Monday, December 4, 2017

This Christmas focus on Christ and watch what happens

This is a wonderful post online that I would like to share with you. This post comes from by Stewardship Team on December 2, 2015 

1. Celebrate Jesus’ Birthday
Instead of a pie at Christmas dinner, bake a birthday cake and let the kids decorate it. Then round out your meal by singing “Happy Birthday” to Jesus. Just don’t try sticking a few thousand candles on top.
2. Read or Watch The Best Christmas Pageant Ever
This ’70s children’s classic by Barbara Robinson (made into a TV movie in 1983) is substantial enough to be a favorite of adults too. It reminds us that Christmas is the perfect opportunity to love the unlovable and to share the story of Christ’s birth with them. You may have something to teach, but you’ll probably learn a thing or two about love and acceptance as well. So snuggle up with some cocoa by a warm fire and enjoy this story as a family.
3. Tame the Gift Monster by Instituting a Three-Gift Rule
If we aren’t careful, kids can begin to see Christmas as an occasion for tearing into a pile of gifts. To quash any budding sense of materialism, buy everyone in your family three gifts apiece to mirror the three gifts the Magi brought to Jesus. If it was good enough for the King of kings, it’s good enough for your little princess. Then pull last year’s gifts from the bottom of the toy pile and donate them to charity. Contentment? Check. Generosity? Check. A bank account with money in it? Check.
4. Give Gifts to Jesus
Speaking of generosity, what better way to honor Christ than to be His hands and feet for others?Buy some chickens for a hungry family through Compassion International’s gift catalog. Help your kids save their money to contribute to a special family offering at church. Tip your waitress a few hundred dollars on Christmas Eve. Each time you show Christ’s love, write it down and put the paper in a gift box under the tree. On Christmas morning, open it up and read through each gift for Christ.
5. Remember the Greatest Gift of All
Start Christmas morning by reading the gospel accounts of the Christmas story and saying a prayer of thanksgiving to God for the greatest gift of all—salvation through Christ. If you have children, carry the message home by placing a baby doll on a bed of straw in a basket. Then put the basket under your Christmas tree along with the other gifts.


Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Thanksgiving at Grandma's by Toni Star

Thanksgiving at Grandma’s by Toni Star
November, then and now, signals just one thing to me, Thanksgiving at Grandma’s.  Thanksgiving at her house was paradise!  The atmosphere of food, laughter and love was wonderful and unforgettable. 
Thanksgiving morning at our house was busy.  Mom would prepare a salad or pie; we kids would dress up in our good clothes and then go outside to play. We had to be careful not to get dirty.  Good clothes in our family didn’t come easy.  We weren’t poor but we were very frugal with money and food.  Meanwhile, Dad stayed busy in the garage checking out the old Chevy.  He’d check the oil, water and the battery and then give the tires a kick, for readiness. 

Often, I would go into the garage from time to time to see how he was doing.  Often, he found things for me to do-such as checking the oil and water and inspecting the car battery to see if was clean and water filled to the proper level. I always felt important helping Dad, especially on holidays, when there was much to do. 

Later, around 12 we all piled into the Chevy, eager for Thanksgiving dinner. We would arrive at Grandma’s, all dressed up, gifts in hand, with offerings of a waldorf salad and pie. As we walked through her door the aroma of turkey and onions would fill our senses with the joy of delicious food to come.  That first whiff of turkey and steamed vegetables was delicious!  We walked through the house into her kitchen and put our donations of food and small gifts, (often a bottle of Rum) onto the kitchen table, kiss Grandma and then go into the living room where we would sit and talk.  Later, Mom and I would return to the kitchen and help Grandma with the meal. 

It was my job to help Grandma prepare the dressing, with ingredients of butter, celery, bread, milk, and onion, then help with the progress of the turkey.  Mom would put her donations of food into the already crammed refrigerator and then prepare green beans or another salad for dinner. Inside the oven the turkey was roasting, and occasionally Grandma would let me use her large ladling spoon to baste the turkey.    Later, Grandma and I would finish preparing a pie—often apple or cherry.  I would round out the crust while she prepared the filling.  After that was done, we’d check on the vegetables and then I would set the table.   

I loved that job because she had beautiful crystal and China, with delicate pink and blue patterns on the dishes and matching pink crystal for glasses. She also had beautiful silverware that was kept in a special drawer in the living room.  I would carefully remove the dinnerware from the old ornate cabinet in the dining room and tenderly place each piece in the proper setting.  I loved how it all sparkled on the table.

The meal of Turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes; real green beans, cranberries and pie filled us up till we could eat no more.  We would all sit at the large table, enjoy her traditional Thanksgiving meal and talk about the latest “Uncle Millie” or “Jackie Gleason” shows.  We all loved those shows and each of us tried to “out do” each other, with our imitations of “Uncle Miltie” or “Jackie Gleason.” The adults would later have wine or brandy and we kids would go out and play in the small backyard.  Sometimes I would deliver food Grandma prepared for an old lady across the street.  The old lady lived alone and was often too ill to prepare food for herself.  I loved doing this for Grandma, and the old lady was always happy to receive it. I took pride running this errand because I helped Grandma prepare much of the meal.

Today, I continue Grandma's Thanksgiving tradition; however, due to a food allergy and needing to follow certain nutrition guidelines I have made some changes. Instead of preparing turkey, dressing and several pies, I prepare spaghetti with garlic bread and a cherry cobbler and cool whip. Family members live too far away and some have health conditions that prevent t hem from coming. But, there is still a wonderful Thanksgiving feeling in the air as my husband and I prepare the meal and give thanks for everything God has given us. Grandma is g one but her Thanksgiving memories and love continue on in a woman from the 50’s.

Something I am learning as I grow older, something I wish I could have learned a long time ago--never take anything for granted--the day, your husband or wife, good health and feeling safe. Give thanks each morning and evening for all that you have and always remember that everything comes from God. God Bless.

Happy Thanksgiving and Merry Christmas!



Sunday, October 15, 2017

What to do when life becomes stressful

Life can be stressful and difficult or it can be wonderful and easy-going but when things get tough and you feel that the "dark" one is trying to interfere and disrupt your life, there are two steps you can take that will bring you through. Actually, these two steps should be taken even before anything stressful or awful happens--and that is to read your Bible and pray.

Many have found that by reading the Bible and praying the first thing in the morning, that their day goes better. Of course, problems will occur, that is life but when those problems occur, you have the good Lord by your side. He will be there to see you through. Remember, Jesus said, "I am with you always." And, the best part is, He will be there with you and He will guide you through, no matter if you or someone you love is ill or dying or if money is short or if everyone is turning against you.

Isn't it a wonderful feeling to know that no matter what happens, Jesus will be there and give you comfort and a helping hand! That is the love of Christ. You see, He loves you more than anyone on this earth--your parents, siblings, friends--anyone! You don't have to face the future alone. Jesus will be there for you.

I have found that by reading the Bible and praying first thing in the morning that my day goes better and my soul feels refreshed with the word of God. When you feel that the "dark one" is pouncing on you, read some or all of the following scriptures:




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So, don't let the dark one get you down. Turn to prayer and your Bible in the morning, afternoon and evening and you will feel the refreshment of the highest power on earth!

Copyright Toni Star 2017

Sunday, August 20, 2017

What is faith and how to make it stronger in your life!


In Hebrews 11:1 the Bible tells us that "faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see." Sounds a bit confusing, doesn't it? But in truth, faith is feeling confident of what we hope for--be it less anxiety in our life or confident that we can be a stronger person. I think before you and I have faith, we have to truly believe in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. If we don't believe that Jesus did what he did--especially when he rose from the dead, returned for many to see Him and that He will come again to judge the quick and the dead, then there is no strong foundation for faith. In addition, when you really think about it, faith is necessary, even critical, to get through the day. Without faith, we can't please God and that is so important. We are to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, body and strength and when we do that and then believe that God will give us the faith and strength to meet and exceed the day's needs, then we will have pleased Him and given Him glory.

So, how do we strengthen our faith? Here are some suggestions that will help. These suggestions come from the Reverend Billy Graham:

First, love God and love one another. These are the first and second commandments.
Then, rejoice in the Lord. Billy Graham  said something wonderful long ago, ""Only the forward-looking Christian remains sincerely optimistic and joyful, knowing that Christ will win in the end." What could be more joyful than knowing that at the end of our lives and the end of the world, Christ wins!?

Then, live a peaceful life. Jesus said, "In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world." Another way to strengthen your faith is to be patient; be patient with the world, yourself and others. Always remember how patient God is with you and me.

Still another way is to be kind. Perhaps one of the best passages in the Bible is Philippians 2: 3-4 "count others more significant than yourselves" and look to the interest of others." Kindness can bring about so much good!

Practice goodness. God wants us to have true, right and pure thoughts. God calls us to love everyone, even our enemies. And, always do the right thing for the right reason. Most importantly, be faithful to God and not put other things above Him. This could include idols or anything you may put above God. God is a jealous God and wants you entire attention.

Being gentle and not overly critical or angry with others, is another way to grow your faith. In other words, build other up and don't tear them down. And, keep away from gossip; gossip is destructive to those who speak the words and especially for how those words impact on others. Self-control is also so important in building your faith. Everyone is tempted but we don't have to give in. There are times when we should distance ourselves from whatever is tempting us--such as food, an attractive person or watching a program that is indecent. Keep in mind; "God will not let you be tempted beyond your ability but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it."

Faith "is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see." Because this is true, you and I can be faithful and with our faith lead lives that are positive, godly, fruitful and joyous! With faith and love in our hearts, we can look to each day like this photo--joyful, happy and with hope in our hearts!

God Bless!

Copyright Toni Star 2017


Sunday, May 7, 2017

Jesus is Lord!


The following is an article I picked up months ago. I don't know the author but the article is so good I wanted to publish it for you today. The words are timeless and true. You and are are living a story today. It is indeed, "a story crafted and told by the Author of Heaven."
You are living a story today. A story crafted and told by the Author of heaven. The star-scatterer. The mountain-mover. The water-walker. It is a story of grace. A story of hope. A story of, most of all, love.
In the day-to-day it doesn’t feel like a story. It feels like dishes in the sink. Reports on the desk. Another mile behind the steering wheel of the car. But this doesn’t change what’s true. Beneath the surface of all that is ordinary still lurks the glory.
Sometimes the plot is confusing. Or strange. Or sad. Sometimes we want to cut a chapter out with sharp scissors. Sometimes we want to be the editors with the red ink. Sometimes we want to skip right to the end just to make sure it says “and they lived happily ever after.”
But this is not our role. It is not for us to say, “This is what happens next” or “I’m changing the ending.” Instead we are to trust, to wait, to be in the middle of the mystery. There is so much we do not know, that we will not know, but we can be certain of this: the Author is good and we are loved.
Yes, even when the unexpected sentence comes. When we face that dark-as-night period. When the syllables jumble together and we scratch our heads. Even in those places, between those lines, there is a God at work who has always been speaking, always been creating something beautiful in the middle of the broken.
Jesus also did many other things. If they were all written down, I suppose the whole world could not contain the books that would be written. {John 21:25}
He is still doing many other things. He is not done with history. He is not finished with the part of it that is your story either. Whatever you are living today, it is not the final page. Hold on, there is a turning coming. There is more than this, more than here and now. We have not yet seen the there and then. And, however it may seem, God is still holding the pen.
God is indeed holding the pen; so fear not, He is always with you and me!
Copyright Toni Star 2017


Saturday, April 1, 2017

Why Christian faith hinges on the resurrection

Why Christian faith Hinges on the Resurrection

As Christians, we know the importance and meaning of the resurrection of Jesus but when someone asks, “Why do you believe in the resurrection,” how do you respond? What are your reasons; your validation for believing in something that happened thousands of years ago? For some, the resurrection is hard to believe; simply because it happened so long ago and is  not relevant to their lives.
In my opinion, there are several indisputable proofs that Christ rose from the dead; one of the most basic proofs comes from Acts 1:3: 

“To whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God.” Jesus showed himself alive after his death to His apostles. He showed them his wounds and the stripes on his back and the piercing in his side.

“Here in Acts 1:3, we are told that Christ was "seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God" (Acts 1:3). It is important to note that the unbelieving Romans and Jews also knew that the tomb was empty. Matthew 28: 11-15 states: “Some of the watch came into the city…And when they were assembled with the elders, and had taken counsel, they gave large money unto the soldiers, Saying, Say ye, His disciples came by night and stole him away while we slept. And if this comes to the governor’s ears, we will persuade him, and secure you. So they took the money, and did as they were taught: and this saying is commonly reported among the Jews until this day” What makes this fascinating to read and study is that he was seen not just a couple of times but many times!

Another important validation that Christ rose from the dead was his appearance to his disciples. He showed himself to his disciples many times over a 40 day period. When 10 of his disciples were gathered together in a locked room, He was there “Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you. And when he had so said, he shewed unto them his hands and his side. Then were the disciples glad, when they saw the Lord. Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you. And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost" (John 20:19-22).”

However, Thomas, one of the disciples, was not there and when the others told him that they had seen the Lord, he did not believe them. He said,

“Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side [into the sword wound], I will not believe" (John 20:25).”
This action from Thomas and his other disciples clearly showed that Jesus had to convince his disciples and be adamant about it in order to prove to them that he did indeed, rise from the grave. This also showed that his disciples were not gullible or had a predisposition about resurrection.  There is an important and crucial fact here and that is his disciples did not hallucinate in what they saw and heard; even though Jesus showed them evidence of his sufferings on the cross.  Once they saw the wounds, talked with him and realized that indeed he was alive, then they believed.
Another very interesting fact from John 20: 26:
"And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you. Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold [look at] my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing. And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God" (John 20:26)

The third and most important proof of Jesus’s resurrection was when the disciples made a decision to die instead of denying that Christ rose from the dead. This, in my opinion, was the greatest proof of all of what transpired on the cross. Research shows in the Bible that his disciples lived out the rest of their lives saying to those who wanted to know; that Christ had risen from the dead and that they saw Him alive and well.

To conclude, for those who believe that Jesus rose from the dead, no further evidence is needed; however, for those who doubt about what happened so long ago, the proof is clearly presented in the Bible. All one has to do is to read it and then believe on it with faith! Most importantly, for Christians everywhere, there can be no cross without Christ!Ī


Copyright Toni Star 2017


Wednesday, March 29, 2017

The Blood of Redemption by Roy Lessin (Posted March 27, 2017)

The following is not one of my posts but it is wonderful. I would like to share it with you...Toni




The Blood of Redemption


In whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace. Ephesians 1:7 KJV
“You are forgiven and made clean.” How glorious and freeing are these words spoken from God’s heart to the hearts of those who have confessed and repented of their sins. And to those who believe and are God’s children, no words spoken by your heavenly Father could be more assuring than, “You are mine!”

There was once a boy who loved boats. On his tenth birthday the boy was given a wood carving set by his father. The boy used the tools to build a model boat to play with at the lake near his home. When he finished the boat he carved his initials, BB, on the stern.

The boy took his boat to the lake as often as he could. He tied a string to it, and would let the boat drift as far out as the string would let it go. One day a strong wind started to blow. As the boy began to pull the boat to shore the string broke. The wind and the waves quickly took the boat far out into the lake. The boat soon drifted out of sight. It was lost! Afterwards, the boy and his dad searched for days, but the boat was not found.

Months later, the boy was in town to do some shopping with the money he had earned doing odd jobs. As he walked past a toy store the boy looked in the window and saw a boat that looked exactly like his. The boy quickly entered the store and picked up the boat. When he looked at the back he saw the letters BB. There was no doubt the boat was his. The boy took the boat to the front counter and asked the owner how he had gotten it? The store owner replied, “A stranger brought it in a few days ago and sold it to me. It is for sale if you are interested.”

The boy was overjoyed! He immediately took out the money he had in his pocket and paid the store owner. As he left the store, he looked at the boat and said, “Well, little boat, I made you and I bought you….you are now twice mine!”

This story helps us understand that redemption is about ownership. Jesus’ blood has paid the purchase price to make us God’s possession. We are twice the Lord’s…He made us, and He bought us to be His very own.

He has purchased us to be His own people. He did this so we would praise and glorify Him. Ephesians 1:14 NLT
In His book Blood Bought, David Ravenhill says this about our redemption, “The object of Christ’s suffering was to ultimately restore a people to and for Himself…what God had in mind was to redeem a people for His own possession.”

On a poster published by DaySpring in the 1970’s Catherine Marshall said, “How wonderful to know that because you are His, He assumes full responsibility for keeping you in all your ways.”
Think of it! God loved you so much that He not only sent His Son to shed His blood for your sins, but God sent Him to pay the redemption price to make you His own. What can be greater than what God has done for you through His Son! He sought you, found you, cleansed you, forgave you,—and thankfully, He bought you and brought you to Himself! Your life is now in His hands. You are His child, a joint-heir with Christ, and He will care for you forever.
Prayer
Jesus, thank You for my redemption and being my Redeemer. Thank You for paying a price for me that is greater than anything I know or can imagine. Thank You for being my Lord, for making me a part of Your family, for calling me Your friend, and for making it possible for me to place my life into the Father’s care and keeping. What a privilege I have to honor and glorify You each day.
For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's. 1 Corinthians 6:20 NKJV
This article is the second in a 4-part Easter devotional series entitled “The Precious Blood of Jesus” written by Roy Lessin, co-founder of DaySpring. To read more from Roy, you can follow his Facebook page Meeting in the Meadow. In Roy’s next posting, we will learn about the life-changing Blood of Access.