Sunday, December 25, 2011

Joy to the World...

Joy to the World , the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare Him room,
And Heaven and nature sing,
And Heaven and nature sing,
And Heaven, and Heaven, and nature sing.

Merry Christmas! The birth of Jesus Christ certainly did bring Joy to the World! A phrase in this first verse really needs to be considered is…” Let every heart prepare Him room”.

As Christmas 2011 is coming to a close….are our hearts prepared for Him, to give Him room? Either for the first time or for continued growth and space in our lives? Love this hymn. The Lord has come, He is King….Heaven and nature sing and we are called to sing too, not just with our lips but with our lives. Making Him room….in everything! Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Silent Night...

Silent night! Holy night!

Son of God love's pure light

Radiant beams from thy holy face

With the dawn of Redeeming Grace

Jesus, Lord at thy birth.

I’ve been talking and thinking about this verse of Silent Night, specifically the phrase….”with the dawn of Redeeming Grace”- Jesus Christ birth certainly was not only a Silent Night, Holy Night….in a Judean countryside, but also in all of History!

The world was dark, sold to sin and condemnation. Yet, God in pure Love and Light sent His Son…to pierce the darkness. And with the birth of Jesus, Grace dawned in the midst of darkness the Redeeming unfolding plan and accomplishment of Love- culminated at the death, burial and resurrection! What a beautiful Silent and Holy Night. Praise the Lord.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Darkness...and Light

When you think about it the end of the advent story is really very dark. A wicked fearful king- plots- chaos-child murder-unthinkable pain.

God’s Hand is upon the magi and upon the newborn King….who could be up to the age of two it seems and they all escape the terrible plans of Herod. Think about the evil surrounding this plan, annihilation of any would be king…the reasoning? They don’t know who, so kill them all. I can’t even imagine.

Make no mistake, Herod is responsible and will be held responsible but there is a much deeper and evil being at work here as well. Satan himself. Feel the hatred, the fear, the rage….and then the murder. Darkness wanting to snuff out and extinguish the Light. But is cannot be so….

Matthew 2:12-23

12 And having been warned by God in a dream not to return to Herod, the magi left for their own country by another way.
13 Now when they had gone, behold, an angel of the Lord *appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Get up! Take the Child and His mother and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you; for Herod is going to search for the Child to destroy Him.”
14 So Joseph got up and took the Child and His mother while it was still night, and left for Egypt. 15 He remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet: “OUT OF EGYPT I CALLED MY SON.”
16 Then when Herod saw that he had been tricked by the magi, he became very enraged, and sent and slew all the male children who were in Bethlehem and all its vicinity, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had determined from the magi. 17 Then what had been spoken through Jeremiah the prophet was fulfilled:


19 But when Herod died, behold, an angel of the Lord *appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, and said, 20 “Get up, take the Child and His mother, and go into the land of Israel; for those who sought the Child’s life are dead.” 21 So Joseph got up, took the Child and His mother, and came into the land of Israel. 22 But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. Then after being warned by God in a dream, he left for the regions of Galilee, 23 and came and lived in a city called Nazareth. This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophets: “He shall be called a Nazarene."

Even these events were prophesied about hundreds of years before….nothing is going to stop the Redeeming plan of God-Jesus. Interesting that Jesus eludes death on the front end and willing succumbs to death at the end- to bring Life….and Light. Darkness will not win. Praise His Name.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Rejoicing...Worshipping...Gift Giving

I like to think about the process involved in our decisions. What motivated these Gentile Magi to leave the east and travel a long distance with a clear plan…worship and gift giving. One day we’ll have all the answers, but for today. I’m imagining.

This trip was thought out, intentional seeking for a King. This is NOT, “Hey, guys, let’s take a road trip, throw some stuff in a trunk and see where the highway takes us” kind of stuff. How do we know? Because verse 10 says, after much travel, inquiry in Jerusalem and careful searching the star stood still and, “When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy”. Maybe there were “high-fives” and back slapping…or maybe not. Maybe this exceeding joy let them to reverential awe and worship?

Matthew 2:7-11

“7 Then Herod secretly called the magi and determined from them the exact time the star appeared. 8 And he sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the Child; and when you have found Him, report to me, so that I too may come and worship Him.” 9 After hearing the king, they went their way; and the star, which they had seen in the east, went on before them until it came and stood over the place where the Child was. 10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. 11 After coming into the house they saw the Child with Mary His mother; and they fell to the ground and worshiped Him. Then, opening their treasures, they presented to Him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.”

Their joy led them to worship and offer the gifts previously planned for….they had to have planned on giving these gifts, these were expensive thought out things. These were kingly gifts given to the King. This plan started for the magi well before they left the east….faith led them. A star guided them. Rejoicing, worshipping and giving were the end results of intentional seeking. Seek Him and He will be found, that is what wise men (and women) do.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Sometime after the birth of Jesus and after His presentation to the Lord, visitors (magi) come from the east…seeking a new King that has been born.

As a side-note, I find it very interesting that they head to Jerusalem. Of course it’s logical I suppose, where else would a king be? Interesting that Anna is still at the temple testifying to anyone looking for the redemption of Israel. This verse speaks of Anna, coming up to Joseph, Mary, Jesus and Simeon. Luke 2:38,” At that very moment she came up and began giving thanks to God, and continued to speak of Him to all those who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem.”. Don’t you wonder who she talked to? Was there any sort of “stir” about this baby born?

Then travelers come…Gentile travelers, inquiring about a King born of the Jews and a sign in the sky. A star. It was troubling to all…evidently the news of their arrival and inquiry traveled around the city. The king and all of Jerusalem heard this and were troubled. There is a little Truth seeded in Jerusalem…it is a woman though- Anna never leaves the temple.

By the way, I’m supposing…but for these magi to be received by Herod and actually be seen and heard and then their inquiry to cause such a troubling…it must have been quite the entourage. They must have been very wealthy and commanding of some kind of authority, these Gentile men. Just thinking…Read the text.

Matthew 2:1-9

1 Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, 2 “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him.” 3 When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. 4 Gathering together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. 5 They said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for this is what has been written by the prophet:


Herod calls a private, secret meeting. This is very covert. Much more is at work here than simple interest…its conspiratorial fear and unrest on Herod’s part. He needs to know, if indeed this is true, that a baby King has been born…he must worship too, but Herod is smart enough to play his cards right. They inquired, he inquires….let’s help each other. We all want to worship? Right?

7 Then Herod secretly called the magi and determined from them the exact time the star appeared. 8 And he sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the Child; and when you have found Him, report to me, so that I too may come and worship Him.” 9 After hearing the king, they went their way; and the star, which they had seen in the east, went on before them until it came and stood over the place where the Child was.

Do you see the Hand of God in this? God is working and nothing, including a wicked king’s insecurity issues will ever thwart the work of God. Truth will prevail. So much at work…so many issues, but God is in control. It’s not over yet…it’s just beginning.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Another Word, Another Witness...

Simeon had been told he would see the Lord’s Christ before he died… on the exactly right day he is drawn to the temple, by the Holy Spirit and meets Jesus. Being filled by the Holy Spirit, he praises God and speaks of the work of the Messiah, both for the Jew and Gentile.

Simeon speaks…

Luke 2:29-38
29 “Now Lord, You are releasing Your bond-servant to depart in peace, According to Your word; 30 For my eyes have seen Your salvation, 31 Which You have prepared in the presence of all peoples, 32 A LIGHT OF REVELATION TO THE GENTILES, And the glory of Your people Israel.”

33 And His father and mother were amazed at the things which were being said about Him.

Then Simeon turns to Mary and speaks another word…

34 And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary His mother, “Behold, this Child is appointed for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and for a sign to be opposed— 35 and a sword will pierce even your own soul—to the end that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.”

Mary has had a lot to ponder. Angels have appeared, messages given and now this. It’s a very interesting word. Not the typical, “What a cute baby!” or “May the Lord bless you and keep you.” This word is also not strictly encouragement…there is no, “Life is going to be all ok and easy.” Instead this is a gracious word of Truth from God Most High to the young mother Mary…who has a long road in front of her and who will feel like she is drowning a time or two before the completed work of Jesus Christ is done. I am sure she does not understand the full implication of this statement….but, God in His Grace is giving her more Truth to ponder and hide in her heart. His Hand is upon her. She will lose her husband at some point…and then she will lose her Son, but she will never be lost. Mary is playing a small role in the grand story of redemption.

Then another witness is on the scene….

36 And there was a prophetess, Anna the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years and had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, 37 and then as a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left the temple, serving night and day with fastings and prayers. 38 At that very moment she came up and began giving thanks to God, and continued to speak of Him to all those who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem.”

At the same time that the Spirit drew Simeon to them, the same Spirit drew Anna to them. Now, in the temple, a woman who basically lived there is given the privilege of seeing the One who will be the Consolation and Redemption of Israel. She is left, long after Joseph, Mary, Jesus and Simeon are gone…to witness and testify that the Messiah has come. Marvelous how God works…so precious and so personal and so very intentional.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Born of a Woman...Born under the Law

Re-posting from a few year ago....but the Truth is timeless! Galatians 4:4 says, “But when the fullness of time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law,” The fullness of time came and Jesus was born of Mary and under the authority of Law. Joseph was a righteous Jew, who kept the Law so Jesus was circumcised on the eight day and named Jesus. Then, Joseph and Mary traveled with 6 week old baby Jesus…God in the flesh would be brought to Jerusalem to be presented before the Lord, according to the Law. Imagine. See the reality.

God Himself….for the very first time EVER was truly “in the house”. Do you realize that throughout the entire Old Testament only the tail end of God’s Glory every dwelt in the house of the Lord? Now, 6 week old Jesus God is here. It’s no surprise that eyes and hearts were open for this historic event. The eyes and heart of Simeon and Anna- today we’ll look at part of Simeon’s Spirit-filled words…

Luke 2:21-32

“21 And when eight days had passed, before His circumcision, His name was then called Jesus, the name given by the angel before He was conceived in the womb. 22 And when the days for their purification according to the law of Moses were completed, they brought Him up to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord 23 (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “EVERY firstborn MALE THAT OPENS THE WOMB SHALL BE CALLED HOLY TO THE LORD”), 24 and to offer a sacrifice according to what was said in the Law of the Lord, “A PAIR OF TURTLEDOVES OR TWO YOUNG PIGEONS.”
25 And there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; and this man was righteous and devout, looking for the consolation of Israel; and the Holy Spirit was upon him. 26 And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. 27 And he came in the Spirit into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to carry out for Him the custom of the Law, 28 then he took Him into his arms, and blessed God, and said,

29 “Now Lord, You are releasing Your bond-servant to depart in peace, According to Your word; 30 For my eyes have seen Your salvation, 31 Which You have prepared in the presence of all peoples, 32 A LIGHT OF REVELATION TO THE GENTILES, And the glory of Your people Israel.””

Simeon had been looking for the consolation of Israel….the Spirit led Him on the very exact day that Jesus was presented Holy to the Lord (that’s an understatement huh?! He is Holy Lord) Simeon blessed God and was Spirit filled in his statements of Truth….after thanking God for allowing him to see this he says;

1. Jesus is God’s salvation

2. Which God has prepared in the presence of all peoples

3. Jesus is a Light of revelation to the Gentiles

4. Jesus is the glory of God’s people Israel.

Please consider the importance, the strategic importance of this very public place and statement about Jesus while He is a 6-week old baby (His public ministry is 30 years away!) It is strategic for them…but also for us. I just LOVE the inclusion of the Gentiles…we were part of the redemption story from the beginning too. Oh Bless the Lord….He is our redemption! Too.

Sunday, December 18, 2011


Luke 2:15-20
“15 When the angels had gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds began saying to one another, “Let us go straight to Bethlehem then, and see this thing that has happened which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 So they came in a hurry and found their way to Mary and Joseph, and the baby as He lay in the manger. 17 When they had seen this, they made known the statement which had been told them about this Child. 18 And all who heard it wondered at the things which were told them by the shepherds. 19 But Mary treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart. 20 The shepherds went back, glorifying and praising God for all that they had heard and seen, just as had been told them.”

Can you even imagine what this event must have looked like and felt like to them?? No wonder, AGAIN…the first words out of the angel of the Lord’s mouth is; “Do not be afraid!” Amazing! This is not just a cool experience, this is life-changing. For many. Look at the series of events and all the people involved. Angel of the Lord-Shepherds-many angels-Mary/Joseph-all who heard it….all of them- marveled, wondered and pondered on these things. And the experience propelled them to action, especially the shepherds. They hurried to Bethlehem to recount the events and message…

This is what the angel of the Lord said….

“10 But the angel said to them ‘Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; 11 for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.’

This is what the angels sang….

14“ Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”

This is all true! They found exactly what they were told that they would find….then the rest of the message must be true!? The “sign” was true….Jesus was wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger. To the shepherds, time will tell about the rest of the message….history would confirm and Jesus God would fulfill to completion the message. The Messiah had come. They marveled, others wondered…Mary treasured and pondered. Jesus had come. Glory to God in the Highest!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Angels we have Heard on High...

We are going to weave together some thoughts….in the first days of Jesus’ birth and of His last days before His death. If the angels proclamation wouldn’t have cried out, the plains and mountains would have. Glory to God in the Highest….the Messiah Jesus is born to explain the Father and fully give the correct opinion of who He is! Gloria in excelsis Deo- Glory to God in the Highest!

Luke 2:8-14 (NKJV)
8 Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. 10 Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. 11 For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: 14“ Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”

The Angels exclaimed….”Angels we have heard on high”, English version translated in 1862. The chorus is; Gloria in excelsis Deo which is Latin and is translated. "Glory to God in the highest”. Read the beautiful words of “Angels we have heard on High”

Angels we have heard on high
And the mountains in reply
Echoing their joyous strains
Gloria in excelsis Deo Gloria in excelsis Deo
Come to Bethlehem and see
Christ whose birth the angels sing
Come adore on bended knee
Christ the Lord the newborn King
Gloria in excelsis Deo Gloria in excelsis Deo
See him in a manger laid
Whom the choirs of angels praise
Mary, Joseph, lend your aid
While our hearts in love we raise

Now weave the thoughst full circle….33ish years later, the baby now a man. Jesus Christ the Messiah born to die and give life. On Palm Sunday days before His death, burial and resurrection….another proclamation is cried out by the crowds in Luke 19:29-39. If the crowds wouldn't have proclaimed the rocks would have cried out;

“ 29 When He approached Bethphage and Bethany, near the mount that is called Olivet, He sent two of the disciples, 30 saying, “Go into the village ahead of you; there, as you enter, you will find a colt tied on which no one yet has ever sat; untie it and bring it here. 31 If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ you shall say, ‘The Lord has need of it.’” 32 So those who were sent went away and found it just as He had told them. 33 As they were untying the colt, its owners said to them, “Why are you untying the colt?” 34 They said, “The Lord has need of it.” 35 They brought it to Jesus, and they threw their coats on the colt and put Jesus on it. 36 As He was going, they were spreading their coats on the road. 37 As soon as He was approaching, near the descent of the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of the disciples began to praise God joyfully with a loud voice for all the miracles which they had seen, 38 shouting;
“BLESSED IS THE KING WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD; Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” 39 Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Him, “Teacher, rebuke Your disciples.” 40 But Jesus answered, “I tell you, if these become silent, the stones will cry out!”

I don’t know about you, but I see the parallels and the beautiful weave of glorious Truth in the same proclamation …. The Angels in Luke 2:14, “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” at the beginning of His life and the crowds in Luke 19:38, “BLESSED IS THE KING WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD; Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” at the end of His life. He certainly is the King who brings peace!

Friday, December 16, 2011

From Heaven...

Today, we are thinking about God coming from Heaven. The Word becoming flesh…literally confined to dwell in flesh. The incarnation and deity of Christ- Jesus, fully God and fully man.

John 1:1, 14
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God…14 And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

Luke 2:6-7
6 While they were there, the days were completed for her to give birth. 7 And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn."

God came. Immanuel- God with us. A thought that I am overwhelmed by is the importance of understanding the reason that God came from heaven. God- Holy and completely untainted and untouched by sin-came from heaven.

John 3:16-17
16 “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him."

This is such a time of grace, God did not come to judge the world….had He, the moment that Jesus would have come forth from Mary’s womb…the earth and all of mankind would have been completely destroyed. Jesus is God. God is holy. Holiness and sin do not mix.

If God simply came….the world would have been annihilated. Poof- gone. Unless….by grace God did not come to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him, Jesus. God loved the world….enough to make a way, through a completely Holy God-Jesus Who would become sin and pay the price for sin so that we might have the free offer of eternal life through Him.

John 14:6
“Jesus *said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.”

Thursday, December 15, 2011

To Earth...

Luke 2:6-7
6 While they were there, the days were completed for her to give birth. 7 And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

Today and tomorrow we are going to look at just these 2 verses…from 2 different perspectives- To Earth and From Heaven. Jesus has come to earth….in a very normal, natural, lowly, poor yet very supernatural way. As the census drew Joseph and Mary to Bethlehem, at the right time and to the right place, the “days were completed for her to give birth.” Galatians 4:4 says, “But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law”. Jesus has come to earth.

God wrapped in human flesh…small, vulnerable, and completely helpless. He is loved, cared for and provided humble things….there was no room for any of them in the inn. Isolated yet surrounded. Intimidated yet prepared. Jesus has come to earth as a baby, born of a woman and born under the Law…in order to accomplish everything needed to offer salvation by grace and faith.

Thinking about the birth process, Mary and Joseph and this helpless completely dependent Jesus, causes me to marvel at the trust of the Father. The Father had to trust Himself in sending Jesus as a newborn baby into a harsh sin-filled world and into the care of fallen people. All of this required faith and trust….but of course His faith was always appropriately placed, God only trusted Himself-at all times and in all circumstances. I find this simply amazing and actually extremely gracious. Even the Father exercised faith in Himself, so there is truly nothing that God has ever asked of us that He has not already done and provided for us. Just thinkin…

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

A Census with BIG Purpose...Luke 2:1-5

We’ve been looking at the birth of John, which if I’ve done my math right….he is born about 6 months before Jesus is born, because Mary visited Elizabeth in her 6th month and Mary had just conceived Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit. We’ve seen some very personal and small picture interactions with angels and people….then Zacharias prophesying to a group of friends and relatives from the region of Judah about the coming Peace, Rescue and Salvation.

Today, we are going to get even bigger picture…the known world bigger- Rome.

Luke 2:1-5
1 Now in those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus, that a census be taken of all the inhabited earth. 2 This was the first census taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3 And everyone was on his way to register for the census, each to his own city. 4 Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, 5 in order to register along with Mary, who was engaged to him, and was with child.

Rome was considered the world power of the times. Rome ruled…everything. Many things changed under Roman rule. Taxation, a standing army who really knew their stuff and the roadway systems were totally overhauled and re-worked during this time. Life was hard under Roman rule and expensive. In the midst of this, Caesar demands a census…for the purpose of taxation and expanding the empire. Rome must know what Rome must have. So the decree goes out and there are no “exemptions” or “get out of taxation cards” for anyone, so Joseph and Mary (a VERY pregnant Mary) travel to the city of David, Bethlehem.

There was no other reason that Joseph and Mary would leave Nazareth and go to Bethlehem except by a decree of a powerful authority…I am SURE if given the choice, staying home would have been at the top of their list, but there was no choice. Off to Bethlehem they go. If this was me, I would be thinking; how annoying- how inconvenient- how troubling and troublesome!

Unless, there is an even greater decree of an even more Powerful Authority…One Who is authoring the decrees of world leaders. Yes, there is. The Most High God is fulfilling a prophecy given of the Messiah 700ish years before in Micah 5:2 (quoted in Matthew 2: 5-6, so evidently the Holy Spirit when inspiring the Word agreed this is prophecy fulfilled).

Think on that…. When Caesar Augustus and any other Roman big-wigs thought up the idea of a world-wide census, it was God moving and working. Getting Mary and Joseph right where they were supposed to be for the birth of Jesus. It was not seemingly inconvenient or burdensome…it was strategic and intentional. It was a total God-thing. Big picture, little picture…God is in control. Working, moving, initiating….speaking.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Look Who's Talking Now- Part 2. Luke 1:67-80

Zacharias’s mouth is un-muted and he is praising the Lord, but then….he is filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied. Remember there has been a 400 year silence to the nation of Israel….this boy, John the Baptist will be the final Old Testament prophet. He will be the mouthpiece of the word of God announcing the WORD of God’s arrival - Jesus.

The Spirit filled Elizabeth when she spoke to Mary, but that was in a very private setting…still amazingly precious but nonetheless private. This setting is different….it is public; news has traveled from friends and family to the region about the birth John and how miraculous it is. Now Zacharias’s unmuted mouth is speaking Truth…Truth about what is to come. Things are going to be publically quiet for quite a few more years, at least 30 or so, until the pubic ministry of John starts, introducing the public ministry of Jesus.

So look at the words and see the significance of what the SPIRIT is testifying too. It is SO powerful and speaking of the Truth of what the New Covenant is going to do because of the finished work of Jesus Christ’s death, burial and resurrection. I’ve bolded the amazing Truth that the Spirit is speaking about what the New Covenant will accomplish…it’s a pubic peak into the plan of God. Salvation from our true enemy- sin.

Luke 1:67-80

68 “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, For He has visited us and accomplished redemption for His people, 69 And has raised up a horn of salvation for us In the house of David His servant— 70 As He spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from of old— 71 Salvation FROM OUR ENEMIES, And FROM THE HAND OF ALL WHO HATE US; 72 To show mercy toward our fathers, And to remember His holy covenant, 73 The oath which He swore to Abraham our father, 74 To grant us that we, being rescued from the hand of our enemies, Might serve Him without fear, 75 In holiness and righteousness before Him all our days. 76 “And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; For you will go on BEFORE THE LORD TO PREPARE HIS WAYS; 77 To give to His people the knowledge of salvation By the forgiveness of their sins, 78 Because of the tender mercy of our God, With which the Sunrise from on high will visit us, 79 TO SHINE UPON THOSE WHO SIT IN DARKNESS AND THE SHADOW OF DEATH, To guide our feet into the way of peace.”

80 And the child continued to grow and to become strong in spirit, and he lived in the deserts until the day of his public appearance to Israel.

Jesus is our Peace, our Salvation and our Rescue from our enemy, darkness and death. What mighty Spirit- filled words of the Hope of our Salvation….even to the Gentile. What a blessing!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Meanwhile Joseph...

The Luke account simply says in Luke 1:56; “And Mary stayed with her about three months, and then returned to her home.” Meanwhile…Joseph her betrothed was back at home. Doing what? Waiting, wondering, worrying and maybe even seething a bit? Again, not exactly sure of the timeframe of things…did he find out about her pregnancy before, after or during her 3 month visit with Elizabeth? All we know for sure is 3 months is a long time… to be in “meanwhile” mode. All the plans have changed.

I suppose it could be any or all of those worrying things he was doing, but we know from Scripture that he was righteous, kind and loving by not wanting to disgrace her. We also know that he was afraid…when an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, first words again….”do not be afraid” but it is very specific, don’t be afraid “to take Mary as your wife; for the Child Who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.” In other words, what Mary has told you is true.

My paraphrase; She is preggers (that is my word for pregnant) but she has not be unfaithful…it’s the reverse, she has been found highly favored and is now carrying the Son of God- Immanuel, God with us. He was told it’s a boy! His name is to be Jesus (in case he didn’t believe Mary) and here is another amazing and stupendous piece of the mystery…not only as the angel had told Mary will Jesus will be great. He will be called the Son of the Most High. He will be given the throne of David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever. He will have a kingdom that will have no end. (Luke 1:32-33) but also, “He will save His people from their sins.”

Joseph is on his own faith journey….one that involved being an earthly father to a heavenly Son, who will, in turn, do all the work required by God Almighty to save him from his sins as well. Joseph awoke from the dream and “meanwhile” was over. He acted and did as the angel of the Lord commanded…he “took Mary as his wife, but kept her a virgin until she gave birth to a Son; and he called His name Jesus.”

Mary Rejoices...

Today I’m just imagining what Mary must have been thinking and feeling. She has been totally shocked by the news of her new assignment, being the virgin mother of the Lord, she has submitted to God…then she hurriedly went to her relative Elizabeth’s home in the foothills of Judah and received Spirit filled confirmation from her. Indeed she was a blessed woman and this Child was blessed. As you read her rejoicing response to all that is taking place, look at the text and see what she speaks of the character of God. The bolding emphasis is mine in the following text…but think about what she states about God’s Character as she exalts the Lord. She chose to rejoice...and she knew the Character of her God.

46 And Mary said:

“My soul exalts the Lord,
47 And my spirit has rejoiced in God my SaviorM.
48 “For He has had regard for the humble state of His bondslave;
For behold, from this time on all generations will count me blessed.
49 “For the Mighty One has done great things for me;
And holy is His name.
51 “He has done mighty deeds with His arm;
He has scattered those who were proud in the thoughts of their heart.
52 “He has brought down rulers from their thrones,
And has exalted those who were humble.
And sent away the rich empty-handed.
54 “He has given help
to Israel His servant,
In remembrance of His mercy,
55 As He spoke to our fathers,
To Abraham and his descendants forever.”

Friday, December 9, 2011

Mary ran, Elizabeth gets filled...Luke 1:39-45

I love this section of Scripture, it’s just so precious. Seemingly impossible news has been given….a virgin is going to give birth to the Son of God and Elizabeth an old barren woman is going to bear the forerunner of Jesus, John the Baptist. Mary beautifully submits to the word of the Lord as His bondservant and then runs (or went in a hurry, runs sounds better) to Elizabeth’s, as she walks in and Elizabeth hears Mary’s greeting Elizabeth is filled with the Holy Spirit….the Spirit and the leaping baby in her womb fill her.

Have you ever been 6 months pregnant before? Can you even imagine how this would have felt? A baby leaping for joy and the mother being filled with the Spirit all at the same time? For real?! I had some pretty strong kicks with my babies…but leaping? I can tell you right now, this has never happened before and this is huge. Not just pregnant huge, but huge in the sense of God is doing very new and very profound things….because this baby Jesus is going to change everything!

Upon her Holy Spirit experience, Elizabeth gets an even bigger glimpse of God’s purposes and responds; “Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And how has it happened to me, that the mother of my Lord would come to me? …Blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what had been spoken to her by the Lord.”

Elizabeth's spiritual eyes are opening. She recognizes that her Lord is present, within the womb of Mary and she also recognizes the simple yet profound faith of Mary in believing what the angel had spoken to her…Mary was blessed not only because of Who she is carrying but also because of the faith that she had to believe it was going to happen. In all this, Elizabeth is blessed as well by the filling of the Holy Spirit and seeing, catching a bigger glimpse of what God is doing for her and for the world. How precious and gracious of the Lord…to both of them.

Mary said Luke 1:34-38

Can you even imagine how overwhelmed Mary must have been given all this information?? She, a virgin, was going to carry the Son of God in her womb. He was going to be great with an enduring eternal kingdom. The Lord was with her and she was told to not be afraid. Mary said and addressed the obvious, “how can this be, since I am a virgin?” How is this even possible, literally? She understood the biology involved here and her question was one of genuine understanding…how?

The Holy Spirit will come upon her and she will conceive….at the fullness of time, Jesus was going to be born of a woman and born under the Law by the power of the Holy Spirit. “For not any word, nothing will be impossible with God.” Nothing, including a virgin birth. Nothing, including God being made flesh to dwell among us. Nothing is impossible with God.

Then Mary said….amazing words. Worshipful words. Words of submission….and humility. “Behold, the bond-slave of the Lord, may it be done to me according to your word.” Deuteronomy 15:12-17 talks about the concept of being a bond-slave, a voluntary slave joined permanently to a master’s household, by choice. Mary chooses the place of a bond-servant, she bends the knee in her heart, mind, and will to submit to God Most High. What beautiful words of humble servant hood. It was going to “cost” her greatly…on many levels. It was an amazing task, I understand…but think about it from an earthly perspective, there would be much speculation and potentially much trouble, yet she bends her heart and knee, “I am your servant….do as you will”.

Jesus, He will and He is. Luke 1:32-33

Gabriel visits Mary with greetings, encouragement, big news (really big!) and comfort. He tells her; the Lord is with her, she is going to have a baby and she doesn’t need to be afraid. Then he goes on to tell her a little bit about Who she is going to birth.

“He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end.”

1. He will be great.
2. He will be called the Son of the Most High.
3. He will be given the throne of David.
4. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever.
5. He will have a kingdom that will have no end.

These are five very powerful statements about who Jesus will be. Don’t you think there were some expectations as to what this should “look like”? 30ish years later as He hung on a Roman cross….would this seem true? Jesus is the promised Messiah. He is God, in flesh. I think what hits me the most is; these five statements are totally true, He is King of kings and Lord of lords….but He is coming as the suffering Servant to die for sin and that is going to look very different to the human eye and perspective yet it does not change the truth of these statement one bit.

Jesus came to satisfy and walk out the righteous requirements of the Law, willingly die in order to pay the price of sin and take upon Himself the wrath of God and be raised again to life from the dead. His first coming looked very different than what was expected ….but His death, burial and resurrection proved that the statement s are exactly Who Jesus is. He is great. He is the Son of the Most High. He has the throne of David. He is reigning over the house of Jacob forever and His Kingdom endures forever….

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Mary Richly Blessed! Do not be Afraid. Luke 1:26-31

I really cannot even imagine the day (or night) of this historical event, when Gabriel was sent from God to Nazareth, to Mary…an engaged young virgin. Gabriel came in and said to her, “Greetings, favored one (you who are richly blessed), The Lord is with you.” I find it very interesting that Gabriel’s address was so personal. It was a non-threatening greeting, a statement of how fully graced she was and then the statement, “The Lord is with you.” That was an understatement considering He was going to be “with her” in a whole new sense really soon….as a baby in her virgin womb.

She was stunned, confused, perplexed, wondering and pondering, to which I say…REALLY!?! I would have been fainted on the floor! Immediately though she was comforted…”Do not be afraid, Mary.” Do not be afraid. I’m not Jewish and you and I can’t really think Jewish but Mary was and she knew the Torah, she has heard all the stories of the Old Testament, she was devout. So when an angel appears with this kind of word I’m thinking fear was an understatement as well! Yet she was told to not be afraid.

As we know Mary treasured and pondered all these things (and all the things to come) in her heart. She treasured them, held onto them….remembered them. What is told to someone at the beginning of a journey is usually very important and this is no exception. She’ll have to hold on to the Truth given her and remember it for a long time. “The Lord is with you” and “Do not be afraid.” The God of the Universe knew exactly what she needed to know…like you and I, I’m sure she would have liked more information (she’ll get a little more, but that is what we’ll look at tomorrow ) than she got but in His Grace, Love and Sovereignty He gave her what she needed.- Out of the gate, at the start of the journey Truth. The Lord is with her, she will never be forsaken…and she need not be afraid. What blessed words…

December 5th....Disgrace Gone, Luke 1:18-25

Well, the 400 year silence is broken to an old priest with a barren wife, with news of the birth of the forerunner of the Messiah’s, what an experience! Zacharias can hardly believe it (no really he can’t!) and questions Gabriel. The response? Well let’s just say Zacharias mouth was shut for a good long time! As he is delayed within the temple the people start to wonder what is going on and when he comes out mute. Well, there is a lot of speculation. Imagine the trip back home once his duty of service is over. Imagine trying to “explain” all this to Elizabeth. She’ll get the picture soon enough I suppose, when her old barren womb is alive for the first time.

As we look at Elizabeth today and then in a few more days….imagine the disgrace she had felt for literally years- feel it. In a culture that said women’s value was simply what they could produce she had to have been looked down upon with distain and judgment by many, both men and women…especially women. At first glance she responds with human eyes…eyes that simply see a desire and dream come true and a type of oppression lifted but she also sees God grace. Luke 1:24-25, “After these days Elizabeth his wife became pregnant, and she kept herself in seclusion for five months, saying, ‘ This is the way the Lord has dealt with me in the days when He looked with favor upon me, to take away my disgrace among men.’”

God had certainly graced her and shown favor but it was so much bigger than simply her disgrace among men. Earthly eyes simply see our oppression and dreams that die here….His eyes, spiritual eyes see the true disgrace that will be take away as Messiah dies for the sins of Elizabeth. She will catch a glimpse of it and oh….what great grace that will be. Elizabeth is relieved from her human disgrace but the promise of the removal of spiritual disgrace is also given…Through the Messiah Jesus Christ, all our disgrace will be taken away- the disgrace of sin.

I just love how personal and patient and yes, gracious the Lord is in His dealing with people. She was thrilled to be pregnant and I’m sure very set free from the distain of men….but soon her Messiah will be in the womb of her close relative and that day she will see a bit more clearly the hope of genuine permanent grace, grace that is greater than all our disgrace… true disgrace that will be taken away by the shed blood of the Lamb.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

December 4th…..Forerunning

Webster’s defines Forerunner as; one that precedes and indicates the approach of another. Luke 1:16-17 states; “and he (John the Baptist) will turn many of the sons of Israel back to the Lord their God. It is he who will go as a forerunner before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, ‘To turn the hearts of the fathers back to the children, and the disobedient to the attitude of the righteous, so as to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.’”

So let’s look at John’s forerunning and then at Jesus’ forerunning…did you know Jesus was a forerunner too? John’s forerunning “job” was going to, in the power of God; turn back the hearts of the people and make ready a people prepared….prepared for what? John was the one who was going to plow up the hard ground of Israel’s heart to open up the ground and make it ready for the WORD of the Lord- the Word, in the flesh, Jesus. He was to make ready and go before the Lord, so that the good seed of the Word itself might be planted and grow up!

John was the one who preceded and indicated the approach of another namely Jesus BUT Jesus was also a forerunner and an even better one. John tilled up the ground and then Jesus planted the Seed, Himself…and that Seed had to die (Check out John 12:24-25, 27-33!) so that it could bring life to many. In doing all of this, Jesus became our forerunner in the True Temple, in heaven itself…in the very presence of God. Hebrews 6:19-20 states, “This hope (the hope of the Gospel) we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil, where Jesus has entered as a forerunner for us, having become a high priest forever according to the order of Melchizekek.”

Jesus preceded us into the presence of God to present His own blood….God approved of the payment and Jesus rose from the dead! But Christ forerunning role also indicated that there would be the approach of others…through His sacrifice, the believers can now approah. Christ accomplished an invitation to draw near through His blood, right into the presence of God, in Christ Jesus! John tilled the ground of a nation to make the way for Jesus to till and change the heart in the person. Forerunning….

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Advent Musings....The Holy Spirit!

In reading Luke 1:1-17, these verses are talking about the birth of John the Baptist, verse 15 says “For he will be great in the sight of the Lord; and he will drink no wine or liquor, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit while yet in his mother’s womb.” The Holy Spirit is part of the Godhead and has been a real Person from all eternity, yet in the Old Testament there was no permanent residency of the Spirit within any human. The Holy Spirit would “come upon” people for a certain time or task…and then leave, but the housing or indwelling of the Spirit was not available under the Old Covenant, because every person (even the really good ones) was still under the condemnation of sin.

In the case of John the Baptist this is very strange and odd that he would be filled while still in his mother’s womb. Interesting….very interesting. John’s task (as forerunner of the Messiah) is very unique and I believe it marks the beginning of a complete and total change that is about to take place. A New Covenant is going to be established through Christ where the presence of the Living God, by the INDWELLING of the Holy Spirit will be in the life of every believer in Christ. John is the last Old Testament prophet and his “job” is going to be the most important one of the entire Old Covenant time. As he decreases and Jesus increases, it’s a picture of the Old Covenant times coming to an end and a New Covenant being ushered in by Christ.

Now, why do I find it so interesting that he is filled with the Spirit while still in his mother’s womb?! Who cares, right? Except it seems to me that it says something about what Power source is going to be needed to accomplish this task of “preparing the way” of the ending one Covenantal time and a New one beginning. Everything is going to change. Everything.

Years later, while John was imprisoned, Jesus would say of him in Matthew 11:11-13, “Truly I say to you, among those born of women there has not arisen anyone greater than John the Baptist! Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and violent men take it by force. For all the prophets and the Law prophesies until John. “ John “prepared the way” and prophesied and then Jesus came, the One who is the fulfiller of the Law and Old Covenant - Jesus the Lamb of God who will take away the sins of the world- Jesus the Author and Finisher of our faith- Jesus the Light of the world….the Way, the Truth and the Life. Jesus.

John the Baptist was awesome and his “job” was one of a kind and huge….but anyone of us in this New Covenant who has the indwelling of the Holy Spirit with 100% complete access to the Living God at all times and a relationship that beckons draw near is greater- not greater in value but in availability and access to God. The Luke account of breaking the silence to old barren people with news of a filled forerunner of the Messiah is Kingdom altering and life altering for you and me. Wow.

Old and Barren...Luke 1:7

Zacharias and Elizabeth were both old and she was barren. In other words, time marches on and they got no babies. God had been silent for 400 years to the entire nation of Israel and that included silence to them. I’m sure they had given up any hope of ever having a child. Old-ness and barren-ness are really big problems and there was nothing that either of them could do about it.

There is always more going on than we can see with our eyes ( even when it come to something as sweet as babies) and as I have been thinking about being old and barren, I’ve been thinking about the spiritual climate of the nation of Israel at that time and yes…even the world. It was old and barren. The nation of Israel (as a covenant people) was at least 1500ish years old and as spiritually barren as you can imagine, but so was the rest of the world. The entire world because of sin was old, dying, barren and without any hope of bearing life at all-ever.

How interesting that God breaks the silence with news of a new life the little baby John, a forerunner (more on that soon) who will make the way ready for Life itself, to an old and barren couple. It paints a much bigger story of what is to come…God alone was going to get the glory for all the work…and He alone would do all the work in the most impossible situations.

If it’s impossible to make old barren ground of a womb fruitful and life-giving, how much more impossible to make dead barren hearts alive and life-giving? Impossible to us, but possible to Him, He excels in the impossible. Old and barren might sound really depressing, but seeing what He can do in the midst of it? Astounding.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Advent Musings….Silence Broken, Luke 1:1-13

400ish B.C. (you know I love the ish!) The Old Testament historical and prophetic accounts come to an end with Nehemiah and Malachi – with the wall completed around Jerusalem, the rebuilt temple and a lone prophet speaking - then all goes silent. Obviously God is still at work and in control but He does not speak to the children of Israel for 400ish years. 400 years is a long time with no formal declarations, words, encouragements, correction, prophets or spokesmen on the scene….simply silence.

Silence can be deafening….especially as oppression is getting louder. Many things change over the 400 years, Israel is both hurting and hardened…waiting and trudging forward. The noose around their necks is getting tighter from all angles. Life was volatile. What they didn’t understand (and frankly I don’t think a lot of people understand) is; the real oppression is within.

At the right time, at the fullness of time the silence is broken and God is about to speak. The 400 year silence is broken to an old priest who is serving in the temple of the LORD by burning incense before the LORD. Gabriel’s first words to Zacharias, by the order of God Most High, were “Do not be afraid”. Silence broken, God is speaking and will continue to do so.

I wonder how much fear ruled the people of Israel in those 400 years of silence. I wonder if any feared that God had abandoned them or if their covenant God had simply forgotten them? He had not. Of course Zacharias was terrified and needed the word, “Do not be afraid” but that is not all that Gabriel said… God was ready to speak in a way that had never been spoken before….God was going to become flesh. Silence Broken and never again would God be silent. Think on that. He has now spoken to us through His Son and He is still speaking.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Ode to Expectations...

I get myself into trouble every holiday with my expectations….expectations of myself and others. Whether it’s trying to have a Martha Stewart look, Norman Rockwell setting or Leave it to Beaver image….if I’m not careful, very careful I can get myself in a lot of trouble. It might be an unfinished side-dish, dry turkey… a sideways look from a cranky Aunt or a snarky comment round the table. You name it, it can be big or small but simply put; life is not Norman Rockwell or Christian Leave it to Beaver.

As I have been preparing for Thanksgiving I’ve been thinking a lot about my “expectations issue” and seeing how connected it is with my perceived value and finding approval- When even part of my worth and approval is based on my performance and the performance of others AND/OR their reaction to my performance . Uggg. No wonder I get myself into trouble!

SO, as I’ve been praying about this, the Lord has landed me in Romans Chapter 8….in a vital truth for the believer in Christ, an expectation that is FULLY met in Christ. Nothing (not even holiday mental meltdowns) can separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus. These are the verses I’m writing down on my 3x5 card for Thanksgiving, verses that I desperately need to be convinced of. Here are my added thoughts…

“For I am convinced that neither death, nor life (including not having dinner done on time for all the waiting guests),nor angels, nor principalities, (including that crabby person who has issues) nor things present, nor things to come, (including past hurts that surface, unfinished family drama or even any present drama) nor powers, nor height, nor depth, (including the really great times and the really hard times, emotional highs and lows…and other people, especially others!), nor any other created thing (including all the holiday traditions that go well and go south and all the in-between stuff. Including being lonely in a crowded room or isolated from a conversation…all of it) NOTHING, not one thing will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39

That is something to be truly thankful for. Happy Thanksgiving….may He give us eyes to see where our true expectation is met, in Him!!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


Rest in Peace….a very common phase when people die. Our hope is that they rest in peace in the afterlife. I’ve been thinking a lot about this phrase because there has been a lot of death this week but I suppose there is a lot of death every week. It’s sad and it’s hard.

In thinking about this phrase and mulling it over- I think it is a better statement for the living. Rest in Peace. The reality is only if we REST IN PEACE here and now can we have the security of resting in peace after death because Hebrews 9:27 says, “And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment.” Resting in peace after death is completely contingent on resting in His offer of peace while living.

Jesus Christ is our Peace. Ephesians 2:13-14, “But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace, and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity.” Paul is talking about the Body of Christ being both Jew and Gentile, but one of his main points is; we all needed peace and Jesus provided it! Every one of us is born at war with God, enemies by our position of being born in sin. Sin is not what we do, it is the state in which we are born in and need rescue from. In other words, we need peace and we need it now!

Jesus came for that reason…to give peace. Romans 5:1, “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Jesus Christ came to make peace…by walking out a life under God’s law of perfection and walking it perfectly, then willingly laying down His life and taking on the wrath of the war, the judgment of sin. 2 Corinthians 5:21, “He (the Father) made Him (Jesus) who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” Jesus died, was buried and He rose again on the morning of the third day….for peace, with peace, in peace and now….offering peace!

Now we must rest. Oh my sister….when Jesus said in Matthew 11:28-29, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest, take My Yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” This is rest from the war…rest from the lack of peace with God and rest from working to be at peace, because we can never work enough. This rest is what is offered by His finished work on the Cross….Resting in Peace. Resting and Trusting go hand in hand. When we trust we rest. So today….are you Resting in Peace? Have you seen your need for peace in the first place? If you have are you continuing to rest? Rest in Peace- a wonderful and very true statement for the living. Jesus Christ is our Peace-Rest in Peace today.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Fabric...Ephesians 2:1-10

What are your thoughts filled with? Doubts? Fears? Plain old life? Are they fill with the knowledge that you are part of God’s Workmanship… His masterpiece. His fabric.

How do you think He feels about His work? Do you think God is just half-heartedly or haphazardly throwing your life together? WE, all believers in Christ, are part of His workmanship… what does that thinking do for your sense of value? What should it do?

So, let’s think for a minute, believers are all part of this fabric, which is a masterpiece. Have you ever cut fabric? Have you seen how it is woven closely together and then you see the threads? You and I are the “threads” of the fabric masterpiece… a masterpiece that spans history, age, ethnic groups and so on… just a thread. Now before you think your thread doesn’t matter, how difficult is it to keep the fabric all together if the threads won’t stay together? When it starts to fray...

God is creating a HUGE masterpiece that each and every believer is part of… and by the way, every believer has a role to play too! Your thread matters. You matter. It’s not all about you but it is also not ,not about you. Get it?

You are part of His masterpiece, His workmanship, His fabric… by grace and by faith. Oh my sisters, you have such value, such purpose, you are so loved and cherished… you are priceless and He is absolutely positive He can make His masterpiece, using you. He is absolutely sure He can restore you… you were dead, an enemy, lost and now you have been found, redeemed, remade, and infused with value and purpose by His Grace and faith… His workmanship, His masterpiece… walk in that grace and walk in faith, He has work and a walk for you-be Filled with that kind of intention and purpose! Filled with His purpose.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

"I'm done!"...for today

I’m DONE! For today…

One of my “girls” is famous for declaring…”I’m done!” meaning…done with the drama, done with the situation, and more than likely done with a person. I must admit, that phrase has rung true for me more times than I can count on any given day. “I’m done!” The real questionfor me is…done with what?!

A status hit me this evening….from Wes/Laura Spain (thanks again guys!) “Frustration sets in when we focus on sin.” Hmmmm…..yes, it does and that is when I’m most likely to say (in my inside my head voice, of course!), “I’m done!” So what do I need to be done with? It certainly can be the drama…or the situation but people? I don’t think so, if I want to live biblically.

Do I get to just wash my hands of difficult people and be done? I wish…at least sometimes I wish! Do I need boundaries? Of course. Do I need to re-evaluate the situation and the people in the situation? Absolutely, but in a way that is not screaming, “I’m done!” Yep. Easier said than done? Yep again.

So, what do I need to be done with for tonight? Well, for me, I need to be done with me and my need to be heard, understood and right and I need to be done with my focus on the sin and instead focus on the finished work of Jesus and the freedom found only in Christ. He has never said to me or of me, “I’m done!” Praise His Name…His grace is enough.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Warning, Same Issues...New Versions....

I don't use big words often but as I have been thinking a big word has come to my mind- syncretism. Syncretism is the attempt to reconcile contrary beliefs, often while melding practices of various schools of thought...

"Aaron took the gold rings from their hand, and fashioned it with a graving tool and made it into a molten calf and said, 'This is your god, O Israel, who brought you up from the land of Egypt.' Now when he saw this, he built an altar BEFORE IT; and made a proclamation saying, 'Tomorrow shall be a feast to the LORD.' So the next day they rose early and offered burnt offerings and brought peace offerings; and the people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play..." Exodus 32:4-6

In the midst of their questioning...wondering....fearing why Moses wasn't coming back. They sat down to eat a feast to the LORD and rose up to play the harlot in celebration with the calf god....trying to reconcile contrary opposite beliefs. It doesn't work but we try to make it work all the small seemingly insignificant ways. How many "other gods" do we fashion? Good things, moral things....things we end up worshipping, just a little as we wait for the Lord Jesus to return? The questioning...the wondering....the fearing sets in and this is ripe ground for any and every kind of idolatry. Theological idolatry, pleasure idolatry, relationship idolatry, personal name it.

Paul wrote, "Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the end of the ages have come. Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall. No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it. THEREFORE, my beloved, flee from idolatry." 1 Corinthians 10:11-14

As I look over my life and the Church culture of today, I am very sobered. ANYONE can fall into this trap...anyone, including you and me. Paul uses the golden calf example and several others for a reason. Syncretism, the blending all kinds of beliefs and things together to try to make our faith work is idolatry. My sister, several things really hit me.

1. We need to be aware of the temptation towards this! Please read the text above...the minute we think it could never happen to us, we are RIPE to fall right into it!

2. We need to remember that God is faithful. This truth is NOT supposed to bind us in fear but draw us in faith to the One who holds us in His Hand not only this but also, draw us in faith towards His divine system, the Body of Christ. We NEED each other...we ALL have blind spots and we ALL are at risk of falling into idolatry at any time, it is common. My sister, are you walking with other believers? Are you seeing your need of the Body but also the Body's need of you?

3. FLEE from idolatry. Are we, am I...looking, aware, actively considering anything (even good things) that shift my worship, devotion, and love to anything other than Christ? Quite honestly, not as much as I need too. Instead it seems I can tend to try to meld the worship/love together and add Christ to the mix...that is called syncretism and that is a problem. Beloved, flee from idolatry.

Praise the name of Jesus, He has run this race before us perfectly and He has finished...may we keep fixing our eyes on HIM and Him alone! Amen.


Saturday, February 5, 2011

Always learning...

Outbursts of Anger = unyielded "rights" . I learned this equation in a class a long time ago, and it has stuck with me. Although, for obvious reason, not totally changed you will soon see. Think about it, if there is a personal "right" or a perceived "right" and someone or something violates that "right", we get angry. If you think about it backwards...when you are angry there is always a "right" or perceived "right" that has been violated. Everytime.

Think about the last time you got angry. Think to the root of it. How often does the phrase (or something similar) " How dare you!" "Who do you think you are?" "You have no right to treat me that way!" or "I will not be...." come to mind? Some "right" is on the verge or has been violated and our defenses kick in saying; HOLD ON TO YOUR RIGHTS! For crying out loud, if you don't who will?! Now for some of us more, shall we say....more overt people, this looks like outward anger but even you passive can be very internal.

I saw red today and my anger exploded...again. The first thing I thought was, "How dare they!!!!!!!!! Who do they think they are? Do they not realize I am NOT their maid? This is so disrespectful and it is wrong!" Immediately followed an angry tirade against clean clothes in the laundry. Here is the kicker. I was right-100% correct in my assessment on all counts BUT I was 100% wrong in HOW I handled it. UGG.

Hang with me, this is the highly important "rights" became the issue, instead of the issue being the issue. If I want to be a good mom who trains her evidently untrained can't be all about me! I justified my anger, but in doing so...I lost the immediate opportunity to correctly address the issue. Now I'm just angry psycho mom AND I owe them an apology without my justification!

Now, think about it practically, was my moment of holding onto my "right" (the "right" to not be disrespected and treated as a maid) worth the missed opportunity to train them? At the moment in my justified feeling, it was felt worth it. In hinds sight though, it was not at all. I have to ask myself; What do I value more? My rights or their training? My rights or Christ's way? My rights and pride or love for what He loves? Oh, He loves Truth but not at that cost. The Truth in that moment, ceased to be Truth when clouded by my unyielded rights cloaked in anger.

It's worth thinking about...considering...meditating and praying over. Take a look at Philippians 2:1-11. How many "rights" did Jesus yield? All of them. He never compromised on Truth but He always yielded His rights.