Wednesday, December 31, 2008

I'm in my way!

With the New Year upon us it's tradition to make resolutions about what we might do differently. Of course, as Christians we know that each and every moment is an opportunity to start fresh. We don't need to wait for a set time or place; we don't need to take our turn in the confessional. Jesus alone is our advocate and He is always making intercession for us. I am so grateful for this because I need to start fresh several times a day!

Nevertheless, I've been inspired to take a little look-see at how I might improve in the coming year. So, after much consideration I've narrowed my task down from a gazillion or more options to just one issue.

1. To forget about myself.

Honestly, I am so tired of always being in the way! If I wasn't always my first consideration then it wouldn't be my propensity to complain, to be offended, to resent, to worry, to covet, to judge, to make exception, to, to, to... and the list goes on. Yuk!

I know I can't accomplish any measure of this with mere determination. I've tried. I have to quit looking at my cross and actually take it up. I have to put myself away and love Him.

Then He said to them all, "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me." Luke 9:23

As I type this, I can almost see my "self" out of the corner of my eye getting red in the face, getting ready to pitch a fit! I've really got my work cut out for me. I've also got the promises of God.

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Phil. 4:13

Will I fall? Yes, many times. Will I fail? No I won't. Not because of me though!

My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. John 10:27-28

I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. Gal. 2:20.



May God bless you abundantly in the coming year.



Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The Birth of Jesus

And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city. Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child.

So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. 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. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger." And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: "Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!"

So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, "Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us." And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger.

Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child. And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart. Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told them. Luke 2:1-20

~~~

A few prophetic scriptures:

Therefore, the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel. Isa. 7:14

"But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall come forth to Me The One to be Ruler in Israel, Whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting." Mic. 5:2

For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this. Isa. 9:6-7


Merry Christmas everyone!



Friday, December 19, 2008

Holiness

But as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, "BE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY." 1 Peter 1:15,16

I don't know about you but that sounds very intimidating to me. How in the world am I suppose to be holy? Human holiness. Isn't that an oxymoron?

When I think of being holy, my mind first goes to appearance. You know, the flowing robes, crowns and jeweled breastplates. Oh, and anyone who is holy must have a halo, beautiful feet and tons and tons of wisdom.

Somehow, I don't think my impression of human holiness is very accurate. So what does it mean?

I went to my Strong's to investigate. In the noted verses the word "holy" means: sacred, saint, properly clean, innocent, modest, perfect, chaste, clean and pure.

Still sounds pretty unattainable to me!

I moved on to my Barnes' Commentary. I found that as professed people of God we ought to be like our God. Barnes says that "It is a great truth, that people everywhere will imitate the god whom they worship, they will form their character in accordance with his. They will regard what he does as right. They will attempt to rise no higher in virtue than the god whom they adore. The God of the Christian's worship is perfectly holy; therefore, the character of His worshipers should also be holy. So the worship of Yahweh molds the character of His people into His image, and they become like Him."

So it is part of the sanctification process. It is be-coming like Him. Like Jesus.


Is our character a reflection of His holiness? Do others see Him in our conduct?

Even though God is doing the work in us, we still have a responsibility. We must make up our minds to surrender and seek after Him. Obey Him. We must love Him will all our heart, soul, strength and mind. Holiness will then be a (super) natural consequence.



For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works. Titus 2:11-14



Note: There is also another strange root meaning of this word "holy": (an awful thing) A festival, or a victim therefore: - (solemn) feast (day), sacrifice. I see it plain as day... Jesus was our sacrifice. Satan and his minions had a feast and a festival thinking his death would be the end of Him and us. Wrong! Jesus rose again. Hallelujah!


Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Guilties

Some say "guilt is a woman's thing" (guys, stay with me). I am sure there are exceptions but generally speaking, I believe it to be true. Many of us subconsciously attempt to attain "Proverbs 31-hood" in everything we do.

When the holidays role around we really crank up the "to-do" list. We decorate, we shop, we prepare meals, we create ambiance and we handle those unexpected things that pop their wonderful little heads up at the last minute.

These activities are wonderful in and of themselves but when we find ourselves breaking a mist (we ladies don't sweat!), or not meeting each goal to the nth degree, we often feel guilty. We often set ourselves up with unreal expectations of what can and should be done. I'm not going to say what is unreal, we already know don't we? Sometimes we forget because we get caught up in the hype but when we stop (if we stop), rest and regroup we know.

What I am saying is this... knock it off!

To feel guilty because we truly did something wrong (sin) is a blessing. It's the Holy Spirit's way of gently yanking us up for a little one on one. It's God's "rod" and is a comfort to us (Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me). I am grateful for His correction.

Counterfeit guilt is another thing. It's a distortion. It's out of balance. It will steal our joy! Not only that, I believe if practiced long enough could eventually influence our ability to distinguish and perceive the Holy Spirit's voice.

Okay, so now we're feeling guilty for feeling guilty? No way! Let's enjoy each day to the utmost; work hard to meet goals and shop until we drop if we must. But, if that little pang tries to worm its way in, take a moment to see if it's justified. If not... give it the boot!



Turn your eyes upon Jesus
Look full in His wonderful face

And the things of earth will grow strangely dim

In the light of His glory and grace.




Song, Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus written in 1922 by Helen Lemmel




Thursday, December 4, 2008

It's all good

There is so much of the Bible we miss if we don't determine to read it straight through, beginning to end. For instance, my women's study group is in Romans, my pastor's sermons are currently from 1 Peter and my devotional time hits a verse at random. See what I mean? I decided to go for it.

I was enjoying my read in Exodus 25 when suddenly the word turned very dry (maybe because they were in the dessert... ha!). God was getting very specific with Moses about the details of how He wanted the tabernacle furnishings. As I read, my eyes were slowly filling up with lead and at one point my forehead came dangerously close to crashing right onto the page.

Then I heard myself..."Maybe I'll just skip this part. I"m just scanning it anyway because I can't focus on the rings, the knobs, the pitcher, the bowls, the blue, the scarlet, the purple, and the poles!"

Right on queue, that little voice within elbowed me and said:

"You know you can't really say that you've read the Bible beginning to end if you skip parts of it".

And as usual, the little voice was right. So I went back to the top and started over. In short time I came to the end of the chapter where it was introducing the details of how to construct the lampstand. It was made of pure gold and was very ornamental with its branches and almond blossoms. The wick trimmers and trays that went with it were specifically ornate as well. Then I came to the very last verse in the chapter:

"And see to it that you make them according to the pattern that was shown you on the mountain".

For some reason I have always thought the entire mountain top agenda consisted of discussing and writing into stone the 10 commandments. If I had stopped and thought about it I would've known that a 40 day meeting would probably go into quite a bit more than that.

There are treasures of spiritual significance and meaning in every single detail of God's instruction regarding the furnishings and articles. However, in this particular reading I was not digging deep into a study. I was just reading for the enjoyment of it.

When I read that last verse I pictured God showing Moses all the beautifully patterned things He wanted to have His place furnished with. I sensed anticipation and joy in the preparation. He had saved them from severe bondage in Egypt and brought them to Himself. He was in love with them and He looked forward to dwelling among them. He wanted everything just so.

Then I thought of the coming verses and how God's heart was going to be broken; how when Moses came down that mountain he was going to find those fools partying around some dumb golden calf! How could they do it? How could they hurt God like that?

I knew the answer. They, like me were blind selfish sinners. I closed the Bible and hugged it close; so thankful for God's mercy and grace; so grateful that He loved me and sent His only son Jesus to save me from cruel bondage, and so in awe that he resides within me today.

That last verse was like a reward for reading the entire chapter. I wonder what awaits me in the book of Numbers - all those genealogies! I truly look forward to it.



All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. 2 Tim 3:16,17



Are you a good person according to God's standards? If so, are you good enough to go to Heaven? Take this test.

If you want to be saved then follow the Roman's Road.