Archive | December 2015

Just Do It

Matthew 1:18-25 – “Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a publick example, was minded to put her away privily. But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins. Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us. Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife: And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS.”

During this time of year, we mostly focus on Mary and Baby Jesus. We talk about Joseph, but do we really think about all that he went through during this time?

In my heart, I believe that Joseph truly loved Mary. My reason for that – he could have had her stoned because she was pregnant before they were married. He had every right to do that under the Law. But he had in mind to put her away privately and just not be associated with her any longer – kinda like a premarital divorce. We don’t really get that in our society because that’s not how things work. But back then, when the couple got engaged, they were essentially married but could not come together until they had the ceremony. Different, but that’s the way I understand that they did things.

So Joseph had planned to take care of things the best way that he knew how. But God had other plans. And what I love about the way God did things is that He didn’t conform to society’s expectations and rules. He wasn’t concerned about what people thought. And Joseph followed His leading. He dealt with all these things by the grace of God. He faced ridicule and bad mouthing and gossip and mean stares and questioning and all the other vices that we, as a society, interject on someone acting outside the norm.

It’s hard to think about and/or imagine how I would have reacted to this scenario. People probably thought they were crazy when Joseph and Mary both told them they had been visited by an angel separately. Remember, it had been about 500 years since anyone had heard from God and now He was speaking to this young woman and a carpenter for lands sake?! Not a likely story in most people’s eyes.

Yet, this did not deter Joseph. He did what God told him to do when He told him to do it. He was obedient.

My challenge for you today is to just do it. If God is asking you to do something crazy, just do it. If He is telling you to jump off the limb, just do it. If He is telling you to reach beyond your grasp, just do it. If He is leading you into uncharted waters, just do it. He cared for this carpenter and this young woman in the harshest environment I can imagine for these two. He walked with them to Bethlehem. He was beside them when people scorned the young couple. He was encouraging to them both when things seemed more than they could bear. He provided for them in the most dire of circumstances. And now here we are, 2000 years later analyzing their choices, their heart and their courage and seeing His hand at work in their life. All they were trying to do was be obedient. You never know how or what God is going to do and who it may effect. But if you never put yourself out there and trust Him, you will never find out. Just do it.

Advertisements

My Treasure Box

Luke 2:19 – “But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.”

A woman’s heart can be a very deep place. (Sorry guys, this one is for us girls. But please, read on.)

I believe that God gave woman the uncanny ability to store a massive amount of memories in her heart. I believe that we are able to recall those memories at the weirdest times. And those memories have the ability to make us ball our eyes out! That was me last night.

Today is my son’s 14th birthday. It is hard for me to comprehend that I  have a 14 year old. But that is not what was making me cry last night. It was 14 years ago at this time that I saw my daddy for the last time. So it’s a bittersweet time.

But as I was driving home last night, those treasured memories in that deep box were opened and the tears were not far behind. I remembered the night my son was born. I remembered my dad being the first one to rock him. I remember when my dad was holding him and my son lifted his head to turn it and look at my dad. I thought my dad was going to come unglued! I remember him saying to my mom, “Did you get that on video?! He’s not even an hour old and he lifted his head! This baby is amazing!” He was so proud.

My treasured memories stored up for times such as these.

Mary had her own set of stored memories that I’m sure she took out and cried over many, many times. Memeories of that innkeeper offering them the stable when she felt like she was going to die. Memories of the first time she held her Savior in her arms. Memories of His very first visitors – the shepherds. Memories of the wise men coming to visit her toddling little Savior. Memories of butterfly kisses that Jesus gave her. So many precious memories that mom’s have but these are so much more precious because they were with her Savior.

So, ladies, appreciate that deep memory box. Open it up from time to time and let those memories wash over you. God gave you the precious gift of storing those memories for a reason. Our children won’t be little forever. Treasure them.

Where are the wise men?

Matthew 2:10-11 – “When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.”

Do you have a manger scene set up for Christmas? If so, where are the wise men?

You know, it’s funny at my house. When we out up our nativity scene, my daughter always wants to put the wise men far away from baby Jesus. So many people put the wise men at the manger scene. In reality, there is no way that they could have been there.

In the beginning of Matthew 2, we are told that a star appeared in the east when Jesus was born and that the wise men followed this star all the way to Jerusalem. They were from “the east”. I’m not sure exactly where these fellas had come from, but I know that it would have had to have taken them a really long time to get there. It’s not like they had cars or planes or something along those lines. They rode donkeys and camels – not known for their speed.

But they kept following. They trudged and traveled all night long for many months, perhaps. Can you imagine? Just traveling to who knows where following a star? But God had a purpose – He always does.

Meanwhile, in our verses today, we are told that Jesus was a “young child” when they finally got there AND He was in a house. He had been in a stable that night – probably more like a cave. When the Bible describes when Jesus was born, the writers use the term “babe” or “baby”, not “young child”. This term is usually reserved for toddler aged little people.

Yes, I know, to some this is nit-picky. But to me, it is important. And the reason it is important is this – by putting the wise men far from the nativity scene, I am reminded of the diligence the wise men showed at seeking out Jesus. They could have given up after a week or a month. But they kept following this star that they could not explain. They had no idea where it was going, but they knew when they got there that they would meet the King of kings and the Lord of lords.

If you had been with the wise men, would you have kept going? Would you have continued night after night to follow a moving star in the night sky?

We have the written Word of God easily available at our fingertips. We know the beginning of the story, the middle of the story and the end of the story. We can see His miracles, His deeds, His caring heart, His will and so much more any time we want. Yet, would we be considered wise men who seek after Him with no more than a star to guide us?

Songs in my head

Psalm 96:1-2 – “O sing unto the LORD a new song: sing unto the LORD, all the earth. Sing unto the LORD, bless his name; shew forth his salvation from day to day.”

Almost every morning I wake up with a song in my head. For me, it is a good indicator of where my thoughts are at. This morning, I woke up with a song from our Christmas contata in my head. The name of the song is “Thank you Lord”. Just a simple little song of praise with a swinging beat. Love it!

But there are some mornings when I wake up with a song that does not lift up and/or magnify the name of Christ. Those mornings I struggle a bit more to keep my focus on Him.

Music is very important in my life. It always has been. From the time I can remember, I have been singing in church, in the car, in my room (while listening to my record player – ouch!) – basically anywhere. I listen to all different types of music and enjoy most of it (I’m not too fond of rap). I’ve sang in choirs. I’ve done solos. I’ve done some pretty amazing concerts in my car.

But no matter how much I have done, nothing can compare to the love in my heart when I hear my daughter sing. She loves music just like me. We always laugh and say that her life is a musical – she’s always singing and talking.

You know, I think God gave us music and the ability to create it for a very specific purpose – His honor and His glory. King David was a musician and song writer. I also hear-tell that he was quite the dancer. You can’t dance without some kind of music, if nothing else, you can have music in your head. But David’s dancing and singing and songwriting had one purpose – to glorify God.

That’s exactly where we need to have our focus as well. I don’t know if I can control the songs that I wake up with in my head, but I have found that they stem from the day before. Some days I listen to all Christian music and some days I don’t. But when I fill myself with more of Him, I will be better equipped to follow after Him more proficiently.

We all have a choice here in what we fill our days with – the music we listen to, the songs we sing, the people we interact with (well, maybe not always this one), the shows we watch. Life is about choices. How will you choose Him today?

Do you have what it takes?

Philippians 4:19 – “But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”

Tomorrow is my daughter’s very first cheer competition. She and her team have been working since the beginning of October to get this routine together. It has been a road of success and failures, heartache and tears, joy and laughter. They have grown together as a team, but they are nervous.

The one thing they have to remember is this – just do your best and don’t stop. Don’t stop competing. Don’t stop smiling. Don’t stop cheering.

I was never a cheerleader. I don’t know what it is like to stand in front of a crowd and cheer my heart out only to have a bunch of people sitting there staring at me. I do know that it makes my daughter smile when I try to cheer along – for being a band geek, I’m not very good at keeping the right tempo in a cheer. It’s quite embarrassing, actually.

Anyway, I know you must be wondering when I am going to get around to tying this all together. I could bring out something cliche like “Life is like a cheer competition because…” But I won’t.

Every day we are faced with some type of challenge. It may be getting up in the morning or it may be deciding whether or not you are going to take a stand for what you believe in. Competition is out there. Fierce competition is out there. The question is, do you have what it takes to face it?

We think – “I need more time” or “I need this to do this right” or “I need to do this to win”. Nope. You need Jesus. Paul reminded the church at Philippi that God would supply everything they need. Everything. Everything they NEED. Not everything they want. Sometimes we get those two mixed up.

What the girls need for tomorrow is to give the glory to God for how well they are going to do and to trust Him to keep them safe. What I need for today is to meet the challenges I face with a holy and righteous attitude that will glorify my Father in heaven.

God already knows what tomorrow will bring. He already knows what the next 10 minutes will bring. Let Him give you what you need and be ready to praise Him when He gives you more than you deserve.

Walk the line

Romans 8:4-9 – “That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.”

It is a tough thing to walk the line.

As followers of Christ, we are supposed to be in the world but not of the world. (2 Corinthians 10:3)  How are you supposed to be in something but not act like something? It’s like being at a football game when you really care nothing about football but find yourself cheering the team on and getting upset when they get a bad call. We are supposed to have the mind of Christ. Jesus is the One we are to be focused on and living for. But are you? Am I?

Most of the time I’m the one at the football game. I get caught up in the things of the world. “People are coming over. I need to get my house just so.” “I’m going to work today. I need to look nice. I don’t have time to study my Bible this morning. I’ll get to it tonight.” (And then tonight never comes because you are too busy.

We get caught up in appearances and stuff that really has no eternal value. We make a big deal out of nothing. We are being carnally minded.

So how do we combat this problem? It’s being around God’s people. It’s being in God’s word. It’s taking time to pray. I’m sure that there are a hundred other things that can be done to combat carnal mindedness, but these were just a few that popped into my head this morning.

Let me encourage you to make those choices to be closer to Him and closer to His people. The only way we are going to make a difference is by being different. And sometimes being different is difficult.

It’s the Christmas season. The holly crowd is making plans to attend church these next few weeks. This gives you (and me) a great opportunity to reach out to them for Him. We need to encourage them to get plugged in and be involved on a more regular basis. Jesus is waiting them. Jesus is waiting for us to be obedient. Walk on the side of the line that is following after Christ.

That little paper

Deuteronomy 18:9-13 – “When thou art come into the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee, thou shalt not learn to do after the abominations of those nations. There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch, Or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer. For all that do these things are an abomination unto the LORD: and because of these abominations the LORD thy God doth drive them out from before thee. Thou shalt be perfect with the LORD thy God.”

image

This was put on my windshield this weekend while we were shopping. It has been bothering me every since.

However, it did make me stop and think for a moment. Are the things that the children of Israel were taught still important today? Do they still apply or are they old lessons that are out of date? I believe they are absolutely relevant and applicable to today.

There is a reason that God warned His chosen people to stay away from these kind of people. 1. By listening to them, one is showing that they don’t trust God to hold their future. They think that if they could find out what is going to happen, that they would be better prepared to handle the situation and thus make a different outcome. That is way too much stress for me! I would rather let my all-knowing, all-caring, forever-trusting Savior hold onto things. He can deal with things much better than me! 2. It gives the appearance of evil. These people that are looking at cards and tea leaves and any other unusual thing for information are doing so not of their own power. They are seeking out things that are only found in the dark. I choose Light. I choose to let Light guide me instead of darkness. 3. They tell one only what one wants to hear. They don’t have my greater good in mind. Their words have no power to guide, only to deceive.

But I think the thing that disturbed me the most about this little paper was the fact that this person claims to be “Godly gifted”. God does not give gifts to people that inhibit His will or fail to give Him honor and glory. I will just go ahead and say it – Based on the Word of God, this person is wrong.

Ok, now that my little rant is over, how does this apply to today? Well, we have everything we need to solve any problem we have or any challenge we face right at our fingertips – the Bible. We don’t need a psychic or any such person to show us the way or guide us through our problems. You see, we have the One who holds tomorrow holding our hand today. Trust Him and Him alone to show you the way.