Thursday, December 17, 2015

Anna who was also a prophetess...


The songwriter, speaking of Christmas, said, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year.”  And it is!  Think about it!  How can it not be?  Listen to the proclamation of the angel to the shepherds at the time of Jesus’ birth: “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:11)  Every person born of woman, other than Jesus the Son of God, is in need of a Savior.  Even Mary, blessed among woman and the mother of our Lord said, “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.”  (Luke 1:46) 

We need not argue that each of us is a sinner.  Plant yourself on a bench where there are both parents and children.  What do you hear?  "Stop that!"  "Don’t do that!"  "If you do that again, I’m going to tell the park ranger."   "See that policeman over there? I’m going to go get him."   "I’m going to tell Pastor Bruce."  You get the point.  Even if we use our own standard, we will come up short of the mark.  Yes, as the Apostle Paul put it, “This is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Jesus Christ came to save sinners of whom I am the worst.” (1 Timothy 1:15)

Here’s the true beauty of Christmas: family festivities, the giving and receiving of gifts, carols, Christmas songs, lights, and the list goes on, all make the season a delight.  But above all else, it’s this one truth that makes Christmas “the most wonderful time of the year” … Jesus the Christ bridges the gap between sinful man and a Holy God. 

Listen to the words of Anna the widow.  Jesus has been brought into the Temple to be
dedicated to Jehovah in accordance to the Law (Luke 2:21-38).  Anna, who was in her late 80s or early 90s, prophesies about the future of the Christ child and the redemption of Jerusalem.  As Jerusalem is redeemed so is the world, “for God so loved the world.”  John 3:16

In these three short verses, which reference Anna, the widow, and daughter of Phanuel, we can learn the following life-lessons:

1. We don’t need to travel to advance the Kingdom of God.  Anna stayed at the Temple giving herself to prayer and fasting.  Prayer is the real battle; and, every widow can pray.  C. H. Spurgeon said, “Prayer moves the arm that moves the world.”  Oswald Chambers said, “Prayer does not equip us for the greater work; prayer is the greater work."  A. J. Gordon said, “You can do more than pray after you’ve prayed, but you can never do more than pray until you’ve first prayed. “

2. We don’t need to be eloquent or have a so-called prominent position in the Church 
(or “wherever”) to please God and advance the Kingdom.  Anna had no special position or prominence, although I suspect she was well known because of her commitment to the Temple and piety.  Anna simply made herself available to be used when needed. In this instance, God chose to use Anna to speak encouraging words to Joseph and Mary and to assure them that what was spoken of the Child would truly take place.  I’m sure that Joseph and Mary were not the only couple or family Anna encouraged and spoke words of wisdom to. 

3. There is still another lesson we can learn from this widow at this Advent season.  We can  advance the Kingdom of God by giving ourselves to worship.  What is worship?  I love Rick Warren’s definition, the author of The Purpose Driven Life: "Worship is bringing pleasure to God.”  Jesus said if we give a cup of cold water in His name, it will not go unrewarded.  Would you not say that’s bringing pleasure to God?  Yes!  Whenever we in humility serve our Creator and Savior of the world we bring Him pleasure.

Sometimes as we get older we feel less needed and less valuable.  Don’t believe that lie!  There is nothing more pleasurable to God than loving on Him, praying for others and giving an encouraging word.  So, at this season, and year round, let’s learn from Anna the widow …the blessing is an encounter with the Son of God.

 Message by Pastor J.Bruce Sofia
Senior Pastor of the Gloucester County Community Church in Sewell, New Jersey 

I too love this time of year. My favorite is singing along with the Christmas Carols and some of the popular Christmas music.  Now get comfortable, turn the sound up real loud, forget about the neighbors and sing along with the music. This will truly put you into the Christmas Spirit. 

                                              O Holy Night by Josh Groban

My love to all......
Dotti Ackerman
Director of FNF Blog

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

"How Can You Mend a Broken Heart"

Years ago there was a great song sung by the Bee Gees called “How Can You Mend a Broken Heart”.  I found a video copy of this song and I hope this will help you to remember the words and maybe have a little fun singing along with the video.

 I can think of younger days when living for my life

Was everything a man could want to do
I could never see tomorrow
But I was never told about the sorrow

How can you mend a broken heart?

How can you stop the rain from falling down?
How can you stop the sun from shining?
What makes the world go round?
How can you mend this broken man?
How can a loser ever win?
Please help me mend my broken heart and let me live again

I can still feel the breeze that rustles through the trees

And misty memories of days gone by
We could never see tomorrow,
No one said a word about the sorrow

And how can you mend a broken heart?

How can you stop the rain from falling down?
How can you stop the sun from shining?
What makes the world go round?
And how can you mend this broken man?
How can a loser ever win?
Please help me mend my broken heart and let me live again.

The lyrics of this song are very sad, but there is answer to the question “please help me mend my broken heart and let me live again.”  After the passing of my late husband Bill, I have said those same words and I know many other widows have felt the same. 

Pastor Rick Warren wrote a great devotional message titled “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted, and He saves those whose spirits have been crushed” (Psalm 34:18).  Pastor Warren’s article gives us six ways God blesses a broken heart and I pray as you read this article it will bless your heart and help you to “live again”.


“The LORD is close to the brokenhearted, and He saves those whose spirits have been crushed.” (Psalm 34:18 NCV)
Every one of us will experience loss in our lives. So how does God heal your broken heart? You don’t get over a loss. You can’t go under it; you can’t go around it. You’ve got to go through the grief. And if you are scared to express emotion and refuse to go through it, that’s where you get stuck.
But how do you get unstuck? You let God help you. There are six ways God blesses a broken heart.

God draws you close to Himself. Psalm 34:18 says, “The LORD is close to the brokenhearted, and He saves those whose spirits have been crushed” (NCV). When you grieve, you often feel like God is a million miles away. In fact, He’s never been any closer.

God grieves with you.  The Bible says, “(Jesus was) a man of sorrow, acquainted with deepest grief” (Isaiah 53:3a NLT, second edition).  When you come to Jesus with your grief, He knows what you are talking about, and He understands your pain. God is a suffering God, and He is a sympathetic God. He’s not aloof; He’s not apathetic. He’s not standing on the sidelines.

God gives you a church family for support.  We’re meant to grieve in community. Healing comes in groups. Healing comes in the church. Healing comes in community. We’re better together!  “In Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others…Be devoted to each other like a loving family…Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn’ (Romans 12:5, 10, 15 NIV/GW/NIV).

God uses grief to help you grow. God uses grief and even pain to help you become more like Christ, and He does it in three ways. God uses pain to get your attention (Proverbs 20:30). Second, He brings good out of bad (Romans 8:28). Third, He prepares you for eternity (2 Corinthians 4:17-18).

God gives you the hope of Heaven.  There are many people who grieve without hope. Your life on this earth is short, but if you believe in Jesus Christ and trust Him for your salvation, then you have the hope of spending eternity in Heaven with God, and that hope will sustain you through your time of loss. The Bible says in I Thessalonians 4:13, “We don’t want you to be ignorant about those who have died. We don’t want you to grieve like the other people who have no hope” (GW).

God uses your pain to help others. This is called redemptive pain; it is the highest and best use of the pain 

God does not want you to waste a hurt. “God comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us” (2 Corinthians 1:4 NLT, second edition).

(This is God's marching orders to our ladies at FNF. We are to comfort others when they are in trouble, with the same comfort God has given us.)

“Six Ways God Blesses a Broken Heart”
Written by Pastor Rick Warren,
Daily Devotions: Thursday, October 15, 2015
Saddleback Church, Lake Forest, California