A Hopeful Prayer

By Elizabeth Yeamans Simrell

 

Almighty God, Father of Love,

When everything and everyone around me are negative, I need to remember that You are in control. I ask that you help me to choose love above all else and that your Holy Spirit transform my heart so that I can reflect your love in all that I do. Help me to deny my sinful nature and to willingly and humbly submit to your loving and righteous authority.

And when I’m weighed down, anxious and frustrated, by the pain, sorrow, anger, and violence around me, remind me that my true home is in Heaven, that I’m only here on this Earth temporarily.

As I focus on the Cross and Jesus in my decision making, remind me of the positives that I can embrace around me to be emotionally and spiritually secure in your priorities. Remind me of this Scripture written by your authority:

“Finally, Brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report, if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”

Further, Lord, remind me that I can give my worries and anxieties to you and that you care for me, that your love is active and steadfast, and that if I follow Jesus and focus on the Cross, that you, as the God of Peace, will always be with me.

My Holy Father, my “Abba,” hold me close in your embrace.

Amen.

 

 

(Scriptures references: Phil. 4:8, quoted (KJV); 1 Peter 5:7; Phil. 4:9)

Called to be Holy

By Elizabeth Yeamans Simrell

 

While our country and the world are all going through a pandemic and while our country is ravaged by anger and violence over racism, it’s time for me to no longer hold my tongue. I do not generally voice my political views publicly, mostly because government’s laws and God’s laws of love and justice are not always aligned. When I vote, I am not always “for” the candidate but may sometimes vote against the worst of two evils as I understand the issues. But I am not for violence. I am not for bigotry. I am not for hatred in any form. I grieve with our nation right now.

While we just celebrated Pentecost and the coming of the Holy Spirit to all believers, I am reminded that we are called to be holy. We are called to be holy just as God himself is holy. And if God’s very spirit dwells within us and we reflect his love as we are to do, we will be recognized for the fruits of his Holy Spirit. The Scripture tells us this: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law” (Galatians5:22-23, KJV).

This means we are to be patient, to have self-control, and to regard others with kindness and respect: “Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath” (James 1:19, KJV). If we could only communicate this way—and not through violence!

We are told by Scripture that man—that is, all of mankind—was created in his image. How so? Not by our looks or our physical characteristics or our culture, but by what God intended for us to be—God called us to be holy, as He is holy. We were created for relationship with Him and to reflect His love back to Him, to be a mirror of his very love. If He is love itself, we are to be loving. We are to do all things with love in our hearts. The Scripture says, “Let all your things be done with charity” (1 Corinthians 16:14, KJV). Jesus summed it all up into two commandments: “Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets” (Matthew 22:34-40, KJV).

God is the one who knows what is in our hearts. God is the one who is our judge. He is the one we have to please. God reads our hearts. We have to walk with him in spirit by taking step after step after step in living with his Holy Spirit within us and in our behaviors, over and over again as we take every step of our lives. That’s how we follow Jesus. That’s how we become more Christ-like. That’s how we become sanctified.

We are called to be holy. Let us love one another in His name!

 

 

…Easter–Because He Lives!

By Elizabeth Yeamans Simrell

 

Scripture Reading: John 20

 
“He is risen!”

“He is risen, indeed!”

Those are the words shouted with confidence in churches on a typical Easter morning. Unfortunately, this not a typical Easter, but the words are still relevant. The words there are facts. No one can take that from us. No virus can take away that truth.

We’ve had a period of darkness. We’ve searched ourselves. We’ve acknowledged our guilt, our pain, and our sorrow.

But…HE LIVES! We know Jesus is who he said he was. We know that he’s true to his Word. We know that we can believe his promises. We know that the risen Christ is Our Savior! We know the risen Christ, the Messiah, LOVES US—you and me! We know we are forgiven for our sins! We know He will be with us forever, “until the end of the age.” That’s something to shout from the mountaintop!

Now, go out and say it aloud. Shout it out! Rejoice! Celebrate! And while you celebrate among only a small group of your own family, as you carefully consider the health and wellbeing of others during this Coronavirus, plan a huge celebration for the time when you can gather again safely with your brothers and sisters in Christ. When you are able to gather, have the most glorious celebration ever!

May the blessings of Christ’s love be with you now and always! Happy Easter!

 

Darkness…

By Elizabeth Yeamans Simrell

 

Betrayed. Abandoned. Crucified. Darkness…

For now, we enter into the darkness and we wait. The disciples of Jesus did not understand—they believed perhaps that the Jesus they believed in was merely dead, although he foretold what was yet to happen. Perhaps they were disappointed, having believed as Judas did, that Jesus would start a political revolution. Some say Judas was merely pushing Jesus to get on with it. In any case, the death of Jesus on a cross—crucified, as a criminal would be—confused them, shook their beliefs, and grieved them. They entered the profound darkness.

And though we, as Christians, know what is to come, today, we also enter the darkness for a time and mourn in solidarity with those first disciples. We ponder what it meant to them. We remember how they abandoned him—even Peter, three times in an evening—and we identify with them and their humanness. We know we would have done the same and can identify with that guilt and shame because we know that we all fall short of being worthy of His love. Yet, we have hope because we already know the full story.

I want to move on to that hope and our Easter because we know that it comes—but I think we should ponder this darkness for now, examine ourselves, take an inventory of how we live, and for just a short while remember the events of the crucifixion and Our Savior nailed to the cross. For now, the darkness…

——————————————————————–

Suggested Scripture reading for your pondering at this time:

John 16:28, Jesus foretells his death; John 17:20-24, Jesus’ prayer for all believers; John 18, Betrayal and arrest; John 19, Death sentence and crucifixion

When the King Comes Your Way, How Will You Respond?

By Elizabeth Yeamans Simrell

with Audio Message by Paul Simrell

 

It’s Palm Sunday, and our church has chosen not to gather. Why? Because we have decided it is the most loving thing to do—to do our part to stop the Coronavirus from spreading.

On Palm Sunday, we remember the parade where Jesus came through Jerusalem on a donkey’s colt. I believe he chose the colt in order to be closer to the people, at their level, because of his intimate relationship with them. He was one of us, even though He was also God.

I’ve decided to share someone else’s message for Palm Sunday, though. My husband, Paul, is pastor of Elpis Christian Church in Maidens, VA. He also writes a blog and has been recording audio sermons during this time of Covid-19. I share his Palm Sunday audio sermon message for you here from his blog at IGW3 (In God’s Word, In God’s Will, In God’s Work):

www.paulsimrell.com

 

May you be blessed by this message. May you worship the King and spread his love. May you be safe during this difficult time. God bless you!

This Christian’s Response to Covid-19

By Elizabeth Yeamans Simrell

 

While the United States is experiencing more and more deaths due to Covid-19 and the whole world is experiencing the effects of this pandemic, we all must be thinking for ourselves what this means, how it will affect us personally, how we need to respond, and how this changes our lives. It requires that we look at ourselves and consider a new perspective—What are the real priorities? What truths can we hold on to? What can we control? What must we accept? What must we muster courage to face? What wisdom can we employ? And the answers to these questions are a little different when we answer them through a Christian worldview.

As I’ve pondered the Covid-19 virus situation and listened to the everchanging status of its spread and reaction to its presence, I have prayed continuously and searched the Scriptures for comfort, discernment, and wisdom. I am reminded and comforted by words that tell me that nothing can separate me from the love of God—nothing; words that tell me that Jesus told his Disciples that He is there for all believers until the end of the age; words that tell me that nothing is impossible for God; words that tell me that I should not worry, because He is in control; words that tell me that I should never be anxious, because He cares for me; words that tell me that God can take what Satan means for evil and destruction and make good of it; words that tell me that God will work all things out for the good of those who love Him; words that say that if God is on my side and He is the one in control of the universe, then who or what can harm me?

As a Christian, I know that Jesus died on that cross willingly—not because he was forced—to reconcile us back to the Father, who is pure love, so that we could have abundant life both here and in the next life. I believe in the One who loves me and with whom I will be forever, no matter what happens. Because of His resurrection, I know He lives—I know He is who He said He is—and I can trust that I, too, will live!

So how does that all change my perspective? How does that change how I live during this crisis of Covid-19? It changes me this way: I will follow Him by keeping His commandments that He summarized into two to make it easier for me to remember: I will love Him and I will love others in His name. When I don’t know what to do, I will ask myself what is the most loving way to respond. That’s how I will respond. When I fail, I will ask for forgiveness, discernment, and a willingness to do it His way. I will ask Him to transform me, so that I may be more like Him. I will live my life remembering Easter in every day, in my worship and study, because Easter is not just a day on the calendar—Easter is in my heart!

Forever Yours, Jesus

By Elizabeth Yeamans Simrell

 

Hey, Happy Valentine’s Day! Hope 2020 is a year full of love for you! I know it’s a Hallmark holiday—a day made by those who want your money and want to capitalize on your emotions, but it’s good to make a point to stop and recognize your most significant other and the other valentines in your life. And if you’re feeling a little left out because you don’t have a spouse or significant other, think again—Jesus Christ is our “forever Valentine.”

Yes, Jesus compared himself to a bridegroom and called the church of His believers His bride! When He comes again, we will live with Him in Heaven as His honored beloved.

But we don’t have to wait to be loved by Him. He loves us even now, just as we are. We can receive His love by loving Him above all else and making Him the priority of our lives. If we follow His commandments to love Him and to love each other, and we grow to maturity in our Christian love, we can and will reap the benefits of that love every day of our lives.

Need to feel that love today? Read your valentine—the Holy Bible is our love letter and valentine from God.

May this year be the year that you realize how much you are loved—go share that love with everyone you can. Happy Valentine’s Day!

Waiting on God

By Elizabeth Yeamans Simrell

 

How’s the waiting been for you—the waiting and preparing for Christmas to get here, the spiritual anticipation of the Christ Child’s arrival? Are you like a child who can’t wait any longer to open the presents under the tree and for Santa to have done his magic? Well, the waiting is almost over.

The waiting at Christmas is only one kind of waiting we experience with God, though, isn’t it? Do you even think about why God sometimes doesn’t just respond immediately to our prayers but makes us wait for a time for the blessings He has already decided to bestow upon us? Could it be that God’s timing is perfect and that He has reasons for His delay? Probably. That makes sense, doesn’t it?

Could it be that there’s a spiritual lesson to be learned in the waiting on God? Probably. That makes sense, too, doesn’t it?

Have you prepared? Are you ready for His arrival?

There’s much to ponder. We wait and we should wonder: What was it like for Mary? For Joseph? For the angels? For the shepherds? For Elizabeth? For the Wise Men? For Herod? For the World? For the future? And what does it mean for us?

What does it mean to wait on God? Both to wait for Him and to wait on Him as a servant? And to wait on Him as Lord of All?

The waiting is almost over—well, some of it anyway. There will be yet more to ponder and to wonder.

But Christmas we know will come. And it won’t be late.

Have a wonderful celebration of His birth! Merry Christmas to you and yours!

What Does It Mean to be “Relevant” When It Comes to Faith?

By Elizabeth Yeamans Simrell

 

Sometimes, I hear people say that Christianity is no longer “relevant” and I find that confusing. I understand that the bible does not tell Bob Smith exactly whether or not he should take the IT web design job downtown or the Communication Specialist position at the local country club. But to say that Christianity is “not relevant” doesn’t make sense to me, since Christianity is about loving God, who is the source of love itself, and loving each other. In a hurting world, I believe Christianity is needed more than ever!

And Christianity, although one might argue is “old school” and has to do with people, places, and cultures of totally different eras than our modern world, it has endured the test of time for a reason. Love doesn’t go out of style!

If we have progressed so much, then why is the world in chaos today? Watch the news and tell me that countries aren’t overthrowing their governments, that people aren’t having riots in the streets, that there aren’t individuals murdering others out of pure evil and for seemingly no reason at all, that people aren’t harboring bigotry right and left, that people aren’t being abused physically, mentally, and emotionally at every turn. If our technologically savvy and progressive society doesn’t need the love, forgiveness, and grace of second chances that my Savior offers, I’m misinformed, confused, and too stupid to process how I’d be better off without Him.

I’ll stick with Jesus Christ. I can’t change what others do and I have little control over the issues of our modern lifestyle that create the havoc I’ve just described; and I realize every era has had its problems, but I do know that the Holy Spirit can guide me, comfort me, help me cope with the issues, and can help me follow Jesus Christ as my model for a better way and for giving love out into the world that needs it. If that’s not relevant…well, then I have yet to see anything better for healing the brokenness than that. I stand on the promises of God.

Praise Him from the Mountain Top!

 

By Elizabeth Yeamans Simrell

Praise God! Praise Him from the Mountain Top! Praise Him from the Valley! Praise Him, Praise Him, and Praise Him Yet Again!

As I was reading my regular bible (I read several, but currently, I read my Swindoll Study Bible, NIV, for my daily reading), I realized that the last section of the Psalms are all psalms of praise. Move over, Doxology! Actually, I love the Doxology we sing in church every week but I was excited about the thought of singing these psalms or hearing them put to music. I’m always a little sad that I can’t hear them as the psalmists intended them to be put to music. Who wouldn’t want to hear David on the lyre? Anyway, one day I hope I will be able to do just that. I believe I will.

I invite you to read the very last psalm, Psalm 150, which is short but a sweet prayer with a musical theme. Read it aloud. Read it and pray it as a prayer as your devotional. Maybe even put your own music to it. I leave you with its last line, v.6, from the Swindoll Study Bible, NIV, which is a short prayer in itself: “Let everything that breathes sing praises to the Lord! Praise the Lord!”

Blessings to you all in your prayer life. Praise the Lord!