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Faith, Hope, Joy Ministries July NEWS

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How the Holidays Can Always be Happy

It is not a happy thanksgiving for everyone. When everyone is saying Happy Thanksgiving, some are grieving because they have lost someone or something important. Some have unmet expectations in their life. Some are sick or have a sick loved one. Family members are left behind because of death, divorce, or relocation. Loneliness is common. How can it be a happy holiday, or how can someone be thankful when their life is not good? This is an age- old question that will always be relevant while we are on the Earth.  

There is an answer to this question, found in the life of Jesus Christ.  
 

Jesus said in Luke 4:18, 19 

18“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, 

because he has anointed me 

to proclaim good news to the poor. 

He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners 

and recovery of sight for the blind, 

to set the oppressed free, 

19to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” f 
 

Jesus restated His purpose in verses 42 and 43 of that same chapter: 
 

 42At daybreak, Jesus went out to a solitary place. The people were looking for him and when they came to where he was, they tried to keep him from leaving them. 43But he said, “I must proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns also, because that is why I was sent.” And he kept on preaching in the synagogues of Judea. 

Jesus has good news for you when you feel life’s poverty, imprisonment, darkness, or oppression. He is near. Jesus said, “I must proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God.” Jesus brings the kingdom of God to rule and reign of God in your heart and mind. When we are empty in this life, we have the life of Jesus- the life of God Himself- living in us. In Him there is hope. There is hope of provision, seeing loved ones again and true peace and joy. Jesus shatters life’s pain and hopelessness. Jesus loves you, and He is with you. He will restore and heal you- physically and spiritually. He gives you and I hope. 
 

When life makes you full of despair, look to Jesus. The life of God Himself will transform your mind, body, and spirit. You will have hope. Life will have joy again, even despite the disappointments you are experiencing. 

I am not blind to the fact that life is hard, tremendously hard. But there is hope in life because of the life of God himself in you. This requires that you place your faith in God. Faith often has no evidence. That is why it is called faith- believing in something you cannot see. But that does not mean there is no evidence of it. When you place your faith in Jesus, He will heal you. He will bring you a transformation. The good news of Jesus- of God Himself ruling and reigning in your heart= will bring the evidence you need. Faith in Jesus- the Good News incarnate- will bring the transformation you need to make your holidays happy.  

In all of life’s sufferings, Jesus is with you. In Him is joy, freedom, and light even when you are shattered by life’s events. 

Mary: Brave and Faithful

Do these words of Mary terrify you? Can you say to the Lord that you are willing to complete His will for your life? Mary was a brave woman. Brave yet humble and faithful.
God’s will is not always easy, but it is the best way. People of faith, don’t shy away or reject God’s will. Embrace it. You will never know how your obedience can change the lives of those around you. Listen to the voice of the Lord and obey without reservation, humbly trusting in faith.
Obedience may be difficult but will bring blessings untold!

Symbols of Spring

I decorate eggs and enjoy all the symbols of spring. But in truth, Easter is not about bunnies and eggs. They are cute and I love their symbolism, but the life of Jesus was not cute. Jesus’s life was represented by suffering and sacrifice. Jesus came to sacrifice His life and destroy the works of Satan. 

Jesus defeated Satan for you and me, but on this earth, we still battle evil. For those of us who place our faith in Jesus we will one day enter our reward and no longer face the trials of this world. Jesus defeated sin and death when He died and then arose and did that for us so that we too have victory over sin and death. Just for a little while more will see heartache and pain and deal with sin. For eternity we will be restored into the image we were created in- in the image of God, in His likeness- righteousness, goodness, joy, peace, love and faith. We see glimpses of this now, but one day everyday will be perfect and full of the best life imaginable! 

Life here on earth is hard. We see evil and selfishness everywhere. No one can seriously say, and expect me to believe, there is no evil or devil. The Bible has references throughout, and we personally see evil all the time in the world. Furthermore, we all have a propensity to sin. And that’s why Jesus came to save us. Those who turn to Jesus are saved. I hope you who are reading this have turned to Jesus, placed your faith in Him, asked for forgiveness and now trust Him for the rest of your life. I pray you look to Jesus, believing that He will help you every day be filled with His spirit and live a life trusting Him. Satan came to steal that destiny. He came to steal the beautiful life and destiny of mankind. You can place your faith in Jesus Christ, or you can continue to allow Satan to do what he came to do- destroy your life.  

This Easter let us follow Jesus anew and remember the meaning of these symbols of spring. Let us place our trust in Jesus- the one who defeated sin and death and promises that all things work for the good even though for the time being life is hard. Jesus triumphed over the grave. Jesus took the punishment of the sin and evil of humankind, and of each of us personally. But then He resurrected! He came back to life and is still alive! You will, too, will defeat death- if you place your trust in Him. 

When we celebrate Easter- when we decorate eggs and have the symbols of spring all around us- remember what those symbols mean- the new life that Jesus Christ gives. Happy Easter, friends! 

Out with the Old, In with the New

Ch. 2 Spiritual Power for Complete Transformation

Maria Donnelly

“The Bible was not given for our information, but for our transformation.” DWight L. Moody

Introduction

The Lord changes us completely and totally when we receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. There is a great exchange. He takes our sin and replaces it with His spirit. He takes our heart of stone and gives us a heart of flesh that’s filled with the Holy Spirit. Are you ready for that change?

And do you want that change? I believe it’s the best aspect of the new Life in Christ!

We are changed completely by Christ. This NEW MAN is multifaceted just as God is. No human can fully understand God. God is too great for us to completely comprehend. However, we know we are created in the image of God. We, too, are difficult to fully understand. In this chapter are are going to first consider the multifaceted nature of mankind. What are our parts?  In later chapters we will consider how those parts are changed in order to help us in understanding the total transformation that takes place in us.  We will first begin a study on how the Holy Spirit changes us. 

Jesus said, “You must be born again to enter the kingdom of heaven.” In this born again experience we become new- body, soul, mind and spirit. At salvation, when we surrender to God’s will and Lordship, we are changed. People look for change all the time. The whole world wants to be better, wants to change. In Christ Jesus, we have it!

In Christ, we have a transformation. This transformation involves the entire person, and it includes the body, the mind, the heart and the Spirit. It is extremely difficult to make demarcations in a person. Where does the mind end and the body begin? What’s the difference between the heart- the place where our emotions live- and the mind- what we think and reason. When our body is sick, it affects the mind and heart. Furthermore, our spirit- that inner part of us that knows God, influences everything. It is very clear that it is difficult to separate the parts of the human being, each part influences the others greatly. 

  • A broken heart can make a person sick. 
  • An encouraging word can make a person feel better.
  • A story can bring encouragement.
  • Both mental and physical illness can affect the mind and the spirit.
  • Being strong in Spirit brings health and healing’

Indeed, the whole man or woman is made up of the mind, body, soul (heart) and Spirit. These are all interconnected and  interdependent on one another. Separating each into a distinct category is not possible. But what we do know is God changes the entire person. In 

Luke 13: 20-21, Jesus helps us understand the purpose of the kingdom of God.

Again, he asked, “What shall I compare the kingdom of God to? It is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into a large amount of flour until it worked through the dough.”

 The Kingdom of God- that is the person of Jesus coming to earth in the flesh, is meant to transform us completely. When the yeast enters the batch of flour, we knead the flour until the yeast is completely mixed in. God intends to be in our lives like that- The Spirit of God completely mixed in. This yeast transforms each of us personally, and is meant to transform the culture as well. (That’s a whole new Bible study- how the Kingdom of God is meant to fill the culture.) However, the filling of yeast in the flour starts with YOU, the Lord wants to fill YOU completely with His Spirit. He wants a transformation in YOU. Do you want that transformation? What does that mean to you? What would a transformation in your life mean for you? 

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ 

To help us understand the fullness or entirety of the change that takes place in our lives when we meet Christ we will consider the entirety of our being. 

The Whole Person

The model of the whole person found in the book of Deuteronomy and that used by Christ. 

The Entirety of the Person.

Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. Deuteronomy 6:5

Jesus replied: “’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ Matthew 22:33

He answered, “’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’ and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”Luke 10;27

God calls us to love Him (and our neighbors) completely. There is to be no sphere in our lives not given over to God. Every recess of the heart belongs to Him. The mind belongs to Him. The body, our strength, is to be used by Him. We are meant to be transformed when we meet Christ.

“We are meant to be transformed when we meet Christ.”

Look at the usage of these words- heart, mind, soul and spirit.

EnglishGreekUsage 
Heartkardialit: the heart; mind, character, inner self, will, intention, center. 
Minddianoia: the mind, disposition, thought
SoulpsuchéBreath (a) the vital breath, breath of life, (b) the human soul, (c) the soul as the seat of affections and will, (d) the self, (e) a human person, an individual. From HELPS word studies 5590 psyxḗ (from psyxō, “to breathe, blow” which is the root of the English words “psyche,” “psychology”) – soul (psyche); a person’s distinct identity (unique personhood), i.e. individual personality.5590 (psyxē) corresponds exactly to the OT 5315 /phágō (“soul”). The soul is the direct aftermath of God breathing (blowing) His gift of life into a person, making them an ensouled being.
strengthischusmight, strength (absolutely), power, might, force, ability.
Helps Word Studies

Looking at the meaning of these words in a linear fashion is not adequate. Our being is not linear but multidimensional. The diagram below is helpful. 

I believe that at salvation, the Holy Spirit is to come into our lives to change every part of us. There is to be NO part of us that is not affected and transformed by the Holy Spirit. He comes into our body, directly to the soul, touching our heart and mind as well. We are to have that transformation in each of our parts that we hope for. 

I Thess 5:23 

May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The transformation can be illustrated like this. 

The Early Church’s First Encounter 

Let’s Consider the early church’s first encounter with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. It is recorded as Jesus’s last words that he told His followers to go to Jerusalem to wait for the filling of the Holy Spirit. He also told them they would be given power to bring the good news and to heal. It was promised beforehand.

Mark 16: 15-2015He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. 16Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. 17And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; 18 they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well. 19After the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, he was taken up into heaven and he sat at the right hand of God. 20 Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it 

Then the Holy Spirit came just as Jesus had promised!

Acts 2: 1-4 

1When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. 2Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. 4All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues a as the Spirit enabled them.

It was foretold in the the Old testament

Joel 2:28 “And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions.

What we are talking about is Spiritual power. You will never have spiritual power until you are in the Spirit’s presence. His presence makes us new, and full of His power. We won’t be discouraged. We will be bold and have the ability to witness, to pray, to bring healing, to go to places not gone before, to obey God and complete His will, to forgive, and to love. This is to be our spiritual reality, but we’re not always walking in it. Why is that?

The Disciples were together waiting during the feast of Pentecost when the Spirit came down. The disciples were celebrating Pentecost or Shavuot, a sabbath celebration which includes reading the Torah, fellowship and rest. You see this Holy Spirit power was promised and delivered. Why? Because this is to be the NEW normal for the Believer. It is God’s design that Christ followers not just believe in Him, but to be filled with the Holy Spirit. Being filled with the Holy Spirit is to be the norm not the exception. Are you walking in the Spirit’s power?

Do you remember the entire discussion; heart, soul, mind and strength? The Holy Spirit filled the Christ followers completely and totally. How? With the Holy Spirit. There is no part of the man that has followed Christ in faith and repentance that the Spirit of God will not fill. 

Paul’s Encounter

Again we will consider Acts 9: 1 – 19 and Paul’s Encounter with the Holy Spirit. In verses 17-19

17Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on Saul, he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord—Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here—has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” 18Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he could see again. He got up and was baptized, 19and after taking some food, he regained his strength.

When Paul was traveling to Damascus to arrest Christ followers, he met Jesus- a light flashed from heaven and he heard Jesus’ voice. Paul had fallen to the ground. When he got up and opened his eyes, he could not see anything. He was blinded for three days and did not eat or drink anything. We then read that Paul is praying and sees a vision. Paul was blinded physically yet he had a vision. Meanwhile the Lord was speaking to Ananias and Ananias was speaking back to the Lord; the Lord and Ananias were having a conversation. The Lord gave Ananias a task and even gave him a glimpse into His plans. Ananias was obedient to what the Lord told him to do and went to see Paul. Ananias told Paul that he was sent to him so that “he could see and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” Scales fell from Paul’s eyes immediately, and he could see again. Paul got up and was baptized. Then Paul ate and regained his strength.

Paul’s first experience after meeting Jesus, and the three days of being blind and fasting and praying, was being filled with the Holy Spirit.  This is to be our experience as well. We meet Jesus. We worship Him and we are changed. The follower of Christ is meant to be filled with the Holy Spirit, and this marks the beginning of his or her transformation. 

Our New Normal

Let’s consider what our “New Normal” looks like.

For All, Described as a pouring and a filling

Note that the pouring out of the Holy Spirit is for everyone- men, women, young and old, servants and masters.

Peter quotes the Prophet Zoel

(Acts 2:17-18) In the last days I will pour out my Spirit on all people….Your sons, daughters…young men…old men…..even on my servants both men and women…I will pour out my Spirit in those days. 

Pour  dump (1), gushed (1), pour (34),

In Acts 2:38 Peter tells the reader that repentance and baptism, two forms of commitment and worship are required.

Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 

Acts 4:31 

After they prayed, (Peter, John and the other disciples) the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.

Filled furnish, accomplish, fill, supply

properly, fill to the maximum (full extent), “the limit” (CBL). 4130 /plḗthō (“full”) implies “filled to one’s (individual) capacity.”

The baptism of the Holy Spirit is essential to our faith. It is this Spiritual Power that changes us and makes us new. 

Requires Worship, Waiting and Understanding

Again, Acts 4:31 

After they prayed, (Peter, John and the other disciples) the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.

Acts 1: 4 

On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about.

Acts 18:24-26

Apollos knew about John’s baptism but not the Spirit’s baptism. Although he was a good speaker and taught about Jesus accurately, these co-laborers of Paul’s knew that the Spirit baptism was essential. Priscilla and Aquilla explained it to him. 

 24Meanwhile a Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria, came to Ephesus. He was a learned man, with a thorough knowledge of the Scriptures. 25 He had been instructed in the way of the Lord, and he spoke with great fervor a and taught about Jesus accurately, though he knew only the baptism of John. 26He began to speak boldly in the synagogue. When Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they invited him to their home and explained to him the way of God more adequately.

Acts 19:1-7 

1While Apollos was at Corinth, Paul took the road through the interior and arrived at Ephesus. There he found some disciples 2 and asked them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when a you believed?”

They answered, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.”

3So Paul asked, “Then what baptism did you receive?”

“John’s baptism,” they replied.

4Paul said, “John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance. He told the people to believe in the one coming after him, that is, in Jesus.” 5On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 6 When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues b and prophesied. 7 There were about twelve men in all.

“Being filled with the Holy Spirit is to be the norm, not the exception.”

The Holy Spirit Lives in the Believer and We Must Now Live a life that is Pleasing to Him.

John 14: 16 

 16And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— 17the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be c in you.

We Must Live a Life Pleasing to the Holy Spirit

Romans 8:14 

14For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God

Ephesians 5:15-20

15Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, 16making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. 17Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. 18Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, 19speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, 20always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Galatians 5:16 

14For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God

The Holy Spirit Provides Freedom

2 Cor 3:16-17

But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. 17Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate a the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

The Drink of the Holy Spirit

1 Cor 12:13 We are all baptized by one Spirit into one body, whether Jews or greeks, or slave or free,  and we were all given one Spirit to drink.

Our spirits should resemble this, not this

Acts of the FleshFruit of the Spirit
Sexual immoralityImpurityDebaucheryIdolatryWitchcraftHatredDiscordJealousyFits of rageSelfish ambitionDissensionsFactionsEnvyDrunkennessOrgiesLoveJoyPeacePatienceKindness GoodnessGentlenessFaithfulnessSelf-control
Loving God and Loving our NeighborsSubmitting to one another out of love

Galatians 5:19-26 

19The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.22But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.

1 Thess 5;16-22 Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

Do not put out the Spirit’s fire; do not treat prophecies with contempt. Test everything. Hold onto the good. Avoid every kind of evil. 

May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Thess 5:23

Prayer

Lord, that we would be filled with you.

That we would be changed.

Help us to be constantly in step with You, Oh Spirit of God.

May we always hear your voice as we walk and talk. 

Help us to talk less, and listen more. 

Help us obey what you say.

Fill us with joy, change us with power, move us with purpose. 

Amen. 

NEW LIFE IN CHRIST

C.S Lewis wrote, “ God became man to turn creatures into sons: not simply to produce better men of the old kind but to produce a new kind of man.”

The most wonderful thing about knowing Jesus Christ, is that Christ has made each one of us NEW.

Consider 2 Cor 5:17. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: a The old has gone, the new is here!

Do you agree? Have you been changed? I would love to hear your experience about the new life in Christ. Although the things God does for us is probably infinite, these are my 10 personal favorites about my new life in Christ.

1. Confidence

2. Forgiveness (I’m forgiven)

3. Healing (body, mind, soul and spirit)

4. Joy and peace (in spite of circumstances)

5. Trust in God for the future

6. Truth (I can know truth from reading God’s Word)

7. Times of Worship

8. Victory over evil and darkness

9. Love and friendship with others

10. Times of Prayer

I would love to hear your top ten. What you share will give me insight in the Bible study I am currently writing. Thanks and have a great day!

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Encouragement and Endurance

May the God who gives you endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth may you glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. (NIV, Romans 15:5)

How are you feeling today? For me personally, I was feeling defeated. Work was tough this week. Yes, I have rough days. We all do. As a teacher, some days are a lot rougher than others. Teachers strive for student success, and positive teacher-student relationships. When that doesn’t happen, work is hard and discouraging. When students act out for whatever reason, some of us teachers take that hard. It’s because we care so much.

When work, or life, gets hard go to God first for endurance and encouragement. Remember God is behind you. Stop thinking that you are alone. Whatever you are going through, the Lord is with you. He promises to work all things out for the good (Romans 8:28). You work hard, you give it all you have, your efforts will be rewarded. Keep moving forward with great endurance. Forget past mistakes and focus on the good things that happened this week instead of the negative. Keep your God-given goals in front of you.
Be encouraged.You are loved and appreciated even though you may not feel like it right now. Allow the Lord to encourage you by His presence through times of praise, worship, prayer and meditation on God’s encouraging word. Then spend time with friends and family that love you. Life has many challenges. It’s important to be recharged and given a fresh batch of courage. Do that today. Throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles (Heb. 12:1). Look to Jesus and those who love you for joy, hope and new courage.

Hi, my name is Maria!

I am a teacher, and I am a preacher, too. My favorite thing to do is share my faith with you!

I love to have fun, laugh and hang out with people. People are my second favorite thing. I also teach high school science, write curriculum, do Cross-fit, take pictures and study God’s words found in the Bible. Yes, the Bible. It’s a great book!

Life Goals

  • To tell as many people as possible about Jesus, God’s love and how to enjoy a life of love.
  • Help people who are hurting by sharing my story with them and praying for God to miraculously touch their lives.
This is a fancy me at my son James’s wedding in May 2021. Great day!
  • In this blog I want to show you my classroom and the great things going on there.
  • I want to talk about life and how to have the BEST LIFE!
  • I love sharing life with others and love discussing love, marriage, kids, and faith.

Hope we can share life and faith together!

Youth are a gift from God…here are just a few of my students.

Did you know that almost half of all teachers are Christians? That means we have enormous influence and responsibility in teaching our students about the love of Christ. God loves each and every person so much that He sent His only son to earth, so that whosoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.

Students are a gift from God!