WISHING YOU A MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Originally posted on An Encouraged Heart:

I pray that this Christmas season for each of you will be one that is shared with family, old friends, new friends, and even strangers. Let’s remember those whose hearts are a bit broken, and those of us who may not truly be in the “Christmas spirit”. I pray that each one of us will remember the hope that we have because we are followers of Christ…and share that hope with others. The hope of Christ reminds me of the Apostle Paul‘s prayer to the saints in Ephesus (Ephesians 1:17-18).

17 [For I always pray to] the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, that He may grant you a spirit of wisdom and revelation [of insight into mysteries and secrets] in the [deep and intimate] knowledge of Him,

18 By having the eyes of your heart flooded with light, so that you can know and understand the hope to…

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CHRIST IN US… OUR HOPE

It has been several months since my last post. Where has the time gone? I mentioned previously that I was beginning a study on the book of Colossians through Precept Ministries International. This tiny book of just four chapters addresses how we are to live as followers of Christ. Here, the Apostle Paul writes to the faithful church in Colosse, wanting to encourage them, but also to warn them of those things which may cause them to be deluded; those things that are possible distractors even today — traditions of men, philosophies of men, and false teachers. He admonishes them to remember the truth that they have heard and BELIEVED. They are to put their faith in Christ. Rely on Christ in every area of life. He reminds them of what Christ has done for them, and the hope that they have in Him.

Colossians 1:22-23
22 But Christ has brought you back to God by His death on the cross. In this way, Christ can bring you to God, holy and pure and without blame. 23 This is for you if you keep the faith. You must not change from what you believe now. You must not leave the hope of the Good News you received. The Good News was preached to you and to all the world. And I, Paul, am one of Christ’s missionaries.

Colossians 2: 6-8
6 As you have put your trust in Christ Jesus the Lord to save you from the punishment of sin, now let Him lead you in every step. 7 Have your roots planted deep in Christ. Grow in Him. Get your strength from Him. Let Him make you strong in the faith as you have been taught. Your life should be full of thanks to Him.8 Be careful that no one changes your mind and faith by much learning and big sounding ideas. Those things are what men dream up. They are always trying to make new religions. These leave out Christ.
(New Life Version)

It is impossible for me to convey the depth of Paul’s message to this body of believers. So please, take time out of your busy schedule and check out this book if you have not done so already.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z6mEQS2fsWE

Thanks for visiting AnEncouragedHeart. Signing off…God Bless! Cynthia

TRUSTING IN HIM

In preparation for an upcoming study of the book of Colossians, I spent some time listening to a few sermons this morning.

In particular, I focused my attention on the second chapter. I was drawn to the following scriptures in which the Apostle Paul warns the church body of false teaching and ideas that contradict what they have learned about Christ.

Colossians 2: 6-7
My counsel for you is simple and straightforward: Just go ahead with what you’ve been given. You received Christ Jesus, the Master; now live him. You’re deeply rooted in him. You’re well constructed upon him. You know your way around the faith. Now do what you’ve been taught. School’s out; quit studying the subject and start living it! And let your living spill over into thanksgiving.

8-10
Watch out for people who try to dazzle you with big words and intellectual double-talk. They want to drag you off into endless arguments that never amount to anything. They spread their ideas through the empty traditions of human beings and the empty superstitions of spirit beings. But that’s not the way of Christ. Everything of God gets expressed in him, so you can see and hear him clearly. You don’t need a telescope, a microscope, or a horoscope to realize the fullness of Christ, and the emptiness of the universe without him. When you come to him, that fullness comes together for you, too. His power extends over everything.

Let us remember to rely on God’s word and not the words of men to guide our thinking and ultimately our actions. We are bombarded with the “intellect” of men daily. Isn’t it easy to get caught up in listening to the wisdom of men on CNN, Fox News and the like?

Paul admonished the Colossians that the ideas that they embrace do matter. Are the ideas that we accept today grounded in man’s wisdom or the word of truth?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3M__eHGicWc

Thanks for visiting AnEncouragedHeart. Signing off…God Bless! Cynthia

OUR IDENTITY

Who Are You?
What words or phrases would you be inclined to use to describe yourself? This question was posed to a group of us in Sunday School recently. The responses included: follower of Christ, husband (wife), father (mother), friend, followed by occupation. When we were initially presented with the question, there was some hesitation. Why? For me, I wanted to avoid rattling off a list of labels without considering the order. I thought, perhaps I would verbalizing them in the order in which I would want someone to remember me. My first response was — a follower of Christ. I wondered… a follower of Christ – is that what people actually see?

I heard an interesting sermon series recently, “I Know He Is, but What I Am?” from the Elevation Church in North Carolina. The pastor suggested that because of our insecurities, our view of who we are as children of God is often tainted. He went on to say that, it is imperative that we must know first who God is before we can make the necessary leap in knowing our identify in Christ. Is our view of God limited to our opinion and that of others? Or, have we endeavored to know God personally by searching out the scriptures.

So, I will rephrase my initial question to perhaps the more important question, who do you say God is?

I hope that each one of us will make a concerted effort to know Him more…to spend a bit more time with Him in prayer and going deeper in His Word. There, we can discover His character, His will, and His promises. And, who we are in Him — a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17).

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J2LR2_Z3nfM

Thanks for visiting AnEncouragedHeart. Signing off…God Bless! Cynthia

HE IS IN CONTROL

A friend had the chance recently to tell an incredible story of how God provided for her, far beyond her expectations. This story like many others can be found in the recently released book, Kernels of Hope. The website advertising this book (by the same name), highlights the fact that these are testimonies of real, very ordinary people who chose to put their faith in God despite what they could see physically.

Her story, “Opportunity Knocks”, tells about her allegiance to God, but more importantly, it is once again evidence that God is ultimately in control. Be reminded…the Apostle Paul prayed this for the saints. And, may we have that same confidence in Him as children of God.

Philippians 1:6 I am sure that the good work God began in you will continue until he completes it on the day when Jesus Christ comes again.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BNFmy6VHIKk

Thanks for visiting AnEncouragedHeart. Signing off…God Bless! Cynthia

COMPLETE SURRENDER

I recently bought an early, Father’s Day gift for my husband — 7 Men by Eric Metaxas. If you aren’t familiar with Metaxas, he is the author who penned Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s life story several years ago. In his current book, he examines the lives of seven men who surrendered themselves completely to God, even in the face of persecution and in some cases even death. A chapter is dedicated to each of these men: George Washington, William Wilberforce, Eric Liddell, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Jackie Robinson, Pope John Paul II, and Charles Colson.

The section on Eric Liddell, which I read yesterday, was particularly inspiring. You may recall the movie Chariots of Fire, which told of his refusal to run the 100-meter race during the 1924 Olympics because of his conviction about the Sabbath. Without going into more detail, his story goes far beyond what was seen on the screen. He ultimately dedicated his life to become a missionary in China. His life exemplified total obedience and trust in God. His utmost desire was to do the work of the Master –a deep longing that he expressed at one of his first speaking engagements about his faith. Like the other men presented in the book, Liddell’s walk with God was immovable. Their success was grounded in their total reliance on Christ.

Isaiah 41:10
Do not fear, for I am with you;
Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you, surely I will help you,
Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.

I encourage you to pick up a copy of the book. I actually bought two copies — one for my husband and myself.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9BJhOgb-unI

Thanks for visiting AnEncouragedHeart. Signing off…God Bless! Cynthia

BY HIS WOUNDS, WE ARE HEALED!

Originally posted on An Encouraged Heart:

As we take time as a body to celebrate the resurrection of Christ, I searched this week for a contemporary song about Christ’s sacrifice. “By His Wounds” which is based on the fifth verse of Isaiah 53, so clearly describes the coming Messiah and the suffering He would endure in order to pay for our sins. In His sovereignty, God orchestrated every detail of the crucifixion to fulfill every prophecy of this chapter, as well as all other prophecies of the Old Testament  (http://www.gotquestions.org/Book-of-Isaiah.html).

Isaiah 53:5 reads — But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on Him, and by His wounds we are healed. (NIV)

I encourage you to take time to mediate on the words of this song, and give thanks for the privilege of walking with Christ.

BY HIS WOUNDS

He was pierced for our…

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