning, God created us to reflect His image and to have a relationship with Him (Genesis 1:27). We were created good—and then sin entered the world. We essentially chose to try life on our own without God, instead of living our lives for God as we were designed.

God loves us so much that He sent His Son, Jesus, to die on the cross to pay the price for our sins and bring us into a relationship with Him. Through Him, we can know the promise of eternal life and experience the joy of knowing God here on earth!

If you would like to have a relationship with God, the Bible tells us that the first step is acknowledging that we have sinned and that there is nothing we can do to earn God’s love (Romans 3:23-26). Next, we believe and confess that Jesus is Lord (Romans 10:9) and allow Him to guide our lives. Where we once wanted to control our own futures, we now invite Jesus into our hearts to be Lord over our lives.

Knowing God’s peace, perspective, and purpose for our lives begins with a personal relationship with Jesus. Follow these steps to the new life with Jesus God desires for you. “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10b): 
  • Recognize the problem of sin and separation: We were created to know, love and glorify God. When we choose to go our own way, living life in willful disobedience to God, we are choosing to be separated from God both now and for all eternity. The Bible says we are sinners (Romans 3:23) and the wages of those sins is death. (Romans 3:23, 6:23) But “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)
  • Admit we cannot save ourselves: Because God is Holy, He cannot allow sin to enter into Heaven. Most people attempt to save themselves by their own efforts, good works or church attendance. The Bible says, “There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end, it leads to death.” (Proverbs 14:12) How then can a sinful person enter Heaven where God allows no sin?
  • Believe we are saved by grace: The good news is, in spite of our sin, Christ died for us. “For it is by grace you have been saved through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not of works, so that no one can boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9) “But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)
  • Respond to God’s gift by faith: “If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Romans 10:9) “But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions — it is by grace you have been saved.” (Ephesians 2:4-5) 

If you believe these truths and would like Jesus to be Lord of your life, you can pray this prayer:

Lord, I confess that I have sinned against You and ask You to forgive me. I’m sorry that my sin has hurt You and other people in my life. I acknowledge that I could never earn salvation by my good works, but I come to You and trust in what Jesus did for me on the cross.

I believe that You love me and that Jesus died and rose again so that I can be forgiven and come to know You. I ask You to come into my heart and be Lord of my life. I trust You with everything, and I thank You for loving me so much that I can know You here on earth and spend the rest of eternity with You in heaven. In Jesus name, Amen.

What do I do now?

Just like a new baby needs to be cared for and nurtured in order to grow physically, a child of God needs to be nurtured in order to grow spiritually.  Here’s how you can begin growing in Christ:
  • Tell someone: Tell a pastor or Christian friend who will help you grow and find your gifts of service. “Jesus appointed some to be apostles, others to be prophets, others to be evangelists, others to be pastors and teachers. He did this to prepare all God's people for the work of Christian service, in order to build up the body of Christ.” Ephesians 4:11, 12
  • Join the church: The church is where God’s family encourages and supports one another. ”It is good and pleasant when God’s people live together in unity!” Psalm 133:1
  • Pray and read your Bible daily: God communicates His will for your life through His Word and prayer. “Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.” Psalm 119:105
  • Seek a godly mentor: A mentor teaches you the ways of God and how to live a holy life. “People learn from one another, just as iron sharpens iron.” Proverbs 27:17 

Ready to begin a new life with Jesus? Want to renew a commitment you made to Him? I encourage you to step out in faith and make this your best Easter season yet!

Easter blessings to you and yours!

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

I Nailed Jesus to the Cross

I nailed Jesus to the Cross. No, I wasn’t there that awful day; no, I didn’t hold the nail in place with one hand while bringing the mallet down as hard as I could with the other. But my sin did.

Although I have never physically murdered anyone, I have mercilessly slashed people with harsh, critical words. I may not have stolen money or goods, but I have stolen other’s reputations by sharing gossip or my own skewed opinions of them. With every sin I commit, I drive another spike into Jesus’ hands and feet:

My critical spirit
              nailed Jesus to the cross.
My grumbling
              nailed Jesus to the cross.
My lack of compassion
              nailed Jesus to the cross.
My harsh words
              nailed Jesus to the cross.
My unwarranted fears
              nailed Jesus to the cross.
My niggling worries
              nailed Jesus to the cross.
My unfaithful actions
nailed Jesus to the cross.
My unwillingness to serve
              nailed Jesus to the cross.

Can you hear the echo of the hammer as it hits the spikes?

All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned, every one, to his own way;
and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.
(Isaiah 53:6)

But wait! There is Good News! Every strike of the hammer echoes not with condemnation, but with love from God! “For He canceled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross.” (Colossians 2:14)

Yes, my sin nailed Jesus to the cross, but His love set me free from that sin!

If we confess our sins to God, He will
keep his promise and do what is right:
He will forgive us our sins and purify us
from all our wrongdoing.
1 John 1:9

Be encouraged!
©2017 Pamela D. Williams

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Spring has Sprung

Spring has sprung! Praise God!

Dick and I traveled to the southern part of our state this week for church business. While there, we slipped in a short walk around the neighborhood where we used to live. The spring flowers dotting the yards and the blossom-covered trees lining the streets were bursting with color and fragrance. The birds singing their joyous melodies, the fresh scent of rain-washed air, and the chance to walk hand in hand through quiet streets, awed our senses and renewed our spirits. 

Winter begins to feel unending about this time of year for me. I can get very “blah” and uninspired by the barren, colorless trees and flattened, faded grasses, so it was great to be reminded of the beauty that will be coming to our northern area soon. I thank God for the infusion of new life into my worn, insipid soul.

God has been renewing my spiritual life lately, too. My blogging friend Bill recently wrote that he had been lulled into a spiritual stupor from which he needed to awaken. I could totally relate to Bill’s feelings. Like my winter “blahs”, I was spiritually “blah”, my relationship with Jesus having become routine and overly familiar. I had lost my “awe”—then Jesus drew our daughter into a close walk with Him, a totally sold-out commitment.

A few months ago, Erin started attending a different church, one with more youth involvement for her sons. What she heard and witnessed there profoundly impacted her spiritually. Though she had asked Jesus to be her Savior at an early age, she had never really allowed Him to be Lord of her life. When she opened her heart to Him, He moved right in! As she began living for Jesus, He opened her eyes to His work around her. He showed her how His Word is alive and active and oh so relevant. It has been a wonder-filled experience that God has inspired her to share with me.

And my own life and faith are renewed by Erin’s accounts of the positively awesome ways God is moving in her life. Her wonder and awe are inspiring. Her faith and trust are contagious. Her enthusiasm and determination are motivating. My heart overflows with gratitude not only for what God is doing for Erin, but for infusing my own spiritual life with a renewed awe and appreciation for Jesus. My eyes of faith have refocused so I am beginning to once-again see the movement of God to which I had become oblivious.

It’s like the awakening of Spring—in my soul!

I ask that your minds may be opened to see his light,
so that you will know what is the hope to which he has called you,
how rich are the wonderful blessings he promises his people,
and how very great is his power at work in us who believe.
Ephesians 1:18-19

Be encouraged!

©2017 Pamela D. Williams