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A message of blessing and gratitude from one thankful pilgrim to another.

A challenge looms large: I’m writing to incarcerated people and I’m supposed to mention the holidays. How do I do this? To tell the truth, being a single person, even though I do have family near me, I don’t look forward to the holiday season. There is so much expectation around it, so much over spending and the potential of sadness instead of joy—I just usually count the days until January and some sort of normalcy returns.

And now here I am with the “assignment” of writing to someone who has way more reason to feel sad than I might.
So what do I have to be thankful for—I mean, what do we both have to be thankful for? I started to make a list. In no particular order (except, of Course, Jesus Christ is number one), here are some things that I came up with. Let me know what you think.

To start with, I’m thankful for life. I mean, if my parents hadn’t become pen pals when he was in the army, he wouldn’t have come back to meet my Mom – and marry her – and I wouldn’t have been born 11 months later! I am thankful for life.

I’m thankful that I started to wonder about God at a very young age; I distinctly remember lying down on the grass at my Grandma’s farm, looking up at the sky with a question, “Who is God?”

Looking back 2,000 years, I am thankful that a zealous religious guy on his way to capture those new radical Nazarenes, got stopped in his tracks (or his horse’s tracks) with a Voice from heaven, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?”

Saul got a new name – and a new assignment – and we are blessed that he never lost sight of that assignment, even when spending time in prison. Come to think of it, he did some of his best work from a prison cell.

I am thankful for brave women who have spent lonely months in jail in a foreign country – and some who are still there – because they insist they must be free – and they refuse to confess to that being a crime. I have never had to spend time in jail for that, but I have stood up to a man’s oppression more than once. I am thankful for God’s faithfulness during those times.

I am thankful for the witness and courage of a German fellow by the name of Bonhoeffer. He had escaped his home country when Hitler was growing more powerful but as a Christian, he felt a call to return and although he was a pacifist, find some way to hinder Hitler. He did work for the underground for a while until he was arrested.

He died in a German prison at the age of 36. While in prison (like Paul) he wrote letters to the folks back home (and a whole lot more of us it turned out): Cost of Discipleship and Life Together. Even in prison, Bonhoeffer made a difference in the world and his influence continues down the decades.

I am thankful for the Scriptures – that I am able to read and (despite my not reading in the original languages) understand. I don’t need to wait for someone to read them to me; the Word of God is alive to even me. But it does help when a scholar knows the Hebrew and the Greek; they can go even deeper into the beauty of the message.

I am thankful for at least one of these currently. I am most of all thankful that God kept calling to me until I heard that call — He loves me and He invited me to repent and to be forgiven. He gave me a new life and a genuine purpose. He gave me Jesus.

“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.”

Colossians 3:12-14

Your sister in Christ

The Jesus Mindset

Throughout life’s ups and downs, it can be difficult to maintain our focus on gratitude. If we reflect on the life of Jesus, it is amazing that He managed to always be grateful! Through persecution, beatings, and even death, He focused on the wonderful things in life, even during the difficult times. We call this the “Jesus Mindet”. Let’s explore four major examples today!

Thankful for Open, Child-like Minds

Jesus lived his life traveling and spreading the Word however, not all people were receptive. Certain cities were particularly closed off such as Bethsaida and Capermaum. Even in times such as these, Jesus found reason to be thankful.

“O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, thank you for… revealing them to the childlike. Yes, Father, it pleased you to do it this way.”

Luke 10: 13-21

He focused one the open minds. He thanked the Lord for the child-like faith he found in others. It is with free faith and complete surrender that we open our hearts to the Lord. This is necessary for us to learn trust in the Lord. Even though our earthly life has taught us to be cautious, we can trust the Lord with our hearts.

Thankful for Answered Prayers

Jesus prayed several times and of course, he gives thanks. Regardless of how his prayers were answered, and before He even knew what the answer was, Jesus thanked the Lord. When He raised Lazarus, he prayed a thankful prayer before he even knew if he would be sucessful, trusting that the Lord’s answer would be the best.

“Took away the stone. And Jesus lfited up his eyes and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me.”

John 11:41

We pray for goals, hopes, and dreams. The difficult part is not making the prayer but in trusting the Lord to answer them according to His plan. We may want things and events but we have to have faith that the Lord’s judgement is superior to ours. So regardless of the answer, we are thankful.

Following His Example

Thanksgiving is upon us this month and it is the perfect time to start following His example. Regardless of the difficulties in life and because of them, we give thanks to the Lord. We know He will answer our prayers and take care of us.

Take a moment and think about when you give the Lord thanks. Once a week? Only when you get that promotion? When you eat? All of those times are wonderful! However, we need to remember to give thanks in between too. That guy who cut you off didn’t hit you, you woke up this morning, the toaster that you used for breakfast is powered by electricity, etc. He gave us life! Thank you, Jesus!!

A Simple Prayer of Gratitude 

Thank you, Lord, for the blessings you have bestowed on my life. You have provided me with more than I could ever have imagined. You have surrounded me with people who always look out for me. You have given me family and friends who bless me every day with kind words and actions. They lift me up in ways that keep my eyes focused on you and make my spirit soar.

Also, thank you, Lord, for keeping me safe. You protect me from those things that seem to haunt others. You help me make better choices and provide me with advisors to help me with life’s difficult decisions. You speak to me in so many ways so that I always know you are here.

And Lord, I am so grateful for keeping those around me safe and loved. I hope that you provide me with the ability and sense to show them every day how much they matter. I hope that you give me the ability to give to them the same kindness they have provided to me.

I am extremely grateful for all of your blessings in my life, Lord. I pray that you remind me of just how blessed I am and that you never allow me to forget to show my gratitude in prayer and returned acts of kindness.

Thank you, Lord.

- By Kelli Mahoney

Why is resurrection Sunday significant to the Christian faith?

Note: This article is from allaboutjesuschrist.com

Why is resurrection Sunday significant to the Christian faith?

Whether it is called Easter or Resurrection Sunday is not as important as the event and purpose of the resurrection. However, the timing of the crucifixion and resurrection is significantly meaningful. The resurrection of Jesus is the culmination of all things meaningful, faith and fact, in establishing a relationship with God.

God used the timing, which occurred just after “Passover” and during the Feast of Unleavened Bread, to illustrate the ultimate sacrifice He made for sinners. Without this sacrifice, Christianity would be an empty religion. Every purpose of Jesus Christ, His atonement for sin, would be unfulfilled and the foundation of Christianity would fall apart.

The Passover commemorates God’s “passing over” the Hebrew’s homes by the angel of death (Exodus 12:29). By accepting Jesus, we are promised eternal life and we are saved from spiritual death. The Feast of Unleavened Bread (verse 15) begins with unleavened bread (made without yeast) and sacrificing an unblemished, sacrificial lamb. Leavening represents the escape from bondage and sin. Jesus is called the Lamb of Godthrough whom the only escape is possible.

At midnight(A) the Lord(B) struck down all the firstborn(C) in Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh, who sat on the throne, to the firstborn of the prisoner, who was in the dungeon, and the firstborn of all the livestock(D) as well.

Exodus 12:29

Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection are God’s provision for the perfect and final sacrifice for man’s sins. God requires no other payment for sins! With this provision, mankind is granted opportunity for new life by the forgiveness of sin and escape from its bondage. It is ours for the mere acceptance of this gift.

This is the key event in the New Testament where it is proclaimed throughout. All four Gospels report the miraculous event. In Matthew 28:6 the angel declared “He is not here: for he is risen!” Mark 16:6 reports “‘Don’t be alarmed,’ [the angel] said. ‘You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him.'”

“Don’t be alarmed, ‘ [the angel] said. ‘You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen!”

Mark 16:6

In Luke 24:46-48, the risen Jesus gave His disciples a greater understanding of the resurrection when He told them: “This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.” Jesus foretells of His resurrection in John 16, then to one of the doubting witnesses, Thomas, He says the following in John 20:29: “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

While Jesus was admired and praised as a teacher, healer, and for performing miracles, He was put to death on the cross. But God raised Him from the dead. Had the witnesses not believed what they saw, Christianity would not have spread across the globe and remained a profound belief to this day.

Praying you find peace and new beginnings this Resurrection Sunday.

-CPP Ministry Team

Paul’s Joy in Prison

Paul is one of the greatest disciples of Christ that ever lived. Once he was saved, he traveled and learned in Christ’s presence. After Christ ascended, he dedicated every moment of the rest of his life to sharing the Good News. However, he spent the last years of his life in a miserable Roman prison. Even through this adversity, he found joy and wrote almost one half of the New Testament! We can learn to find joy in all circumstances by studying Paul’s words.

Paul had a difficult journey the last years of his life. He traveled from town to town, spreading the news of the Gospel. Not everyone was happy to see him. In his letter to the Corinthians, he explains that he “worked much harder… been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again” (2 Corinthians 11:23) After all of this, he finally made it to Rome, only to be thrown in prison! Yet he still spread the Gospel and found joy in these terrible circumstances. (2 Corinthians 12:10)

“…for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties.”

2 Corinthians 12:10

He wrote Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon… ALL FROM PRISON. That is almost HALF the New Testament and he wrote it all during one of the most difficult times in his life!

He wrote 1 & 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 & 2 Thessalonians, AND 1&2 Timothy… ALL FROM PRISON. That is almost HALF the New Testament and he wrote it all during one of the most difficult times in his life!

In Paul’s letters of the Bible, he effused joy and contentment in his prison life. He was thankful and grateful for any and all assistance, but said not to despair, but to be joyful in the Lord. How did he do it?? And how can we learn to have the same joy in our lives?

Hope during Trials

Paul begins all of his letters in prayer. For example, he opens Philippians saying “In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now” (Philippians 1:4-5)Prayer is the key to keeping a relationship of communication with the Lord. Prayer not only for yourself, but for others that need His blessing as well. Prayer leads to being thankful and being thankful leads to joy.

He remembered his True Purpose

No matter what we may face, adversity, persecution, affliction, hardship, or disaster, the Lord has a plan for us. “Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11) Even if it doesn’t seem like it at the time, God has a future for you. That future will always include a way to grow in faith and bring glory to Him. That is our true purpose on this Earth. “Everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.” (Isaiah 43:7)

Paul never planned on going to prison, and yet he found a way to fulfill his purpose while there. He was chained to a different guard every day. Instead of being upset that he was chained to some random person, he saw it as an opportunity to pour out his best sermons with a captive audience! He writes of this opportunity in Philippians: “I want you to know, beloved, that was has happened to me has actually helped to spread the gospel, so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to everyone else that my imprisonment is for Christ… having been made confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, dare to speak the word with greater boldness and without fear.” (Philippians 1: 12-14)

God is the true source of hope

Stark contrast between Paul’s terrible circumstances and his intense hope is very evident in the book of Philippians. The word “joy” appears 16 times in this short letter. He explains that “I know that through your prayers and the help given by the Spirit of Jesus Christ, what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance” (Philippians 1:19)

How can he be so confident? The Bible tells us that no matter how scary our current situation, God’s will shall be done. You can face the worst and come out the best. Just like Paul, faith and trust in the Lord, and his plan, can get you through any circumstances. Paul wrote “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation.” (Philippians 4:12)

He remained humble

While he became the apostle of spiritual joy, Paul never took the credit. He never boasted. He didn’t even overcome through his own willpower. He attributed his spiritual contentment to its true source, Jesus Christ. He explains in Philippians 4:13 that it was the power of Christ that helped him overcome.

“I can do everything through Him who gives me strength”

Philippians 4:13

While it may be easier for us to rely on ourselves and take the credit for the blessings in our lives, God is the true reason for the good in our lives. Whether he gives you the dream to build your own company or sends a friend in a time of need, God will always be there to provide for you!

May the Lord continue to bless you and provide for your needs. May you come to rely on Him in faith and understanding,

CPP Ministry team

Why is it important to fellowship with other Christians?

We all know that the Christian faith puts a ton of emphasis on fellowship and attending church events. This seems like a great idea, but oftentimes we let our lives get in the way. So, why is Christian fellowship important?

It is more than just spending time with acquaintances that happen to share a similar set of beliefs. Fellowship is time in God’s family (see left).

Even the word for fellowship in the new testament, koinonia, means to be together for mutual benefit. This clearly states that it is beneficial for all parties. But how is it beneficial? The Bible clearly states that fellowship, spending time together as children of God, both encourages good works and is an expression of love for one another (Hebrews 10: 24-25) That sounds pretty beneficial to me!

“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”

Hebrews 10: 24-25

A third, most important reason, is that fellowship sets an example and has a massive impact on those looking in. Not that love for one another and good works are not important, but our primary directive is to spread the word of Christ so that none die without hearing the gospel (Mark 16:15). This can be accomplished when outsiders witness the love that is shared during our time together. (John 13:35)

“By this, all people will know tat you are my disciples, if you have love for one another”

John 13:35

And if you need yet another reason to fellowship, it is always an opportunity to pray with and for each other. For while solo prayer is powerful, prayer together is even more powerful. For the Word says, ” Again I say to you, that if two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 18:19.

And these are just a few of the multitude of reasons why Christian fellowship is so important. Though many believers today do not recognize the importance of fellowship or local church involvement, Christian fellowship is essential to spiritual growth. Many aspects of our spiritual lives depend on being together with other believers to encourage, teach, serve, and share life together.

Do you have something to add? Please feel to comment below or send us a message!

  1. I enjoyed reading this, nicely done, no matter where we may be, we are blessed to know God and for…

  2. Thank you so much! We are trying hard to get this blog up-and-running! We do have email newsletters alerting you…

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Thanks to the great work of God and all of our God-sent volunteers, our organization has quickly grown in size in the last few years. Now that our audience has grown, God has moved us to open a blog. It will include tips and tricks, motivational stories, and Word of God for your viewing pleasure.

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