Hope found in a Savior

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The faithful love of the Lord never ends!
    His mercies never cease.
Great is his faithfulness;
    his mercies begin afresh each morning.
I say to myself, “The Lord is my inheritance;
    therefore, I will hope in him!”

Lamentations 3:22-24 (NLT)

Welcome to Advent season. The Refining Ministry is excited to offer an online study this year to devote intentional time focusing on the hope, joy, peace, and love found in Christ Jesus. Our kickoff began last night. We will continue this study for the next three weeks on Sunday afternoons at 4:30 p.m. (CST).

Have you ever had a time in life when you felt hopeless? Maybe after a loss, accident, broken relationship, or completely spent because of life. During these times, we desperately search for a sustaining solution. We cry out for something beyond encouragement-we need hope within our soul to give us a glimpse of better days ahead.

Not much has changed in over 20 centuries-humans continue to have problems. In fact, I would dare to say the advancement of technology has increased the numerous issues for society. However, regardless of the challenges we face or not, each one of us need hope-a hope beyond what the world can supply.

Prior to the birth of Christ, the world waited expectantly for a redemptive King, one who would impart a resolution for their craving of nourishing hope. They never imagined Emmanuel would enter the world during a wintry darkness let alone as a baby in a humble manager. BUT GOD-He fulfilled all needs and delivered an enduring gift which would rescue everyone from sin and unrighteousness.

The Messiah came to provide hope, joy, peace, and love through His redemptive gift of salvation. God’s exceedingly great love embodied in Christ Jesus extended a way for us to be with God now and forever if we so choose. Emmanuel, being fully God, became fully human, to live among us, and die in a humiliating fashion as a sacrifice of love. Wow-what amazing hope we have because of the price Jesus paid.

Derwin Gray describes Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross as the greatest gift—God’s presence on the tree. I cannot think of a grander act in all the world that can truly supply enduring hope than what was displayed by our sacrificial King. For all who believe, Christ is a vivid ray of hopefulness. We have so much to look forward to-the second coming-eternal life with God.

May your confidence in the Lord grow this Christmas season. Through His presence and promises, may you find great expectations for better days ahead. Let the hope found through the gift of Jesus deliver strength to face any issues at hand. Together, we pray for God to fill our hearts with optimism and encouragement as we journey through daily life.

Let us end with a prayer of Hope:

Heavenly Father, thank you for being our living hope. As the Advent season begins, we come to you in need of hope. Lord, we need your endless hope for many areas in our lives. Lord, we have feelings of sorrow, depression, anxiety, fear, health concerns, and so much more, but today, we intentional pause and lay these issues at your feet. Help us to cling to your unfailing love.

Father God, empower us with your hope. Fill us to overflowing so we may reflect Your hope for the world to see. We are so grateful for you being our only hope. May we always remember You are our hope-yesterday-today-and forever. We love you LORD. Amen.

Advent Study!

For unto us is born a Savior, who is Christ the KING!

As Christmas approaches, the signs of it’s coming glisten our lives from beautiful sights and scrumptious smells to the hustle and bustle throughout the town. The world comes alive and goes to tremendous lengths to expose their expectancy of Christmas. No one can deny that the holiday preparation is in the air when the eagerness of the season begins. (Sometimes as early as October!)

Adventus, the Latin word for “coming” or “arrival”, seems quite fitting when Christmas countdown launches. Trees adorned within each house, lights shining brightly outside, extra goodies stocked in the pantry, and gifts waiting to be given. The time has come once again to embrace hot chocolate, pumpkin, peppermint, holiday spirits, cookies, cranberries, and lots of enticing material items. Let the Christmas celebration begin!

For years the world anticipated the day when the promise of deliverance would come to pass. They waited anxiously for the King who would be the ultimate gift of salvation. The world looked forward to the coming of the Savior. The day when He would give up His glory, walk this earth as a man, and become the eternal sacrificial lamb. It was God’s pledge because of His great love.

The “arrival” of the Messiah was completed through the birth of baby Jesus. Each Christmas we get the opportunity to pause and reflect upon this precious offering. Yet, it is also a time to be thankful for the redemption we find through Him, and look forward with anticipation for the second coming of the LORD.

This Christmas, the Refining ministry welcomes you to experience the presence of God through an Advent study. We invite you to join us as we intentionally prepare our hearts for the season by taking a closer look to the hope, joy, peace, and above all love found in Christ Jesus.

Come join us as we declare together, “No greater gift has been given than the redemption presented through this marvelous Messiah, our Savior and King.”

Email refiningjourney@gmail.com for the details. Kickoff will begin online Monday, November 29th at 6:00 pm (CST). You don’t want to miss this one!!!

How Visual Bible Intake Changed My Life

Wow! What an amazing fall day we are experiencing here. Crisp air, warm sun, slight breeze, and brilliant colors. It is days like these I want to capture and relive over and over because of the peace it seems to stir within my soul. The calmness of the weather washes over me in such a way that it fills me with tranquility despite any of life’s storms fulminating around me or within. Funny how quickly days like these can be wiped away when the 50 mph winds begin to blow and the temperatures drop into the single digits. This glorious day becomes an extreme distant memory I can barely revive.

When I encounter days like today, it brings me back to a time in my life where I desperately needed to encounter God and His Word differently. I longed to find true peace, joy, harmony, and calmness. I wanted it so infused into my veins that it would never leave my thoughts. There was a deep desire to seize the goodness of the LORD in such a way that I could seriously retain what the Father revealed to me through His Word.  

That was three years ago! In 2018, God opened the doors to many things and the Holy Spirit revealed a way for me to go beyond my stagnant spiritual intake. It took me getting really honest with the LORD and confessing my issues. (I had a lot & still do, my friend) Permit me to share one of the biggest issues.

Have you ever attended a Bible study, sermon series, or studied a book of the Bible and in the midst of it been blessed beyond measure? I know I have over and over. That feeling is like experiencing the most impeccable day. You feel empowered and encouraged. It always fired me up for the next book, sermon, bible study, etc.

However, for me, months down the road I could only say, “Yes, that was a good study.” I could not truly verbalize my take away or seem to pinpoint the personal message for me. The only recollect was “it was good while it lasted”-much like a triple chocolate ice cream cone with a dark chocolate shell on a hot summer’s day. I felt like I was just going through the motions and then forgetting the goodness of God and His promises.

Now let me be very transparent, this journey hasn’t been easy but God answered my request. He has gently and ever so patiently been revealing ways for me to visualize my relationship with Him. The LORD has shown me methods to remember beyond the sermon, book study, etc. and how to hold myself accountable. He has given me a beautiful gift beyond my wildest imagination. I am slowly learning to infuse more of Him into my daily living while leaving a visual legacy of my relationship with the LORD for generations to come.

The Refining Ministry will be sharing these simple, creative techniques through workshops and retreats in 2022. We are super excited about the new year and what God has in store. Let us show you how your individual Bible intake can be memorable through fresh and creative means.  Be on the lookout for details coming your way in January.  

November Online Study-Malachi

Come join a three week study over Malachi! Let us show you how to enhance your Bible intake.

Only one hour once a week for three weeks! Send us an email and let us know you are interested: refiningjourney@gmail.com.

You will be glad you did.

Relationship Advice from Jesus

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Our Father which art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.

We all have various relationships-those which we inherited, those which we chose, those which were chosen for us, or simply those which just happened by chance. I dare to say, we all probably have one or two which we might still fantasize over because the connection never blossomed the way we hoped. But oh, the joy that comes from those precious relationships we hold near and dear. And how do they become the side of the coin where we say “Heads-I win”? Time-Conversations-Togetherness-Listening-Etc… What are your thoughts?

The Lord’s Prayer was given to us by Jesus as a roadmap to building the best relationship we could ever have-a connection with God. Our Savior did not set out for this to be a recited prayer as we know it today. In Matthew chapter 6, we find the building blocks to establishing a strong connection. It is His directives for us to carry out when seeking the most fulfilling relationship we could ever have – a personal connection with God.

Jesus wanted us to know how to start a quality relationship. As with anyone, it begins with sturdy framework. The LORD shows us over and over that relationships incorporate things like a desire to love unconditionally, to give of one’s self, and to be committed regardless of what comes. Jesus conveyed the elements of this foundation through the main concepts we find in the Lord’s Prayer.

Jesus tells us -like every conversation we have- we must recognize who we are in conversation with. When we call 1-800-heaven let us remember we are talking with the Creator of the universe who cares for each one of us. This is no ordinary person. This is GOD! But in all relationships, we need to really know who we are connecting with and that takes dedication.

Relationships require intimacy and genuine care for each other (even the junk which comes with it-good days & bad). Remember, not everyone wants to get into the nitty gritty depth so they will only want a surface level connection. However, unlike some of our earthly relationships, God wants to be intimately involved in every part of our life. He cares for each one of us. He truly listens to us. Yes, even in our ranting and raging moments or when we are caught up in sin, God hears us, sees us, and loves us. That’s why Jesus advices us to pray for God’s plans will be worked out in our life (“your will be done”), and to bring even the most mundane matters of everyday living into our conversation with Him (“give us today our daily bread”).

Next, we want our relationships to be free of any barriers or miscommunication. Same with our LORD. That is why Jesus directs us to look at our sin. This three letter word is a roadblock between us and God and between us and others. Our Father wants us to have a heart willing to confess and repent our sins (“forgive us our debts”) and to forgive those who have wronged us (“as we also have forgiven our debtors”). In Matthew 6:14-15, the Bible highlights the significance of forgiveness and how important it is to extend mercy to those who have hurt us.

Finally, God wants us to live free from the painful consequences of sinful choices. We pray “lead us not into temptation” because we need His strength and assistance to keep us from temptation. Is it nice to know He has our back and promises to never leave us nor forsake us. God cares about us and wants us to live in community with one another. We are all His children and He is our ultimate Father. Yes, He wants us to live as one big happy family.

There is great value in relationships and may I dare to say abundant knowledge in all: precious or a struggle. Listen, our Lord didn’t intend for us to walk this pathway alone. That is why He is always with us and is open to hear what we have to say. But He wants us to live in relationship with others.

So take a moment and think about all the relationships in your life. How does God want your half of all relationships to look?

Let us be encouraged to embrace God’s method and be devoted for a lifetime to extend mercy, forgiveness, understanding, gentleness, kindness, hope, encouragement, joy, and most of all love to every relationship we have been gifted. May we be encouraged to not only make our time on earth matter, but chose for our lives to be a radiant beam of outstanding love so those after us will be encouraged to do the same.

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