Second Chance At Love

This second chance
to fall in love
makes me dance
and thank God above

I feel like Eve
in the Garden
before the devil deceive
what God couldn’t pardon

And love you’re Adam
the perfect man
before I am
why fall began

When love so sweet
between me and you
first our lips meet
becoming one not two

And love first made
in the softest grass
what’s never to fade
and ever to last

Yes I thank Him
for this second chance
when hope was slim
He gave sweet romance!

Teresa Marie   8/22/11

 

Gooseberry Garden Picnic Week 1 Offering #3

Hey Darlin’

Hey darlin’ let’s play a game
first let’s change our name

You be Adam, I’ll be Eve
I’ve got something up my sleeve

Here is how we will play
you gotta follow what I say

We’re both still virgins, let’s pretend
 first night together that we spend

Passionate kisses and fumbling fingers
the tingle on my skin lingers

The heated groping way too fast
don’t know how to make it last

On the grass we lay spent
say making love is heaven-sent

In the morning, God we tell
we think this life’s pretty swell!

 

Teresa Marie   8/22/11

 

Gooseberry Garden Picnic Week 1 offering #2

Adam And Eve, The First In All

Adam and Eve, were first in all

First human beings
that God created

Ever to live
and be appreciated

The first couple
to make love

Ever to walk
with God above

The first having
a child born

Ever to drink
from plenty’s horn

The first to let
temptation win

Ever to then
commit a sin

Yes, Adam and Eve
were the first in all

The first that did
from God’s grace fall!

Teresa Marie  8/21/11

 

Gooseberry Garden Picnic Week 1 First Offering 

Today’s Sermon From The Ranch – Believing God

Sorry it’s late but we had some bad storms blow through and I shut down the computer.

(This Day’s Thought is pleased to feature Eric Elder’s latest series called “Romans: Lessons In Renewing Your Mind”) 
 

The Ranch: A Place of Healing and Restoration

Believing God

Lesson 9 from
Romans: Lessons In Renewing Your Mind
By Eric Elder
www.theranch.org
 

 
I’d like to talk to you today about believing God.  Not just believing in God.  But believing God–believing that He will do what He says He will do.  The reason I want to talk to you about believing God is because what you believe influences what you do.  Or, to put it another way, you do what you believe.
 
If you believe that people are going to hell if they don’t put their faith in Jesus, then you’ll do something about it.  If you’re not doing something about it, then you’re just giving intellectual assent to an idea, but you’re not really believing it.
 
I have a friend who went to the doctor for a checkup.  The doctor told him, “Your Dad had a heart attack by the time he was forty-eight, and you’re going to have a heart attack by the time you’re forty-eight unless you make some changes in your life.”  My friend had known this was a possibility before, but it wasn’t until his doctor told him the truth so directly that my friend finally believed it.  He began that day to change the way he ate, the way he exercised, and the way he lived his life.  He’s still going strong today.  Why?  Because he believed what his doctor said.
 
How much more so, when we hear what God says about our lives, should be believe Him and do what He says?
 
Abraham is an excellent example for all of us of someone who believed God, who heard what God said and took it to heart, and then backed up what he believed with his actions.
 
If you remember the story, God told Abraham that he would have so many descendants they would outnumber the stars in the sky and the sand on the seashore.  This was a pretty lofty idea considering that Abraham was old and childless.  But the Bible says:
 
“Abraham believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness” (Romans 4:3).
 
Several years later, when God called Abraham to become circumcised as a way of sealing God’s covenant with him, Abraham did what God said that very day, and within a year, he and his wife Sarah had their first child–the first of a long line of his promised descendants.
 
While Abraham’s obedience to be circumcised was important and necessary for the fulfillment of God’s plan for his life, the Apostle Paul notes in his letter to the Romans that it wasn’t after Abraham was circumcised that he was declared righteous in God’s sight, but before.  Abraham was declared righteous several years before his circumcision.  He was declared righteous the moment he believed.  (You can read more about this part of Abraham’s story in Genesis chapters 15-18.) 
 
Abraham’s circumcision was a natural outworking of the faith that Abraham had already expressed in his heart to God.  His actions were directly influenced by what he believed.
 
Dallas Willard is one of the spiritual giants of our generation.  When asked what he would advise someone to do who wanted to grow spiritually, he gave a surprising answer.  You might think he would say, “Read the Bible more,” or “Pray more,” or “Go to church more.”  But he didn’t.  He said the best course of action for someone who wants to grow spiritually is this:  
 
“Do the next right thing you know you ought to do.”
 
He expanded on this thought by saying that you’ll grow more when you do the next right thing that you know you ought to do because you’ll be doing the very thing that God wants you to do.  He said it may very well involve reading the Bible more so you can get clarity on what it is that God really wants you to do.  It may involve praying more because you’ll need God’s wisdom for how to do it.  It may involve going to church more because you’ll most likely need the help of others to do what God has put on your heart to do.  But in any case, you’ll grow tremendously when you do the next right thing you know you ought to do.
 
My question for you today is this:  what’s the next right thing you know you ought to do?  
 
What is it that God has called you to do that He is wanting you to take the next step in faith to get done?  Maybe it’s in something regarding your family, your job, your finances, or your health.  Maybe it’s something regarding your calling, your gifting, your relationships, or the way you use your time.  Maybe it’s something that is quiet and internal, or maybe it’s something that is out loud and vocal.  Maybe it’s something you need to start doing, or maybe it’s something you need to stop doing.
 
Although I don’t know what it might be that God is putting on your heart right now as you read these words, I imagine there are probably one or two things that may have already started coming to your mind as “the next right thing you know you ought to do.”  Whatever it is, I want to encourage you to do it.  Believe in your heart that God has called you to it, then step out in faith and let Him help you do it!
 
You may remember the story of the widow’s oil, back in the Old Testament.  This widow had lost her husband, and she and her two sons were struggling to live.  She was at a point of desperation because her husband’s creditors were coming to take away her boys as slaves.
 
She cried out to Elisha, a man of God that she knew, and asked him what to do.  Elisha asked what she had left in her house.  She said that she had nothing there at all, “except a little oil” (2 Kings 4:5).
 
So Elisha told her what to do next.  He told her to go around to all her neighbors and ask for their empty jars.  She and her sons did what Elisha said.  She went all over the neighborhood asking for empty jars and brought them home.  Elisha told her to fill them up with the little oil that she had.  By faith, she began pouring out the oil into the first jar, and it didn’t stop!  It just kept flowing and flowing as she poured it into jar after jar, until every jar she had collected was full.  Elisha told her:
 
“Go, sell the oil and pay your debts.  You and your sons can live on what is left” (2 Kings 4:7b).
 
I love this story for several reasons, but one that stands out to me today is the fact that the widow believed what God was telling her to do through the prophet Elisha, then she went out and acted on that belief.  She did “the next right thing she knew she ought to do.”
 
One way to renew your mind today is to believe God–not just believe in Him–but really believe Him, because what you believe influences what you do.
 
Abraham wasn’t credited with righteousness after he was circumcised, but before, when he first believed God.  It was only afterwards that he stepped out in faith and acted on what he believed.  
 
The widow’s life didn’t start to turn around after she had sold all her jars of oil and got the money for them, but before, when she first believed what God told her to do through the prophet Elisha.  It was only afterwards that she stepped out in faith and acted on what she believed.  
 
God wants you to believe Him, too.  He wants you believe what He says and then to act on that belief, to do the next right thing that you know you ought to do.  For some of you, this might mean picking up a project that you’ve been putting off for years.  You might think, “Not that, Lord!  It’s been on the back burner for so long, I don’t think I’ll ever get around to it.”  For others of you, this might mean acting on something you heard just yesterday.  You might think, “Not that, Lord!  I just heard about it yesterday, I need a few more days, or months, or years to think about it.”  
 
We can think of all kinds of reasons not to do what we know we ought to do.  But I want to encourage you today to believe God, and then act on that belief.  Don’t let doubt and discouragement hold you back from doing “the next right thing” that God has called you to do.  
 
Believe God today, and then act on that belief!  Then one day, like Abraham and Sarah, and like the widow and her sons, people will be telling the story of what happened to you when you believed God, too.
 
Will you pray with me?
 
Father, thank You for creating each of us with special tasks to accomplish here on earth.  Help us to have the faith today to believe what You say when you speak to us, and then to act on that belief.  Help us today to step out in faith and do the next right thing we know we ought to do.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.
 
Loving Thoughts

P.S. This is also the last week that we’ll be highlighting our new book called, “Loving Thoughts,” a short book of quotes and Bible verses to help those who are passing from this life to the next.  You can download this book in an eBook format for free from the link below, or you can order a beautiful, 24-page paperback version by simply sending a donation of any size to our ministry.  Your gifts help to offset the cost of printing and shipping, as well as help us to continue creating more resources like these, so thanks in advance for your gifts!  Here are the links to download the free eBook or to request a paperback:
To make a donation and get the paperback, please visit:
 
Questions for Reflection
1.  Read Romans 4:1-12.  Why do you think God credited Abraham with righteousness when he first believed God, rather than after he took his famous steps of obedience?
2.  Read James 2:18-20.  What are some of the differences between believing God and just believing in God, based on this passage?
3.  What is the relationship between faith and works, as described by the passage in James?
4.  What comes to your mind as “the next right thing you ought to do?”  What steps could you take to help clarify that those things really are from God, and then to step out in faith to begin doing them?
 
To read more from this series, Romans: Lessons In Renewing Your Mind, please visit:
 
To get more inspiring books and music like this, please visit:
 
To find us on Facebook, please visit:
 
To invite Eric to speak to your group of any size, whether by Skype or in person, please visit:

This Week’s Sermon From The Ranch – Becoming Conscious of Sin

The Ranch: A Place of Healing and Restoration

(This Day’s Thought is pleased to feature Eric Elder’s latest series called “Romans: Lessons In Renewing Your Mind”) 
 
Becoming Conscious Of SinLesson 7 from
Romans: Lessons In Renewing Your Mind
By Eric Elder
www.theranch.org
 

 
Some people have no problem recognizing sin in their life.  In fact, they magnify their faults in their mind, whether real or imagined, thinking less of themselves than they ought to think.
 
Other people have the problem of not recognizing sin in their life.  They magnify their strengths instead, whether real or imagined, thinking better of themselves than they ought to think.
 
Most of us fall somewhere in between:  we magnify some weaknesses out of proportion, while minimizing others.  
 
God wants to give us an honest and objective look.  For those of you who think you’re perfect, I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news today.  And for those of you who don’t think you’re perfect, I don’t want you to magnify what I’m about to say and feel worse about yourselves.  But here’s the truth, according to what God says through Paul’s letter to the Romans:
 
“There is no one righteous, not even one; 
  there is no one who understands, 
   no one who seeks God. 
 All have turned away, 
   they have together become worthless; 
there is no one who does good, 
   not even one” (Romans 3:10-12).
 
So far, this is a pretty inspiring message, right?  But the truth is, the gospel—or good news of Jesus Christ—is often bad news before it’s good news.  If you’re not aware of your sinfulness, you’ll never be aware of your need for a Savior.  And if you don’t recognize your need for a Savior, you’ll never find salvation. 
 
God didn’t give you the laws of the Bible—the ten commandments and the more than 600 additional laws that followed in the Old Testament—to crush you.  He gave them to help you and protect you.  And to the extent that you can keep those laws, you’ll be blessed.  But when you fall short of being able to keep those laws, God sent Jesus to make up the difference—to fill the gap between the best that you can do and the best that God wants for you.
 
And since the Bible says that “there is no one righteous, not even one,” that means that God sent Jesus for each one of us.  If you want to renew your mind and get a new perspective on life, it’s important to see your sins as God sees them.  For when you see how short you’ve fallen from God’s righteousness, you can see what needs to happen to make up the difference:  put your faith in Christ!
 
This is not a message just for non-Christians to encourage them to put their faith in Christ.  This is just as much a message for Christians, who need God’s grace just as much after being saved as before.  As professor and philosopher Dallas Willard says:
 
“The sinner is not the one who uses a lot of grace.  The saint uses more grace.  The saint burns grace like a 747 burns fuel on takeoff, because everything they do is a manifestation of grace.  But we have to learn how to use it.  It means we no longer trust just our efforts to manage our lives.”  
 
Throughout the book of Romans, Paul addresses the differences and similarities between Jews and Gentiles—or non-Jews.  What good is it being a Jew, some have asked, if both Jews and Gentiles both can be saved by grace?  Here’s what Paul said:
 
“What advantage, then, is there in being a Jew, or what value is there in circumcision?  Much in every way! First of all, they have been entrusted with the very words of God” (Romans 3:1-2).
 
God gave His words in the form of the Scriptures to the Jews, and to the extent that they heeded those words they were blessed.  But to the extent that they didn’t heed those words, there was a gap.
 
God gave them ways to fill that gap, through sacrifices of atonement that they and their leaders could make.  But as good as this was, it was never enough to completely fill the gap.  Paul said that it was only because of God’s forbearance—His patience, self-control, and restraint—that He never brought upon them the full punishment that they deserved for their sins.  Paul said:
 
“Because in His forbearance, He had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished” (Romans 3:25b).
 
But when the time was right, God provided a way to fill the gap completely, once and for all.  He filled it by offering His own Son Jesus Christ as a sacrifice for our sins.  That’s the gospel, or good news of Jesus Christ.  Even though none of us are righteous on our own, we can become righteous by putting our faith in Jesus Christ.
 
If you feel like a sinner today, hallelujah!  When you become conscious of your sins, you’ve hit upon a truth of God.  That means you recognize your need for a Savior—someone who can save you from your sins!  And that means you can be saved, if you recognize Jesus as your Savior!  It really is great news, see?
 
Becoming conscious of sin is one of the main purposes of the laws that God gave us.  As Paul said:
 
“Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin” (Romans 3:20).
 
If you want to renew your mind today, ask God to help you become conscious of sin in your life.   Then, when you become aware of what needs changing in your life, invite Jesus in to do his work.  Remember, God’s grace is just as much available to you after you’ve become a Christian as before.
 
At the same time, as you ask God to help you become conscious of sin in your life, don’t let Satan magnify your weaknesses out of proportion.
 
I had a friend this week who shared with me that she was struggling to hear from God.  She felt like God wasn’t answering her prayers and she wondered what she might be doing wrong.  At one point in our conversation, she confessed to me this that she felt God wasn’t answering her prayers because she had gone off her special diet that she had for a particular health condition, and had eaten some candy bars.  She felt awkward saying it, and said she hadn’t told anyone else what she was thinking.  But from the way she said it, I knew she was dead serious and completely distraught.  I looked at her and said:  
 
“Satan is lying to you.  The truth is that God loves you so much that He has already paid the ultimate price for you—by sending Jesus to die for your sins.  There’s nothing He wouldn’t do for you if it’s in His will for your life.  There may be good reason for you to be careful about what you eat for the sake of your health.  But that’s a different issue.  I don’t believe that God is holding anything back from you because you ate some candy bars.  If you believe that God wants for you what you’re praying for, then keep on praying for it!  Believe that God will answer your prayers and don’t let anything stop you from praying for it.”
 
My friend listened intently to what I was saying, and when I was finished, asked if I could repeat it all for her one more time, which I did.
 
I confess that I fall into the same mental trap at times, and maybe you do, too.  Maybe you’ve had thoughts like these:
 
“I don’t have enough money because I haven’t made enough contacts this week—God must not love me, or He thinks bad about me, and He’s not answering my prayers because of it.”  (Maybe there’s a connection between your contacts and your money, but maybe not.  Your work matters to God, but don’t let Satan lie to you that it’s because God doesn’t love you because you haven’t done enough.  If you fall short in what you can do, ask God for forgiveness and let Jesus fill the gap.)
 
“My kids are a mess because of a sin I committed in high school and now they’re just following in my footsteps, even though I’ve repented a thousand times for it since then.” (No, don’t let Satan lie to you.  If you’ve confessed it, you’re forgiven.  God has wiped the slate clean and starts all over again with your kids on their own.)
 
“I’ve been praying for a husband or wife, but no one will marry me.  It must be because of my ____ (fill in the blank:  nose, temper, scar, income, freckles, hair, lack of hair, etc.).”  (No, don’t let Satan lie to you, either.  There are plenty of people who have gotten married in spite of having a multitude of traits that seem to be ignored, and even adored, by a devoted spouse.  While there may be qualities or characteristics about yourself that God does want you to work on, that’s likely a different issue.  Trust God that He is answering your prayers and working on your behalf, behind the scenes.  At the proper time, you will see the fruit of your prayers.)  
 
If there’s a a gap between you and perfection, there’s good news for you—even as a Christian.  Jesus came to fill the gap!
 
God want to renew your mind.  He’s given you His law to so you can become conscious of sin.  But once you’re aware of it, don’t wallow in it!  Put your faith in Christ, and let Him make things right again.   As the Apostle John said:
 
“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).
 
Will you pray with me?
 
Father, thank You for helping us to become conscious of our sins, so that we can see our need for a Savior, so that we can find salvation!  Thank you for the good news of Jesus Christ, who came to fill in the gap between the best that we can do and the best that God has in store for us.  We ask that you would fill the gaps in our lives today where we fall short, as we put our faith in Jesus Christ.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.
 
Loving Thoughts

P.S. We’ve had another 500 people download our new, short eBook this week called “Loving Thoughts.”  It includes quotes from Christians throughout the ages written to help those who are passing from this life to the next and those who love them.  The eBook is free and I’d love for you to get a copy for yourself, whether you need it now or in the future.  Although it’s a short book, don’t let that fool you about the life-changing perspective it can bring to those who are facing death.  It also includes a short gospel message for those who haven’t yet put their faith in Christ, so I encourage you to get a copy for your friends, whether they’re saved or unsaved.  You can also order a copy of this little book in a beautiful paperback edition that we’d be glad to ship to you anywhere in the world for a donation of any size to our ministry.  Your gifts help us to keep creating resources like these, as well as to offset the cost of printing and shipping, so thanks in advance for your gifts!  They really do bear fruit all over the world!  Here are the links to download the free eBook or to request a paperback:
To download the free eBook version, please visit:
To make a donation and get the paperback, please visit:
 
Questions for Reflection
1.  Read Romans 3:1-20.  Why does Paul say, in verse 20, that no one can become righteous by observing the law, but through the law we become conscious of sin?
2.  Read 1 John 1:8-10.  How do John’s words compare with Paul’s?  
3.  In your own life, do you think you tend to magnify, or minimize, your sins?  How might God help you to get His perspective on them?
4.  Have you ever experienced the good news of Jesus Christ for yourself, putting your faith in Him for the forgiveness of your sins?  If not, why not ask Him to fill the gap for you today in prayer?  And if so, why not ask Him for extra grace today to fill any other gaps in your life where you feel like you’re falling short?
 
To read more from this series, Romans: Lessons In Renewing Your Mind, please visit:
 
To get more inspiring books and music like this, please visit:
 
To find us on Facebook, please visit:
 
To invite Eric to speak to your group of any size, whether by Skype or in person, please visit:

Covenants And Promises

“Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,” says the LORD, who has compassion on you.

Isaiah 54:10
The New International Version

The other day I spoke of the covenant that God made with Israel, the Jewish people, the 12 tribes, and Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  This morning, the above verse from Isaiah 54 was on my Today’s Thought e-mail.  I immediately felt that God was affirming what I stated.

We Christians believe that you must receive Jesus as the Messiah to receive salvation.  The Jews don’t accept Him as such.  Therein lies a dilemma.  How do we reconcile the two things, God’s Old Testament covenant and the New Testament (Christian) requirement?  I was talking to my mother about this very thing last night.  She had to agree with me because, if God were to break His covenant of old, how could we believe in any covenant that followed?

We tend to look at everything in human terms since, naturally, that’s all we know.  We cannot and will never know the mind of God until we meet Him face to face.  The Bible states “His ways are not our ways…” therefore, I will not show disdain toward Judaism or the Jewish people ever.

Human beings make and break promises every day.  It’s shameful of us and I’m just as guilty of having done it (more so in the past) as anyone else.  Please don’t think that I have a “holier than thou” attitude about this.  I am just stating my own thoughts and observations for your consideration.

I know that the Christian Old Testament is not the same as the Jewish Tanakh.  It is a Christian version of it.  I did not live in the time before Christ or during His ministry.  I didn’t learn the Jewish faith in grade school.  I went to Catholic school all 12 years and graduated there.  I recently learned, again, that the Catholics have their own version of the Bible.  With all of the different denominations there are within the Christian faith, I wonder just how different each one’s Bible is.  I guess we all must decide as individuals what we will believe as the truth and try our best to follow it.  Human beings are not perfect, I know that I’m far from it, but we can at least attempt to live together in this world by the one concept that I think is in every version, both Christian and Jewish, and that is loving compassion for one another.  Just a thought…

Always remember that Jesus died for us because He loves us!

Humbly yours,
Teresa Marie