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Come with me if you want to live

By: Elora C. Seniah (aka Carole L. Haines) 

For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he already sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it. (Romans 8:24-25) 

I found these little leaves from one of the Succulents I have in my Bay Window. I was about to gather them up and throw them away, when I noticed these little leaves had put out sprouts, and what looked like roots, at the very bottom of each one.  They had fallen from the main plant but still wanted to live and grow on their own. It was such an amazing testament to the drive to live that God put into all His Creation.  

I’m sure many of you noticed the quote in my title as on taken from the Movie, “Terminator 2-Judgment Day.” This is one of my favorite action hero movies. Arnold Schwarzenegger is perfect in this role. I won’t go into the plot, but the drive to live and fulfill one’s destiny and calling are front and center in this movie. O, and of course, as in a lot of action movies, the fate of the world hangs in the balance. The world itself is yearning for redemption, even as we are.  

For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God.  
(Romans 8:19-21) 

Jesus speaks to our hearts as He calls us unto Himself. Scripture is clear in the fact that Jesus died for the sins of all mankind. But only those who choose to heed His call to come, repent, turn away from sin and unto Him; will be saved.  

But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart”—that is, the word of faith which we are preaching, that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. (Romans 10:8-10) 

Even as these little plant leaves demonstrate, no matter what life throws at us, we have a strong desire to live. We are spiritual beings, not just physical, and our spirits are searching for a Savior. That Savior is Jesus, and He is speaking to each one of us saying, “Come with me if you want to live.” Heed the voice of this precious, loving and powerful Savior of the world. We wait in Hope for Him. 

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Never forsaken

by: Elora C. Seniah (aka Carole L. Haines)

God made His own Son “to be sin” that He might make the sinner into a saint. It is revealed throughout the Bible that our Lord took on Himself the sin of the world through identification with us, not through sympathy for us.  
(Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest) 

I don’t dwell on the cost of My Salvation very often, and I am seeing that it would be a good thing for me to focus on it more. In the above quote, Oswald Chambers drives home the Cost of our Salvation. Jesus actually became the embodiment of sin on that Cross. I cannot imagine the weight of it, the stench of it. During Lent one year, I was reading through all the Gospel accounts of The Crucifixion. Each Gospel has a different angle of looking at it, with different details.  

The Gospel of Luke portrays the words of Jesus on the Cross as,  
“Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” (Luke 23:46)  

The Gospel of John relates it as,  
“It is Finished!” (John 19:30) 

Yet, Matthew and Mark relate His words as, 

About the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” that is, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” 
(Matthew 27:46, Mark 15:34) 

There is no contradiction of story here, just different points of view. I believe Jesus said all these things on the Cross, but each hearer remembered what was most significant to them.  I imagine the Apostle John was so relieved to hear Jesus say, “It is finished,” because that meant the suffering of Christ was finally coming to an end. But the Words I want to focus on here are, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” 

I will never have to worry about being forsaken by God because of what Jesus Christ has done for me. He promises me this. 
Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, “I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you,” (Hebrews 13:5) 

The word ‘forsaken’ “means-totally abandoned, utterly forsaken, to leave helpless, desert.” (Strong’s Concordance) 
I will never have to feel these pains from the Lord, but Jesus felt every single one of those on the Cross. He was God, part of the Triune Godhead, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. He had never been separated from them before. But now, becoming the embodiment of our Sin on that Cross brought about the greatest suffering of Jesus, being forsaken by the Father and Holy Spirit for a Time, so we would never have to be. 
What an indescribable sacrifice of Christ. He became sin and experienced what it is to be forsaken, so that we, His Children, would never have to. 

Jesus, words just cannot describe our gratitude and love for you, we give you our very lives, as You gave us Yours. Thank You, Jesus. 

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Except Jesus Alone

by: Elora C. Seniah (aka Carole L. Haines)

Then a cloud formed, overshadowing them, and a voice came out of the cloud, “This is My beloved Son, listen to Him!” All at once they looked around and saw no one with them anymore, except Jesus alone. (Matthew 9:7-8)

This is from the story of The Mount of Transfiguration in The Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 9. As I paused and re-read the verse, I was struck by a few things I felt I should share.
First, the disciples have just seen Jesus decked out in His Glory Robes.
His garments became radiant and exceedingly white, as no launderer on earth can whiten them.“(vs. 4)
Immediately after seeing this vision, a cloud formed and was overshadowing them. This reminds me of how God led the people of Israel in a Pillar of Cloud by Day, and a Pillar of Fire by night.

The Lord was going before them in a pillar of cloud by day to lead them on the way, and in a pillar of fire by night to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night. (Exodus 13:21)
Within this pillar of cloud, God Himself was Obscured, but His Leadership was not. He was leading them in the Pillar of Cloud. Our lives are often cloudy, with the future obscured from our view and understanding. We must follow Jesus within that cloud.

Second, The Father’s Voice came out of that cloud. So often we are so frightened of the Unknown, hidden before us by the Clouds, we don’t recognize God’s Presence in that obscurity, nor do we hear His Voice above the Droning Hum of Fear. We must come away at these times and seek out silence, simply listening to God in His Word and trusting His Sovereign guidance and care. God’s voice will often speak to us in our times of Obscurity, where we feel so powerless and helpless. We must remember that God tells us this:
My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.”
(2 Corinthians 12 9a)

Lastly, when God comforts us and speaks to us in our moments of weakness, all of a sudden we see how very powerful He is. Our fear begins to melt away into the ground beneath our feet. That Solid Ground is Jesus.
All at once they looked around and saw no one with them anymore, except Jesus alone. (vs 8)
There is a peace that passes understanding that guards our hearts and minds forever in Christ. (Phil. 4:7) We often find this peace when we look all around us and see no one is with us anymore, except Jesus alone. There is a quote I have heard, not sure who wrote it, but it says:
“You will never really know that Jesus is all you need, until Jesus is all you have.”
I have found this to be completely true. In those times of Fear and Uncertainty, listen for Jesus’ voice alone. When the Clouds of Obscurity cover your view of what lies ahead, listen for Jesus’ voice amidst those clouds. Let all else fall away until you see nothing else except Jesus alone.


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The Dogpile

Guest Post by: Bruce Nevin Haines

A Spiritual Football Analogy
(some use of imagination is required here, but just go with it and I think it will be worthwhile 😊)
Watching some Ravens game highlights, I noticed there is a something that occurs without fail after a fumble.
Once the dogpile of players has formed, what I observe is this:
1)The players on the defensive team become referees.
2)They give the “First Down” signal
pointing in the direction of their goal line.
3)They don’t wait for the referees to signal.
4)They give the signal even though:· Their word doesn’t matter, and it has no bearing on what occurs next in the game.
5)They may actually know nothing about who ends up with the ball at the bottom of the dogpile.· They have an allegiance with their own team, and are more concerned with their advantage than the truth.
Satan is the accuser of the brethren. He will say or do anything to discourage us.
BUT HE IS NOT OUR JUDGE! There are times we do stumble and give in to temptation. We sin. However:
“If we confess our sins, He (Jesus) is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness”.(1 John 1:9)

After our failures we are prone to letting those failures define who we are. We believe the accusations that we are unworthy and doomed to a path of continued failure. Satan “signals” us that he has the ball, and that there is nothing we can do about it. But here is the truth:· His word doesn’t matter, and it has no bearing on what occurs next in the “game”.· He may actually know nothing about who ends up with the ball at the bottom of the dogpile.· He has an allegiance to his own “team”, and is more concerned with his advantage than the truth.
Jesus Christ, our Savior, and mediator. By whose blood we have received payment for our sins, HE IS OUR JUDGE!
“I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom”.(2 Timothy 4)

Let us ignore the judgement and accusations of the enemy, Satan is the false judge who has NO AUTHORITY TO MAKE THE CALLS IN OUR LIFE! When I am faced with his accusations and discouragement, I am going to imagine him as a player in the game, not the referee, not the judge. He has no actual right to determine the outcome. If I give him that right, I have handed him he ball and he now has possession. But if I acknowledge Christ alone as my judge, I will be victorious
Hand the Ball to Jesus! After the game is over, No matter what our failures have been. He Word to us is this:

28 And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. 29 For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; 30 and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.” (Romans 8:28-30)


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The Inextinguishable Flicker of God

by: Elora C. Seniah (aka Carole L. Haines)

Hope is the inextinguishable flicker God ignites in our souls to keep us believing in the prevailing power of his light even when we are surrounded by utter darkness. It’s the unswerving belief that better days are ahead, probably in this world and most certainly in the next. It’s the quiet resolve he hardwires into our spirit that clings to the seemingly impossible truth that “in all things God works for the good of those who love him” and that, in the grand scheme of things, “we are more than conquerors through him who loved us” (Romans 8:28, 37). (Lee Strobel, Investigating Faith) 

Lee Strobel’s expression of hope quoted above, just blessed my heart this morning. To envision hope as a flicker of God in the Human soul that cannot be extinguished, lifts my heart and my spirit. It reminds me of another verse about flickering flames: 

“A bruised reed He will not break 
And a dimly burning wick He will not extinguish. 
(Isaiah 42:3a) 
This Scripture is amidst a longer prophecy about the Messiah, God’s Messenger. Gazing into the heart of Jesus, as we are privileged to do when we read the Gospels, gives us insight into just how kind and tender He is towards us. He brought hope wherever He went. People were drawn to Him like moths to the Flame. He still has this effect on us when we take the time to watch and listen to Him in His Word, seeing every written detail of how He interacted with others. He was very inclusive of those whom Society had deemed outcasts. He was inviting, engaging, and uplifting. But there was another side of Jesus we saw when He encountered pride, hypocrisy and the manipulative tendencies of the religious elite of His day.  
Jesus spoke truth, absolute truth to whomever would hear Him. He gently drew truth out of the Woman at the Well (John 4). He rescued the woman caught in adultery, probably entrapped by her very accusers (John 8). He healed lepers, cast out demons, received and blessed children. And when Jesus departed the earth, He sent the Holy Spirit to fill us and empower us. 

Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. 
(Romans 15:13) 
All praise be to our Savior, Lord of Hope, Prince of Peace, who continually grows us, corrects us and encourages us in our daily lives. To Him be the Glory forever and ever. Amen!

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Author and Perfecter of Faith

by: Carole ( aka Elora C.) Haines 

The secret of the Christian life is not to have great faith in God. Did not Jesus recognize the smallness of belief when He said, O, you of little faith?” (Matthew 14:31) The secret is to have faith in a great God. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Might; when you realize His great strength and the great things He can do for you, your faith will be strengthened to believe in far greater things. Don’t just pray for greater faith, pray for understanding of God; then you can have greater faith. (Prime Time with God Devotional, 9/18/20) 

The truth expressed in this quote from one of my favorite devotionals really struck me this morning. I realized that so often, I put the focus of faith on me and my ability to “have faith,” rather than on God who is source of all faith. Jesus is called the “Author and Perfecter of faith.” He is to be my focus, not the faith itself. 
Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Heb. 12:1-2) 

I had never considered that before. Am I placing too much thought on my own faith, or am I fully fixed on Jesus, the author and perfecter of it? The word, author means:  chief leader, prince, captain.  
I cannot follow my captain if I am looking down at my own feet of faith. I must fix my eyes on the one who is the source and creator of my faith. I need to trust Him with my faith, which is often as small as a mustard seed. But Jesus tells us the Parable of a Mustard Seed Faith: 

The Mustard Seed 

31 He presented another parable to them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field; 32 and this is smaller than all other seeds, but when it is full grown, it is larger than the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and nest in its branches.”  
(Matthew 13:31-32) 

Jesus is not only my Captain of Faith, He is its perfecter. The word, perfectermeans: completer, consummator, finisher.  
This word occurs nowhere else in the Bible. Jesus creates, sustains, perfects and finishes my faith. I shouldn’t try to conjure faith from the empty recesses of my own self. Sometimes I do this to try to show God how much I trust Him or love Him. But I must always and only fix my eyes on Jesus, gaze in wonder at His amazing love and faithfulness. This is the Key to peace and joy in the Christian Life. 

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Who’s Essential?

A guest Post by: Christine Laporte


“We are therefore Christ’s Ambassadors, as though God were making His appeal through us”.

(2 Corinthians 5:20)
One of the more creative tasks I get to do at work is to create slides for our program’s Monthly Review. My boss creates the data pages and asks me to come up with some “End” slides for a little comic relief. He will give me a theme and I will search for memes and funny quote slides to pop into PowerPoint for his approval. With essential workers being a trending topic since the spring, I started looking at images / memes related to that subject. I particularly liked this saying, “Essential workers: because ‘sacrificial’ sounded too dark”.
There’s a good amount of truth to this saying, however. While others were being told to stay home, self-quarantine and tele-work; other employees and industries didn’t really have that choice. We know who those people are and continue to pray for their safety and protection from the COVID-19 virus. Until the second week in April my coworkers and I were considered “essential”. We were given an official letter permitting us to travel to and from work and we carried them with us in case we were stopped by authorities.
One morning on my way to work I looked next to me on the passenger seat and spotted the “official” letter in a plastic sheet protector and felt a sense of pride. I thought to myself, “I’m important and needed; it says so right on this letter”. But it didn’t take long before I was reminded that what makes me important and an essential part of this life is being a child of God. I am part of his family and the church of Jesus Christ. And, as part of the church, I have a role to act out that has eternal values and ramifications. As stated above in
2 Corinthians 5:20, “We are Christ’s Ambassadors, as though God were making His appeal through us.” If we go back to the verses preceding verse 20, we read the following:
All of this is from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to Himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And He has committed to us the message of reconciliation”.
( 2 Cor. 5:18-19)
There are a lot of roles for God’s children here in just these two verses. We are reconciled to God in order to minister to others with through His ministry. And how do we help others become reconciled to the Lord? We share that message with others. We are reconciled, ministers and message givers. There’s a great deal of purpose in these tasks. It is humbling to know that the Lord would trust us with such a precious ministry and job. We also read in Ephesians 2:10:
We are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.
A few things really jump out at me as I read this verse. The word workmanship comes from the Greek word “poiema” and means “masterpiece, poem or work of art.” Creative people, like me and many members in my family, put a significant amount of time into crafting a work of art. Whether we are writing creative literature, painting a picture or making flower arrangements, we give specific attention to details. We think of things like: theme, color, purpose, materials, process and even the receiver of our artwork. To think that our boundless God, the supreme Creator of the universe and all of its content, put His personal touches on each of us is both mind boggling and humbling.
There are two other words that grab my attention when reading Ephesians 2:10.
They are the words “prepared beforehand.”

“Interestingly, God prepared what He wanted us to do for Him long ago. He has already planned what He wants us to do with our lives. We do not need to copy [or compare] what someone else has done or is doing. He has a unique plan for each of use to serve Him in this world. This includes certain spiritual gifts and the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives to lead us in service to Him.” (commentary on Eph. 2:10 from Bibleref.com)

We find our purpose and a life of fulfillment in doing what the Lord created us to do (and be). He has given each of us very specific talents, strengths, desires, and personalities to carry out divinely appointed tasks that have both temporary and eternal value. This makes us “essential.”

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The Purity and Simplicity of Devotion to Christ

By:Carole L. Haines (aka, Elora C. Seniah)

God is ever-present with us. He promises never to leave us or forsake us. But my heart has been craving a closer walk with Him, that deep sense of joy I’ve had at just being in His Presence. I miss Him so much. I don’t know how I slipped away from the simplicity of abiding in Christ alone, but I have. I am crying out to Him this morning to restore the joy of walking with Him closely. I saw, in the Psalm below, the pathway back. Prayer and Meditation. I emboldened the words for me to follow. 
 

 remember the days of old; I meditate on all Your doings.  
muse on the work of Your hands. I stretch out my hands to You.  
My soul longs for You, as a parched land.      Selah. 
Answer me quickly, O Lord, my spirit fails; Do not hide Your face from me, Or I will become like those who go down to the pit. 
Let me hear Your lovingkindness in the morning; For I trust in You. 
Teach me the way in which I should walk; For to You I lift up my soul. 
Deliver me, O Lord, from my enemies; I take refuge in You. 
Teach me to do Your will, For You are my God. 
Let Your good Spirit lead me on level ground. 
For the sake of Your name, O Lord, revive me. 
In Your righteousness bring my soul out of trouble. 
And in Your lovingkindness, cut off my enemies 
And destroy all those who afflict my soul, For I am Your servant. 
(Psalm 143:5-12) 

God is so good. He heard the cry of my heart and this is the first Scripture that I opened to this morning in Bible Gateway, Verse of the Day. I am going to pray through this whole Psalm this morning with the Lord. If you are missing God join me. My heart is crying out for “the purity and simplicity of devotion to Christ.”(2 Corinthians 11:3) Join me in the quest for a restored and closer walk with our wonderful God and King. 

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Tears mingled with the Heavenly drops

Photo taken by: Bruce Nevin Haines

By: Carole L. Haines (pen-name: Elora C. Seniah)

Lightning followed the Thunderclap, closely, as if to let me know how near it was. I awakened from my sleep with a jolt, at first, but then a sense of thrill rushed through me as I realized the rain was coming. That sweet fragranced, refreshing rain, to wash the heat away and send the flowers soaring once again toward the sky. No longer, barely hanging on, barely eking out an existence, but beginning to thrive once more.  
‘Is it over, Dear Lord? Can this dry, hot spell really be done?”   
Three rains in one week, I can hardly contain my joy. I walk out into the grass to tend my heavy garden, soaked through to every crevice. Each petal clinging greedily to these long-awaited drinks from Heaven. I carefully lift the stems and slowly weave them together, as I do every year, supporting them with a strong, tall, deeply sunk post or cage, Tying them with twine to give them extra support, to give them something to lean on. 
As I weave and support these precious flowers, laden with their harvest of blooms, I begin to ponder that this is how the Body of Christ should work together; woven, strengthened by one another. The rain falls in all our lives, but storms are not always a dreadful thing. They are often refreshing, welcome relief from life’s dry spells. Where things once lay wilted from the arid Winds of July, now hope springs forth and reaches once more toward life. The harvest we thought was ruined begins to thrive and flourish, as stunted stalks of corn reach high toward the sky. That long-awaited Harvest is finally coming in. 
“Enlarge the place of your tent 
Stretch out the curtains of your dwellings, spare not. 
Lengthen your cords and strengthen your pegs. 
“For you will spread abroad to the right and to the left. 
And your descendants will possess nations 
And will resettle the desolate cities. 
“Fear not, for you will not be put to shame. 
And do not feel humiliated, for you will not be disgraced. 
(Isaiah 54:2-4a NASB) 

We need to support each other in the Body of Christ, woven together in the tough times and the good. Sometimes the load of fruit we carry from the Blessings of the Lord need to be carried together, not alone. Burdens shared and Blessings given away to those whose times of little are upon them. We need each other, in the Body of Christ, for support in the times of scarcity as well as the times of abundance.  
So here it comes again, The Rain. Bringing with it healing powers to wash away the dirt clinging to us from the desert of loss we have trudged through in the last several years. I walk outside to await its arrival with joyful expectation and hope. And the rain falls, and I drink it in. My tears mingled with the Heavenly drops. My heart spilling over with gratitude and peace. Here come those Healing Rains, bringing our long-awaited Harvest. 

Thank you, Jesus, for the times of scarcity and want, where we are barely scratching out an existence. If it weren’t for these dry times, how would we appreciate the abundance brought to us by Your gift of rain. Amen 

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A Sweet Aroma of Christ

Photo taken by: Cody J. Haines

by: Carole L. Haines

But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place. (2 Corinthians 2:14) 

We don’t necessarily associate triumph with hardship, but they are paired together often. I have seen dedicated athletes up at dawn, fitting in their workouts before their workday begins. They are out in all kinds of weather too. I admire them but can’t say I relate to them at this time in my life. I rise at dawn for a different reason. I find that I just can’t start my hectic, stress-filled day without some alone time with Jesus. I need that solitude, that silent time of prayer and sitting with Him in His Word. I must have it, like some people need a morning run or a piping hot cup of coffee.  
My job can really put the squeeze on me, and because I work with young children, each squeeze yields something that will affect them. They are tender, precious little ones in the sight of God, and He cares for them so much. I need God to fill me with Himself before I go in to work, so that He can pour His kindness, love and encouragement through me, to these little ones. Oswald Chambers puts it this way: 

If we believe in Jesus, it is not what we gain but what He pours through us that really counts. God’s purpose is not simply to make us beautiful, plump grapes, but to make us grapes so that He may squeeze the sweetness out of us. Our spiritual life cannot be measured by success as the world measures it, but only by what God pours through us— and we cannot measure that at all. 
(Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest) 

I pray that God will meet with you in your times of quiet and rest, so that when the squeeze of life is put on you, a Sweet Aroma of Christ is what others receive. May you become a delightful fragrance of Christ, wherever you happen to be. We are blessed by Him to become a blessing to others.  

“He who believes in Me…out of his heart will flow rivers of living water”— and hundreds of other lives will be continually refreshed. Now is the time for us to break “the flask” of our lives, to stop seeking our own satisfaction, and to pour out our lives before Him. Our Lord is asking who of us will do it for Him?  
(From My Utmost for His Highest Updated Edition) 

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