Mag's Thoughts

Joy Inside

"I will be filled with joy because of you. I will sing praises to your name, O Most High." Psalm 9:2

Sometimes we Christians look to the world for our joy even though the world today is confusing and uncertain.  We, as Christians, must understand that true joy comes from a relationship with our Creator.  Our reactions to the world is measured by our relationship with God.  In times of chaos in our world we have opportunity to express our joy because we have a joy that transcends  the world. This is realized in our treatment of others,  our reactions to events, and our ability to reflect God's glory in all things.   Indeed, this requires intimate commune with our God.  When others are sad, angry, confused, lost, we have  opportunity to show and share the joy of knowing our Lord and Savior. We must  share  the love of our God through His Son, Jesus Christ. That is our joy!




A New History

I put the following  verse on Facebook this morning as was reading in Galatians, and this verse stood out on the page. This afternoon I picked up a textbook for a seminary class that I took led by our pastor, Dr. Tony Taylor. I started rereading "Theology, Death and Dying" by Ray S. Anderson.

Galatians 2:20 ESV
I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

As I read my textbook, these words also seemed written for me today. I will be 75 in 2 weeks. I am a healthy 75 year old, but I know I have less years here on earth than when I was born in 1945. Let us go straight to the text and then explain a bit more.

"The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ affects our life and death by placing us within the context of a new history of life and death which extends through death to eternal life with God...The New Testament's answer to the problem of our death is that the victory over death was achieved in the resurrection of Jesus..."

We have a new history that begins with our earthly death and it is an eternal life in the presence of Almighty God! This eternal life extended forever is difficult for our human minds to understand sometimes. Our trust in a perfect God, acceptance of the work Christ did on the cross for each of us, and our Living Christ living within us is the proof. God's Word is the truth and the change within us is proof.

Romans 8:9-11 ESV

You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.

So much of 2020 has been confusing, but God's love exemplified in Jesus Christ as we learned  in John 3:16 as a child is not. I live each day on earth thankful for another day and have a living hope for that moment when life ends here and begins with God. That living hope is not sad or morbid as it fills the heart with anticipation. In days like we have recently experienced, that hope trancends the comfusion.


My Testimony

When I was about 9, our pastor and his wife, Dr. and Mrs Carlton, took me to San Jacinto Monument for a Sunday afternoon picnic. Dr. Carlton taught at the seminary, and he was an interim pastor at my church.  They were older (my age now), and were like another set of grandparents.

That day was life-changing for me. I loved ice cream, so they bought me a double scoop from the vendors, after going up in the Monument ( I loved history even then).  We sat under the low oak trees at a picnic table. Mrs. Carlton began to talk to me about what having and knowing  Jesus meant. She spoke softly as she told me that just going to church with Mama was not enough. She and Dr. Carlton quoted John 3:16 and prayed with me.  I asked Jesus into my heart right then under the moss-covered oak trees. I understood as a 9 year old, but  I knew my life would be different.  You see my Mom and my Grannie had read their Bibles to me and prayed for me.  My redheaded Mom had asked the Carltons to talk to me.

At age 14, I went to church youth camp at Glorietta and felt very strongly the call to serve my Lord in ministry.  Life happened and I took many detours as I married and gave birth to two precious daughters. As a military wife, those first years were filled with moves, diapers, devestating illnesses with our precious babies, and military life with new friends in far places. As the girls matured into beautiful young ladies, I began to serve as a Sunday School teacher, Vacation Bible School director, church secretary, missions director, extended coordinator, and Christ Kids University (bus ministry) director, but God kept reminding me of my promise and my dream.

Life again took a dramatic turn as our girls married and started their careers. In 2001, our precious Sarah died. I lived in a deeply dark place for months, as we all did. God, however, had a plan, and I made a promise...had a dream. My Lord showed me how all things work for His glory in this finite life on earth (Romans 8:28). My sweet man and my two precious daughters, Sarah and Larah, always encouraged and cheered me on as I sought to accomplish my dreams. I ran races, raced bicycles, and raced motorcycles, but there was a dream and a promise still unfinished, a race incomplete.

We moved to Hilltop Lakes, and God kept reminding me in so many ways about that promise. I taught school at Normangee High School and saw many of my students continue their education, dream big dreams, and fulfil their calling in life. I was a proud teacher; I loved my kids! There was joy as a teacher, but a personal dream and a promise still remained in my heart.

In 2014,  I received a master's degree from seminary and began what I do now, serving as an assistant pastor. What joy I feel every day. I am seeing a promise become reality and am blessed by my Heavenly Father beyond measure. There was a dream I had, however, not realized quite yet.  I completed a doctorate only with God's strength, a very patient and sweet husband. and much mentoring by my pastor. A dream fulfilled, but God was not through with me. When our Sarah died, God gave me a deeper understanding of how He walks with us through grief (Psalm 23:4). He also gave me an awareness of the struggles that families face in caregiving. God does use our life lessons, struggles, despair, mountaintops and dreams for His glory. That is exactly why we are on this earth as His children. We are to reflect His glory, realize the plans He has for us, live boldly for Christ, tell the Good News, and preach the Gospel of our Lord and Savior!

Our Lord is never done with us as we have a mission here on earth and an infinite life with Him to come. How sweet that will be. We may grow older and our bodies may age, but we always have a place in God's Kingdon to serve, to pray, to glorify Jesus.

I am fixing to be 75; my goodness that was quick!  There is no joy like the joy of embracing Jesus Christ as your king and serving our Lord and Savior. I thank my mighty God that I have a living hope, realized and guaranteed in heaven by Jesus!
1 Peter 1:3-9

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