Gems From Pastor Jim 5/24/2022

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by Jim Hughes

CrossMatt. 22:14 “For many were called, but few were chosen.”

This is the story of the great wedding feast. Jesus used this story to teach us what it will be like when He comes back to establish His kingdom. This was a wedding feast and all the guests who were initially invited were too preoccupied with their own agendas to bother coming when it was time for the wedding to take place. The host of the wedding was furious with those who spurned him and turned to those who did come, those who considered the invitation something special and dropped everything else to hurriedly come.

The point Jesus made is that we should never squander our opportunity to be ready for His coming. We will never know when He will show up and if we are not ready for Him, it will be too late. We should consider it an honor to be invited to be a part of His wedding party. It should be the number one priority of our lives. We must be ready so that at any given moment we can join Him.

Don’t assume anything about the Lord’s coming. He may come for His church, or He may come for you, at any moment. Live each moment as if it were going to be your last one on earth. If Jesus were to come for you today, would you wish that you had more time to get ready? Would you be spurned by Him because you passed up His invitation to be ready while you had it? If Jesus would call you home today, what would He find you doing with your life?

Many are invited into His kingdom, but few are chosen because most people do not value the treasure of a life lived in Christ.

About the Author:

Jim Hughes

Spending his formative years in Ft. Wayne, IN, Jim followed the love of his life to southeast Iowa where they married and have spent the majority of their lives. Jim has pastored several churches throughout his life and has worked many years in local factories to help support his family. The father of two married adult children and one son still at home, Jim is a first-time author.

C Through Marriage came into being through many years of pastoral and life experiences. The book first took on a life of its own over 20 years ago when I sought to address the much publicized moral failures of prominent leaders in the church. In the chapter on Chasity, I include the guideliness that I developed then to protect one’s self from such failures.

I am a firm believer in order to make sense out of life you have to use much common sense. We need to get back to the basics of what has worked for many, many generations. If is isn’t broke, why try to fix it? I strive to return to the basics of what really works in all my writings.

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This site contains Third Party Advertising, using online behavioral tracking technology. Some of the links in the post above are affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, we will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, we only recommend products or services we believe will add value to our readers.
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CrossReads Weekly Devotional: Verse of the Day and Devotional 5/23/2022

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Verse of the Day May 23rd, 2022

Scripture

A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. – Ephesians 6:10-12 NLT

Devotion

The times we live in are the times between Jesus Christ’s first and second coming. Although the power of the devil has been broken in principal through the birth, life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ to the right hand of God, the enemy still wields considerable power here on earth. Indeed, the Bible can still refer to the devil as “the ruler of this world” (John 14:30). This does not mean that he has all power over the world, for “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it” (Psalm 24:1), but it does mean that he is the mighty prince of a spiritual regime of “evil rulers and authorities” at work within God’s world.

The devil is not some sort of impersonal evil force. The devil is a created spiritual being with the power of reason and thought. He is a thinker. He does not confront us without thinking about it. He has strategies designed for our destruction. Although Paul tells us that “we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies,” he uses flesh-and-blood enemies to effectuate his purposes in the world. We must always realize, therefore, that there is a devious spiritual strategist behind the struggles we face with other people—and even with our own selves, for we can be our own worst enemy.

In order to fight effectively against the devil and his cohorts, Paul tells us that we must be “strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.” We must not, therefore, try to confront the devil in our own power. It is because he thoughtfully uses his considerable power that we must not fight him on our own. We must use the armor of God listed in this chapter: the “belt of truth,” “God’s righteousness,” the “peace that comes from the Good News,” the “shield of faith,” and the “sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Ephesians 6:14-17). Each of these in its own way helps us in the fight.

Today, ask the Lord to help you make intelligent use of His armor as needed against the strategies of the enemy.

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Life Lesson: Be – Do – Have 5/20/2022

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by Staci Stallings

This revelation hit me the other day while I was listening to a speaker on having financial balance in your life.  The author talked about a goal setting seminar he went to.  The lesson he revealed is that too often when we set goals, we are setting the “have” part of the equation, then “doing” the work of getting to the goal without ever making the effort to “be” anything.

If you’re paying attention, there’s a math lesson that translates to this message.  Any math person will tell you that there is a definite order to life.  A + B = C, and if you get it out of that order, even the simplest of ideas can get overwhelmingly confusing.  So this equation must begin with “be” not “do” or “have.”

For example, people set a goal of meeting the right person.  That is the “have” that they want, so they begin “doing” the things the world says make sense to get to that goal.  They go to bars, they go to church, they go to work, they go to parties, they go to school—all with the spoken or unspoken intention of acquiring what they do not have, a partner.  Years ago they called females in college with this mindset, “Mrs. Majors.”

They were not in college to get a degree; they were in college to get a husband.
In today’s world some of these types—men and women—have the “have” and “do” parts down to a science.  One manifestation of this is the book that became famous a decade or so ago called “The Rules.”  This book purported to explain exactly what you had to “do” to get the goal of “having” a mate.  The problem is that this is completely senseless when you understand the equation of “be-do-have.”

When you truly get this life lesson, it will have a profound impact on every aspect of your life.  No longer will you focus solely on the goal—now you will focus on who you must first become, and the attainment of the goals will follow.

I know, it sounds Pollyanna.  It sounds so simple.  But it’s the simple-sounding things that are often the most difficult to actually do.  I see this turmoil in teenagers a lot.  They think that their identity is created by who they are with, what they wear, what their outward appearance is, the grades they get, the college they attend, what they do.  The reality, however, is that identity is based on who you are not what you do.Greatest is Love final 3-2-2015

That’s why you hear of 10- and 20-year high school reunions in which the popular kids are now struggling and some of the most unpopular kids are now the successful adults.  When you understand this equation, it makes perfect sense.  Think about it.  In high school, the “popular” kids already “have.”  They have the status, the good looks, the admiration of others.  Why work for something you already have?

The unpopular kids on the other hand are forced to find their true identity not in the outer world, but in the inner world.  So they work on themselves rather than on what the outside world says is important.  Thus, 10 or 20 years down the road, they who have been forced to “be” are now “doing” and “having” in much greater proportion than those who “had” everything.

To be sure, this is a vast generalization.  There are popular kids who take time out to work on themselves and “become,” and there are unpopular kids who want to “have” so badly that they contort who they are trying to fit in. The exceptions are there, but so is the rule.

You have to be before you can do, and you have to do before you can have.  If you don’t, nothing you ever get will be enough.  And if you do, whatever you have will be plenty.  With this in mind, find some time today to fit a little “being” time into your “to-do” list.  It may just turn out to be the best time investment you could ever make.

About the Author:

Staci StallingsA stay-at-home mom with a husband, three kids and a writing addiction on the side, Staci Stallings has numerous titles for readers to choose from. Not content to stay in one genre and write it to death, Staci’s stories run the gamut from young adult to adult, from motivational and inspirational to full-out Christian and back again. Every title is a new adventure! That’s what keeps Staci writing and you reading. Although she lives in Amarillo, Texas and her main career right now is her family, Staci touches the lives of people across the globe with her various Internet and writing endeavors.

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CrossReads Book Spotlight: The Fifth Seal 5/19/2022

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CrossReads Book Spotlight

CrossReads Book Spotlight

The Fifth Seal

An Apocalyptic End-Times Thriller

(The Arrows Beyond Book 2)

by Milton Cantellay

The Fifth Seal

With the dawning darkness, the world has become a place where the Christian faith is widely persecuted as hateful and intolerant.

“Aubrey clenched her hand over Alice’s mouth to muffle the cries of pain being caused by the pressure she was putting on her stomach wound. In the distance, she could hear their pursuers talking. Deacon was barking orders.
Looking around at the abandoned warehouse, she saw ways to get out, but not for both of them, and she wasn’t leaving her twin behind. Certainly not for Deacon to find.”

Ex-FBI agent Elijah Turk and twins, Aubrey and Alice Raydon, along with Cousin Evan Raydon, have opened a thrift store in St. Louis in the new America. They want to help the needy and displaced while watching over the local churches. When gruesome killings take place within the body of the local underground church, local authorities are compromised. A vigilante group led by a secular church leader is suspected and the dangerous mission begins; protect the church while rooting out the group responsible. This exciting story of how God will use the faithful Christians in the end-times to bring people to Him, even through martyrdom.

“When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had borne.” – Revelation 6:9

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CrossReads Short Takes: For Better or For Worse & Meet Me on the Porch 5/18/2022

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CrossReads Short Takes

For Better or For Worse

(Yellowstone Series Book 2)

by Anne Perreault

For Better or For Worse

In book 1 of the series, Desire of the Heart, Cady McClintoch’s sheltered existence is thrown into glorious disarray when she meets Grant.

Now married to him, she moves to Montana to start a new life. Settling into the role as wife, Cady soon learns that life doesn’t always go as planned. Questioning Grant’s love for her, she struggles to overcome her own insecurities.

Grant McClintoch is a man of God with his share of demons to conquer. Overcoming the loss of his first wife and daughter, he works hard to reassure Cady that she is more than enough for him. Wanting her to spread her wings, yet being overly protective of her, is a real dilemma.

When unspeakable tragedy strikes, changing their lives forever, their commitment is tested to the brink of breaking. Only God can teach them to love more fully and completely.

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Meet Me on the Porch

by Erin Stevenson

Meet Me on the Porch

Brynne Lockwood has come home to Brattleboro, Vermont after a humiliating job loss. She’s weary and broken, and still hasn’t truly forgiven herself for a former unhealthy relationship with long-lasting consequences. She doesn’t believe that she deserves anything good and can’t imagine that God could ever use her.

After recovering from a shattering loss, Pastor Adam Johnston is on his way to a new assignment. A mix-up takes him and his baby daughter to beautiful southern Vermont. If he stays, he’ll face opposition, but God has prepared his heart for ministry, and he’s committed to serving there.

Adam and Brynne connect quickly and unexpectedly, but circumstances demand that they be cautious.

Now, you are invited to join Adam and Brynne on the porch at her grandparents’ home—a special place where you’ll experience their joy as Adam and Brynne build a friendship rooted in Biblical principles, find healing for their wounds, and discover God’s plan for their lives.

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Living By The Spirit 5/17/2022

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by Robin McKinley

In the last few verses of Galatians 5, the Apostle Paul gave us some great tangible instructions. He emphasized what living by the Holy Spirit looks like. The chapter finishes with the following 2 verses.

Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives. Let us not become conceited, or provoke one another, or be jealous of one another.  Galatians  5:25-26 

Leading up to those 2 verses Paul encouraged all believers to allow the Holy Spirit to guide their lives. He also stated the reason why.

So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves. The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires.  Galatians 5:16-17

He went on to list 15 sins, plus others like them. We involve ourselves in them when we follow the desires of our sinful nature. People living in sin often consider their actions acceptable and self-serving. But those sins also determine our eternal futures.

Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God. Galatians 5:21

The next verse describes our quality of life when living by the Spirit. We call it the Fruit of the Spirit.

But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! Galatians5:22-23 

A Final Warning 

I find it interesting that after Paul kind of pats everyone on the back. Saying now that you are living by the Spirit, here is a final warning.

He mentioned 3 things we should be aware of. They are 3 things the enemy can throw our way that can undermine our Christian walk. The first is aimed at how we view ourselves.

Let us not become conceited. Jesus used an illustration of the vine in John 15. He said, He is the vine and we are the branches. Then He made a very important statement, He said without Him we are nothing.

Let us not provoke one another. When we provoke someone we do or say something to aggravate that person to anger. Something is purposely done to press their buttons. Provoking swings far from loving.

Let us not be jealous of one another. Jealousy happens because of envy. The jealous person views how God has blessed someone else selfishly and enviously. It is the direct opposite of how God wants His family to function.

Accept each other just as Christ has accepted you so that God will be given glory. Romans 15:7 

Living by the Spirit is the best way

So as we live by the Spirit don’t let the enemy undermine you with conceit, a provoking attitude, or jealousy. Let the Fruit of the Spirit grow in your life, it is led by love.

Lord, guard our hearts and minds. Because we want to follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives.

About The Author 

Pastor RobinRobin, with his wife Cindy, became children’s evangelists early in their ministry. They ministered to children full time for 8 years. During that time they developed several children’s stories which were told with visuals and puppets.

Robin recently turned two of those stories into children’s books. One is called “The Contest,” a book about the Fruit of the Spirit, and the other is called “Twas the Night of Christmas”.  He has also authored 5 volumes of devotional books called, 3 Minutes Alone with God. Each entry is a product of his personal biblical Journaling.

These and his other writings are available on his website called Christian Perspectives at www.ramckinley.com. When you visit this site, you can sign-up for newly written devotions as they come out which will be emailed to you.

Presently Robin is the pastor of Calvary Christian Center in Pottstown, PA. He is an ordained minister with the Assemblies of God. He and his wife make their home in Birdsboro, Pa. He also serves as the president of the local ministerium. He and Cindy have two married sons and four grandchildren.

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CrossReads Weekly Devotional: Gems From Pastor Jim 5/16/2022

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by Jim Hughes

CrossMatt. 21:21-22 Then Jesus told them, “I assure you, if you have faith and don’t doubt, you can do things like this and much more. You can even say to this mountain, ‘May God lift you up and throw you into the sea,’ and it will happen. If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.”

The more faith we have, the greater our authority to move the mountains in our lives will be. There is nothing that can hinder us if we have the faith to move forward. Faith can be either our greatest friend or our worst foe.

Faith is our friend when it is a real presence in our lives, when it is actively working to draw us closer to God. It helps us to grow up and become more effective lights of grace in the world. It helps us to be able to handle whatever life throws at us with a calm confidence and unshakeable peace. It provides for us a purpose for living and dying.

Faith is our enemy when we don’t exercise it and give it opportunity to take root and grow in our lives. When we don’t nurture it, we live in misery. To believe in God without living in God saddles us with a life without peace, joy, and no real hope. We try to justify ourselves with our knowledge of God, but we can’t. We base our relationship with God on what we think we know, instead of with whom we know. We try to live without God influencing our lives and yet thinking it’s okay since we believe in God. One of the biggest problems that plagues a Christian today is the thinking that we are saved and alright with God since we mouthed some words at some point in our lives. Faith that is a saving faith is a faith that changes the way we think and live.

Faith can be your friend or your foe. It’s up to you. Make a commitment to nurture your faith so that it can grow in you and you will be able to command the mountains of your life to go away and they will.

About the Author:

Jim Hughes

Spending his formative years in Ft. Wayne, IN, Jim followed the love of his life to southeast Iowa where they married and have spent the majority of their lives. Jim has pastored several churches throughout his life and has worked many years in local factories to help support his family. The father of two married adult children and one son still at home, Jim is a first-time author.

C Through Marriage came into being through many years of pastoral and life experiences. The book first took on a life of its own over 20 years ago when I sought to address the much publicized moral failures of prominent leaders in the church. In the chapter on Chasity, I include the guideliness that I developed then to protect one’s self from such failures.

I am a firm believer in order to make sense out of life you have to use much common sense. We need to get back to the basics of what has worked for many, many generations. If is isn’t broke, why try to fix it? I strive to return to the basics of what really works in all my writings.

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This site contains Third Party Advertising, using online behavioral tracking technology. Some of the links in the post above are affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, we will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, we only recommend products or services we believe will add value to our readers.
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Being Gentle with Yourself 5/13/2022

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by Staci Stallings

One of the biggest lessons of my life was when God started showing me how disastrously hard I was being on myself. Even when I started to come out of striving for perfection and I started to try to learn to do life differently, one of the hardest things to learn was to not beat myself up over not relying on God and His love. I know. That sounds bizarre, but it’s the truth.

I would get mad at myself for not remembering to let God do it, for trying to do it myself, for not putting all of it in His hands. It took me a while to see that God did not require me to beat myself up even over my perceived missteps. I had accepted His forgiveness and love of me, but it did no good if I did not forgive myself and love myself. Accepting that was a hard step because I wanted to do whatever I was doing “right,” and if it wasn’t right, my go-to emotion-thought was “I failed.”

Then, ever-so-gently, God began to show me that what I perceived as failure was not failure at all to Him. To Him, it was about me learning, not about me being perfect. A friend of mine told me about bending light. She said that if you have a candle in a jar, if you look at it through the glass of the jar, the flame seems to wobble and split. That’s because of the bending of the light through the glass that the flame appears not to be perfect. But if you look not through the glass but from above, the flame appears as it is meant to be—whole and perfect.

That’s the way God sees us—from above. He doesn’t look through the cracked, chipped, and broken glass of our lives the way the world does. He looks only at the whole He created, and He loves that whole and wants only for the whole to come to once again love itself.

And so I had to learn to be gentle with myself. I had to acknowledge that I wouldn’t get it right all the time, that sometimes I didn’t have all the pieces and that even in those moments of failure, I had done my best. I had to come to understand that my best sometimes wouldn’t attain what I wanted, but that was okay. It was a learning experience, and God uses each and every one of those for His glory.

When my brother, Raef, committed suicide, one of the hardest things was to remember to be gentle with myself, to remember as I found holes in what I could’ve said, should’ve said, could’ve done, should’ve done that I had done my best. If I had known one other thing to do, I would’ve done it. But I didn’t know what else to do, and so in this most difficult time, I had to forgive myself and be gentle with me.

I had to be gentle with me and not try to be the rock, to accept the help of others, to admit my limitations—like I needed sleep and food. I had to be gentle with myself when heartache came out as anger, and to the best of my ability to be gentle with those around me. My sister Shelly said at one point she got so angry, and then she said, “I realized, if this had been me, Raef would’ve been mad too.” She found gentleness with her honest feelings. That is one of the lessons I’m most grateful for, and the one I am most constantly learning and relearning.


Need some inspiration to guide your grief?

Staci’s book, “Whisper If You Have To”

touches on many of the lessons she learned in the deepest valleys of her grief.

Whisper If You Have To:
A Contemporary Christian Romance on Amazon

 

 

About the Author:

Staci StallingsA stay-at-home mom with a husband, three kids and a writing addiction on the side, Staci Stallings has numerous titles for readers to choose from. Not content to stay in one genre and write it to death, Staci’s stories run the gamut from young adult to adult, from motivational and inspirational to full-out Christian and back again. Every title is a new adventure! That’s what keeps Staci writing and you reading. Although she lives in Amarillo, Texas and her main career right now is her family, Staci touches the lives of people across the globe with her various Internet and writing endeavors.

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CrossReads Book Spotlight: Life Like Stars 5/12/2022

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CrossReads Book Spotlight

CrossReads Book Spotlight

Life Like Stars

by C. R. Kelchner

Life Like Stars

“My loyalty lies with God,” Nastia declares on a flight to Washington D.C.

Nastia Sibieski believes that romance is sacred. She turned down many attractive admirers in college because they weren’t the right, Christian man. But after she meets a handsome atheist named Anton, everything changes. Nastia finds herself questioning her core beliefs as she gets to know her new boyfriend.

When Nastia goes farther than she intended, her world turns upside down. Two angels inform her that unless she stops dating Anton and goes back to God, her sin will materialize on her body — but no other person will be able to see. Will Nastia abandon the newfound affection she has always wanted or take the opportunity?

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CrossReads Short Takes: Baby Blues & Wake The Town and Tell the People The Wrath of God Is Coming 5/11/2022

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CrossReads Short Takes

Baby Blues

Second Edition (Second Chance Book 2)

by Ruthie Madison

Baby Blues

Julie and Eric’s heaven-blessed and happy marriage has been the kind that withstands all things, until faced with the grief and anguish of infertility. Amid their ordeal, they’re informed Eric’s half-brother Drew has escaped from prison and is bent on revenge. While Eric must find a way to protect the person he loves most from the convicted rapist, Julie must trust God knows her desire for a miracle. With God all things are possible. Together they will learn that heavenward pleas do not fall on deaf ears and together even Satan has no power where their faith is strongBook #1 The Past Hunter Two Men: Her Past and Present (Second Edition)Book#2 Baby Blues (Second Edition)Book #3 A Man For Beth (A standalone)

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Wake The Town and Tell the People

The Wrath of God Is Coming

by Henry Miranda

Wake The Town

You’re holding in your hand a life-changing book.
The book “Wake the Town and Tell the People the
Wrath of God is coming,” by Henry Perez Miranda, is an immense exposition of the mind of God concerning his second coming. It is so comprehensive that it covers all of the most pertinent issues in Christianity.
Starting off with the person of Devil (Lucifer), the writer makes significant expositions on how pride cost Satan his position as one of the most revered angels in heaven. There’s also a further exclusive explanation of the wrath of God and how we as Christians can avoid the wrath of God that’ll soon be upon the earth.
You’ll be amazed by the in-depth explanation of the power of FREE WILL, where the author explains the true reason why God gave us free will and the consequences of abusing that free will. The author also didn’t fail to significantly highlight the importance of salvation and sanctification and how they are keys to escaping the wrath of God.
The importance of a deep understanding of spiritual warfare and discernment is also extensively discussed,
emphasizing ways they can help us in our Christian journey, coupled with the reality of Heaven and Hell.
With practical and personal instances, coupled with sufficient scriptural references and the insight and experiences of a true evangelist, you will inevitably see and experience God’s message for the church concerning the end time. With practical ways of navigating these trying days as we await the second coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, this book is a must-read for every Christian that wants to know the real mind of God concerning the end time and his glorious coming. SHALOM!

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