Wednesday, December 13, 2017
Monday, December 11, 2017
When I was a little girl I would get so excited for Christmas Day! Months before I would take the time to write out my Christmas wish list, putting great thought and care into what I asked for. I would hand it over to my mother and then I would wait.......and wait.......and wait some more. I truly believed that there were more hours in a day during the month of December than any other month because it went by so slowly. It was like Christmas morning would never get here. I waited and waited in eager anticipation wondering if and what I might find under the tree should Christmas morning ever choose to arrive.
Finally Christmas Eve would trigger and explosion of excitement in me. The waiting was coming to a close. The eager anticipation of waking up to wishes hoped for was almost unbearable. It was one of the only nights of the year my mom didn't have to tell me to go to bed early, I knew going to bed meant waking up to what I had been waiting for all these long weeks. I would toss and turn half the night still in that eager waiting mode. Finally sleep would blanket me till morning.
5:00am my body clock would ring, "wake up, wake up, it's Christmas Morning!!!". The problem was we were not allowed to go downstairs until my parents woke. So that meant...more waiting! My parents room was on the other side of the wall from my room. I would put my ear to the wall and try to listen quietly to determine if I heard any signs of stirring that might mean my waiting was soon over. No! Complete silence. I would lay there and toss and turn, wondering what awaited me just down the stairs from where I was.
Finally they would wake up and head downstairs with my sisters and I in tow. The sight of the tree, the gifts and stockings were magical and caused the excitement to grow even more, it was all there within reach. But, yes there is a but, there was more waiting. I can not tell you why but we were not allowed to open our stockings or do anything till my dad finished shaving and had his cup of coffee. More waiting but this was the hardest because we knew it was right there, so very close yet so very far away. This waiting made the month of December seem like a flash. Why did he have to torment us by shaving? Who cared if he had stubble? Couldn't he have done this the night before? It didn't matter, wait and wait some more was what we did.
Finally my mom would signal that our waiting was over and we could open our stockings and then we would move on as a family and open our gifts. I didn't get all the things I asked for on my Christmas list. Some years had far less than others but you know what, I was always happy with what I got. You know why I think I was happy with what I got? It was the eagerness found in the waiting.
"I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope. My soul waits for the LORD more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning." Psalm 130:5-6
Christmas is about the hope we have in Christ. It is about the salvation we are offered through Him. That hope and salvation is something we wait for. We are supposed to wait in eager anticipation for the Lord like a child waiting for Christmas Morning. That first Christmas ushered in the opportunity to have a close personal relationship with God. It allowed us to go directly to God with our Praise, our Thanks, our Confession, our Requests! We can bring to him our heavy hearts, our needs, our fears, our hurts, our worries, our everything. Then we wait on Him in hope, eagerly wait. Sometimes the wait is quick and the answers swift. Sometimes the wait takes a bit but we have a peace and an ease. Sometimes the wait is as long as the month of December and we feel like answers (or the answers we asked for) will never arrive.
I am encourage by these verses in the Psalm 130 because it reminds me of the Hope I have in Christ, the hope that Christmas holds. I need simply to wait and trust in the Lord with eager anticipation and hope. I need to put my eager hope in His word; the truths, the power, the authority His word holds. I need to wait eagerly remembering that the Lord is in control. I need to wait with eagerness remembering that God has my good and His Glory in mind. I need to wait with eagerness and excitement in who God is and that he already has a plan for me that is more glorious than anything I could imagine or ask for. I need to wait not with worried eyes on my temporary circumstances and wants but with eager eyes on the real reason for my hope, the real reason for Christmas: I wait with my focus on the hope that this life is not it, this life is not the gift under the tree but simply the waiting for the true gift of eternal joy, eternal peace, eternal life. I still wait in hope for the answers to my earthly prayers but when I do that with my eyes focused in eager anticipation on the real gift that awaits me after the waiting is over, then I know that I have the power to endure the wait no matter how long it may seem to take.
This Christmas I know we are all waiting on the Lord for something. How are you wait? Are you waiting with eagerness for whatever he has for you or Are you waiting with fear and despair? Are you waiting with eager hope beyond what this life holds or are you waiting for this life to be the best life ever? Are you waiting with eager hope in the word of God or are you waiting with stressful hope in your job, your family, your spouse, your strength, your plans? We have a choice you know? Christ came over 2000 years ago to give us the gift of hope to be our strength, our power, our support as we wait. This Christmas and beyond I encourage you, no matter what your wait is, not matter what your wait is for, be sure to eagerly put your hope in the Lord and to wait faithfully in Him.
May we all find and hold onto that Christmas time childlike faith, hope and eagerness that we can carry with us through life as we wait on the Lord.
Friday, December 8, 2017
Remember those "mom warnings" they gave us as we were growing up. Quite a few of them were really good advice and could have spared me a truck load of grief if I had paid attention. Here is a list of some of my favorites.
"Shut that door, you weren't raised in a barn."
"You would forget your head if it wasn't fastened on."
"You have enough dirt behind those ears to grow potatoes."
"If everyone jumped off a bridge, would you?"
"Stop crying or I'll give you something to cry about."
"Money doesn't grow on trees."
And my favorite "Wait until your father gets home." This made us really glad to see dad at the end of the day.
Jude, the half brother of Jesus, is giving us warnings in his short letter. These warnings are given to keep is on the right pathway as we follow Jesus.
"Beware of changing the grace of God into a license for immorality."
"Beware of people who deny the deity of Jesus Christ."
"Beware of those who say we can sin without any consequences."
"Beware of scoffers who say Jesus is not returning to this planet."
And finally, "beware of people who think spiritual growth will just magically occur in our lives".
In verses 20-22 Jude reminds us that we have a responsibility to intentionally build our spiritual muscles. We grow these muscles by increasing faith, praying in the Spirit, waiting patiently in trials, keeping ourselves in God's love and showing mercy to those who doubt.
As we wind down the last days of 2017 can I ask you a personal question? How much has your faith grown this year? On a scale of one to ten, with one being no growth and ten being an outstanding year, what is your number?
Jude says we are to take personal responsibility for building up our faith. That means we are all still under construction and it is time to come up with a building plan. Our blog team of writers can supply encouragement, but you must do the construction. As we think of a new year starting in 23 days it would be a good time to intentionally set up a building plan for your spiritual growth in 2018. I would encourage you to read through the Bible again in 2018 but this time take someone along on the journey with you.
Thursday, December 7, 2017
2 Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well. 3 It gave me great joy when some believers came and testified about your faithfulness to the truth, telling how you continue to walk in it. 4 I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.
5 Dear friend, you are faithful in what you are doing for the brothers and sisters, even though they are strangers to you. 6 They have told the church about your love. Please send them on their way in a manner that honors God. 7 It was for the sake of the Name that they went out, receiving no help from the pagans. 8 We ought therefore to show hospitality to such people so that we may work together for the truth.
(3 John 2-8)
In this letter - perhaps aptly describes as a postcard - the apostle John writes to his brother in Christ, Gaius. This letter highlights the ongoing love that the saints may show to others and that discipleship friendships may continue for many years.
The apostle may have written the letter from his exil on the island of Patmos, late in his life (c. 90 AD). He received this report of Gaius's faithfulness, which brought him great joy. First, he knew that Gaius himself was experiencing joy by walking faithfully with God. Second, John treasured this news, knowing that his life's investment in the Gospel had paid dividends into the lives of others. Gaius has demonstrated the Gospel through his love and commitment to the truth. He had taken up the mantle from his teacher, John, and was willing to invest in the Kingdom work.
Who has invested in your life in 2017? How have you invested in the lives of others? What steps might you take this month and into 2018 in order to bear more fruit through your relationship? How would you like to grow in this arena?
Lord God, thank You for showing us examples of faithful brother and sisters in the Scriptures. Help us to show a similar faithfulness through our experience of Your love and truth. Give us wisdom on how best to bear fruit through our relationships in December and 2018. We love You and honor You today. In Jesus's Name, amen.
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Wednesday, December 6, 2017
Monday, December 4, 2017
A simple reminder today as we have entered into the season of Advent: God sent his only Son as an act, a display of love toward us. Christ was sent not because we were deserving and holy but because of God's love for us. He saw a greater need in us and chose to show us love rather than wrath.
As we go about our day today let us remember and not hinder ourselves from experience God's gracious, unmerited, and sacrificial love. Then let us remember to let that love pour out of us into the lives of those we encounter today and each day of this advent season. Don't reserve it just for those who are kind and whom we deem deserving. Let us remember that the love we were shown was given to us when we did not deserve it. We never know what is actually stirring in the hearts and minds of those we encounter, the struggles and hardship that people carry with them secretly. Let us drench others with the Love of God and let God use our loving actions and attitudes in the hearts of those we encounter today.
It isn't always easy but what a blessing we can be and what a blessing will fill our hearts when we are filled and share the love of Christ that was shared with us.