Right Now

After this David inquired of the LORD, “Shall I go up into any of the cities of Judah?” And the LORD said to him, “Go up.” David said, “To which shall I go up?” And He said, “To Hebron.” 1 Samuel 2:1

What are you doing right now? What are you thinking about at this very moment? My God’s mercies are new every morning. So why do I live in the past; bitter, angry, and ashamed over what I can’t fix? Does God want me to fixate on what’s behind me? My God isn’t worried about the future either. He knows what will happen. So why do I worry and over-plan?

I can’t bask in the beauty of my sweet Savior if I’m being torn limb by limb by both the past and the future at the same time. Life is hard enough. Why do we add to our own drama? There’s a time and a place to take stock of the past and ponder our future but not at the expense of ‘the now’. I will never have this moment back.

What does God have to offer me right now? If I’m going to find out, I’ve got to let go of the burdens of the past and the weights of the future. I want to hear His voice so I need to still my own. I need to feel the beating of His heart by not trusting the lies swirling inside of me. Let’s stop and let His glory light up our faces. Only He will purify us: past, present and future. Only He will warm up our souls to worship. We need Jesus to breathe us out of our spiritual deep freeze.

This year, this season, let’s ask our God to bring us to a hushed place so that He can whisper His truth to us. I choose to not set my own agenda. My own agenda leads me into a yoke that I’m incapable of carrying. I will seek His holy and perfect heart for me. He can weave me into His will without unnecessary mending if I quit spinning. At the moment, we may not understand this place where our Heavenly Father has our church, our country, or our personal lives. But we can trust Him, right now. He is with us, right now. We won’t make it if we don’t wait for Him.

Heavenly Father, Forgive me for not living in the present. You have given me grace and mercy for today and I choose to listen to You right now. I’m done spinning.  In Jesus Name, Amen


Journal:

How are you trapped by your past?

How are you in bondage to the future?

What does the Bible say is God’s relationship to time?

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When Believers And Unbelievers Share Christmas

Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews?  For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”  When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him…   Matthew 2:1-3

It’s not a secret that Christmas and other holidays are difficult for many.  It’s trending, even, to talk about it.  So how are we supposed to process the holiday of all holidays when so much may be wrong?

I think every Crèche or manger scene should include a malevolent King Herod standing woodenly off in the distance.  Think about it.  We have the shepherds, but what about the sword bearing soldiers?  We have the three kings but no murderous Caesar with his crosses.  Sure, there were cute sheep.  But where’s there’s sheep, there’s sheep smells.  We have straw but no midwife.  Just Joseph.  He was a new husband and father to the Son of God.  He wouldn’t answer to God as only God, but as Heavenly Father.

The first Christmas was stressful as well as joyful.  It was pain and hardship in the cold, broken only by angels singing from on high.   We three kings wouldn’t even make an appearance for another couple of years; Herod in hot pursuit.  Mary continued to ponder all of this in her heart, sheep smells and all.

Christmas, here on earth, is supposed to be a glimmer, a sparkle in the darkness.  Many spend time with guests and/or extended family that despise Jesus.  Our family of four will too, unfortunately.  We will be spiritually prepared as the atmosphere of our home is challenged.  For me personally, every time our family guests spit venom when Jesus’ name is mentioned, I will remember the weeping in Ramah.  This city in Israel was full of recently delivered mothers with milk, but with no sons to feed.

When a person refuses to let Jesus into His own birthday celebration, we can remember how there was no room in the inn.  While enemies of our lord sit nearby, we can ponder in our hearts what Jesus did for us.  As for our two children, we will pray with them and still celebrate the birth of the Son who came to set us free.
Heavenly Father, You sent Your precious son into this less than perfect world.  The things that go wrong are just reminders of how much I need that baby in the manger.  Keep my eyes fixed on You.  In Jesus Name, Amen

Journal
What do you look forward to the most about Christmas?

When was the first time that you were disappointed around Christmas?

Write a thank you note to Jesus for coming to save us.

Holy Commonality

Holy Commonality

You made him a little while lower than the angels; you have crowned him with glory and honor… Hebrews 2:7

I like to find out what I share in common when I first meet a new person. If I’m open to finding a similarity, it will always become evident. And that is one of the most important aspects of Christmas.

I have a friend who, for whatever reason, chooses to see what makes himself different from other people. He does this for the purpose of judging. If you are always looking for something bad in other people, you will always find it. It’s not exactly the best way to go about making friends. So what did our God do? He didn’t just go about finding out what we had in common, He sent His Son to us, as a human. A baby human!

In a culture that values uniqueness, it’s important to rediscover the holiness in the common, the normal, the everyday. Our God is not common, but He made Himself into a person, like us. Up to this point His people could only look up to their Father in Heaven. But God wanted to do something new. Something common, yet supernatural. He wanted us to be able to look straight into the face of Jesus the Son. Jesus didn’t just come to be like one of us. He came AS one of us! How marvelous! Finally, once and for all, we could look into the very face of Mercy. Human, yet perfect. Flesh, yet sinless.

That is how much our God wanted a close relationship with each one of us. So, while our humanity is common and everyday, it is also precious and holy. It’s nothing short of miraculous. We are that valuable to God. So have you accepted that we all need Jesus? We all share that in common. That TV preacher needs Jesus as much as the junkie sitting in the gutter. Will you accept that today? Just ask Him. He won’t withhold Himself from you.

Heavenly Father, Thank you so much for wanting a relationship with me. Your Son is so precious to me! I celebrate His first arrival by loving those around me., In Jesus Name Amen

God’s Donkey

God’s Donkey

And the angel of the LORD said to him, “Why have you struck your donkey these three times? Behold, I have come out to oppose you because your way is perverse before me.” Numbers 22:32

How did we get in this political mess? And why do we put so much stock in our leaders, both religious and secular? God’s Word gives us answers to both.

After the children of Israel left Egypt and approached their new country, Joshua read the law to the people, corporately. In addition, they were to each meditate on it day and night. This is the same law that our same God gave to Moses on top of Mount Sinai. The Judges and Prophets followed in this manner. Remember Deborah? This amazing prophetess helped guide Israel to victory. Then there was Samuel, who said, “Speak Lord, I’m listening.” May we all respond to our Father this way.

Eventually, the people began to fall away and demand a king despite all of the prophets’ warnings of future tyrannical rule. God answered by giving them Saul with the evil spirit. After that followed David, and then Solomon. The kings were required to write out God’s Word by hand and study the law. And yet, this didn’t stop the kingdom from splitting.

So what do we do when we have no good options? What do we do when we have to choose between bad and worse? Our amazing God knew our predicament ahead of time. Look at all of the godless people He has used for His purposes. Consider the evil people that He has turned into good. Look at the donkey that He made to speak! And remember all of the holy people that He placed close to the ear of kings. Esther, Daniel…

So if God can make a donkey speak, can we trust our God to do the same with politicians? I believe so. Today I’m praying for wisdom. And, I’m praying for God’s donkey.

Heavenly Father, I thank you for knowing what will happen.  You don’t slumber or sleep so that I can rest. I trust You!  In Jesus’ name, Amen 

Questions and activities:

Listen to God Is In Control by Twila Paris

What situations have you seen God turn from bad to good?

Why do you think God chose for you to live during this time period?

Write out Romans 8:28 and memorize it.

My Hope Speaks

We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek. Hebrews 6:19 and 20

We all need hope. I long for it desperately. It is sometimes the only thing that keeps me going.

Reading and watching the Anne of Green Gables series was, and still is, one of my favorite pastimes. Early on, there is a scene when Anne, an orphan, finds out that her new guardians might not keep her. She said, “Tonight, I am in the depths of despair.” Her foster mother rebukes her saying, “To despair is to turn your back on God.” While I think Marilla, Anne’s foster mother, is being a bit harsh to a child, this answer is perfectly appropriate for most adults. To despair is to lose hope. Hope is to believe what we cannot see.  That means that total and utter despair is to deny God’s power. Even Job, broken and at his worst, declared that he, in his flesh, would see God. He knew that in the end, all things would be made right.

What would it look like if I chose to stand and fight for hope in my life? Every choice I made, and every thought I would have, would go through this sieve and have the effect of anchoring my soul. This war is not made of flesh and blood but is of a spiritual nature.

Today, will you stand with me believing that we are more than what we feel? We are lovely, pure, beloved, and worth dying for. Don’t give into the despair of unbelief. Let the Son of God be the anchor of your soul. He won’t allow it to blow away to far and remote sections of the ocean. (As if He couldn’t reach you there. He could. The Bible tells me so.)

So Beloved of God, believe. Receive. Walk. Live. Worship. That will be the best antidote to keep you from falling back into the pit of devastation. Take it from someone who knows.

Heavenly Father, Your Word says that You keep my foot from slipping. I’m plummeting into unbelief. I am being worn thin. Wrap me in Your arms. Hide me in the safety of Your name. In Jesus Name, Amen

Journal

Whose opinions do you value?

Do they line up with God’s truth?

In what areas of life do you struggle with unbelief?

It’s Not What I Dreamed

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:10

Disappointment. It’s one of the most devastating words in our language. It conjures up the memories of circumstances where my soul was in the pit.

So what do you picture when you hear or read the work “disappointment?” Despair, devastation, destruction?  Shame, guilt, loss?  There was nothing I wanted to hear less growing up than “I am disappointed in you.” And then there’s personal disappointment, like . . . “This isn’t how my life was supposed to turn out”. For men, it usually has to do with career, or so I’ve been told. That great job that they worked so hard for isn’t found to be satisfying or they didn’t get it at all. For we women, it has to do with a variety of things. The loss could be about a career, marriage, or lack of it, children, or appearance. (We have our marriage on the horizon, as the Church to the Lamb, so don’t despair!) Job had it worst of all. He had everything: respect, property, children, marriage, and money, and it was taken away. His wife was there but her comfort to him was “Curse God and die.”

I struggle with disappointment. I build up in my head how I think things should be. But rarely does anything in this life live up to what’s I envisioned. So why does God allow us these dreams if they are not to be fulfilled? God has a specific dream for each one of us; a dream that brings glory to His name. Our ability to imagine gives us a taste of Heaven. This life was never supposed to satisfy. No matter how hard we try, it will never be enough for us. Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit. David committed adultery with Bathsheba. Solomon had hundreds of wives and eventually hundreds of gods. If anyone knew better, it was the richest and wisest man of his time! Only can God change and heal our hearts if we pursue Him. No, our lives will not be perfect, but they will fulfill the holy dream that God created for us before the foundations of this earth.

Heavenly Father, You are a good father. Show me Your dream for my life because my dream has become a heavy yoke around my neck. I don’t want to miss the work that You have for me. Let my life bring glory to Your Name. In Jesus Name, Amen

Journal

How have you been disappointed in your life?

Can you see how God is pursuing you?

Ask God what His dream is for your life.

The Most Beautiful

Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him! Psalm 34:8

There’s more to the sadness we have over our unbelieving loved ones. Many of them think we want them sitting next to us in a pew, being part of our special club. That’s just not it.

My grief over unbelieving loved ones is not just about where they will go when they die nor us not seeing eye to eye. It’s the beauty; the loveliness that is Jesus Christ and what He did for us. I’m so captivated by Him that at times it about blows me over. Take the best smell, the devastatingly delicious foods, the most gorgeous music, the sights so colorful, and add infinity with the deepest love. And that doesn’t even begin to capture it. But they don’t see it. It’s foolishness to them. This beautiful grace that is saving both you and me is nonsense to them. We cry out to them, “Taste and see that the Lord is good,” and they look at us as if we said that we believe in unicorns. What I think will reach my loved ones only alienates them even more. My own clumsy attempts at personal evangelism push them away.

And then I remember, it’s not me who saves. It’s not me who gave up everything so we could have everything. It’s not me who has “Faithful and True” written on their thigh. No. Only Jesus. Only the Spirit of truth can whisper that subtle beckoning to a heart so cold that the person is almost dead ~ and then set them on fire.

Does that mean that I will give up? No. And you shouldn’t either. But we need to remember that we can’t always even guess what will remove the spiritual blindfold. So we remain faithful and ask our God to hide our loved ones in His name. Only the name of Jesus saves and heals.

Heavenly Father, Only You have wept with me in the middle of the night over my unsaved loved ones. Reveal to them Your beauty. Call them and open their eyes. Keep them so that none may be lost. In Jesus name, the only Name that saves, Amen

Journal

List unsaved friends and family.

What have you said to them about Jesus?

What was their response?

Write out a prayer for them and pray it.