Saturday, December 20, 2014

~ "The greatest gift..."

"For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved." (John 3:17)

How much does our Father love us?  I think it's safe to say that by sending and sacrificing his son for all the world tells us that he does love us unconditionally.  Unfortunately, we cannot make the same claim.  Often we put our love for God on the back burner.  He isn't always front and center as he should be.  Why?  Because we are human.

We often lay blame rather than admit wrongdoing - there is always a reason for why we do what we do.  It is a learned behavior.  We make excuses for not following through on our daily praises.  We make excuses for not attending a worship service.  There is always a "yes, but" in our lives.

We all fall into this category, some more so than others.  Again, we are human and God knows that better than anyone...he created us with free will.  What I've realized is that those of us who were not raised with God as the head of our existence tend to make excuses more often than those who were! We struggle with our priorities and work very hard at undoing and redoing what is most important.  For many of us, this verse is something we learned but did not fully comprehend until that moment when we realized that THIS is the reason we can spend eternity with God, not the fact that we attended a church service every Sunday for our entire lives.

God sent Jesus for all of us!  He is the way to heaven - there is no other!  You cannot get there by following certain church doctrines, nor do you get there because you were baptized into a certain religion.  It is through the acceptance of that gift that we are forgiven and saved from the fires of hell. Choose to accept the gift being offered to you each and every day!  Make a sincere effort to put God first in all that you do.  Work at removing influences that condemn and replace them with those that commend!  Pray for other as well as yourself!  Focus on the gift given to us that first Christmas morning and know that God's love for us exceeded any material gift we could ever receive!

Friday, December 19, 2014

December 19, 2014 ~ "Still her little child... (REPOST 12/19/2010)"

For my eyes have seen your salvation, Which you have prepared before the face of all people; A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel. (Luke 2:30-32)

Simeon had received a promise from God. He would not die until he saw his salvation! God kept his word! When Jesus was brought to the temple and upon receiving him and blessing him, Simeon turned to Mary and told her "this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against; Yes, a sword shall pierce through your own soul also, that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed."

Although we know very little about Christ's life as a child, being a mother or a father would allow you to "presume" a few things. I think of my kids. I think of their "firsts" - rolling over, sitting up, standing, crawling... I think of them learning to walk, stumbling and falling. I think of their little person giggle, the way they spoke certain words, the way they described different things, the first time they called me "Mommy". I think of their first day of school, how excited we both were (I was not one of those parents who cried). I think of their birthday parties, their favorite games, the sports they played, the friends they made. I think of the "private" talks as they got older, the times spent in the car together. I think of vacations. I also think of the times they were sick, when I would hold their head over the toilet, putting bandaids on their "boo-boo's". I think of their high school graduations, their chosen career path, their college days. I think of my son's wedding. I think of them on their own, perhaps someday raising their own children. Then I think of Mary. Jesus was her child, her first born son! Imagine knowing that that precious child you held in your arms would die for all mankind. Imagine the panic that set in when she and Joseph realized that Jesus was not with them when returning from Jerusalem. Imagine the day that he left home to begin his teaching. Imagine what she felt when he was arrested and condemned to die. Imagine watching your precious child nailed to a cross. Imagine that precious child being laid dead in your arms. 

Jesus was born, lived a life and died. The joy comes from what followed - the resurrection! Without his birth, there would be no salvation! Without the life he led, there would be no "model" to imitate! Without his death, there would no hope! In all the world there has not been one as innocent or one as sacred as "her little child". God not only gave Mary a gift that first Christmas morning, he gave a gift to all of us ~ he gave us his son. Our redemption lay in Mary's arms. God fulfilled the promise to all people that day - the promise of Savior. 

Whatever you are facing this Christmas season, whatever burdens you bear, whatever hardships you face remember this: It took a miracle for Christ to be born. Your salvation was guaranteed through that miracle. If it took faith in a miracle to get you to where you are, what makes you think that same "faith" is not standing beside you? God's love for us is so great, so unending, and so powerful - who are we to NOT believe he will continue to watch over us until we meet him? Remember - YOU are still his little child!