Friday, December 31, 2010

A New Beginning

"Forget the former things;
do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not
perceive it?
I am making a way in the desert
and streams in the wasteland." Isaiah 43:18-19 NIV

Here we are, at the door of the ending of 2010. How do you feel about that? Are you glad to see the ending come? Are you a little sad? A little disappointed? Indifferent? A tad-bit excited?

The ending of a year can be all of those things to some people. We start out the year with resolutions. With ideas of all the things we were going to change--about ourselves personally, our lives, the world. Then the end of the year comes, and maybe we didn't get those things done--we didn't follow through with our resolutions. We may have even got into worse habits, even done something or things that we aren't proud of. We feel like a failure.

This verse says the opposite. It says that we are to forget the past. We are to lay them aside. We are to ask forgiveness of them--give them to our Heavenly Father and He will make something new out of them--you--a new person in Him. Isn't that awesome! Isn't that a great way to start a new year? Not focusing on the regrets of the year past, but feeling the freedom of living in the knowledge that God has created a new person in you. That you don't have to regret the closing of the door of the year past--but look forward to the opening of the door of the New Year beginning! How exciting!

If you had a GREAT year--kuddos to you! Keep it going. This verse still has meaning to you because it is a great one to carry in your heart. Each and every day that we wake up, we have the opportunity to become a new creation in the Lord. Our Father will take each and every day of our lives and use the day in the past to make us better people in the future--if we let Him. If we keep our prayer life flowing, our quiet, devotional time with Him top priority and keep our soul open to Him to mold and preen us at all times.

As that glittery ball is falling and they are counting down, remember to say a prayer for the Lord's will on your life this New Year.

Our God is such an AWESOME God! Praise Him for this opportunity of life!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Got Room?

"And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2 This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. 3 So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city.
4 Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, 5 to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child. 6 So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. 7 And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn."
Luke 2:1-20 NKJV

Every time I read this passage, verse 7 sticks out to me. The words, "there was no room for them" challenge me. Bethlehem was very busy. The hotels were full and so we find the Savior being born in a manger. I'm able to understand and accept this. But what gets me is the deeper meaning; they had no room for Jesus.

I have to ask myself, "Do I have room for Jesus in my life?" Do you? Do I have room but, it's in the barn of my life? What things keep Jesus from being front and center in my life? I am challenged to look at my life and see if I need to let God clean some things out of my life to make room for Jesus.

What about you? Have you received the gift of Christmas, salvation? Have you opened the door of your heart to receive Jesus? What about today?

"But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God." John 1:12 NLT

Monday, December 20, 2010

The Gift of Courage

"Joseph was a good man and did not want to embarrass Mary in front of everyone. So he decided to quietly call off the wedding." Matthew 1:19 CEV

This is one of the famous verses that is part of the Christmas story that we hear probably at least once a year. But do we really read it? Do we see the life example that Joseph exhibits?

In order to understand the full lesson, we need to also look at Matthew 1:20-24 CEV
"While Joseph was thinking about this, an angel from the Lord came to him in a dream. The angel said, 'Joseph, the baby that Mary will have is from the Holy Spirit. Go ahead and marry her. Then after her baby is born name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.' So the Lord's promise came true, just as the prophet had said, 'A virgin will have a baby boy, and he will be call Immanuel,' which means 'God is with us.'

After Joseph woke up, he and Mary were soon married, just as the Lord's angel had told him to do."

You see, Joseph was a good man. A man that was known to to the right thing. In his day, breaking up with Mary after finding out that she was pregnant, was the right thing to do. His culture would have totally understood that act. That is what was done.

But God had another plan for Joseph. It was so important to Him that He had one of His angels come to Joseph in a dream to explain it to him. It was to do the opposite of what his culture practiced. To stand against what Joseph's world was telling him to do and to unquestioningly do what God was telling him to do. As we all know, Joseph was true to his nature, and did the right thing--obeyed his Heavenly Father.

But let's stop and think about this for a quick moment. Do you think that Joseph just rolled over in his sleep and said without a qualm, "OK Lord, this is a little crazy, but I'll do it." I don't know, but if I was him, I think I would be fighting what my culture had been telling me all my life. I would be wondering what would my family, friends, neighbors, customers, would be saying or thinking. You know that he was a successful carpenter--would this decision effect his business, his livelihood?

Even with all of this, even if it was the hardest thing that he had done up to this point of his life, Joseph did it anyway. Doing the act didn't mean that he wasn't fearful and doubting on the inside--no, but he was courageous enough to overcome those feelings and do the right thing.

What about you? Have you been in a similar situation? Have you had to choose between doing what your culture is telling you is right and what the Lord is telling you what is right?

Your God will never have you make a decision without being there to support you. Even if it is the hardest thing you have ever had to do. He IS there. Every step of the way.

Having courage is not always easy, but the gift you get in return is so worth it. Do you realize that each and every time that you use your gift of courage, your gift gets bigger? You get more confident in the Lord and yourself and it just keeps building upon itself.

Please don't misunderstand--it doesn't necessarily get easier--it just gets better.

During this Christmas week, think upon these verses. Pray that you can have the courage of Joseph. And please, don't forget to thank your Heavenly Father for ALL of His gifts.

Friday, December 17, 2010

The Gift of Surprise

"We don't yet see things clearly. We're squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won't be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We'll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us!" 1 Corinthians 13:12 The Message

"Knowing him directly just as he knows us!"--isn't that an awesome thought? When we finally get to Heaven, we will know Jesus as intimately as He knows us. WOW! What a scary but wonderful feeling!

Right now there is a veil between us and our Heavenly Father. It's a natural veil because if we could see what we would only be able to look forward to seeing and experiencing after we get to heaven, why would we want to get there? We would already have seen the prize. It would be like sneaking into the presents before Christmas morning, unwrapping the box peeking inside and rewrapping it. Sure, at that moment, you feel this wonderful sense of knowledge. Now you don't have to wait anymore. There's no more eliminate of surprise. But what happens later? You start feeling a little depressed--you have nothing to look forward to because you already experience it when you peeked.

The same would be here on earth if we had already experienced the extreme awesomeness of a clear, intimate relationship with our Lord and Savior. We would have experience everything there was. Because no matter how wonderful and fulfilling of a relationship you now have with God--it's nothing compared to what is waiting for us. Do you understand this?

Our God is worth the wait. But in the meantime, keep searching, keep striving to build that intimate relationship, keep pursuing your Heavenly Father. He loves surprising you!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Let It Go

"But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." Philippians 3:13,14 NIV

Sometimes when my kids were acting up I would tell them to "let it go." In other words stop, knock it off, forget it. The other day I felt the Holy Spirit tell me to let it go. I was thinking about some past sin issues. I sensed that it was time to move on. Accept the forgiveness and restoration that Christ gives us and move on.

I also felt the Spirit tell me to let go of some current challenges that I am facing, and move on, trusting the outcome to a loving and benevolent God.

Some of the challenges of letting things go are that we stuff them deep inside of us. We think that we are dealing with them by not dealing with them. But the stuff we stuff will manifest somehow. Another challenge to letting go is that we use things as excuses and "wet blankets" to serve as a means to an end. Sometimes we just keep rehearing things over and over. The greatest challenge are the things that keep us from accepting the love and forgiveness that Jesus Christ give to us.

What about you? Is God calling you to give up an old hurt, habit, or hang up? Is there an issue in your life that keeps haunting you? Will you let Jesus have it today?

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!" 2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Gift that Keeps on Giving

"Blessed is she who believed, for there will be a fulfillment of those things which were told her from the Lord." Luke 1:45 NKJV

The Christmas story has a a life lesson that is much more than what it appears on the surface. The above verse is when Mary is visiting her cousin Elizabeth and this is what Elizabeth says after her unborn baby, later known as John the Baptist, leaped in her womb.

Mary is the picture of obedience and faithfulness. And not reluctantly. When the Angel of the Lord first came to her and told her of God's request, did she say, "O.K., well thank you Mr. Angel. Let me think about it and I will let you know in a few of days." or "Well, Mr. Angel, this is all very nice, but I'm pretty busy right now. Can you come back in a couple of months? Maybe by then my calendar will open up."

No, she was a faithful servant, and humbly said, "I am the Lord's servant. May it be done to me as you have said." (Luke 1:38 NKJV) And as I was reading the full passage, I am struck with the thought that God didn't tell Mary through His Angel, that this is how it was going to be and just do it. The way that Mary responded is that she knew it was a request. That she had the right to say 'yes' or 'no'. And she chose to say, 'yes'.

Isn't that the heart of God? He doesn't ever force Himself or His will into our lives. He always gives us the choice--the free will--to decide for ourselves. He doesn't want His precious child, you, to serve Him in fear or grudgingly. No. He desires to have a relationship with you that is open and candid.

As I ponder more on Mary's story, I pray that I have a Mary's spirit to be able to say 'yes' without question--without hesitation--when the Lord speaks into my life. How about you? Do you realize that the more you say 'yes', the more opportunities are opened up? The more times you are faithful, the rippling effect is contagious. It goes way beyond just you and your life. It may go farther and touch more people and lives than you ever dream of.

This Christmas season, pray for the gift of "free will" obedience. Can you imagine the spiritual opportunities that you may be opening yourself up to? It's a gift that will keep on giving.