Keeping Watch

A parable is a familiar story that helps us to understand a spiritual truth. Jesus used several short parables to teach us that although we are here as pilgrims and strangers in this land, occupying until He comes, we should always be spiritually prepared for His coming.
Today let’s look at the parable of the 10 bridesmaids (Matthew 25:1-13)
This story begins after the first 2 stages of the Jewish Wedding.
The first stage was the engagement and the second was the betrothal. Now comes the third stage, the marriage. In this third stage, the bridegroom comes unexpectedly for the bride. No one knows the day nor the hour, for preparations for the marriage were being made.
Now, as we read in Matthew 25:1-13, the time has come, stage 3. The Wedding!
1. “Then the Kingdom of Heaven will be like ten bridesmaids who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. 2 Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. 3 The five who were foolish didn’t take enough olive oil for their lamps, 4 but the other five were wise enough to take along extra oil. 5 When the bridegroom was delayed, they all became drowsy and fell asleep.
6 “At midnight they were roused by the shout, ‘Look, the bridegroom is coming! Come out and meet him!’
7 “All the bridesmaids got up and prepared their lamps. 8 Then the five foolish ones asked the others, ‘Please give us some of your oil because our lamps are going out.’
9 “But the others replied, ‘We don’t have enough for all of us. Go to a shop and buy some for yourselves.’
10 “But while they were gone to buy oil, the bridegroom came. Then those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was locked. 11 Later, when the other five bridesmaids returned, they stood outside, calling, ‘Lord! Lord! Open the door for us!’
12 “But he called back, ‘Believe me, I don’t know you!’
13 “So you, too, must keep watch! For you do not know the day or hour of my return.”
 
What do you think about the Lord’s coming? Are you “keeping watch,” or do you think like everyone else does? (Isaiah 8: 11 says “The Lord has given me a strong warning not to think like everyone else does.”)
Well, let’s begin by looking at what it means to “keep watch.” We see that the 5 wise bridesmaids had an extra supply of oil with them. This means their lamps were always ready to shine bright even if he is delayed. They were prepared.
If you are a believer in Jesus Christ, “keeping watch” comes from an ongoing relationship with Him. This means spending quality time with Him where you both share back and forth everything that’s on your heart. The main way you will hear Him speak to you is through His Word, the Bible. If you are a new believer or if you seem to be struggling lately, I want you to get your Bible out! The New Living Translation is a great one to start with. Turn to the New Testament. As you begin reading, ask Him to share His heart with you. Then think about what you read, and let Him speak. Don’t get in a hurry. Listen for His voice.
 
“Keeping watch” is also about sharing your own burdens and dreams with Him. As you begin to do this your trust will begin to be secured in Him from the quality time you spend together. You can trust Jesus with anything. 1 Peter 5:7 says, “Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.” That means everything! A place where you can exhale. In these trying times, doesn’t that bring joy to your ears to know you can lay all your cares at His feet in prayer?
 
Now, one final note on how to “keep watch” is, as you spend time with the Lord, you will begin to hear His heartbeat for the world and His plan to use you to partner with Him. The way the Lord does this is to place you in a local church body. The Lord will empower you Read more…


Perhaps Today

When I got out of high school and started working in “the world” it was an eye opener. I was from a small town, small High School, and I was involved in our School Bible club and a big part of church activities. I never heard a curse word at home, or hardly ever around me. The work crowd where I was now working wasn’t loving Jesus AT ALL! I didn’t join in with the work crowd in their lifestyle, and to them I wasn’t normal. I began talking about the Lord and my church. Then I became “Miss Holy” and I was not welcomed in most conversations anymore.
One day I hid my “Perhaps Today” witness pin when the conversations became so worldly. I just knew someone was going to ask me what it meant, and they would be uncomfortable, well, I was the one uncomfortable! I felt like I had betrayed my Jesus! So immediately I put it back on and confessed my shame and sin to the Lord. I then had another opportunity to share that “Perhaps Today” the trumpet will sound and Jesus will return. This is our blessed hope.
1 Thessalonians 4:18 says to encourage or (comfort-KJV) one another with the Word of His coming.
 
1 Thessalonians 4: 16-18, says
“13 And now, dear brothers and sisters, we want you to know what will happen to the believers who have died so you will not grieve like people who have no hope.
14 For since we believe that Jesus died and was raised to life again, we also believe that when Jesus returns, God will bring back with him the believers who have died.
15 We tell you this directly from the Lord: We who are still living when the Lord returns will not meet him ahead of those who have died.
16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. First, the believers who have died will rise from their graves.
17 Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Then we will be with the Lord forever. 18 So encourage (comfort) each other with these words.”
 
What a promise we have! Jesus is coming again. The Thessalonians were concerned about some believers that had already died and what would happen to them when Jesus returns. Read more…


THE ADOPTION

Standing in the large church foyer I hear the words “Hey Mamaw”, coming from my newly adopted grandson as he comes running for a hug! My heart melts to know that just one day before, he was adopted into our family. This had been in the making for about a year. I got to experience this great love firsthand when I heard the judge called him by his new last name and watched his little 5-year-old face lite up as he hugged my son, his new dad, and said “I’m adopted”!

After signing documents, making pics, giving hugs and kisses, with family and friends, my new little grandson leaves the courthouse along with his newly adopted 1 year old sister, and their “parents”. Outside awaits a white limo with a driver to escort them to the celebration location. As they take their seats I noticed out of the corner of my eye, that just as the limo driver goes to close my grandson’s door, he holds out his hand against the door to let the driver know “I’m a Dolan” his newly adopted name.

This moment has kept me in awe for over a week now to have witnessed and to be a part of one of the deepest loves I have ever experienced.
Ephesians 1:5 declares the Greatest Love of all from eternity past. “God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.”
If you are a believer, you too have been adopted. Read more…


Greater Things

Recently my husband and I met a young Hispanic couple at the end of our dead-end street where we often walk. The couple had a little girl and a baby on the way! We waved a few times wondering if they could even understand us if we spoke.  A few weeks went by, and we noticed as we drove to the end of the road to turn around that she was holding her newborn baby. We were compelled to go to the store and get a small gift for the baby and a doll for the little girl. We dropped the gifts off at the house a few days later finding only the father at home. He was very receptive, spoke a little English, and said his wife would bring the baby down to meet us soon. A few weeks later we heard a knock at the door and there was the mom, her daughter, and their new baby girl. We had a good visit, she was so thankful for the gift, and she shared many, many, burdens with us as we played ball with the little girl who would laugh and only say “pssst” to get our attention. We listened intently and just kept speaking life. We then invited them to our church but had no response from her. With the Tennessee extreme hot weather, we ceased walking outside.  So, I had asked the Lord to put her in my path again if I was to minister in any way. 

Soon I saw her at the store where she immediately shared her burdens first thing. I just listened and told her we would pray. I also found out her mom has been a believer for years. Then soon we both ran into her at the store again, this time she thanked us for praying. 

Will I see her again? I don’t know, but I believe this was God ordained. Many times, we look to do “Great Things.” Maybe it’s to have a great pulpit ministry, great evangelist meetings, starting a church plant, to have great followings with YouTube, Instagram, or maybe even to move to another country to serve in a much-needed difficult place. I wonder if we are looking over the horizon to see “Great Things” while missing the “Greater Things” right in our path. Read more…



Imitating God

While pondering on how to bond a little better with my youngest grandchildren 10 hours away (a 5-year-old and 9-month-old) I began to think about what children are like. Though it has been a while since I had little ones around, children are basically all the same. A 5-year-old is usually ready to have fun. They are full of life and energy with the attention span of maybe 5 minutes. They enjoy being the center of attention and crave lots of love. This tells me if I make a little video of me reading a book, it needs to be very short and my video needs to have action, excitement, and needs to be full of love. My 9-month-old, though just beginning to crawl, is ready to explore, she learns by watching and observing others, and then imitates as best as she can. My goal there will be to use hand motions of clapping, pointing, times of singing, and repetition of saying my name. If I do these things consistently, and they do the same, then when I go to visit, we will just continue where we left off.
Just as the little ones learn by watching, observing, and then imitating, we too must do the same with Jesus. (Ephesians 5:1-2) says “Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God.”
How do we do this you might ask. Do you remember the game “follow the leader?” The leader moves around by running, walking, zigzagging, going in every direction and you, as the follower, must follow by watching closely, listening to direction, and observing every step, and then, do the same.
If we are to imitate Christ, living a life filled with love, we must get to know Him better just as I want my grandchildren to get to know me. It must be consistent. It’s a following like we read in Luke 9: 23 “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross daily, and follow me.
We too must come daily watching, listening, and observing by communing with Jesus through His Word and then doing what Jesus would do. If I want my grandchildren to get to know me, I must be consistent. I must continue the videos, some calls, and some FaceTime to bond. It is in the doing.
You will never learn to imitate Christ if you follow Him by just popping into a church service on Sunday or saying help me God only when in need. It must be a life filled with imitating daily. The only way to imitate is to watch, listen, and then do what He does which comes through fellowship, through hearing His voice from His Word, the Bible.
Then you will learn to be like Christ having a life full of love for Him and for others. He forgave us by becoming a sacrifice for us which was a pleasing aroma to His father. Watching Him we learn to forgive too those who wronged us. Luke 11:4 says, “and forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.” He forgave so we forgive. That is learning to live the life of Love!
Jesus’ love was a life of sacrifice even to the place of death, a pleasing aroma to God. May we too imitate Him by taking up our cross following daily, and just like when I get to see my grandchildren when I arrive, when we see Jesus, we will take up where we left off. Now that’s a beautiful aroma.  Deann Dolan


God’s Loving Presence

Does it bring you peace to know God is always with you?  Or do you find you are overwhelmed by difficult circumstances, worry, & doubts.  Can you find God’s loving Presence during those times?  In Romans 8:38 Paul writes “And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love.”  Looking closely at this verse Paul doesn’t say “except one thing, or a few things”, He says NOTHING can separate us. This means no problem, sickness, worry, difficulty, or any lie Satan can come up with can push aside God’s love for us.  We are all going to have difficult times.  Do we turn to Christ first?  Think about God’s people & all that they experienced in the past.  As the Israelites were preparing to cross the Jordan River into the promised land, they took with them the promise of God.  “For the LORD your God will personally go ahead of you.  He will neither fail you nor abandon you.” (Deuteronomy 31:6)
This promise is for us  also. He already knows what’s going on in our lives.  We can grow closer to him. He is with us!   In January while recovering from covid,  there were days when it was so hard to feel God’s Presence,  I knew that a sickness would not separate me from God’s love. I had to just lean heavily on Jesus & his promises.  He knew what I was going through every minute, & He was with me every minute, even when I couldn’t feel His Presence with me.  “He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5)  Be encouraged to know Jesus loving presence is with you today & always. Amen.
By Deborah King


A New Song

My husband has an ear for music. He can hear a song and can tell if a singer or if the music note is off key.  One of his favorite things to do is to learn to sing a new song.
Psalm 96 opens with “Sing a new song to the Lord “
This psalm comes from the story in 1 Chronicles 16. It is the story of King David bringing the Ark of the Covenant, representing the presence of the Lord, back into the special tent he had prepared. The Ark was previously captured by the enemy in battle, but when David assumed the throne it was stored in a man’s barn. So now the Ark is back and there was much singing and celebrating as the Ark was brought in. King David danced and sang and said “Sing a new song to the Lord!”
The Psalms were the song books of ancient Israel, God’s chosen people. Psalm comes from the Greek word “ Psalmos” which means song or hymn. The Hebrew word for Psalm is “Tehillim” which means “praises.” David wrote many of the Psalms in the Bible. He wrote many kinds of Psalms. He wrote Penitential Psalms (confessing sorrow for sin, appealing to God for His grace and forgiveness) Wisdom Psalms (God and our relationship to Him) Hymns (songs of Praise and Thanksgivings to God), Royal Psalms (focusing on Israel’s Kings), Messianic Psalms (describing the Messiah or His ministry), Imprecatory Psalms (calls of God’s judgment against His enemies or His people’s enemies), and Lament Psalms (Bemoaning ones condition followed by words of trust and praise to God.)
What new song is in your heart to sing to the Lord? Is He in the tent of your heart today? Has the enemy capture Him away from your heart in the spiritual battle? What would be the lyrics on your sheet music today?
Would it be a song of lament for the difficult season you are in at this time? If so, Sing out in your despair to the One who will comfort you with everlasting arms.
Maybe it’s a Penitential Psalm as David sang in Psalm 51 after confrontation for his sins. If so, Sing out in repentance unto the Lord. He is ready to forgive and restore to a clean merry heart!
Maybe you just have a hymn of praise on your lips! Then Dance and Sing that New Song unto the Lord for who He is and what He has brought you through!
During this pandemic season of all of our lives the Lord gave me this new song; (Psalms is 57:7) “My heart is confident in You, O God; my heart is confident. No wonder I can sing your praises!” This is my New Song for 2021!
We all have different seasons in our own lives. Take time to discern what season you are in, then take out new sheet music and ask the Lord for your New Song. Now, write it down and sing it out with all your heart to the one who is always Singing over you.
Did you know that? His love for you is so great, and though you cannot hear it, He sings over you. (Zephaniah 3:17) says, “The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.” Now that’s a concert!
Well, are you ready? The ink should still be wet on your sheet music. Now finish that last note!
 🎼 Then Sing that New Song!!
By Deann Dolan


A Heart of Prayer

As we begun January 2021, we the church were called once again to a time of prayer and fasting for the coming year.  After our 2020 year that we have all had, it was probably one of the most important things we should do. I normally pray and fast in this month along with our church and continue a small portion of fasting weekly through the year, but it was not until Pastor Appreciation Day 2020 that I realized how profoundly important this January call was, not just to fast but to develop in this time “A Heart of Prayer” as well so that we could be ready for God’s agenda for the coming year.

For you see, yearly we try to give our pastors a unique gift to represent the theme or direction the Lord was taking us during the year. As we gave them a picture of a heartbeat representing that they never missed a beat ministering to the Body of Christ in this trying time, it was then that I realized the importance of their call to have us develop “A Heart of Prayer” for the coming year.

 I believe we do this by following Jesus example. In (Mark 1: 35-37) Jesus is up early to pray before anyone else. The day before, He had had a full day of ministry, and now the scriptures say “before daybreak the next morning, Jesus got up and went out to an isolated place to pray. 36 Later Simon and the others went out to find him. 37 When they found him, they said, “Everyone is looking for you.”

Every time I read this part of the scripture, I often wondered what was going through the minds of Simon and the others that came looking for Jesus. Earlier Jesus had called several of these disciples to follow Him and they immediately left at once and followed Him to become “fishers of men. “Now Jesus, is up at daybreak and they are not following behind.  Could it be they were already making plans for an earthly kingdom after hearing Him speak with authority to the evil spirits and watching Him heal many from various diseases, including Simon’s own mother-in-law? Perhaps they were dreaming of being a part of that new earthly kingdom and slept in? Could it be they were beginning to make their own agenda without the most important thing, “A Heart of Prayer?” Read more…



Changed Not/Changes Not!

What do you do when your situation does not change? You pray, seek the Lord, call for prayer, and still, you “change not.”
In the gospel of Mark, the Woman with the issue of blood can tell you what to do, for she suffered 12 years with this constant infirmity. She spent all she had on doctors and tried everything she knew, and still, she “changed not” for the good. She opened her eyes in the morning, “changed not.” The noonday, “changed not.” At the closing of the day, “changed not.”
But today was different because Mark 5: 27 says “When she heard about Jesus…….
Well, we may wonder how she heard and what did she hear, for she was isolated from everyone due to her ritual impurity. Could it be she heard her neighbors talking through the open widow as she sat down for a moment of strength after household chores? Or did she see and hear a crowd going by her house on the way to the lake to see if Jesus was there? I do not know, but we do know that she heard about Jesus. What have you heard about Jesus? Do you have ears to hear?
I wonder did she hear Luke shout, (Luke 5: 17 b)….”the Lord’s healing power is strongly with Jesus!” Or a nicely dressed man once demon-possessed tormented by a legion of demons, testifying that he was a cutter, once constrained with mental chains, shouting and praising Jesus shackle free, while pigs float in the water. (Mark 5:15 b) She may have heard the man, once a leper telling how he knelt down in front of Jesus as “unclean“ and stood up “ Clean” (Mark 1:40-42) or the once paralyzed man telling how he came down through the roof by faith-filled friends walking out the front door with forgiveness and healing. (Mark 2:10) Read more…


The Big Picture

On my list of things to do, working a puzzle is not one of them. But due to the pandemic I chose to work a 1,000-piece puzzle at home. I thought, how hard can this be, since the puzzle was offered to me already in multiple baggies arranged by color, and 1 baggy with just the border.  So, I got out my card table, the picture of the puzzle, and began the task. Except for 1 piece, the border was done quickly. I did not work on it every day, just occasionally. I would put a piece in here or there. Some days I could only find a few pieces after hours of searching. It was becoming a very frustrating task. The pieces I just knew would fit, did not, and other pieces kept falling off the table’s edge. I was even offered a magnifying light to help find the correct puzzle pieces, but I wanted to do this without help. When I did find a piece or two that fit, it reminded me of hunting Easter eggs as a child.  It was exciting for the moment, but then back to the hunting again. Read more…