Choose Joy – Day 19

I enjoy a good graphic t-shirt. Ones that have fun messages like, “This Mama runs on Coffee, Amazon Prime and Jesus,” “Quiddich is my favorite sport” (points if you know the reference!), or “Thankful,” etc. There is really nothing that you can’t put on a t-shirt it seems. How fun! I saw a line recently of ones that start with “Choose”- for example “Choose Hope,” “Choose Courage,” or “Choose Joy.”

It is a choice! He wants us to choose to live more like Him. In the Word, these are ways people will know we are Christ followers. Galatians 5:22 “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”

Sometimes I’m quite frustrated with myself, if I’m honest, and as much as I want to “Choose Joy,” I’m not always feeling it. The dishes, laundry, reports that need to be written, emails returned – the list goes on and on – give me a feeling of much less than joy. Add in a whining child and the stress of undone tasks, and I’m on the train to feeling in the doldrums.

But I believe we as believers are not meant to be downtrodden people. For we know the hope and we know we have a future (Jeremiah 29:11). I think I may even limit my testimony when I do not show joy. I end up looking like the rest of the world…under the weight of life’s pressures instead of filled with the Lord and living in light of eternity.

Don’t get me wrong…I don’t believe this means we can never have a bad day. But how do we approach each day? How do we greet those we encounter, even when we feel sad, weighed down, worried or stressed? Are we able to continue to look to the Holy Spirit to fill us and work through us even in those moments?

Because when in the midst of trials we can meet the need of someone who does not believe, how much more does that speak to them of the hope that lives within us? When we CHOOSE joy above choosing bitterness, anger, frustration or apathy even, we show the world His light, His power, His strength. “The joy of the Lord is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10b).

Philemon 1:7 reminds us that as we share the joy He overflows in our heart with those around us, we can bring refreshment to this weary world. “Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the Lord’s people.”

Prayer: Lord, I pray that I would reflect you more in all I do. Today I come asking you to fill me with your spirit that you would overflow from me the fruits of the spirit. Work in me that joy may flow freely; that I may be able to show the world the hope that lives inside me, and that I may share in others joy freely, not looking to the left or right, but looking directly to you, the source of my strength each day. Thank you for loving me and giving me everlasting joy. I love you, Lord.
 
– Laura Enslen

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The Presence of God Blesses Our Home – Day 18

The book of Joshua is a story of conquest and fulfillment for the people of God. After many years of slavery in Egypt and 40 years in the desert, the Israelites were finally allowed to enter the land promised of their fathers. Joshua was destined to turn that promise into reality. Joshua appealed to the Israelites to put away the gods of their forefathers in Mesopotamia and Egypt. In Joshua 24: 14-24, we read the story of how Joshua encouraged and led his people to serve the one true God. The Israelites had to make a choice on who to serve. Joshua made a public commitment to serve his Lord by stating, “But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” So just like Joshua, we, too, must make a choice on who we will serve. Do we serve the “worldly gods” of wealth, power and status? Or do we serve our Lord in ways that reflect the light of Jesus and what He has taught? That decision is up to each of us, just as it was to Joshua and the Israelites!

As many of you know, our family recently downsized in property and house size. Recently, our “home group” celebrated a house blessing during which we prayed over each room of our house, our property and the neighborhood. The purpose of this time was to consecrate our new home for the Lord’s use, ministry and protection. What a sweet evening of fellowship, refreshments and prayers!

Whether you live in a house or an apartment, in one room or many, you can affirm that God is the one presence and power within your home. The presence of God permeates our home with life, love, joy and peace. Because of the loving presence of God in our home, a spirit of order and beauty shines in every room. Our home is a haven of rest and contentment. God is a loving counselor in family decisions, promoting understandings and cooperation. The love of God fills our home, and all those who enter it are aware that they are in a haven of love and peace. We all can be like Joshua and allow our homes to be a sanctuary for the Lord and state as Joshua did, “As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” Blessings to all of your homes this Easter season!

Prayer: Heavenly Father, I pray that each one of us will realize that all of our many blessings come from you. I pray that each and every house in this congregation will be a sanctuary for You. I pray that Your Spirit will guide us in family decisions related to work, finance, parenting and leisure time. We ask this in Your Son’s Holy Name. Amen.
 
– Don Abbey

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Jesus is the Reason – Day 17

As children, we all viewed Easter in a different way. Painting eggs the night before, making cookies and candy. Then go to bed! The Easter Bunny is coming! Get up in the morning with a basket full of candy, then outside we go looking for Easter Bunny eggs. Then a great dinner. But we all grew up and went on our ways.

I have a daughter, and Easter is the same as when I was little.

Then big changes happened. Grandparents started passing away, and then on July 1982, I lost my father at the age of 59. My dad and I were close and when he passed so did a part of myself. He asked me before he died to take care of my mom; she can’t do it alone. I promised I would. The holidays weren’t the same anymore, but we still had mom and that was great.

On January 1996, tragedy fell again and I lost my mother. As I sat in her empty room that evening, I realized I had no one to turn to anymore. I was the high authority now. Then a voice said to me, “You always had high authority.” Then I understood what that voice meant. It was God all along in my life. My life changed from that day.  I started reading the Bible, studying, listening to prophecy seminars and speakers. I learned so much. I missed so much in my life.

My holidays have changed now. Christmas is all about Jesus, not presents and dinner. Easter has changed also. Bunnies don’t lay eggs. Easter is all about Jesus.

I realized how all these holidays have changed. False pagan traditions are taking over everyone’s homes and Jesus is being pushed out the backdoor. We need to bring him back in our homes through the front door. The backdoor is for Satan to be thrown out of.

Having a little fun at the holidays is okay, but we need to make sure our children know that Jesus is the number one reason for the holidays. As said in Matthew 28:20, and be sure of this, “I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

Prayer: Dear father, please help us to bring you back into this world the way you should be. In our schools, businesses, government offices and in our lives. Help us to keep you and your son strong in our hearts. You are the first and the last. Thank you for filling my heart with your words and your love. In Jesus name. Amen.

 
 

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Scripture Reading – Day 16

Matthew 16:21-28 (NIV)

Jesus Predicts His Death

 From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.

 Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!”

Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.  For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.  What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done.

 “Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.”


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DR 18 – Day 5

Day 5 – February 28, 2018

Wow has a lot happened in the 4 days since we last posted. The internet was basically non-existent till this afternoon, so I do apologize for the tardiness of this update.  You heard from Mike about our experiences Tuesday, and I want to share some thoughts from our Wednesday adventures.

Our morning began, as each one has, with the greetings of many friends as we load up for the day’s work. We headed to our second day at the school at Batey 35. Today’s focus, as we continued our theme of light, was the salvation message. I will end with my thoughts on this lesson in a moment.

What amazes me is how much can be communicated despite significant languages barriers. We didn’t always understand the students, and I am sure they didn’t understand us as we tried at times to talk without a translator. Sometimes a translator would be called over, but communication did happen through patience and creativity. Even when we have a common language, I don’t think we listen like we have been forced to this week. I would encourage you to take the time to look people in the eyes and really listen and you go about your daily conversations and see how it might affect your interactions.

The afternoon brought an outdoor service in a nearby Batey in Guazabel. The whole community slowly gathered under the shade of large tree. One of the students that our group has connected with over the years, Johnny, brought his youth group to lead in song and once again we were blessed to have Pastor Gusmane give the message directly to the people in Creole. After the service we were able to hand out bags of food and a solar powered light to each family in the Batey. Before we had left a few of the lights were already staked into the ground ready to light a path once nighttime came.

Our evening ended in a Pizza Hut of all places (and yes it tasted the same, great!). Our ladies held an American Bridal Shower for a young lady set to be married on Saturday while we took the groom out for the evening. Both groups had a lot of fun, but enjoyed sharing advice about the ups and downs of marriage and were able to pray for their future together. I just met this couple on Sunday, but I am very excited to be a part of their big day this weekend.

My thoughts for all of us as I close this post are focused on the content of the lesson given throughout the day. We shared Monday that God created the light. Today we were reminded that Jesus came to bring light into our world of darkness. What darkness do you live in? What keeps you from the God who created you, loves you, died for you, and conquered death for you? There is no darkness that God’s love cannot make light again. Jesus said in John 8:12; “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

Our life in Jesus starts with confessing, it continues with seeking the light, and it is sustained by the only one who can; Jesus. My encouragement tonight is to seek His light and His plan for you. If you haven’t chosen to believe in Jesus or say you have more questions about all of this, let’s talk. We are providing earthly things to the people of the DR this week, but our main goal is to provide what will never go away. So whether you are here in the DR, the USA, or anywhere else around the world, I would love to talk to you about the light in my life that has changed my life.

For tonight,

-Pastor Josh


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DR 18 – Day 4

Day 4 – February 27, 2018 By Mike Enslen

Hello CABC Family!  This has been quite a journey, and I am glad to be able to bring a blog update to you from the group.  Our Tuesday adventures began with packing the bus at Elza’s with food bags, clothing, and personal care items that we would be distributing at the Alta Gracia Batey.  Along the drive we came across a section of the road with sugar cane fields on both sides that were being actively harvested, with many men hard at work.  We stopped the bus and set up an area right there in the field to hand out clothing items to the men.  From what I am told, this is something that our groups have hoped to do but never had the right opportunity presented.  It was quite a sight to see, men leaving their work areas from all over the fields to come and see us.  We gave each of them a clothing item and a blessing and I saw many excited, thankful faces.  I believe this is what the ministry is all about – serving this population of people that work so hard for so little!

From there we went to Alta Gracia, and set up for clothing and food distribution inside their church.  There are some very sweet people that live in this Batey, and I had the opportunity to help some men find clothing and shoes that were desperately needed.  We also had many young kids come through and find clothes that suited them, as we had been blessed with so many donations of children’s clothing. (Thank you!)  As these families left they received a food package, and each individual was given a toothbrush and toothpaste.  Many connections were made here, and we prayed over the village as we returned back to Elza’s – this is something we do at the start and end of each day…sometimes it’s one of us, other times a translator or someone else working with the team, but always a blessing to see us all come before the Lord as one body!

Tuesday afternoon/evening was our beach excursion – a tradition for our groups that come to the DR, but a first for Me, Pastor Josh and Pastor Gusmane.  We enjoyed the water, had a meal, and saw a beautiful sunset.  The highlight of the evening was a birthday celebration for Polo, the administrator of our school at Batey 35.  It’s been an honor to meet and serve alongside Polo – he has such a heart for the kids, and works very hard on behalf of the mission.

I thank you for your continued prayers as we are getting close to the end of the week. (It’s Friday as I write this, as we have had WiFi issues and have been unable to make timely updates.)  It’s been a wonderful adventure so far, but we still have more to accomplish before we’re through!

-Mike Enslen


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