In Need of a Silent Night

Final exams.

Dinner to make.

Children to bathe.

Dog chewed the steak.

Laundry to fold.

Papers to grade.

Lord why did I think I could do all this today?

Floor is filthy.

Classroom’s a mess.

Lab exploded.

Broken glass creates a mess.

Christmas décor blew away.

My Olaf popped on a thorn in the fray.

The last child tucked in; dog collapsed by the fire;

I knew I better sit down or retire.

My heart’s heavy, my mind just wouldn’t quit.

It was then I realized I needed way more than St. Nick.

I needed peace.

I needed slumber.

I needed quiet, unencumbered.

I needed more warm moments.

I needed less cold thoughts.

I simply needed something that just couldn’t be bought.

This time of year it’s easy to become overwhelmed. But somehow, I don’t think Jesus would desire for us to feel frantic celebrating the birth of the Prince of Peace.

Jesus came to give us life and give it abundantly.

Today.

Everyday.

It’s we who overfill the moments.

It’s we who try to create grandiose nostalgia when the most meaningful memory would be the moment of comprehension of our greatest gift.

God has blessed us with the gifts of life on earth, and of eternal life through His Son.

God is blessing us with the gift of time of today. He lets us choose how we will spend todays’ hours and minutes. What will we choose?

Although they are pretty, the packages do not contain the gift of happiness.

Although they may fill (and overfill!) our stomachs, the delicious traditions of our family feasts will not quench our heart’s desires to know and be known by our Creator.

Although the parties and festivities are fun-filled social events we don’t want to miss, they could never take the place of that one deep relationship Jesus desires to have with each of us.

Maybe you’re like me and must force yourself to just sit and be still. Even if it’s late, I hope you can take the time to truly rest in a dimly lit room, enjoying the unencumbered, unimaginable joy of Christmas as God intended: a sincere celebration of His great love for each of us.

I pray this holiday season we can each and all discover the true joy of Christmas.

 

Fighting Forgiveness

“I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better than they ever dreamed of.” John 10:10 The Message

The plate was passed as a reflective silence descended upon us all.  My mind focused on the prayer just offered by our speaker. To offer my life as a sacrifice. A living sacrifice. How unworthy am I.

The plate arrived in my pew; it was now my turn to take of the bread that represented the body of Christ.

This bread and the grape juice would travel through my body, affecting every single cell.  Nothing in my body would remain untouched by this bread. Just as nothing in my life could remain untouched by Christ’s forgiveness. His love, His forgiveness permeates every area.

As the bread dissolved in my mouth, my mind marveled at just how magnificent His forgiveness is.

He forgives me.  He forgives me, even when maybe I have not forgiven myself. It’s mind-boggling. He needs nothing from me.  Yet, because His love is so great, He freely forgives me.

However I might try, I can’t accept His forgiveness for some things, and yet disallow it in others.  That is not how He works. The practice of communion is to remind us of the spiritual communion we are to have with Christ.

He came to forgive all sins.

Period.

John 10: 10 tells us, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” NIV

Accepting His forgiveness means forgiving myself. Just like Christ forgives, no matter what.

I should not allow the enemy to steal, kill, and destroy.  I need to allow Christ to give me an abundant life: a life filled with His love, His joy, and His peace.  Acknowledging my past, but not reliving it.  Accepting the consequences, but praising God for how some way, He used it all for good. Let His forgiveness, love, and peace permeate all of me.  Because that is what He came for.

Reflections:

How can I apply John 10:10 more fully to my life today?

What do I easily give to the enemy to allow him to steal, kill and destroy?

For what do I need to forgive myself?

Prayer:

Thank You Heavenly Father, that You do love and forgive freely.  Thank You for sending Jesus so that I might indeed have an abundant life, here on earth, and in eternity with You.  Please reveal to me where I need to forgive myself, and live the life You authored for me to live. Thank You, in Jesus’ name, Amen.

Please listen to the song This Is Living  by Hillsong Young and Free.

Thank you for reading! Please return by Monday, February 23, for the next post.

Garden of ‘Even,’ Part II

 

“And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head and you will strike his heel.” Genesis 3:15

 

Sin had officially entered the world. With all its pomp and circumstance came changes, lots of changes.

But God was ready with a plan.

Psalm 91:13 reads, “You will tread upon the lion and the cobra; you will trample the great lion and the serpent.” Sin entered the world through a choice that a human made.  She was deceived by Satan in snake-skin.

But humans don’t need to fear Satan, or snakes.  We are promised in that Psalm that we will tread upon them and trample them. God had a plan to save us from Satan for eternity.  Accept Christ and His sacrifice, and spend eternity in heaven.

What about today? Life here on earth?

Jesus Himself gives us authority over Satan. In Luke 10:18-19 Jesus replied, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.  I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you.”

Maybe Satan doesn’t tempt you with an apple. Maybe it’s something you don’t ever want to discuss. Maybe you are a “Good Person” ninety percent of the time.

That other, challenging ten percent? God gives you the authority to cast Satan away. Romans 16:20 tells us, “God will soon crush Satan under your feet.”

Although Satan wanted to ‘get even’ with God in the garden of Eden, it is God who has the final win. God authored a plan to not only save our souls forever, but also our hearts today.

Reflections:

Monday: What are some of the consequences of sin that affect you personally today?

Tuesday: Read Psalm 91:13 How do you see yourself ‘trampling the lion and the serpent?’

Wednesday: Read Luke 10:18-19 What promise do these verses contain? How or when might your claim that promise? How does this knowledge, when implemented, change how you approach life?

Thursday: Read John 10:10 What purpose does the enemy serve?

What purpose does Jesus serve?

Friday: Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, when You created the world and us, You had the best of everything planned. Humans chose sin, falling headfirst into Satan’s snare.  But You, through Your great love, authored another way to return to You.  And You offered us not only eternal life, but also a full and abundant life here on earth. Thank you for such a great, unfathomable love. Amen.

Spiritual Promises of Romans: Soul Security

 “But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness.” Romans 8:10

What do you think about when you think of your best friend? What pops into your mind? Do you see her face, her hair, her eyes in your mind’s eye?

You know her hurts, her hopes, and her humblings in life, but is that what you capture in your initial thoughts?

Several years ago, I was blessed to have an experience which taught me about the separation of body and soul.

I journeyed through chemotherapy. Within two weeks of beginning treatment, I could not recognize myself in the mirror. Yet, bald, pale, and exhausted, my soul was still seeking God as I had before. My heart was heavy with concern, yet could still love my family and laugh at my girls’ antics.  My body was vastly different, but the soul was the same; I was the same person on the inside.

I got a glimpse of how heaven might be.  The earthly body will be gone, but just as Romans 8:10 promises, the soul will live on.

Reflections:

Monday: How do I define myself?

Tuesday: Spiritually speaking, how do I want God to define me?

Wednesday: Read I Samuel 16-7. “But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”
What heart improvements are you convicted to make?

Thursday: Read John 10:10 “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” 

Jesus came to give us life, not only for eternity, but also for today and tomorrow. How does that idea change my choices for today?

Please watch the attached video link based on this very verse, from Jamie Grace. www.youtube.com/watch?v=XziPUuptdOQ&feature=kp

 

Friday: Prayer: Thank you Lord that You see us through our hearts, and that You are in the heart-changing business.  Please show me where I need to grow and make changes so I might both glorify and ever draw closer to You. Thank You for never giving up on me! Amen.

Thank you for reading! Please return by next Monday, July 14, for the next post.