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.
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. 

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Goes with you wherever you go!

Here are good words to remember: "Have not I commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified, do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go." Joshua 1:9
How many times have you and I been afraid of someone, some thing or event and felt so alone? Perhaps it was an upcoming surgery that scarred us or it was a co-worker who was causing a problem.
Isn't it comforting to know that no matter where you or I go, God is there with us? Maybe there are time we think that God doesn't care about us or even paying attention to our ordinary lives. Remember what God told Joshua? He said, "The Lord your God will be with you wherever you go." So you see, we don't have to feel alone at all. God is with us; He is working out our problems and we usually don't realize it.
I have had chronic back pain for years and in the last six months I have struggled with insomnia. Now, I know that it will still happen on occasion; that is the way I have been built. However, the good Lord is giving me advice on how to lessen the pain and how to get better sleep. I am exercising more, using certain medications that help ease the pain but more than anything, I am trusting in God to show me the way--and He is!
I am getting on my knees at night and praying to God. I haven't done this in years but I am going to stay with it because my connection with God is closer and He is  helping me to enjoy my life more. I encourage anyone who is struggling in life--with pain, sleep or whatever it is--to get closer to God.Start reading the Bible more, pray throughout the day and more than anything, trust in Him--no matter what problems you have!
Keep these words in mind, too, whenever you feel afraid or unloved, "Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are mine. When you go through deep waters and great trouble, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown! When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you. For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.... From eternity to eternity I am God. No one can oppose what I do. No one can reverse my actions.Isaiah 43:1-3, 13
Most importantly, trust in God. No matter what is going on in your life, He is there! God goes where you go.
Copyright Toni Star 2017

Sunday, January 29, 2017

The Christian life: you, me and helping those in need

As a Christian, you and I are followers, disciples of Jesus Christ. When you understand and accept certain Biblical truths, you become a Christian. The basics of Christianity are:  you and I have sinned against a holy God, the penalty for this sin is eternal judgment in hell, there is nothing you can do that will make it right between you and God but you and are saved from hell because of Jesus Christ.

·       He lived a perfect life, died for our sins and was raised from the dead.
·       Our sins were placed on Jesus, who suffered, was buried and raised from the dead. That perfect moment rescued you and me from eternal damnation. Christ is the reason you and I are saved and will be with Him in Heaven when we die.

The very moment you became a Christian, amazing things happened. You and are united forever with Christ; we are in God’s holy family. However, we still need each other so that we can encourage and love each other so that we can be sisters and brothers in Christ.

One example in the Bible that we need each other comes from 1 Thessalonians 5:11 ESV:  “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.” Encouragement is like getting a warm hug; it is a wonderful way of saying, “I am a Christian, too and I will walk with you in your path toward Christ.”

1 Peter 4:8-10 has wonderful words,
·       “Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins."

·       Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace”
·       It is love that covers many sins because God first exhibit love to us and then sent His Son Jesus to keep that love going.

Galatians 6:2 ESV explains further why it is so important for Christians to love and help one another by saying “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” When you offer help to someone who is hurting, you not only help that person but you also help yourself and fulfill what Christ would have you do for another human being.

One Bible verse that has inspired and helped many comes from Ecclesiastes 4:9-12: “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.”

How true is this, especially in our world today? When two or more are together, how much more are they able to withstand the trials and tribulations of the world? When we stick together and help each other, we are more apt to be successful and be less prone to accidents, worry or other bad things that can happen.  

Proverbs 12:25 offers a simple and wonderful piece of advice: “Anxiety in a man's heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad.” Think about the times when you felt anxious or afraid; maybe you’re thinking about your job or someone who has been cruel with you. Then, think of these words and how true they are!

To conclude, being a Christian and following Christ are most important in being a Christian; however, to be a true follower of Christ, we need to love and help each other. Daily Bible reading and praying can keep us close to Christ; take time each day to do both and be prepared for God's blessings!

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

There is something healing about the word Content

I just read an article by Holley Gerth titled, "What's your one word for 2017?" Her one word for this New Year is "content." Like many, I have never thought much about the word content but the more I read her article and her reference to it in Php. 4:11, where Paul in the Bible said, "I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances."

Two things struck me as I read this; Paul had to learn to be content. What does that mean to you and me? It means that being content doesn't come naturally to we humans. As Holley Gerth goes on to say, what does come easy to her and others is "striving, anxiety and fear."

In Ps. 131:2, we read, "I have calmed and quieted myself, I am like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child I am content." One way you and I can keep track of how God takes care of us is what Holley is doing; "writing a quick, simple gratitude journal entry every morning abut the day before."

Yesterday was the first day writing in my journal my gratitude that I have for God helping me. For example, yesterday I had a trying and stressful day at the hospital. Got a Cat Scan and blood test. It turned out to be much more--stressful and challenging. Came home and later wrote in my journal what happened and then wrote more about it today. God was with me every step of the way and brought me through it all.

And, I learned a great day about what to do and what not to do the next time. Most of all, I learned the importance of asking questions and not stopping until I get the answers I need.

So, before life presents a trying time to you and even afterwards, practice being content in all that you do. You will find, like I did, the peace and comfort that comes from being content. And, always remember, no matter what happens, God is with you and He loves you more than you can imagine.

Copyright Toni Star 2017

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

 Henry and Harriett knew that their Christmas dinner this year would be like all the others, catered!  In fact, neither one of them could recall their mother, Hazel, ever cooking a real Christmas dinner.  For years, all dinners had been brought in and it looked like nothing but catered, for the future.  This year Harriett and Henry decided to go on a “catered food strike.”  Yes, rebellion was in the air!  They wanted a real home cooked meal and that was that!

The children spoke to their father, Harold about getting a real home cooked meal for Christmas.  Harold shoke his head, knowing his wife never cooked anything bigger than bacon and eggs or a quick mix pizza.  Hazel hated cooking and made sure everyone knew it.  Harold tried to explain this to the children but finally advised them to ask their mother.  Maybe, just maybe, she would relent, he thought.

Henry and Harriett thought over their father’s advice.  After thinking the situation through, the children decided that rather than face their mother’s wrath, they would endure another brought-in meal.

Christmas day arrived.  At noon the caterers arrived.  Their mother, Hazel, sat at the head of the dinner table ready to be served while the children and their father sat on either side of the table, attentive to her needs.  The children nibbled some of the food laid out before them.  A huge cooked turkey sat in the middle of the table. It was about  20 pounds, the children guessed.  Dressing, cranberries and desert surrounded the huge turkey.  Soon, the children lost all interest in the dinner and left to watch TV.

In the afternoon, Hazel wanted to go to the Mall to see if any stores might be open so she could exchange some gifts she received.  She often didn’t like what people got her for Christmas.  Harold packed his family into their brand new station wagon and all were on their way.  He used a short cut, going down some side streets.  Henry and Harriett looked through the car windows and realized their father was driving through a bad part of town.  They became frightened and nervous.  What would happen to them if the car broke down?

“Hurry up, father!  Drive faster!” they both cried.

“What are we doing in this part of town anyway?”  Hazel asked.  “You know that this is a dangerous area, don’t you, Harold?” 

“Yes, I do, he answered.  ‘I wanted all of you to see something before we go to the Mall.”

Slowly Harold pulled into a gravel driveway and stopped.  In front of them was an old, one story brick building, all run down.

“I want the children to come with me,” he said getting out of the car.” Where are we going, father?”  Harriett was a bit anxious.  This was something the family had never done before.

“We are going to take the remains of our Christmas dinner to the people who live in this shelter.  Every year your mother orders more than we can eat and every year I bring what’s left here for these people to enjoy.  This year I thought maybe you’d like to help me.”
Hazel sat in the car listening to her husband with an astonished look on her face. She thought out loud, “So that’s where the leftovers go!”

“That’s right, Hazel.  OK kids, let’s go!”

As the children followed their father into the shelter, they saw many people waiting for them.  Never before had the children seen people who had so little to eat.  The people looked tired, poor and hungry.  All of their lives Harriett and Henry had everything they wanted.  Today their father brought them face to face with an entirely different world.  For the first time in their lives, they learned what Christmas and sharing was all about.  For them, Christmas would never be the same.  They would never forget the smiles and joy of the people in the shelter.  Harriett and Henry finally had a wonderful Christmas and so did the people of the shelter!

Post script: Christmas is a wonderful and joyous time of year but when material things become more important, as in the story above, then it loses the real meaning of Christmas. The true meaning of Christmas for all Christians is that Christ was born to save sinners. Without Christ, there would indeed be no Christmas. 
Merry Christmas to everyone!

Copyright 2016 Toni Star