Sincerely Yours

Sincerely YoursApril 23, 2019

“Sincerely yours.” That is how I would close this letter. I think Jesus would close it with “Love you always.”

Words matter. My words matter. Your words matter. His words matter.

The words of a letter inform, create a mood, give details, share life, show happenings, and show the direction of progress.

A letter has a date, a greeting, a body, a closing, and a signature.

This letter was dated almost 2,000 years ago, yet its application is timeless and eternal. *

It is addressed to whosoever. It informs all people that love and eternal life are available, and it gives instructions on how to grab hold of them.

It recounts that almost 2,000 years ago, the purest, most intense act of love there ever was—or ever will be—was evidenced for the world to see. And the evidence remains—to be seen in this letter of love, straight to you from God Himself.

This is not a bill; this is a letter, communicating the greatest expression of love. If anything, this letter tells you that your bill has been paid in full. Not written in ink, but penned with love.

Your direction of progress can be decided and settled because His direction took Him to the cross to be a perfect sacrifice for you.

Will you stuff this letter back into the envelope and toss it from you? Or will you open it and reread it, committing it to memory? Will you hold it dear to your heart and treasure it always? Will you grab hold of the body of the letter and claim the closing as your own?

This letter is sincerely yours. And Jesus loves YOU, always.

Sincerely yours,

Francee Strain

*see John 3:16

Three Crosses

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There were three crosses, and upon each one an important decision was made. On the cross in the middle, hung Jesus Christ, the Son of God. He willingly chose to offer up his life as a sacrifice to pay for our sins and give us an opportunity to spend eternity with Him. On either side of Him hung a man who was facing the end of his life and was about to pass into eternity. They each had time to make a choice. One chose at that moment to reject who Jesus was and what was being offered to him—salvation and eternal life. The other chose to believe and asked Jesus to save him. To this man Jesus said, “Today you will be with Me in Paradise.”* On which side of the cross will you stand? What choice will you make while you have this moment of time?

*Luke 23:43 (NKJV)
Francee Strain, April 19, 2019

Easter Preparations

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Dress.  Check.  Shoes.  Check.  Basket.  Check.  Candy.  Check.  It is all there, and I am ready to shop for dinner rolls.  Easter preparations are well underway.  Why do I do these things?  It’s Easter!  It’s tradition.  I like candy.  And bread.  But what about my heart?  Have I prepared it for Easter?  Why would I?

Why do we take the time to prepare our hearts for Easter?  Think of the gravity of the situation.  Think of the weight of our sins.  Think of that weight being placed upon the sinless shoulders of Jesus Christ.  Think of the things Jesus gave up for us.  He left His throne room to hang on a cross.  He set aside His crown as King of all the universe to wear a crown of thorns.  He set aside His vestments as Lord of all Lords to be stripped and beaten, mocked and humiliated, tortured and killed.  As He labored for His very breath, He labored for our very souls.  He gave up the company of His Father so He could die alone, covered in our sins that the Father could not look upon.  Yes, Jesus gave up much so that we could have much.  He gave up His very life so we could have life.  And not just any life.  Life abundant and life eternal.

I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. (John 10:10b NKJV)

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. (John 3:16 NKJV)

So We May Know

“The greatest evidence of God’s desire for us to know Him and be in relationship with Him was the sending of His Son.” *

Jesus came so we may know life: life eternal and life abundant.

He came so that we may know forgiveness: absolute and complete, with sins buried in the depths of the sea, spread as far as the east is from the west, and remembered no more.

He came so that we may know God firsthand: He is the mediator between us, through His sacrifice on the cross and His resurrection.

We have an opportunity to know the extraordinary–the true and living God–but we have to take action.  We need to walk forward in faith and accept the opportunity to know Him firsthand.  We receive His forgiveness and receive eternal life by confessing our sins and accepting Jesus’s atonement for them through His death on the cross.

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9 NKJV).

This is a season of resurrection.  Will you allow Him to resurrect your soul and give you a new and living hope?  Will you come to know Him?

“And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent” (John 17:3 NKJV).

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I know whom I have believed.

                      ~ Francee

 

Francee Strain, March 27, 2018

*Quotation taken from Francee Strain, No Ordinary Invitation: Called to Live a Life of Eternal Purpose, (Bloomington, IN: WestBow Press, 2017), 72.

Photo by Francee Strain

 

 

 

 

Make Me More

Do you ever feel like you are not enough?  Do you want to be more?  I suppose we all might likely answer yes to this question, as I do not think I have ever met anyone who has said, “I wish I was less.”  Why is it that we want to be more?  Why do we think that we are not enough just as we are?

We want to be more because that is how we were created to be.  We long for more.  We search for more.  We ask for more.  We yearn for more.

We have hearts that are on a quest.  Hearts that search and long for something else that they do not yet have.  That something that we do not yet have is eternity.  God has placed a longing in our hearts for it.  A longing for a life that is full and vibrant and beautiful.

So, how do we reconcile the reality of what is and the reality of what could be?  How do we get to this place of eternity where the longing will be fulfilled?  The answer is really quite simple.  We place our longing into the hands of God and we take into our hands what He offers in return for that longing.  He offers salvation first.  If we choose to accept that gift, our hands can then become so full that they overflow.

The gift of salvation opens the door to blessings unimaginable because it is the key.

Salvation is given to you when you give your faith and trust to God.  When you realize that there is a door between you and God, a separation that needs to be removed so that you can be together with Him, that is when your hand is about to grasp the key.

Jesus is the key–the key to eternal life.  He is the perfect Son of God who became a perfect sacrifice for you.  He lived a sinless life on this earth and died a painful death on the cross to become the key that opens the door to eternal life.  Each of us is separated from God by our wrongdoings and imperfections.  Jesus came to die on the cross to forgive us of those wrongdoings and make us perfect through His righteousness.  Your belief in His death to atone for these wrongs, and your request that He forgive you of yours, will cleanse you of them and permit you to enter through the door.

And then, there is more.  Salvation through Jesus gives you eternal life, but you also have the opportunity to have abundant life.  Into your hands–into your life, heart, mind, soul, and relationships–can come love, joy, peace, strength, ability, patience, kindness, and so much more.  You can be transformed in how you live–how you act, think, feel, relate.  You can be more.  More because of the gifts that will be placed into your hands.  More because you will have things that you never had before.  Things that cannot be measured.  Things that cannot be priced.  Things that are not tangible.  The “more” will be things that are immeasurable: like the grace of God that covers all sin, a peace that passes all understanding, a joy that is present even when there is no cause for happiness, and a supernatural ability to endure.

And then we, when we have “more,” can be made more.  We can be made into beautiful representations of the love of God, the strength of God, the passion of God.  He is able to do above and beyond all that we ask, think, or imagine.

As for me and myself, I say: “Make me more!”

I want to glow like I have never glowed before.  I want to shine like a star in the heavens.  I want to go in the strength of the Lord God.  I want to do what I have never been able to do before.  I want to tread a path that follows in the footsteps of Jesus.  I want to think like He thinks, feel like He feels, love like He loves.

Yes, God, make me more.

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© Text and photos Francee Strain, July 8, 2017, revised May 25, 2019