Saturday, December 31, 2016

Sing-A-Long Saturday

It's been a bit since my heart has had a message to share and my body has had the gumption to write. I've been busy you know with all the wrapping, running, and sharing that I've "had" to do.

There was a time when God's word just seemed to be ever present on my lips and just flowed from my fingertips. But, lately the pages are oddly frightening with the blinking curser just staring me in the face. My heart cries, "What's wrong? What's going on here?" But, my mind knows the truth... I've wandered from God, and His word isn't on my lips because the busyness of this world has distracted me thus leaving my heart empty where it should be abundantly full especially at this time of year.

I was cautioned of this a few times throughout the past weeks. I was warned not to get distracted, but unfortunately, in my humanness, I'm prone to wander. Luke 2:6-7 was presented to me on a few accounts:
     While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her first
     born, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no 
     guest room available for them.         
The inn of my heart was crowded with the stuff of this world. Oh, not filled to full occupancy, but it definitely had a lobby a-flurry with activity!

Perhaps you are feeling what I'm feeling. The busyness of the holidays can unfortunately have that effect on us. As we embark on a New Year, let this song lead the prayer of our hearts as we move aside the busyness of the season and seek a renewed fire for Christ in our hearts!

Click here to hear the beautiful, passionate plea for God to stir up a fresh desire for Him:
                 Unspoken: Start a Fire

Lord, Start a fire in my soul. Fan the flame and make it grow! Place a wedge between me and the things of this world. Turn my eyes, once again,  to you! Amen and Amen

Sunday, December 25, 2016


And here we are 12 days later! The final gift of Christmas is salvation! Oh, and what a wonderous gift it is! 

Salvation is the beautiful, glistening bow on top of the 11 other stacked packages. Salvation is the redemption from the powers and penalties of sin. Without His salvation, we would be doomed to eternal life in hell, literal separation from God. In his kindness, God has chosen to redeem us. A gift we can never repay.

John 2:9 tells us, “Salvation comes from the LORD.”
Acts 4:2 says, “Salvation is found in no one else.”

We must understand a few things about salvation. It is a gift. We cannot earn it, and we do not deserve it! It is a gift given to us through the sacrifice of God’s son. We must believe in and respond to Jesus as our savior. We must place our faith in him and walk in a relationship with him. This gift is kind of like one you receive on Christmas morning that is labeled, “some assembly required.” Philippians 2:12 says “to continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling.” It is a maturing process. 

Reflect with me for a moment on the previous 11 gifts: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, self-control, grace, and forgiveness. All of these come to us through the acceptance of Christ as savior and a continued relationship him. They are also the very nature of God. He is all these things. They make up his very being. God created us in his image, but sin has stained our lives. However, once we are called to the Lord, our response should be to mature in these exact characteristics of God. Jesus went through every trial that we face as humans. He knows first-hand how hard this life is for us and how difficult the maturing process will be, but 2 Timothy 3:15 gives us directive on how to continue maturing.  
There’s nothing like the written Word of God for showing you the way to salvation  through faith in Christ Jesus. Every part of Scripture is God-breathed and useful  one way or another—showing us truth, exposing our rebellion, correcting our  mistakes, training us to live God’s way. Through the Word we are put together  and shaped up for the tasks God has for us.

It is clear that to continue maturing and working out our salvation we must be in the Bible asking questions, seeking answers and guidance, and getting to know the character of God in Jesus. As we learn just how holy He is we realize how incredibly sinful we are. But the good news is this realization leads us to feel sorry for our sins. This Godly sorrow leads to repentance. We ask for forgiveness and this leads to salvation, pardon from sin. (Paraphrased from 2 Corinthians 7:10)
When times were tough and he became discouraged, David prayed, “Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a wiling spirit to sustain me.” Ps 51:12  Life overwhelmed him causing him to lose sight of this precious gift. We too will become overwhelmed and unfocused. But we can follow David’s example and ask the Lord to restore the joy of his salvation, such a generous gift!

Dear LORD,
Help us to rid ourselves of malice, deceit, hypocrisy, and hurtful talk. Like newborn babies, make us to crave spiritual milk, so that by it we may grow up in our salvation, now that we have tasted that you, LORD, are good! (from 1 Peter 2:2)

Amen and Amen

(First Published on December 24, 2013)

Saturday, December 24, 2016


For all have sinned; fall short of God’s glorious standard.  Yet now God in His gracious kindness declares us not guilty.  He has done this through Christ Jesus, who has freed us by taking away our sins.  
Romans 3:23-24

Jesus Christ is my saving grace.  I’m a sinner and I have fallen short of God’s standard way too many times to count.  Praise God for His gift of grace, our 11th gift of Christmas!  I have been forgiven for no other reason than His grace which blankets my life.  Yes, God’s grace is His unmerited favor on us all.  We haven’t done anything to deserve His gracious favor, He just loves us that much!  God’s grace covers my multitude of sins and it covers yours, as well.  His grace allows me to mess up over and over again.  

For a long time I was unable to open God’s gift of grace.  I knew I had it when it came to my salvation.  I knew that my belief in Christ was enough to assure me a room in heaven but I never lived under His grace when it came to sin in my life.  For years I lived under the law.  I had sin from my past that was "unforgivable" which prevented me from having a real relationship with Christ.  I was not confident in Whose I was, and I didn't understand His gift of grace.  I was always worried about the choices I made and whether or not God would approve which made me distance myself from Him and, well, that never works out.  I was stuck between grace and the law, unfortunately the law was winning.  I allowed myself to hold that gift of grace for over 30 years.  Grace gathered dust while it sat there waiting for me to rip that beautiful bow and paper off.  How hard it had to be for God to look upon me and my self inflicted suffering when all the while I had freedom right in my presence.  Shame and misunderstanding had a stronghold on me until one day when God spoke to me and His grace was no longer something I could deny. 

Sin is no longer your master, for you are no longer subject to the law, which enslaves you to sin.  Instead you are free by God’s grace. 
Romans 6:14 

One day, after prayer with my GFF's, I read His word and it just clicked.  After so many years I finally understood grace.  It wasn’t something I deserved but it was still mine.  My God gave me Jesus Christ, and my belief in Him gave me new life.  God loved me unconditionally and because of His grace I had a future with Him.   

I tore into that gift and found the most freeing feeling I had ever possessed in my life.  Joy overflowed from me, I was finally free from the law that held me back.  Living under His grace, I was free to mess up.  No longer did I have to live my life trying to make up for my sins nor worry about the sins I would commit in the future.          

God’s law was given so that all people could see how sinful they were.  But as people sinned more and more, God’s wonderful kindness became more abundant. 
Romans 5:20  

God’s grace is sufficient for all of our sins.  It covers everything.  He doesn’t just give us grace for each individual sin as it occurs but we are blanketed with grace.  There is nothing we can do that will cause us to lose His grace.  God’s grace abounds our sin, it drowns it.  Because if His grace He can look upon us.  We can be brought into His Glory and our sins are not hidden, but removed!  Our future is covered in His grace, as well!  His grace allows us to be make mistakes. Through His grace we can mess up and He will be right there to forgive us when we ask.  We don't have to worry over our sin and wonder if our forgiveness has run out.

My dear, if you are living under shame, if you are living by the law and are always trying to earn forgiveness, stop holding onto His gift!    Stop oohing and ahhing over that beautiful wrapping and tear into that Gift!  Accept it with joy and be free!  This Christmas season, while you are opening gifts of all shapes and sizes, I hope that you will think of this beautiful gift as one of the most important ones you could open.  I pray for you all, that you will accept His grace and claim it in your whole life.  Grace is not just for salvation but for freedom from the law that binds you to sin.  So dust that gift off and rip into that paper!

Oh and one more very important thing........don’t be selfish with God’s grace.  Once you feel the joy it brings, you can’t possibly keep it to yourself.  Offer grace to your neighbor, your old friend, your spouse, your parent, your sibling or the annoying child who won’t stop asking to peak at the presents under the tree :)  His grace is your grace!  Pass it on!

(First Published on December 23, 2013)

Friday, December 23, 2016

In His Mercy God Offers Forgiveness

Forgiveness! The 10th gift of Christmas. As with all the other gifts, God has displayed his forgiveness from the very beginning. In His faithfulness, God has redeemed his children through sacrifice and blood since the original sin of Adam and Eve. Genesis 3:21 tells us that “The LORD God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them.” Now we know that they were already covered because back in verse 7 scripture tells us that “they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.” God didn’t clothe them so their nakedness would be covered. He clothed them with a skin. The skin of an animal. The skin of a sacrifice which poured out blood to cover their sin before the eyes of the Lord. 

In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is NO forgiveness.” Hebrews 9:22

Without blood there would be no forgiveness. We would receive what we deserve for our sin-- eternal separation from a Holy and Just God. God cannot look upon sin. The blood covers that sin and makes a way for God to have relationship with us.

Throughout the old testament the prophets tell of Jesus’ coming as the atoning sacrifice.
All the prophets (Old Testament messengers of God’s word) testify about him that everyone who believes in him (Jesus) receives forgiveness of sins through his name.” Acts 10:43

Forgiveness comes through the blood of Christ. Jesus birth brings joy to us because it was the beginning of the fulfillment of God’s plan for our redemption through his death on the cross. We must accept Christ as the Son of God and in accepting him, we must accept the gift of forgiveness. It was offered to us before we were born. 

“In him, we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with all the riches of God’s grace.” Eph. 1:7

“For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” Col 1:13-14

“If we confess our sin, he is faithful and just to forgive our sin and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9

Forgiveness is a gift we must choose to accept. Too many people spend their lives allowing Satan to condemn them for past sins. But Jesus’ blood was shed before you ever sinned. His love covered you before you even needed it! 

“When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us ALL our sins.” Col. 2:13

 But like all the gifts God gives us, forgiveness is a gift to be shared. And it’s one that he is very serious about us receiving and then in turn offering to others. 

“For if you forgive men their sin against you, your Heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” 
Matt. 6:14-15 

Jesus taught us to pray saying, “Forgive us our debts as we also have forgiven our debtors.” Matt. 6:12

“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Eph. 4:32

Now, what about you? Are you withholding forgiveness from someone? Are you waiting on them to apologize or for their behavior to improve before you offer your forgiveness? Remember you were forgiven before you asked and while you were yet a sinner. And that is exactly how God wants you to offer this gift to others...when they don’t want or deserve it! 

Do you need to ask forgiveness from God or someone else? Don’t delay because in doing so, you are harming your own relationship with God. Accept His gift today and share it gladly with everyone, in every situation. It’s not easy, but with God all things are possible!

(First Published on December 22, 2013)

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Self Control

Most of us probably think of self control, in relation, to getting revenge.  My first thought when thinking of self control is keeping myself from slinging mean words at someone who has threatened me.  It is holding back from hurting someone who has hurt me.  Revenge seems like the natural response, when we are threatened, to defend ourselves.  God is telling us there is a different way to handle our problems and temptations.  He has given us a way out!  He has given us self-control!  

Dear friends, never avenge yourselves.  Leave that to God.  For it is written,
“I will take vengeance;
I will repay those who deserve it,” says the Lord.
Instead do what the Scriptures say;
“If your enemies are hungry, feed them. 
If they are thirsty, give them something to drink,
and they will be ashamed of what they have done to you.” 
Romans 12:19-20

The 9th gift of Christmas is one that God has modeled for us since the beginning of time and a characteristic of Jesus that just blows me away.  Jesus wandered in the dessert for 40 days without food and water.  In a very vulnerable moment when Jesus was starving and tired, He was tempted by satan to end all that suffering.  Jesus had the self control to stay devoted to God’s plan.  Jesus showed a ridiculous amount of self-control when he was being beaten and hung on the cross.  “The crowd watched, and the leaders laughed and scoffed, “He saved others”, they said, “let Him save himself if he is really God’s Chosen One, the Messiah.” (Luke 23:35)  How many of us would have just stuck around saying very few words while soldiers mocked us and whipped us to near death?     

Aside from getting revenge, self-control is needed to make the right decisions in life.  We have to be able to distinguish between what we know is right and what we want, which so often can be two very different things.  Even before His beating Jesus had the will power to turn Himself in.  He knew what was coming and He was still able to continue with God’s plan.  Yes, He was indeed scared and prayed very hard for the situation to change but He had the self control to walk straight into suffering and death, for us.  The beautiful thing is that from God, through the Holy Spirit, we have that same self-control.     

Jesus knew God on a very personal level and because He knew Him He could do the right thing even if it meant His own suffering.  Knowing God leads to self-control (2 Peter 1:6).  When we walk with Him, read the bible and form a relationship with Him, we get to know God and we begin to learn who He is.  The more we know God the better we understand who God wants us to be.  We learn self discipline and the ability to pursue what we know is right despite temptations from the world.  We begin training our minds to think from a godly perspective and act in a godly way even when the world says otherwise.  Through self discipline and transforming of our minds, God gives us self-control.  

God has not given us a spirit of fear, and timidity but of power, love, and self-discipline.    
     2 Timothy 1:7

Self-control is the ability to control oneself, in particular one’s emotions and desires, especially in difficult situations.  Along with His gift of self-control, God also gives us free will.  He has allowed us to make our own choices.  God will never make us choose Him or His commands but He has given us the Holy Spirit which, if we allow, gives us the power to have self-control and make decisions that are pleasing to God.  

And we are instructed to turn from godless living and sinful pleasures.  We should live in this evil world with self-control, right conduct, and devotion to God.
Titus 2:12

As was mentioned yesterday....God never instructs us to do something that we aren’t capable of doing.  He would never expect us to live a life of self-control if we couldn’t do it.  If every person is capable of having self-control then it is within each of us.  It isn’t something that we have to find on our own, nor is it something that we have to display on our own power.  Self-control is possible through the help of the Holy Spirit.  Most people just don’t call on that help.  They aren’t disciplined, nor have they trained themselves to understand the power that they truly possess.  God has given us gifts that for many sit idle because we don’t accept them and we aren’t willing to use them. So from now on, if you are one of those people, ignore the word self in self-control.........don’t let it make you think it is something you must do on your own!

(First Published on December 21, 2013)

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Great Is Thy Faithfulness

As the 8th gift of Christmas God has given us the gift of faithfulness! Faithfulness is defined as constant, steadfast, loyal, and dependable. And that is just what our God is!

I cannot tell you how excited I am to get to share with you about God’s faithfulness! I am a wanderer. I have strayed from God. I have broken and pushed his loving boundaries. I have harmed his name and hurt his church. You may ask, why I would share this with you openly. I am ok with sharing because in doing so, I join a host of amazing believers who have gone before me. They too were wanderers. They were too at times, faithless. I’m not afraid to share my errors because I am repentant and redeemed. I am not afraid to tell you that I’ve strayed because the joy I’ve received in being found in God’s faithfulness is blessed. No matter where I went, God was there. He met me head on, pursued me from afar, and wooed me into his loving arms. In his faithfulness, he never left my side. That’s how he’s been from the beginning of time! It’s his very nature to be faithful. In Joshua 1:5 God says, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” If He says it, He means it! And throughout scripture he proves himself to be true.

He created Adam and Eve. They wandered. He faithfully found them. (Genesis 3)

Abraham and Sarah wandered and took matters into their own hands rather than depend on God. He faithfully found and redeemed them. (Genesis 16-20)

Moses killed a man and ran away to hide. God faithfully found and greatly used him. (Exodus 2:11-3)

Time and again you can find accounts of how humans mess up, run, and are faithfully found by God. God has known our hearts from the beginning of time. He also had a plan to help us in our faithlessness. 

See, even “if we are faithless, he will remain faithful, for he cannot disown himself. 
(2 Timothy 2:13)

At the proper time, God sent his most cherished gift to live among us. Jesus came as that beautiful, innocent babe. He came to redeem us in our wanderings. God was faithful to find us and bring us back to himself even though we were faithless. Sending Jesus was the ultimate statement of faithfulness. God will spare no expense to save his children. He will stop at nothing to find us and bring us back unto himself! 

For many of us that is hard to imagine. We’ve been abandoned by a parent or possibly by both of them. We’ve been betrayed by a spouse or had our children walk away from us.The very people we should have been able to count on have abandoned us or hurt us deeply. Our trust has been broken and learning to trust again is tough. But, God is faithful. HE WILL NOT LEAVE YOU...EVER!

Though my father and mother forsake me, the LORD will receive me. 
Psalm 27:10

Dear Lord, 
Help us to know your faithfulness. Where we have been hurt by others bring healing so that we can learn to trust in you. Forgive us for our faithlessness. We praise you for being steadfast and trustworthy. Teach us to depend on you every moment of every day. 
We love you 

Amen and Amen!

(First Published on December 20, 2013)

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

God's Goodness

Surely Your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life. 
Psalm 23:6

I have to admit when I saw that my topic was goodness I was afraid that I wouldn’t have much to write.  Yes of course God is good but isn’t goodness the same as kindness?  I already wrote all I could on kindness, what more could I say about God’ goodness that wasn’t already mentioned on day 5?  Well, God has a different opinion and it is just amazing to see His work.  He had so much to teach me about goodness and I am blessed to get to share it with you!

Goodness is the quality of being good.  God displays this beneficial quality in His dealings with us and especially in our circumstances.  His goodness is our 7th gift of Christmas.  God is our model of moral excellency.  He made us in His image, therefore, we were engrained with this same moral compass.  This was our gift when we were first created.  But God did not stop there.  Throughout the bible there are tons of examples of God's goodness given to His people. One thing I found that most all of them have in common is that God’s goodness comes after someone messes up and/or after great suffering.  I came to understand Romans 8:28 at a deeper level today.  

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God. 
Romans 8:28

I have heard this said millions of times and I have used it to encourage my friends, as well, but today God showed me just how this works.  I learned that this promise is not for everyone but only those Who love God.  Those people who have been called by God and have received His gift of salvation through Jesus Christ.  I also thought deeply about how God actually does work things out.  Not everything in life is good but God can turn every situation around.  He has one purpose and one goal and He will always work for our long range good, not to make us happy but because He loves us and He wants us, and He will do anything to fulfill His purpose. 

Job’s life is just one example of God’s goodness.  Job was a man of God.  He trusted God and had amazing faith but he would be tested and in one day lose everything.  Job was a father and a farmer and on one dark day he lost all of his animals, and all of his children.  If that wasn’t bad enough Job was then tested with a terrible case of boils all over his body.  He remained faithful through it all and was even persecuted by his own wife.  Job suffered for months (Job 7:3) but he stayed faithful and in the end God showed Him goodness.  In the second half of his life, Job was given twice as much as in the beginning (Job 42:10-17).

Although it is difficult to see God’s goodness during the heat of a crisis, the pain of loss or in the midst of our own sin, God is still right there.  His gift of goodness wins every time.  We can’t see the goodness when we are in the middle of turmoil but when we get through the pain, when we stand behind the situation and look at where God has moved us from, it is very evident that God is good.     

The Lord replied, “I will make all my goodness pass before you, and I will call out my name, ‘The Lord’, to you.  I will show kindness to anyone I choose, and I will show mercy to anyone I choose.  But you may not look directly at my face, for no one may see me and live.”  The Lord continued, “Stand here on this rock beside me.  As my glorious presence passes by, I will put you in the cleft of the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed.  Then I will remove my hand, and you will see me from behind.  But my face will not be seen.”
Exodus 33:19-23

We may not see God’s plan while we are in the middle of a painful situation.  We can’t possibly see Him working when we are dealing with the loss of a loved one or a terminal illness.  We can’t see God’s goodness when our spouse has just left us or we have lost our job.  A fallen world gives way to fallen situations that are unexplainable, but God’s goodness will show when we look at Him from behind.  When we step back and follow Him. When we watch God work and wait on Him we will see His goodness.  In hindsight God’s goodness shines!  Don’t ever give up or run from your situation, but instead search for Him and watch Him work.  Stay there and wait to see His goodness in the end!  Like mentioned before, God's goodness isn't for everyone but for those with the faith to trust Him and follow Him.  God's goodness is evident when we believe in Who He is and in His son Jesus Christ.  Because when we believe, we can see His work.......His goodness.  

Yet I am confident that I will see the Lord’s goodness while I am here in the land of the living.  
Psalm 23:6 

Dear God,  Thank you for your gift of goodness!  Please forgive me when I am in the middle of crisis and I'm too impatient to wait on your goodness.  When I am ready to give up because I am blinded by my circumstance.  Lord open my eyes to your goodness.  I want to trust you and I want to believe that even in my darkest hours You are good.  Help me to step back and follow you.  Help me to view you from behind and to look for Your work in my life.   Your goodness and unfailing love pursue me.  I will have goodness in every situation I face!  Amen and amen!

(First Published on December 19, 2013)

Monday, December 19, 2016


The 6th gift of Christmas is gentleness. As Aimee shared yesterday, God is kind. He does things for us out of his kindness. He wants the best for us. Gentleness is however the manner in which he does them. Gentle is an adjective. It describes how actions are performed. 

In His kindness, God knew we needed a savior, so he sent us his son as an atoning sacrifice for our sin. Nothing else he could have done would exhibit more kindness. And in sending his Son, he sent us the gift of gentleness.

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. Matt. 11:29

Read the encounters that Jesus had with sinners in the new testament. He is not harsh in his responses to their failures. He doesn’t condemn them, rather he forgives them and encourages them to go on about life enjoying the freedom of forgiveness. For example, in Mark 14 Jesus is not harsh with the the woman of questionable character who comes to him in Simon’s home. She is rebuked harshly by those in attendance, but Jesus says to them, “Leave her alone”. He knew her story, her past, her sin, but he also knew her heart. It mattered more! He treated her with dignity and respect. He was gentle with his words and his actions. 

Gentleness is contrary to our earthly nature. If someone yells at us, our natural response is to yell back. If someone corrects us we tend to defend ourselves or make excuses. If someone needs correcting we often ‘tell them how it is’. In his God-given wisdom, Solomon tells us that “ gentle word turns away wrath” (Proverbs 15:1). Gentleness is evidenced in the delivery of our words and actions.It is evidenced in our response to other’s words and actions. God does not scold us when we are wrong. He does not make us feel belittled or worthless when we sin. I know this for a fact because I’ve lived it so many times. I believe the best way to show you his gentleness is to tell you my story.

Recently, God spoke conviction to my heart. If you go back to the blog entitled, “Lord, Speak Afresh,“ You will see that God was telling me I needed me to change. And here’s how he gently prompted me to do so. I was whining to God about someone in my life who was always taking and never giving.  As I literally sat in the bathroom I heard, “You’re a being a taker too.” It wasn’t an audible voice, but I knew it was God because I wouldn’t say such a thing about myself. And I knew it wasn’t satan because I didn’t feel condemned. I simply knew I was wrong, and that God wanted me to change.  God needed me to learn to praise him. I was taking more from our relationship than I was giving. Not giving him the praise and glory that he deserves is selfish and sinful of me. But because God was not harsh but rather was so gentle, I couldn’t wait to learn what he wanted me to know.

Now, if God is so gentle with us, why do we respond so harshly to others when they try to correct us? Why, if God is so gentle with us in our sin, do we deny others gentleness when they sin agains us? I believe that this verse sums it up...

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again; Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.  (Philippians 4:4-5)

Gentleness is fruit of the Spirit. It is a gift given to us to in turn be shared with others. I cannot be selfish and harsh while I am praising and rejoicing. Contradicting traits cannot be exhibited at the same time. If I’m harsh then my focus isn’t on praising God. Want to grow in gentleness, then start praising! 

(First Published on December 18, 2013)

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Love is Kind

For His loving kindness is great toward us, and the truth of the Lord is everlasting.
Psalm 117:2

Our 5th gift of Christmas is God’s unfailing kindness!  Kindness is the quality of being friendly, generous and considerate and through my experiences, thus far, I am most certain that He fits that description.  Proverbs 17:17 states that, a friend loves at all times.  In our recent discussions of God’s gift of love it is very clear that God is our friend.  He is also clearly generous, who of you would give your child as a sacrifice for the world?  So that leaves us with considerate.  God is considerate of our feelings and especially our salvation.  Like Mary mentioned yesterday He is very patient with us because He loves us and wants us to find Him.  That sounds like a considerate friend to me!  Someone who wants what is best for us.  A man who cares about who we are, who will do anything to help us become that person.  Yes, my dear friends, God is kind!  

Yet now God in his gracious kindness declares us not guilty.  He has done this through Christ Jesus.
Romans 3:24

Jesus Christ was given to us as a gift of love from Our Father.  God was reaching out to us.  His kindness was poured out on the night Jesus was born and we were given a savior.  God waits on us.  He waits for us to chose His gift of Christ and then He helps is a beautiful thing.  Jesus and what He came to earth to represent was the hugest act of kindness that we could ever receive. 

And so God can always point to us as examples of the incredible wealth of his favor and kindness toward us, as shown in all He has done for us through Christ Jesus.
Ephesians 2:7

Kindness isn’t something made just for receiving.  Kindness is a gift to be passed on.  God is kind to us not only because He loves us but also to show us how to be kind to others.  We are to treat people the way we would want to be treated.  God showed His love by being kind.  He withheld severe punishment at times, He allowed barren women to conceive children, He saved the israelites from slavery and lead them to the Promised Land, He answered prayers.......the list goes on and on.  God is kind and it shows through His provision.  God’s kindness is evident in His genuine love for us.  And now it is our turn to return that love to others and show them kindness, expecting nothing in return.  Just like God, we are called to show kindness to the unkind (Luke 6:35)  We are expected to be kind to those we love and those we do not know.  Through that kindness we are sharing God.  

Yes, a lot of the things we have been discussing go hand in hand.  You can’t have love without kindness following.  You can’t have patience without learning joy.   It is so important to understand each of these gifts as they stand alone.  The better we get to know each gift individually the better we will accept each gift and use each gift.  The more we recognize God as the giver of these gifts the more we can do with these gifts. Thank God today for the gift of His kindness.  Think back at the many things He has done to show His kindness to you or the people you know and love.  Write them down.  Share these things with someone who needs to hear of the kindness God provides.  Share them with someone who needs hope, or encouragement.  Share with the world that God is your refuge and He is kind!

How precious is your loving kindness, O God!  And the children of men take refuge in the shadow of your wings.  
Psalm 36:7 

(First Published December 17, 2013)

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Patience: Expectant Waiting

Love is PATIENT. 1 Corinthians 13:4

Wait for the Lord; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the Lord.
Psalm 27:14

The fourth gift of Christmas is patience. At just the right time, God sent us his one and only son. The shepherds were expectantly awaiting his arrival. The world would soon know of his birth. This long awaited gift had finally arrived! Luke 1 & 2

Patience is a deep word. It is more than just keeping ourselves from screaming when the kids are wild. It’s more than just choosing to say a kind word when we’ve been offended. Patience is Love.

When we have received the ultimate gift of God’s love, we begin to know and understand more of how God works. He is Love, therefore, he is patient. Stop and think how long God knocked on the door of your heart waiting to be invited to enter a relationship with you. He didn’t force his way into your life. He was patient, persistent, and waited for just the right time. That’s what real patience is... expectant waiting. We must be patient because God works at just the right time. King Solomon tells us this in Ecclesiastes 3:1 that “There is a time for everything and a  season for every activity under heaven.” 

“Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him!” Isaiah 30:18

God wants to give us His good gifts, but He also knows that they must not come too early or they will not be received to their fullest! Timing is everything, and patience is waiting for God’s perfect time. Let me give you an example. Your 12 year old wants a car. You know they will drive in a few years, you have the money now, and it will really be a benefit to them. So, would you get them the car when they are 12? Absolutely not! They are not ready for it. There is maturing to do before the car is of value. That’s what patience does for us. When we have to be patient and wait on the Lord, we have time to mature and get ready to receive the gift. 

From before time began God had in his plan that Jesus would enter the world to save us from our sin. He then waited to reveal himself to creation at the perfect time through the nation of Isreal and through a specific man, Abraham. God could have stamped his name on the world from day one, but he waited because he is sovereign. He knows the future so he can foresee and administer his perfect timing. 

Throughout the Bible, God’s people learn patience through expectant waiting. 
David tells us in his Psalm to “Wait for the Lord; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the Lord.” Psalm 27:14  He knew that God would protect and prevail, but waiting for the time to be perfect was important. 

Throughout the book of Isaiah, this prophet encourages the people of Isreal to look forward to the coming of the Messiah, the promised King. They had to wait! 

Once Jesus enters the world, he too had to wait. As Mary approached him at the wedding in Cana, she asked him to get more wine. His response is this, “Dear woman, why do you involve me? My time has not yet come.” Jesus too, waited on the Father. 

Patience is expectant waiting. David, Isaiah, and Jesus were all patient. They could wait patiently because their hope was in an unfailing Father. They knew he would do what he promised and they patiently rested in that promise. Because we know God’s love, we too can have that same patience. 

Now, what about you? Are you patiently waiting or are you trying to force the issue. Are you allowing God to work, or are you trying to fix the issue? If God seems slow in coming it’s because he is still getting all the details in place in both you and the others who will benefit from the gift. Fix your eyes on Him and patiently wait for Him! Patiently wait for his return and fix your eyes on eternity. In doing so, the wait for our earthly gifts grows dim and satisfies our longings. 

(First Published December 16, 2013)

Friday, December 16, 2016

Prince of Peace

For a child is born to us, a son is given to us.  And the government will rest on His shoulders.  These will be His royal titles: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, 
Prince of Peace.
Isaiah 9:6

Many years later, when our Prince of Peace was due to arrive, angels appeared to shepherds in the fields outside the village where Jesus was born.  The shepherds were frightened and the angels surrounded them exclaiming:
Glory to God in the highest heaven, 
and peace on the earth to all who God favors.”
Luke 2:14

On that very first night, when Jesus was born, the 3rd gift of Christmas was proclaimed to the world.  The baby Jesus would bring peace to those whom God favors.......those who would believe and accept His son as their Savior.  Aside from love and joy, Jesus was coming into the world to open the way for the people to have peace with God, and peace of mind.  Sin was unavoidable and a part of everyone’s life.  Jesus was sent to be the last sacrifice for all people and make it possible for us to approach God.  Jesus brought us to a place of highest privilege in God’s sight.  We would be reconciled with God and there would be no more sin blocking our relationship with Him.

Therefore having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Romans 5:1

Jesus also brought with Him, spiritual peace, better known as, peace of mind.  It isn’t the peace that we think of between two countries, nor the cute peace signs on clothing in a certain girly clothing store.  Peace that comes from Christ is something different.  Spiritual peace is having the knowledge and understanding to keep oneself strong in the face of discord or stress (Wikepedia).  Peace that comes from Christ is more than just an absence of conflict.  God’s gift of peace is protection and it comes from our faith and trust in Jesus, our savior.  

“I am leaving you with a gift - peace of mind and heart.  
The peace I give isn’t like the peace the world gives.  So don’t be troubled or afraid.” 
John 14:27

Peace doesn’t necessarily mean that your life will be perfect without problems.  Peace from God is confident assurance, in the heat of those problems, that you will come out blessed.  It is having faith that no matter what situation arises you will overcome.  When we have faith in God and believe that our prayers are heard and answered then peace follows.  When we believe that God is in complete control of our circumstance, peace is our gift.  Peace is our promise of shelter during the storm.  We can wait in peace when we are confident that our Prince of Peace will save the relationship, renew the soul, protect the child, or heal the sickness.  God’s gift of peace takes the worry away from those things that are out of our control and replaces it with confidence and hope. 

Don’t worry about anything; instead pray about everything.  Tell God what you need. and thank Him for all He’s done.  If you do this, you will experience God’s peace which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand.  His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you life in Christ Jesus.  
Philippeans 4:6-7

So let God’s peace guard your heart.  Trust Him to protect you and let His peace fill you will confidence.  I challenge you to go to your bible and search for people, like Paul, who had amazing faith.  Read about them and the peace they had in the scariest of situations.  That same peace is yours!  Have faith in your Prince of Peace, trust that God will protect you and help you through.  Remember the peace that was given to you the day Jesus Christ was born, and own it! 

I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me.  Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows.  But take heart because I have overcome the world.
John 17:33

(First Published December 15, 2013)

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Sing For Joy!

Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days. Psalm 90:14

God is the giver of all good gifts. Actually-- he is simply a giver. He gave us the ultimate gift of love, but that’s not nearly the end of his gift giving. He also gives us joy! Joy is a by product of receiving God's love. 

Joy, what is it really? To Christians, joy has a deep meaning rooted in the knowledge of God’s love. Joy is not an emotion like happiness or feeling giddy. It is not fleeting. Joy is a state of steadfastness. It is a form of contentment and confident hope. Joy is a mindset and a matter of the heart.

Yesterday’s blog discussed the gift of love. Love had to be discussed first because it is the source of all other gifts. As Christians we continually grow in our knowledge and understanding of God’s love for us. As we begin to internalize the fact that we are His children and he will never abandon us, we gain a sense of confidence and trust. That is joy!

Joy is not based on circumstance. The world can fall apart around us, yet we will not lose hope. Oh, we will have emotions, but deep within us is where we will find joy. We have joy in knowing that irregardless of the situation, our salvation is being worked out through this trial. 

Paul is the greatest author of joy in the Bible. We must know that his situations did not make him happy. In 2 Corinthians 11:24-26 he tells us his ministry story... he was put in jail, whipped, and faced death. He was give thirty-nine lashes on 5 different accounts. He was beaten with rods, stoned, and shipwrecked. He faced natural disasters, faced robbers, hungered, and then told us to “consider it pure joy when we face trials of many kinds.” (James 1:2) Paul’s joy came from the fact that he was walking in relationship with Jesus and other believers. It came from knowing whose he was and where he was headed.

The joy of the Lord is our strength. (Nehemiah 8:10) As we come to know whose we are, our confidence rises. We begin to act boldly in the name of the Lord. The knowledge of our salvation and the security in which we live produce our state of joy. 

Choose JOY!

(First Published December 14, 2013)

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

The 12 Gifts Of Christmas: Love

The Twelve Days of Christmas is a very popular song dating back to 1780.  Since we are approaching Christmas Mary and I would like to share with you a different perspective on this timeless tradition.  Some research on Wikipedia revealed that there are several variations of this timeless Christmas carol, of the 10 listed, 9 start out like this: “On the first day of Christmas my true love sent to me”......Our remix of this classic Christmas carol is based on the gifts we received when Jesus was born.  We believe that our true love is God and He indeed sent us an amazing gift Who brought with Him many other gifts to share.  Although the twelve days in this song are referring to the twelve days after Christmas, we are way too excited to share these gifts so waiting until after Christmas......well it’s just not happening. 

The first gift of Christmas our True Love sent to us:

   Love started when the world began.  Genesis 1 describes the beginning of time like this: in 6 days God created light; sky and water; land, seas and vegetation; sun moon and stars; fish and birds; animals, man and woman.  After every day He thought His creation was good.  I  envision Him getting giddy at the sight of His beautiful creation that was made just for His children as an expression of His deep love for us.  God chose to create us and he chose to create the earth for us to enjoy.  In the beginning we were loved. 

The one who is the true light, who gives light to everyone, was coming into the world (John 1:9).

Jesus played a part in the earths creation.  He was present when the world began (Colossians 1:15-17), but it wasn’t until later that He would be given to us in the flesh.  As if creating the beautiful world wasn't enough, God would eventually send us Jesus who would be the ultimate sign of God’s affection for us.  
So the Word became human and made His home among us.  He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness.  And we have seen His glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only son. (John 1:14).

A little over 2000 years ago God gave us His Son!  Jesus was born in a dirty stable and placed in a manger.  He was the most unlikely King, but a beautiful story unfolds as we learn about the love that God shared with us on that dark night.  Jesus was given to us from God to save us from our sins.  He was the final sacrifice in a world full of religious sacrifices and laws.  He would come to take away our sins and give us hope for eternal life in heaven.    

Because of His amazing love for us, God gave us perfect love, in the flesh, when He gave us Jesus. Yes, God loves us and through Jesus, He gives us the most meaningful and lasting gift.  Usually one would save the best for last, but in this case we simply cannot. In order to be able to share with you the remaining eleven gifts, we must first share the best gift, love.   

God showed how much He loved us by sending His only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through Him.  This is real love.  It is not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins (1 John 4:9-10).   

Jesus was born for us!  Jesus is our gift, He is love!  Jesus is God’s love in human form.  Jesus was the perfect, sinless, spotless lamb who could be sacrificed to save us from hell.  Laying down His life He loved us with all He had.  This love cannot be earned, it is truly a gift.  But, not the kind of gift that is placed on a shelf or hung on the wall to look at.  No, God’s gift of love was one to be used.  We are to take that love and share it with the world.  Jesus is our model of love.  Jesus is our source of love.  Jesus is love!     

 [Jesus] is patient and kind.  [Jesus] is not jealous or boastful or proud, or rude.  [Jesus] does not demand His own way.  [Jesus] is not irritable, and He keeps no record of when He has been wronged.  [He] is never glad about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out.  [Jesus] never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful and endures through every circumstance (1 Corinthians 13:4-8).

The love described above is unconditional.  It is the love that we have been given by our Father in heaven and it is the same love that we are to share with others (John 13:34).  When we were given Jesus we were given the ability to love like Jesus.  With willing hearts we are capable of portraying every one of the characteristics listed above.  When we accept Jesus as our savior we are allowing Him to love through us.  We are inviting Him into our hearts and we are given the ability to love just like God loves us.    

Thank you God for the ultimate gift!  When Christ came into this world You showered us with perfect love.  Yes, your perfect love existed, for us, since the day of creation but you unselfishly offered it up when you gave us your only son as a sacrifice for our sins.  We celebrate Jesus’ birth, but more importantly, we celebrate the love He represents.  We would be nothing without Your gift of Love!  God help us to re-gift your love this Christmas.  Over the next few weeks, when we see baby Jesus in a picture or displayed on our table remind us what Christmas is all about.  Help us to give gifts for the sole purpose of sharing your love with another.  Remind us of Your love that lives within our hearts and help us to portray that love to the world.  

(First Published December 13, 2013)