For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. —Romans 15:4

Saturday, November 30, 2013

True Joy

Psalm 65:8
The whole earth is filled with awe at your wonders; where morning dawns, where evening fades, you call forth songs of joy.

There is a special joy I experience once a year. Tim and I put the Christmas tree up the day after Thanksgiving. Our silver tree with candy-colored lights adds an almost magical element to the house. As much as the tree adds the sparkle of Christmas, the nativity that belonged to Grammy fills my heart with wonder. Two porcelain pieces, crafted in a creamy white, bow before the babe. A friend gave me a lovely backdrop with palm trees cut from burnished metal. Little angels surround the humble couple and their baby. Our Charlie Brown tree reminds us of the simplicity of the holiday and to not let commercialism seep in. Santa adds a touch of fun that begs me to be a child again during the holiday.

As much I enjoy setting up the Nativity and tree, for me the true joy comes the next morning. The first time I get up and walk into the living room and experience the delight of Christmas. Not just the shimmering lights and the beautiful baubles, but the love that started with a babe in a manger. Jesus came to us. He lived on earth and experienced temptation and heartache. He loved fiercely and befriended the folks no one else wanted to. He laid himself down as a sacrifice. Two days after that dark day, He rose to be the Savior. That’s true joy. Praise God for sending his son.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Enter His Gates with Thanksgiving

Psalm 100:3-5
Know that the Lord is God.
    It is he who made us, and we are his;
    we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving                                             
    and his courts with praise;
    give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;
    his faithfulness continues through all generations.

When my daughters were young we had the Gaither’s album, I Am a Promise. On the recording a child recited Psalm 100:3-5. Every time I read this verse, I hear the sweet treble of this little one’s voice reminding me that God created me. He calls me his sheep. He owns every creature he created. He is good and his love will go on forever. He’s always faithful. And I am so thankful.

Everything I have comes from God. I own nothing, yet I’m blessed with so much. As I head into this week when we celebrate Thanksgiving, I am reminded once again how much God loves me. I pray you have a blessed week as we celebrate our freedom as a nation and appreciate that we can gather and be with loved ones. I also pray for those who can’t be home, whether serving in the military, missionaries, people working or simply unable to be with loved ones. God bless you all.

If you’d like to, share what you are thankful for. I’d love to hear from you.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Candy Crush

Romans 12:1-2
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Candy Crush is as addicting as dark chocolate. I usually avoid the latest electronic games because I don’t have time to play. Being a sucker (pun intended) for Candy Land and all things sweet, I thought I’d try Candy Crush. How bad could it be? Just line the pretty little sweets in a row, wipe out the line and move on. Right? Not exactly.

The player must make choices. That seems easy enough until the pieces the game wants you to choose begin blinking. Choices and distractions, just like life. As I live for Jesus, I strive to hear his voice. But sometimes Satan’s voice is so strong that I want to ignore what I know is true and right. How do I make a choice that’s honorable to God and moves his kingdom forward without falling for temptations? Pray. With every move in life, whatever I face, whatever decision I need to make, whatever direction I want to go, I need to pray.

When I fail a level, Candy Crush asks me if I want to try again. Sure, I’ll try one more time. But after several tries, I’m stuck on the same level. If I want, I can ask friends for help. But I’m stubborn, and I want to beat the game by myself. By the way, I never read the instructions to the game. That’s right—I thought I could go through the levels on my own wisdom. Just like life I’ve failed many times because I didn’t bother to read God’s word or reach out for help. The Bible has everything I need to know. And his people are there for me. I may or may not continue playing Candy Crush, but I know that I will continue living my life for Jesus, because I believe He is my Savior and that one day I will meet him in heaven.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Joy Finished the Race

2 Timothy 4:7-8
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.

Joy Johnson ran her last marathon this year. She was the oldest runner to complete the New York City marathon at eighty-six. In her twenty-fifth venture around the city, she fell and hit her head on mile twenty, but got back up and finished the race. She passed away in her sleep the next day. A runner for almost thirty years, she understood the endurance and determination of a marathon. Because she loved to run, she kept moving.

The apostle Paul also finished a race. The one that mattered most. He endured prison, ridicule, persecution and physical abuse to continue his marathon for Christ. When Paul recognized that Jesus was Lord and accepted him as his Savior, he put his whole heart into the track laid out before him. Just as Joy trained her body to endure a running race, Paul exercised his spiritual life. He prayed, he read, he shared his faith with others. He encouraged his fellow Christians and reached out to those in need. Because he loved the Lord, he finished the course and kept the faith. 

Saturday, November 2, 2013

That's the Power of Love

Ephesians 1:18-21
I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come.

The meteorologists claimed the storm could bring strong winds, torrential rain and possible thunder storms. Not a night to be outside. The next morning, limbs lay in the streets, playsets had turned upside down, a child’s yellow rubber ball floated in a ditch. The wind’s power caused devastation. Tornados, hurricanes, wind storms have been known to destroy whatever’s in their wake. The wind is one of several natural forces that can take over life.

Power comes in many forms and can be life threatening or uplifting. Without God, power brings struggles, fights, rules, dictatorships, even abuse. With God, his power offers hope, peace, joy, and love. Jesus commanded storms to cease. He restored life and healed many. God raised Jesus from the dead—now that’s power. When life’s in turmoil, through prayer and faithfulness, God brings strength, hope and peace. He does. His power is not a power of abuse, but a power of restoration. Praise God for his supreme authority and love.