Established, Anointed, Sealed by God

Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set His seal of ownership onIMG_3190 us, and put His Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come. 2 Cor. 1:21-22

 Judy picked up the patch and looked at the details. It signified that she belonged to the gang and that nothing could change that. She shivered slightly but knew that Beetle would not let her leave. She sat down in front of the sewing machine and began to permanently attach the patch to the back of her leather vest. The gang owned her as if she was a piece of property and there was nothing she could do about it.

Once we’ve made the choice to follow Jesus, God seals us with His seal of ownership. We belong to Him and are protected by Him. We are referred to in the Bible as His Holy vessels. We can be proud to call Him Father and Lord. He sends the Holy Spirit who guarantees that we belong to Him and will receive all the benefits of belonging.

Unlike the gang that Judy belongs to, God will not use us or abuse us. He is incapable of doing so. He loves us so much that He wants only what is best for us, for our good. The Holy Spirit, as our comforter, gives us a glimpse of what heaven will be like as we live according to the Holy Scriptures.

Judy had to prove herself in a variety of ways before the gang extended membership to her. God only asks that we tell others about Him. We need to identify with Him and not be ashamed to share the Gospel with a hurting world.

Lord God, I love you and I love that I belong to You, that nothing can change that, not even my sinful self. Holy Spirit, grant me the grace to love others in such a way that I can’t help but share the Good News with them. AMEN..

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  Cannot be Separated From God’s Love

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?…. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.  

Romans 8:35-36; 38-39

IMG_3240Cheryl wandered along the bank of the river she’d loved since childhood. The soothing sound of water lapping on the shore erased any worry she had…almost. Her husband had lost his job and he’d been accused of embezzling company funds. What were they going to do if he went to jail?

She sat down on a nearby rock and pulled a blade of grass. As she rolled it around in her fingers, some Bible verses came to mind. She knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that God loved her. She also knew that God said in His Word, that nothing could separate her from that love, even her husband going to jail.

Cheryl remembered the speaker who’d come to their church just three weeks ago. Did God know that she’d need to hear those words back then? The man was Chinese and he’d been imprisoned for believing in Jesus Christ. He’d spent 20 years in captivity, away from his family and with little food to eat but he’d trusted that His God would bring him through.

While in prison, he’d met and married his wife in secret. That tiny woman sat with him on the platform and also told of her time in prison. They knew that God had carried them through this ordeal and were eager to return to their native land to tell others again about Jesus, even if it meant that they would face imprisonment again.

God brought them through. Cheryl stood, dusted her pants off, and began to walk home. Her husband needed her and so did her children. She would support them and lean on God for his protection on a daily basis. He was her Savior and nothing else mattered.

Father, thank You for Your love no matter what, for not allowing anything to come between Your love and us. Keep us safe and in Your care. AMEN.

 

In Two Up, Riding With The Lord, Barbara Ann Derksen creatively illustrates the importance of what it means to be God’s adopted child… Accepted, Secure, Significant, and Free… through faith in God’s one and only Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. You will discover the privileges of being a child of God, your strength as a believer, and the power given to you by God’s Holy Spirit as you spent time in His Word through these daily readings.

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Reprieve

If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own son, but gave Him up for us all – how will He not also, along with Him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus who died – more than that, who was raised to life –  is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.  

Romans 8: 31b-34

Jocelyn looked across the courtyard. Her eyes misted as she watched her neighbor hug the little boy. She and her husband had adopted him just four weeks ago. They accepted him into their family as if they’d given birth to him, as if he were their IMG_3242own child. “Well I guess he is now.”

Jocelyn walked away from the window and plopped down on her beat-up sofa. If only, she thought. If only I’d been adopted and not had to spend my first 18 years in foster homes. Maybe I would have turned out better. A tiny tear slid down her cheek. Now it was too late. Now she had a felony record attached to her name.

Jocelyn believed she was not worth anyone’s time and attention. She was afraid to venture too far from her apartment in case she was picked up for another offense, maybe one that this time she didn’t commit. She felt everyone was out to get her and throw her back into jail. As the week progressed, she began to think about ending her life.

One day, her neighbor knocked on her door. Jocelyn peeked through the front window curtains and saw a plate of cookies in her hands. She slowly opened the door. “Yes, what do you want?” She was almost afraid to ask.

“I’ve brought you some cookies. I baked them this morning.” The woman handed Jocelyn the plate.

Jocelyn’s hand shook as she held the plate in front of her. “Why would you do that? Why bring them to me? Doesn’t your kid like cookies?” Jocelyn backed up a step or two. She used the door as a shield.

“Oh, sure he likes cookies but we have plenty. I just want us to be friends, is all. Could you use another friend?” The woman smiled.

Jocelyn believed that since she was a felon, she didn’t deserve anything. However, God in His Word, says that since He already gave us His best, His Son to die for us, there is nothing He would not provide for us. Jocelyn accepted Jesus as her Lord and Savior in prison. Now, she was about to experience some of the good things He had in store for her. Her neighbor invited her to church, and her husband offered Jocelyn a job. Soon they were having coffee together all the time.

Jocelyn began to understand how she needed to forgive herself, accept God’s love for her and stop feeling guilty and worthless. He had sent His Son to die for her, to pay the price for her sins and she was a new creation. She began to experience security for the first time in her life and she knew that Jesus was her council before God, pleading her case.

Lord God, thank You for interceding, for pleading my case before God the Father. Thank You for providing a way for my salvation and for allowing me to begin eternal life with you, right now here on earth. AMEN.

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All Works Together for Good

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.  Romans 8:28

The phone rang. Its shrill jangle echoed through the downstairs as Jennifer ran towards the kitchen. Her hand trembled. She picked up the receiver and placed it next to her ear. “Hello.” She ran a hand over her skirt, smoothing wrinkles not there.

IMG_3243“Miss Canton?” The voice seemed kindly but Jennifer had heard about his reputation as a calculating business man.

“Y-yes.”

“Miss Canton, I would like you to begin working for me as soon as you can. Could you start tomorrow?” His voice brought relief and the beginning krinkles of a smile to her face.

“Yes, yes I can. What time does the office open?” Jennifer’s legs almost buckled. She’d been chosen for the job of a lifetime, one that she’d prayed for and worked hard to earn.

God has chosen us, called us according to His purposes (the job of a lifetime), not ours. Unlike Jennifer’s new boss, who called her for what she could do for him, God will work all things out for OUR good when we turn our life over to His purpose. That doesn’t mean that bad things won’t happen to us. However, God will use even those circumstances for our eventual good and for His glory.

When God calls us, the Holy Spirit convinces and enables us to receive Christ. We learn to trust in God, not life’s fading treasures. We begin to see life from God’s perspective, loving people as He does and because He does. God’s purpose filled life for us is the most meaningful and one that will earn us eternal rewards. Our security is in heaven, not on earth.

Father, thank You for working things out so that no matter what, they end up for my good and for Your glory. Help me trust in you and place my security in heaven, not on things of this world. AMEN.

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Discerning Truth in a World Filled with Lies by Ron Leonard

Discerncover

Discerning Truth in a World Filled with Lies
By Ron Leonard

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About the Book:

Are you tired of being lied to? Not sure you can trust anyone outside your immediate family (and you’re even keeping a close eye on them)? Do you hate it when you discover that you’ve fallen for a lie? Then you’re in the right place. This book is dedicated to the belief that the truth can be found and is worth any price. The author shares insights and anecdotes from his various adventures in spotting lies everywhere from our culture to our co-workers.
Whether the lies come to you from advertisers, journalists, politicians, economists, friends, or even the church pulpit, this book will teach you how to question and counter the avalanche of lies you experience every day.
Additional case studies are presented that tie together the various concepts in easily understood vignettes. A bonus section shares insights on truths learned from counseling with real-live individuals and couples. Key points are highlighted by personal stories from the author’s life. Available on Amazon, Kindle, and Smashwords or signed copies are available at www.truthorcounseling.com.

LINK to KINDLE | LINK to PAPERBACK

leonard_120x170Ron Leonard
The author is a Christian therapist, MBA, and Mensa member. He has been married 25 years and has two, yes two, teenagers. After spending four years writing this book he swore not to think about writing another one for many years. Three months later, he has the rough outlines of a fiction book with two heroes, one of whom has schizophrenia.

 

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Free from Condemnation

Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of Life set me free from the law of sin and death. Romans 8:1-2

 Cynthia sat, back straight, on her bunk, the only place for her to sit in her tiny cell. Her face showed little emotion, a trait learned over the last five years as she languished on death row. It wouldn’t be long now. She looked at her watch. Just 12 more hours and her life would end. She cringed and then looked toward the guards standing nearby to see if they’d noticed.

Cynthia had been convicted of murdering three people. She was guilty. She knew it and so did the jury who convicted her. But she still hoped that her lawyer would be able to overturn the verdict. She’d changed in this place and she wanted another chance. The law said, “No.” At least it had so far. Cynthia looked again at her watch. Another five minutes had passed and still no word from the man who had represented her from the beginning.IMG_3250

We are like Cynthia, condemned to death for living life independently of a Holy God. We deserve to die just as God pronounced when Adam and Eve submitted their will to that of Satan in the Garden of Eden. But, we have been redeemed. Jesus Christ died in our place. He walked the last mile, suffered on the cross as if an electric jolt from the electric chair had shot through His body or the gas flowing in air currents through the chamber had cut off His last breath.

Not only did He pay the price demanded from a Holy God, a just God, but He also made a way for us to never be chained to sin again. Each time, when we’re tempted to follow someone or something down that wrong path, we can gaze heavenward and know that with His power we can say “NO” and walk in the opposite direction. Once we’ve bowed to the Father’s will for our lives, we can be secure in the knowledge that He pronounced us “NOT GUILTY” and given us the power to escape bondage to sin.

Father God, thank You. Thank You that You sent Your Son to die for my sins. Thank You that I can feel secure in Your love for me and in the knowledge that I don’t have to bow to Satan’s will any more. AMEN.

 

In Two Up, Riding With The Lord, Barbara Ann Derksen creatively illustrates the importance of what it means to be God’s adopted child… Accepted, Secure, Significant, and Free… through faith in God’s one and only Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. You will discover the privileges of being a child of God, your strength as a believer, and the power given to you by God’s Holy Spirit as you spent time in His Word through these daily readings.

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Redeemed and Forgiven

For He has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the Kingdom of the Son He loves in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. Col.1:13-14

Brenda hung her head. “Maybe you don’t want me for a room-IMG_3243mate. I had a baby last year and I placed her for adoption.” She stepped toward the door.

The woman in front of Brenda shook her head. “I don’t care what your morals are. I only want the rent paid on time. Can you do that?” Brenda went on to tell Joyce that she had a full time position with a bank and that meeting her financial obligations would not be a problem. Joyce said the room was hers if she wanted it. Brenda was elated but inside, she continued to feel unworthy of anyone’s time and energy.

Brenda carried her feelings of inferiority for years. She considered herself blessed when a good man asked her to be his wife but she felt unworthy of him. So before too long she began to look for things that he didn’t like about her. Their arguments escalated but her husband never fully understood what the root cause was. Brenda had told him about her former boyfriend’s mistreatment of her and the resulting pregnancy. He said he was tired of paying for that man’s selfishness, though.

One day, after about 4 years of marriage and many discussions of divorce, Brenda sat down and read a book that outlined God’s plan of salvation. She discovered that God, as Jesus Christ, had allowed Himself to be nailed to a cross after suffering horrible torture at the hands of Roman soldiers.

She also discovered that in doing so, He had paid the penalty for her sins, even the one of having a baby before marriage. He loved her so much that He was willing to take her sin into His own body and die, a penalty set out by a just God for her independence from Him. Brenda began to cry.

Her tears were cleansing tears. She realized how loved she was, how forgiven she was, and how much God had done for her in providing a husband who also loved her just as she was. She felt clean inside for the first time in 7 years. “So this is what forgiveness feels like,” she spoke out loud to no one in particular. She wanted to phone her husband, to tell him her good news but she didn’t. What if this is not real, she thought.

Brenda phoned two women who attended the church where she and her husband had married. They came for a visit the next day and pointed out all the Bible verses that spoke about her commitment to Jesus and what He had done for her. Brenda was a changed person, inside and out as every day from that time on, she worked hard to show Jesus how grateful she was and to show others how they could feel clean inside and out, like she did.

Christians can accept that Jesus paid the penalty for our sins. When God judges the wicked, there will be nothing for Him to judge in our case because He has erased all the wrong’s we have committed, thanks to Jesus. You can feel clean on the inside as well as on the outside just like Brenda. Believe that Jesus did what the Bible said He did, accept that you need Him to control your life and pray with me:

Lord, thank you for dying on the cross for me. I don’t deserve it but I accept your gift of love. Please walk with me every day and help me lean only on You. AMEN.

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Adopted as God’s Child

He predestined us to be adopted as His sons through Jesus Christ , in accordance with His pleasure and will. Eph. 1:5

IMG_3251Betty struggled to open her eyes. She shivered under the thin blanket that covered her as she peeked out of the cardboard box she was lying in. “Another day, scrounging to get enough to eat,” she mumbled, with lips thick from an infection that seemed to last a long time. The cuts were healing but her warm forehead told her that her body was harboring some bug or another.

“Hey, kid. Let’s go before the thugs wake up. You ‘member what happened the last time you slept all day?” Herman shook her box. She’d begun to walk the streets with him, in hopes of some protection.

“Aw right, aw right. I’m comin’.” She stretched her tiny arms, rolled over and stood on legs that ached from the cold. She wrapped the blanket around her, over the three sweaters and coat she already wore. She placed one foot in front of the other, hoping she’d not pass out somewhere or get beat up again.

“You need a family,” Herman limped beside her. He knew he was an old man. He could die any night now. Betty’d told him she was about ten years old. As far as she could remember anyway. She was a sweet thing, but soon the thugs would do more to her than just beat on her.

“You know my family’s gone,” she sniffed, swiping her arm across her runny nose. “No one wants me.”

“I know where we can get you a family.” Herman looked at her with sad eyes. He could get her good food but a family…that was another thing. “Come on. We’re goin’ to the shelter.”

“No Herman. They’ll put me in jail. I don’t want to go to jail.”

“Who told you that? They will find you a home, not jail. I know. I went there once and watched them do that for another little one like you.” Herman straightened his back, as much as he could, bent his head and looked her straight in the eye. “You’re too young to make it on the streets. Besides, someone out there has the perfect home for you.”

Herman and Betty traipsed halfway across the city to the shelter. Within two weeks, Betty had parents who were thrilled to have a ten-year old child to call their own. Their immediate love was unconditional. They clothed her with new jeans, shirts, and a dress or two for good measure. They hugged her as often as she’d let them. Betty was happy for the first time since her parents had abandoned her.

God does that for us. He adopts us into His family, gives us unconditional love, and provides for our needs on a daily basis. We are His children and He is our Father. Imagine. Children of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

Dear God, Thank you for providing a family for me, for adopting me into Your family. Thank you for loving me unconditionally. I love you Lord. AMEN

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Complete in Christ

And you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority. Col 2:10

 Marsha struggled with the task in front of her. She needed to c012omplete this one before she could begin the next. There is always a next one, she thought. She had a hard time saying no. Marsha loaded the table with fresh produce for the food bank and then picked up the inventory list, Keeping track of what came in and what was taken by needy people in the community was part of her job as food bank coordinator.

Marsha loved the accolades she received from leaders in the small town she lived in. And yet, she was never satisfied that she’d done enough or that she received enough community awards. She felt a deep emptiness inside. These volunteer projects were supposed to fill that void, guarantee her a place of honor in heaven some day. Nothing seemed to be good enough, however.

As a Christian, God has come into our lives to fill that empty spot, the void that was created so that only He could fill it. People try all sorts of things, working hard to load that emptiness with good deeds but they leave God entirely out of the picture. It doesn’t work.

Our walk with the Lord, our daily time with Him, fills us to continue through the rest of our day. Because we are content, because we feel loved and cherished by God Himself, we seek to volunteer, to do whatever we can for someone else, not so we can earn anything but because of what He has given to us. We want to share His love with others because He gave His love to us when we least deserved it. Our life is full, content, and we have only God to thank for it.

Lord, I do thank You for my life, for the fullness and contentment I feel daily. Thank you for filling me with Your love so I can give it away to others. AMEN

In Two Up, Riding With The Lord, Barbara Ann Derksen creatively illustrates

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http://amzn.to/12n33GX

the importance of what it means to be God’s adopted child… Accepted, Secure, Significant, and Free… through faith in God’s one and only Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. You will discover the privileges of being a child of God, your strength as a believer, and the power given to you by God’s Holy Spirit as you spent time in His Word through these daily readings.

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Direct Access

For through Him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit. Eph 2:18

Deborah drove the water cart through the campground looking for hand signals that would indicate someone was thirsty. She watched as many waved beer cans in her direction, or used derogatory motions to indicate she was an intruder. Deborah smiled. She proudly carried her faith around her like a cloak, winter in a graveyardwarding off cuss words, crude gestures, and the tiredness that came from a sleepless night.

Just as she was about to leave that section of the rally site, a man raised his head. His sad eyes portrayed an agony inside. From what, Deborah could only guess. He stood slowly. She watched as he raised his hand, but then put it down again. He shook his head. Deborah moved on.

Later that day, she was traveling through that same section, overshadowed by trees. The temperature had risen to an uncomfortable level but she still smiled. The shade under these trees caused the heat index to drop slightly. As she passed the man with the sad eyes, working her way toward the back of this group of tents, she noticed him sitting as before, head bent and a crushed can of beer at his feet.

Deborah turned around and headed back the way she’d come. The man waved and stood. She stopped. He walked slowly toward her and as she poured him a refreshing cup of water, he began to speak.

”Thank you Ma’am, but it’s not water I need. My son is leaving this weekend to travel with a rock band. I know you have a connection to God. All you people do. Would you ask God to protect my son?” His eyes looked on her with confidence that she could do as he asked.

“Why don’t we pray right now?” Deborah put the cup of water on the side of the cart. As she closed her eyes, she saw him look around to see if anyone was watching. He shrugged and bowed his head.

Non-believers accept that we who are believers have access to God. What a privilege that is. Only a believer can stand before the throne of Grace and know that Jesus Christ intercedes on our behalf before God the Father. This man knew that members of Deborah’s biker group were Christians and that they practiced what they believed. They had access to God but so do you, if Jesus is Lord of your life.

Father God, Thank you for the comfort we have as believers. We know You are listening to us and we know that we can come to You at any time to access your strength and your guidance. AMEN.

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