Monday, December 31, 2012

Looking Forward

It's the last day of 2012, and as it comes to a close, most folks look back to the year that has passed and plan ahead for the year to come. 

I'm personally not a resolution maker.  Sure, there's things I'd like to do, but if those things happen, great, if not, that's fine too.  I'd like to see my children grow more toward the Lord in the coming year, see myself and hubby grow more in the Lord as well, work more on prayer and bible study, grow more disciplined in basics around the home, and so on.  I'd love to lose more pounds that are starting to creep back on since cold weather has set in and I've not been outside working as much.  I'd dropped 35 pounds and many sizes, and they're trying to find their way back home.  I'd like to learn more ways to make best use of resources, whether physical, financial, or otherwise.  These  are basically things that have already been worked on and in progress, so no major upheavel in schedules and such, simply a continuation of projects already started.   I don't imagine these will all be completed immediatly, so no biggie. 

I'd also like to see more people coming to Christ, knowing Him as personal Lord and Savior.  This means more work on my part to get the Gospel out, whether in person or via this little blog in a tiny corner of the world.  It can be done!

I'd like to be more of an encouragement.  How can I be of encouragement to you?

Looking backward toward 2012, we've had chance to see played out in the news/media and in front of our eyes various happenings that are what the bible described.  The Middle East for one--the various Old Testament prophets told about how the different countries would fall, and one by one align themselves against Israel.  We also see how our world is becoming more and more the global one world economy and soon government and religion.  We see how the saints are being persecuted more and more, many being martyred, and how that is starting to come here even to the US, where we've been so protected for so long.

Looking ahead to 2013, we have much ahead that will be pushing us farther into a one world government/economy/religion.  God has told us what is to come in the Bible, and to see what He said would happen play out in front of our eyes should be the most exciting thing we can think of short of seeing another soul saved!  Should we be happy when bad things occur, as they have and will again?  No, but we should remember WHO is in charge, WHO takes care of us, WHO will provide for us, and WHO will be at the finish line no matter what happens.  We were not promised a life of ease when we became a child of God.  We WERE promised He'd be with us all the way through, and told to trust Him.

Dear friend, if you haven't put your trust in Jesus as your Lord and Savior, don't let 2012 end without Him!  He loves you so much, He wants to give you the gift He offers freely--forgiveness of your sins and a life of freedom within Him.  He wants you to be with Him in Heaven when it is time to leave this ol' earth.  He calls for you, will you answer Him?  Don't go to 2013 without Him! 

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas!

It is Christmas! 

We celebrate His birth today!  He was born in the stable, lived a perfect and sinless life, fulfilled the Law, bore our sins at Calvary, died for us, rose again, conquered death and hell--all for you and me! 


Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Remember, Remember

It is early morning here in Southeast Kansas, and it's only myself and the cats who stir.  I sit with my cup of Christmas coffee beside a heating vent that the oldest cat is attempting to cover up with her entire body.  Here very soon I must start my morning "routine" before heading to church.

I come here this morning to encourage you! 

Remember, Jesus loves you.  He loves you so so much, that He left His glory in heaven to come down here to earth as a babe, born in the stables on a cold night.  He left the angels singing hallaluias and all the blessed light and beauty of heaven for you.  He loves you so much He lived for 33 years on earth among us, so He could understand what you experience, so He could honestly says, "I have been there too, I understand."  He laid His life down for you, voluntarily going to the old rugged cross, voluntarily laying His hands and feet to be nailed to that old knarled wood, and voluntarily died with your sins on His shoulders.  He voluntarily took your sins while He was up on the cross, so that even His own Father had to turn away as He bore your sins (and mine).  He went to a borrowed tomb, and He didn't stay long.  He rose again!  His tomb is empty, He conquered death, and is again in Heaven. 

He's waiting for you to receive His gift, His forgiveness, as He is the only one who can forgive you of all the things you've done wrong, doing wrong, and will do wrong.  He is the only one who carried your sins, and as that spotless Lamb, put them on His account that you wouldn't have to. 

He is the reason for Christmas.  We remember Christmas as the newborn babe in the manger, with no fanfare, but only a handful of shepherds, rough and smelly from the fields.  We remember the nervous virgin Mary who delivered Him as her first born, and Joseph who became His legal and adoptive father while He was here. 

Remember, remember, dear friend...Jesus did this for you. 

Christmas is only the beginning of the adventure!

Merry Chrismas from the Abella Family!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

A Christmas Coffee Smile

Do you enjoy the "Christmas" flavor of the expensive coffees produced by Starbucks and others? 

You can easily make this at home, for pennies! 

Buy your favorite coffee that you'd run through the coffee pot.  I personally use either Folgers, Great Value (yes, I get cheap), or Cafe Bustello (expresso). 

When you make your pot for the morning, add in a teaspoon (or more, depending on your liking) of cinnamon.  If you want more flavor, add a dash of nutmeg and cloves with the cinnamon.  A teaspoon of vanilla powder will make the flavor nice as well, as  will any powdered flavor that you enjoy. Like gingerbread?  Put in a bit of ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves with the grounds and then brew. 

If you use instant, you can easily make the same, just use smaller amounts.  A dash will do of all the various ideas when making per cup. 

My family also uses chocolate a lot in coffee.  We purchase inexpensive hot chocolate drink mix, mix it in a bowl with a 3 pound container of regular creamer, and store in smaller cans/containers for use.  For a little fun, I put in almond bark shreds to top my cup.  Sometimes a dash of the cinnamon.  Or even chocolate chips or coconut. 

Who says you have to buy the high dollar expensive coffee?  Play with the ingredients from your cabinet and you'll have a wonderful morning of heavenly scents and caffeine--who can beat that???

Have a great day!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Why Did It Happen?

It's been only a few days since the news came out about the shooting in Connecticut that took the lives of 20 children and 6 adults in the school. 

Though we are way out in southern Kansas, half a country away from the East Coast, we feel the affects somewhat of the gunman's actions.  Our local schools effective this morning all have police or sheriff's deputies stationed in them, where they had not before.  We sat with our children last night and finally discussed what had happened, and prepared them for what may be discussed today, as well as the new officers in the building.

Like most others, I've wondered "what if"--what if it'd been our school, our kids, our lives changed instead of those in Connecticut.  I've wondered also what possessed that man to do such a heinous crime.  I've heard the questions, like "where was God?" and "why did God allow it to happen?" 

After reading and listening to scripture, I think I've got a fairly good answer.  You won't hear it on the news, nor read it in the newspapers, but it is truth nonetheless.

First, let me say--don't blame God.  God did not do it.  God did not tell the young man to kill his mother, steal weapons from her, steal her car, and go to the local elementary school and commit murder there.  He was not acting on God's behalf.  God welcomed those children home, but He didn't kill them.

God gives us a free will, letting us choose good or evil.  He didn't make us into machines.  He created a perfect world, and gave us free will to choose right or wrong.  He chose to give us that will so that we could choose to love Him freely, rather than being forced.  As a parent, would you want your child loving you because he/she was forced to or because he/she wanted to?  Same idea.  Anyway, since we have free will to choose what we do, we can't blame God when we make bad choices.  We can't blame God when someone else chooses to do something that hurts us. 

The shooter made his choice.  He chose to take the actions he did.  God did not tell him to do so.  The shooter chose to do evil in the sight of the Lord.  God is not the author of chaos.  Satan is. 

Where was God?  He was right where He is, was, and has always been and always will be.  He did not move.  He didn't leave His throne.  He was there to welcome home those children.  He was there to welcome any of the adults who knew His Son as Savior.  He's there right now to heal broken hearts and lives, if people will let Him in.  It is God and His Son Jesus who heals the wounds.  Counselors can give ideas, but without God none of them truly work. 

What possessed the shooter to do what he did?  Satan.  The shooter had a choice to follow God through Jesus Christ, or Satan by doing his "own thing" and living his own way.  He let himself be influenced by evil, and that evil came through his actions.

We are at a point in time where we as Christians can sense urgency in the world around us.  Lawlessness is increasing, murders are on the rise, people more and more turn away from Jesus, more people are turning to their own lusts.  The bible tells us that God will let people feed on their own perverse and diverse lusts, with more people going the way of the world, the devil, and the flesh.  He is not surprised in what happens in this world.  We shouldn't be surprised either. 

Instead, we should be on our knees (either physically or at least in heart) praying for people affected.  Pray that the Lord would touch their hearts, get through to them before it's too late.  Jesus can heal, but He won't if He isn't let into the broken hearts.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Christmas Joys in Small Packages

I'll admit it, I love Christmas.  I'm not a little girl anymore, but there's still nothing that matches up with the Christmas season.  I'm all for starting it before Halloween and continuing through maybe Valentine's or Easter. 

I love the lights and decorations.  One of the things our family does is pack up in the truck and go driving around the various subdivisions and neighborhoods, enjoying the myriad of decorations, from a strand of lights to a magnificent production.  This year I've enjoyed driving down Broadway (the "main" street in our little town) and see not only the city's lights they've put up, but also the store front windows in the historical buildings.  Some have went way above and beyond with multiple lit trees, snowmen, lights, one has lights that look like real icicles and are blue.  (Can you tell I get excited??!!??)

Growing up out in the country, my parents saw no need to decorate--who would see them but us?  We weren't Christians, but each year we put up a tree, with handmade ornaments I brought home from school and some that had been in the family for a long while.  I remember the ornament made from pine cones that I'd collected from the trees by our house down in southern Oklahoma.  At school we made those pine cones into sleds and put little plastic Santa ornaments in them (with the gold cord to hang)  and some little runners on the bottom, then sealed them very well.  Each year I put out a big ol' sock under the tree, and mom would fill it with fruits and nuts and candies.  Then dad would eat all the nuts and fruit. 

Like I said, growing up, we were not Christians.  Christmas didn't mean the birth of Jesus.  It meant presents, 2 weeks off of school, and extreme cold when we moved north to near the Iowa line.  It meant snow.  Lots and lots of snow.  I didn't know the meaning of Christmas, and so when I got older and on my own, Christmas was no longer all the delight and fun.  No more parents to shower presents--they had passed on.  I was invited to a few parties, went to a handful, but it was all alcohol parties (came with the nature of the work I did in the prison system and the stress that came along with working maximum security and not being saved).  Christmas day was empty.  While everyone had their families, I was alone.  Empty.

It took a few years and coming to Christ to realize what Christmas really is.  It's not presents.  It's not booze parties with stressed out officers.  It's not all the lights and decorations. 

It's Jesus. 

I was an adult when I got saved.  When I heard the Christmas story after salvation, I bawled like a baby.  It's been almost 10 years, and I still get teary eyed.    It never hit me until I got to know Jesus the Savior that Jesus the baby in the manger had so much importance.  How could God love me so much that He would send His only Son to come to this world as a baby, born in a barn to definitely not the richest mom and stepdad, live 33 years, and face such a horrific torture and death at the hands of those He came to save? 

I appreciate now the babe in the manger.  I still love the decorations, the lights and pretties, but the only present worth giving to that babe in the manger. 

For without the babe in the manger...there'd be no Savior at the cross and the empty tomb.

No matter how you celebrate Christmas, remember WHO we celebrate!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Rejoicing in Captivity

Ezra 3:11--"And they sang together by the course in praising and giving thanks unto the Lord, because he is good, for his mercy endureth forever toward Israel.  And all the people shouted with a great shout, when they praised the Lord, because the foundation of the house of the Lord was laid."

Have you been involved in a church plant?  If so, you know the joy of a new work beginning in order to spread the gospel.  You've seen the hard work, the labor of love that begins to plant new seeds into hearts and bring them to the saving grace of God.  It's a wonderful feeling knowing you had a hand in the work, and you rejoice in the beginnings of a new church.

In this passage in Ezra, the people sang and gave praises as they laid the foundations of a new temple.  They were in captivity, but given permission to build a temple to worship in.  They were excited!  This was a serious work, and the people, as well as the older priests, wept as they began the building.

Soon after they began the temple, they faced the ecumenical movement.  Outsiders, also called adversaries of Judah and Benjamin, sought to worship in the new temple. 

Ezra 4:1-24:    Now when the adversaries of Judah and Benjamin heard that the children of the captivity builded the temple unto the LORD God of Israel;

Then they came to Zerubbabel, and to the chief of the fathers, and said unto them, Let us build with you: for we seek your God, as ye [do]; and we do sacrifice unto him since the days of Esarhaddon king of Assur, which brought us up hither.

But Zerubbabel, and Jeshua, and the rest of the chief of the fathers of Israel, said unto them, Ye have nothing to do with us to build an house unto our God; but we ourselves together will build unto the LORD God of Israel, as king Cyrus the king of Persia hath commanded us.

Then the people of the land weakened the hands of the people of Judah, and troubled them in building,

And hired counsellors against them, to frustrate their purpose, all the days of Cyrus king of Persia, even until the reign of Darius king of Persia.

And in the reign of Ahasuerus, in the beginning of his reign, wrote they [unto him] an accusation against the inhabitants of Judah and Jerusalem.

And in the days of Artaxerxes wrote Bishlam, Mithredath, Tabeel, and the rest of their companions, unto Artaxerxes king of Persia; and the writing of the letter [was] written in the Syrian tongue, and interpreted in the Syrian tongue.

Rehum the chancellor and Shimshai the scribe wrote a letter against Jerusalem to Artaxerxes the king in this sort:

Then [wrote] Rehum the chancellor, and Shimshai the scribe, and the rest of their companions; the Dinaites, the Apharsathchites, the Tarpelites, the Apharsites, the Archevites, the Babylonians, the Susanchites, the Dehavites, [and] the Elamites,

And the rest of the nations whom the great and noble Asnappar brought over, and set in the cities of Samaria, and the rest [that are] on this side the river, and at such a time.

This [is] the copy of the letter that they sent unto him, [even] unto Artaxerxes the king; Thy servants the men on this side the river, and at such a time.

Be it known unto the king, that the Jews which came up from thee to us are come unto Jerusalem, building the rebellious and the bad city, and have set up the walls [thereof], and joined the foundations.

Be it known now unto the king, that, if this city be builded, and the walls set up [again, then] will they not pay toll, tribute, and custom, and [so] thou shalt endamage the revenue of the kings.

Now because we have maintenance from [the king's] palace, and it was not meet for us to see the king's dishonour, therefore have we sent and certified the king;

That search may be made in the book of the records of thy fathers: so shalt thou find in the book of the records, and know that this city [is] a rebellious city, and hurtful unto kings and provinces, and that they have moved sedition within the same of old time: for which cause was this city destroyed.

We certify the king that, if this city be builded [again], and the walls thereof set up, by this means thou shalt have no portion on this side the river

[Then] sent the king an answer unto Rehum the chancellor, and [to] Shimshai the scribe, and [to] the rest of their companions that dwell in Samaria, and [unto] the rest beyond the river, Peace, and at such a time.

The letter which ye sent unto us hath been plainly read before me.

And I commanded, and search hath been made, and it is found that this city of old time hath made insurrection against kings, and [that] rebellion and sedition have been made therein.

There have been mighty kings also over Jerusalem, which have ruled over all [countries] beyond the river; and toll, tribute, and custom, was paid unto them.

Give ye now commandment to cause these men to cease, and that this city be not builded, until [another] commandment shall be given from me.

Take heed now that ye fail not to do this: why should damage grow to the hurt of the kings?

Now when the copy of king Artaxerxes' letter [was] read before Rehum, and Shimshai the scribe, and their companions, they went up in haste to Jerusalem unto the Jews, and made them to cease by force and power.

Then ceased the work of the house of God which [is] at Jerusalem. So it ceased unto the second year of the reign of Darius king of Persia.

With the beginning of a new church, a new pastor, a new work, there will be adversaries.  Wolves come to the door and try to stop the shepherd from tending his flock.  It could be anything, from a cult member trying to infiltrate, folks talking bad about the new work/pastor/etc and spreading malicious rumors, city code folks pushing extreme and discriminatory code enforcement rules on the new building/work, etc.  If you can think of it, it can or has probably happened, whether it be a local plant or missions.  Extra biblical theologies, practices from the New Age movement, Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, and other "religions" have absolutely no place within the work of God.  The priests in Ezra's day knew this and kept the wolves out of the temple despite the cost. 

God's work will prevail.  One way or another, He doesn't let His work die.  We find reward when we continue in the Lord's work no matter the opposition. 

Ezra 5:1-6:22   :Then the prophets, Haggai the prophet, and Zechariah the son of Iddo, prophesied unto the Jews that [were] in Judah and Jerusalem in the name of the God of Israel, [even] unto them.

Then rose up Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Jeshua the son of Jozadak, and began to build the house of God which [is] at Jerusalem: and with them [were] the prophets of God helping them.

At the same time came to them Tatnai, governor on this side the river, and Shetharboznai, and their companions, and said thus unto them, Who hath commanded you to build this house, and to make up this wall? 

Then said we unto them after this manner, What are the names of the men that make this building?

But the eye of their God was upon the elders of the Jews, that they could not cause them to cease, till the matter came to Darius: and then they returned answer by letter concerning this [matter].

The copy of the letter that Tatnai, governor on this side the river, and Shetharboznai, and his companions the Apharsachites, which [were] on this side the river, sent unto Darius the king:

They sent a letter unto him, wherein was written thus; Unto Darius the king, all peace.

Be it known unto the king, that we went into the province of Judea, to the house of the great God, which is builded with great stones, and timber is laid in the walls, and this work goeth fast on, and prospereth in their hands.

Then asked we those elders, [and] said unto them thus, Who commanded you to build this house, and to make up these walls?

We asked their names also, to certify thee, that we might write the names of the men that [were] the chief of them.

And thus they returned us answer, saying, We are the servants of the God of heaven and earth, and build the house that was builded these many years ago, which a great king of Israel builded and set up.

But after that our fathers had provoked the God of heaven unto wrath, he gave them into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, the Chaldean, who destroyed this house, and carried the people away into Babylon.

But in the first year of Cyrus the king of Babylon [the same] king Cyrus made a decree to build this house of God.

And the vessels also of gold and silver of the house of God, which Nebuchadnezzar took out of the temple that [was] in Jerusalem, and brought them into the temple of Babylon, those did Cyrus the king take out of the temple of Babylon, and they were delivered unto [one], whose name [was] Sheshbazzar, whom he had made governor;

And said unto him, Take these vessels, go, carry them into the temple that [is] in Jerusalem, and let the house of God be builded in his place.

Then came the same Sheshbazzar, [and] laid the foundation of the house of God which [is] in Jerusalem: and since that time even until now hath it been in building, and [yet] it is not finished.

Now therefore, if [it seem] good to the king, let there be search made in the king's treasure house, which [is] there at Babylon, whether it be [so], that a decree was made of Cyrus the king to build this house of God at Jerusalem, and let the king send his pleasure to us concerning this matter.

Then Darius the king made a decree, and search was made in the house of the rolls, where the treasures were laid up in Babylon.

And there was found at Achmetha, in the palace that [is] in the province of the Medes, a roll, and therein [was] a record thus written:

In the first year of Cyrus the king [the same] Cyrus the king made a decree [concerning] the house of God at Jerusalem, Let the house be builded, the place where they offered sacrifices, and let the foundations thereof be strongly laid; the height thereof threescore cubits, [and] the breadth thereof threescore cubits;

[With] three rows of great stones, and a row of new timber: and let the expenses be given out of the king's house:

And also let the golden and silver vessels of the house of God, which Nebuchadnezzar took forth out of the temple which [is] at Jerusalem, and brought unto Babylon, be restored, and brought again unto the temple which [is] at Jerusalem, [every one] to his place, and place [them] in the house of God.

Now [therefore], Tatnai, governor beyond the river, Shetharboznai, and your companions the Apharsachites, which [are] beyond the river, be ye far from thence:

Now [therefore], Tatnai, governor beyond the river, Shetharboznai, and your companions the Apharsachites, which [are] beyond the river, be ye far from thence:

Moreover I make a decree what ye shall do to the elders of these Jews for the building of this house of God: that of the king's goods, [even] of the tribute beyond the river, forthwith expenses be given unto these men, that they be not hindered.

And that which they have need of, both young bullocks, and rams, and lambs, for the burnt offerings of the God of heaven, wheat, salt, wine, and oil, according to the appointment of the priests which [are] at Jerusalem, let it be given them day by day without fail:

That they may offer sacrifices of sweet savours unto the God of heaven, and pray for the life of the king, and of his sons.

Also I have made a decree, that whosoever shall alter this word, let timber be pulled down from his house, and being set up, let him be hanged thereon; and let his house be made a dunghill for this.

And the God that hath caused his name to dwell there destroy all kings and people, that shall put to their hand to alter [and] to destroy this house of God which [is] at Jerusalem. I Darius have made a decree; let it be done with speed.

Then Tatnai, governor on this side the river, Shetharboznai, and their companions, according to that which Darius the king had sent, so they did speedily.

And the elders of the Jews builded, and they prospered through the prophesying of Haggai the prophet and Zechariah the son of Iddo. And they builded, and finished [it], according to the commandment of the God of Israel, and according to the commandment of Cyrus, and Darius, and Artaxerxes king of Persia.

And this house was finished on the third day of the month Adar, which was in the sixth year of the reign of Darius the king.

And the children of Israel, the priests, and the Levites, and the rest of the children of the captivity, kept the dedication of this house of God with joy,

And offered at the dedication of this house of God an hundred bullocks, two hundred rams, four hundred lambs; and for a sin offering for all Israel, twelve he goats, according to the number of the tribes of Israel.

And they set the priests in their divisions, and the Levites in their courses, for the service of God, which [is] at Jerusalem; as it is written in the book of Moses.

And the children of the captivity kept the passover upon the fourteenth [day] of the first month.

For the priests and the Levites were purified together, all of them [were] pure, and killed the passover for all the children of the captivity, and for their brethren the priests, and for themselves.

And the children of Israel, which were come again out of captivity, and all such as had separated themselves unto them from the filthiness of the heathen of the land, to seek the LORD God of Israel, did eat,

And kept the feast of unleavened bread seven days with joy: for the LORD had made them joyful, and turned the heart of the king of Assyria unto them, to strengthen their hands in the work of the house of God, the God of Israel.

The Israelite sprevailed and were able to worship in the temple!  Read farther on into Ezra, and you'll see King Darius decreeing that all will follow the law of the Lord or suffer consequences.  God's desire won over adversaries.  That's how it should be!

Let's use the book of Ezra as a lesson.  Stand by the gospel of Jesus Christ, and you won't go wrong.  The world will send adversaries in any shape or form they can think of, but stay strong--God is with you!  Stand firm, God will take care of you!

Proverbs 3:5-6--Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.