Showing items filed under “Beth Sweeney”
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WHAT IN THE WORLD IS GOING ON IN OUR WORLD??

      As I write this blog, the world has changed even more drastically since my last blog in April. Then, all we were dealing with was the Coronavirus.  Now we’ve added cities and lives being torn apart because of anger and mistrust—at times it feels like there is more division and hate than ever before.  The country that was founded on God now seems bent on living in direct opposition to Him.

      In the midst of it, we may find ourselves asking: Where is God in all of this? Are we beginning to see the ushering in of the end times? How do I keep myself from being caught up in those feelings of anger and hopelessness? How can my life make a difference in a world that so blatantly needs Jesus?

        First, while we need to be aware of what is going on in the world around us, we can’t let it consume us.  We have to stop focusing on all of the hate and negativity……turn the news off and open God’s Word.

 Philippians 4:8 – a verse most of us have read and know tells us how to quit focusing on all of the turmoil around us and instead focus on:

 “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable…..if anything is praiseworthyTHINK ABOUT SUCH THINGS.

     This verse reminds us to focus on things rooted in God’s love and His mercy.  When I think of all the ways God has blessed me, protected me, loved me—how can I not trust Him with things today? And, when I further think about the plans God has for our eternity, how can I not have peace, joy, and hope?

 In Colossians 3: 1 – 3 God instructs us:

“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 MIND ON THINGS ABOVE – NOT ON EARTHLY THINGS.  For you died and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.”

     Now more than ever, we need to begin filling our hearts and minds with God.  It is impossible to accurately represent something or someone that we know very little about. We need to live and breathe God’s character if we want to pattern our lives after His.  The only book we ever need to study to truly know the character of God is the only one written by His very own hand—the Bible. Bible studies and Christian books are wonderful supplements but should never take the place of spending time in His Word.

     Second, once we begin thinking on things that are true, right, holy, pure, encouraging, filled with hope and God’s love, we will begin reflecting Him to those around us. Wherever we go, people will begin to see Jesus in us. They will see His characteristics flowing out of our words and actions—words and actions that show His love, mercy, understanding, forgiveness, encouragement, concern and hope.

      Colossians 3: 12- 14; 17 states:

“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone.  Forgive as the Lord forgave you……And over all these virtues……PUT ON LOVE which binds them all together in perfect unity.”

      Notice the word “clothe” yourself.  Just as we have to take time every morning to put our clothing on before we go out, God is instructing us that we need to “put on” all of those Godly characteristics found in that verse.  Oh what a difference we would make in the world around us if ALL of our words and actions reflected those characteristics of God that we had taken the time that morning to “put on” by being in His Word before we left our home to go out and mingle with the world.

        Third, we need to NEVER forget that no matter what we are seeing take place in the world around us, God is still and always will be on His throne.  He is not pacing back and forth wondering what His next plan is going to be. He is firmly and confidently on His throne and what we are seeing is His plan moving forward.  Have confidence and joy in knowing that.

       Psalm 29:10“The Lord sits enthroned over the flood; the Lord is enthroned as King FOREVER.” God had complete control when the great flood happened and He has complete control with COVID and any hate and division in the world today.

  Psalm 31:24“Be strong and take heart all you who hope in the Lord.” 

    DON’T LOSE HOPE!  We need to continually look up. Are the end times on the horizon? No one knows.  But of this we can be sure—we need to live every single day of our lives as though it is.  We don’t have time to waste in telling those around us who so desperately need to hear—Jesus loves them and is waiting for them to come to Him.

     A Pastor I knew once made this statement that has always stuck with me: “The reason our evangelism is not effective is because our lives do not reflect the Jesus we are proclaiming.” (Pastor J.D. Cook)

      As we face the coming days let us always remember as God’s people, we must always take a stand for what is right, while always remembering to act with love and mercy, and understanding of what those around us might be going through.  

THE BEST IS YET TO COME… LET’S LIVE TODAY LIKE WE BELIEVE IT!

 

Posted by Beth Sweeney with
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When I was asked to do the blog for this month, of course my mind went to the situation that we have all found ourselves in the middle of – COVID 19. It is the source of every conversation and every news report and has drastically changed our everyday lives from shopping to socialization. We have been thrust into a “new normal” that doesn’t feel very normal at all.

As I prayed about this blog, I kept coming back to one question I kept asking of myself—how are we believers using this opportunity to be His light in this situation? How are we using this crisis to continually point people to Jesus? We know that in this world of sin, God promises us there will be trials and tribulations.

James 1:2 “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters whenever you face trials of many kinds…”

Not IF we face trials, but when we face trials…. So, what do we do with this crisis we are in? How about we use it as a time to grow and to use what God is showing us to reach and encourage others God puts in our lives every day.

The purpose of any trial God allows us to go through is to grow us, strengthen our walk with Him and be a testimony to those around us. That is accomplished when we fully trust that He has complete control in every situation—even when things seem so out of control. Choose to trust He has a plan that is always moving forward—a plan that is always to benefit us. We didn’t just happen to fall into the midst of this by accident. God has allowed us to be here.

Psalm 56:3-4: “When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust and am not afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?”

Psalm 55:22-23: “Cast your cares on the Lord and He will sustain you, He will never let the righteous be shaken. But you God will bring down the wicked into the pit of decay; the bloodthirsty and deceitful will not live out half their days…but as for me….I TRUST YOU.”

As I have grown in Christ, He has taught me that I can confidently ask Him to not just “get me through” this crisis, but GROW me through it so on the other side I can honestly say “Praise God” for what He just allowed me to go through. Even if it wasn’t the most fun or the most pleasant situation, we should always value any situation that has caused us to draw closer to Him, to trust Him more and to become more Christ-like. If we grumble, complain and worry through it instead, the outcome on the other side is not going to be profitable in our walk with Jesus.

In times such as these we are called to be a light to the world around us.

Psalm 71:7-8: “I have become a sign to many; YOU are my strong refuge. My mouth is filled with your praise, declaring your splendor day and night.” (Praise God in every moment of every day!)

Psalm 71:14-15: “As for me, I will always have hope; I will praise you more and more. My mouth will tell of your righteous deeds, of your saving acts all day long…” (My testimony to all those around me.)

Are the words coming out of my mouth these days ones of “poor me….gloom and doom…..I’m tired of all of this,” or are they words that bring peace, joy and hope to those around us? Are they singing God’s praises and telling of all His righteous deeds? Are they telling of the hope we have in Him? After people have been in our presence, do they feel encouraged or even more depressed than they were before spending a few moments with us?

I have had to be in the grocery store a couple of times over the last few weeks and while there I was both pleased and disappointed to see how people are handling this change in their everyday lives. So many people have smiles on their faces and are using this time to be friendly (from 6 feet away of course) to those around them. But, when I asked the checker how everything was going for her, she shared with me that so many folks are getting angry at her because they can only buy one of some items and have to have some of their things put back. She was so upset by what someone said to her that she couldn’t sleep the night before. God gave me an opportunity at that moment to be an encouragement to her. We spent just a couple of minutes talking about how this is all going to pass and the people who said that to her were probably speaking from their fear and uncertainty of everything going on. I encouraged her to remember that she was there doing an important job and when people chose to get ugly just to turn it around and be an encourager to them. We laughed about a few things and when I left, she had a smile on her face. It took just two or three minutes to care about what she was going through—to let her know I would be praying for her safety and to instill some hope into her day.

Now I’m not this spiritual giant, but God is calling all of us to be an encourager, bring a smile to someone’s face and let them know that you have a God who cares and loves them. Please don’t be the person who grumbles to anyone who will listen that you didn’t get that last pack of toilet paper because someone grabbed it first. I love that in my O’Fallon Wal-Mart, we actually have a police officer “guarding” the TP. I asked him how his boss went about telling him that day that he had toilet paper duty. He laughed and said I get paid the same so I’m fine with this assignment! Find humor and pass it along.

As Christians, please let us never live our lives as though we have no hope. Let us never blend in with the world so much during times like this, that it is hard to tell us apart from those who have no hope or joy.  You see my joy comes from my Jesus—not ANY situation occurring around me. Let’s use this time to let people know we care about them. Now is a great time to invite people to join our church service in a very non-threatening way. What an encouragement that will be to someone to hear our Pastor give them the hope that they need so much straight from God’s Word. Then follow up with them when things return to “normal” and invite them to come to church with you. Look for ways to connect with those around us more than ever right now when people are feeling so isolated. A phone call or a card in the mail can brighten someone’s day. And, I would really encourage you to take part in one of the Sunday school classes that are taking place on ZOOM each Sunday morning. Check the church website for details on times. It is a great way to spend time with your Brothers and Sisters in Christ around God’s Word.

Our God is faithful. He never leaves us! Spread this message wherever you are.

MAKE A DIFFERENCE FOR JESUS TODAY!

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