Imagine a New Life

Yesterday morning in church, we sang a medley of songs about heaven as well as grace. While singing, my mind pondered how freeing it is to live a life indelibly marked by God’s grace. None of us deserve God’s grace. Maybe as a believer in Jesus, you have wondered where you would be if it had not been for the Lord. I often do. Then other times, when aware of my sin nature, the idea of God’s grace made known to me causes me to want to weep, and sometimes I do. If you are a believer in Jesus, surely you know and experience the grace of God daily!

He cares so deeply for His children, and His love is boundless and inexhaustible, unfathomable.

With all the uncertainty in this world, the lack of peace has caused many who don’t know Jesus to at least wonder how to make sense of it all. Surely, observing the events would shake one’s soul and cause questions to swirl. I’m wondering if you are in that state now, would you be looking for peace?

The One that lives inside me is the only One that’s been able to give my life

peace,

purpose,

and a plan.

He is my stability, my Rock, and my Home. This all-encompassing God also has a place reserved for me in Heaven. I know this for certain, and it’s not because of anything I’ve done. It’s actually because of everything He did for me when He died on the cross. Then when I made the choice to receive His gift of salvation, certainty and assurance became my eternal hope.

 I don’t deserve this one bit.

It certainly isn’t because I’m a good person or because of any good works I’ve done.

I am not a good person, nor do I have to do good works to earn this salvation.
Any good coming from me is Jesus inside me, and the good works are done only because I love Him.
Earning my salvation is not needed.
My faith is in the person of Jesus, not a religion. This keeps me from becoming callous to the world and its troubles.

In fact, my heart is more tender to this world and prayer is my response.

Certainly, I’ve decided to follow Jesus which means my life is directed to being part of the solution to the worlds ills. But my hope and peace are not found in this world. So how does one find this peace?

These verses explain how to find peace with God.

John 3:16&17- “For God so loved the world, that He gave his only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him.

John 14:6- Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

Romans 3:23-for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…

Romans 6:23- For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is
eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Ephesians 2:8-9 – I mean that you have been saved by grace through believing. You did not save yourselves; it was a gift from God. 9 It was not the result of your own efforts, so you cannot brag about it.

Acts 2:21 – And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.

I Corinthians 3:16 – Do you not know that you are God’s temple and the Spirit of God dwells in you?

If you believe what you’ve just read, then you can ask Jesus to live in your heart and He will. It is the best decision you will ever make. You can pray something like this and Jesus will hear you and by His Spirit come live in your heart.

Dear God, I know through your son Jesus, I can have forgiveness of my sin. I know I need you. I believe Jesus is God’s son. I believe Jesus died on the cross for my sin. I believe God raised Jesus from the dead. Because He lives, I can live too. I receive Jesus as my Lord and Savior now. Please forgive my sin, and by the power of the Holy Spirit, help me to follow you faithfully all the days of my life. Amen.

Please leave a comment below to tell your story of when you became a follower of Jesus. Or, leave a comment if you just began that journey.

If you did decide to follow Jesus, begin reading the Bible. Ask God’s Holy Spirit to give you understanding and begin to obey what you read. Contact another Christian and share your decision. Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you to a church family who believes in the Bible as God’s Holy Word, who worships the triune God in all its purpose, and who values the growth of Christian character found in the person of Christ.

©Valerie Rumfelt

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The Security of the Believer

I remember pedaling down our street and my daddy holding on to my bike seat. The training wheels had come off, and here we were, working together to take it to the next level. Now, I can’t tell you if I was hollering, “Daddy, let go!” or, “Daddy, don’t let go!” I just know my daddy was right there running and exerting all the encouragement he had to release me into the world of childhood biking. I worked with him while wondering if the bike would continue on wheels or if I and the bike would end up sprawled on the asphalt.

Later I would make more memories of me careening down hills without holding the handlebars embracing my play life on wheels. My daddy knew those days would come, but I didn’t. Perhaps he thought, ” I don’t want to let go of my sweet girl.” Who knows? But to this day, it is a vivid memory of growth and faith, and dependence on my dad.

Now while that’s a sweet memory of my dad holding on to me, his power was limited. He couldn’t hold me forever. He had to release me, and I had to have faith that I was going to stay up on those wheels. My faith was in my dad and my ability, both limited.

But when you become a child of God, that means you placed your faith in God. God. Omnipotent. Omnipresent. Omniscient. God.

He is not going to let you go, not one time. As a fact, He can’t. It is not in His nature to be faithless. (2 Timothy 2:13) . When you ask Jesus to save you, He saves you and keeps you. It is His responsibility to hold you forever. He will not let you go. You can rest in His powerful work in your life at the point of salvation. The triune God, the Maker of heaven and earth, is faithful and will never let you out of His hand(John 10:27-29). You can know He lives inside you forever if you’ve asked Him to.

It is not necessary that you continue to ask Him to. He is God, and He is able to keep you(Jude 24). Anything you think you might contribute to your salvation, you don’t. You received Him by faith (Ephesians 2:8-9), and there’s no work you can do to keep Him. He is keeping you. He did the work on the cross, and if you are His child because you have decided to be, then He is keeping you now.

If in a season of doubt, take some time and write the verses listed below and repeat them, memorize them, and pray them back to God with confidence and thanksgiving. Peace and confidence will be restored in the person of Christ, the One who saved you.

One side issue: If you are in a season of disobedience, this can cause you to doubt your salvation. As you grow in your faith, your behavior won’t trigger you to question your salvation. You will learn to trust Him. You will remember your salvation does not depend on you. You will discover your faith is in the person of Christ, not your changing feelings. But you should confess your sin to Him if you feel distant. It is always we who move away from God, not Him from us. He wants to have full, restored fellowship with you, and sin gets in the way. Confess your sin immediately, and walk in obedience again(I John 1:9).

Be sure you have time with God every day, preferably in the morning. This gives you the time to confess your sin, reflect on who He is, get solutions to your problems, build the faith you need to let God do His work in your life, and give you the strength to obey Him.

So whether you are a new Christian or one in a season of doubt, or you’ve been a Christian for decades, here is a list of verses you can put your hope in, memorize, write down, pass on or hand them out to your Sunday school class, small group, or someone you are working with.

  • I John 5:11-13 – And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.
  • John 1:12 – Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in His Name, He gave the right to become children of God –
  • John 10:27-29 – Jesus answered, ” My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand.
  • Jude 24 – To Him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before His glorious presence without finding fault and with great joy.”
  • Romans 8:38&39 “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

*If your thoughts are not doubts but conviction and an invitation by the Holy Spirit to accept Jesus by faith, then read the link below for more information.*

Let me know your thoughts.

©Valerie Rumfelt

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Are You On Your Way to Heaven?

Have you wondered how to get to heaven? Many people have ideas about getting to heaven. The sources for information that are readily available many times are the ones least likely to have the answers you’re looking for.

 There is an idea out there that if one has not offended humanity in some overt way, then heaven is surely possible. This is a popular belief of our day. Good works is a gospel quite prevalent in many religious sects. One must abide by a set of rules or do many works. This will surely reserve one’s place in heaven. The perpetrator of these lies leading people to hell is the enemy of our souls. The Bible says the devil, a predator, roams around seeking who he may devour (I Peter 5:8). He is successful in leading millions to believe in these ideas or others. Each of these mentioned is putting trust in oneself for salvation. It seems like a glance at humanity could bring an intelligent conclusion that salvation surely does not come from within the heart of humanity. But the enemy is vicious and clever, so the lies perpetuate from one generation to the next.

The Bible is clear that our works do not get us to heaven (Ephesians 2:8-9). We will express our faith through works once we are saved by faith in Jesus, but that is a compelling expression of our love and service to Jesus and His church, not out of obligation. The Bible is clear that no one is good, so all our sin is an offense to God (Romans 3:10-12). We all sin (Romans 3:23).

Many are missing the best information. There is only one way to fix the human heart. God made us in His image (Genesis 1:27), and He desires for us to know Him. God loves us. He loved us so much that He sent His one and only Son to die so we could have eternal life(John 3:16). Because there is only one way, there is no guessing. Jesus stated in John 14:6, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life, no one comes to the Father except through me.” The statement is clear and spoken with authority by the One and Only One who can provide the way. The only way to God is through Jesus.

The world religions make it complicated and exhausting to get to God. Thank God for Jesus!. Jesus never sinned. This fact made Him the perfect sacrifice. In John 1:29, John the Baptist said, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” The purpose is clear why Jesus came to earth. Jesus came to take away our sin. Because He never sinned, He could take our sin. He bore our sin when He bled and died on the cross. Because our sin is an offense to Him, we cannot get to heaven because no sin is in heaven. We have to be righteous, and when we receive Jesus, then His righteousness covers us, and we are declared righteous.

Jesus made the way for everyone to come to God through Him. Although He provided the way with His flesh and blood sacrifice, not everyone will choose Him. It is a personal choice that every person on the planet, past, present, and future, must make. What to do with Jesus? Those who choose Him can know that His resurrection ensures resurrected life for them too. The assurance is when He returns, every person who has put their faith in Him will be resurrected, whether in the grave or still alive (John 14:1-3).

Some people reject Jesus in their last bitter breath. Some receive Him in their last believing breath. But everyone will decide. It is not an objective decision. It is not an arbitrary decision. Philippians 2 tells us that one day every knee will bow. Every tongue will confess when Jesus comes again. What you find the hardest to do now will be forced out of you because no one will be able to be in His presence, see His presence, or know the reality of His coming without being in submission. But it will be too late at that moment. Every human on the planet, past, present, and future, has to decide whether they will make that choice now. Now is the time. It will be too late the moment you die or the moment He appears. Now is the time.

I’ve included verses that will help you ponder so great a salvation. The most important decision you can make now is what to do with God’s Son, Jesus.

As you read these verses, I pray that you will believe these verses. I pray you will receive Jesus as your Savior. Jesus is the only One who ever claimed to be God. In John 10:30, Jesus said, “I and the Father are one.” This so clearly declared Jesus is God. This is a life-changing statement of truth. Only Jesus could state this.

Please read and ponder these verses today. Jesus is the only way to God. I hope you decide to receive Jesus and claim Him as Lord of your life. He is so wonderful. He will be your dearest friend every day of your life. You will find His friendship the best and His love for you dear and kind. He is worthy of trust, and He has a plan for your life that you would never think of on your own. If you decide to follow Him, you will wonder what took you so long. I know others who would agree with me about this. Please give your heart and life to Jesus today. I’ve never heard anyone say they regret it. Jesus is the way to heaven, and once you know Him, your place is reserved.

If you are reading this and already have this relationship with Jesus, then please share this post with someone you know who needs to know how to get to heaven.

How to get to heaven:

John 3:16 & 17- “For God so loved the world, that He gave his only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him.

Romans 3:23-for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…

Romans 6:23- For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is
eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Ephesians 2:8-9 – I mean that you have been saved by grace through believing. You did not save yourselves; it was a gift from God. 9 It was not the result of your own efforts, so you cannot brag about it.

Acts 2:21 – And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.

John 11:25 – Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me, even if he dies, will live.

Romans 10:9 – If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

Years ago, my husband and I shared this wonderful news with a group and when we led them to consider these truths, one man declared aloud to his wife, “Now we know how to get to heaven.” This man was around 90 years of age. The Lord was merciful to him and let him live long enough to believe and receive Jesus in his heart. Maybe wherever you are now, you too will receive this wonderful gift of grace, given freely by Jesus, the Son of God.

Now is the time. May today be the day you can say with assurance, “Now I know how to get to heaven.”

These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life.

I John 5:13

© Valerie Rumfelt

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When God Has You in a Place

Do you remember a time when you thought you needed something and it didn’t come? Maybe it was a report from the doctor, a friend to show up, for a situation to end, for a situation to begin, or a hug. But it didn’t come. What did you do? Did you cry? Did you pray? Did you question God? Did you harden your heart? Did you praise God? Did you give thanks to God? Did you complain to others or to God? What did you do?

Sometimes God has you in a place. Sometimes that place has no door for exit and no window for hope. What do you do? What can you do?

There’s a sense of powerlessness. Whatever you desire is not in your control to fix or attain. You can’t push things along. You can’t escape.

God has you in a place, and you are forced to do things His way. You are forced to beg him for His intervention. You are forced to seek His perspective. You are forced to praise Him. You are forced to give Him thanks. 

Not too long after you begin to be honest with God and you quit carrying the desire, burden, need, hope, or longing, then you realize there is a burden bearer. There is a caregiver for your soul. There is a tear wiper and a compassionate ear. Even though He may seem silent, He is not inattentive. He is present.

When was the last time you poured out your heart to God? When was the last time you gave up being strong? When was the last time you went to your knees in surrender?

For the follower of Christ, this is where Christianity is proven. These are the places where no human can fulfill. You may know that God doesn’t even want you to share this with another human. It’s just you talking to Him. You didn’t think He was enough. You thought you needed a friend. A human. He is teaching you that HE is enough. He is your best friend. He is the one who can fix, fulfill, and fan into flame whatever the plan is. No matter how long you have to wait. Even if you don’t see Him do anything. Even if what you thought you needed never happens.

I could tell you what the Bible says about how valuable giving thanks is, being content, how He gives perseverance, how He gives strength to the weary, and so on. If you are a follower of Christ, you are familiar with all these promises. It’s your choice to cling to them.

What you may not be familiar with is waiting the way He wants you to wait. We will do most anything other than wait well. It seems so counterintuitive. But that is where the presence of God is. It’s that still, silent place, sometimes full of peace, sometimes uncomfortable.

Let’s not rush the process and ruin His plans with our own plan. He is a God of love who longs to give His children good things. Wait.

“Waiting silently is the hardest thing of all.”

Elisabeth Elliot

©Valerie Rumfelt

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Destinations Matter

For a decade or more, my husband and I led a Bible study in an apartment complex community room every Tuesday night. The gathering was part of our weekly life, much like going to the grocery store. We did this because a resident in the complex requested we come there because she said the residents needed hope. When we learned of this, the timing was perfect since we were new in the community and trying to build relationships and a reputation to birth a church. Establishing small groups was part of that strategy, so this invitation fit the vision. The years in the apartment complex yielded a harvest of Christ-followers, some precious friends, and vivid memories.This story is about one particular night my husband showed a religious Christmas film to the residents in that room. This movie is a cinematically beautiful one, with music riveting its viewers to the story throughout the film.

At the conclusion, the Gospel was presented. The room was hushed as each was hanging on every word my husband spoke. It was clear the Spirit was working after the dramatic depiction of Jesus’ birth in the movie. I thought surely no one would resist the palpable presence of the Spirit and prayed that no one would.

A time of prayer was offered to give anyone a chance to ask Jesus into their heart. Immediately after, since the room was quiet, it was easy to hear a very old gentleman talking to his wife. As he shared at a volume for his wife to hear him, some overheard him say that now they knew for the first time how to get to heaven.

Everyone at their table called my husband over as the man, and his wife signed their commitment card, which stated they’d prayed to receive Christ. All around understood the significance of what had occurred.This lifelong Catholic couple was in their 90’s. He’d been a high school teacher in the community for his adult life. But for those few moments in this community room, he recognized that stability in a community or a significant career would help him get to heaven. He realized that his need for stability, for certainty, would not come from anything he had done. It all became clear to him that salvation in Jesus was the only way to heaven.From that point on, this couple came to Bible study faithfully. Within a few months, the husband died.

Did it matter that we’d been obedient to that invitation to teach at the complex? Yes. Did it matter that this dear, aged couple learn about the One who could save their soul? Yes. Do spiritual destinations matter? Yes. Does God give each person on earth the dignity of choice when it comes to where they will spend eternity? Yes.

As believers In Jesus, some of our decisions are vital and life-changing for other people’s lives. It is important to be open to where God leads. It is important to walk in the Spirit, so you don’t miss opportunities. Where you choose to go could have a direct impact on someone else’s destination for eternity.

Jesus answered, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father, except by me. John 14:6

©Valerie Rumfelt

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Holiday Help

The holidays can bring out the best or the worst in all of us. We cram into our schedules unusual activities. We long for scenarios that may never happen, even if it is Christmas. Or, our expectations are sky-high from people that haven’t performed so well up to this point! For some reason, we think the magic of the season will produce a different result or reaction from those who disappoint all year long. The traditions and practices of the season are different from any other time of the year. Everything is different at Christmas.

Why is this?

Is it true that “It’s the most wonderful time of the year?” My mother used to say the whole world seemed to change for the better at Christmas. It seemed to her people acknowledged the Reason for the season. I think she was right. Things were prettier, and people were nicer; the flow of society was happier and more gentle as anticipation grew toward Christmas. The Judeo-Christian values were held dear in most of society, and these values governed so much of our behavior and celebration of the season.

Unfortunately, the world is different, and now more than ever, we must focus on our individual journeys with Jesus to cope with the world as it is. Followers of Jesus must remain faithful to Him and choose Him when much of society isn’t. We truly have to decide to follow Jesus daily.

With that in mind, maybe the Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons are more important than ever.

Let’s not allow the darkness to do what darkness does. Darkness will creep into your soul and make you cynical of all that’s happy and bright and of the goodwill still present on this earth. Even today at church, someone asked how she could quit focusing on all the bad in the world.

Here are eight tips for holiday help:

  • Stay with Jesus – Focus on scripture reading and prayer. Add this to your life if it isn’t already. There are all kinds of Christmas Bible reading plans online. Find one and start it. If you are in this habit already, then keep it going. This daily discipline will save your life and keep you sane.
  • Enjoy the Body of Christ – If regular church attendance is already part of your life, keep that going. Be at your local church as often as the church holiday schedule allows. Our religious freedom is a gift, and corporate worship is God’s idea.
  • Pray for the lost – Your friends and family who don’t yet know Him need your prayers. You may have a divine opportunity around them these next few weeks. You’ll be ready for it if you’ve spent time with the Father.
  • Play the sacred Christmas carols – “Grandma got run over by a reindeer” will be heard a thousand times on any radio station. Raise the essence of the season and download some gorgeous, choral or orchestral music, and enjoy the grandeur of these long-held hymns of Christmas.
  • Love the ones you are with – Be kind, and use manners with those you’re around every day. You will feel better about yourself and your relationship with the Lord.
  • Teach the traditional– Christmas carols, old movies, poetry from days gone by, and lasting beliefs. Snuggle up and share storybooks of Jesus coming to earth. Focus on the biblical more than the secular.
  • Keep good routines – If you have good habits such as eating right, going to bed at a regular time, or exercise, then keep it up. If not, start. All these things are remedies for stress.
  • Serve others – This is basic Christianity and should be done regularly anyway. Work in your local church as there’s often a need for volunteers to greet at the Christmas services, serve meals, or buy presents for others.
  • Live Christlike – There is incredible suffering, and people who know you are watching you. You can bring the light of Jesus to your world. If you have a stressful schedule, figure out your “no’s,” dig deeper, and lean on Jesus. 

The darkness of this world can breed cynicism in all of us. As followers of Jesus, we have His light within us, and we can be vigilant to keep the light burning as steady as a lighthouse. Let’s not cave into the world’s darkness. Let’s live as children of the Light because the world has nothing to offer to us. They are searching for the Light. We have to remember…Joy to the world, the Lord is come!

Joy to the world, the Lord is come;
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare Him room,
And heaven and nature sing,
And heaven and nature sing,
And heaven, and heaven and nature sing.

©Valerie Rumfelt

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Hope for Dolores

Rhode Island, geographically, is the smallest state in the United States. However, it is the second most densely populated state. This unique state was our home for 11 years as church planters. The state motto, HOPE, was harmonious with our assignment; to bring the HOPE of Jesus through the expression of a local, Christ centered church.

From the beginning, we experienced God; sometimes in joys and results, and other times in silence and endurance.60-100-10273-2

Building relationships by the power of the Holy Spirit is necessary to planting a church. Even though some may never enter the church doors, relationships build the reputation of the church.

One of the first relationships began in the first place we lived. Our adjoining neighbor was Dolores. What a fireball she was! Born in Boston (with the accent to prove it), Catholic all her life, a widow, knowledgeable, with the composure to survive. She was in her early 90’s now, alone, physically limited, and although she didn’t practice her faith, she clung to it with all she had.

Then we came. The Mississippian’s planting a church in her town! After we met, we’d occasionally make visits to check on her. She watched TV and read, and seemed to accept her life as it was. We snatched as many opportunities to engage with her spiritual need.

One day, she announced she’d be moving to a single level,efficiency apartment. We exchanged addresses, phone numbers, assisted in her move, and soon, our neighbor was gone.

Part of building the friendship with Dolores was to establish who we were, why we came and who we served. Her move would not hinder our relationship with her.

We talked by phone. I would plan visits and bring requested donuts and coffee. One on one chats, sorting through her mail, and sometimes, assisting her with some grooming tasks were common activities.

Dolores often wanted to hear about our work. Talking about Jesus was a natural topic in our conversations. She was curious.

One divine visit, she answered the door agitated and panicked. This was most unusual. Glad to see me, she was anxious to sit at the table. As I divided the snacks, she started to tell me about a recent occurrence since our last visit.

While lying in bed one night, she began thinking about her husband and remembered a verse she’d heard in Catholic school – Jesus would come like a thief in the night. She then wondered if her husband was in heaven, but then fear gripped her heart as she wondered about herself.  If Jesus returned in that moment, would she go to heaven?

Hearing this thrilled my heart. God was at work and was revealing Himself to her! The weight of her experience melted away as she shared. She began to realize her day of salvation had come. Now she could receive Jesus into her heart. She could know if Jesus came “like a thief in the night”, she would be ready. Right then, she prayed to Jesus.

She wept.

As we pondered the life-changing moments, she wondered aloud why no one had ever told her about Jesus before now.

Gazing out the window, she reflected on the years she’d walked back and forth on the sidewalk there in town – going and coming from Catholic school. “I never heard about Jesus and that He could be mine.” I said, “Well, you know now, Dolores.”

Only a few more visits on God’s eternal calendar were allowed with her. I noticed a blanket of peace wrapping her. She started reading her Bible.

I can only imagine the relief she felt in those last days of her life. Going to bed was no longer a torment, and one night that’s where she slipped into Jesus’ arms. The place where the Holy spirit had captured her attention ended up as a place of peaceful passage to her heavenly home.

HOPE had come to Dolores.

Praise be to the God and Father of our LORD Jesus Christ! In his great mercy He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you…I Peter 1:3-4

 

©Valerie Rumfelt

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