Archive for December, 2007

God-Taught

Monday, December 31st, 2007

Happy New Year’s Eve! This will be a short devotional as we are traveling through the mountains of Virginia and I’m typing on a Blackberry. I was reading in 1 Thessalonians yesterday morning from The Message and it says that as Christians we are God-taught. Basically Paul was saying, “I don’t need to tell you how to live. God’s the teacher. He’s told you all you need to know.”

1 Thessalonians 4:9-12 tells us to love one another! Get along with others, don’t stir the pot so to speak. We’re God-taught! As Clay would say, “It ain’t rocket science.” I can’t cut and paste from Bible Gateway and my Bible is in the suitcase. You can either trust me on this or better yet, test me by reading it for yourself.

There are lots of great teachers and philosophers out there, but we serve the greatest Teacher and wisest Philosopher of all. Live as though you are God-taught.

Hope

Trudge forward…

Friday, December 28th, 2007

Clay was reading in Thessalonians this morning and I asked him what he got out of it, just joking with him. The gist, keep on trudging forward, continue in the faith. I thought, “That’s a good word for the new year. Trudge forward…”

“We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 1:3).

When I think about the word “trudge” I think of heavy boots in deep snow or mud or being in a forest of thickety branches and it takes much effort to move forward. That’s how the Christian life is sometimes. It takes much effort to move forward. But Paul is challenging the Thessalonians to continue in their faith and move forward, endure. I believe the Lord is saying that to us as well. Keep the faith and trudge forward regardless of your circumstances. When if feels that the snow is too deep, the mud is too heavy, the thickets are too thick, trudge forward. For in the end, the reward is great! Paul talks about how the Thessalonians received him and his men and recognized what they had to say not as words of men, but words of the Lord. You, our faithful website followers, have done the same for Deb and me. You have received our efforts of devotionals as words of God and we thank you for that.

“And we also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is at work in you who believe” (1 Thessalonians 2:13).

My friend Nicole came through her surgery well. The surgeon removed a kidney, her spleen and a large part of her pancreas in order to get to the tumor. However, the cancer appeared to be contained to the tumor and they were able to remove it all. Praise the Lord! Further treatment has not been determined until the pathology report comes back staging and grading the sarcoma. Thank you for your prayers and for the emails that I received yesterday in prayer for Nicole and her family.

We leave today to go to Smith Mountain Lake, VA to spend the weekend and New Year’s Eve with Clay’s family and extended family. I don’t know whether we’ll have internet access so if you do not hear from me, you’ll know why. I pray each of you have a fun and safe New Year’s holiday. Trudge forward! There’s a great reward waiting on you!

Hope

 

Keeping my head above water…

Thursday, December 27th, 2007

“For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his tabernacle and set me high upon a rock. Then my head will be exalted above the enemies who surround me (emphasis mine)…” (Psalm 27:5, 6).

I am sitting in the surgery waiting at SRHS with my friend Nicole’s family. Nicole is having surgery today to remove the sarcoma tumor that is lodged between her main organs and her spine. The Lord brought to my mind this morning Psalm 27, a chapter that we read over and over through Hannah’s journey. I just re-read it myself and the above scripture jumped out at me. He holds our head up above the enemy. How encouraging! That means He keeps our head above water. We will not be overtaken by the enemy of fear, the enemy of discouragement, the enemy of doubt. Our God is our salvation, whom shall we fear?

Dr. Corso called this morning and asked me to walk over to the cancer center and visit a patient who is going home today turned over to hospice. 48 year old lady dying from lung cancer. God will hold her head above water until He calls her home and then He will hold her families’ head above water through their storm. Read Psalm 27 today. You’ll be encouraged, too.

Hope

 

Looking ahead to the new year…

Wednesday, December 26th, 2007

Father, I come to You this morning for You to begin to redirect my heart and life for the close of this year and the beginning of a new one.  I believe that You have set apart every one of Your children for Your divine plan and purpose.  I desire to soak in Your presence and be filled with Your Spirit.  I desire to be used by You for Your purposes.  I desire to be spiritually disciplined in my life and disciplined in every area so that I can be all You have called me to be.  I know Father, that I cannot possibly do these things in my own strength – I desperately need You to help me prioritize You as 1st place in my life each day.  Thank You for speaking truth over my heart and mind this morning. I desire Your wisdom and guidance for this day. 
 

A truth that I heard several months ago rings loudly in my heart this morning:  “It is easy to say “no” when there’s a deeper “yes” burning within.”  Father, those things You have placed in our paths for us to accomplish are the “deeper yes” that burns within.  Oh Father help me be very careful and deliberate about the things I say “yes” and “no” to in this coming year.  Jesus always said “yes” to the things His Father had for him to accomplish.  And Jesus always said “no” to the things that the Father had not directed him to.  Being in tune with Your Spirit – answering Your call and Yours alone.  Oh Father, I desire for You to teach me in that way.  Help me “be quick to listen, slow to speak. . .”  James 1:19  Help me not miss Your quiet voice speaking truth over my life and help me be available to You when Your Spirit speaks to me. 
 

Sometimes Lord, actually many times, I believe Your plan and purpose for us is to just to “be still in Your presence.”  You don’t need anything from us – You are completely complete in who You are.  You don’t need our help.  The greater thing that You desire is for us to “rest in You.”  Your burden is light and Your yoke is easy and You tell us that we can find rest for our souls in You.  Matt. 11:28  “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”    What a precious word – rest for our souls.  Is there anything of greater worth than rest for our souls on this earth?  Isn’t that ultimately where this journey on earth will lead us as believers – into ultimate rest for our souls?  Rev. 14:13 says, “they will rest from their labor, for their deeds will follow them.”  You desire for us to experience that “rest” on this earth now. 
 

As I read in “Come away my beloved” this morning the scripture from Matthew 26:36 jumps out at me.  Jesus told his disciples, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.”  He was instructing them that their part at that moment was to “sit there.”  Their place in the garden had also been set apart.  You were telling them to “wait upon You.”  Afterwards, You would fill their vision and Your power would flow forth from them.  You challenge me to “make a place apart – a place removed from the pressure and turmoil.”  It is there You will meet with me.  You long to pour You blessings over our lives – You long to give all the fullness of Yourself.  My part is to be still before You.  You are concerned about my duties and my responsibilities.  You desire for me to bring You my love and devotion and You in turn will release Your power over my life to discharge my duties with greater efficiency.  “Come apart with Me – seek My face – seek My fellowship.”  “Better that others find us unreachable because of our occupation with You rather than for us to be slow to come, dull to hear, and cold of heart.”
 

“Give us all that is lacking in us – intensify our hunger and fire our devotion; take the indifference from our spirits; and have within us Your wonderful way and perfect will O God we pray and Amen.”
 

“He sees Me most clearly who loves Me most dearly.”  Oh Father, I desire to see You more and more clearly in this coming year.  I desire to love You more dearly.  Help my heart be fixed on things above so that I will not be held by worldly entanglements – “those who are listening to the voice of their beloved will not be deafened by the crisis of men.  In a world filled with noises, each demanding attention, may I hear You.”
 

You also encourage my heart this morning Lord by exhorting me that I will not “miss it.”  “Be it ever so soft, I will hear You.”  Certainly You desire for us to hear You – to be led by You.  You are not a God who is far away – quite the contrary – You are a very near and present God and You delight in showing us Yourself.   The example was given of Elizabeth in scripture when her “inner, involuntary response to the nearness of Christ” was that the baby leaped in her womb.  The statement follows that “there shall be a revelation of My nearness given to My dear ones before my 2nd coming.”  I want and desire that revelation in my life of Your nearness to Me – the reality of Your ever-present Spirit abiding with me.  Awaken and heighten my spiritual senses to You.  And in the same way, allow me to be discerning of those things that are not of Your Spirit.  Let me anticipate You, and watch for You even this day.
 

And then, Lord You take me to Jeremiah chapter 1and 2.  You know, Lord, You remind me that Jeremiah was a man – just like us.  He was a man You had formed in his mother’s womb.  He was a man You had set apart for Your plan and Your purpose.  When You first came to him, he didn’t just “jump on board with You.  In fact, he said, “Ah, Sovereign Lord, I do not know how to speak; I am only a child.”  You told him that You were going to put Your words into his mouth – this wasn’t about him – it was about Your word.  And then You told him that You were watching to see that Your word was fulfilled.  It isn’t our word and we don’t have to see that it is fulfilled – we are just instructed to speak “Your word.”  You will fulfill it. 
 

You were about to bring judgment upon Your people – “because of their wickedness in forsaking me, in burning incense to other  gods and in worshiping what their hands had made.” v.16  You promise Your presence over Jeremiah’s life.
 

Your message to the people of Israel began,
 

“I remember the devotion of your youth, how as a bride you loved Me and followed Me through the desert, through a land not sown.  Israel was holy to the Lord, the firstfruits of his harvest; all who devoured her were held guilty, and disaster overtook them, declares the Lord.”
 

“What fault did your fathers find in me, that they strayed so far from Me?  They followed worthless idols and became worthless themselves.   They did not ask, “Where is the Lord, who brought us up out of Egypt and led us through the barren wilderness, through a land of deserts and rifts, a land of drought and darkness, a land where no one travels and no one lives?  I brought you into a fertile land to eat its fruit and rich produce.  But you came and defiled my land and made my inheritance detestable.  The priests did not ask, “Where is the Lord?”  Those who deal with the law did not know me; the leaders rebelled against me.  The prophets prophesied by Baal, following worthless idols.”
 

Could this be a word for us today, Lord, in the body of Christ?  Have we forsaken our devotion to You?  Will disaster overtake us because we have not acknowledged You?  Could there be anything You are trying to say to us as Your children from things we are witnessing in the world around us?  You know, Lord, even the lack of water we witnessed in many places over the holidays makes me wonder.  Will You use even that to draw us to Yourself?  How about this plague of cancer?  Will You use it to draw us to Yourself?  How about the welfare system and the ever-increasing burden of supporting many who are not on a payroll?  How about floods and wars and rumors of wars? 
 

 And then You bring Your charges against them.
 

“Has a nation ever changed its gods?  (Yet they are not gods at all.)  But my people have exchanged my Glory for worthless idols. . . My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water. . . Have you not brought this on yourselves by forsaking the Lord your God when He led you in the way?”
 

Your heart and plan is to lead us in Your way.  That is what I desire Lord – to be lead in Your way in this new year.  Please Father, lead me in Your way and only in Your way.  In the name of Jesus, I pray and Amen.

The Next Day…

Wednesday, December 26th, 2007

Well, Christmas is “over,” the hustle and bustle is dwindling, and the need to get back to “life as usual” is in the air. I’m one of those that the morning after Christmas I’m ready to take down the tree, undecorate the house and “move on.” But just this morning I was thinking of how the day of Christ’s birth was only the beginning. The birth was celebrated for quite sometime. In fact, it was several months possibly close to two years before the wise men found the Christ child. The world in those days was not ready to “get back to normal” once they knew the Messiah had come. Instead, the excitement was greater as each day passed.

Maybe we should rethink how we celebrate the birth of Christ. It is so ritualistic, isn’t it? I’m guilty of wanting to have traditions that Caleb will always remember. This year we did very well at setting aside time to watch Christmas movies. We probably watched 10 or 12 movies over the past four weeks. We start the tradition on Thanksgiving night and then try to watch two or three a week. Clay’s parents came down this past Saturday evening and we watched a movie each night while they were here, even watched two one night. We had such a good time! Caleb tends to get very sentimental himself, even at age 16 and he loves “It’s a Wonderful Life.” So after having our Christmas Eve meal with Clay’s side of the family, we all loaded up and went to our Christmas Eve service at Cudd – Caleb, Michael and Andrew driving off in Caleb’s SUV, the rest of us in Mick and Deb’s new Pilot, all of us very aware of Hannah’s absence. Then we returned to our house for the fun part, exchanging gifts. We then moved upstairs to enjoy a late family movie, “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Our pastor had challenged us in the service to answer the question, “Where is He?” referring to Christ. So our family ended the evening by joining hands, had a sweet prayer time and then Clay asked us, “Where is He?” and we sang “He is Here, Hallelujah, He is Here, Amen! He is Here, Holy, Holy! I will bless His Name again. He is Here, listen closely, Here Him calling out your name. He is Here, you can touch Him, you will never be the same.” We missed Hannah through every step of the celebration.

Then we had my side of the family over Christmas Day. We’re up to 26 in our family, much bigger than Clay’s side. And the announcement was made that we’d have another addition next year and we all screamed and jumped up and down. My nephew, Brandon married his childhood sweetheart May 13, 2006. Their wedding was the weekend of Hannah’s surgery. So we had a bitter sweet weekend that year. We had just found out Hannah had cancer and we were celebrating Brandon and Blair’s wedding. Now they’re expecting their first baby. Our house is full and loud and messy with more food than anyone will ever eat. But we still try to get some kind of order to it all so that Clay can share the Christmas story. We realized yesterday for the first time that we already have a big family, and as the “grandkids” start having kids, it’s only going to get bigger. My nephew Brad and his wife are expecting a baby in January so we’ll have two babies next year. Crazy times!

But now it’s all over, everyone is returning to their busy schedules and we find ourselves living “The Next Day.” I think I’m going to leave my Christmas stuff up for a few days as a reminder not to celebrate Christmas with a bang and then “get over” what we’re celebrating. I want to remain in the reminder mode for a few days. I don’t ever want to “get over” what Christ did for me. That’s my challenge to you as well. Today is The Next Day, what will you be doing today?

“When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.’ So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told” (Luke 2:15-20).

Hope

“Canyon Questions”

Saturday, December 22nd, 2007

Lord, You know a week or so ago I read a chapter in Lucado’s “God Came Near” entitled, “The Question for the Canyon’s Edge.”  I have pondered and mulled over its truths for over a week and You bring it to my heart yet again this morning.  Maybe because more so than ever in my life, I am very aware that they are many  this Christmas season, who are standing at the Canyon’s Edge.  They are in positions, situations, circumstances so difficult – so hard, so impossible that without just absolutely clinging to You with everything they have – they will not be able to survive.   They are in places of desperation. 

In Beth Moore’s Job series, she categorizes our “dilemas” in three groups.  Places of 1) So what? 2) So how? Or 3) So Who? 

The first category of folks is the “so what” category.  The trials and circumstances they face are not “huge” things in their lives and life is going along pretty well.  Everything is pretty smooth and they can take God just fine.  No waves are being made and they don’t really have “such a need” for Him right now.

Then there are those who find themselves in the “so how” category.  The fire is a little hotter and their circumstances are a little harder but if they can just “ride” this thing out – it seems as if it is going to turn right out ok.  Maybe the tests are run but the results bring good news.  Maybe the situation just resolves itself.

And then there are those who find themselves in the “so who” category.  They are desperate for You and without You they know full they will sink in their current circumstance.  They are in situations where only the “Who” is able to carry them.  And that “Who” is You and You alone.

You know Lord, You seem to continue to bring across my path those whose lives are in “So Who” situations.  Just yesterday I ran into a precious aunt whose 5 year old niece is “weighing” in the balance this Christmas.  We “just happened” to meet in SGG.  I had heard her name many times and yesterday she introduced herself.  We had a sweet time of fellowship and prayer we had together in the middle of the store.  Earlier in the week I found myself in the presence of a precious older couple from church who this Christmas find themselves in an assisted living facility – separated and on different floors.  I met another gentleman, a Dr., who shared pictures of his family and of his years in service in our military -  this Christmas he is living alone. 

A dear friend and neighbor “just happened” to call on Thursday morning during prayer time to share that her aged grandmother had come to live with You the evening before and this friend knew where she was.  However, now her mother also has become “run down,” and ended up in the hospital facing surgery the day before her mother’s service.  Other precious friends whose daughter, a classmate of Hannah’s, just had surgery this week and they find themselves in a hospital for Christmas again this year.  Two other dear friends who both are facing Christmas with close loved ones in prison.

And then Lord, You know I was blown away this week by someone who is in a position to share “absolute truth” based on the eternal word of God and who doesn’t seem to have a clue about the reality of who You are in their own lives.  How in the world can they share something they don’t even possess?

Places where only a “So Who” is going to touch and meet the need.   Oh Jesus I am desperate for You – we are desperate for You even when we don’t acknowledge it.  Our “so what” situations can turn in a minute to a “So Who” situation.   They are many, many who find themselves in So Who circumstances this Christmas season.  Father, I desire for my heart to be tender to their hearts and lives.  I desire to point them to You.  I desire for You to allow me to be a blessing in their lives. 

Martha, in John chapter 11 found herself at the “Canyons Edge.”  Her brother, Lazarus was dead and the only one who could have changed that situation hadn’t been there.  “If God had been there – this situation would not have been this way.”  Lucado says, “You see, if God is God anywhere, He has to be God in the face of death. (and difficulty)  Pop psychology can deal with depression.  Pep talks can deal with pessimism.  Prosperity can handle hunger.  But only God can deal with out ultimate dilemma – death.   And the God of the bible has dared to stand on the canyon’s edge and offer an answer.  He has to be God in the face of death.  If not, He is not God at all. 

Jesus goes on to challenge Martha that Lazarus will rise again.  She acknowledges that she knows he will rise at the resurrection.  But Jesus pushes the issue to go on to exhort her that “I am the resurrection and the life.  He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.” 

“It is a hinge point in history.  A chink has been found in death’s armor.  The keys to the halls of hell have been claimed. . . The stage has been set for a confrontation at Calvary.    But Jesus isn’t though with Martha.  With eyes locked on hers he asks the greatest question found in Scripture, a question meant as much for you and me as for Martha.”

“Do you believe this?” 

“Do you believe this?”  Do you believe this Jesus in the circumstance you find yourself in this Christmas?  Lucado says, “Jesus didn’t pose this query as a topic for discussion in Sunday schools.  It was never intended to be dealt with while basking in the stained glass sunlight or while seated on padded pews.”

“No. This is a canyon question.  A question which makes sense only during an all-night vigil or . . when all of our props, crutches, and costumes are taken away.  For then we must face ourselves as we really are:  rudderless humans tailspinning toward disaster.  And we are forced to see Him for what He claims to be:  our only hope.”

Martha said Yes.  “She gave Him her hand and let Him lead her away from the canyon wall.”

Jesus, there are many on my heart this morning who find themselves this Christmas at the Canyons Edge.  Oh Jesus, reveal Yourself in new and fresh ways this Christmas.  Turn the hearts of Your people to Yourself.  Father, You met us and continue to meet us at our own “Canyon’s Edge.”  It has been so amazing.  For so many who find themselves there even this day, meet them also Jesus.  I know You desire to.  Tender their hearts to Yourself.  Believing You is the only way.  Trusting You is the only rest we will find for our souls.   Allow my heart to always  be tender to the hurts of those around me even when their faces strain to say everything is “just fine.”  Everyone of us needs a fresh revelation of who You are – even this day!  Show me Yourself – even this day.  Christ of Christmas – make Yourself at home among us and allow us to “see You” afresh and anew in the name above all others – the name of Jesus and Amen.

Worrying accomplishes nothing positive…

Friday, December 21st, 2007

I received a call from Rex yesterday, my friend Nicole’s husband and he was going through the typical and understandable “what ifs” concerning Nicole’s diagnosis of sarcoma. I shared with Rex the scripture that Deb grabbed hold of early on in Hannah’s journey.

“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matthew 6:34).

Of course me and my sharp mind told him to read Matthew 34. He called back to tell me that there is no Matthew 34. Yeah, well, whatever. Details. Try Matthew 6:34. Anyway, the point is that we do not need to borrow worries from tomorrow. Today has enough trouble all on its own. Doesn’t it? I shared with Rex that he could easily drive himself crazy worrying about the what ifs. I can well remember Deb saying to me on the phone from Houston, “I just wish I could see 6 months out but God won’t allow me to see past today” and boy, was that ever best! Had we been able to see what the end of our 6 month journey would have been, I can’t even imagine the condition of our minds. That’s why He’s God and we’re not. We can’t handle the big picture. All He wants us to see in the big plan is today. He does have a big ole plan and for us to worry about the details of that plan accomplishes nothing positive.

I don’t know where you are in your Christian walk or what struggles you may be facing this Christmas season. But take comfort in knowing that God adorns the fields and feeds the birds and waters the grass and rearranges the furniture all by Himself. He can certainly handle our cancers of life, whatever those cancers may be. Don’t worry, be happy! Take care of today and allow God to take care of tomorrow.

Be careful out there in this crazy weekend-before-Christmas madness. I still have a couple of gifts left to buy. I may brave the mall at lunch today so as to avoid it this weekend. I pray each of you have a blessed day and look for opportunities to share Christ. Let me share this with you right quick before we sign off. I was in Verizon yesterday and the salesman said to me as I was leaving, “Have a good holiday.” I turned to him and smiled and said, “I hope you have a Merry Christmas.” He grinned and let me know by that smile that he was saying the politically correct greeting but he heard my point. He nodded and I left. I thought as I walked across the parking lot that a big ole company like Verizon probably sent out a corporate email that instructed all of their associates to not offend anyone this “holiday season” so to greet their customers with “Happy Holidays” rather than the offensive “Merry Christmas.” Whose offended? 5% of the population, maybe? That’s the end of my rampage. Wish someone a Merry Christmas today! Make their day!

Hope

 

Making deposits…

Thursday, December 20th, 2007

Deb prayed during our weekly prayer time this morning, “God allow us to make deposits into others lives today.” My mind immediately went to a bank deposit. I remember when my younger sister opened her first checking account, I spent much of my time (and money) bailing her out of overdrafts. I remember saying to her, “Leigh, you can’t deposit $200 and spend $400. It just doesn’t work that way.” Bless her heart. That same principle applies to our spiritual bank. If we never make deposits into the account, we will be in a deficit and will have nothing to draw from.

How do we make spiritual deposits? By a daily walk with Christ. Prayer and Bible study and then living what we read. Then when we need to withdraw spiritual encouragement, we have enough in our account to carry us! That’s not where Deb was going with her prayer and her direction would make a great devotional as well. But since it was her idea, I’ll let her use it. I’ll just take it and twist it into a rabbit trail for myself. She’s used to that.

“Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart” (2 Timothy 2:15, 22).

So there you go. Make big deposits so you can enjoy withdrawals without the penalty of being overdrawn!

Hope

 

God has a big ole plan…

Wednesday, December 19th, 2007

Deb and I were sitting in the parking lot of the SRMC Hospice House this morning just “rehashing” the events in our lives and I said, “God has a big ole plan.” And you know, He does. So many times that plan makes absolutely no sense to us. Who would have thought that a year after Hannah passed away that her oncologist, Dr. Steve Corso whom we had never met and never wanted to (professionally) would be speaking to a group of hospice employees sharing Hannah’s story and what her faith has meant in his life? Who would have thought that Hannah would have passed away from an ugly cancer? Who would have thought so many events that have taken place over the months? It’s all pretty unbelievable and sometimes we find ourselves wishing God’s plan had been different.

Sunday night Caleb was working on a Spanish project and he needed pictures of himself at various ages. At 10:00 p.m. he and I started going through packs and boxes and albums of pictures and of course we came across many of Hannah. The first one we came to was one of the four of them (Hannah, Michael, Andrew and Caleb) the first Christmas that Caleb and I were part of the family. Caleb was 7 and Hannah was 10. Caleb put his hand out and stopped me before I flipped the page of the album and he just stared at the picture. He didn’t say a word. He finally shook his head and flipped to another page. I’m sure in his mind he was thinking, “I wish Hannah was still here.” I know that’s what I was thinking.

But you know, God has a big ole plan. Before the foundations of the earth God had it all planned out. None of this “stuff” catches Him off guard. Nothing can or will happen to us that He’s not aware of. Rhonda and Jacob Robinson joined us this morning at the Hospice House and it was very emotional for me to have Jacob with us. He’s such a good kid and is doing so well at Texas A&M. Clay and I spent a good bit of time with him on Monday of this week and I told Caleb that night that Jacob is an incredible role model. His faith is secure and he has great aspirations. God used Hannah in Jacob’s life and now he’s using Jacob in many other lives. To think that 18 months ago we didn’t even know the Robinsons. I knew “of” Jacob because Hannah talked about him often, but I had not met him until Hannah was in Houston. Now he’s like a second son. I sent Rhonda a text message after we had lunch and said, “I just love your son” and I realized how true that statement is. It’s not by chance that the Robinsons “happened” into our lives. The same with so many others that we’ve met while on this “unexpected” journey. God has a big ole plan.

I’ve shed a lot of tears today, tears of sadness, tears of thanksgiving, reminscent tears, tears of anticipation for what God is going to do. Sometimes I wish I knew what His big ole plan is, but I’m sure it’s best that we only know the plan for this day. He has a big ole plan for you, too!

“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well…your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be” (Psalm 139:13, 14 & 16).

Hope

 

Don’t be afraid…

Tuesday, December 18th, 2007

What a great word Deb posted this morning! I have a friend from church, Nicole McGill who was diagnosed Friday with sarcoma. She has a tumor about the size of a tennis ball lodged between her major organs and her spine. She is meeting with a surgeon this morning to discuss surgery and then be referred to an oncologist. I prayed for Nicole and then I read Deb’s update. What a great reminder! Don’t be afraid, even when times are bleak and our future is uncertain.

I thought about Mary and Joseph. Mary surely questioned in her heart, “But, God, what about Joseph? He’ll never believe that I’ve been faithful and that this baby is the Son of God! But, Lord, what about my parents? They will never trust me again. Will they believe me?” and I’m sure the message from angel of the Lord whispered to Mary, “Don’t be afraid.”

Then there’s Joseph. “But Lord, this baby is not mine and I’m supposed to believe that it was a miraculous conception? That Mary is a chosen one from you to bear the Messiah? But Lord, what will others think?” and I’m sure the message from the angel of the Lord whispered to Joseph, “Don’t be afraid.”

I’m sure Nicole is saying in her heart this morning, “But Lord, I’m 36 with 3 young children. I’ve been diagnosed with sarcoma and face a very extensive surgery and then treatment to follow. But Lord, how can this be best for me? I know Your word says ‘I know the plans I have for you. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans for a hope and a future.’ But Lord, this doesn’t seem like a very hopeful future.” And the Lord whispers to Nicole, as He does to each of us, “Don’t be afraid.”

What are you facing this Christmas season? Are you afraid today? Are there circumstances in your life that cause you to be anxious and fearful? Don’t be afraid! God has it all under control.

I used the world wide web to search the words, “Do not be afraid” and found them 65 times in the Bible, 24 “Don’t be afraid”, and I’m sure many more referencing “fear.” There must be something to this! Take heart today. God has a message for you.

Don’t be afraid…

“Do not be afraid, for I am with you…” (Genesis 26:24).

Hope