Set Your Mind – HOPE

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. Romans 4:1-5

Cling to these words which will prove to strengthen you in your salvation. Even in suffering there’s no need to question your eternal hope or God’s presence. But persevere and hold fast to the Lord. You may not like what you are going through, and you may never understand why you must experience certain trials. It may take everything in you. Cling to him. And be sure of this- trials will come your way- it is simply sin in this world. Yes, you will be required to persevere through them. And when they end, you will most likely be changed by them. You will be required to live a new normal, a new you. But in all the trials and all the changes, the one constant, the one hope, is Jesus. With your eyes focussed on him through it all, you will stand even more firm in the end.

Are you enduring suffering of any sort right now? Take it to the Lord in prayer. Ask him to give you strength to persevere, the ability to grow in his wisdom through it, and then give thanks for his ever present help and the assured hope of life with him no matter what, now and for eternity. 

Ready Yourself – HOPE

Wait Patiently in this hope of yours: For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. Romans 8:24-25

“I hope I’m going to Heaven. I think I am.”

Have these words ever entered your mind or come across your lips?

Well, take heart! In Jesus, you never need to question your eternal home. It is not the things you’ve done or haven’t done, but it’s what God has done because of his love for you. In sending Jesus to pay the penalty that your sin deserves; in his life, suffering, death, and resurrection, you have been brought back into life eternal with God. There is no question. This is your eternal hope. Be at peace. Be patient. And in all things seek and rest in your Saviour. 

Take time this week to rest in this eternal hope. Think about all that Jesus has done for you because of his love for you. Take any questioning or doubt to him in repentance and pray that he fills you with his peace and patience. Imagine what you will do when you arrive in his presence. Practice patiently living in this assured hope as you go through the tasks of this week.

Eternal Hope!

Good day friends! I pray your week and weekend went well!

You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 4:6-8

In our world today, the word hope gets a bad rap. When people use the word hope, many times there are a lot of question marks and unknowns around their desired outcomes. For example a bride and groom hope for good weather on their wedding day, or an interviewee hopes to be the successful recipient of the job. In each of the cases, hope is used as a verb, an action word. Something that you or I do. We hope for things. 

However, in Jesus our hope is not a verb where we need ‘to do’ anything. No. Our hope is a noun. It is an actual reality. Our eternal hope is the reality of all that Jesus accomplished on our behalf: forgiveness, reconciliation with the Father, and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. In Jesus, our sure and certain hope of life with our great and awesome God has already begun from the moment that the Holy Spirit and his precious gift of faith entered our hearts. Yes, because of God’s love for you, he provided the only way for us to be reunited to Him, now and for eternity. God did it all, for you!

So go in this hope and in the assurance of God’s love for you, no matter what might come your way this day, this week, this month. Yes, always remember and set your sights on knowing that God loves you so much that because of your sin and despite your sin, Christ died for you! Hold fast to this hope in faith until the day both your faith and hope are no longer needed.

Prayer: Dear Jesus, help me to stay steadfast in my eternal hope- the reality that your death and resurrection has paid the full penalty that my sin deserves and that in you I have been reunited with my Heavenly Father, now and for eternity. In your name alone I pray! AMEN!

Sneak peek to what’s ahead…

Good Day friends! I pray your month of August went well and that your week ahead unfolds according to his will.

As I mentioned at the start of August, I was taking the month of August as a Sabbath-Rest to focus on my own stewardship to my community, church and CoffeeTime. Well, I am excited to share that I will be changing things up for my weekly posts.

The first Monday of every month I will post a devotion on a particular theme. The theme of the devotion will be the theme for the month. For the remainder of the Mondays, I will post scripture in the form of what I like to call ScriptPics – pictures with scripture imbedded on them- along with a few sentences of encouragement or guidance to help you grow further in God’s word for you as you reflect on and incorporate that particular theme in your life over the month.

Ready, Set, Go! will be the outline for the remainder weeks of the month, following the devotion at the start of the month. The second Monday will be to help ready ourselves with regards to the theme with scripture and the help of the Holy Spirit, the third week we will set our minds on what God has called us to be within the theme, and the fourth week we will go with an action to incorporate it into our lives.

It is my hope that we can grow more in His likeness by not rushing through the devotions and jumping around from one theme to another, but study, reflect, and incoroporate God’s word in our lives. I hope you will continue to join me. Also, if you have something on your mind or have an idea for a monthly theme, I’d love to hear from you.

On a side note: I created ScriptPics back at the start of the pandemic and posted them on my facebook and instagram pages. People seemed to enjoy them and found encouragement in them, so I thought they’d be a fun addition to my posts.

God’s continued blessings to you this week ahead and I look forward to our CoffeeTime together next week. In His love and mine, Brenda

A Sabbath-Rest

Good day friends! I pray your week and weekend went well and this post finds you safe and healthy!

There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest…” Hebrews 4:9-11a

I am sharing with you today that I will be having a Sabbath-rest for the month of August which will include abstaining from writing and posting the devotional blogs. It has been over two years since I have taken a Sabbath-rest, and now with the pandemic on its way out (Lord willing), I feel that I can.

As mentioned in my devotion last week, we are coming into an exciting time of church renewal and it is my utmost desire to be ready and to prepare for helping serve in ways that will help meet the needs of my church. However, I am feeling I need a time to prayerfully consider what that may look like and I am finding that I am needing time to get back to just resting in the Lord during my morning times of devotion with him in order to truly seek his will for me.

There is one thing I ask of you. If you are seeking a devotion on a particular piece of scripture or focus, please send me a message. I will use your requests, as best I can, to guide my devotions over this upcoming year.

With renewed focus and clarity, I look forward to enjoying a CoffeeTime with you on Monday, September 6, 2021. God’s continued blessings to you!

Let’s Shine Brighter Than Ever

Good day friends! I pray your week and weekend went well, and that this devotion finds you and your loved ones safe and healthy!

In order to be renewed and personally prepare for the re-opening of my personal and church commitments,  I will be taking a Sabbath rest for the month of August. May the words of today’s devotion linger with you throughout August and may you join me in a renewed commitment to the Lord and his Church in the upcoming months. In His love and mine, Brenda

Readings for August, 2021: Tenth Sunday after Pentecost

Exodus 16:2-15; Psalm 145:10-21; Ephesians 4:1-16; John 6:22-35

So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Ephesians 4:11-13

Just a couple months before the pandemic began, our pastor resigned and our church went into a vacancy. To this day, we are still without a permanent pastor to shepherd us. Thanks be to God we have had a wonderfully patient, flexible and faithful vacancy pastor who has lead us – in person or virtually -through this entire pandemic.

Being without a permanent shepherd is difficult. Trying to grow in God’s truth without the support of a church family and the leadership of a called shepherd is difficult. There is a reason the church exists and that each church has a shepherd. They exist because God created them for the sake of his people- for you and for me. God did not, and still does not, desire us to walk our Christian walk alone. We are to be in fellowship with one another, support one another, love one another, learn with one another, and commune with one another. And we are to have pastors and teachers – servants of the church- to guide and lead us in God’s word and to administer the sacraments to us.

Although the pandemic has brought many people to God’s word to seek answers and help them in their times of trouble, it has also allowed the perfect setting for Satan to beat down our shepherds and to scatter the sheep. There are a few of my friends from different denominations in different churches who have experienced their pastor leaving the church since the pandemic started. If you think Satan has played with your mind, just think how hard he has worked on our shepherds. “Get those pesky shepherds out of the way and those dumb sheep will be putty in my hands,” he’s been saying to himself. And unfortunately he’s been successful with some.

Then there are the sheep – us- who have been trying to worship virtually, without the fellowship and voices of our brothers and sisters. There are the reduced opportunities to receive communion at the hands of our shepherds while in communion with one another. Then there’s the joyous chorus of hymns sung, the baptisms, the children and young families, the elderly and vulnerable that have seemingly disappeared as the months dragged on. Yes, Satan has had a hay day in the church over the past year and a half. But as we begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel, let us put a stop to it!

Photo by Mike Labrum on Unsplash

Whether you began seeking the Lord and renewing your relationship with him during the pandemic, or were a faithful follower before it began, I beg you to join me in being committed to a church renewal. If you didn’t have a church home before, seek one out by talking to a friend or family member you trust and respect who does have a church home. Then together we need to commit to praying for our shepherds, our church leaders, and attending worship to give thanks and praise to the Lord that we made it to this point, to receive first hand his blessings of word and sacrament, and to be enveloped by our church families with whom we will grow in God’s truth, learn to use the gifts he has blessed us with, and share his saving grace to those around us by shining the light of Christ in our lives.

Together, if we all made this commitment to be active members of the Lord’s body and to support our shepherds, then and only then can we combat the schemes with which Satan has been plying the church. Yes, Satan may have been winning many battles in the Church throughout the pandemic, but the victory remains ours in Christ, and in his strength, His Church in the 21st century can be stronger and shine brighter than it has in decades.

Prayer: Dear Lord, thank you for bringing us through the pandemic. May the worst be behind us. Please, continue to heal our province, our country, our world. Be with our shepherds. Strengthen them like you did Moses, to lead your people in the days to come. From this day on, along with my church family, “I will exalt you, my God the King; I will praise your name for ever and ever. Every day I will praise you and extol your name for ever and ever.” (Psalm 145:1-2) AMEN!

Clinging to Him in the Good Times as in the Tough Times

Good day friends! I pray your week and weekend went well, and that this devotion finds you and your loved ones safe and healthy!

Readings for July 25, 2021: Ninth Sunday after Pentecost

Genesis 9:8-17 Psalm 136:1-9; Ephesians 3:14-21; Mark 6:45-56

 I pray that out of his glorious riches he [the Father] may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ. Ephesians 3:16-19

In Ontario, as is much of the world, we are progressing through the re-opening stages as Covid 19 cases decline and the majority of the population is becoming vaccinated against this harmful and persistent virus. It feels so good to be coming to the end of lockdowns, isolations and working/learning/meeting/teaching/ worshipping only from home. Life has been difficult to say the least. However, looking back over the past 17 months, it has been through these times that I have clung to verses like today’s- the assurance of Christ’s love for us and that the Holy Spirit is dwelling in us, that we are never alone and that through Jesus we have his strength and guidance to endure.

The social, professional, relational, technological, emotional, and psychological trials that we were faced with due to the virus and restrictions were many. We were faced with loneliness, too much time to ‘think’, family conflicts, being separated from loved ones, and so much more. Then there were all the challenges of work life, whether needing to go to work everyday in total fear for yourself, your family and those with whom you came into contact. Or were required to work virtually from home and the challenges of isolation, being bombarded with and learning new technology in order to do your job, trying to communicate and feel connected virtually, and even being misunderstood through such communication. Then there were those who lost their jobs and the business owners who were required to fully shut down; all of whom were consumed with how to make ends meet. Finally, besides all of these life circumstances, there were the millions of people who contracted Covid and feared for their lives. For those who did survive they may continue to live with long term side effects. And then there are the families who have lost loved ones to this deadly virus. Yes, these past several months have bombarded all of us with opportunities to be overwhelmed and feelings of defeat, no matter what your Covid life looked like.

Thankfully, through it all, if nothing else, these trying days made many people- they made me- cling to the Lord even more. On days when my mind kept wanting to condemn me, the fact that I am forgiven through the blood of Jesus, gave me hope. On the days when I felt alone, knowing Jesus was with me gave me joy. On the days when household family members got on my nerves, remembering Jesus’ love for them gave me patience. On the days when work was overwhelming, trusting that I can do all things through Jesus who gives me strength, gave me endurance.

There wasn’t a day I didn’t need the reminder of God’s presence and strength in my life during these difficult months, and as we move into the world’s re-opening, I pray that I continue to crave Jesus in each and every day, the easy ones along with the difficult ones. And as a beloved and redeemed child of God, through Jesus, I pray this for you as well. May the love and trust in Jesus’ love and presence in your life, and the assurance of life with him now and for eternity through his death and resurrection, be on your heart each and every morning for the remainder of your days.

Prayer: Dear Lord, thank-you for your word through which I am reminded of your love, strength, faithfulness, and presence in my life. Thank you for being with me always, especially through the past year and a half. Now as the world moves back into a new normal, please continue to guide my heart to seek you every morning and throughout every day. In Jesus’ name I pray. AMEN!

In Memory of Precious Souls

Good day friends! I pray your week and weekend went well, and that this devotion finds you and your loved ones safe and healthy!

This week’s devotion comes to you with a heavy heart for all our Indigenous communities and Canada. Please bear with me. May we learn from past mistakes so that they may never be repeated.

Readings for July 18, 2021: Eighth Sunday after Pentecost

Jeremiah 23:1-6 Psalm 23; Ephesians 2:11-22; Mark 6:30-44

“Woe to the shepherds who are destroying and scattering the sheep of my pasture!” declares the Lord. Therefore this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says to the shepherds who tend my people: “Because you have scattered my flock and driven them away and have not bestowed care on them, I will bestow punishment on you for the evil you have done,” declares the Lord. “I myself will gather the remnant of my flock out of all the countries where I have driven them and will bring them back to their pasture, where they will be fruitful and increase in number. I will place shepherds over them who will tend them, and they will no longer be afraid or terrified, nor will any be missing,” declares the Lord. “The days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, a King who will reign wisely and do what is just and right in the land. . . .This is the name by which he will be called: The Lord Our Righteous Savior.  Jeremiah 23: 1-5, 6b

The writing of this devotion comes at a heartbreaking time in Canada, especially for our Indigenous brothers and sisters, but also for all Canadians. This past week and the weeks prior, have uncovered unmarked graves of over one thousand Indigenous children in Western Canada, while further searching across all of Canada is being done for more precious souls.

Oh how this week’s reading is so relevant to the injustices that were led by Canadian and Christian institutions. We May never fully know the circumstances surrounding their deaths, but the fact that residential schools existed at all is grievous. Oh how my heart aches for all these precious children and their families.

Unfortunately, this evil is not the only travesty in Canada’s, nor the world’s, history. We can see throughout all of history that humankind is capable of horrific things; terrible things that are done to other human beings; even things that are done in the name of God. However, let’s get one thing straight. These acts are not from God. These acts are done by sinful people. No, God had no part in any of it. God hates sin and he knows humankind is steeped in it. The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time. Genesis 6:5

Yes, God sees all terrible, unloving, evil actions and they grieve him. He aches for the burdened souls at the hand of others. He despises the evil that man does. Yet, he loves his creation. He loves the human race – you and me, despite our sin. That is the whole reason Jesus left his Heavenly home to live the perfect life we needed to live but couldn’t, and then died the wretched death that our sin deserves. He paid the penalty of our sin- each and every sin of every humanbeing, no matter how big or small. Then he conquered death with his resurrection, so that all people can conquer death and inherit eternal life, as they trust in him.

Despite the misguided, convoluted, ungodly actions of others, may we trust that Jesus’ loving arms surround each and every precious soul that was at another person’s mercy. May we be able to live in the trust that God’s love in Jesus is enough and trust him when he says, “Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.” Romans 12:17-19

In the meantime, may we all pray for those corporate institutions and individuals to come forward in repentance. Confession and absolution is the cornerstone to healing and fellowship with the Lord. Therefore, for those that have sinned against others, may they receive God’s humility and courage to acknowledge their sin before God and those they’ve harmed. And May they receive full and unconditional forgiveness. Only then can true healing occur.

Prayer: Dear Lord, please help us! You created all people and we are to build up and love one another. We are to show Jesus’ love and sacrifice through our own lives. Forgive us for all those times we fail. Please bestow humility and courage upon those institutional representatives and individuals to truly repent of any unresolved sinful action and that forgiveness be extended, so that all peoples and families can begin healing. In Jesus’ name I pray. AMEN!

Making Things Straight

Good day friends! I pray your week and weekend went well, and that this devotion finds you and your loved ones safe and healthy!

Readings for July 11, 2021: Seventh Sunday after Pentecost

Amos 7:7-15; Psalm 85: (1-7) 8-13; Ephesians 1:3-14; Mark 6:14-29

The Lord was standing by a wall that had been built true to plumb, with a plumb line in his hand. And the Lord asked me, “What do you see, Amos?” “A plumb line,” I replied. Then the Lord said, “Look, I am setting a plumb line among my people Israel; I will spare them no longer. Amos 7:7-8

My son and father-in-law are carpenters. Over the years as I have watched them work, I have learned the importance of making things straight. If the first board of a wall or the starter strip for siding is not straight then nothing will be straight. The use of a plumb line is essential to making things straight and plumb.

When God was talking with Amos, he had had enough. The Israelites had strayed so far from his truth that he was letting Amos know that he was going to set things straight. What was coming was a whole demolition and rebuild for the Israelites. Yes, the Lord was going to set the Israelites straight. And after they were demolished and taken into captivity, they were going to be rebuilt through King Cyrus. “I will raise up Cyrus in my righteousness: I will make all his ways straight. He will rebuild my city and set my exiles free, but not for a price or reward, says the Lord Almighty.” Isaiah 45:13

However, there was another plumb line that the Lord was setting in place. This plumb line was going to show the way to the cornerstone on which his church would be built, and which would last forever. This plumb line was foretold through the prophet Isaiah in the midst of the Israelites’ captivity. This plumb line was John the baptizer. He was thevoice of one calling: “In the wilderness prepare the way for the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain. And the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all people will see it together. For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.” Isaiah 40:3-5

Yes, this plumb line pointed us to Jesus, the Saviour of the world. The one who would pay the hefty price in order for God’s people and their ways to remain straight, to remain right, with God. For God himself says, “See, I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious cornerstone, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame.” (Isaiah 28:16) Therefore, “as you come to him, [Jesus], the living Stone—rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him— you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 2:4-5) So, stand firm on the only foundation that will make your ways straight, as you are built up with the whole body of Christ.

Prayer: Dear Lord, thank-you for sending John the baptizer to show us the way to Jesus, our Lord and Saviour. Please help me to always stand firm in trusting Jesus no matter what may come my way. For only in him will my ways remain straight and right. In Jesus’ name I pray. AMEN!

Good Morning, Lord!

Readings for July 4, 2021: Sixth Sunday after Pentecost

Ezekiel 2:1-5; Psalm 123; 2 Corinthians 12:1-10; Mark 6:1-13

 [God] said to me, “Son of man, stand up on your feet and I will speak to you.” As he spoke, the Spirit came into me and raised me to my feet, and I heard him speaking to me. Ezekiel 2:1-2

When I was actively serving in children’s ministry, there was a song we taught the children called Good Morning Lord. It went like this:

Good morning, Lord. It’s a beautiful day.

Good morning, Lord. I’m going your way.

Open my eyes and let me see someone who needs a friend like me.

I know that I can surely be loving, caring, always sharing.

Good morning, Lord. It’s a beautiful day.

Good morning, Lord. I’m going your way.

I always liked this song as it reinforces our need, as God’s people, to help and love others. What a great lesson to instill in our children. However, over the years, as I have sung this little ditty as a personal song of praise, I have found there’s something that just doesn’t sit right.

Although I do desire to have my eyes open to see someone in need, I do not know that I can always be loving, caring, sharing, and give these people what they need. In fact, I know I cannot! It is only with the help of the Holy Spirit that I can be loving, caring, and sharing, let alone ‘always sharing’. Yes, only with the power of the Holy Spirit working in me can I be whom God needs me to be.

I then began to think about the burden we set on our children. Telling them that this is how they are to be but with the command that expects them to always be loving, caring and sharing. But what about when they fail? And they will fail. Oh the burden of our inability to live and be all that God desires for us to do and be. Perhaps they may feel the need to put on a ‘perfect’ façade because they’re ashamed of their failure. Or worse, they make excuses and judge others in order to justify their inabilities and failures. No, the full lesson we teach our children, in and of themselves, should not be that they can and should be the perfect children and helpers to others.  

Instead, the lesson should be that despite our inabilities and sinfulness, God can and does, through the Holy Spirit, strengthen us and give us what we need to help and love those he leads us to; those things which he has prepared in advance for us to do. Just like in today’s passage, when God called Ezekiel and told him to stand, he didn’t wait for Ezekiel to fumble his way to his feet. In reality, the Holy Spirit did all the work. The Holy Spirit lifted Ezekiel to his feet. It doesn’t even say that Ezekiel was an active participant. It just implies that he was attentively listening to what God was saying and God was doing all the work. Wow! To have it be God’s power working in us to fulfill his desires. No, it’s not about me being left to myself to do what I know God would want from me, but God working in me. What a burden lifted! What a freedom! What a privilege!

Yes, besides loving and caring for others, this is the lesson we need to teach our children. This example of humility and the awareness of our own weaknesses due to sin in us that has us give thanks to Jesus, our Saviour, for all he has done for us, is what’s important. It is living out the reality of the Holy Spirit within us to be his lights in the world that we need to teach our children.

If we started living our lives and raising our children with this humble reality and need for our Lord, then perhaps the heaviness our sins and guilt, of which we are so aware, would not cause so many people to turn away from the Lord, thinking that to be his child is unachievable. But instead, it would redirect our thinking from focussing on all our doing to focussing on and trusting God’s power in us. What an awesome lesson and truth about God to teach our children.

Therefore, to ease my conscience, I have rewritten the lyrics of Good morning Lord to reflect these truths.

Good morning, Lord. It’s a beautiful day.

Good morning, Lord. I want to go your way.

Open my eyes and let me see someone who needs a friend like me.

Holy Spirit help me be loving, caring, always sharing.

Good morning Lord. It’s a beautiful day.

Good morning Lord. Help me go your way.

Prayer: Good morning Lord, it’s a beautiful day. Good morning Lord. I want to go your way. On my own I am unworthy and incapable of answering your call to love others. Forgive me and help me to turn to you for your strength. Only in you can I be all that you would have me be. In Jesus’ name I pray. AMEN!

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