Happily Ever After

When I was in high school I believed I would get married at the age of 23.  Twenty-three was the age my oldest sister got married, and I believed that is when marriage would happen for me.  Then came my 25th birthday, my 30th birthday, my 35th birthday, and now my 37th birthday.  Twenty-three came and went!  I was so confused.  Why was I not married?  What about my “happily ever after?”  

It wasn’t until recently that I realized it was a belief created by none other than me.  I told myself that is when it would happen, and disappointment surely followed.  Can you relate?  Is there something that rings a similar bell in your heart?  I am grateful God did not leave me in my false belief but opened my eyes to His truth.  God is amazing and is so good.  

For the Lord is good; His loving kindness is everlasting and His faithfulness to all generations. Psalm 100:5

God in His loving kindness opened my eyes to see that it was a Jourdan belief and not His true happily ever after.  He reminded me that His plans are higher than mine (Isaiah 55:9).  Whether my earthly dreams come true or not, they are not my eternity.  If you are single or in a place where there is that thing you so desperately desire, hear me now.  He knows.  He holds that thing.  He loves you.  He has a purpose in it for your good and His glory.  Trust Him, for He is faithful remembering our true happily ever after isn’t here yet.

What is Happily Ever After?

Whether single or married, happily ever after is coming for all of us!

That, my dear friends, is true happily ever after, when we as God’s people are in the place He created for us to live with Him FOREVER!  Eternally! Happily ever after is where we get to live with God in Heaven.  I recommend reading Revelation 21- 22 and Randy Alcorn’s book, Heaven, to learn more about what Heaven is going to be like.  We can know!  Also, watch or listen to Dr. Jeffress’s sermon series on Revelation, specifically July 19 and 26, 2020.

How Do We Get There?

Through Jesus!  If you don’t know Him today, I invite you to meet Him.  Contact First Baptist Dallas and ask to speak to a minister on staff.  They would be ecstatic to introduce you to Jesus.

Jourdan has been a member of FBD for 12 years and sings in the Celebration Choir. She works as a full-time physical therapist and has a heart for medical missions. She loves encouraging others in the Lord and smiling. 

Prayer of Thanksgiving

Thank You for Your creation. 

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Genesis 1:1

Thank You for being such a loving heavenly Father and sending Your only Son that we might be saved.

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish, but have eternal life.  John 3:16

Thank You for forgiving our sins and failures.

As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our wrongdoings from us. Psalm 103:12

Thank You for grace.

. . .through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles in behalf of His name.  Romans 1:5  

Thank You that You are a righteous judge.

. . .in the future there is reserved for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing.  2 Timothy 4:8

Thank You for the provision of truth in Your Word and providing the Holy Spirit to teach and guide us. 

All Scripture is inspired by God and beneficial for teaching, for rebuke, for correction, for training in righteousness.  2 Timothy 3:16

Peter said to them, “Repent, and each of you be baptized 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 

Thank You for sheltering, watching over, and protecting us even while we sleep.

In peace I will both lie down and sleep, for You alone, LORD, have me dwell in safety.  Psalm 4:8

Thank You for providing Your strength when we are weak.  

He gives strength to the weary, and to the one who lacks might He increases power.  Isaiah 40:29

Thank You for access to You through prayer. 

Call to me and I will answer you, and I will tell you great and mighty things, which you do not know.  Jeremiah 33:3

Even though we do not know what the future holds, we can know You, the Almighty God who holds the future. Help us to stay strong and courageous in a world of social unrest and media bombardment. May we strive to know You more and stay strong in our faith.

For what are you thankful???

About the Writer:

Beverly is a mother, grandmother, and retired teacher/administrator, as well as longtime Sunday school teacher who loves sharing God’s Word. 

****A special thanks to Trudy for the photography included above.

Labels: What Defines You?

 

Do you have labels that define you that you wish you could change?  I’ve had many negative labels in my past.  Some of those are unloved, unworthy, rejected, inadequate, immoral, divorced, self-centered, lost, and hopeless. The woman at the well shared many of those same labels.  See John 4:1-42 for the full account of her encounter with Jesus.

This is a story that we all know very well.  The really interesting thing about Jesus’ conversation with this woman is that He chose to share the gospel with her.  Jesus was a Jew; she was a Samaritan.  He was a man; she was a woman.  There seems to be no common ground, no reason to talk.  She had something He needed—water.  In asking her for a drink of water, Jesus caught this woman completely off guard.  Jews did not share eating or drinking utensils with Samaritans. The woman could not help wondering why Jesus would ask the unthinkable. His willingness to cast aside cultural barriers got her attention.

Jesus talked to her about the water He could give her that would permanently quench her thirst.  She was quick to admit that she needed what He had to offer.  He called attention to her sin by asking her to go and get her husband.  She responded that she was not married but failed to say that she was living with a man to whom she was not married.  She realized that He had divine knowledge as He told her about her life.

The woman responded to Jesus’ message and immediately went back to town to the very people that she avoided on a regular basis and told them to come and see this man who had told her everything she had ever done.  She responded to Jesus in faith and immediately began to share the truth with others.

The labels which had defined her at the beginning of this story were now transformed and she had new labels!  Perhaps the greatest of these is “Evangelist”.

From that city many of the Samaritans believed in Him because of the word of the woman who testified, ‘He told me all the things that I have done.’  So when the Samaritans came to Jesus, they were asking Him to stay with them; and He stayed there two days.  Many more believed because of His word;  and they were saying to the woman, ‘It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves and know that this One is indeed the Savior of the world.’  John 4:39-42

 The greatest purpose of our life is to glorify God and share the good news.  This previously outcast woman fulfilled her highest purpose.  How about you?  Many of those negative labels in my life have changed to more positive ones.  You also can change the unwanted labels in your life and fulfill the Lord’s highest purpose for you if you will simply receive Him and share what He has done for you.

About the Writer:
Anna is a mother to three grown children, Nana to four grandchildren and enjoys coordinating Prison Ministry for her church. Her desire is to finish this life well by pointing others to faith in Jesus Christ and to a deeper reliance on Him.

Thanksgiving

Each year my family sits around the table discussing for what we are thankful.  I never struggle with the answer, but I always wonder if my answer will change.  For the last three years, the thing I am most thankful for is one word . . . well maybe three words:  God is faithful. 

I am thankful for God’s faithfulness, his ever-constant presence in my life, his faithfulness despite my lack of the same.

Faithful means “loyal, consistent, steadfast.”  It also means “true to the facts or the original.”  What an amazing picture of who God is!

God is ever all of these…loyal, steadfast, true to the truth,  original, and never changing. But life has a way of making you feel like you are walking alone,  like you are the only one going through something.

It makes me think of that poem “Footprints in the Sand.”  You know the one and if not,  google it.  The situation it describes is  when we think we are alone, we are not. We need to be reminded there is only one set of footprints because God is carrying us.  I normally would call this poem “cheesy,”  (please do not be mad at me!)  Lately though, God has reminded me of this truth: when I am feeling unsure, He is sure of who I am.   When I am feeling lonely, He is there.  When I am feeling insecure, He provides security.

When I think I am alone and look to see only one set of footprints, it is because God is the one walking for us both, or better, that God in His steadfastness is always there.

God is faithful despite my lack of faithfulness.

God is faithful, through whom you were called into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.  1 Corinthians 1:9

Our God is faithful and has called us into fellowship with His Son!  This means that in the midst of this life, I can stand on the truth God is faithful till the end and, in the meantime, He is calling me into fellowship with Christ.

In my insecurities, when I’m unsure and lonely, I am called to walk in God’s faithfulness through a relationship with His son Christ.

So, this year I am again thankful for God’s steadfast faithfulness.

About the Writer:
Liz, just a girl who spends her days teaching 6th graders the value of math and science while also displaying the love of Christ, and her evenings with her friends laughing and challenging the definition of community to be something much deeper. If you need her you can probably find her watching Dancing with the Stars while on Pinterest.

The Calling of Gentleness

Look in the news, or on popular Christian social media accounts and blogs, or even just just down the pew.  You will find Christians who disagree on everything from politics to social issues, to the interpretation of the book of Revelation.  Sincere Christians don’t agree on everything.  What governs how we respond to other Christians when we don’t agree?  What is our primary purpose?

Ephesians 4:1-3  implores us to:

 . . . walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

We are to remember that all Christians are part of one body.  Despite our differences we have one Lord.  What a precious gift!

We can’t endorse a false peace that tells the oppressed to be quiet in the name of unity, but we can work to preserve the unity of the Spirit by being gentle – gentle with the hurts of others; gentle to the friend at church that tells you they were crushed by the way someone you respect treated them; gentle to the single mom who feels condemned by the sermon on marriage; gentle to the friend who feels like their views on social issues are scorned by their fellow Christians; gentle to the spouse who disagrees with you on what living out faith looks like in your household.  Gentle looks like saying, “I see you and your hurts, and I’m going to come along side you and bear your burden with you.”  We can encourage and edify, but it’s probably most important first to empathize.  Weep with those who weep (Romans 12:15).  Make no mistake.  We can disagree sharply on important issues, but we should never let that disagreement distract us from the fact that we agree on the most important issue:  that we need Jesus and He is our savior. When we are gentle, we communicate our relationship with Jesus Christ and that His mercy triumphs over judgement (James 2:13).

Gentleness does the work of the Lord in relationships in a way our own bravado cannot.  Ask the Lord how you can walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness.

About the Writer:
Caroline is a wife and mom who loves Jesus. She also has a career in commercial real estate investing. God has given her a heart for encouraging other women. She and her husband, Eric, are the directors of the Fellowship Class, a young married Sunday School class, at First Baptist Dallas.

 

His Grace is Sufficient

Do the “what ifs” sometimes overwhelm you? When you let your mind drift to any of the endless list of potential crises that could be a phone call away, do you feel unequipped to handle the grief? Do you look at someone else’s struggle and think, “I can’t even imagine” or “there is no way I can handle that”? That particular feeling struck me recently: I have two young mom friends, sisters in Christ, who have cancer. Both have two children under five. I can’t even imagine.

The possibilities of these scenarios seem crippling. And then, in steps the power of God.

And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.”  Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weakness, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.                         2 Corinthians 12:9

The picture below is of my first baby girl, Elizabeth Alane. I never got to hold her. Eric and I saw her heartbeat at seven weeks, and by nine weeks her heartbeat was no more.

His Grace is Sufficient

After my miscarriage God held me up in so many ways. One way was through the Scripture that comforted and assured me. One of the verses that brought me so much comfort was 2 Corinthians 12:9.  His grace is sufficient. 

A week and a day before we found out that the baby no longer had a heartbeat, I broke down sobbing, and I told my husband, Eric, I was scared of losing the baby. I was mess. Eric held me and comforted me, and he prayed that we would put the baby in God’s hands. If you looked at what a mess I was then, you would have thought actually losing the baby would have rendered me a useless waste. But God gave me the grace I needed in the moment I need it. After my miscarriage, I had an undeniable hope despite my loss. I didn’t know how this would work together for good (Romans 8:28). I didn’t understand God’s thoughts and plans in this (Isaiah 55:8-9). But I believed that God’s word was true.  Even though I didn’t understand how He would fulfill the promise of Scripture, I knew that he would. God was extending me the grace I needed.

His grace is sufficient. It is sufficient to meet our every need, day by day as they happen. It is also sufficient to meet our greatest need – for salvation. Let the power of God be your refuge: no matter what lies ahead, He is able to see you through it.

About the Writer:
Caroline M. is a wife and mom who loves Jesus. She also has a career in commercial real estate investing. God has given her a heart for encouraging other women. She and her husband, Eric, are the directors of the Fellowship Class, a young married Sunday School class, at First Baptist Dallas.

Joy in Jesus!

My sweet friends, today I want to talk with you about true joy . . . not “happiness”,  not “contentment,”  not some strange giddy “feeling” . . . but real, living, deep, and soul–penetrating JOY.

Today, many of us around the world are experiencing greater prosperity than has been witnessed in recent history.  Yet with all this, there seems to be little expression and little experience of true joy.  Why is it that we can’t find any real satisfaction?  How can it be that so many of us “still haven’t found what we’re looking for?”  I believe that the answer is shockingly simple and also quite difficult for most of us to accept.

You see, sweet friends, true joy is found only in and through a deep and abiding relationship with Jesus Christ as Lord of our lives.  YES, I said it!  If you want to know true joy, you must know and submit yourself to Christ as LORD:  LORD (Heb. YAHWEH/Gk. – ego eimi – the GREAT I AM) as in GOD Himself; Lord (Gk. Kyrios – Master) and Master of your life and of your every moment!  YES friends, Jesus is Savior, Friend, Prince of Peace, Wonderful, Counselor, Healer, Helper, and so much more.  But friends, the Incarnate Christ was first, and most importantly revealed to us by the angel Gabriel as JESUS, Savior (Matthew 1:21), Emanuel, GOD with us (Matthew 1:23), Eternal King (Luke 1:32-33), Son of God (Luke 1:32, 33, & 35), and Lord and Master (Luke 1:17).

In Luke 2:11, an angel of the Lord, possibly again the angel Gabriel, announced to the shepherds “there is born to you this day, in the City of David, a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Gk. Kyrios – Master).  Many years later, after Christ had ascended to the Father, Peter preached the first Christian sermon in history and proclaimed to the people, “God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord (Gk. Kyrios – Master) and Christ” (Acts 2:36).  Finally, Paul the apostle, and the first Christian Missionary, explained the truth of the Gospel in this way: “if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord (Gk. Kyrios – Master), and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9).  All of this says that Christ is Lord!

My friends, if Christ is Lord and Master, if He is GOD, and GOD with us, if He is the GREAT I AM (John 8:58), how and why do we expect Him to be less to us, and in us, than He is?  We so long to receive His blessing, His peace, His gracious presence, and YES, His JOY; and yet we remain so empty and listless (disinterested, devoid of energy and spirit), because we refuse to get still and KNOW Him as our GOD (Psalm 46:10).  Because we do not wish to have Him meddle in our daily lives, we resist reading His Word daily and spending quality time with Him each day in prayer; and the pain and loneliness we feel grows stronger day by day.

What we fail to recognize is that the One Who created us, made us for fellowship with Him.  As Blaise Pascal (the famous French mathematician and philosopher) explained, “there is a God shaped vacuum in the heart of every man which cannot be filled by any created thing, but only by God the Creator, made known through Jesus.”

Today I have a dare for you!  I dare you to get still enough, for long enough, to hear His still small voice through daily time in His Word and in prayer.  And, I further dare you, to welcome His Word to you as it is, the sweet revelation of His perfect plan for your life, and to welcome Him, as Who He is, the God of the Universe, the Lord and Great Lover of your soul, and the true JOY GIVER!

In His presence there is fullness of JOY; at His right hand are pleasures forevermore. Psalm 16:11

May the Lord BLESS you and KEEP you!  May He make His face to shine upon you and give you His peace, and His JOY, until we meet again! (Numbers 6:24-25)  In JESUS’ precious, and HOLY NAME!  AMEN and AMEN!

About the Writer:
Tiffany is a cross-cultural missionary, Bible teacher, speaker, writer, and worship leader.  More than anything, she desires to be one ‘who like a tree planted by the rivers of water, brings forth its fruit in due season, whose leaves do not wither, and have whatever she does prosper’(Psalm 1:3). She is committed to abiding continually in Christ, the vine, so that she may bear much fruit in, and for Him (John 15:5).

Broken Pieces

The evening had finally arrived for me to walk across my high school gymnasium to receive my diploma. As the speakers began to reminisce over the 1985 graduating seniors, my mind was flooded by countless memories. Yet, as I sat with my classmates on that Friday evening, I could have never imagined the paths I would one day travel, nor the heartache, tragedy and loss that would occur.

Moving forward years later, instead of pondering fond memories, I would find myself at the end of a course, sobbing uncontrollably. I had blown it in the most horrific way. With my life in shambles, the mere thought of God ever wanting me again seemed unattainable. I would quickly learn, however, that God’s love for me was not dependent on me. My Shepherd came to rescue, redeem and restore. (Luke 15:3-7)

I soon came to experience firsthand that God never despises a broken person nor does He turn His back. He took the shattered pieces of my life and began to put them back together again, all for His glory. 

“The Lord builds up Jerusalem; He gathers the outcasts of Israel. He heals the brokenhearted And binds up their wounds.”  (Psalm 147:2-3)

Point to Ponder: A person never has to remain in the same shape brought on by sin he or she is in because Jesus came to redeem sinners!

At times, when an individual gets off course, the enemy will immediately whisper, “That’s it, you have out-sinned God’s ability to forgive.” Yet we must remember that God’s Word always trumps the enemy’s whispers. We must align our thinking according to God’s truth.

 

How blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, Whose sin is covered! How blessed is the man to whom the Lord does not impute iniquity, And in whose spirit there is no deceit! When I kept silent about my sin, my body wasted away Through my groaning all day long. For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me; My vitality was drained away as with the fever heat of summer. Selah. I acknowledged my sin to You, And my iniquity I did not hide; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord”; And You forgave the guilt of my sin. Selah. (Psalm 32:1-5)

Whatever we may envision as the end, God sees a new beginning. While we may see only the pain, God sees the purpose. He will turn a trial into a blessing and a mess into a message. Although His rescue plan may include voyages we never envisioned, we can know with certainty He will never leave broken pieces unassembled. He loves us too much.

Prayer: Lord thank you for Your willingness to restore and rebuild shattered lives. Thank you for sending Jesus to save the lost, to heal the brokenhearted and to bind up wounds.

About the Writer:
Shea is the mother of two and nana of four and enjoys both roles tremendously. She also loves the opportunity to serve through ministry and share through speaking and blogging. A member of First Baptist Church, Dallas, Shea serves with the church’s First Impressions ministry and teaches the Strong & Courageous Sunday School class for single moms. She also speaks to women’s groups, assists with biblical counseling when opportunities arise and is constantly working to develop women’s Bible studies. Shea received her bachelor’s degree in Christian Ministry from Blue Mountain College in Blue Mountain, Mississippi; her master’s degree in Biblical Counseling from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas; and will begin her doctoral work at Southwestern in family ministries in the fall.

The Harlot is Mine

joshua-rahabRahab, the harlot, you have heard of her right?  The harlot of Jericho who God gave divine wisdom, helped the Israelites scout out the city of Jericho, and was given protection when the city of Jericho fell. She now has the privilege of being in the ancestral line of Jesus (Joshua 2, Matthew 1:5).

Her story sings the beauty of grace no matter who you are or what you’ve done.  It’s a message we must always remember; not only for ourselves when we sin against God, but also for others when they assail us.

What does embracing the broken actually look like in a Christian’s life?  Or as a dear friend likes to say, “What does it look like on a Tuesday?”  On a Tuesday means showing grace and mercy to the person who has wounded you the most, extending mercy to the supposed friend who cut you down.  It means mercy to the parent who has failed, to the child who has deserted the way he should go, to the boss who is unjust, and certainly to the adulteress.

Biblical truth says you are no more worthy than any of the people who have wounded you.  You need grace; and as a Christian, you’ve received it.  Praise God!  In your great joy of salvation, see how God can use everyone.  God has said even the harlot can be used by me.

Hear me, loving someone who has deeply wounded you is impossible apart from Jesus Christ.  You have to be safe and secure in the greatest refuge before you can extend mercy to those who have trampled on you.  If you try to will yourself to unconditionally love apart from Jesus you will find the task unbearable.  However, if you instead put your total focus on Him, your weakness is perfected in His power (2 Corinthians 12:9).  He will show you the way to walk.

Seek Him today.  It is the way to freedom for all, even the harlot.

This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.  
I Timothy 2:3-4.

About the writer:
Caroline is a wife and mom who loves Jesus. She also has a career in commercial real estate investing. God has given her a heart for encouraging other women. She and her husband, Eric, are the directors of the Fellowship Class, a young married Sunday School class, at First Baptist Dallas.

The Secret of Contentment

I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:11b-13)

If you grew up going to church or have been a believer for any length of time, I can almost guarantee that you have heard this passage. I have always loved the comfort that stems from it. Reading back over it in preparation for writing this blog however was eye-opening. Look back at verse 12: “I have learned the SECRET.” I don’t think I have much paid attention to that crucial word that has such an impact on the way I now view my circumstances.

Are you a planner like me? I like to pretend that I am super spontaneous and go with the flow, and I am very laid back for the most part; but I prefer to know what’s coming next in life, don’t you? The Lord and I have had lots of chats (which consist mostly of me telling God how He should probably follow MY plan) about the plans I have for my life and, in turn, learning what His plans are (which are by far better than any I could ever dream up.)

The nugget in this passage of Philippians where it talks about the secret of contentment has the power to transform my controlling personality if I allow God to  nudge gently me when I slip into old habits. What are you holding onto in your life that God is asking you to let Him carry? For me it’s being frustrated at not knowing what the future holds so I can plan ahead! But when I ask Him to show me where I need to let go and trust, He is gracious to show me in tangible ways that He’s got this and won’t let me fall. There will be times that I pray for specific encouragement and that very afternoon I’ll get a card in the mail from my bestie, or I’ll have the joy of buying a coffee for someone else who may be having a crummy day. Contentment reminds me to live in the moment so that I can enjoy those daily blessings.

We’re all in this journey together, my friend. Contentment is a daily practice, sometimes hourly if you’re impatient and intent on getting your way like me. BLESS. The secret of contentment is Jesus, plain and simple. If we are walking closely with Him, we’ll want what He wants and be satisfied with what He provides, even if it looks very different than we thought it would.

About the Writer:
Anna is a full-time student finishing up her degree at Liberty University while also working full-time at First Baptist Dallas in the Young Married and Singles Ministries.In her spare time when she’s not writing papers for school, she enjoys laughing with friends, road trips to new places, and drinking copious amounts of iced coffee.