Where Are You?

Where Are You?

By Jane Horvath

“But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, ‘Where are you?’” Genesis 3:9

My love of cop shows started when I was 10 years old. The television program name was Car 54, Where Are You? It was a comedy that ran on NBC from 1961 to 1963. The story was about two NYC police officers based in the 53rd precinct of the Bronx. Car 54 was their patrol car. As a child, it was funny to me that no one ever seemed to know where the officers were located. The radio was constantly heard broadcasting, “Car 54, where are you?”

In Genesis 3:9, God calls out to Adam and Eve. He asks them, “Where are you?” Unfortunately, it is not funny in this instance. It is tragic, but also full of grace. God knew exactly where Adam & Eve were when He asked. They were hiding from God as a result of deception and disobedience. That is the tragic part. God was calling out to them. He was offering them a chance to confess. The confession of their sin would re-establish the relationship with Him and remove their shame. That is grace.

When we are in the middle of challenging circumstances, God wants to know where we are in our heads and our hearts. He wants to know if we are being deceived by the enemy or trusting in His plan for our lives. We need to be sure we are not hiding in shame and blame. Call out to Him and let Him know exactly where you are. He will meet you where you are. Learn to hide in His shelter, safe from the enemy (Psalm 27:5-6).

Today, God is asking, “Where are you?” He is not asking for a physical address, He wants to know where we are in relationship to Him. He is giving us the opportunity, seasoned with grace, to confess our sins without condemnation (Romans 8:1). He’s providing a chance at forgiveness and cleansing (1 John 1:9). God’s mercies are new every morning (Lamentations 3:22-23). Give Him the answer to this question every moment of every day.

Staying Connected to God

Staying Connected to God

By Anonymous Contributor

“Life happens.” It’s a very familiar phrase and yet, so true. Our lives in this day and time are so busy with family, friends, school, work, hobbies, sports, social media… the list could go on forever. With all of this on our plates, it can be difficult to take the time necessary to nurture our walk with the Lord. So how do we stay connected to God and keep our eyes on Christ when life is constantly changing and challenging us?

For a moment, consider how storms on Earth can affect nature: they can be devastating, and at times, they can consume everything in their paths, with no exceptions. They present challenges for all that face them. But ultimately, they bring change to the landscape of the Earth. It is from that devastation that nature perseveres and becomes stronger in order to survive future storms. Isn’t this why God allows storms to happen in our lives? He uses the challenges of life to change the landscape of our sinful nature. Through this process, He purifies our hearts, minds, and souls.

I recently heard someone say that our lives are like chapters, with Jesus Christ as the author. This really shook me. It changed my perspective of how we are to react to challenging circumstances. Our knee-jerk reaction as humans is to stress over the least little thing that doesn’t go as planned. We get upset when our expectations aren’t met. I’m certainly guilty of this, as I have looked at past storms in my life as a hindrance. But, everything changed when I realized that those storms were part of the chapters that Jesus wrote. If Jesus is the author, and all that He allows in our lives is for our good, then we should embrace the storms as His way of doing a work in us. His work in us can ultimately bring glory to His name.

At times, staying connected to God can seem especially difficult when facing the “storms” of life. Let’s look at three ways we can stay connected with God and keep our eyes focused on Christ in spite of the situations we may face.

1. Daily crucify our flesh. We can start by crucifying our flesh daily. We have to put God’s will above our own, especially when facing challenges. When we do this, we are submitting to the work that He is doing in and through us and accepting the change that He is bringing into our lives. This can be extremely difficult when our will conflicts with His. But remember, He only wants what’s best for us and He knows the path before us because He is writing that next chapter.

2. Constant communication with God. Staying in constant communication with God is key to surviving the storm. We have to hold every thought captive before God and ask this simple question: Does this bring glory to His name? If the answer is no, then that thought has to be discarded. We can’t hold on to our own thoughts and ideals; we have to make room in our hearts and minds for Him to work through us for His glory. God longs for us to spend time with Him. By holding our thoughts captive before Him, we are allowing Him to speak to every aspect of our lives. Then, even in the simplest things, we can hear His voice directing us.

3. Praying and reading God’s Word. Need I say more? When I say prayer, I’m not talking about the little prayers we say in the moment or blessing the food on our tables. I’m talking about deep meditation and time spent pleading with God, laying the concerns of our hearts before Him, and listening for His voice. Remember, He cares deeply about the things that concern us and wants only what is best for us. (Can you see the recurring theme here?) And when it comes to the Bible, I’m talking about really consuming God’s Word, not just getting a daily verse notification from your favorite Bible app. God’s Word is alive and well and when we spend time reading His Word with the intent of applying what we learn to our daily lives, we will see Him working through us and all around us!

When the storms of life bring challenges and change, we have a choice to make. We can try to run from it and not accept what God has planned for our lives, or we can run directly into the eye of the storm, knowing God is about to do something great in our lives. Yes, the storm may cause us distress, uncertainty, and even pain, but God has a plan for our lives that is meant only for our good!

And we know [with great confidence] that God [who is deeply concerned about us] causes all things to work together [as a plan] for good for those who love God, to those who are called according to His plan and purpose. Romans 8:28 AMP

A Story of Hope

A Story of Hope

Written by: Anonymous Client

I very much wanted to share some of my personal story of receiving help from this ministry, Life in Abundance. It is dear to me. Please know these words are from my heart.

Life in Abundance. From His words in John 10:10, we know that abundant life is the life Jesus came for us to have. For me, I was not living this abundant life. Much to the contrary, I was at a very low point. I came to Life In Abundance to counsel with Stephanie in November of 2014. I was 34 years old. What I didn’t or couldn’t see then was the timeline of events that shaped my life up to that moment. My first visit with Stephanie I will always remember. She asked me a question, to rate myself on a scale of 0-5 with 0 being a piece of gum stuck to the floor and 5 being the best I’ve ever been in my life, can’t get any better. I honestly gave myself less than a 1 that day. In just the relatively short season of life leading up to that day, I experienced a chronic health crisis altering my everyday life and career, a failing effort to blend a family, and the sudden and unexpected death of my mom. Despite knowing Jesus, I was over my head, almost drowning from the physical and emotional circumstances. These things impacted my spiritual life and while I’d had a relationship with Jesus for years, I couldn’t find my way or connect to pull myself out on my own.

I sought out lay counseling at my church and participated weekly in that for 4-6 weeks. I was making no improvement and life seemed only more confusing. At the advice of a friend, I promptly made an appointment with Stephanie. This began a journey for me that would last 2 years and 8 months. Circumstances got worse before they got better. Much worse. My life was turned upside down. Praise God for placing me in this ministry for this time in my life. Financially, things changed for me also and only because of donations to the ministry was I able to continue my sessions. Also, please understand that throughout my life prior to seeing Stephanie at Life in Abundance, I’d seen a couple of different counselors. There is something very different that sets Life in Abundance apart from anything I experienced in those counseling sessions, and that is God. Each of my sessions always began with Spirit led prayer. Stephanie boldly invited the Holy Spirit into our sessions and submitted our sessions to Him for His work. Work He did over each of my sessions and I am beyond grateful. Another important aspect of my counseling was that I was always given “homework”. There was work that needed to be done. Years and years of layers that God needed to peel back and get to the root of with my cooperation. The effort while difficult most of the time was so, incredibly worth it. Over the years, I have referred many of my friends or others that God places along my path to the counseling services at Life in Abundance. As an active part of Women’s Ministry in my church, we also refer individual women here as well. I pray you will support Life in Abundance. It is an opportunity to be the hands and feet of Jesus in a world that desperately needs Him. Through this ministry and the work of God in it, I found hope and healing to live abundantly.

Fruit of the Spirit: Patience

Fruit of the Spirit: Patience

By Pastor Ben Hill (reproduced with permission)

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” Galatians 5:22-23

“Patience” …everybody’s favorite word! Not really, is it? When we think of this particular fruit of the Spirit, what often comes to mind is the tongue-in-cheek saying, “Don’t ever pray for patience!” Why? Because the Bible tells us in James 1:2-4, “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.”

The thought is that since, according to James, the “testing of your faith” or “trials” is what produces patience, then to avoid trials, don’t pray for patience! Well, while it may be cute or catchy, that is just plain wrong theology. Patience isn’t something to be avoided, rather it is another sweet expression of the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives!

It all deserves a closer look. In James 1:2-4, the word translated “patience” is the Greek word ‘hypomone,’ and it literally means “an underneath abiding.” It can be passive, i.e. “endurance,” or developed through trial as in trials in general (Luke 21:19), in trials coming from service in the gospel (2 Cor. 6:4; 2 Cor. 12:12; 2 Tim. 3:10) or chastisement from God the Father (Heb 12:7). Or it can be active, i.e. “persistence, perseverance,” as in well doing, (Rom. 2:7), in fruit bearing, (Luke 8:15) or in running the race (Heb. 12:1).

However, the word in our text of study that is (unfortunately, in my opinion) translated “patience” in some translations, is the Greek word ‘makrothymia.’ It comes from ‘makros’ = “long” and ‘thymos’ = “temper.” Long-tempered means “long suffering.” This concerns the interpersonal relationships we all navigate in life. You see, because of our sin nature, the big “I” in the middle of sin or “Self – Ish – Ness,” we cannot just develop a strong enough Christian character. No, this is where God must work in big ways. It is the fruit of the Holy Spirit’s work in our lives. The flesh screams “lash out, retaliate” when we are wronged. But the Spirit says, “wait, love, suffer long, leave it to the Lord.” As it says in Romans 12:14, “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.”

To be able to “turn the other cheek” is a product of the fruit of the Spirit. Surely, you’ve noticed by now that it only comes from intimate, personal time with Him.

Fruit of the Spirit: Peace

Fruit of the Spirit: Peace

By Pastor Ben Hill (reproduced with permission)

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” Galatians 5:22-23

I know it is painfully cliché, but what is the beauty pageant contestant’s answer to the question: “What do you wish for most?” Inevitably, she says, “World peace!”

“Peace” is defined in the dictionary as:
1. freedom from disturbance; a state of quiet and tranquility.
2. freedom from or the cessation of war or violence.
3. harmony in personal relations

While those are fine definitions for “peace,” is that what the Bible means that we are to have as a “fruit of the Spirit?” While it is clear that God desires for the Believer to know peace in this life, rarely is this life characterized by “a state of quiet and tranquility!” What is the Holy Spirit revealing to us about the “fruit of peace” that He desires to produce in us?

The Greek word used in the text is: ‘eirēnē’. It comes from the root word, ‘eiro’ which means “to join”. The idea is to “bring together” or to “tie together as a whole.” Therefore, as a child of God, it is possible for my life, even in the midst of the chaos of this world, to be settled, to be at one with Him and to NOT be coming apart or melting down. The key is at one with Him…God. Once again, we see that for someone to truly be at or to have peace, they must have peace with God, they must belong to Him!

Think of it this way: There has been much in the news the past year about hurricanes. The devastation and destruction, the utter chaos and horror that they bring. Well, I am reminded of a story about my daddy. While serving as a missionary in Bermuda, the island was directly in the path of a hurricane. The winds raged, the rain beat down. But then as the eye of the storm passed over, there was calm. Dad went outside to fix a broken shutter on the church building (much to mom’s chagrin, I assure you) taking advantage of the few minutes of a lull before the effects of the storm resumed with a vengeance as the eye wall of the other side of the storm came roaring in. The Spirit fruit of peace is like the eye of the hurricane: though the winds, rain and destruction of this life rage all around, if we walk with the Lord, fully leaning on and trusting Him even in the middle of turmoil, like walking with Him in the eye of the storm…there will be peace. Remember, Paul was in prison as he was inspired to write these words: “Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Your heart must not be troubled or fearful.” John 14:27

Take the time to stop…breathe…look to the Captain of your soul…and experience the sweet fruit of His peace!

Fruit of the Spirit: Joy

Fruit of the Spirit: Joy

By Pastor Ben Hill (reproduced with permission)

Galatians 5:22 – “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness”

The word “Joy” in the Bible is a unique and special word, in that it transcends mere happiness or pleasure, ignores temporary circumstances, and stays anchored to the solid reality of The Divine Joy giver! Again, as we look at the “fruit of the Spirit” we must understand that these life ‘fruits’ only come as a direct result of the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives.

“Joy” in Galatians 5:22 is the Greek word ‘chara’ and it is derived from both the words ‘charis’ meaning “grace” or “gift” as well as the word ‘charos’ which means “rejoice” or “to express joy”. So, what that means is that Biblical “joy” is defined as the “natural response to a grace gift!”

Put simply, it means that there can never be true “joy” without the presence of Grace. And the only source of pure, untainted, and complete “grace” is The One and Only True and Living God! That is why in modern society and culture there is a desperate need to redefine the word “joy” and ascribe to it a false and shallow definition; because to acknowledge the true definition of joy is to acknowledge the need for Saving Grace, and therefore a Savior. Salvation is a “joyful” experience precisely because it is a “grace gift.” The arrival of Messiah was obviously a “joy gift” occasion. (“And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth.” Luke 1:14) As was His resurrection, His ascension, and will be His return!!

The world teaches a false joy that comes from possessions, prestige, power, popularity, or even a perceived great purpose. BUT joy comes ONLY from a personal relationship with Jesus Christ (John 15:11). Try this exercise today: rather than focus on the circumstance of life (whether deemed good or bad), focus on the many evidences of the Grace of God in your life. Ask Him to fill you with recognition of Him and Who He is in your life. When we do that, I believe we will truly have, enjoy and minister through the fruit of the Spirit – JOY.

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