SD#51 Preparing our Hearts for a New Year

SD#51 Preparing our Hearts for a New Year
Are you ready for 2020? The beginning of a new year prompts self-evaluation as we consider the past year and wonder if we just might be able to do better in the coming year. And the most important preparation we need is in our heart and mind. The word of God will change our lives if we read it. Listen in to this podcast episode and join me in reading the Bible this year. Free Bible Reading Download!
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Facing and Rising Above Distractions

9-23-19 SD Blog Distractions .png
1 ๐‘ช๐’๐’“๐’Š๐’๐’•๐’‰๐’Š๐’‚๐’๐’” 7:35 “๐‘ฐ ๐’‚๐’Ž ๐’”๐’‚๐’š๐’Š๐’๐’ˆ ๐’•๐’‰๐’Š๐’” ๐’‡๐’๐’“ ๐’š๐’๐’–๐’“ ๐’ƒ๐’†๐’๐’†๐’‡๐’Š๐’•, ๐’๐’๐’• ๐’•๐’ ๐’‘๐’๐’‚๐’„๐’† ๐’“๐’†๐’”๐’•๐’“๐’Š๐’„๐’•๐’Š๐’๐’๐’” ๐’๐’ ๐’š๐’๐’–. ๐‘ฐ ๐’˜๐’‚๐’๐’• ๐’š๐’๐’– ๐’•๐’ ๐’…๐’ ๐’˜๐’‰๐’‚๐’•๐’†๐’—๐’†๐’“ ๐’˜๐’Š๐’๐’ ๐’‰๐’†๐’๐’‘ ๐’š๐’๐’– ๐’”๐’†๐’“๐’—๐’† ๐’•๐’‰๐’† ๐‘ณ๐’๐’“๐’… ๐’ƒ๐’†๐’”๐’•, ๐’˜๐’Š๐’•๐’‰ ๐’‚๐’” ๐’‡๐’†๐’˜ ๐’…๐’Š๐’”๐’•๐’“๐’‚๐’„๐’•๐’Š๐’๐’๐’” ๐’‚๐’” ๐’‘๐’๐’”๐’”๐’Š๐’ƒ๐’๐’†.”
You guys, I am so excited about what God is speaking to me to share in the new year. That He speaks to us and wants to use us to share His salvation with others never ceases to amaze me!
But it got me to thinking . . . (a dangerous thing, I know). Already I see distractionsโ€”some of them are good distractions even, and some of them not, that could stand in the way of doing this work that God has called me to. How about you?
What distractions do you face that keep you from seeking God and living out His purpose for you?
Let’s deal with some of these distractions and discern how to overcome them.
๐‘น๐‘ฐ๐‘บ๐‘ฐ๐‘ต๐‘ฎ ๐‘จ๐‘ฉ๐‘ถ๐‘ฝ๐‘ฌ ๐‘ป๐‘ฏ๐‘ฌ ๐‘ต๐‘ถ๐‘ฐ๐‘บ๐‘ฌ
It’s hard enough that we live in this culture that bombards us with messages all day long (guess I am also sharing messages – we all are), but we have to carefully choose which messages we are going to listen to.
Which messages are speaking life to us and a part of God’s plan to grow us in Him?
Making ourselves push pause before we get lost in social media first thing in the morning, we can be intentional about what we are going to do with our time.
I have to practice self-awareness and check myself – what is my purpose for going on social media and how long am I intending to scroll through? Phew! This is hard! And we are creatures of habit.
๐‘พ๐’† ๐’‰๐’‚๐’—๐’† ๐’ˆ๐’๐’• ๐’•๐’ ๐’ˆ๐’†๐’• ๐’‚ ๐’‰๐’๐’๐’… ๐’๐’‡ ๐’•๐’‰๐’Š๐’” ๐’…๐’Š๐’”๐’•๐’“๐’‚๐’„๐’•๐’Š๐’๐’ ๐’๐’‡ “๐’๐’๐’Š๐’”๐’†” ๐’๐’“ ๐’Š๐’• ๐’˜๐’Š๐’๐’ ๐’‰๐’‚๐’—๐’† ๐’‚ ๐’‰๐’๐’๐’… ๐’๐’ ๐’–๐’”! ๐‘บ๐’๐’„๐’Š๐’‚๐’ ๐’Ž๐’†๐’…๐’Š๐’‚ ๐’‚๐’๐’… ๐’Š๐’•๐’” ๐’ˆ๐’‚๐’…๐’ˆ๐’†๐’•๐’“๐’š ๐’‚๐’“๐’† ๐’‚๐’…๐’…๐’Š๐’„๐’•๐’Š๐’๐’ˆ!
My son recently posted about how he deals with social media and it has changed his life to control social media rather than it controlling him:
๐‘น๐‘ฐ๐‘บ๐‘ฐ๐‘ต๐‘ฎ ๐‘จ๐‘ฉ๐‘ถ๐‘ฝ๐‘ฌ ๐‘ซ๐‘ฐ๐‘บ๐‘จ๐‘ท๐‘ท๐‘ถ๐‘ฐ๐‘ต๐‘ป๐‘ด๐‘ฌ๐‘ต๐‘ป๐‘บ
Ugh. Disappointments can really put us in a tailspin while we throw ourselves a pity party, right?
It wasn’t supposed to be this way. We were supposed to work on our calling and have things turn out differently. Life is not like that. We will have to face disappointments, but they don’t have to distract us from the calling of God on our lives.
๐‘ซ๐’Š๐’”๐’‚๐’‘๐’‘๐’๐’Š๐’๐’•๐’Ž๐’†๐’๐’•๐’” ๐’‚๐’“๐’† ๐’๐’‡๐’•๐’†๐’ ๐’‚ ๐’“๐’†๐’‚๐’‘๐’‘๐’๐’Š๐’๐’•๐’Ž๐’†๐’๐’• ๐’‡๐’“๐’๐’Ž ๐‘ฎ๐’๐’….
We just might have to pry our hands loose from the former appointment and trust God with the new one.
Maybe it will make our calling or life harder and we regret that. But we can rise above disappointment when we know God is with us and in our situation. Maybe that disappointment will cause us to dive in deeper and to grow in a way that we would not have.
I know – we would rather grow and flourish with everything being rosy and perfect. But that’s not life.
I am talking about disappointments all month long on my Seeing Deep podcast: Disappointments in life, in relationships and this week and next week in parenting.
Ooh, that can be so hard. We feel we “own” that appointment, not the disappointment.
๐‘น๐‘ฐ๐‘บ๐‘ฐ๐‘ต๐‘ฎ ๐‘จ๐‘ฉ๐‘ถ๐‘ฝ๐‘ฌ ๐‘ป๐‘ฏ๐‘ฌ ๐‘ฉ๐‘ผ๐‘บ๐’€๐‘ต๐‘ฌ๐‘บ๐‘บ
I am busier than I should be. I know this. And I am working on it. Pinky promise.
๐‘ฉ๐’–๐’”๐’š๐’๐’†๐’”๐’” ๐’„๐’‚๐’ ๐’Œ๐’†๐’†๐’‘ ๐’–๐’” ๐’†๐’๐’”๐’๐’‚๐’—๐’†๐’… ๐’๐’“ ๐’Š๐’• ๐’„๐’‚๐’ ๐’ƒ๐’† ๐’”๐’๐’Ž๐’†๐’•๐’‰๐’Š๐’๐’ˆ ๐’•๐’‰๐’‚๐’• ๐’Ž๐’‚๐’Œ๐’†๐’” ๐’–๐’” ๐’—๐’†๐’“๐’š ๐’‘๐’“๐’๐’…๐’–๐’„๐’•๐’Š๐’—๐’†.
I can be overwhelmed when I have a long list (like today), or I can make my list and focus on one thing at a time.
Multi-tasking can be a blessing and its burden. I am known for being a serious multi-tasker but recently I have intentionally chosen to not do so. Sure, there are some tasks that I can do that with, but sometimes the work at hand requires all of us. That is how it is with me and writing. I need my full attention on the work at hand.
We don’t have to be ruled by busy – we can rule it and put tasks in place. And when we are beyond capacity, we might need to prune. Or God will prune for us. What matters most is having our priorities in place – Jesus is our priority. Then family and all of our other priorities come, but we can determine how they fit. Truly we can.
We rise above busyness by surrendering our plans to God regularly and asking for His grace to do what He has called us to. And we can choose not to let “hurry” rule us. When we just write down our desires and then don’t let the inability to get to it all defeat us, we can be grateful for what we got done and work our list the next day. It will still be there. Trust me.
๐‘น๐‘ฐ๐‘บ๐‘ฐ๐‘ต๐‘ฎ ๐‘จ๐‘ฉ๐‘ถ๐‘ฝ๐‘ฌ ๐‘ป๐‘ฏ๐‘ฌ ๐‘ซ๐‘น๐‘จ๐‘ด๐‘จ
We’ve all got it. And sometimes we create it all on our own.
๐‘ซ๐’“๐’‚๐’Ž๐’‚ ๐’‰๐’‚๐’‘๐’‘๐’†๐’๐’” ๐’˜๐’‰๐’†๐’ ๐’˜๐’† ๐’”๐’†๐’† ๐’๐’Š๐’‡๐’† ๐’‡๐’“๐’๐’Ž ๐’‚ ๐’‡๐’๐’†๐’”๐’‰๐’๐’š ๐’‘๐’๐’Š๐’๐’•-๐’๐’‡-๐’—๐’Š๐’†๐’˜.
We rise above drama when we see things from God’s perspective. There is spiritual understanding to be had behind every new drama that crops up. Stepping back and seeking to understand the spiritual needs of those creating drama, we *might* be able to respond in the Spirit instead of the flesh.
What other distractions do you face that keep you from seeking God and living out His purpose for you? Let’sseaarch God’s word for answers to each and every distraction so we can rise above distractions and live for One!
Here’s a quote from one of my favs – John MacArthur:
“๐‘ป๐’‰๐’† ๐’Ž๐’๐’“๐’† ๐’š๐’๐’– ๐’‡๐’๐’„๐’–๐’” ๐’๐’ ๐’š๐’๐’–๐’“๐’”๐’†๐’๐’‡, ๐’•๐’‰๐’† ๐’Ž๐’๐’“๐’† ๐’…๐’Š๐’”๐’•๐’“๐’‚๐’„๐’•๐’†๐’… ๐’š๐’๐’– ๐’˜๐’Š๐’๐’ ๐’ƒ๐’† ๐’‡๐’“๐’๐’Ž ๐’•๐’‰๐’† ๐’‘๐’“๐’๐’‘๐’†๐’“ ๐’‘๐’‚๐’•๐’‰. ๐‘ป๐’‰๐’† ๐’Ž๐’๐’“๐’† ๐’š๐’๐’– ๐’Œ๐’๐’๐’˜ ๐‘ฏ๐’Š๐’Ž ๐’‚๐’๐’… ๐’„๐’๐’Ž๐’Ž๐’–๐’๐’† ๐’˜๐’Š๐’•๐’‰ ๐‘ฏ๐’Š๐’Ž, ๐’•๐’‰๐’† ๐’Ž๐’๐’“๐’† ๐’•๐’‰๐’† ๐‘บ๐’‘๐’Š๐’“๐’Š๐’• ๐’˜๐’Š๐’๐’ ๐’Ž๐’‚๐’Œ๐’† ๐’š๐’๐’– ๐’๐’Š๐’Œ๐’† ๐‘ฏ๐’Š๐’Ž. ๐‘ป๐’‰๐’† ๐’Ž๐’๐’“๐’† ๐’š๐’๐’– ๐’‚๐’“๐’† ๐’๐’Š๐’Œ๐’† ๐‘ฏ๐’Š๐’Ž, ๐’•๐’‰๐’† ๐’ƒ๐’†๐’•๐’•๐’†๐’“ ๐’š๐’๐’– ๐’˜๐’Š๐’๐’ ๐’–๐’๐’…๐’†๐’“๐’”๐’•๐’‚๐’๐’… ๐‘ฏ๐’Š๐’” ๐’–๐’•๐’•๐’†๐’“ ๐’”๐’–๐’‡๐’‡๐’Š๐’„๐’Š๐’†๐’๐’„๐’š ๐’‡๐’๐’“ ๐’‚๐’๐’ ๐’๐’‡ ๐’๐’Š๐’‡๐’†โ€™๐’” ๐’…๐’Š๐’‡๐’‡๐’Š๐’„๐’–๐’๐’•๐’Š๐’†๐’”. ๐‘จ๐’๐’… ๐’•๐’‰๐’‚๐’• ๐’Š๐’” ๐’•๐’‰๐’† ๐’๐’๐’๐’š ๐’˜๐’‚๐’š ๐’•๐’ ๐’Œ๐’๐’๐’˜ ๐’“๐’†๐’‚๐’ ๐’”๐’‚๐’•๐’Š๐’”๐’‡๐’‚๐’„๐’•๐’Š๐’๐’.โ€

Healer of our Broken Hearts


Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Jesus came to free us from the burden of sin and to heal us from the effect of it, as well.

Scriptures of the Day:

Isaiah 53:4-5

โ€œSurely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by Him, and afflicted. 5 But He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities, the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.โ€

Psalm 147:3

โ€œHe heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.โ€

Psalm 41:2-3

โ€œThe LORD will protect him and preserve his life; he will bless him in the land and not surrender him to the desire of his foes. 3 The LORD will sustain him on his sickbed and restore him from his bed of illness.โ€

Psalm 30:2

โ€œO LORD my God, I called to you for help and you healed me.โ€

Life hurts sometimes. In our most painful moments we can hurt emotionally and physically and wonder if God sees. Broken, we come before our God and King Who is a Master at fixing broken people. He made us and knows more than anyone what we need to be whole again – Himself.

Healing is needed for many reasons. Some need God to touch them spiritually, some need help emotionally and others need a physical healing. In all of these, God sovereignly uses our infirmity for good, even though it might seem pointless at the time.

I know well what it means to be sick, diagnosed with multiple autoimmune diseases.ย  I also know what it is to be healed and what it is to not be.ย  In all these occasions, I praise His Name.ย  He is my Jehovah Rapha, (The Lord our Healer).ย  He heals our hearts from emotional pain, our bodies from physical pain, whether it be on this earth or ultimately in Heaven, and our souls from the pain of sin.

Healing is sometimes a difficult subject to discuss.ย  Some Christians believe that God always heals, some believe He does not.ย  Either way, all who are in Christ are healed spiritually for eternity, which is the most significant healing there could ever be.

We are all destined to perish on this earth, and sickness is often one of the vessels which might bring us to eternal bliss with our Creator.ย  Our bodies were not designed to live forever and our limit is 120 years.ย  This is not Heaven.ย  We cannot avoid the fact that we all have an end, but the sting has been removed!ย  Praise His Holy Name!

Sometimes the most difficult thing to heal is our broken hearts.ย  The effects of sin are profound and can leave one limping through life, but Jesus came to not only take away the burden of sin, but the effects of it, as well.ย  The scar of sin may long be remembered, but its crippling effect can be changed into a divine tool of healing instead.ย  Thatโ€™s our gift this Christmas and for all of life โ€“ Christ our Healer.

Lord, thank You for healing us and for the hope of a complete healing in Heaven with You.ย  Help us to be content and worship You in whatever thorn you have permitted into our lives, knowing full well that our future hope with You is to be completely restored!

The Mediator of Salvation


Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Jesus intercedes for us as one who walked in the flesh among us โ€“ our compassionate mediator.

Scriptures of the Day:

Hebrews 9:15, 24

15 And so he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the eternal inheritance he has promised, since he diedย to set them free from the violations committed under the first covenant. ย 24 ย For Christ did not enter a sanctuary made with hands โ€“ the representationย of the true sanctuary โ€“ but into heaven itself, and he appears nowย in Godโ€™sย presence for us. 25 And he did not enter to offerย himself again and again, the way the high priestย enters the sanctuary year after year with blood that is not his own, 26 for then heย would have hadย to suffer again and again since the foundation of the world. But now he has appeared once for all atย the consummation of the ages to put away sin by his sacrifice.

1 Timothy 2:5-6

“For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, 6ย who gave himself as a ransom for all people. This has now been witnessed to at the proper time.”

Job 16:19-21

19 Even now my witness is in heaven; my advocate is on high. 20ย My intercessor is my friend as my eyes pour out tears to God; 21ย and he contends with God on behalf of man as a man pleads for his friend. ย 

Countless are the feats Christ accomplished in coming in the flesh. ย Each facet of His work on earth becomes more precious to me, when I consider them! ย Having endured through a painful court process, the word, mediator has a special significance to me. ย Sometimes in life we feel there is no hope, no end to our turmoil. ย When we feel like no one is on our side, Christ is our compassionate Mediator.

We can never underestimate the one Who owns the thousand cattle on a hill, Who is completely knowledgeable of all things, and by the way, is on our side if we are His. ย Even more amazing, He is on all sides, surveying and working all things together. ย His purpose is that all might know and believe and He uses everything to draw us nearer to Him.

I have a funny image in my head now โ€“ of someone playing multiple roles vicariously. ย An airline representative checks in your baggage and sells you a ticket. ย The same individual guides you onto the plane. ย Now if this person said they were the pilot, I might rethink hopping on that flight. ย We might have various roles simultaneously, too โ€“ I am a wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend, employee, worship leader . . . the list goes on and on.

Some roles I do better than others, and sometimes juggling all I have to be and do is hard. But Christ accomplishes multiple roles perfectly. ย He is the Righteous Judge with Whom we will one day answer, our Savior, LORD, Comforter, Healer, the Mediator defending us, who ultimately paid our sin debt, too. The list of Who He is never ends.

When Christ came as the bridge between man and God and ascended to Heaven after completing His work on earth, He did not abdicate His role as mediator. ย He still intercedes for His children and does so as one who walked in the flesh among us โ€“ He is a compassionate mediator. ย This Christmas may we reflect on Christ, our Mediator. ย Without His willingly choosing to represent us before our Father, Almighty God, we could not have fellowship with Him.

Lord, thank you for coming not just as a perfect babe, but as a peacemaker, mediating our relationship with God. ย Only You could fulfill that role.

The Naked Truth


Inspirational Thought of the Day:

If we play it safe, no one gets saved. If He played it safe, we would not have been saved.

Scripture of the Day:

John 7:3

“So Jesus’ brothers advised him, “Leave here and go to Judea so your disciples may see your miracles that you are performing. 4ย For no one who seeks to make a reputation for himself does anything in secret. If you are doing these things, show yourself to the world.”

Provocative title, I know. So was the lavish demonstration of love shown by our God who came. Naked. To a people who would reject Him. Truth incarnate, the Word becameย flesh.

Why would He choose to reveal Himself in such a vulnerable way? He left Heaven and crossed every barrier to show Himselfย in such a raw, transparent way.

It’s tough to be transparent, much less to offer ourselves for others to potentially reject. When He was on the cusp of His ministry, He had to choose again to show Himself to the world. The world. Harsh, judgmental, sinful – why show Himself to an ungrateful people? To strangers?

The LORD asked me this question as I pondered how open I am supposed to be to the world – do I friend complete strangers on social media? What about enemies? Jesus did. He knew they were trying to kill Him and knew they spoke against Him. Still He went.

He gave Himself away, radically, dangerously – on a cross so that His peopleย would be saved. How do we, too, radically demonstrate such a zeal for the lost to know this salvation?

The world does not want us to just tell them about Jesus. It wants – it needs – real people who share their real weaknesses of their flesh, and who demonstrate a radical love for their God and His people. But sometimesย the rhythm of life itself or our fears keep us from the mission Christ started and asks us to finish.

We tend to create an environment of safety, impenetrable by those who would harm us. Christ chases such people. Safety is one of those things we need to be cognizant of in this crazy, sin-sick world, but safety can be an excuse that keeps us from the hurting. Sure, we need to walk in wisdom, but with so many people needing hope, do we cherish our comfort zone more than their souls? If we play it safe, no one gets saved. If He played it safe, we would not have been saved.

The Real Miracle of Christmas


Inspirationalย Thought of the Day:

Christ came in the flesh as a baby and Christ still comes today – manifest in our flesh as we yield our lives to Him.

Scriptures of the Day:

John 1:1-5

1 “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was fully God. 2ย The Word was with God in the beginning. 3ย All things were created by him, and apart from him not one thing was created that has been created. 4ย In him was life, and the life was the light of mankind. 5ย And the light shines on in the darkness, but the darkness has not mastered it.”

Hebrews 2:14

“Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of deathโ€“that is, the devil.”

Movies abound today about the โ€œmagicโ€ of Christmas. ย Somewhere a child inside hopes it really is true that someone esoterically posing as Santa is the real deal. ย Not so much. ย But there is One Who really does know when we are sleeping and awake โ€“ One Who truly does provide for our needs and watches over us. ย He certainly knows whether we have been good or bad and keeps a thorough record of it in His Book of Life. ย Even more amazing, when we truly do deserve a boatload of lumps of coal, He gives us eternal life โ€“ freely.

But sometimes the miracle of Christmas can get lost in the simple fact that it is a well known story that has been told and retold and we forget just how amazing a reality the miracle of Christโ€™s birth is and what Christ accomplished in His birth.

Mankind was condemned to a fallen world, no thanks to Adam and Eve (well, we all would have done the same thing). ย But right there in that moment, God knew we needed a Savior.

In His sovereignty He planned to come and Himself crush the head of our mortal enemy. ย He did it as a baby. ย Talk about the enemy being whipped. ย 

This baby was born miraculously, fulfilling prophecies, fulfilling perfectly the genealogy of Christ, born of a virgin. ย A miracle indeed. ย Holy. ย Righteous. ย Fully God and fully man. ย How amazing. ย Much more amazing to me than reindeer flying through the air โ€“ just sayinโ€™. And this same Christ is now revealed through us, His people.

So if we are struggling to get that Christmas โ€œspiritโ€, perhaps what we need is a healthy dose of the Holy Spirit. ย Sometimes it is in the simplicity of stepping out of our ordinary routine to give that we have that โ€œChristmas feelingโ€. How is God leading us now to give during this season? How can we help others around us? Christ modeled what it meant to serve by giving His all. May we do the same.

The miracle of Jesus is not confined to one day. We can search for opportunities to give and serve others not just when we feel celebratory or the calendar dictates the moment. ย The miracle of Jesus lives on in the hearts of those who choose to accept Him.

Christ came in the flesh as a baby and Christ still comes today – manifest in our flesh as we yield our lives to Him.

What a miracle this is – Christ in us. When we operate in a manner just like our Father did โ€“ giving of Himself, we have the greatest joy, and it is a miracle indeed that He uses us at all.

Merry Christmas, all. ย Be a part of the miracle in someone’s life this Christmas.

Lord, thank you for the miracle of Your birth. ย I stand in awe of You. ย Fill us with the wonder of what You did and Who You are. ย Love you!

The Ruling Baby King


Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Instead of conquering us and ruling over us ruthlessly, God conquered our hearts and saved us.

Scripture of the Day:

Isaiah 9: 6-7

โ€œFor to us a child is born,ย to us a son is given,ย and the governmentย will be on his shoulders.ย And he will be calledย Wonderful Counselor,ย Mighty God,ย Everlastingย Father,ย Prince of Peace. ย 7ย Of the greatness of his governmentย and peaceย there will be no end. ย He will reignย on Davidโ€™s throne and over his kingdom,ย establishing and upholding itย with justiceย and righteousnessย from that time on and forever. ย The zealย of theย Lordย Almightyย will accomplish this.โ€

Donโ€™t be fooled โ€“ this King baby will reign. ย Despite the enemyโ€™s attempts to destroy Him, God’s plan stood firm. ย Despite a supposed defeat by ultimately being crucified, He rose from the dead and is coming again, only this time to reign. ย For spectators of a movie, this story is difficult to watch – the injustice of the wicked seemingly destroying the Holy One and His plan; the Almighty God coming in perceived weakness.

The Jewish people were looking for their King to come and rule โ€“ now โ€“ not in the future. But Godโ€™s ways are not our ways. In His wisdom, God came as a babeย so we could understand His salvation more than a God far away. ย Instead of conquering us and ruling over us ruthlessly, He conquered our hearts and saved us. ย He is our LORD, our Wonderful Counselor, to Whom we can come daily and moment by moment. ย His rule is righteous and just. ย His rule trumps every other ruler or government in this world.

In those moments when the wise men, shepherds and onlookers gazed upon God as a babe, how filled with wonder they must have been. ย How humbled to see their Creator coming in such a form. ย The most hardened heart was surely softened by such a gift. ย May we have this same awe in reflecting on our Jesus, coming as a babe to rule our hearts.

Lord, You are all-wise, all-knowing, Almighty God! ย Holy and humble, perfect One! ย I worship You and thank You for ruling in my heart and opening my eyes to see.

The Gift of Acceptance from the Unbiased Baby Jesus

The only One who can set the standard for acceptance in all of life set it, fulfilled it and offered us.png
Inspirational Thought of the Day:
We could never meet someone’s definition well enough to be perfectly accepted by them, but we don’t have to.
Scripture of the Day:

1 My brothers and sisters,ย do not show prejudiceย if you possess faithย in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ.ย But if you show prejudice, you are committing sin and are convicted by the lawas violators. ย 

John 7:41

Others were saying, โ€œThis is the Christ.โ€ Still others were saying, โ€œSurely the Christ is not going to come from Galilee, is He?
Deep in our heart of hearts we long for acceptance, to know we are cherished. The familiar feeling of rejection stings as we clamor to meet the constantly shifting standards in our relevant world. Or not. Those two words bring peace to my soul as I know I could never meet anyone’s standards well enough to be perfectly accepted by them, but I don’t have to.
The only One who could set the standard for acceptance in all of lifeย 
set it,ย fulfilled it and offered us acceptance that never ends.

With the current climate astir with racial accusations, the circumstances surrounding Jesusโ€™ entrance to this world filled my mind. ย Christ confused those Who thought He would come to just a certain race in just a certain way. ย Jesus is not a snob. No, He came as a poor infant Jew to Galilee and Nazareth and confounded the supposed wisdom of this world. ย He gave value and spoke with women, even letting them discover His resurrection first. ย He demonstrated compassion to those of a different race and treated all as equals.

So many prejudices exist and have since the world began. ย Gender, age, financial status, education, color of skin, culture, anything that can define one as unique can also be fodder for bias. ย Not so with God. ย He loves how each one of us is different, and it is beautiful in His eyes. ย Christ came to abolish our sickening racism, prejudice, and preferences to show us what it means to truly love unconditionally. ย His unbiased acceptance isย absolutely amazing when we consider He had every right to look down on us.

Ethnic purity is not a new term. ย The Samaritans were persecuted for not being a pure race, yet Jesus viewed them no differently than any other race or people. ย It is, in fact, laughable and ridiculous that we should view any race as superior to anotherย when we all consider that we came from Adam.

Why are we still so ignorant? ย We should be able to learn from the atrocities that history has to offer, but instead we reinvent the insipid racism in a new fashion and repeat the same sins as our predecessors. ย Perhaps it is insecurity โ€“ each person, each family, each race wants to be the best? ย In reality, we are all chief of sinners, in need of a desperate Savior. Or it could be jealousy. ย God did choose the Jewish people as His own, but then He shared this salvation with all.

If we are honest, we will admit we have all had moments of prejudice in some fashion; pride in which we thought we were better than another. ย There is still hope. ย We can turn the tide where we live. ย Jesus came to set us free from discrimination, too. ย May we look to the infant Savior this Christmas and how He grew in wisdom, always demonstrating loving kindness to all. ย The irony is that Christ was sometimes the hardest on the Pharisees โ€“ may we not think too highly of ourselves, our denomination, our color, our culture, or anything else that is a part of who we are โ€“ and may we simply accept others as we were accepted.

LORD, thank You for accepting all Who would call on Your Name for Salvation. ย Help us, God, to stop labeling and judging one another and to love as You did.

Do You Know Him?


Inspirationalย Thought of the Day:

God does not make us choose Him, but our Holy God bids the unholy to come,ย drawing us near with His forgiveness and mercy.

Scripture of the Day:

Luke 4:34

โ€œHa! ย Leave us alone, Jesus the Nazarene! ย Have you come to destroy us? ย I know who you are โ€“ the Holy One of God.โ€

Such a small statement, and yet so profound. ย Even the demons knew who Jesus was and shuddered โ€“ but that knowledge did not equate to salvation for them. ย When confronted with the God of this universe this evil spirit did not want to be in His presence. ย Evil cannot be in the presence of God without being consumed or having atonement for sin. ย Fear and rejection of God was the only choice for this demon. ย How do we respond to seeing this gift of God? Are we fearful, do we think He wants to harm us, like the demons, or do we recognize the gift of His goodness, embrace His acceptance and come to know Him?

When my kids were little, they would try and sneak a look at the gifts before I wrapped them. ย As they got older, they might resort to peeling back the tape just enough to catch a glimpse, or to shaking the item to gauge what it was. ย They could not wait to see what gifts were given to them. ย It is that yearning that I want to keep fervent in my heart, when I think of seeing Jesus when He returns and when I meditate on what it must have been like to gaze at the King of kings as a baby. ย A precious gift, bundled in swaddling clothes was the redemption of all mankind โ€“ if we accepted the gift.

Now all these years later we know what a gift that first Christmas was. ย We can know that Jesus is God, but that is not the same as knowing Him. ย Sin brings fear of sure condemnation, but perfect love casts out all fear. ย When confronted with our sin by a Holy God, we have a choice โ€“ to bow down and worship Him, confessing our sins and receiving mercy, or to pridefully pretend we do not need His salvation.

Our Holy God does not make us know Him, but came to an unholy people as an infant to bid us to come and know Him, drawing us near with His forgiveness and mercy.

He established His law that we might see our need of Him, and He set the expectations for how we were to live for His glory.ย He wants us to know Him and how very much He loves us, for this is what we were made for.ย This Christmas, even though the story has been heard so many times, we can still with anticipation come to learn more of our living Savior and know Him more. ย He truly is the gift that keeps on giving, long after other gifts have faded.

Lord, help us to understand what You accomplished when You came to this earth. ย May we know You and not just know about you.

Worshipful Wednesday: Our Prince of Peace


Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Search for peace, and you will not find it, but search for God and you will find peace.

Scripture of the Day:

Luke 2:13-14

โ€œAnd suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, โ€œGlory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!โ€ โ€œGlory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!โ€

Peace. Just the word itself calms my soul. Tumult, troubles and protests are breaking out in multiple cities across our country and zealots threaten to wipe Jewish and Christian folk alike off the face of the earth. ย How can we say peace? ย Because He said it. In theย verse above He gives it to those who are pleasing to God.

A serene scene by a still lake; a porch swing overlooking a sunny day; children laughing and playing, snow quietly falling on tree limbs. ย An elderly couple walking hand in hand. All of these images evoke the idea of peace to me. ย But stones create ripples in the water, sunny days give way to wilder weather, snow melts and we all eventually fade away. ย Peace is not lasting as prescribed by the world, anyway.

No, Christ alone is our peace – our Prince of peace. We who have accepted the free gift of Jesus can have peace โ€“ not as the world gives, but as God can give. ย A peace that brings security and hope, which are not dependent upon circumstances or emotions. Busy times, hard times, Christmas preparations, hardship, persecution โ€“ none of these things can rob us of peace unless we let them. ย Right now, where you are at, quiet your mind and heart and focus on what Christ came to bring โ€“ peace to our souls. Reading His love letter to us brings a peace that no counsel on this earth ever could.

From the time he came as a baby, peacefully in the midst of chaos, to His ultimate sacrifice on the cross, Christ accomplished peace with God for us who were far away from Him. ย Not perfect comfort on this earth, but complete peace. ย Many will cry out for peace in this world, thinking that a leader or a country could bring lasting peace, but they will never achieve it. ย True peace is only found in a relationship with God. ย Search for peace, and you will not find it, but search for God and you will find peace.

Peace to you all this Christmas season.

Lord, quiet our souls and help us to rest in You at all times. ย