HE LIVES! HE LIVES! MY LORD IS RISEN!

By Elizabeth Yeamans Simrell

He is risen indeed! As much as the secular world denies Jesus, his life, and his resurrection—that doesn’t make it not true. The truth is the truth. No one can convince those who choose to deny him, and that too is biblical: it is by faith that the truth is revealed by God. For those of us who believe in the risen Christ, who have experienced his steadfast love, and who have experienced undeniable answers to prayer, we’ve seen the prophecies come true. Those who read and study the biblical texts prayerfully and with the heart to love God and to love others in his name and to live according to that faith have seen the risen Christ at work. The Holy Spirit within us reminds us regularly that Jesus is the Christ.

In our church’s bible study recently, we have discussed how we “know” that God works out all things for the good of those who love him (Scripture text: Romans 8:28). That knowing comes from faith, from experiencing the work of the Holy Spirit within us. Even nature itself, which man cannot control, reveals a Creator God! Knowing and believing that God loves us and cares about the intricate details is everything.

I’m preaching to the choir for Christians reading this—I’m celebrating Easter with you! I’m celebrating that because Jesus rose from the dead and proved that he was who he said he was, we can have hope to live each moment of every day in his love, and we can expect and know that we will experience that love forever (John 3:16).

If you are reading this and are not sure of your belief in Jesus, I thank you for reading this far. But don’t trust me because I say it. Seek that truth for yourself. If you are seeking the Truth, and truly seeking with an open heart to consider Jesus as your Lord and Savior, you will find him (Matthew 7:7). The Bible says that those who seek the truth will find it.

May the Truth stand for itself! Amen.

HAPPY EASTER TO ALL!

Christ First, Above All Else

By Elizabeth Yeamans Simrell

I’m regularly reminded that I need to have faith first—above all else believing that Christ wants what’s best for me—and the rest will follow for any circumstance I face. It can be easy to get discouraged or to worry, especially during trying times like we’ve all experienced with the Covid pandemic.

I believe that when we put God first and we consult him in prayer when we need to make decisions, asking him to guide our paths, we can trust he will care for us. That means we must venture out in the fog when we can’t see beyond it, trusting that he will lead us through it.

I think of New Year’s that way. We leave the known behind and venture into the future not knowing what the year might bring. As we reflect on what happened last year, including the expected and unexpected, we may be fearful of the unknown and what’s yet to be. We can’t know the future; we can only take things as they come. But if we believe that Christ will never forsake us, as he promised, we can boldly and courageously move forward with his lead; and we can trust that if we are doing his work and following his guidance, he is in control: “…and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world” (Matthew 28:20, KJV); “Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee withersoever thou goest” (Joshua 1:9, KJV).

Those are the Scriptures I want to hold onto in the coming year, as well as the hopeful positivity of believing in his goodness: “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28, KJV). And I will also choose to consciously keep these thoughts: “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are of good report: if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things” (Philippians 4:8, KJV).

With an attitude of gratitude and praise for all the answered prayers, his comfort, his peace, my daily provision, and all of the blessings of my life, I pray I’ll be able to serve him with humility and allow him to do his work in me and through me in the coming year.

I pray that you, dear reader, will join me in putting Christ first in 2022 and will pray the prayer below with me. May the blessings of Christ be yours in the New Year!

Prayer:

Lord, thank you for all my many blessings. I praise your holy name and all that you are. Please grant me a pure heart, faith to follow you and to put you first, and the capacity to love others as you have loved me in the coming year! In the name of Jesus, I pray. Amen.

As We Wait for the Christ Child

By Elizabeth Yeamans Simrell

As we’ve waited for Christmas to come, I’ve studied the scripture passages of the events of Jesus’s birth. I’ve thought of how Joseph was kind, loving, and faithful; I’ve thought of how Mary received the news of unexpectedly becoming a mother—and not just a mother but the mother of the Messiah! I can only experience a feeling of awe in reflecting on that.

Clearly Mary and Joseph received God’s favor. God chose them, and they were up to the tasks before them.

After the angel explained to Mary how she, a virgin, was to bring the baby Jesus into the world and raise him, she accepted it on faith: “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word.” (Luke 1:38, KJV)

As events unfolded and the baby Jesus was born, Mary heard from the shepherds that a host of angels had announced his birth to them—“Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.” (Luke 2:19, KJV).

Here at Christmas is the perfect time to ponder these things for ourselves. We know from the Scriptures how Jesus lived, died, and rose from the dead; we know it was all in the plans for our own forgiveness of sin—our own salvation and our own life everlasting. May we ponder that with joy this Christmas!

May we answer our own calls in faith to do his will even when we have little understanding of what is yet to come. May we act on faith as we ponder the wonders and discover God’s plan along the way!

HAVE A MERRY CHRISTMAS AND HAPPY NEW YEAR IN CHRIST’S LOVE!

Giving Thanks Always

By Elizabeth Yeamans Simrell

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving Day and celebration of many blessings! May we remember to carry on the celebration throughout the year by giving thanks always for the Holy Trinity and the blessings of God’s steadfast love!

I had a wonderful celebration of Thanksgiving with my husband, even though we did not gather with family this year. It was different but wonderful all the same. But in reflection of the celebration and God’s love all year round, I wanted to post something I wrote over the last couple of days—my thanks. Thank you for reading this and for those who have read my posts in the past. May you all be blessed by the love of Christ. Happy Thanksgiving always!

Thank you, Lord

By Elizabeth Yeamans Simrell


Thank you, Lord, for loving me!

Thank you, Lord, for all my many blessings.

Thank you, Lord, for my daily provisions.

Thank you, Lord, for loving my family, my friends, my church family, my community, my world—even my enemies.

Thank you, Lord, for your steadfast love.

Thank you for your mercy!

Thank you for your grace!

Thank you for your comfort, your support, your guidance, your strength, your knowledge, your wisdom, your counsel.

Thank you for all creation!

Thank you for your desire to share your love with me and others.

Thank you for your relationship with me!

Thank you for your relationship with all of us who love you.

Thank you for caring about the details of our lives.

Thank you for your Fatherly affection and care for us.

Thank you for always being there for us.

Thank you, Father, for sending your Son to us.

Thank you for your covenant with me.

Thank you for your covenant with my husband.

Thank you for our marriage covenant with you.

Thank you for answering all our prayers!

Thank you for every blessing of your love—in the name of Jesus!

Amen.

Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, KJV)

He is Risen! The Lord is Risen Indeed!

By Elizabeth Yeamans Simrell

Suggested Scripture Reading: John 3:16; John 11:25–26; John 20:1–31; Philippians 4:13; Matthew 28:20

I can still hear the Episcopal priest’s resounding voice as he bounded into the sanctuary with children carrying banners behind him as he shouted, “He is Risen!” and then the congregation responding with him as his voice boomed even louder, “The Lord is Risen Indeed!” Easter morning was a huge celebration at St. James’s Episcopal Church, in Richmond, Virginia, where my family attended church when I was a child. We, the congregation’s children, would collect money in advance of the Easter service in “mite boxes,” small cardboard coin banks, for the church’s missions. We would decorate the boxes with fresh flowers from our home gardens, and they would be placed in a huge cross frame in the sanctuary on Easter morning during the service so that they would decorate it as a blooming cross in honor of Christ and in representation of his resurrection. It was a glorious celebration with pipe organ music, the responsive readings, and joyous singing. I still think of those Easter mornings and feeling the palpable power of God’s Holy Spirit. I felt it from the moment we went into my mother’s garden and picked the flowers—I was so aware that there was great meaning in it all. Every Easter, even now, I think of those Easter mornings of my childhood.

In my current church, my memories of Easter are different but equally special. It’s the meaning of the ongoing reminders of Jesus and his resurrection that strike me most, though, maybe because of having some maturity in my spiritual walk : The words “Because He lives” over the entrance door of Elpis Christian Church in Maidens, Virginia, regularly remind me of the line from the hymn that starts with those words and finishes with “I can face tomorrow.” That’s the essence of it all: the power of the Holy Spirit, Christ’s resurrection, and all that that means to my life now and into eternity. Even the name of our church, “Elpis,” means “expectant hope”—not just a wish but a knowing that Christ will come again—that this earthly life is only a beginning of what is yet to be. Because of that hope and my belief in the words of Scripture, I know that I can face whatever I need to through Christ, who gives me the strength I need (Philippians 4:13).

Knowing of and believing in the resurrection of Jesus are essential to my Christian faith. I know that he suffered a brutal death for me, that he went to the cross willingly laying down his life so that my sins could be forgiven, the slate wiped clean of all ugliness and guilt because he paid the price. Because of his death on the cross, I can live in the presence of the Holy Trinity—the triune God can abide with me and I with him. Because of Jesus’s resurrection, I know that Jesus is the Christ, that he is who he said he was, and that because he lives, I can not only face whatever happens but also expect that he is with me now and always. That is something to celebrate!

Celebrate Easter with me. Enjoy the blessings of his love today and always. Happy Easter!

A Mandate to Love One Another

By Elizabeth Yeamans Simrell


Recommended Scripture reading: John 13:34–35

It’s Maundy Thursday. Maundy is derived from the Latin word for mandate or commandment. When Jesus met with his Disciples for the Passover meal, his “last supper” with them, he also insisted on washing their feet. He did that in demonstration of how we are to care for one another. At that time, he told them to do this for each other and to love each other in his name. If you will remember, during his ministry Jesus was asked which commandment was the greatest, and he told his disciples that the law and the prophets could be summarized into two commandments: to love God and to love one another in his name, or to love as you have been loved by him. That’s the simplicity of the Gospel right there.

Of course, the concepts of these two commandments are simple, but they are not always easy to do. Jesus never promised that following him would be easy. In fact, Jesus specifically said that Christians would be persecuted and hated for following him; however, he also said that his purpose was to love us and to give us abundant life if we believe in him and follow his commandments. He also said that he would help us to endure the hardship, and that he would be with us always.

Those of us who know Christ know that his love is steadfast, that he exceeds our expectations, and that he is the author and source of love itself.

Christians, remember Jesus today! Remember the New Covenant he offered. Remember your life covenant commitment with him. Remember him in your worship and when you gather: In remembrance of him, take the Holy Communion elements, and remember the sacrifice he made for you and me. Love him with all your mind, heart, soul, and strength. Share the message of Christ’s love with others. And love each other in his name.

Jesus on a Donkey Colt: A Reflection

By Elizabeth Yeamans Simrell

As you know, yesterday was Palm Sunday. Our Sunday service was more subdued this year because of the pandemic, and we did not have children waving palms in remembrance of Jesus’s entrance into Jerusalem on the donkey colt. But we did remember the parade, the waving of the palms, and the donkey colt in our worship service and reflected on the fulfillment of the prophecy in Zechariah 9:9. Read it yourself.                     .

Although my husband didn’t mention this in his sermon yesterday, afterward we remembered to each other a story that is special to our hearts. We live in the Virginia countryside. When we go east from the church parsonage toward Richmond, we pass a small farm with two horses and a donkey. We look for “Donkey” whenever we pass by. Sometimes he’s in the front pasture, and sometimes he’s in the back pasture or out of sight on the other side of a hill, but we look for him. We are drawn to the donkey because we like animals and have learned some things about donkeys since we’ve moved to the country; maybe we love him even more because of the biblical references to Jesus and his riding on the donkey colt to Jerusalem (See also John 12:12-16).

On a previous occasion at church when my pastor-husband was talking about the humility of Jesus—how he was born in a stinky animal’s stable and how he also rode a donkey colt into Jerusalem to face his own crucifixion—one of our church members said that she prayed that Jesus would allow her to be his “stinky little donkey” in service to him. I happen to know that she does service in the trenches for Christ that she does not flaunt or advertise. May we all have her attitude!

May we all serve Christ with humility and love, being unafraid to face the “grit” of life with others, providing and caring for others in need. May we serve in practical ways—in the ways that we are uniquely able—when and where we are needed to serve his purposes. We don’t have to be beautiful, elegant, or rich to make a difference: That little donkey colt that Jesus rode into Jerusalem not only got to be in a parade but will be remembered into eternity for serving our Lord. Nothing done for Christ and his purposes will go unnoticed. Each of us has a unique ability to serve. May we readily answer the call to do God’s work. May we all be a “stinky little donkey” for Christ!

Star of Wonder, Star of Hope

By Elizabeth Yeamans Simrell

This Christmas Season, I have especially enjoyed a recording of “I Wonder as I Wander” by Frank Coleman (Home Cookin’ Studio, Richmond, VA) on a cd he made with my husband, Paul Simrell, several years ago. As I listen to Frank sing the song, it creates an atmosphere for me of my own wonder and awe of what Christmas means: I think of what it meant for a starry night with a huge, unusual star over a small town where the baby Jesus lay in a barn animals’ feeding trough, the angel visitations Mary and Joseph had experienced prior to his birth, the awkward circumstances for them, and also the responsibility and honor bestowed upon them by God himself.

The world was in need of a savior. The star was a sign of expectant hope of which even the shepherds took note. The star was so prominent and lingered for such a long time that it was seen far away and beckoned the Magi to seek the new king. Even King Herod would fear for his own position when he learned of those who followed the star in search of the new king of the Jews.

Our world is in disarray now. We need Our Savior. We need to cling to that expectant hope that comes with the Christ Child. As we plan our celebrations of Christmas in honor of Jesus and his birth, the arrival of “God with us”—the story that we already know but that was awesome, scary, yet hopeful and wonderful to Mary and Joseph—we might just feel a little of that expectant hope that the Christ Child brings. No matter what happens, we who love Jesus Christ know that he is with us now and forever. No one, no thing, no circumstance can separate us from his love. We can anticipate with expectant hope that we will live with the King of Kings, Lord of Lords, and that he shall reign forever and ever.

May we ponder that and wonder as we wander in awe of him as we celebrate our Lord this Christmas!

Have a safe and wonderful Christmas!

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!