Grace Yourself

Grace yourself with the love of God and he will fight your battles for you.

Armor of God

Recently, I had the opportunity to practice forgiveness.

Friends, typically, forgiveness is not a difficult thing for me to do. Honestly, I see forgiveness as a way to get on with my life and let the other person get on with their life.

Let me share a recent moment when I was able to practice forgiveness by allowing God to work in my life, to fight a battle on my behalf. Also, let me first say that I will share this story in a way that protects the person who is not here to defend herself. Giving to that endeavor, I will only share a small portion of the total event.

In a recent encounter with a new woman in my sphere, this woman characterized me to be someone I am definitely not. We were discussing a business matter, and because she disagreed with the information I supplied, she called me a liar! She said a few other things not worth mentioning, and, as if I were a leper, she requested that I stay as far away from her as possible. I told her I was hurt by what she was saying, but it didn’t matter to her. Of course, after that I complied with her wish to stay far away from her. To protect myself from further abuse, I blocked her number from my phone and blocked her from my social media sites. I did not really care to hear from or be around someone with that kind of demeanor. I am reminded of the time Jesus was persecuted. In Luke 23:34 (NIV), we read,

“Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.

Luke 23:34 (NIV)

People can be so heartless. Evil abounds, but the Lord says He will fight our battles. And, I had to remember quickly that the Lord rescues His people from evil attacks. 2 Timothy 4:18 (NIV) reminds me of that.

“The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom. To him be glory forever and ever. Amen.”

2 Timothy 4:18 (NIV)

Evidence of the Lord’s word in 2 Timothy 4:28 came in the form of a gentleman who, knowing nothing about what was going on between the woman and me, was circumstantially placed in front of the woman. I see this gentleman as someone who was put in place to allow the woman to know that I was not lying after all. And, without provocation, and in a very organic conversation, the gentleman said to the woman, almost word-for-word, everything I had previously said to her. The gentleman’s words were validation that I was telling the truth. I learned of the gentleman’s involvement because the Lord made sure someone else was on the scene to witness and report back to me what had happened. The witness told me that after the gentleman said all that he said, the woman appeared to be in shock and at a loss for words. We don’t know what was on the woman’s mind, but the witness said it was as if she had received an epiphany of some sort.

Still, I have received no apology from the woman. Still, I must forgive the woman and pray that her life is filled with love and grace. Hanging on to what Jesus said, she knows not what she is doing.

Grace Yourself

By “Grace Yourself,” I mean align yourself with the Lord’s power. Adorn yourself with His Grace. His mighty angels are set aside for your protection. Yes, evil abounds, but we must remember that we do not have to fight our battles. When we let the Lord fight our battles, the battle is won.

Our only obligation is to stay faithful to the Lord. His lessons help us to remain calm in adversity as we rest in His love and care.

In the act of reverence and perseverance, my Lord asked me to forgive and move on beyond this event. As difficult as it was to forgive, as a faithful child of God, I had no other choice but to forgive the woman of her hurtful words. Whether she apologizes or not is immaterial.

We go through trials every day. And, there are times people put us into trials that we had no time to prepare for. I am here to say, let it go!

Friends, when someone does or says something to hurt you, I’m not going to lie. It hurts! I’ll tell you the truth right now. I was devastated when that woman said those hurtful words to me. No one had ever been that cruel to me in my whole life. I had a difficult time letting it go. But I am fortunate to have the most incredible friends in my life. When I found it difficult to let things go, my friends stepped in to remind me of God’s love and God’s ways. I am grateful for the friends I have on earth who know me and love me enough to steer me in the right direction at all times. I look forward to being with you all in God’s Kingdom.

Graced in the love of the Lord, I now feel refreshed and ready to enjoy life the way the Lord intends me to enjoy it.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

2 Corinthians 12:9 (NIV)

Let God fight your battles!

In His grace!

(c) Marlene C Bertrand, 2022

Does It Feel Like Babylon?

Painting depicting the Hanging Gardens of Babylon

Most often, when we read about Babylon, we read about the sinful nature of Babylon, but there is more to Babylon than its poor reputation.

The Rich History of Babylon

Much history about Babylon is lost, and specific knowledge claims are unaccountable. Still, it is known that at one time, Babylon was ruled by powerful leaders who built an impressive empire where law and order were established. Rules were followed, and it was a thriving city.

Babylon was located in Shinar, in ancient Mesopotamia, on the eastern bank of the Euphrates River. This location allowed Babylon to build a viable system of canals. These canals were used for irrigation and commerce. Many do not realize that Babylon was a place of culture with its beautiful buildings adorned with enameled brick, neatly paved streets, and statues of lions and dragons. Babylon is where a prescribed code of law, the Code of Hammurabi, was formed to maintain peace and prosperity. These laws were created by King Hammurabi, dating before the Mosaic Law. And most notably, because of King Hammurabi’s landscape architecture, Babylon is widely known for the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. These were magnificent, terraced gardens that were machine-watered. Today, many refer to these gardens as one of the Seven Wonders of the World.

When King Hammurabi died, the Babylon that he built was taken over by the Hittites, and then the Kassites took reign and renamed the city Karanduniash. After the Kassites, the Assyrians took possession of the town. Under the rule of the Assyrian king Sennacherib, Babylon revolted, and that is when king Sennacherib had the city torn down and ruined.

Despite the devastation, the city of Babylon was able to be rebuilt under new power and rule.

However, as one successor after another presided over the land, the splendor of Babylon was eventually washed away, and Babylon, a city, favorably known as the Gate of the Gods, became a city of ruins.

What the Bible Says About Babylon

Babylon is mentioned in several books of the bible. However, it is discussed predominantly in the biblical books of Daniel, Jeremiah, and Isaiah.

While beautiful in structure, the people of Babylon worshipped pagan gods and heavily involved themselves in sexual immorality, cults, and prostitution.

We read in Jeremiah 50:1-3 (NLT):

The Lord gave Jeremiah the prophet this message concerning Babylon and the land of the Babylonians. This is what the Lord says: Tell the whole world, and keep nothing back. Raise a signal flag to tell everyone that Babylon will fall! Her images and idols will be shattered. Her gods Bel and Marduk will be utterly disgraced. For a nation will attack her from the north and bring such destruction that no one will live there again. Everything will be gone; both people and animals will flee.

Friends, if we have established that Babylon became notorious as a wicked and sinful place, and if we have learned that sin must be punished, let’s move on to the prophesied end-times mentioned concerning Babylon.

Revelation 14:8 –

Then another angel followed him through the sky, shouting, “Babylon is fallen—that great city is fallen—because she made all the nations of the world drink the wine of her passionate immorality.”

Revelation 16:19-21 –

The great city of Babylon split into three sections, and the cities of many nations fell into heaps of rubble. So God remembered all of Babylon’s sins, and he made her drink the cup that was filled with the wine of his fierce wrath. And every island disappeared, and all the mountains were leveled. There was a terrible hailstorm, and hailstones weighing as much as seventy-five pounds fell from the sky onto the people below. They cursed God because of the terrible plague of the hailstorm.

Revelation 17:5
Regarding the drunken prostitute John saw when the angel took him into the wilderness.

A mysterious name was written on her forehead: “Babylon the Great, Mother of All Prostitutes and Obscenities in the World.”

Revelation 18:2 –

He gave a mighty shout: “Babylon is fallen—that great city is fallen! She has become a home for demons. She is a hideout for every foul spirit, a hideout for every foul vulture and every foul and dreadful animal.”

Revelation 18: 10 –

They will stand at a distance, terrified by her great torment. They will cry out, “How terrible, how terrible for you, O Babylon, you great city! In a single moment God’s judgment came on you.”

America, The Land of The Free

America has always been known as the land of opportunity. We talk about America being the land of the free and the home of the brave. Symbols representing these values include the American Flag, Statue of Liberty, the Liberty Bell, Uncle Sam, the White House, and the bald eagle. These symbols represent values such as hope, with the peace sign representing peace.

Let’s look at a few of our values more closely:

  • Life: Americans believe in an individual’s right to life, even to be able to defend themselves.
  • Liberty: Americans believe that we are free to have our own political or personal beliefs and that the beliefs of others should not be forced on people.
  • The Pursuit of Happiness: Americans believe that we have the right to pursue happiness in our own way, so long as our pursuit does not infringe upon the rights of others.
  • Common Good: Americans believe that we should act in a way that promotes the community’s welfare, in essence, for the benefit of all.

Other beliefs include equality, diversity, truth, popular sovereignty, patriotism, and more.

Have We Lost Sight of Our Values?

The crime rate in the U.S. is about 47.70 per 100,000 people. When I look at the crime statistics in America, my first response is to wonder why crime is so high. Then I look at our core values and see that America is pulling away from our core values.

Political leaders no longer act for the common good. Teachers and other people in authority act for personal rather than the public good. Criminals are being left free to commit crimes repeatedly.

Let me interject and ask, what purpose does it serve for a six-year-old child to be taught how to perform sexual acts?

Whenever I read about a teacher teaching our vulnerable children things they have no business being taught in a classroom situation, I cringe.

I base my thinking on the things I read in the bible. And since I believe most people who read the bible know what sin is and what sin is not, I will not go through this article pointing out specific sins. Just as the ancient Babylonians knew what sin was, Americans know what sin is. Yet, knowing does not deter people from sinning. In the preceding verses, we read God’s anger with the Babylonian people for their corruption. It makes me wonder if God did not tolerate what was going on in Babylon in historical times, what makes people think God will tolerate what is going on in America now? It’s just food for thought.

Please read the entire book of Revelation to understand what I say now. The Lord is coming back. We do not know when He is coming back because He has not told us when He is coming back. But, rest assured, He is coming back, and those who believe in Him will be spared. Those of us who do not believe in Him and who continue to live a life of sin will not be spared. It’s just so simple!

Revelation 22:

“And behold, I am coming soon. Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book.”

10 And he said to me, “Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near. 11 Let the evildoer still do evil, and the filthy still be filthy, and the righteous still do right, and the holy still be holy.”

12 “Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay each one for what he has done. 13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.”

14 Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates. 15 Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and the sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.

Has America Become The New Babylon?

Has America become a corrupt nation? Have we become as bad as Babylon? If so, do we not know that God despises sin? Do we not know that as God destroyed Babylon because of the people’s rampant sin, He will also destroy America? Why not?

What Can We Do?

It is time for God’s people to see the world’s reality. It is time for God’s people to stop sinning and repent. It is time to stop living life as if nothing mattered but you.

If you believe in God and He is coming back to save His children (you and me), then now is the time to repent of our sins and start living a life that serves our God. And, as God-serving people, now is the time to start sharing the Word of God with others. Help others receive the rewards God promised to those who believe and trust Him.

It is so easy to be saved. All you must do is call upon the name of the Lord.

“But everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Acts 2:21 NLT).

The Lord will hear your cry. Just cry out His name. Let Him know you love Him, and you trust Him. Tell Him of your sins and let Him know your plan to give up your sinful nature. That is all you need to do to be saved.

Now, remember this – you are human. Therefore, you are not perfect. Know that God does not expect you to be perfect. He only expects you to believe in Him and to trust in Him. And, when you sin, recognize your sin, confess your sin to the Lord, and move forward. Try with your heart to live a life that serves Him.

Bless you, and know that you are loved unconditionally by Jesus Christ, our Lord, and Savior.

REFERENCES:

World History Encyclopedia, Babylon

American Core Beliefs

World Population Review

Code of Hammurabi

Cover Photo: Curtesy of Wikimedia.org, Unknown Artist, Public Domain

Safe In His Hand

God Has You in the Palm of His Hand

We grow up in life expecting that life will be grand as we move out on our own and make our own decisions. Instead, as we maneuver through the world, we are met with disappointments, broken promises, and broken hearts. We discover the reality of this world. We find out that living life is not easy.

We discover that no one can guarantee us a life of bliss. Even God, our Creator, does not promise that we will live a life without chaos. He does say, however, that He will carry us through the chaos. See Isaiah 43:2 (NIV) –

When you pass through the waters,
    I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
    they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
    you will not be burned;
    the flames will not set you ablaze
.”

There is so much turmoil in the world, and I know that worrying about it day and night will not do more than cause my blood pressure to rise. And so, it is my quest to live a life without worrying about all of those matters. I’m not saying I do not care about what happens to others in the world, and I do my part to help others when I can. I mean to say here that I prefer not to spend my life worrying about turmoil day in and day out.

It is easy to become overwhelmed, and when that happens, I refer to the bible. One of my “go-to” passages is in Matthew 6. In particular, the verses in Matthew 6:25-34 make me stop and recognize that my life is all taken care of. After reading those verses, I ask myself, what am I worried about? I realize God has me in the palm of His hand. He will make sure my needs are met. No matter what I need, He will provide it.

Even when it seems all is lost, somehow, if I step out of the way and let God have control of my life circumstances, everything works out more beautifully than my little mind could have ever planned it.

Oh, please don’t think I go through life willy-nilly, without plans. Oh, I plan! I plan many things, but here is what I do now that I did not do in the past. I take my plans and discern as best as I can if my plans are in tune with the desires of God. And, not being all-knowing, I am fortunate enough to be smart enough to give my plans to the Lord, who intercedes on my behalf to take my plans to God. I ask the Lord to look at my plans, and if they fit in with what God has planned for me, He would take them to God for me.

And then I go on about my life, and as my life unfolds, I see which plans come to fruition and which plans go by the wayside. I am pleased either way because I know God has my back.

Do Not Worry

I do not worry about things as much now as I had in the past. Please read Matthew 6:25-34 (NIV) to see what God wants us to know about worrying.

 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin.  Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.  If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?  So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’  For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

When I read that final sentence, “Each day has enough trouble of its own,” I realize that God wants us to wake up each day and receive what He has in store for us in that day and that day alone. Isn’t it wonderful that our Heavenly Father takes care of us so that we do not have to worry about anything? We don’t need to worry about tomorrow. We only need to get through today.

You Are Not Alone

When you feel that all is lost, when you feel like you can’t possibly live another day, reach out to your Heavenly Father. He loves you, and He will carry you through whatever you are going through at any stage of your life.

When you feel sad, it is okay to cry. And, I want to encourage you to let go of your tendency to turn to the coping skills you may have used in the past. Instead, rely on God because He has you in the palm of His hands. He can remove all obstacles to make your world right. Rely on God for all things, big and small.

Reach for your bible for words of encouragement. When you feel that all is lost, remember the following verses that offer words of hope. Remember, God created you; God loves you, and God will never let you fail.

Isaiah 41:10 (NIV)

So do not fear, for I am with you;
    do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
    I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Isaiah 46:4 (NIV)

Even to your old age and gray hairs
    I am he, I am he who will sustain you.
I have made you and I will carry you;
    I will sustain you and I will rescue you

And remember that each time we go through a hardship, it is likely that we are going through that situation so that we can learn to trust in God more. Our Lord is here to help us get through life. One way He does that is by helping us learn to lean on Him for everything. You have noticed by now, that each time the Lord brings you through to the other side of a hardship, especially those times when you relied on Him, you came out of it a much stronger person than you were before. He has you in the palm of His hands.

Hopelessly Hopeful

Photo by Ron Lach from Pexels

I am hopelessly hopeful. You will discern this statement between the lines to mean I am optimistic despite what is happening all around me. I steadfastly cling to verses in the bible that speak of hope and pray that these verses will carry me through this time of sorrow.

I desperately need the comfort of the Lord as I mourn the recent passing of so many family and friends, one after another, in such a short period. Who will be next, I ask? Who will be taken from this world and into the next? I rely on the hope that I will see those who have gone from this earth again in heaven. I assume that I will make it into heaven, myself.

I assume that believing in our Savior, Jesus Christ, and living a righteous life, loving others as Jesus loves me, will spare me a place in heaven where I will be reunited with my loved ones who have left this life before me and with those who follow me.

Dear friends, my heart is heavy right now. It is heavy thinking about the wives who are now widows, the husbands who are now widowers, the parents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends who are now mourning. Even as an emphatic person, I cannot claim to know the pain survivors experience. No, all I can say is that my pain is unbearable on my own right now.

Sometimes I forget, but thankfully the Holy Spirit reminds me to go to the bible and read scripture to get help in recovering and gaining strength. I need to remember that no one on earth can help me through anything as much as the Lord can help me achieve balance and the ability to be strong amid the weakness of pain.

I don’t know the plans the Lord has for me. I don’t know the plans the Lord has for others. But, I do believe the Lord has a plan for us all. This is my belief. You may have a different belief, and I will still love and accept you. But, this is my belief, and I hold steadfast to it. It is, as a matter of fact, how I get through life. When things happen unexpectedly, and when I cannot find the strength to carry on, I run to the bible to read and re-read God’s promises to me. I read what He said he would do for me if only I believed in Him. And, I believe in Him, so I rest on His promises.

I have stopped counting the number of family and friends who have left this earth transitioning to heaven. God’s plan for them is not transparent to me, but God knows what He is doing. I like to think God is organizing and preparing His Kingdom. Those who went before us will already be there to warmly welcome us into the Kingdom.

If you are like me, struggling to survive the loss of a loved one, I encourage you to read the verses I am reading right now. I pray that they will help you through this time of sorrow.

Read and re-read the following scriptures. Believe they are words from God. Believe that they are words meant to comfort you and carry you through your heartache.

All verses are extracted from the New International Version (NIV).

Psalm 71:14 (New International Version)

14 As for me, I will always have hope; I will praise you more and more.

Romans 15:13

13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

1 Peter 5:10

10 And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.

1 Peter 1:13

13 Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed.

1 Peter 1:3-6

3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade — kept in heaven for you, 5 who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.

Romans 5:2-7

2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. 6 You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7 Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die.

God bless you today and always. Be strong in His word. Be hopeful!

Copyright 2022 Marlene C Bertrand

Redeemed

We have been redeemed by the love of Jesus Christ, our Savior.

We have been redeemed!

One of my favorite games is Scrabble. And there was a time when you could not tear me away from Words With Friends. I am fascinated by words because words, used properly, can lift people up. Words can motivate and inspire people to do great things.

I see words as tools to be used effectively in communication.

I have a friend who speaks and writes with an uncanny sense of clarity. Carefully chosen words assure that the listener or reader comprehends the exact meaning of what is said or written.

I subscribe to Dictionary.com, and each day I receive a Word of the Day. To make it fun learning this new word, I try to use the word appropriately in a sentence sometime during the day.

My Word of the Day

Today, there is a wonderful word appropriately circling the globe. This word is “Redeemed.”

Approximately 2000 years ago, Jesus was crucified. He suffered horribly, sacrificing Himself to atone for our sins. Think about it! We are the ones who sin and should suffer the burden and make the sacrifice for our sin. But Jesus, who is sinless, stepped in for us and became the sacrifice for us. He redeemed us!

As a man in the flesh, Jesus took on all sin out of His pure love for us. He did this so that we could be spared the suffering associated with our sin. He endured pain and humiliation. He did this so that we could overcome our sins and be washed of our sins then, now, and forever. And, I want to add that He did this joyfully. He did not complain or change His mind, even when the torture was, no doubt, excruciating.

Jesus died on a cross so that we would not have the burden of suffering for our sins.

Word Fanatic

I am a word fanatic. On any day, you can find me looking up the meaning of words. I even spend time looking up the meaning of common words. Today, I looked up the word redeem and found the following definition in Dictionary.com. It seemed appropriate for the remembrance of the sacrifice Jesus Christ made for us.

Redeem

verb (used with object)

  • to buy or pay off; clear by payment: to redeem a mortgage.
  • to buy back, as after a tax sale or a mortgage foreclosure.
  • to recover (something pledged or mortgaged) by payment or other satisfaction: to redeem a pawned watch.
  • to exchange (bonds, trading stamps, etc.) for money or goods.
  • to convert (paper money) into specie.
  • to discharge or fulfill (a pledge, promise, etc.).
  • to make up for; make amends for; offset (some fault, shortcoming, etc.): His bravery redeemed his youthful idleness.
  • to obtain the release or restoration of, as from captivity, by paying a ransom.
  • Theology. to deliver from sin and its consequences by means of a sacrifice offered for the sinner.

We have been redeemed

It is appropriate that the theological definition describes precisely the point I present today. Jesus delivered us from sin and was the sacrifice offered for our sins.

Dictionary.com Word of the Day

Today, Dictionary.com has a word that I think is appropriate for the day.

The word is passe-partout. It is pronounced, “pas-pahr-too.” The word is a noun that means “Something that passes everywhere or provides a universal means of passage.”

When I think of the meaning of passe-partout, I think of how Jesus provides us a means of passage.

A person who is not cleansed of their sins cannot go to God. We need Jesus. He is our pathway to God. When we ask Jesus for forgiveness, Jesus speaks to God on our behalf, and our sins are forgiven.

It is written in the Bible,

“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

John 14:6 (NIV)

Happy Friday!

On a Friday, almost 2000 years ago, Jesus Christ died on a cross for us. On that day, He became the sacrifice for our sins. On that day, our debt of sin was paid in full. Once and for all, on that day, we were forgiven!

And then, three days later, on a Sunday, Jesus became alive again. He was resurrected. Satan, who would have preferred we suffer for our sins, was defeated. It was Jesus who fought our battle against Satan and won.  Jesus did this because He loves us so much. He loves us so profoundly we cannot imagine the depth of His love. He fought for us without hesitation and any expectations of repayment.

Jesus loves us! And on this Friday, I want to thank Him, with all of my heart, for His love. His sacrifice has paved the way for us to join our Father in heaven. And, He made it easy. All we need to do is believe that Jesus is the Son of God. When we sin, all we need to do is go to Jesus and ask Him for forgiveness.

Pray for Forgiveness

The Bible tells us that when we have sinned, we are wise to ask for forgiveness of that sin. And, if we ask for forgiveness, we are forgiven, and our lives made new again. Here are some verses that speak about forgiveness and the never-ending love of Christ.

Note: All of the verses are quoted from the New International Version (NIV).

“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Romans 6:23

“There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.”

Romans 3:23

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

1 John 1:9

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

Romans 5:8

“Peter replied, ‘Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.’ ”

Acts 2:38

“That if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved for it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.”

Romans 10:9-10

The Sinner’s Prayer

Friends, if you have sin in your life and would like to ask forgiveness, there is nothing much that you need to do to get into the full grace of God. The sinner’s prayer is simple, but it effectively says all that needs to be said when asking for redemption. While the sinner’s prayer is not a prayer explicitly found in the Bible, it represents a way for us to begin praying to our Lord and Savior.

Dear Lord Jesus, I know that I am a sinner, and I ask for Your forgiveness. I believe You died for my sins and rose from the dead. I turn from my sins and invite You to come into my heart and life. I want to trust and follow You as my Lord and Savior.

The Sinner’s Prayer

Happy Resurrection Day

May you have peace this Good Friday and feel abundant love this coming Sunday, knowing our Lord rose and came back to us so that we could enjoy life again with Him.

Clear Intensions

Honesty is the best policy. Always be clear in your intensions when interacting with others.

Dining table

I am reminded of when some people I met in passing, a couple, invited me to visit their home for the afternoon. I had recently moved into the neighborhood. I had not started my new job and had not met anyone in town yet. They were friendly people and wanted to extend their friendship to me. I accepted the invitation to spend the afternoon with them. We had a great time. We shared appetizers and enjoyed a very fine bottle of wine. At some point, I glanced down at my watch and noticed it was approaching 5:00 P.M. In my mind, that meant it would soon be dinnertime, and I felt I should leave so the couple could start preparing dinner.

I thanked them for a beautiful time, and just as I was standing, the wife
said, “No, please, sit. Stay a while longer.”

“Oh, thank you,” I said, “It’s almost dinnertime, and I really should be going.”

“No, please,” the husband said, “Join us for dinner.” And, the husband looked at his wife for confirmation.

The wife confirmed with a resounding, “Yes. Please stay.” She continued, “I have a nice beef stew cooking in the crockpot, and I already made cornbread for dinner, so there is plenty of food for all of us.”

With that, we moved into the dining room. The husband graciously pulled out a chair for me to sit and he poured a glass of wine for me to enjoy while he and his wife went into the kitchen to prepare dinner.

But here is where the story gets sticky.

I overheard the wife ask her husband, “Why is she still here?”

To which her husband replied, “Well, you invited her, dear.”

“She’s eating up all of our food!” The wife made it sound like I was an uninvited guest.

At that point, it was a little bit awkward for me. After hearing the couple’s conversation, I wanted to change my mind about dinner, but before I could say anything, the husband entered the dining room and set out the dining wear. Following him, the wife arrived with a tray that held a large serving bowl of the beef stew. She retreated back to the kitchen and then returned with a little basket of cornbread. The husband said grace. Afterward, I served myself a small portion of stew and half a serving of cornbread. After all, I didn’t want to eat up all of their food.

Can you imagine what was going on in my head during that meal? I sat wondering where I might have misunderstood the wife’s invitation. I asked myself whether she genuinely invited me to dinner or pretended to be polite in asking, and I should have been polite in declining the offer.

Before I could take my last bite of food, the husband proceeded to pour another glass of wine, but I opted for a glass of water instead. I was preparing for my exit and did not want to be rude by leaving a freshly poured glass of wine, and much worse, eating and leaving too quickly, as social norms dictate that we should not eat and run. Nevertheless, the tension in my head was mounting. I could not wait any longer to get out of that house. And so, by social principles, I probably egressed too soon because after taking a couple of sips of water, I rudely glanced down at my watch, made up some phony excuse for leaving, stood up, and tried to sound as gracious as I could as I headed toward the front door to leave.

Where am I going with this story?

I think I am telling this story to say that confusion sets in, and feelings get hurt when we are not clear with our intentions. When unambiguously this couple invited me to dinner, they actually wanted me to leave. When I made a motion to go, they should have allowed me to leave. Instead, they encouraged me to overstay my welcome. I do not believe they intended for me to overhear their little kitchen conversation, and I do not think they intended to hurt me. I think their ultimate goal was to make me feel like they were overly hospitable entertainers. On the other hand, I should have been mindful of their time and left when I felt my time was up.

Let your yes be yes

The bible teaches us much about being forthright and sincere. It teaches us
that we should refrain from lying or being deceitful.

The Lord asks us to live a life of honesty when dealing with our spouses,
children, workmates, neighbors, in essence, all people with which we come in contact.

Scriptures about being forthright

The following scriptures are from the New International Version (NIV) unless otherwise stated.

Proverbs 24:26
26 An honest answer is like a kiss on the lips.

Matthew 5:37
37 “Simply let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ be ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.

1 John 3:18
18 Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.

Proverbs 6:16-19
16 There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to him:
17 haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, 18 a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, 19 a false witness who pours out lies and a man who stirs up dissension among brothers.

Matthew 7:16
16 By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?

Ecclesiastes 7:20-22 (Good News Translation)
20 There is no one on earth who does what is right all the time and never makes a mistake. 21 Don’t pay attention to everything people say—you may hear your servant insulting you, 22 and you know yourself that you have insulted other people many times.

Keep it real

It is a fact that none of us are perfect. We quickly and easily slip into sin, sometimes before we are even aware of it. We all sin, and, thankfully, we are saved by the great, forever grace of God.

Being dishonest is a sin.

That couple who invited me to stay for dinner should have been forthright and clear in their intentions. If they did not want me to stay for dinner, they should not have invited me. And, truthfully, I should have been more honest too. I should have just gone home like I wanted to. My inner voice told me to leave, and if I had been honest with myself, if I had been honest about how I truly felt, then goodwill would have served all.

I will try harder to listen to my inner voice, which frequently when the voice speaks for good, how amazing it is that it tends to be the voice of God.

My dear friends, for a life filled with goodness and peace, it is wise to stay real, stay honest, and stay in the word of God.

Always remember that when you fall short of your goal to live upright, our God is a loving and forgiving God. Take your shortcomings to the Lord. Ask Him for forgiveness, and God will give you forgiveness without hesitation. And just like that, your inequities are wiped away, and you are as good as new.

May you walk in righteousness, knowing you serve the most powerful and mighty God of the world. 

Keep On Swimming

No matter what is happening in your life, remember to have faith. Keep on dreaming, keep on praying, and keep on swimming to your goal.

© Marlene Bertrand 2021

Today’s story is a story of faith and hope.

In the year 2008, my husband and I worked as contracted technical writers and editors for the same company. On a regular day, as we always did, we went to lunch together and, all seemed well when we returned from lunch. Little did we know that we had enjoyed our last lunch together with this company. No sooner than we returned, we were called into a casual meeting with the manager of the department we worked. In that meeting, we discovered that we were no more valuable than any other contracted personnel within the company, and as with many contractors working at the company, the manager quickly informed us that, due to economic factors, the company was downsizing and the company would no longer be able to afford our services. And just like that, we lost our jobs on the same day, at the same time.

Losing our jobs suddenly meant we suddenly lost our means of survival (in the lifestyle we had become accustomed to). We could no longer afford the mortgage on our home, so we had to give our home back to the lender (to avoid foreclosure). And, when we gave the home back to the lender, we had nowhere to live. We had a little bit of money in a savings account, though it was not enough to pay creditors, much less, enough to afford to live in a decent part of town. And, even in the most run-down part of town, landlords would not rent to us because, over time, our credit history had become tarnished.

We needed a place to stay, or we would be destined to live in the streets as many people in our situation had succumbed. Desperate to have a place to live my husband and I had the idea that if we could liquidate our 401k plans, we could purchase land and live on it. We figured, if we bought land, we would always have a place to stay, even if we lived in a tent. But, the county in the city where our land was located had other ideas. They mandated that no person could live on their land unless they built a house on it. The county would not allow us to live on our land even if we lived in a self-contained recreation vehicle (RV).

Financially, it was tough because, even though my husband and I were able to purchase the land at a bargain price, now, a good portion of our money was tied up in the land. Survival became unmaintainable and we decided we should sell the land to reap what we could, but we were unable to sell the land because the land was raw, undeveloped land, and selling it turned out to be a non-existent option because, at the time, many other people were losing their jobs due to economic downturns. So we were stuck with the land whether we wanted it or not.

We Prayed

We prayed about what we should do. We agreed that we would rely on the Lord to provide for our needs. We decided that no matter how long it took, at some point, that for which we were praying would be answered.

As luck (or more realistically the Lord) would have it, we somehow had enough money left in our 401k plans to pay cash for a mobile home in a mobile home park. We lived seven years in the mobile home. We retired and lived on our Social Security retirement income which allowed us to pay the bills, live meagerly, and save money until such a time arrived that we were able to sell the mobile home for twice the value we purchased it. With the proceeds from the sale, we bought an RV and lived in the RV for two+ years while the house we are living in today was being constructed.

Today’s Message

My husband and I prayed daily. We prayed often. We prayed that the Lord would help us build a house on our land. With our prayers, we had faith that we would be able to build our home at the right time in the Lord’s time.

But, we are human, and I do have to admit that throughout the years, there were times when my husband and I would pause and wonder if our dreams would ever come true. It was taking a long time to save up enough money to build a house on our land. We would ask ourselves if we would ever be able to build a house.

But, the Lord always steps in. In His time, and in the perfect time, the Lord steps in to make everything as it should be.

The message, friends, is that patience is a virtue. More than that, dreams do come true. All we need to do is pray to the Lord for His help, have faith, and keep on swimming.

Praise the Lord! Friends are welcome in the home the Lord made possible!

Remember His Love

Never forget who loves you more than anyone in the world. When times get tough and you don’t know where to go or what to do, get back to God. Remember, He is real. He is faithful. He is always here with you and for you.

If you feel lost, finding yourself is as easy as bringing Him back into your heart. Call upon His name and soon you will be swept up into the arms of His good and soothing comfort.

Remember, in John 14:14 Jesus said:

You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.

John 14:14

Today’s Video:

Take me Back — TRIBL featuring Dante Bowe from Bethel Music

Surround Yourself With Goodness

Surround yourself with goodness!

I enjoy fresh vegetables and fresh herbs for cooking, so I have a vegetable garden that provides me with fresh produce every year.

Mesclun growing in my garden!

But, there are always pesky animals that have a tendency to steal and destroy the vegetation if I don’t keep them out. I must take measures to discourage them because, not only will some of them snag the veggies, animals such as skunks, raccoons, foxes and bats carry deadly viruses that can be left behind to harm the vegetation or me, if I come in contact with them.

I put up fences to keep these animals out of my garden. I don’t want them taking away my harvest or depositing disease-ridden waste into and onto the precious vegetables I intend to eat.

I take care to keep harmful insects out of the garden because I want my produce to be healthy and delicious. Today, I started thinking about how much I do to protect my garden, which then led me to wonder whether or not I take the same level of precautions when dealing with my general welfare. Fortunately, most of the people I hang out with are truly righteous people. I think that is because I learned a long time ago, a very important biblical lesson.

Do not make friends with a hot-tempered man, do not associate with one easily angered, or you may learn his ways and get yourself ensnared.

Proverbs 22:24-25

We all make mistakes

Friends, I am not perfect and I certainly don’t expect anyone to be perfect. But, I know what is right and I know what is wrong.

We all make mistakes. There is no doubt about that. However, the positive side of mistakes comes from the times we learn from our mistakes and we don’t let mistakes hamper us down. Friends, where I’m going with today’s message is to say that the people we allow into our life, be they good or bad, are the people who are going to help shape our life.

I don’t let critters into my garden because I don’t want them to soil the garden. I don’t want them to pull up, chew up, or mess up the hearty growth in my garden.

Likewise, I no longer (knowingly) let “bad” people into my life. I don’t want them bringing me down, messing up my life, and steering me in the wrong direction.

Bad begets bad

I am generally an even-tempered person. But, at one time in my life I hung out with someone who had a really bad temper. We went shopping at the mall for new outfits for a New Year celebration. The store we chose to enter was a high-end store that had advertised 60% to 70% discounts. I was anxious to see what they had to offer. Upon entering, I was very happy with the selection of clothes and the prices were very affordable. But, my friend could not find anything she liked so she became boisterous and angry. She started yelling at the sales lady who was helping us… yelling about why they didn’t have a certain dress in her color and her size. Swear words were coming out of her mouth and whatnot. All I could figure doing was to pay for my outfit and then sit and wait for her outside the dressing room. While I was sitting, I kept thinking about how there were other stores in the mall and how, in any event, there was no need to be THAT upset over clothes. This person is actually a really kind-hearted person (so long as things are going her way). However, as I spent more time with her, I began to notice that I, too, started becoming a little short-tempered over the littlest of things. Thank the Lord that I finally realized it was time to cut ties with her. Friends, once we make a good decision, it is amazing how the Lord has a way of making things like this easy. As it were, I got married and moved out of the area. This made it difficult to continue our association. Thank goodness for the distance that was placed between us because I learned that my demeanor was better. I went back to putting life situations into perspective, realizing that I don’t have to be upset at everything that does not go my way.

Cutting this person out of my life was a good thing. Had I kept her in my life, who knows, today I might be living as an angry person like her.

Surround yourself with goodness!

Friends, don’t let bad people stay in your life, otherwise, like you read in Proverbs  22:24-25 you might end up becoming like them.

Psychologists say we become like the five people we hang out with the most. I urge you to choose your friends wisely. Look at them. See how they act. See how they make you feel. If they make you feel bad, delete them! On the other hand, if they fit into the righteous lifestyle you try to live, keep them! Learn from them! Strive to be like them!

Surround yourself with goodness so goodness surrounds you.

He Rose on Sunday

His love saved us!

In my blog post about Good Friday, I shared how Jesus died for our sins.

However, the story continues on the Sunday following his death when Jesus was resurrected. In other words, Jesus rose from death and walked among the living again.

The importance of the resurrection is in the fact that the Messiah, Jesus Christ taught much truth about life and made many promises that if we live a wholesome life, we would one day get to live in the Kingdom of God. One of the promises that Jesus made is that after he was crucified, he would be brought back to life. And, when he was brought back to life he would then be the avenue in which we could have a direct line of communication with God.

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

John 14:6

Video: Resurrection Sunday – The Anthem Praise Dance

The recital and dance interpretation seen in this video present a deep and dynamic rendition of Jesus’ resurrection. Death could not hold him down. He came back to life and now we are redeemed because of his sacrifice.