Your Stay on Earth

 

1Pet1-7-19--WorldMapVector--AMP

If you address as Father the One
who impartially judges according to each one’s work,
conduct yourselves in fear during the time of
your stay on earth;

knowing that you were not redeemed
with perishable things like silver or gold
from your futile way of life
inherited from your forefathers,
but with precious blood,
as of a lamb unblemished and spotless,
the blood of Christ.
—1 Peter 1:17-19, NASB

Did you know that we are all in a temporary living situation? Our earthly home is just a brief blip in eternity. According to the English language, eternal means:

without beginning or end, always existing, lasting forever

We are only on this earth for a very limited, brief time. I was struck by the different ways “the time of your stay on earth” (the NASB version above) is expressed in different Bible translations:

English Standard Version (ESV): the time of your exile

New Living Translation (NLT): your time here as “temporary residents”

New International Version (NIV): your time as foreigners here

Common English Bible (CEB): the time of your dwelling in a strange land

So, Beloved, how are we spending this momentary period of time? Are we existing just for each day? Do our lives reflect simply our current circumstances? Is there any proof that our lives here are joyful?

Or … are we fully preparing for our eternal home by immersing ourselves in the Word and sharing the Gospel message and telling others about our ultimate Hope?

Rejoice in the Lord always.
I will say it again: Rejoice!

Let your gentleness be evident to all.
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.

Finally, brothers and sisters,
whatever is true, whatever is noble,
whatever is right, whatever is pure,
whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—
if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—
think about such things.
—Philippians 4:4-8

Anna-Coffee2The advertising which may appear below is not placed by the author and is not to be considered as a part of this post or an expression of my views.

Love Feast

Rick and I are blessed to be part of Full Throttle Biker Church. Our church body shares a “love feast” one Sunday each month. This is based on the New Testament practice of meeting together to share a meal, hear the Word preached, take the Lord’s Supper together, and fellowship with each other.

I read an article recently in “Today in the Word,” a publication of Moody Global Ministries titledFeeding Our Faiththat talks about how Jesus often spoke about food and used it in His teaching and parables. Food is also part of the Lord’s prayer. 

This collage shows photos of various love feasts we’ve enjoyed—the “befores” of the various dishes set out in the church kitchen, as well as the “afters” of our church family enjoying the fellowship while dining . Each month is a different food theme and March’s theme, which we’ll share tomorrow, is what our pastor calls a no-brainer: Irish of course! 

Please enjoy the great article below by Paul Nyquist.

LoveFeastCollage

Feeding Our Faith

By Paul Nyquist

From Today in the Word

We all have favorite foods that remind us of home. I grew up in Nebraska, so mine is a delectable portion of beef grilled to perfection. But I don’t just love the food itself. I have warm memories of ordinary meals eaten with friends and family. At many of our churches, potlucks are a highly anticipated event. Tables groan under the weight of covered casserole dishes and gelatin salads as the church family gathers to eat, laugh, and fellowship.

Perhaps that positive emotional connection is why meals became a part of early church gatherings. Together, believers could “taste and see that the Lord is good” (Ps. 34:8). The practice of Christians meeting together to share a meal traces back to the earliest days of the church. Believers called these gatherings “love feasts” as they shared a meal in homes followed by teaching, singing, and the Lord’s Supper.

Read the rest here.

Anna-Coffee2The advertising which may appear below is not placed by the author and is not to be considered as a part of this post or an expression of my views.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

I first published this here on February 14, 2014. And here it is again because I believe it is so appropriate for this day that’s all about love.

The other day I got to thinking about Valentine’s Day and how it’s supposed to be all about love. 1 John 4:19 immediately came to mind, and I knew this was to be my message about  love … God’s immense love … for us.

1John4-19

The Dimensions of God’s Love

We love because he first loved us. —1 John 4:19

We have all been told how much God loves us. That fact is unquestionable, especially as we look around and see the evidence of His love in all of His creation. God’s love for us can be described as multi-dimensional, so let’s look at the different ways God loves us—the Breadth, Depth, Height and Length of His love—by examining the universe He created.

Breadth

When a man and a woman get married, they usually exchange wedding bands. If you look closely at a wedding band, you cannot see where it begins or where it ends. This circle of metal is therefore used as a symbol of unending love between husband and wife. In the same way, a circle represents eternity.

That is how I think of God’s all-encompassing love for us. I visualize the circle that His arms form to surround the earth. This thought both amazes and comforts me. I am amazed because it shows how big God is. I can’t imagine any human who can “hug” the whole world. And I am also comforted because I enjoy being hugged. But the true illustration of the breadth of God’s love is found in Scripture:

ByGrace…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 faith [we] have been saved.
—Ephesians 2:4-5

He loved us “even when we were dead in transgressions.” What a truly astonishing thing!

Eternity is a difficult concept for us to understand, but God has it all under control. He loves us so much that He can’t stand the thought of being apart from us, so He has provided us with a way to spend eternity with Him:

John3-16--NumbersOfHope

For God so loved the world
that he gave his one and only Son,
that whoever believes in him
shall not perish but have eternal life.
—John 3:16

The breadth of God’s love for us is that huge. He made sure that we have a way to be with Him forever—in other words, for eternity. Trying to figure out what eternity could be like is the same as trying to count all the stars in the sky. It is impossible!

I like to imagine what it will be like to spend the rest of eternity with God, but I’m sure my limited picture of heaven falls far short of the truth. All I know for sure is that:

John1-12

“…to all who received him,
to those who believed in his name,
he gave the right to become children of God.
—John 1:12

Depth

The Grand Canyon ranges in height from 9,000 feet at the North Rim all the way down to 2,400 feet at the Colorado River. Those of us here in the Southwest know that there are no easy ways to get to the bottom of the Grand Canyon. In fact, portions of the Colorado River are barely visible from above because of the depth of the canyon. Now that’s what I call deep, but it is still measurable.

We read in Romans that:

Romans5-8

…God demonstrates his own love for us in this:
While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Since we now have been justified by his blood,
how much more shall we be saved
from God’s wrath through him!
For if, when we were God’s enemies,
we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son,
how much more, having been reconciled,
shall we be saved through his life!
—Romans 5:8-10

The love God has for us is so deep that it is immeasurable. It is impossible for me to imagine something that cannot be measured. Everything that surrounds us can somehow be measured, whether by weight or volume. But not God’s love. It is bottomless and keeps going on and on to infinity. Even though we don’t deserve any of it, He loves us that much anyway.

We hear a lot these days about “unconditional love.” The truth is that the only true, unconditional love we will ever receive is from God, Who loves us with a pure love found nowhere else. How better to explain God’s love for us in spite of all our sins and shortcomings? The fact that God loves me in spite of myself is the ultimate proof of the depth of His love.

Height

Have you read about those who have succeeded in climbing Mount Everest? This 29,035-foot mountain range is the highest in the world and the most difficult to climb. There are many people who attempt this climb more than once in the hopes of finally being able to complete the challenge of making it to the summit.

I cannot imagine being at a point 29,035 feet above sea level. That is so high that one’s breathing becomes quite labored and therefore requires extra oxygen. But that is still not as high as the heavens. In Ephesians, Paul gives us a taste of what it will be like when we’re in heaven:

Eph2-6

And God raised us up with Christ
and seated us with him
in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus.
—Ephesians 2:6

There is no way we could ever understand the height of such “heavenly realms.”

I love knowing that those of us who have accepted Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord will be up in heaven with God forever, seated with Him and serving Him in all His honor and glory. Even though we’ll be higher than we’ve ever been, we will not suffer the usual effects of high altitude such as headaches, nosebleeds or labored breathing. God has made sure of that. I believe that heaven will be the most comfortable place ever!

Col3-1-4

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ,
set your hearts on things above,
where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.
Set your minds on things above,
not on earthly things.
For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.
—Colossians 3:1-3

Length

It is estimated that right now the universe is at least 46 billion light years in radius. My puny human mind cannot comprehend such a measurement. Look up at the billions of stars in the night sky and then try to understand the lengths to which God will go for us. He could have designed just an adequate place for us to live, but did He? No. He chose to give us a wonderful universe filled with beautiful planets and stars. It stretches on and on, just like His immense love for us.

The daytime sky and the night sky are the same, yet very different. During the day we cannot see the stars because of the light of the sun. At night, the stars and moon illuminate the dark sky. When we are in heaven, things will be greatly changed.

NASB_Revelation_22-5

There will be no more night.
They will not need the light of a lamp
or the light of the sun,
for the Lord God will give them light.
And they will reign for ever and ever.
—Revelation 22:5

No more night? Really? What will that be like? And imagine not needing a lamp to read a book.

Being part of such an exciting eternity with God requires only this:

  • recognize that we are sinners and be truly sorry for our sins
  • believe in Jesus Christ as God’s Son and our Savior
  • acknowledge that He died on the cross at Calvary and that His death paid the penalty for our sins
  • and trust that He rose from the dead on our behalf so that we might live forever with Him—and all because of the length of God’s love for us.

1Tim1-15-17

Paul related this aspect to Timothy:

But for that very reason
I was shown mercy so that
in me, the worst of sinners,
Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience
as an example for those
who would believe on him and receive eternal life.
—1 Timothy 1:16

His “unlimited patience.” How I love those words! They remind me that even though I so often lose patience with the things and people in my life—and myself—God never loses patience with me. His patience is eternal!

Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible,
the only God,
be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.
—1 Timothy 1:17

Beloved, on yet another Valentine’s Day I am so glad we have a God Who shows His immense love for us in so many ways, in spite of our sinful selves! How amazing is that?

Anna-Coffee2The advertising which may appear below is not placed by the author and is not to be considered as a part of this post or an expression of my views.

The Story of Joy and Sorrow

Reblogged from Lynn Mosher: Encouraging the Heart-Uplifting the Soul.

This wonderful post from my bloggy friend, Lynn Mosher, goes along with my JOY and FAITH themes this year. Lynn has a special way of making a story come alive, and I know you’ll appreciate this as much as I do.

Thank you, Lynn, for allowing me to share this with my readers.

The Story of Joy and Sorrow

Photo credit: Lynn Mosher

Photo credit: Lynn Mosher

Once upon a time, twin sisters, Joy and Sorrow, lived in the same house with their Father, whose name was Comfort.

Joy skipped along her way enjoying every moment, savoring the sights and sounds of her everyday life, as her heart overflowed with praise and thanksgiving to her Father.

Sorrow, on the other hand, was somewhat defiant, rebelling against her Father, grumbling because of the pain in her life.

Nevertheless, they both experienced the same trials and heartaches, and yet, they each went about their day singing a different tune.

Read the rest here.

Anna-Coffee2

The advertising which may appear below is not placed by the author and is not to be considered as a part of this post or an expression of my views.

Read the Word of God

Bible-WordOfGod-CharlesSpurgeon-sm--AMP

Reading the Word of God for yourselves,
reading it rather than notes upon it,
is the surest way of growing in grace.
Drink of the unadulterated milk of the Word of God,
and not of the skim milk.
—Charles Spurgeon

Anna-Coffee2

The advertising which may appear below is not placed by the author and is not to be considered as a part of this post or an expression of my views.

Happy Birthday to Us!

Happy birthday to us!

Today is my birthday, tomorrow is Rick’s. I’ve shared the story here before of our meeting onlineThe fact that our birthdays are one day apart was the main reason Rick and I met. Definitely a God-incidence! When I saw how close together our birthdays are, I knew I had to write to him.

This photo is a blast from the past, taken on Cannery Row while we were on our honeymoon in Monterey, California. We recently enjoyed the blessing of celebrating our 16th anniversary.

So, happy birthday to my sweetie and me! ♥

Anna-Coffee2

The advertising which may appear below is not placed by the author and is not to be considered as a part of this post or an expression of my views.

Happy Happy JOY JOY

HappyHappyJoyJoy--AMP

Have you ever noticed how many Scripture passages there are about being happy and full of joy? Today I’d like to share some of those with you to remind all of us of the immense happiness and JOY we have in Jesus Christ.

Happy

Ps81-1-smaller--AMP

  • Psalm 63:7You have helped me, and I sing happy songs in the shadow of your wings.
  • Psalm 81:1Be happy and shout to God who makes us strong! Shout praises to the God of Jacob.
  • Psalm 89:16We are happy all day because of you, and your saving power brings honor to us.
  • Psalm 98:3-5God has been faithful in his love for Israel, and his saving power is seen everywhere on earth. Tell everyone on this earth to sing happy songs in praise of the LORD. Make music for him on harps. Play beautiful melodies!

Joy

Ps5-11-sm--AMP

  •  Psalm 5:11But let all who take refuge in You be glad, let them ever sing for joy; and may You shelter them, that those who love Your name may exult in You.
  • Psalm 16:11You will make known to me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; in Your right hand there are pleasures forever.
  • Psalm 32:11Be glad in the Lord and rejoice, you righteous ones; and shout for joy, all you who are upright in heart.
  • Psalm 47:1Clap your hands, all peoples; shout to God with the voice of joy.

This is the praise song that I often sing to the Lord at night just before I go to sleep. It is based on Psalm 5:11:

…..I-Love-You-Lord-smaller--AMP

I Love You, Lord

I love You, Lord, and I lift my voice
To worship You, O my soul, rejoice!
Take joy, my King, in what You hear;  
May it be a sweet, sweet sound
in Your ear.

…..

How about you, Beloved? What songs of praise for our Savior and Lord Jesus fill your heart to overflowing?.

Anna-Coffee2The advertising which may appear below is not placed by the author and is not to be considered as a part of this post or an expression of my views.

Happy 2015! Do Not Dwell on the Past…

Is43-18-19-DryDesertTree--AMP 

Forget the former things;
do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up;
do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the desert
and streams in the wasteland.
—Isaiah 43:18-19

Do you find yourself thinking about things you once were able to do but are not able to any longer? Are you dwelling on past mistakes or times that to you seemed to be better or easier than where you are right now?

I confess that I am guilty at times of dwelling in the past, remembering when it seemed effortless to do something as simple as laundry or taking an enjoyable walk without a lot of physical pain. However, I’ve found that these remember when thoughts only serve to fuel that monster called discontentment.

The dictionary defines being content as being satisfied or resigned to circumstances. Being satisfied means we feel fulfilled, but feeling resigned to our circumstances denotes a passive acceptance of our situation. These sound like opposites, but they are not. We can accept our physical limitations and still be satisfied, but it has to be a conscious decision to accept our situation as something God can use in our lives.

I haven’t been able to work at a job outside my home for about 15 years. I have always wanted to write, but never had the chance to do so—until I had to stop working. Now I’m thankful for this chance to do something that has always been on my heart, and in the process continue to glorify the Lord no matter what my circumstances.

It has taken some time, but I’m learning not to let my past dictate my future. Instead, I am acknowledging this new thing that God has fashioned in my life as He makes “a way in the desert” to use me in the lives of others.

For every wasteland in our lives, God gives us a stream of living water to help our way through that desert.

Those who are not able to scrub the kitchen floor can read a story to their children or grandchildren. If I can’t hammer a nail any longer, God has blessed me with the ability to write in a way that may help others in similar situations. Much has been taken from me, but God has replaced them with more meaningful things, which has brought me even closer to Him.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank you for a brand new year! We are so thankful that You are our Stream in the Desert, even though we sometimes have trouble remembering that. Help us to see that only with You can we ever be satisfied and filled with joy. Amen.

 

Anna-Coffee2The advertising which may appear below is not placed by the author and is not to be considered as a part of this post or an expression of my views.

Joy!

 

JOY-ChristmasStar--AMP

Joy to the world,
the Lord has come,
let earth receive her King!
Joy to the earth, the Savior reigns,  
let men their songs employ!

Anna-Coffee2

The advertising which may appear below is not placed by the author and is not to be considered as a part of this post or an expression of my views.