Archive | December 2016

Stay focusedĀ 

Luke 2:1-7 – “And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.”

It is 2 days before Christmas. We are all, for the most part, running around like crazy people trying to get “everything” done. There are last minute gifts to buy. Groceries to purchase for parties and get togethers. Places to be. People to see. With all the hubbub, it’s even hard to fall asleep some nights with all the thoughts and considerations of what still needs to be done. 

Stop. 

Stop for just one moment. 

Remember. 

Remember why we celebrate. Remember Who we celebrate. Remember why we really give gifts to the ones we love. Remember why this season is so important. 

It’s CHRISTmas. 

When we lose sight of what this season is really all about, it becomes just another excuse to spend money and get all worked up. 

You know, I’m writing this as much to you as I am to me. It is so easy to get caught up in making sure the stockings are stuffed and that every child in the home has about the same number of gifts. It’s easy to feel sorry for yourself for being stressed about getting it all done. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed and jealous when you see someone else so relaxed. It’s easy to lose my focus. 

This is the season that we celebrate God’s choice to send His One and Only Son to the earth to live a sinless life and die a horrible death for all of mankind and then arise from the grave 3 days later just so that we can have a relationship with Him. This is the season we remember and contemplate what Mary and Joseph had to go through with rejection after rejection with a majorly pregnant woman on hand. This is the season when we realize and appreciate that the King of Kings spent His first few hours on this earth in a manager meant to feed animals. 

God gave us the very best gift of all when He gave us Jesus Christ. That’s why we give gifts. We were first given the Gift. This is the season about family – the Father gave His Son to a mother and father who truly believed and trusted Him; they were His children. We are God’s children if we chose to believe in His Son Jesus. Family. 

So in the hustle and bustle of the next few days, don’t lose focus. Remember what it is all about. Take time to share with others what this season truly means. Be weird about it. Make people ask questions why you say “Merry Christmas”. Just don’t lose focus. It is exactly what the devil is trying to achieve – taking our eyes off Christ. 

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Something we all need

Matthew 6:14,15 – “For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”

So let me give you the brief rundown of my day yesterday. I went back to work after being gone 4 days for a long weekend at a really tough soccer tournament- tough emotionally, not necessarily physically. I had a Christmas party at my house last night for the youth group (which, by the way, was so much fun!!). Needless to say, I was a bit frazzled. 

I went to the wrong client’s house – I was an hour early. Oh. My. Goodness. And to top it all off, it was the same client who had called me the day before and wanted to know why I wasn’t there – she had me scheduled for a day I had taken off, yet, it was my fault. I didn’t argue. No need. But to make another mistake on top of one hurt already there? I felt like a “cotton headed ninny-muggen” (Elf, one of my favorite Christmas movies). 

I apologized. And then apologized again. I owned my mistake. I admitted she was right. And apologized again. I felt terrible. It still bugs me. I know I’m forgiven by her and my Heavenly Father because I asked. 

But I hate making mistakes like that. Your plugging along through your day thinking that you have this thing all together and BOOM! Reality check. You are just playing like you have it together. It stinks 

However, I am so grateful for forgiveness. But the thing about forgiveness is when it is asked for, you should give it. And when you ask for it, you have to accept it. You can’t keep beating yourself over the head with your mistake. Neither can you keep beating someone else with their mistake when they have asked you for forgiveness. You gotta walk away and don’t go there again. 

Forgiveness can be a beautiful healer for both parties involved. It is tough to ask for and tough to give. Yet, we need to follow the example of Jesus who forgave…always and sometimes without them asking. 

People are going to wound us. We are going to wound others. Forgiveness needs to be a part of who we are because sometimes we all need forgiveness. 

New name

Revelation 2:17 – “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it.”

Twinkle Pointy-Toes. That’s my elf name. It’s getting close to Christmas and out comes the meme to identify your elf name. It’s not too bad, really. I kinda like the idea that I twinkle – not always annoyingly bright, but rather changing and creating interest to those who take the time to look. As for the pointy toes, well, I guess that a good swift kick in the pants might not be such a good idea as punishment. 

Any way…

A new name. God has promised that those who overcome will get a new name. I wonder what mine will be. How does He choose it? I’m sure that He doesn’t take the first letter of your first name and make it one thing and the last name from the month you were born in. No, it has to be way more interesting than that. Maybe He will give me a name that best fits my service to Him or maybe it’s related to what He loves best about me or maybe it’s my most shining characteristic. Who knows. But what I do know, is I want one – a new name. 

Overcoming. Overcoming what? Sin. The church that was being addressed in this verse had some serious problems – they had chased after false doctrine.  They had wondered from The Path. John, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, was encouraging these people to overcome the temptation to follow after beliefs that were not of God. 

There are so many opportunities for false doctrine out there. So many people claiming they are right and everyone else is wrong. I believe the Bible. I read the Bible. I believe the Bible is the Word of God. I believe it has the answer to every question I could ever come up with. True, questions about the content of the internet isn’t specifically in there, but guarding your heart and keeping away from the appearance of evil is. 

If the content of a person’s message cannot be directly found in the Word of God, I don’t believe it. Opinions are not what is important. What God says is important. And that, is how I will overcome and get a new name – I choose to believe God and His Word. 

It is fun to learn your elf name and wondering about your new Heavenly name is interesting. But for now, I think we all need to focus on overcoming. I don’t know about you, but I want to be found faithful. I want to be found waiting for Him. I want to be found being a good steward of the gifts He has given me. 

The Perfect Recipe

Psalm 34:12-17 – “What man is he that desireth life, and loveth many days, that he may see good? Keep thy tongue from evil, and thy lips from speaking guile. Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it. The eyes of the LORD are upon the righteous, and his ears are open unto their cry. The face of the LORD is against them that do evil, to cut off the remembrance of them from the earth. The righteous cry, and the LORD heareth, and delivereth them out of all their troubles.”

I love to cook. If you could see my bookshelf for my recipe books, the claim would be confirmed. I love the joy on a person’s face when they taste something super yummy. I love the gentle sounds that people make when something is oh, so good. Typically, that doesn’t happen without just the right recipe. 

Hence the thoughts for today…

When David wrote this psalm, he gave us a fabulous recipe, a recipe for life. Here’s my take on it: “You wanna have good, long life? Don’t gossip. Don’t lie. Don’t create problems. Watch your mouth. You walk away from things that even smell bad. You look for things that will honor and glorify God, and you run after them with all you’ve got.” 

Life provides us with so many opportunities to chase after things that have pushed God out of the picture. Things that don’t bring peace are easily found. And my, oh my, there are so many opportunities to run our mouth. Isn’t life pretty much summed up in those three bad choices? Poor attitudes and selfishness are easily captured. 

It takes work to keep your attitude in check. It takes effort to keep selfishness far from you. It takes a muzzle, sometimes, to keep negative things from flying out of your mouth. 

Now that I have hashed through some of the negatives of life, let’s see if we can determine some positives. 

God’s eyes are on those who pursue a right life. He hears their prayers. He is attentive to their needs. He never leaves them alone. 

Jesus Christ was the only One to make it off this earth with no sin. Praise God for that! The rest of us need to have His commitment as our goal. We should strive to be like Him. That is the “life…and love of days” to “see good” that David is speaking of here. 

The new year is just around the corner. People will soon be contemplating goals that, more than likely, will never be attained in the upcoming year. So why wait? Start today. Wednesday is a great day to start living the perfect recipe. Oh, it will be hard. The devil will throw trials and tribulations in your path. But who cares? You know the end of the story. Keep going. The “oohs” and “ahs” are just up ahead in Heaven. 

Acting like an animal

Mark 4:37-41 – “And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full. And he was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake him, and say unto him, Master, carest thou not that we perish? And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. And he said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith? And they feared exceedingly, and said one to another, What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”

We had a missionary come and speak to us last night. He is heading to the Solomon Islands, hopefully, in August. He brought a message in regards to obeying to God’s voice. 

Read this Scripture one more time. Pay close attention to the end. 

The message last night reminded us that all of creation obeys God’s voice. Why can’t we?

Just think for a minute, the wind ceased when Jesus said to do so. The waves ceased when Jesus said to do so. Not a gentle, progressive calming – they ceased or stopped. 

The speaker also reminded us of the great fish that swallowed Jonah. How did it know to do that? And what about the animals getting on the ark – how did they know where to go and what to do? They all heard God’s voice and obeyed. They didn’t question it. They didn’t fight against Him. God said move; they moved.

So we have all these examples in the Bible of things that have no soul and no upper level thinking capabilities- creatures and things we consider inferior- obeying God. And then in walks a human and boom! All sorts of questions and fussing and whining about a simple command. 

Just think for a moment what God is asking us to do on a most basic level – read and study His word, go to a local New Testament church and worship Him, talk to those around you about Him and His work in your life, obey Him. These are not difficult commands, yet we act like a two year old when asked to do any of them. Why is it so difficult to obey His voice? 

So, my challenge to you (and to myself) this week is to obey His voice, period. Obey His voice in the simple things. Trust me, if the animals can do it, so can you. 

15,330

Philippians 4:13 – “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”

Today, I am 42 years old. 15,330 days I have been out of my mommy’s tummy and breathing this air. That’s a really big number, you know?

I don’t feel like I have lived that many days. Looking back, like everyone can, I see good days, sad days, fun days, hard days, cold days, hot days, days I will remember forever (I hope) and days I would like to forget. 

But you know what? If I’m honest with myself, I don’t know that there have ever been any “bad” days. Now, I have been known to express a day as a “bad day” but I don’t know that a bad day is possible with Jesus walking with me. 

Any how…the verse. 

As I have said before, this is one of my favorite verses in the Bible. I have faced some tough challenges in my life, according to my narrow scope of reality. And there is no way that I could have come through on the other side without my Jesus. He has held my hand in my darkest hours after my dad passed away. He has dried my tears when a loved one has come home to Him. He has listened when I thought my parenting skills were ruining my children. He has given me confidence when I allowed the devil to take it away. He has put one foot in front of the other when I didn’t believe another step was possible. He has laughed many hours with me. He has been the One to make my 15,330 days possible and full of love, joy, peace, family, laughter and so many more emotions and actions that would possibly never end. 

My 15,330 days have been amazing. I wouldn’t change a thing. Each and every experience has made me who I am today. I’m not sure if God will grant me 15,330 more days, but if He chooses to do so, I want to be a blessing and an encouragement to those around me, even on the not-so-good days. 

Eternal

1 John 5:11-12 – “And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.”

My husband and I were at the mall this weekend. We saw a shirt hanging in a window that said, “We are eternal.” I had to stop and get another look. My husband said, “Sure we are eternal. But what eternal are they talking about?” He was thinking heaven or hell. 

It seems that our society thinks it is above reproach. Somehow or another, they think they will never die and never be held accountable for anything they do. I have heard songs about that “we will are never getting older” and songs about doing something “anyway”. 

No thought for consequences. No thought to anyone else other than themself. 

Eternal. Do people realize that is a really, really, really long and never ending time? Do they realize that their eternity will be spent in a smoking or non-smoking place? They have the choice of everlasting love or everlasting fire. They have the choice to accept Jesus or reject Him. 

So yes, we are eternal. But which eternal will you choose – eternal love or eternal damnation? It seems like such an easy choice. Choosing love means allowing Jesus to lead and guide you. Choosing damnation means leading yourself and trusting that you can make all things good. For me, I choose to let Christ lead my life. I choose eternal love.