Friday, December 23, 2011

Simply Christmas

Of all the stories that could be told, none is greater than this.

Sometimes we have a tendency to view the familiar as common and think, "Yeah, yeah, I know this already."  This story is anything but common. 

Read it slowly.  Breath it in.  The power of it, the annointing of it.  Feel the story this morning.

And she brought forth her first born Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling clothes, 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 field keep 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 angle 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 a sign to you.  You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a 

manger. "

And suddenly there was with the angle a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying:


"Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!"  Luke 2:7-14


God sent His Son to earth in the form of a precious baby. 

The other day, I told a story about how my daughter was pretending to buy baby Jesus.  We, of course, cannot buy Jesus, we cannot buy salvation.   It is a priceless gift from the Lord.  The ironic part is that God actually bought us.   He views us as priceless.   Yes, us.  With all our faults, all our shortcomings, all our failures. 
  
Jesus bought back what Adam and Eve gave away.  When God sent Jesus He implemented His divine redemptive plan to get us back.  He was willing to go to the cross to pay for us, to cleanse us of our sins.  There is no greater price or sacrifice.  To Him, it was the deal of a lifetime.   He wanted to pay it, He loved you so much that no cost was too high. 

May the joy of this season surround you as you remember and meditate on the gift of Jesus and the price Jesus paid for you.

Jesus is our gift.  He gave us Jesus on that first Christmas.  Have you given the Lord your gift?  You are His gift.   All He wants for Christmas is you, your heart, your life yielded to Him. 

Keeping it simply Christmas this morning.  May His peace and joy rest on you as we celebrate His glorious birth.  May His presence surround you and fill your lives today and everyday. 

Praying for you and your families to have a blessed and Merry Christmas. 

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Buying Baby Jesus

Today is my little Sarah's fifth birthday, so I want to start by saying HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my sweet little girl.  It is an honor and privilege to be your mommy.  You are the precious gift I received for Christmas five years ago. Sarah is the second best Christmas gift I have ever received.  Second, only to Jesus.

I love to play with Sarah.  Sarah loves to play dolls and dollhouse.  One day last week, we were playing dollhouse together and I noticed she had baby Jesus (from a kid's manger scene) in the back of her doll's car.  The dolls were driving baby Jesus around in the car. : )

Curious about the scenario, I asked, "Sarah, what is baby Jesus doing in the back of the car?"

She responded, "They went to the store and bought baby Jesus."

Now, of course, this facilitated a nice lead into a conversation about how Jesus is a free gift from God and we don't have to buy Him.  In fact, we can't buy Him.

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.  Ephesians 2:8

Aren't you glad this morning that Jesus is a FREE gift to us?  God sent His precious Son to earth to be our Savior.  We can't make it to heaven on our own, we can't be good enough.  Only the blood of Jesus could save us.  He came willingly and lovingly into our world to be the first Christmas gift.

The One who cannot be bought.  There is no amount of money large enough to purchase this Gift.  You don't have to get in your car and fight Christmas traffic and shoppers to get this Gift. 

All one must do is come.  Fall on your knees.  Lift up your heart to Him with arms open wide and receive the Gift. He is on the other end with open arms to receive you.

He is the best Gift you could ever receive. 












Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Treasure in Earthen Vessels

Excitement emanated from all three kids.  Finally, the movie they had been waiting to see for months was right in front of them.  Pajamas were on, blankets were brought down from upstairs, and eyes were glued with anticipation.

Now normally, Chris and I would sit down and watch a rented (Redbox) movie with our kids, but not this night.  We had some things to do, so this night we just casually viewed it from time to time. We were in the next room and could hear most of the movie.

One "bad" word.  Then two.  Three....

I quote "bad" because our definition may be different than some.  Our view is obviously different than the producers of this movie or other children's movie producers.  Anything that berates others or is disrespectful in our opinion is "bad".  However, this particular movie even crossed over into the "bad" realm of adult standards.  It was PG! 

Realizing this was not a movie for our kids to watch, I went in the living room and turned it off.

Anarchy broke loose.  "What are you doing?"  "That movie was so funny."  "We have been waiting months to see it!"  Tears.  Pleas to turn it back on.

Father, help us to explain to them why we are doing this.  

We want our kids to understand that when we make decisions like this, it is not to keep them from what they want or "fun", it is because we love them and want what is best for them.  The same is true of our Lord.  When we trust Him and know this truth, it is easier to obey.

The Lord did help us.  We explained how we need to be careful about what we watch.  We must guard our hearts.  What goes into our minds, comes out.  We need to be prudent in what we view and hear.

Guard your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life
Put away from you a deceitful mouth, and put perverse lips far from you.  Proverbs 4:23

We explained how it was our job to help protect their minds until they could monitor and protect it for themselves. This was all very unsatisfactory to their tired little ears.  The tears and protests continued up the stairs, through brushing teeth and into bed. 

Lord, what now? 

Part of the protest was that we (the parents) were able to watch whatever we want.

My son was accusing me of a double standard.  Was it true?  Time to self-examine.

Condemnation raised its ugly voice.  You hypocrite.  It was a lie.  I silenced it with truth. 

"Joe, no we don't get to watch whatever we want.  We have to guard our hearts and minds also."  It was then I realized that I could TOTALLY relate to what our kids were going through.

Many times I will be watching a show that I have been look forward to seeing, a show that I was very excited about seeing and right in the middle of it, I will get a knowing that I have to turn it off.  Disappointed, I will turn it off.  This happens ALL THE TIME with television shows.  Seriously, there are very few shows I can watch on the TV.   And it is common for me to finally find a show that is funny, just to have to turn it off after a few viewings.  It can be disappointing.

Let me say that I am disappointed with the television producers, never the Lord.  I am not resentful,  it is my choice to guard my heart.

We explained all this to the kids.  Then, the Lord gave me another verse.

But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us.   2 Cor 4:7 (Emphasis added)

In us is a treasure, the greatest treasure. 

A concept my kids should understand.  They love pirate and treasure stories.  So the conversation continued....

"We have in a us a treasure more valuable than gold.  If you had a treasure chest full of gold, would you just throw garbage and junk on it?  No, you would want to  keep it shiny and beautiful. We don't want to make our treasure yucky by throwing garbage on it?  We have Jesus on the inside of us and He is the greatest treasure, more valuable than gold.  When we watch movies or listen to something that is unpleasing to the Lord and has bad words, we are throwing garbage on our Treasure.  We make our insides yucky, and we don't want our insides to be yucky.  We want our insides clean so our Treasure can shine." 

Finally, a glimmer of hope!  I saw the light bulb start to turn on.  They were still disappointed, but a seed of understanding was planted.  Phew.....that was a hard one.  Time for bed. 

The verse above in 2 Cor 4:6 is also good:

For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. 

The same God who commanded the light to shine, lives in us and shines His light in our hearts, and works through us!  He has chosen us, frail and flawed earthen vessels, to hold His glorious treasure.

On a majestic, glorious night 2011 years ago, God sent His greatest Treasure in the form of a frail, human vessel.  A precious gift from our Heavenly Father.  This gift was greater than any treasure ever given.  Completely God, yet completely man.  The treasure of eternal salvation, of living free, of being forgiven, of joy and peace. 

WE HAVE THIS TREASURE! 








Monday, December 12, 2011

All is Calm...All is Bright

Come to me all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Matt 11:28

Rest for our souls.  Rest for our bodies.  Rest for our mental well-being.  Rest for our spiritual growth.

The song playing today is "Silent Night".  We all know the song and sing it every Christmas.  Think about the lyrics in contrast to the busyness of the Christmas season.

All is calm....All is bright.

Jesus came so our souls can be calm, so we can be bright as the star shining that night. 

It is hard to be a light with a stressed, hurried, and worried heart. 

The Greek word for  "rest" above is anapaulo.   It means:

-To cause or permit one to cease from any movement or labour in order to recover and collect his strength.
-Refresh
-To keep quiet, calm, and patient expectation

Do you need a break?  Do you need refreshing?  Do you need calmness and quietness?  Ask God.  Bring this promise to Him and ask Him to give you rest.  Ask Him to restore your soul.  Ask Him to quiet your mind.   Ask Him to fill you with His peace. 

The Lord is giving me a period of refreshing and rest.  I am so thankful.  He will do the same for you. 

He spoke this to me recently and He wanted me to share it with you this morning:

Where you are empty, I will fill you.

Where you are weak, I will be your strength

Where you are overwhelmed, I will be your peace. 

He is saying the same to you this morning.

Come with Me by yourselves to some quiet place and rest.  Mark 6:31

Instead of inner turmoil, we can have peace.  All can be calm no matter what is going on around us.  The song says "Sleep in heavenly peace."  We too can experience "Heavenly peace."   It is not just a song, it part of the gift God gave to us when He gave us Jesus.









Friday, December 9, 2011

Believe

And the winning of the So Long Insecurity Journal and Promise book is................Alicia A.! 


Congratulations Alicia!!!  I will get the book to you.  : ) 

For a short post today, the word "BELIEVE" has been on my heart this morning.

This time of year, with the Christmas season, we see the word "Believe" often.  

We recently re-watched the movie, "The Polar Express".  Great movie, so magical.  There is a significant line in the movie that says:

"Sometimes the most real things in life are the things we can't see."

He may have been referring to Santa Clause, since the movie was about the North Pole and seeing Santa.  However, he is very right. 

Growing up, I heard the phrase, "I'll believe it when I see it."  It wasn't until I was older that I learned the opposite is actually true.

"Believe and then you will see it."

It takes faith to believe in Jesus Christ. 

Thomas doubted that Jesus was alive until he saw Him and felt Him. Jesus said.....

Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed.  Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.  John 20:29

BELIEVE

I encourage you today to believe like a child with wide-eyed wonder.  You will see Jesus when you do. 









Wednesday, December 7, 2011

So Long Insecurity, and Good Riddance! + A GIVEAWAY!

Ten weeks have past since we opened the cover of the book So Long Insecurity by Beth Moore.  The words on the pages inspired by the Holy Spirit have held much revelation and encouragement for me and I hope for you as well.

Woohoo!!  SO LONG INSECURITY and may I add, GOOD RIDDANCE.  You really have been a bad friend.

Here are some of the main points from each week:

1.  God created us, He knows our humanity and all our faults and loves us unconditionally. He knows we are but dust.  He has everlasting mercy on us and wants to help us. 

2.  The excellence of the power of God lives in us.  The Spirit of God lives in you.  Do not doubt that you can do what God has called you to do, He has equipped you for every good work. He has chosen you to glorify Him. ( 2 Cor 4:7. Eph 2:10)

But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us.  2 Cor 4:7

3.  Some of the most prominent figures in the Bible dealt with insecurity and by God's grace they overcame.  Insecurity is rooted in fear.  Identify what you are afraid of and go to the Lord.  He delivers us from all our fears. 

I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears.  Ps 34:4


4. There are many roots of security and many run deep.  Rejection is a common root of insecurity.  Our perceptions of rejection are not always accurate.  Whether it is perceived rejection or actual rejection, we need to disregard the voice of rejection and listen to what the Lord says.  He accepts us.  He wants us.  He loves us.  He pursues us.  He fights for us.

No matter what our root of insecurity is, He has made all things new including us. 

5.  We are clothed with strength and dignity.  We are covered by God.  He has called us worthy and honored.

She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.  Proverbs 31:25

6.   Ask God to help you see others through His eyes.  Keep your eyes on Jesus. 

7.  Think of yourself as the one Jesus loves. 

8.  We have the power to choose security.  We can choose to spiral up instead of down by choosing to react a different way when face with insecurity triggers. We don't have to attach insecurity to our hurt, disappointment, uncertainty, humiliation, failures, etc. 

9.  Be mindful of others.  Personalizing people helps disarm your insecurity triggers.  Everyone has insecurity triggers.  Eyes off self and on others and Jesus.  Build others up.  Don't play the comparison game.  Don't do "bad math" (See "Eyes Off Us" post).  

God calls us lovely and has chosen us as His dwelling place.

How lovely is Your dwelling place, Oh Lord Almighty.  Ps 84:1

10.  Trust God. 

Doesn't number 10 just sum it all up nicely?   Thank you for going on this journey with me! I hope you  have enjoyed it as much as I have. 

In celebration of our security in Christ, I am giving away a copy of the So Long Insecurity Journal and small resource book The Promise of Security.





To enter to win the GIVEAWAY, you can do one of the following:

1.  Become a follower of this blog.  I would LOVE for you to become a follower! 

2.  Leave a comment below with your name, so I will know who you are.  : ) 

3.  Share on facebook or leave a comment on facebook link. 

You have until Friday morning at 6:00 am. to enter.  I will announce the winner on Friday.  Thanks to all you SECURE women in Christ!!!  (and men too.. )   : ) 







Monday, December 5, 2011

Eyes Off Us

Last Monday night, we actually discussed two weeks of the Bible study.  It was all too good to put on just one post.  So, here is part two.....


Sometimes we are victims to our insecurity triggers.  Others times, we are the ones pulling the trigger.

Today, at work or school or shopping or at the gym, there are women all around you ALSO with insecurity triggers.  We unknowingly and unintentionally do things to bring out insecurity in others.

I don't want to play a part in pulling the trigger for any of my fellow girlfriends.  However, we all have probably done it at one time or another.  The result is that we all go around a little wounded from being shot at, whether intentional or not.

Insecurity has robbed us of some wonderful female friendships.   Why do we feel threatened by other women?  Why do we compare ourselves to them?  Aren't we all mostly all the same? 

Why do we assume that it takes away something from ourselves if another person is pretty, smart, witty, talented, well-to-do, organized, or well-off financially.  It doesn't take anything from us.  God made us all different and He has given us all different talents, gifts, and abilities. 

Beth Moore talks about "bad math" in her book, So Long Insecurity.  This math concludes:

I tried to talk to her + she didn't seem like she wanted to talk to me= she doesn't like me.

She is beautiful + she gets all the attention= she must be a snob

She's got this + she's got that= I've got nothing.  

She doesn't have this problem + I have that problem= everything is great for her and not for me.

Bad Math - why do we assume because someone else has something we do not have that it means we are less or that we are nothing. 

We need to trust God that He has given us what we need.  He is our provider!  He has promised to give you everything you need. 

We are fearfully and wonderfully made! (Ps 139:14) God created us and put everything in us He wants us to have, and He has a good plan for all of us.  When we trust in His plan and obey Him, we have no need to compare.

Knowing that ALL women have insecurity triggers and many of them are constantly using bad math gives us the opportunity to look outward and upward instead of dwelling on ourselves.  When we go into a situation, look around you, be mindful and aware of others.  Let's get our eyes off of us and onto others. 

Personalize people, get to know them and the barriers go down.  The problem is that we don't allow ourselves a chance at a relationship with someone we feel is superior to us in some way.  They are not.  We tend to be threatened by people we don't know personally because we assume they must be perfect or not have any problems.  Not so.  They too have issues and insecurity triggers.

We have Jesus Christ living inside of us, we should be the most secure people in the world!!

Not only does God say you are loved, He also says you are lovely!

How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord Almight!  Ps 84:1


Let that sink in for a moment.  I've sure you have heard this verse or even sang it.  Have you thought about the location of his "dwelling place"?  It is YOU!  You are His dwelling place! YOU ARE LOVELY!!

Remember Who is inside of you.  He made you lovely.  He chose YOU as His dwelling place.  He could have chosen anything to reside it.  Heaven seems like a nice place to reside.  You are more lovely....what a Treasure you hold.

Walk around today with the knowledge and assurance that YOU ARE LOVELY and YOU ARE A LIVING VESSEL OF THE GREATEST TREASURE. 

This Wednesday will be the last post on this series.  Tune back in Wednesday for a GIVEAWAY!  











 
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