Finishing with Joy


Acts 20:24  “But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.”

June is graduation month.  We watch as family and friends receive their degree or diploma. I saw an article this year where a 103-year-old lady graduated from college. I also saw an article about a 12-year-old boy who is graduating from high school. Each individual had completed the course and has earned his diploma/degree.

In Acts 20:24, the apostle Paul is talking about completing his life’s ministry in spite of the trying times and hardships. By the grace of God, Paul was determined to finish the course.  Each of us must face the trials and hardships of the Christian life.  Perhaps it’s time to ask yourself, “Will I continue on by the grace of God, or will I be sidetracked from my ministry? I think it is fair to say that none of us possess the stamina and determination of the Apostle Paul. We do have the same God. Let me share three things that might be a help in crossing the finish line.

Each of these is from the verse quoted above.

   1. Paul knew how to prioritize. He put completing the task over personal pleasure.

   2. Paul knew what he had.  He had a serious responsibility.

   3. Paul knew what he had personally received. He received his ministry from God.

I cannot stress enough that each of us has a ministry. It is something that God wants us to do, and he has equipped us to do it. Maybe it is time for serious look at your life and your ministry. What are you counting as dear to you? Do your personal priorities match the priorities that God has for you? Are you sidetracked by the cares of the world? Has discouragement come your way causing you to want to quit? Completing God’s task for your life is a wonderful thing. I challenge you today to finish your course with joy.

If you have never received Christ as your Savior, your number one priority is to receive him today.  John 14:6, “Jesus saith onto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh onto the father, but by me.”  (For help, call 424-4673.)

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This is Autumn – The Beauty of the Colored Leaves!


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When autumn begins, I start looking for the change of color in the tree leaves; and also, I am reminded of a poem that I learned in grade school! The first verse is: “There is something in the autumn that is native to my blood—Touch of manner, hint of mood; —And my heart is like a rhyme, —With the yellow and the purple and the crimson keeping time.” It’s called “A Vagabond Song.” As a Christian, we are not vagabonds! We do have a home waiting for us! As we age, we begin looking forward to that very place! But I must say for now, I’ve been looking for autumn when the leaves start changing color. The beauty and splendor of the colors are breathtaking! And what does that really mean? Only God can design the beautiful ray of colors in the leaves! But, they will soon die and fall to the ground; however, they will become nutrients for the trees to get ready for the new leaves in the spring! This holds many parallels to the Christian life! Do you think maybe those of us in the “upper age bracket,” will really look as beautiful in our ageing process? We seem to have such a short season on earth, some longer than others; but as Christians, we do have a specific purpose and calling; to display a beautiful life for Christ while on earth.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-2: “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:  A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;”

Although many of us may live with fairly little recognition during our lifetime, when we complete our earthly mission, we go in splendor and the expectation of what is to come. This then, spurs us on to greater love and commitment to Christ when it is our time to enter into the presence of our Heavenly Father. Will we leave behind a beautiful legacy? We must not allow anything to influence us that will cause us to be infected which will cause us to become ineffective as a Christian. We must be careful of what we allow in our lives that might be a negative influence on our heart and mind. We want to show forth an everlasting witness to those who do not know our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. We want to exhibit that hope of being with Him for all eternity and living a life that is full of joy. Let us, be faithful to our Saviour in this life, so that when we are called Home to our heavenly place, we will be ready to experience the beautiful rich crimsons and golds of Heaven! Yes, we too will be beautiful in our ageing process, evidence of a life well lived for Him!

“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.” 1 Corinthians 15:58

Under Construction


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Philippians 1:6: “Being confident of this very thing, that He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ”.

The summer months are mainly vacation time for many folks! No matter where you travel, it seems you see a sign that reads, “Under Construction.” That’s how our lives are, “under construction;” one day at a time! No matter your age, the Master Builder is still working to improve our spiritual growth, that is, if we let Him! 1 Corinthians 3:10, “According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon.”

God’s first work was creation. He said it was very good, Genesis 1:31, “And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good ….” Everything God has done and is doing, will do, and remains to be, very good! As part of the song “He’s Still Working On Me,” “…It took Him just a week to make the moon and stars – The sun and the earth and Jupiter and Mars…”

Philippians 2:13, “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do his good pleasure.” No matter how it looks, or what happens, the Great Master Builder is building a perfect “house” through your life. Isaiah 64:8, “…thou art the father; we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we all are the work of thy hand.” We all know that the potter molds the item on the potter’s wheel as he desires. How wonderful it is to realize that we are “rooted and built up in Him,….” Colossians 2:7a.

He has a plan for your life and mine. We are still “Under Construction.” We are truly thankfully that God is always at work in our lives, “He’s Still Working On Me!” And we are not complete until the Lord calls us Home!

 

HE’S STILL WORKING ON ME

WORDS & MUSIC: Joel Hemphill

Chorus: He’s still working on me

To make me what I need to be

It took him just a week to make the moon and stars

The sun and the earth and Jupiter and Mars

How loving and patient He must be

‘Cause He’s still workin’ on me

Verse 1

There really ought to be a sign upon my heart

Don’t judge him yet, there’s an unfinished part

But I’ll be better just according to His plan

Fashioned by the Master’s loving hands

Chorus

Verse 2

In the mirror of His word Reflections that I see

Make me wonder why He never gave up on me

But He loves me as I am and helps me when I pray

Remember He’s the potter; I’m the clay

Chorus

Heaven Is Where Home Is – Are you going there?


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During a recent trip back to Pennsylvania, I mentioned to my husband “that it seemed like we were home.” We were just north of Harrisburg and about seventy-five miles from Muncy. That is home. My husband said, “It seems like home because we are home.” Pennsylvania is our home state!

Home is a wonderful word and is used to describe many places in one’s lifetime. The place of one’s birth is home. Most people have several different homes because of job locations. My father was a pastor and Air Force chaplain; needless to say, we moved several times. Our Virginia Beach realtor was a navy wife. She had moved eighteen times in twenty years. Each place became home.

As we drove north along the beautiful Susquehanna River (once voted the most beautiful word in the English language), we talked of the Home of the Christian. Our eternal home is more than “where your heart is” or “where you hang your hat.” We are reminded that God has prepared a place for each one of His children. Someone said, “Heaven is a prepared place for a prepared people.”

John 14:1-6: Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. 2) In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 3) And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. 4) And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know. 5) Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way? 6) Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

Reader friend, no matter where you call “home,” be sure Heaven is your home. Home is not just where your heart is; it is where the Lord is. Maybe you are like the “Prodigal son” and have wandered far from home. You can read that story in Luke, chapter 15.

Home has many wonderful memories for most of us. The promise of a home in Heaven tops them all.

Jesus Loves Me


il_75x75_670085384_rafwYou may have heard of the 92 year old retired preacher that was invited back to preach one more time. The current pastor had requested that the older man tell the congregation what was the “greatest lesson ever learned” in 50 years of ministry. The speaker wanted to obey the request and needed to give it some serious thought.  After pondering the subject for a few days, he knew the answer without any doubt.

Sunday came, and the church was packed with excited people. The 92 year old man made his way to the pulpit. He announced the challenge he had been given by the current pastor.  He told the congregation that there was truly one thing or truth that had made not only a “difference” in his life, but it had sustained him through life.  Here was the lesson of 50 years of ministry: “Jesus loves me this I know. For the Bible tells me so. Little ones to Him belong. We are weak but He is strong… Yes, Jesus loves me…  The Bible tells me so.”

Can you say Jesus Loves Me? Have you trusted Him as your Saviour? “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)

If you are already a child of God, you might have known the answer in advance. The truth of God’s is a real blessing and brings joy to your life. Draw upon that truth today for your strength for the day. You may have an easy day, or maybe today will be a hard one for you. Either way, He is there for you.

If you have not been saved, you need to know that Jesus loves you and that He died for you. You can become a child of God and be included in the truth of the song. Remember; Jesus loves me this I know, for the BIBLE tells me so.  (No doubt, no questions, and no worry.)

“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13).

The Local Church


The Emmanuel Baptist Church of Williamsport, PA, just celebrated its 60th Anniversary on November 1, 2015.  I write about it today because of the need to persevere in the ministry.  We each have a ministry in this life. The local church is the base for that ministry to be accomplished.  Dr. G. Blair Hemans, my father, founded the church.

We served there as a family. We grew in the Lord and in sound doctrine. My husband, Carl, and son, Joel, were saved and baptized there.  We were called to full-time ministry there. It was truly a place of growth. Through my Father’s leadership, as he was lead by the Holy Spirit, the church became a place of growth for my family and others.

Just recently, we honored our Veterans on November 11, so I am inserting this short tribute to my father who served as a Chaplain during WWII: “I remember my father as a great man of character and a great man of God, a pastor of pastors! [Many Pastors in the area came for counseling.]….I remember my father on his knees beside his bed praying and our time of family devotions before going off to school….He served the Lord faithfully, preaching and teaching God’s Word….He faithfully visited and gave out God’s Word and always encouraged others to do what was right, to be faithful….He was very patriotic and served as a chaplain in World War II. Also, he taught in the Reserves until he died….On every special occasion, he flew the American flag in front of our home. He loved his country….I know he loved me and always wanted me to serve the Lord with all my heart! What a reunion we will have in Heaven! These are just a few reflections of a life dedicated to The Lord!  –Excerpts from ‘Reflections’ by my sister, Lydabelle Barrett (Missionary to Brazil), June 2014.”

In the local church we are to receive sound doctrine that we might grow thereby. To have correct biblical growth one must be taught sound doctrine.  One of the many duties of the pastor is given in 1 Timothy 4:6: “If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things, thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine, whereunto thou hast attained.” The entire chapter deals with many aspects of the total local church family.  Please take a moment to read the chapter.  Much is said about doctrine and the vital role it plays in the life of the Christian. Sound doctrine will keep you from wandering all over the vast field of false beliefs.

1 Peter 2:1-5: (1) “Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings, (2) As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby: (3) If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious. (4) To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious, (5) Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.” In verse 3: “If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious,” we see noted the graciousness of the Lord.  He has been gracious to the people of Emmanuel Baptist Church in Williamsport, PA. Pastor Everett Bixler and Pastor David Bixler and their families have faithfully carried on the torch at Emmanuel.

I am thankful that my family still continues in ministry at Tabernacle Baptist Church, Virginia Beach, VA. We have sound doctrinal preaching, and we hear the full “counsel of God” from the pulpit.  It is impossible to overstate the value of the local church and sound doctrine in the Christian life.  Ephesians 1:12: “That we should be to the praise of His glory, who first trusted in Christ.”

We were thankful that our son, Joel, and his wife, Jackey, were able to be at Emmanuel’s 60th Anniversary; representing our entire family. Joel was able to say a few words in the morning service and the afternoon service. Also the church skyped an afternoon service from the church in Brazil where Larry and Lydabelle (sister) and their families are serving the Lord ministering to the folks there!

Watch, therefore!


hourglassThis past Sunday morning, September 13th (which was my father’s birthdate), all the hymns for the morning service were about the coming of the Lord! “Jesus Is Coming Again,” “He Is Coming Again,” and “Christ Returneth!” It brought back a memory of my father when I was very young! My dad was a chaplain in the Air Force (WW2) and had been gone overseas in the European Theater; it seemed to me it was forever! During the time he was overseas, I used to look into the skies, and when I saw the clouds formed like a herd of sheep, I thought maybe it was this day, my dad would come back! Every day I would check the skies! Then one day, we got word that my dad was coming back! The day he was to arrive, my brother, Blair, ran to the corner near the entrance of the housing complex in Darby, PA, where we lived. I stood at the next corner closer to our home (maybe because I was too young to get out of my mother’s view), and, of course, my mother was standing in the doorway of our home! I could see both Blair and my mother from my view. We were diligently looking for a taxi that he would be riding in! When it turned into our area, they stopped and picked Blair up, and then when they got to me, they picked me up! What a joyful reunion we had!

This story brings to my mind the question, are we looking diligently for our Lord and Saviour to return? 1 Thessalonians 4:16, “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:” The chorus to “Jesus Is Coming Again” makes it clear, it may be today! “Coming again, Coming again, May be morning, May be noon, May be evening and may be soon! Coming again, Coming again; O what a wonderful day it will be – Jesus is coming again!” Are you ready for His return?

If not, follow the Romans’ Road:

Romans 3:10 As it is written, there is none righteous, no, not one;

Romans 3:23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;

Romans 5:12 Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned;

Romans 6:23a For the wages of sin is death; Romans 6:23b but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord;

Romans 5:8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us;

Romans 10:13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

SO KEEP YOUR EYE ON THE EASTERN SKY!

For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.” Matthew 24:27

What the Bible says about the return of Christ: 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, 1 Corinthians 15:51-57, Acts 1:11, Titus 2:13, 1 Peter 3:3-4,8-13, 1 John 3:2-3, Luke 21:25-28, Matthew 24:3-14, Matthew 24:27,29-31, Matthew 24:36-44, 2 Timothy 3:1-5, 1 Timothy 4:1-3, 2 Timothy 4:1-8, Matthew 24:34, John 14:1-4.

Summer Fun and Learning about God’s Creation


hay_ride“I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.” Psalm 139:14

It was my joy and great experience to visit my grandfather’s farm in northwest Pennsylvania during the summers. The few trips were in the 1940s. Usually Grandfather was not there as he was pastoring at a church outside the city of Pittsburgh, PA. My Mother, my brother Blair, and I would go to the farm with my Aunt Ethel (Hemans) Pripton, Uncle John Pripton, and their son, Jack. There was another Uncle Almer (Hemans) along, and he was a science teacher. This was not a working farm so under the supervision of Uncle Almer, we helped out (and got paid a small sum) on a friend’s vegetable stand! At the end of a long day of work, we swam in the nearby “Little Shenago River.” It was on the farm that I learned that WWII was over and that my Father would come home. He served as a Chaplain in the war overseas.

We attended the Hadley yearly Carnival, and we went to a Hemans Family reunion there once while we were there on the Farm. All of this was mixed with more time at the swimming hole and some rather wild rides down the hill on an old, large wagon. Uncle Almer, along with two of his children our ages, took us on exciting trips into the little towns and the wooded areas. On these trips we learned about some of the wonderful creatures formed by the hand of God. He knew about trees, animals, birds, vegetation, and we even made a moss garden in a round glass container. We thought Uncle Almer knew just about everything. He was a wise and learned man, and he knew Christ as his Saviour.

I was privileged to have Uncle Almer connect this wonderful Creation to God. As a child about ten years old, I loved those exciting days on the farm. I also believe that it was partly through the influence of my uncle, I too became much more interested in the wonderful works of the Lord in Creation, and it was a factor in my vocation as a Medical Technologist. I am thankful that I trusted Christ as my Saviour at a young age and have had the joy of serving Him in local churches that we have attended. I trust you are in a Bible preaching church. “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.” Hebrews 10:25 (1) We need to assemble in church to learn; (2) we need to encourage others to come to church to learn. And (3) it might be that especially during this time of year, we can stop and look to see the miracle of God’s creation all around us.

You’re Headed There and Someone is Leading You


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The Bible speaks of the “saved and the lost.” That is people who have received Christ by faith as their Savior and those who have not yet received Him as Savior. By now, you have no doubt determined your status. We are all on the path of life and being lead by someone or something. I want to establish my point that one must be led by the teaching of the Bible and a solid Bible preacher/teacher. We are warned in Col. 2:8 that the world is full of teachers who teach only “philosophy, vain deceit, traditions of men and the rudiments of the world and not after Christ.”  The number of people that have been led astray over the centuries by these careless, false, self-seeking teachers is astronomical.

Let me rehearse for you the Jim Jones story from Guyana in 1978. This charismatic, self centered leader/preacher led some nine hundred people to their death. The dead bodies consisted of men, women, and children. He preyed on a certain type person that had an obvious need. He, through all the things mentioned above, lured these people into his inescapable web. He trained them to drink a poisoned kool-aid. He was their leader. He told them he had the truth. They followed a phony.

There are many wonderful, sound Bible preachers and teachers in the world, and I was privileged to have a father who was one of them. I want to share five things I have been taught during my earthly pilgrimage. Psalm 23:1, “The Lord is my shepherd.”  He will take care of me.  2 Timothy 2:15, “Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workmen that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of truth.”  2 Thessalonians 3:3, “But the Lord is faithful, who shall stablish you, and keep you from evil.” Colossians 3:2, “Set you affection on things above, not on things on the earth.” Philippians 2:5, “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.”

The Bible is so rich in teaching us what to believe and how to live. I am not sure where you are today nor do I know whom you follow. I would offer you the Bible to read and follow. It will never lead you astray, but it will lead you to Christ and a productive, God blessed life.

Hide and Seek


24627063-mother-hen-with-its-baby-chickenPs 17:6 “I have called upon thee, for thou wilt hear me, O God: incline thine ear unto me, and hear my speech.”

One of the fun games of my childhood was “hide and seek.”  The game is simple and may have a variety of names.  One person designated as “IT” was at a sort of home base and with eyes closed counted to 100 by 5s, while everyone else ran and hid.  With a warning of “here I come, ready or not” the designated person would begin a search for and attempt to catch his hidden friends.  If the “IT” person could catch anyone before they got to the home base, he was no longer “IT,” and now he could hide. The goal was to arrive at the base without being caught.  The game was a lot of fun, and we played it for hours.  Life is not a game, and our God hides us and keeps us safe so we are not caught by the enemy of our soul.

There are two conditions in Psalm 17:8.  One is keep me; the other is hide me.  The writer David is asking God to do both. He does not want to get caught by the one chasing him. Let’s look at “keep me.” What does he mean and to what extent is he kept?  David asked to be kept or guarded as the apple of the eye. We all guard/protect our eyes.  It is never easy to submit for eye tests.  We tend to pull back from that big apparatus the eye doctor uses to look at our eyes.

There is a guard about you today that allows no penetration of the enemy.  David is not making an unreasonable request. On the contrary, it is God’s delight to protect His child.  There is no breaching of the fold where He keeps His sheep. Lets learn to trust Him who alone has the watch care of our soul.  Each of us has some understanding of the need to protect our eyes. We do not play games with the safety of our eyes.  The keeping of your soul is not a game to God though it is His delight.

The second idea is “hide me” under the shadow of thy wings.  No doubt you have seen or heard about the mother hen who gathers her little ones under her wing for safe keeping.  The ability of God to hide us from our enemy is similar.  The idea here is that we are covered as we are hidden and thus protected.  We are covered with “the Blood,” if you please.  There is great saving power in the blood as there is great keeping power.  Psalm 31:20 states that the hiding takes place in the secret of His presence.  Psalm 32:7 says “Thou art my hiding place thou will preserve me from all trouble.”

I am thankful for childhood memories but I am much more thankful for the keeping and hiding power of God.  Ps. 119:114 “Thou art my hiding place….”