Tuesday, December 31, 2013

~ "We'll take a cup of kindness..."

And it came to pass at the end of the four hundred and thirty years, even the selfsame day it came to pass, that all the hosts of the LORD went out from the land of Egypt. It is a night to be much observed to the LORD for bringing them out from the land of Egypt: this is that night of the LORD to be observed of all the children of Israel in their generations. (Ex 12:41-42)

Although the last day of this particular year most likely occurred in April, the children of Israel, none the less, set out without delay.  It was some 430 years after God's promise to Abraham.  "God's promises are not performed quickly, they will be, in their season. This is that night of the Lord, that remarkable night, to be celebrated in all generations. The great things God does for his people, are to be not only a few days' wonder, but to be remembered throughout all ages; especially the work of our redemption by Christ (Matthew Henry)".

God's promises to us are often long in coming...but they do come!  One of the most wonderful things about our heavenly father is that each day is a new opportunity to walk with him!  The frustration we feel at times, the overwhelming anxiety that comes to us through the world, can all be laid aside in an instant.  Our failures can be turned into successes if we allow the Holy Spirit to work in us.  Each day can be the beginning of a new year without the disappointment that comes from not keeping our resolution.  God is more than willing to wipe the slate clean and allow us to start again.  We just need to have a sincere desire to walk with him and allow him to work on us.

Whatever the new year holds for you is not going to be lessened or multiplied by the resolutions you make tonight and break tomorrow.  God has your year mapped out for you already.  He knows what will cross your path, he's looked at it and deemed it to be in your best interest.  Whether it's a new job, a new home, the birth of a child, the death of a loved one - it's all good.  Rejoice in whatever it is that comes your way! Continue to praise him for everything - even the things that you don't feel are blessings!  Make that prayer list and pray every day.  Pick up your Bible and read it every day.  And if you have a day that is filled with distraction and you forget or can't seem to find the time to meet him in prayer - thank him right then and there - don't give up!    If you feel compelled to make that "New Year's Resolution" - make it one that is worth keeping - make it one that you can keep!  Put "become closer to God" on the top of that list and you will have a year filled with blessings!  Remember, God does great things for his people ~ do great things for God!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

~ "Away in a Manger..."

And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins. (Matt 1:21)

When my ex-husband and I went on our honeymoon, we decided to take a short trip to Virginia Beach before returning home to the Jersey Shore. We drove for hours and both assumed there would be plenty of hotel rooms available at that time of the year. Surprise! There was a convention in town. We were tired and just wanted to find a quiet place to sleep. We ended up in this dingy little hotel where it was anything but quiet! The room was clean, the bed was small, and there was an ice machine in the parking lot. We stayed two nights and then headed home. When I read today's verse, it reminded me of how "plush" that room actually was in comparison to where Mary gave birth to Jesus!

We don't know what lies ahead of us. We have a general idea and we "plan" for our future, but as most of us know through experience, "the best laid plans of mice and men..."

God has a plan for us and in that, we come to him and ask forgiveness for our sins. We struggle and claw our way through this life and sometimes we lose sight of the prize. We need only look back to this verse and remember what took place in order for eternal life to be attainable. Without the birth of Christ, without that first "Christmas", there would be no redemption. There would be no miracles, there would be no healing, there would be no shed blood; and without that shed blood, there would be no salvation! All things unfold at God's design. Each event in our lives occur to bring us closer to His promise for us! The Light of the World, the "Star" of Bethlehem, wants to be a part of YOUR life! Is there a place in your heart for him, or will you tell him there is "no room" for him???

Saturday, December 14, 2013

~ "Yes I Can..."

And whosoever shall offend one of these little ones that believe in me, it is better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea. (Mark 9:42)

Scrolling through my news feed last night, I came upon a hockey video.  Not unusual, since my daughter-in-law's family are big hockey fans, her youngest brother plays on two teams and although I hate the cold, I enjoy sitting in an arena that is often warmer inside than out, watching and cheering these boys on!!!  This video (http://youtu.be/daDix4ne8a8) is from the 19th Annual Special Hockey International held in Ontario, Canada.  It made me smile, made me cheer and brought tears to my eyes - and you don't have to be a hockey fan to appreciate it.  

Even in today's world, we still see ignorance in people and other children when it comes to being in the presence of someone who is "different" or "special" - the words still fall out of people's mouths as they did when I was a kid.  It's hard enough to get through life - and even though many consider themselves "normal" and others "abnormal" - God sees us all the same.  We are, each and every single one of us, made in His image!  That means those of us "vertically challenged" (like myself), those of us who are "perfect models", those of us who are less than 4'9", those of us whose features are a bit off due to a silly little chromosome, those of us with ectrodactyly, or other "deformities", are, in fact, all perfect replicas of God's love!

Take a moment and watch the video.  Take another moment to thank God for all you have.  Then take a final moment to make a difference in the life of a child! 


Wednesday, December 4, 2013

~ "Show me where it says THAT!!!"

By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. (1 Cor 15:2)
I love Paul's letters!  He packed them so full of teaching and love that every time I read one I find something new to rejoice about!  He reminds me here that it is not enough to just believe!  
I have spent a lifetime believing in God and believing that Jesus came to earth and died on the cross to pay for my sins.  It's what I was taught.  It's what I knew.  Salvation is not an "entitlement" that is received because we were sprinkled with water as a child, attended church every Sunday, gave up something for Lent or confessed our sins in a box every week.  As I have so often pointed out, there comes a time when you realize that you want the gift being offered to you and when you receive it, it changes you!  
Sometimes I use my Bible as a reference manual to either confirm or deny what I've been "programmed" to believe.  I follow one general rule of thumb:  if it's not in the Bible - it's not!  I don't argue with people anymore who think they know it all and have all the answers simply because of their religion...I pray for them!  I am not defined before God by the church I attend.  I am not defined by the knowledge I have attained.  I realized that had I died when I attempted suicide in 2006, I would have spent my eternity in hell!  Not because I would have taken my own life, but because I was not saved!  My life never reflected any of the changed behaviors talked about in the Bible.  It reflected those sins that had been forgiven by Christ, but not the changes those sinners made after they were forgiven.  To "go and sin no more" means precisely that - to get off the merry-go-round and walk the straight line.  You cannot say "I'm saved" and continue to live a sinful life!  
To have the "intellectual knowledge" that Christ died on the cross for one's sins does not guarantee a place in heaven.  The "tingles" and "warm fuzzies" one gets when one can FEEL the Holy Spirit at work, those indescribable moments of praise and sorrow that roll into each other and the belief of being created for a higher purpose than the life lived on earth, the acceptance of that knowledge, the humbling of oneself at the feet of Jesus, the desire and willingness to live as Christ lived and to do his work is what defines a "saved" Christian. Don't talk yourself into believing you are in the will of God if something inside of you is telling you that you aren't!  Chances are, if you're having those doubts, that you are not!  Ask him into your life today, offer to serve him in HIS way (not yours) and you will find a life worth living and a place to go home to when it's over! 

Monday, December 2, 2013

~ "Do what you're called to do..."

For if you altogether hold your peace at this time, then shall there enlargement and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place; but you and your father's house shall be destroyed: and who knows whether you are come to the kingdom for such a time as this?  (Esther 4:14) 
When the opportunity presents itself for you to be a hero for God, what will you do?  Will you boldly answer it or will you pawn it off on someone else?  Will you worry about your own reputation among your peers or will you stand up and stand firm?
It's not "someone else's job" to spread the Good News - it's YOURS!  Each of us, as Christians (i.e. "followers" of Christ) we are instructed to tell others about him.  It's not going to church on Sunday and dropping your check in the offering plate.  It's not being the best dressed in the sanctuary, nor is it having the biggest smile screwed to your face while fighting back the pain you are in so that no one knows.  It's doing as Christ did ~ key word here: doing!!!
All things will happen as they are supposed to happen.  God will claim victory in the end.  Satan will be defeated.  Just as Esther was afforded the opportunity to deliver the Jews in the time of King Ahasuerus, thus preserving the line of which Jesus would be born, the King's scepter is also being held out to you!  Had Esther not answered the call that came to her through Mordecai, someone else would have.  God's plan will unfold whether you choose to be a part of it or not!  So why would you choose to be on the losing team?  
Whether you get the giant trophy, the ring with the precious stone in it, or just your name in the commemorative booklet, be part of the winning team!  Do your part in the spreading of the Gospel of Christ!  We are all called to do something!  Find what it is and do it!  Stop dragging your feet and sliding on the coattails of the guy in front of you.  Be an "Esther" ~ change the course of your own history with one word...say "YES" to the calling placed on you as a Christian!  Say "YES" to the voice that has died for you!  Say "YES" to the one who created you!  Stop trying to "keep up appearances" and looking as though you walked out of fashion magazine.  This may be exactly why you are in this place at this time!   Be a Nike commercial ~ just do it! 

Sunday, December 1, 2013

~ "Mary, Did You Know..."

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. (Luke 2:7)

I have four children.  Each of them are different from one another.  They have different likes and dislikes; dreams and goals.  Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined what their lives would be like today as I held them then. 

I can only imagine the joy that Mary felt when she delivered Jesus in that stable and held him for the first time.  A perfect being born in an imperfect world to save sinners.  That was His destiny.  That was what He came to earth to do.  Redeem.

Never before and never again would there be such a birth.  This baby, whose birth we celebrate each year, was the single most important treasure this world would ever know, yet for so many, it has become a season of trying to outdo last year, desperately seeking to display more spectacular decorations and frantically cramming as much unnecessary stuff in stockings and under a tree as is humanly possible.  Forget it!  You will never top the first Christmas, nor will you ever find a gift more perfect than the one that God gave us that morning. 

Only when she held that baby for the last time did she truly understand the sacrifice.  He was sent here to die for us, for our sins.  She said "yes" to God and watched as that baby hung and died on the cross for all mankind.  She stood in horror as they nailed His hands and feet to what would become a symbol throughout the world for the bridge that was built for us.  In her own personal nightmare came the salvation promised Adam and Eve. 

She could never have known what that child would become.  None of us know what our children will become.  We can hope and we can pray.  We can raise them with the best of intentions - but God's plan for each of them stretches farther than our imaginations.  A mother's love transcends all other love, except for the love of God! 

Mary saw a baby - a tiny bundle of joy - she held Him, nursed Him, cared for Him, taught Him, and loved Him with all of her heart.  She watched as He taught others, fed others and cared for others - in a way that she could never have imagined.  He still loves us with all His heart!

Jesus continues to teach, to feed and to care for all those who call on His name.  He lifts us up in times of heartbreak and comforts us in our sorrows.  He wants all of us to remember the sacrifice He made for each and every one of us.  Will there be room in your heart this year for the gift He gives???