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 sistersdo not show prejudice if you possess faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ. But if you show prejudice, you are committing sin and are convicted by the lawas violators.  

John 7:41

Others were saying, “This is the Christ.” Still others were saying, “Surely 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 life 
set it, fulfilled it and offered us acceptance that never ends.

With the current climate astir with racial accusations, the circumstances surrounding Jesus’ entrance to this world filled my mind.  Christ confused those Who thought He would come to just a certain race in just a certain way.  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.  He gave value and spoke with women, even letting them discover His resurrection first.  He demonstrated compassion to those of a different race and treated all as equals.

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

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

Why are we still so ignorant?  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.  Perhaps it is insecurity – each person, each family, each race wants to be the best?  In reality, we are all chief of sinners, in need of a desperate Savior. Or it could be jealousy.  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.  There is still hope.  We can turn the tide where we live.  Jesus came to set us free from discrimination, too.  May we look to the infant Savior this Christmas and how He grew in wisdom, always demonstrating loving kindness to all.  The irony is that Christ was sometimes the hardest on the Pharisees – 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 – and may we simply accept others as we were accepted.

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

Do You Know Him?

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

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

Scripture of the Day:

Luke 4:34

“Ha!  Leave us alone, Jesus the Nazarene!  Have you come to destroy us?  I know who you are – the Holy One of God.”

Such a small statement, and yet so profound.  Even the demons knew who Jesus was and shuddered – but that knowledge did not equate to salvation for them.  When confronted with the God of this universe this evil spirit did not want to be in His presence.  Evil cannot be in the presence of God without being consumed or having atonement for sin.  Fear and rejection of God was the only choice for this demon.  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.  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.  They could not wait to see what gifts were given to them.  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.  A precious gift, bundled in swaddling clothes was the redemption of all mankind – if we accepted the gift.

Now all these years later we know what a gift that first Christmas was.  We can know that Jesus is God, but that is not the same as knowing Him.  Sin brings fear of sure condemnation, but perfect love casts out all fear.  When confronted with our sin by a Holy God, we have a choice – 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. He wants us to know Him and how very much He loves us, for this is what we were made for. 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.  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.  May we know You and not just know about you.

Truthful Tuesday: It Only Takes One

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

The road of faithfulness is often a lonely road, but when it is paved with the love of God, our destination and hope are certain.

Scripture of the Day:

Ecclesiastes 9:18-10:1

“Wisdom is better than weapons of war, but one sinner can destroy much that is good.”  10:1 “One dead fly makes the perfumer’s ointment give off a rancid stench, so a little folly can outweigh much wisdom.”

It always astounds me that it can only take one dissenter to bring about chaos and destroy something good.  A small percentage of a population can speak louder and change what the majority voted on.  How is this able to happen?  Passion.  Activism.  Devotion.  Leadership . . . and pressing on despite it not being popular.

We admire when people accomplish great things when the odds are against them, but much more admirable are deeds done in righteousness than the wicked prevailing.  A liberal agenda will not bring about the freedom its followers desire, but they still passionately fight for what they believe is right.  Now more than ever the righteous must not let their voices be silenced.  Our nation needs us more now than ever.  It will not be popular to hold ground and try to turn the tide back, but it is possible.  Your voice matters.  Make it count for righteousness.  It only takes one to begin to make a change.

Only One could pay for the sin debt of all mankind.  He was not popular, but He knew His mission and completed it, despite much opposition.  He changed this world forever – not just for a generation.  This Christmas may we remember what Christ did for us and all mankind.  May we all honor God with our lives and affect this society for His glory.  It only takes one.  Shine brightly in this generation – there is no other voice just like yours – it is needed now.

Christ showed us what living for One looks like. Only one road leads to life with our Savior and this narrow road is often fraught with trials on every side. The road of faithfulness is often a lonely road, but when it is paved with the love of God, our destination and hope are certain.

The song, “This Little Child” by Scott Wesley Brown, written in the late 70’s is so very fitting in our times.  I end today’s post with lyrics contained within the second verse:

“And over half the world is starving While our banner of decency is torn;
Debating over disarmament, Killing children before they’re born.
And fools who march to win the right to justify their sin.
Oh ev’ry nation that has fallen Has fallen from within
Yet in the midst of this darkness There is a hope a light that burns
This little child the King of kings Some day will return.”

Hear and see the lyrics to the complete song here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=riSAYsLTQBs

Lord, help us to shine for You brighter and brighter.  May we not cover or hide the light You have placed in us and boldly stand for truth and for Your glory.  

Finding Joy at Christmas

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Sometimes we have to lose joy to find it.

Scripture of the Day:

Psalm 124:1

“If the Lord had not been on our side”— let Israel say this!— if the Lord had not been on our side, when men attacked us, they would have swallowed us alive, when their anger raged against us. The water would have overpowered us; the current would have overwhelmed us.  The raging water would have overwhelmed us. The Lord deserves praise, for he did not hand us over as prey to their teeth. We escaped with our lives, like a bird from a hunter’s snare. The snare broke, and we escaped. Our deliverer is the Lordthe Creator of heaven and earth.”

Christmas can be a difficult time for many.  The celebration of Christmas does not deliver what we hoped.  Painful memories echo in our minds of family members who left us or harmed us.  Thoughts of what should have been or could have been – regrets and longings can loom large and steal our joy.  Maybe you do not even want to read this or dare to hope that there could actually be real joy at Christmas – keep reading.

The world offers many solutions for this emptiness of our soul. Entertainment, satisfying the flesh, avoiding the pain.  God’s prescription is quite different – feel the pain in all of our humanity, but come to Him, Who can heal our souls.  It is not a “just be happy” or just “choose to be happy” solution, but it is a choice to come to God and a real answer in the face of real pain.

One of my favorite books of the bible to read from when I am bummed is the book of Psalms.  A songwriter myself, I cherish David’s songs – a heart cry to His LORD. If anyone understands what it is to have emotional torment, it is David.  He could have been diagnosed with many labels in his day – PTSD, panic and anxiety disorders, even depression.  He said as much in many of the Psalms.  But He was looking to One who he knew would resolve the battle within.  David demonstrated again and again what looking to God for help would do – give hope and peace – even joy again.

That is what Christ does for us.  He offers us hope through His trustworthy promises and deliverance.  Christ understands suffering, too, and when we look to the Christ child this Christmas, we see a God Who is our Master, but Who also walks beside us.  He chooses to call us friend – we are friends with a King!  Now a King can grant any request – so it is with our God.  Happiness at Christmas or any other time is not based on getting what we want, but on being content with what God has allowed.  We can trust Him and He can bring real lasting joy more than a day ever could.

Pain is real – what do we do with it?  The pain may not be absent and scars might last the rest of our days, but there is a healing balm in Jerusalem found in an infant Who changes our heart, understanding and perspective.  The compassion gained through our pain is a beautiful gift we lay at the feet of our baby King, and He is pleased.  May we lay down our idols as gifts much like Frankincense, gold and Myrrh, of what we wanted from life and Christmas and humbly accept the gift of life that God has given us.  This is when joy enters our soul and we are relieved of the burden we have been holding onto. Give it all to Him and ask Him to help deliver you.  He will do it and His grace is sufficient to all who call on His Name.  It is going to be a Merry Christmas, after all, friend.

Thank You, LORD, for the amazing gift of your baby Son.  What a treasure, what a delight!  We lay our burdens at Your feet and trust You with all of what life brings our way.  Amen.

#JesusIsTheCureForDepression

30 Days of Cultivating Thankfulness: Day 30 – Faith

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

The Christian faith is formed in a living faith based on grace and forgiveness.

Scripture of the Day:

Hebrews 11:1

“Now faith is being confident of what we hope for, convinced about things we do not see.”

In concluding 30 days of gratitude, I realize there is vastly too much to be grateful for that could never be fully expressed. But today I am grateful for the gift of faith. How is it that I came to believe? That God would have mercy on me? It was God alone Who opened my eyes to see and understand His amazing salvation and God alone Who overcame my unbelief. And I am grateful beyond words.

This faith is a conviction deep within our souls despite not seeing fully what we hope for. Though it is tested, the confirmation in our souls is not swayed by the storms of this life. The storms of this life only serve to strengthen our faith as it is built on Christ.

When God first opened my eyes to understand His salvation, people around me said it was a crutch. I was mocked and persecuted and it only made me believe all the more. This lost world mocks faith yet has a faith, as well – in the creation rather than in the Creator.

This false faith formed in manmade, dead religion, is based on fleshly pursuits and good works that a fallen people could never fully achieve. The Christian faith is formed in a living faith based on grace and forgiveness by a God Who knew we could never be good enough to please a Holy God.

Each day God’s word is a love letter to His people, inviting them to go deeper with Him. Come be a “fool” alongside me and find the greatest joy of your life. Michael Card says it well in “God’s Own Fool” – Christ humbled Himself to reach His people with the message of the cross – foolishness to those who are perishing, but to those who are being saved, it is the power of God.

Lord, thank You for the gift of faith and enabling us to know You – Our God.

30 Days of Cultivating Thankfulness: Day 26 – Imputed Holiness

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

The Holy One chose to be treated as unHoly to bear every single one of our sins to make us Holy and to be able to stand before a Holy God.

Scripture of the Day:

Genesis 15:6

“Abram believed the LORD, and he credited it to him as righteousness.”

Philippians 3:9

“And be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ–the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith.”

2 Corinthians 5:21

“God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”

1 Corinthians 1:30

“It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God–that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption.”

Hebrews 10:10

“For God’s will was for us to be made holy by the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ, once for all time.”

When I was first saved, discovering the miracle of Christ making me Holy completely overwhelmed me. It still does. That I could in one moment be darkened in my understanding and in the next moment be able to see my sinful condition was a miracle.

Suddenly there was a desire to be Holy. That day of salvation I threw away all my former music and craved to be like Him. I broke up with my boyfriend and chose not to date. Radical transformation because of a radical gift of salvation.

I began to grasp what it meant to be justified before a Holy God. I could not ascribe to His Holiness, so He covered me with His. Just-As-If-I-Never-Sinned. Wow. We who are in Christ are “at-one” with Him. The “atone”ment cover which conceals our sins is Christ Himself.

The Holy One chose to be treated as unHoly to bear every single one of our sins to make us Holy and to be able to stand before a Holy God. For all eternity we will be in His presence because of what Christ accomplished in his death and resurrection. Holiness imputed to the unholy ones.

This Holiness given freely was so costly, so undeserved. Those who are unclean, with sin as red as scarlet, are made as white as snow simply because they choose to believe. What a gift I am forever grateful for.

Lord, thank You for purifying our minds and hearts, our entire beings with the blood of Your precious Son, Jesus. May we never forget the cost and live lives worthy of His great sacrifice.

30 Days of Cultivating Thankfulness: Day 25 – Our Merciful God

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Christ’s bloodline trumps ours and the verdict upon our souls by His amazing mercy.

Scriptures of the Day:

Romans 3:24-25 (NLT)

“Yet God, with undeserved kindness, declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. 25 For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood. This sacrifice shows that God was being fair when he held back and did not punish those who sinned in times past.”

Exodus 25:21-22

21 “You shall put the mercy seat on top of the ark, and in the ark you shall put the testimony which I will give to you. 22 I will meet with you there, and from above the atonement lid, from between the two cherubim that are over the ark of the testimony, I will speak with you about all that I will command you for the Israelites.”

Before a Holy, Righteous, Perfect Judge, mankind stands condemned. A Holy standard was set and we did not meet it – we never could. But there is mercy in seeing our inability to obey God’s commands. This revelation that pierces our hearts also draws us near to cry out for mercy; and when we cry out to our Righteous God, He hears us and chooses to sit on a seat of mercy.

We did not deserve such lavish grace when we had so clearly violated His law. But we have a merciful God – One Who loves to demonstrate His lovingkindness and compassion, despite our sinful rebellion.

He would have been just to sit in a place of judgment for we will all come before Him one day in the final judgment, but He is long-suffering, not wanting any to perish. When we confess and turn from our sins, He hears and heals.

Christ’s bloodline trumps ours and the verdict upon our souls by His amazing mercy, which I am eternally grateful for. Christ, our High Priest to Whom we will give an account, Who rules over all the earth and is our righteous Judge – chooses to sit on the mercy seat.

Oh God, thank You for Your rich mercy and for paying our sin debt! May we never forget this mercy extended to us.

30 Days of Cultivating Thankfulness: Day 22 – Our Unchanging God

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Our unchanging God maintains complete control over everything.

Scriptures of the Day:

Hebrews 13:8

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”

Malachi 3:6

“For I the Lord do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed.”

Change is constant in this fast-paced world. It is easy to feel lost in a sea of constant transformation, but there is peace and confidence when we consider that our unchanging God maintains complete control over it all.

From day to day people’s attitude toward us can change, but God’s never does. Our financial status on earth can fade, but our eternal inheritance is steadfast, immovable. Our faith can waver, but God’s faithfulness never does.

Circumstances might wreak havoc in our lives, but there is hope even in life’s storms, because the God who made the storms is also the One Who calms them. He is always good, always consistently loving us, always with a redemptive purpose in mind.

He has known all of our tomorrows before one ever came to be. This knowledge is comforting in that God’s grace is already there at the end, as well. Nothing that comes our way is allowed in without God’s foreknowledge.

Lord, I am so very grateful that You never change. Thank You for being our very firm foundation where our hope is never disappointed.

30 Days of Cultivating Thankfulness: Day 21 – The Patience of God

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Some consider it cruel that God would permit consequences when we sin, but this, too, is a demonstration of His patience.

Scriptures of the Day:

2 Peter 3:9

“The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.”

Jeremiah 44:22

“The LORD could no longer bear your evil deeds and the abominations that you committed. Therefore your land has become a desolation and a waste and a curse, without inhabitant, as it is this day.”

Since the beginning of time, God has patiently been drawing us to Himself, revealing our sin that we might come to repentance and renounce our ways. The weary pattern of our stubborn sin and His merciful redemption is repeated incessantly, revealing God’s great patience. As we wind up in the mud pit again and again, darkened by our own counsel, He picks us up, dusts us off and sets His love on us again and again and again.

In His great kindness and patience, we are not consumed. All have fallen short of the glory of God. All have been offered salvation, but not all have accepted it.

Some have been in awe over the patience of Job, but it cannot even be compared with the patience of our God. Job complained of his plight, while God willingly chose His own suffering to win our hearts.

What patience of God to see our wickedness and to triumph over it with mercy. With mercy. Our flesh would not do as much. Such lavish patience is foreign, undeserved in our eyes. But then so is His amazing grace.

Patience is not permission to sin without consequence. It is not the abuse of grace or the casual acceptance of such an astonishing sacrifice on our part. Some consider it cruel that God would permit consequences when we sin, but this, too, is a demonstration of His patience. It is in the suffering for our sins that our eyes can be opened to recognize our sin and our need of God. Even in our failures, God works patiently to redeem them and us with His mighty salvation.

Oh patient God, lover of our souls! Lord, You are so patient, longsuffering and kind. Thank You for opening our eyes to understand how great Your salvation is. May we never take for granted Your mercy and live lives worthy of Your great sacrifice.

30 Days of Cultivating Thankfulness Day 18 –Character of God – He is Good!

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

To think that a Holy God would be ready to forgive the unholy is truly beyond words.

Scriptures of the Day:

Psalm 86:5

For You, Lord, are good, and ready to forgive, And abundant in lovingkindness to all who call upon You.”

Psalm 100:5

“For the LORD is good; His lovingkindness is everlasting And His faithfulness to all generations.”

Psalm 27:13

“I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the LORD In the land of the living.”

To think that a Holy God would be ready to forgive the unholy is truly beyond words. That He would make promises to those who cannot keep them and fulfill them to their children, as well, is absolutely incredible.

But that is just who God is. He is good and there is nothing vile in Him. Nothing. We tend to think of good as getting our way or being blessed. But the definition of good as it refers to God is not like that.

God’s holiness is hard for us to fathom. We can explore analogies to try and comprehend what is must be like to be 100% pure, but it is beyond us.

Perfect King of kings, enthroned in His majesty, cloud filling the temple, chose to leave His throne and rescue His creation by dying for them. We defied His words, disobeyed His commands, were ungrateful enemies. And He set His love on us. He is good.

Lord, thank You for redeeming us from the grave and setting us free from the sin that destroys us. You are good, righteous, Holy, perfect, beautiful.