Posted by: glorifyhim1 | February 28, 2015

Made Worthy

Made Worthy

 

 

I’ve always loved the story of Zacchaeus, the “wee little man” who climbed the sycamore tree to see Jesus. As a child, however, I was more enamored with Zacchaeus trying to see Jesus than with Jesus actually seeing Zacchaeus and inviting Himself to come to  Zacchaeus’ home. Zacchaeus was rich, a chief tax collector, and apparently not someone the crowd viewed as worthy of Jesus’ time and fellowship. As Luke recounts:

 

“And when Jesus came to the place, He looked up and saw him, and said to him, ‘Zacchaeus, make haste and come down, for today I must stay at your house.’ So he made haste and came down, and received Him joyfully. But when they (the crowd) saw it, they all complained, saying, ‘He has gone to be a guest with a man who is a sinner’” (Luke 19:5-7).

 

The crowd complained about Jesus’ choice. They viewed Zacchaeus as a sinner. Were the tax collectors not often guilty of taking for themselves a high percentage of what they demanded from the people? Why would Jesus choose to fellowship with Zacchaeus? Why, indeed?

 

I think Jesus chose Zacchaeus for the same reason that He chose me – and for the same reason He chose you. I think Jesus chose Zacchaeus for the same reason that He chooses both the best of us and the worst of us.

 

Jesus doesn’t come to us because we’re worthy. He comes to make us worthy. He doesn’t come to us because we’re without sin, but because we’re covered up in it. He doesn’t come to us because we deserve Him, but because we need Him – desperately.

 

It seems that Jesus sees something in each of us that we can’t see in ourselves. Could it be the image of God in which we were created? While nothing in us may be worthy of Him, every single human life has infinite value and worth to Him. In fact, after Zacchaeus joyfully declared that he would give half of his goods to the poor and that he would restore fourfold anything he had taken from anyone falsely, Jesus replied: “Today salvation has come to this house, because he also is a son of Abraham; for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:9-10).

 

Jesus sees us in all our unworthiness, but that’s exactly why He came – not to chastise, condemn, or tear down. He came to seek and save us – to do for us what we could not do for ourselves. He came to make us worthy. Zacchaeus responded to Jesus in haste. He came down from the tree and received Jesus joyfully. The prophet Isaiah exclaimed: “I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels” (Isaiah 61:10).

 

I never cease to be amazed that I have been made worthy. I am clothed and covered with Jesus’ blood and righteousness. He came to me just as He did to Zacchaeus and invited Himself to come in. But what if I had refused? What if instead of receiving Him joyfully, I had bemoaned the fact that I was a sinner, that I didn’t deserve what He had to offer, that I just wasn’t good enough to allow Him entrance? The fact is – I was a sinner. I didn’t deserve the goodness of Christ. And I surely wasn’t good enough. But that’s exactly why, like Zacchaeus, I needed Christ! He clothed me and covered me – He made me worthy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by: glorifyhim1 | February 21, 2015

Our Ever-Present God

Our Ever-Present God

 

 

Recently, my doctor requested that I have an ultrasound performed on my carotid artery because of some “swooshing” she heard during my regular exam. While she didn’t really suspect anything to be wrong since I was having no symptoms characteristic of problems with the carotid, she thought it was best to be proactive. Thankfully, all turned out well, but once again I was reminded of a God who is very present with us.

 

I kept thinking “I’m not having any symptoms” – no TIAs (transient ischemic attacks) with weakness or tingling, or vision or speech problems – no problems with high cholesterol that could contribute to the narrowing of the artery. At the same time, however, my family did have a history of heart and vascular issues. So, I consulted Web MD — and I prayed.

 

I thanked God for the testing that could reveal if there were any problems. I thanked Him for His presence that I knew would be right there with me whatever was discovered. And I pretty much prayed Isaiah 41:10 which I often pray for others when I don’t really know how to pray or what to ask.

 

“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10).

 

God, Himself, is speaking to Israel reminding them of Who He is and assuring them of His Presence and help. In Isaiah 41:8-9, He declared: “But you, Israel, are My servant, Jacob whom I have chosen, the descendants of Abraham My friend. You whom I have taken from the ends of the earth, and called from its farthest regions, and said to you, ‘You are My servant, I have chosen you and have not cast you away.” And because of Jesus Christ, we can claim this same promise!

 

As believers, we can know that whatever trial or difficulty we face, we are instructed not to fear or be dismayed. Why?

 

  • God is our God.
  • He will strengthen us.
  • He will help us.
  • He will uphold us.

 

It really is kind of hard to be fearful or discouraged when we know that the Almighty God, Yahweh, Himself is with us. I know that my courage and strength can be small, but God is my God! He will be with me. He will give me strength and help me. And, when I am at my lowest or when I need Him most, He will hold me up Himself just as He helped Moses bring the Israelites out of Egypt (see Exodus 15:6).

 

The test I had to have was a simple ultrasound, pretty much stress free, except for wondering about the results. But, something that was such a small thing for God did not keep Him from showing up. He was there with me. As I lay there and listened to the sounds in my artery and the steady beating of my heart, I was overcome with how God had seen fit to keep all those sounds going steady for over 62 years. Rarely, had I ever even thought about them. Yet God had kept my heart beating and blessed my life in so many ways. Somehow I knew that whatever the test revealed, I would be okay – not because of me and my tendency to worry and fret – but because of God and His unfailing promise to always be with me.

 

As believers, we are not immune to, or sheltered from the illnesses, hardships, and struggles that we all face in this fallen, sinful world. But it humbles me to know that no matter how small or how great our needs may be, we do not need to fear or be dismayed for our God is ever-present. He, Himself, tells us: “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10).

 

 

Posted by: glorifyhim1 | February 14, 2015

A Perfect Love

A Perfect Love

 

 

Through the years I’ve been blessed to know many different kinds of love.

 

I’ve seen …

 

  • love watch for me as my Mom waited each afternoon to see my sister and I trudge home from school.
  • love think about me as my Dad, after sometimes working a double shift at the local plant, would head off to the swimming hole with his two daughters who begged him to take them swimming.
  • love help me as my older sister helped me with everything from riding my bike and damming up the creek to navigating high school and working at my first summer job.
  • love spend time with me as grandparents took time to smile, hug, and listen to a child’s idle chatter.
  • love forgive me as I played – and argued – with cousins and friends.
  • love seek me as the handsome young man who would one day be my husband sought to spend time with me.
  • love reach for my hand as each of my children and then my grandchild learned to walk.
  • love dwell in my heart because of all those who chose to share some measure of their love with me.

 

As I thought about the many different ways that people in my life have loved and cared for me, it occurred to me that each one, in some way, had demonstrated some aspect of God’s perfect love.

 

God’s love …

 

  • watches over me

“The Lord watches over you—    the Lord is your shade at your right hand” (Psalm 121:5).

 

  • thinks about me

“How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How great is the sum of them!” (Psalm 139:17)

 

  • helps me

“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10).

 

  • spends time with me

“The Lord your God in your midst, the Mighty One, will save;
He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing” (Zephaniah 3:17).

 

  • forgives me

“In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace” (Ephesians 1:7).

 

  • seeks me

 For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10).

 

  • reaches for me

“For I, the Lord your God, will hold your right hand, saying to you, ‘Fear not, I will help you.’” (Isaiah 41:13).

 

  • dwells with me

“No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us” (1 John 4:12, KJV).

 

God’s love is a perfect love. While we, the imperfect humans we are, can never love perfectly, as we receive God’s love and welcome Him into our hearts and lives, His Spirit comes to dwell within us. As we allow His love to flow through us to others, His love is perfected in us. It is then that simple everyday expressions of human love become so much more –

 

Watching over those we love becomes a persistent wakefulness and attentiveness.

Thinking of others becomes tangible expressions of love and kindness.

Helping others becomes a desire and a joy.

Spending time with others becomes a privilege and delight.

Forgiving others becomes a response of mercy and grace.

Seeking others becomes a pursuit for the hurting, lonely, and lost.

Reaching for others becomes a longing to share another’s load.

 

And, little by little, as God dwells within us, as He settles down and makes Himself at home with us, His perfect love is seen more clearly in all we say and do!  What a privilege to be a conduit of His love!

 

 “That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.”

(Ephesians 3:16-19)

Posted by: glorifyhim1 | February 6, 2015

Does Prayer Really Work?

Does Prayer Really Work?

 

Does prayer really work? This week I’ve promised to pray for quite a few people, some who are facing serious challenges. In addition, the mayhem we witness in the world around us from plane crashes, train wrecks, and natural disasters to unbelievable acts of terrorism, all scream out for prayer. But does it really work? And if it does, then how do we explain the countless prayers that seem to go unanswered? Could it be that we’ve got this prayer thing all wrong?

 

I think I can safely say that most believers have struggled with the issue of prayer. And while I can’t speak for other believers, I can say that for me, personally, it is those very struggles that have helped me to know that yes, prayer does indeed work. At the same time, however, those same struggles have also confirmed to me that I’ve often had this prayer thing all wrong. And between these two extremes, I’m come to know both the wonder and privilege of prayer.

 

Luke tells us that one day after Jesus had prayed, one of the disciples asked Him: “Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples” (Luke 11:1b).

 

“So He said to them, ‘When you pray, say:

Our Father in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come.
Your will be done
On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us day by day our daily bread.
 And forgive us our sins,
For we also forgive everyone who is indebted to us.
And do not lead us into temptation,
But deliver us from the evil one.’”

(Luke 11:2-4)

 

 

It seems like such a simple prayer, but, oh, it says so much. Look with me at just a few of the things that this simple prayer points out to us when we pray.

 

  • Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name.

When we hallow our Father’s name, we honor Him as holy. We revere and respect all that His name represents.

 

  • Your kingdom come.
    Surely, we are praying for God’s kingdom to finally be realized and for Christ to reign. But when we say these words, we need to ask ourselves what we are doing to advance His kingdom. Am I praying, witnessing, and living my life in a way that can help God’s kingdom?

 

  • Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
    Praying for God’s will indicates that we should be renouncing anything that is counter to His Word and teaching. We should be living in obedience to God.

 

  • Give us day by day our daily bread.

When I bring my daily needs before my Heavenly Father, I recognize Him as the ultimate giver and provider of my physical needs. But I also realize that he gives me work and provides opportunities for me to meet those needs.

 

  • And forgive us our sins

Daily, we have battles that we win and lose. We mess up and make wrong choices. Although Jesus is constantly interceding for the believer in Heaven (see Romans 8:34), we need to recognize that unconfessed sin separates us from God. We must consistently confess our sin and seek cleansing.

 

  • For we also forgive everyone who is indebted to us.

As we seek God’s unending forgiveness, we are reminded of our need to extend the same mercy and forgiveness to others.

 

  • And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.

We pray daily for God’s protection and deliverance, recognizing that we are no match for Satan and the temptations he hurls our way. We bring every temptation and trial straight to God.

 

Praying the way Jesus taught demands that we come to God in faith, believing that He is a God we can trust with every aspect of our lives. He provides our daily bread, forgives us of our sin, and enables and delivers us during our times of testing and trial.

 

But praying the way Jesus taught also requires that we take an honest look at ourselves in relation to our Holy Father. Does my life help others see my Father more clearly? Do I hallow His name with my life? Do I seek to promote God’s kingdom on earth in my attitudes and actions? Do I do what God asks of me to meet the needs of others? In other words, could I be God’s answer or means of providing for another one of his children? Am I honest about my sin with God? Do I agree with Him about my sin and sincerely seek to be forgiven and cleansed? Do I honestly relinquish past hurts and forgive those who have sinned against me, or do I withhold my forgiveness until I feel they deserve it? And finally, do I daily dress up in the Armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-18) recognizing that I am no match for Satan and his schemes?

 

Yes, I’ve learned that prayer indeed works, but perhaps not always the way I thought or expected it to work. Sometimes answers have come in miraculous ways. At other times answers have come as God tenderly walked with me through my struggle, strengthening and enabling me. At these times, I’m learning that I need to be praying for the miracles that He may be working in other realms that I cannot see or understand – as He works even the bad things out for good (see Romans 8:28). And at still other times, answers may come as God works in me to be the answer to someone needing to see the hand and heart of Christ.

 

I can remember, as a child, my first bumbling attempts at prayer. I didn’t know how to pray, but now I know that even then God was listening and drawing me to Himself. There are so many things that I have talked over with God through the years. As I look back over my life today I can see how He faithfully answered many of those prayers in ways that I can see. There are some things that I still don’t really understand, but through the tears and struggle, He has given me peace. There’s much in the spiritual realm that I know I’ll never be able to fully comprehend and understand, but I do know that prayer works, my friend. It works in advancing God’s kingdom. It works in the lives of those for whom we pray, and it works in us. And prayer surely works in all those invisible realms that we will one day see. What a privilege to pray!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by: glorifyhim1 | January 30, 2015

The God Who is After Your Heart

The God Who is After Your Heart

One of my favorite psalms is Psalm 139, a psalm of praise that is attributed to David, the one of whom the prophet Samuel said to King Saul: “But now your kingdom shall not continue. The Lord has sought for Himself a man after His own heart, and the Lord has commanded him to be commander over His people, because you have not kept what the Lord commanded you” (1 Samuel 13:14).

In this psalm, the one whom God Himself saw as a man after His own heart, talks to God, expressing praise and wonder over God’s perfect knowledge of man – but not just man in general. David was overwhelmed by God’s knowledge of him, personally. I, too, cannot read this psalm without thinking of the absolute wonder that God knows me – completely.

  • O Lord, You have searched me and known me.
      You know my sitting down and my rising up” (1-2a).

God knows where I’ve been, where I am, and what I’m doing.

  • You understand my thought afar off” (2b).

God knows what I’m thinking – and even more, He understands my thoughts.

  • “You comprehend my path and my lying down” (3a).

 

God has full knowledge and understanding of what I’m going through – the difficulties and struggles, the special moments and joys.

  • “And are acquainted with all my ways” (3b).

God knows my ways – my actions and reactions, my strengths and my weaknesses.

God knows me completely. There are those times when I’ve wished that God really didn’t know me quite so well – when He saw my angry thoughts or perhaps my self-serving intentions. At the same time, however, what relief to know that even when He sees my ugliness, He understands because of His perfect knowledge of me.

It is this understanding that resonates so much with my soul. It is one thing to know something, but quite another to truly understand what we know. When my children were young, I knew when they misbehaved, but I didn’t always understand why. My knowledge was limited. In much the same way, even as an adult I may know when someone acts harshly toward me or treats me indifferently, but I may not understand why. Again, my knowledge is limited. But God sees, knows, and understands. He understands those things about me that I may not even comprehend myself. It is this understanding that keeps me from growing discouraged from day-to-day.

David continues in Psalm 139 to talk about God’s protection and guidance (v.5), His Presence and help (vs. 7-10), and God’s concern for him (vs.11-12).  Not only did God know David, but David knew God. He had experienced a God who not only knew and understood him, but a God who was also there for Him. David had experienced God’s protection and help, His mercy and forgiveness, and His faithfulness time and again. David had experienced enough with God to know that He was a God who could be trusted.

 

Just as God’s understanding heartens and encourages me, His Presence and willingness to walk along side of me whatever I’m going through gives me comfort and a peace I cannot describe. The God who made me knows me, understands me, and walks with me. There is no place where I can escape from His Presence. And as the following verses declare: “Even there Your hand shall lead me, and Your right hand shall hold me.”

“If I ascend into heaven, You are there;
If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there.
 If I take the wings of the morning,
And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
Even there Your hand shall lead me,
And Your right hand shall hold me.
If I say, “Surely the darkness shall fall on me,”
Even the night shall be light about me;
 Indeed, the darkness shall not hide from You,
But the night shines as the day;
The darkness and the light are both alike to You.”

(Psalm 139:8-12)

What a privilege, throughout history, for David to be known as a man after God’s own heart. I hope that one day that could be said about me as well. But for today, I rejoice that God knows me, understands me, and is willing to go the distance with me whatever comes. I rejoice that I know this amazing God who is relentless in His pursuit to make all of our hearts totally, completely His!

Posted by: glorifyhim1 | January 22, 2015

Spiritual Lessons from a One-year-old

Spiritual Lessons from a One-year-old

 

This week I’ve had the blessing and privilege of helping care for my grandson, Benji. To say that I’ve been much more tired this week is quite an understatement. Let’s just say that for someone who generally hits the pillow around midnight, this week I’ve been ready to head that direction by 9:00. Somehow time had helped me forget the immense energy and unbridled joy of a one-year-old child.

 

I had also forgotten something else – their absolute trust. I held my grandson after his bath one evening and watched as he willingly held out his hands and pointed each tiny finger for his mom to trim his nails. There was no worry or anticipation – just simple trust. I also saw how he just adapted to whatever was going on around him. Whether he was placed on the floor to play, or carted off on a walk to feed the ducks, or buckled in the car seat to go somewhere, he pretty much just went along with the flow of things. He didn’t seem to worry about what he had done an hour ago or what we were going to do tonight. He was living in the moment, fully experiencing every sight, sound, and smell.

 

The lesson couldn’t escape me. When a child can look to us, his fallible caretakers this way, why can’t I always show such absolute trust in my loving Heavenly Father? Why do I so often allow fear or worry to eclipse the joy and wonder of today? Why do I miss so many blessings right now because I’m dwelling on yesterday or anticipating tomorrow?

 

The answers to these questions probably lie in something else I observed in my grandson. He would get tired and cranky sometimes. He would act up or collapse in tears when he sometimes couldn’t have or do what he wanted. But I also saw who he turned to when he was tired and cranky, when he was overwhelmed or discouraged. He looked for the two most important people in his world – his mom and dad. To be sure, they may not always let him have his way or give him what he wants. They may even take him places where he doesn’t want to go or encourage him to do things that he thinks are too hard or difficult for him. Yet, even in the midst of even these hard moments, he turns to them, the ones he knows he can trust.

 

I love the statement of trust that David makes in Psalm 31:14-15a: “But as for me, I trust in You, O Lord; I say, ‘You are my God.’ My times are in Your hand.” In Psalm 31, the psalmist David cries out to God over his troubles and adversities, the reproaches and slander of his enemies, his griefs and sadness, and his brokenness over his own sin. David doesn’t turn away from God, however. Neither his troubles or his sin keeps him from looking to God, the One he knows he can trust to deliver him, encourage, and strengthen him.

 

I love My Lord Jesus! He has been there for me more times than I could ever recount. Sometimes He has rescued me from my trouble or adversity. At other times He has encouraged or strengthened me for whatever struggle I must endure. And at still other times, He has shined His face upon me (Psalm 31:16) and lifted up my head (Psalm 3:3) as He ever so mercifully and gently reminded me that I can trust Him.

 

I’m so thankful for my time with Benji this week and I’m especially grateful for the spiritual reminder from my Heavenly Father. I can trust Him with all my yesterdays, todays, and tomorrows. He made me, He knows me, and He loves me. So just as my young grandson turns to the ones he knows he can trust, may I turn to my Heavenly Father and declare like David: “’But as for me, I trust in You, O Lord; I say, ‘You are my God.’ My times are in Your hand’” (Psalm 31:14-15a).

 

Posted by: glorifyhim1 | January 17, 2015

Somewhere Safe

Somewhere Safe

 

Presently, I’m reading a book by one of my favorite fiction writers, Jan Karon. The book is the latest in her Mitford Series and is entitled “Somewhere Safe with Somebody Good.” While I’ll refrain from explaining what this title refers to since someone else out there may also be reading this book, the title did get me to thinking. Where is my somewhere safe place?

 

Merriam-Webster defines the adjective safe as “not able or likely to be hurt or harmed in any way, not in danger.” One evening spent listening to the nightly news doesn’t give us much hope of finding a safe place, does it? Our safety is threatened on our highways, airways, and railways. Accounts of home invasions, robberies, and physical assaults increase our worries of personal attacks and dangers. And as acts of terrorism run rampant worldwide, we can’t help but wonder about our safety. Is there really a place where we can feel totally, completely safe?

 

There are lots of verses in the Bible about safety. One of my favorites is Psalm 4:8: “I will both lie down in peace, and sleep; For You alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.” One thing that generally eludes a worried, anxious person is sleep. Yet, David, who certainly experienced his share of worries and troubles was able to “lie down in peace, and sleep.” But even more, David declared: “For You alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.” When we dwell somewhere, that’s where we live or stay. We’re not here today and gone tomorrow. It’s where we settle down and abide. In this tiny verse, David acknowledges his safe place – the Lord Himself. No matter what troubles assail David, he is content that he is in the loving Presence of his Lord.

 

I’ve heard it said that the safest place to be is in the will of God. Yet, sometimes those fully accepting of God’s purpose and plan for their lives discover pain, heartache, and suffering. The trials and tribulations we face here on earth are not limited to those who turn from or defy God. We are all subject to the sin and suffering of this fallen world, but as long as God tarries His coming and offers us His grace, mercy, and forgiveness, we all have the same invitation to find our place of safety in Him.

 

When we place our trust in Jesus Christ, we surrender all that we are to Him. Our lives are in His hands – whatever trials or tribulations, whatever happiness or joy – we abide in Him, our safe place. It reminds me of the old hymn “Near to the Heart of God” written by Cleland B. McAfee.

 There is a place of quiet rest,

near to the heart of God;

a place where sin cannot molest,

near to the heart of God.

O Jesus, blest Redeemer,

sent from the heart of God,

hold us who wait before thee

near to the heart of God.

There is a place of comfort sweet,

near to the heart of God;

a place where we our Savior meet,

near to the heart of God.

There is a place of full release,

near to the heart of God;

a place where all is joy and peace,

near to the heart of God.

Yes, we live in a fallen, sinful, and troubled world, but there is One who offers refuge, comfort, joy, and peace even in the midst of the myriad difficulties we face. The troubles we endure here cannot touch or destroy the promise and victory that we have in Christ Jesus. He shelters us with His Presence, walks with us through our battles, and covers us with His mercy and grace – we dwell safely in Him. I can never thank my Lord enough for drawing me to Him, walking with me day by day, and helping me to know that in Him I am somewhere safe.

For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

(Romans 8:38-39)

 

 

Note: If you do not know Christ, you can find safety in Him. Please read “How to Be Saved” –  https://glorifyinghim.wordpress.com/how-can-i-be-saved/

 

 

 

Posted by: glorifyhim1 | January 9, 2015

A New Word for the New Year

A New Word for the New Year

 

Recently a read a blog post by my friend Scott Wiley. You can read his post here … http://recklessobedience.blogspot.com/20…/…/a-new-thing.html . In this post, Scott shares that he chooses one word at the beginning of each year to be his focus for the new year. As I read his post, I was first challenged by his choice of the word “Yes” and his desire to always be ready to say yes to God even if he doesn’t always know the way God is leading. Then I was challenged to think what word that God might be impressing on me.

 

It didn’t really take me long. My word for 2015 is the word “encourage.” I want to be an encourager. I’ve always wanted to be an encourager, but to be honest it’s not something that I always do well. I don’t always know the right words to say or the right things to do.  So, more often than not, I just don’t say or do anything. Oh, I may pray – but if I don’t let that person know I’m praying, I’m losing an opportunity to come along side of them and encourage them. At the same time, however, I know how much it means to me personally to receive encouragement.

 

When I began this blog in 2009, I hoped to help and encourage others who like me are trying to learn to be more like Christ and glorify Him in all that we do. Sometimes I struggle and stumble in my walk and it helps to know that I’m not alone. At other times, my joy is so palpable that I just have to share it so we can rejoice together. But through this experience, I’ve learned that I have been the one who has been encouraged. No, I don’t have loads of followers, but practically every month a few more join the list. No, I don’t get a lot of likes and comments, but there are those who consistently read and sometimes even share my blog with others. And then there are those who take the time to send me a private email or message to tell me how much a particular blog meant to them. You’ll never know how much those messages have encouraged me!

 

The writer of Hebrews states: “And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching” (Hebrews 10:24-25). I am so thankful for others that God has placed in my life who consistently lift me up and encourage me. This year, I pray that I will be an encouragement to you as well. It may be something I write, something that God has helped me to learn; it may be something I say or do for you as God guides me and helps me; and it may be something we do together as we encourage one another and reveal the love of Christ to others – to some who do not yet know Him. What a privilege to “stir up love and good works” and to encourage one another!

 

“But encourage each other daily, while it is still called today, so that none of you is hardened by sin’s deception.”

(Hebrews 3:13, HCSB)

Posted by: glorifyhim1 | December 31, 2014

Looking Forward from Christmas

Looking Forward from Christmas

 

The presents are now all unwrapped, but the lights still shine brightly on the tree. Much of the food is now gone, but part of a red velvet cake still remains. Some family members have left to return to work and daily routines, while others of us try our best to hold on to what’s left of Christmas – not quite ready to clean up, pack up, and put away for another year.

 

As I thought about another Christmas winding down, my eyes fell on what remains of the red velvet cake. So many of my Christmas memories revolve around a simple red velvet cake. I remember as a child when I first saw a red velvet cake, I was totally mesmerized. Cakes were supposed to be white or yellow or chocolate. I thought that those red cake layers were absolutely beautiful! I never tried to make one until after I was married and one of the first Christmas cakes I made was a red velvet cake. Thus began a long tradition of holiday red velvet cakes.

 

Just about every year at Christmas time I made a red velvet cake for my husband’s family’s Christmas dinner. It became a favorite cake of my son – or actually, I think he preferred licking the red-batter bowl to eating the cake. When my husband’s family no longer met for Christmas dinner, I continued baking a red velvet cake for our Christmas gathering with my sister and her family. The recipe has been changed and tweaked through the years and some years it turned out better than others, but it grew to be a given on my Christmas baking list.

 

That’s Christmas! There is so much looking back, recalling, and remembering. By my age, it seems that every dish I prepare, every ornament on the tree, and every decoration on a table or shelf has a special memory, a sweet story to tell. But even more than looking back at all these Christmas memories, I love taking time in all the rush and hurry of the Christmas season to think about that very first Christmas. I love hearing about Mary and Joseph; the angels and the shepherds; and Baby Jesus, the Son of God, lying in the manger. These are stories that I never tire of hearing and reflecting on a love that is beyond my ability to fully comprehend.

 

But as much as I love looking back, recalling, and remembering at Christmas time, I think Christmas demands that we look forward. Luke tells us that Mary, the mother of Jesus, “kept all these things and pondered them in her heart” (see Luke 2:19). I’m sure that Mary treasured every detail of her Son’s birth. She probably hung onto every word that the shepherds relayed about the angels and their glorious announcement. She “marveled” over the comments of Simeon and Anna (see Luke 2:25-38). She surely treasured every memory, but she pondered them as well.

 

I’m sure that Mary wondered what everything she heard meant. What would Jesus’ life look like? What would her life as His mother look like? How should the mother of the Son of God “mother” the Son of God?  Did she understand the sword that Simeon prophesied that would pierce her own soul? I wonder how Mary moved forward from Christmas?

She probably moved forward much like you and me. As we look forward to a new year, we know that it’s not really new. We don’t leave our problems, our worries, our questions or doubts in the old year. We pack them up and bring them along with us. Nothing really changes except for the date on the calendar and perhaps a new resolve that we’re going to get it right this year. But while we all move forward – since there really isn’t another option – we may not all look forward from Christmas. And that is what makes all the difference!

 

When we look forward from Christmas, we pretty much do the three following things.

 

  • We remember Jesus and what He came to do. He is our Savior and our Immanuel. He came to save us and to walk with us through everything we face.

 

  • We rejoice that because of Jesus, we can truly live. He has a plan for your life and mine and He gives us meaning and purpose. We are part of His story.

 

  • We rest in God’s promises. Jesus’ birth, life, and resurrection assure me that I can trust in all that God has promised. Therefore, I can look forward with both peace and hope in my heart.

 

Remember, rejoice, and rest – these three things will help us look forward from Christmas, knowing that because of Jesus we are never alone, our lives have meaning and purpose, and we have a hope that can never be extinguished – all because of Jesus!

 

“For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God.”

 (2 Corinthians 1:20, NIV)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by: glorifyhim1 | December 19, 2014

My Christmas Wish

My Christmas Wish

 

I’m ready for Christmas.

 

My home is ready. My gifts are wrapped and under the tree. My shopping is done for my cooking and baking. And this morning, I finished cleaning my house. I vacuumed over, under, around, and even got to some of those spots that I regularly skip over. My home is ready for Christmas.

 

My heart is ready for Christmas. This year as I’ve thought about the birth of Jesus, my Savior, God has laid upon my heart that, yes, Jesus came to save me, but He came to do even more. He came to be with me, to walk with me, to help me, to share my deepest sorrows and my greatest joys. David’s declaration of faith in Psalm 27 has come to have a whole new meaning to me. I love the Holman translation of verse 1.

 

“The Lord is my light and my salvation—
whom should I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life—
of whom should I be afraid?”

Jesus is my light, my salvation, and the stronghold of my life. Believers today have God constantly with them through the gift of the Holy Spirit. Jesus told His disciples before He left them: Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you” (John 16:7). We can constantly be in Jesus’ Presence because of the gift of the Holy Spirit. My heart is ready for Christmas!

 

Yes, my home and heart are ready, but I still have a Christmas wish. This Christmas wish is centered on someone dear to me, but I know there are many others that you probably know, too, who have desperate needs this Christmas. My Christmas wish is for a miracle in the life of my sister-in-law.

 

Less than a month ago, she was enjoying a Thanksgiving trip to the beach. A week later she was diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer. Before the pain that attacked her after she returned home, there had been no symptoms – nothing to signal that anything was wrong. She had received regular physicals and followed all her doctor’s orders for routine tests and exams. Needless to say, in one day, the world of my sister-in-law and her family was turned upside down.

 

While doctors are still trying to determine the best way to try to attack this cancer, I try to think of what to say. I hug her. I tell her I’m praying for her. I offer to do anything she needs me to do. She smiles. She cries. I don’t think she knows what to say either. We’ve shared family Christmases, holidays, and reunions. We’ve laughed together over our husbands’ selective hearing. We’ve raised kids together. We’ve taught Sunday School together. I’ve seen her tender heart as she teared up over children at the school where she worked who didn’t have enough food. She’s scolded me for not yet having a colonoscopy. I’ve seen her walk through Alzheimer’s with her own mother. In short, we’ve done a lot of life together. And, now, I don’t know what to say.

 

Thankfully, I know that my sister-in-law knows Jesus. I know that she doesn’t have to face this battle with only the limited help all of those who love her can give. Just as I cling to Psalm 27 for me, I cling to it for her as well. Stronghold can be defined as a protected place. That is what we have in Jesus. Whatever battle we face, we know that we are in that protected place where He will shelter us and care for us. Sometimes, He will deliver us through a miracle or His gracious intervention. At other times, He doesn’t remove the struggle, but He walks with us and helps us to endure. He will never, ever leave or forsake us.

 

Yes, my home is ready – although I know that there will be dust on the tabletops, paw prints on the floor, and dog hair on the furniture even before my first Christmas guest arrives. My heart is ready – although I don’t always understand the battles we face, I rejoice in knowing that Jesus is with me, that He is my Stronghold to whom I can forever cling. And I take my Christmas wish and humbly spread it out before my Lord. I pray for my sister-in-law and for others in hard places. I pray for still others who do not know Jesus and who must face each day without the light, salvation, and stronghold that we can have in Him. I wish and I pray for the hurting and the lost and for miracles – and I thank God for Christmas – the greatest miracle of all when Jesus was born – our Light, our Salvation, our Stronghold!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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