Archive for December, 2009

Carry on while you wait…

Thursday, December 31st, 2009

As 2009 comes to an end, I have heard and read so many comments of, “I’ll be glad to see this year go out”, “I sure hope 2010 is a better year than 2009″, “2009 can’t end soon enough!” “Could things really get any worse next year?” In addition, I hear comments of concerns that it seems like God just isn’t listening anymore. We feel like our life is one big rush, one big hurry up!, but when it comes to getting answers from the Lord, we feel like He’s being awfully quiet. I gave Psalm 27 to a friend late last night that is struggling with a parent who is in bad health. She told me this morning that she went to sleep thinking about the scripture and woke up with it fresh on her heart and mind this morning. Today she will carry on while she waits.

Maybe what the Lord wants you to do is carry on while you wait. There is always a lesson to be learned from waiting. And when we spend quality time with the One in control while waiting, we find rest and peace and comfort and strength to carry on while we wait.

That’s my advice for you as you close out what may have been a not-so-fun 2009 and prepare for a hopeful 2010. Carry on while you wait. Carry on by spending quality time with the Master. Do the next thing, and be fully aware of His presence even when you can’t feel Him or touch Him or see Him at work. Carry on with what you know to be a fact and that is that God loves you and He is at work in your situation and He is fully aware of where you are and where you’ve been and where you’re headed. And simply wait for Him to work. Be strong and take courage, and carry on while you wait.

clay-caleb-me-small“The LORD is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid?…I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD” (Psalm 27:1, 13 & 14).

Happy New Year from Clay, Caleb and Hope to each of you!! Thank you for continuing to follow our lives and our devotionals. We love you although we haven’t even met most of you. Have a safe weekend and carry on while you wait!

Hope

Confidence in God’s Word…

Wednesday, December 30th, 2009

One of Pastor Danny’s points from his sermon on Sunday was that the shepherds returned changed by their experience because they were confident in the Word of God.

“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 2:20).

bible1Who had told the shepherds what would happen? They had been taught it based on prophecies in the scriptures. And they found His Word to be true, flawless, with no cracks in the story. The Messiah was to be born in Bethlehem, and He was.

We, too, can be changed – every day – by the truth of God’s Word. We can confidently apply God’s Word to any area of our life and trust that it will guide us, protect us and direct us. His Word is a lamp to our feet and a light to our path. His Word is true, His Word is faithful, His Word is. There is also great comfort in God’s Word. By searching the scripture for appropriate application to whatever ails us, we will find just what we’re looking for. Sometimes it’s not the answer we were hoping for, but it is a trustworthy answer. His Word always was, always is and always will be. We, like the shepherds, can rejoice and praise God today knowing that things have happened and will happen just as His Word foretold.

“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path” (Psalm 119:105).

“…in his word I put my hope” (Psalm 130:5).

Walk confidently in God’s Word.

Hope

Business as usual? I hope not…

Tuesday, December 29th, 2009

Pastor Danny preached a great sermon Sunday on not going back to business as usual after Christmas. The shepherds did not return in the same manner in which they arrived.

shepherds“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).

The shepherds had an encounter with the Christ Child and they were never the same. Christmas most always brings with it a warm fuzzy feeling, with an ease for kindness to others. We spread a little Christmas cheer, unless you’re Ebenezer Scrooge of course. But for most our tolerance is greater, our patience is at its best, our love for others seems to grow. We overlook a lot that we typically would let get under our skin. So why not continue in that spirit of Christmas throughout the rest of the year? If we really grasp the Christ Child and His purpose and plan, we will not return to business as usual. Carry Him in your hearts every day and see how tolerant and patient and loving and kind you find yourself. Sure would make for less ulcers, huh?

Business as usual for me? I hope not.

Hope

From the stable to the cross…

Monday, December 28th, 2009

Michael, Mickey, Deb, Andrew, Clay, Hope, Caleb, Grandma Ellen, Poppy - Merry Christmas from our Family to Yours!

Michael, Mickey, Deb, Andrew, Clay, Hope, Caleb, Grandma Ellen, Poppy - Merry Christmas from our Family to Yours!

I trust you all had a fun and safe Christmas season. We were blessed with lots of quality family time. Poppy and Grandma Ellen came down on Christmas Eve, leaving behind 19 inches of snow in WV. We had our Christmas dinner with Clay’s family at our house on Christmas Eve after enjoying a sweet service at our church. Then my family came over Christmas evening and as usual there was much “activity and excitement” involved. Then to Deb’s on Saturday for a post-Christmas dinner, and then they all came back to our house on Sunday for a post-post Christmas dinner. We had a great visit. Now Clay and I are camping in Walterboro, SC. “Why in the world would you do that in late December?” you’re probably asking. Caleb is playing basketball in a Christmas tournament and we decided rather than rent a hotel room we’d have one last camping trip for the year. Made sense to us – and I sure am glad this camper has heat! It’s 29 degrees here. And that (the trip down) is why I’m just now posting a devotional.

 

To piggy back on the post from Wednesday (good grief that’s been a long time!), let’s go from the stable to the cross. What kind of King would give up His crown to come to a lowly manger? The same King that would travel from a birth in a stable all the way to death on a cross. He had a plan when He left His throne, and that plan was to die on the cross for you and for me. It is amazing to think of the sacrifice, quite incomprehensible actually. Jesus Christ traded a throne for a manger and then traveled from a stable to a cross – all for you and me. That journey led our Savior in many directions, but Jesus knew His ultimate destination was an old rugged cross where He’d suffer and die to pay my penalty. Praise the Lord! What a sacrifice! Don’t miss the manger, don’t miss the journey, and don’t miss the cross!

 

So the soldiers took charge of Jesus. Carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the Skull (which in Aramaic is called Golgotha). Here they crucified him, and with him two others—one on each side and Jesus in the middle” (John 19:16-18).

 

I’ll post as soon as I can get internet service tomorrow. I’ve missed all of you!

 

Much love,

Hope

We Celebrate You – Prince of Wholeness!!!

Thursday, December 24th, 2009

“If they do not speak according to this word, they have no light of dawn.” Isaiah 8:20

 

Oh Father, what a powerful word and truth tucked at the end of the 8th chapter of Isaiah. If we don’t have You, if we don’t have Your word, if we don’t have Your truth, we have no light of dawn! That is it, Lord! That is why we can celebrate Christmas – the Light of Dawn has come into the world! I can celebrate because I have You, because I know You and because I know truth! The Light of Dawn – the Light that shines through the darkness! Light that overtakes the darkness – Light that penetrates the darkness! Bless You Jesus that You are the Light of the world and You came to shatter, to obliterate the darkness!!!

 

“The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a Light has dawned. You have enlarged the nation and increased their joy; they rejoice before You as people rejoice at the harvest, as men rejoice when dividing the plunder. For as in the day of Midian’s defeat, You have shattered the yoke that burdens them, the bar across their shoulders, the rod of their oppressor. Every warrior’s boot used in battle and every garment rolled in blood will be destined for burning, will be fuel for the fire. FOR TO US A CHILD IS BORN, TO US A SON IS GIVEN, AND THE GOVERNMENT WILL BE ON HIS SHOULDERS. AND HE WILL BE CALLED WONDERFUL COUNSELOR, MIGHTY GOD, EVERLASTING FATHER, PRINCE OF PEACE. OF THE INCREASE OF HIS GOVERNMENT AND PEACE THERE WILL BE NO END. HE WILL REIGN ON DAVID’S THRONE AND OVER HIS KINGDOM, ESTABLISHING AND UPHOLDING IT WITH JUSTICE AND RIGHTEOUSNESS FROM THAT TIME ON AND FOREVER. THE ZEAL OF THE LORD ALMIGHTY WILL ACCOMPLISH THIS.” Isaiah 9:2-7  

 

What hope, what peace, what joy You brought into the world, Jesus! In the first verse of chapter 9 the scripture says “there will be no more gloom for those who were in distress.” No more gloom, no more night, no more distress, no more sickness. Today we live between the time when You came to this earth and when You will come again to rule and reign on this earth. Today we still deal with darkness, distress, gloom and sickness but we are not without hope!!  We are not without peace and we are not without joy!! We have a peace that passes all human understanding. We have a hope that will never disappoint us and we have a joy that is unspeakable! And we have all of these things because the Light came and shattered the darkness!!  Bless Your name!!

 

Oh Dear Jesus, for those who are hurting, broken, broken-hearted, worried, concerned, burdened, heavy hearted, sick in body, will You dawn the light of Yourself upon their lives in a deep new way as we celebrate Your birth this Christmas? For the precious mother whose path “just happened” to cross mine at the mall this week, whose youngest son came to live with You just 9 short months ago, for the mother I met recently whose 29 year old daughter came to live with You on the 9th of November, 2006 – the same day as Hannah – after fighting with CP all of her life, for mothers who are dealing with illness in the lives of their children this Christmas, for single moms who are struggling to make ends meet, for fathers who will miss their children deeply this Christmas amid the celebrations, for siblings who struggle to get to the other side of their understanding, for parents whose children will be separated from them by many miles because of the war we find ourselves in as a nation, for those living without any hope – shatter their darkness – dawn Your Light and Your truth into their lives!

 

We celebrate You – “Amazing Counselor! Strong God! Eternal Father! Prince of Wholeness!!!” (Msg) Our wholeness, our completeness, our rest, our peace and our satisfaction will come from You this Christmas – there is no other source! Bless Your name, Sweet Jesus!!! Reveal Yourself to Your people this Christmas! Reveal Yourself to me! Transform my life through Your truth and set my spirit free!! Give me Your zeal for people and for the nations! In the name of Jesus I ask and pray, Amen!!

From the throne to a manger…

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2009

jesus-in-a-stableOnly love could cause a King to leave His throne, become flesh, and be born in a manger. The theme of our Christmas Cantata was “Only Love.” As we approach the Christmas day on Friday, may we recognize the love that God has for each of us. Why in the world would He choose to separate Himself from His only Son? Only love could drive such a drastic decision. God loves us so much. He saw our sinful nature and He knew that the annual sacrifices of a spotless lamb would never be enough. He had to take drastic measures in order to provide a way for us to spend eternity with Him. So His only Son, His boy, willingly left His throne and humbled Himself to a lowly birth in a cattle stable, and rested in a wooden manger – all for you and me.

“Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests’” (Luke 2:11-14).

Only love could write this story. Christ went from the throne to a manger for you and me. What a beautiful picture of grace.

Hope

You have made Your Salvation Known!!

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2009

“The Lord has made His salvation known and revealed His righteousness to all generations. . . . all the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God.”  Psalm 98:2-3

 

You have and You will. You have revealed Your truth, Your light, Your way from one end of the earth to the other end of the earth. You have perfectly fulfilled every promise You have made. Every detail of Your birth and coming into this world as Immanuel was foretold through one of the prophets. You are a God of amazing detail – down to the finest tuning. You miss nothing.  And You have given us everything we need in Your word.

 

I stand amazed by You and Your word as I read again the Christmas story this morning. You know Lord, I have been pondering how You have been so gracious to us to reveal Yourself  in such a clear and detailed manner. Christianity is not rocket science. You are God and You have spoken. And exactly as You have spoken, it has been accomplished. We have seen the salvation of our God. We can choose to “see” with our spiritual eyes the things You have revealed or we can choose to keep our eyes closed and live in ignorance, blindness and denial of the truth. In our flesh, it is easier for us to operate when we act as though we are “masters of our own universe.” That this life and creation will go right along in accordance with what we want. How amazingly ludicrous is that! “What is man that You are mindful of him?”

 

As I began in Matthew and Luke this morning You overwhelmed me by the fulfillment of every prophecy You had spoken regarding the birth of Jesus, our Savior. When the angel came to Joseph and told him to take Mary as his wife because the child she was carrying was from the Holy Spirit, I had to wonder just how much of this “prophecy” Joseph was aware of. The scripture speaks of Joseph as being a righteous man. He was in right relationship with his Father, God. And from that point, I deduce that Joseph must have heard and must have known the holy scriptures. I believe he had been taught in the ways of God and the ways of truth. I have to wonder if after the angel left Joseph if he didn’t go and  pull his bible off the shelf to brush up on the details of the prophecy in the book of Isaiah, chapter 7 and verse 14 where the scripture reads, “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call Him Immanuel – which means “God with us.”

 

At that point, Joseph must have been thinking, oh boy, here we go. This is not about me, this is not about Mary – this is all about the plan of God to redeem and save His people from their sin. I must believe that Joseph spent a whole lot of time in the scriptures after he was visited by the angel. Where else was he to go to make any sense of this? You know, I believe that Joseph was fully aware of those prophecies – from the time of the fall in the Garden of Eden, man had been looking for the Savior Redeemer to come into the world. I don’t believe Joseph was caught completely unaware. I do believe Joseph must have been like many of us when God comes to us with an assignment – not really sure we would have chosen “this one.” Are You sure, God? This is not really going to be an easy assignment. I am going to be laughed at, made fun of, persecuted, ridiculed and this is not going to “feel good.” This is a pretty big assignment. This is going to hurt.

 

But You in Your grace and mercy had already written down the plan hundreds of years before. This was not a plan You had just “thrown in there” at the last minute. In fact, the redemption of mankind would hinge on “this plan” and its ultimate fulfillment.  I bet Joseph spent a lot of time searching out the scriptures after the angel made his visit that day. I bet that after Mary went to visit her cousin Elizabeth – whose husband just happened to be a “well read” and informed priest of the Lord who would have known the prophecies back and forth – that Joseph spent much time trying to “piece” all these parts of the prophecy together. You better believe I would have been!

 

Joseph’s encounter with the angel is told in Matthew – not in Luke. In Luke, we see the angel coming to Zechariah  and then to Mary.  The angel proceeds to tell Zechariah that he is going to have a son – John the Baptist – and his son is going to born just ahead of the promised Messiah and his son will prepare the way for the coming of this Savior. His son would be full of the Holy Spirit and power. And yeah, one more thing,  “Your elderly barren wife will be his mother.” Can’t you just imagine Zechariah’s thinking? We are told that he didn’t believe the angel and because of his unbelief, he was unable to speak until John was born – I suppose as a daily reminder of his personal encounter with God. 

 

And because of his own personal encounter, I don’t think that Zechariah was surprised when Elizabeth’s cousin Mary showed up to “move in” for a few months. Zechariah must have been thinking, “Oh boy, this is not the journey I would have chosen – for us or for this young virgin girl. This is not going to be easy, this is not going to be fun. I am going to be laughed at, ridiculed, persecuted, made fun of. But Zechariah came to understand that this wasn’t about him, it wasn’t about Elizabeth, it wasn’t even about the birth of his precious long awaited son, or this young virgin cousin. This was about the fulfillment of God’s plan of redemption for His children and they would have the privilege of participating with God in what He was going to do! From God’s eternal perspective, it had already been accomplished!

 

I must imagine that after Mary “moved in” for those months that she and Zechariah must have spent many, many hours pouring over the scriptures together. They were both way in over their heads and there was no way they could make sense of any of this without God’s revelation and illumination. I must imagine that they had some kind of “hallelujah” afternoons as the God of the Universe unfolded parts of the plan for them. This plan had been told through the prophets for hundreds of generations and now the time had come. .

 

Oh Jesus, bless You for Your revelation! Bless You that You are Immanuel – God in the flesh who has come to dwell with us to reveal to us the Father! Bless Your name that this “story” You are writing isn’t about us! Thank You for the tiny part we each play in the fulfillment of Your Master Story! Oh Jesus, speak new and fresh revelation to us from Your Holy Scriptures this Christmas season, we ask and pray in the name of Jesus, our Savior, Amen and Amen. 

 

Isaiah 52:10 “and all the ends of the earth will see the salvation of our God.”

 

The Man with the plan…

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2009

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord. “Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and future.” (Jeremiah 29:11).

calebs-first-day-of-senior-year-smallerOur God is the Man with the plan. Caleb has had his own battles going on lately in a couple areas of his life. It’s nothing concerning behavior or conduct or school or anything bad, just fiery darts that Satan likes to shoot at him. Caleb took a difficult stand on Friday in an area of his life, giving an ultimatum in a relationship that was going nowhere. It was a very hard decision for him but he knew it was the right thing to do. A part of him felt like he conceded, threw in the flag in a battle that should have never been a battle in the first place. I am very proud of him and can’t wait to see what God is going to do in his life.

So I reminded Caleb last night that God holds all the cards and He sees the entire picture. What does that really mean? It means that while all we see is what’s going on around us, He sees all the cast members. He knows who is doing what and who is saying what and what the outcome will be even before a decision is made. And the best news of all is that He is the Man with the plan. To steal one of Clay’s infamous quotes from Sunday School, when we get to the other side of our struggle, we’ll look back and say, “Oh! So that’s what He was doing!” Until then, we have to trust that He has a plan and a purpose for our lives and that His plan is never to harm us but rather to prosper us, and to give us hope that is eternal.

How about you? Do you know this Man with the plan? And if so, do you trust Him to plan your future? He is a trustworthy God and He loves you unconditionally.

Hope

I need your strength for this day…

Monday, December 21st, 2009

I’ve been thinking about some of the life lessons that Hannah taught us during her six month journey, and the one that brought strength and encouragement to me today is when Amy Wood asked Hannah how she made it through the day with all the pain and discomfort. Hannah answered…

smaller-hannah“Every day when I wake up I have to say, ‘Dear Lord I need your strength for this day.’” Hannah knew where her strength and her help came from. She lifted her eyes to the hills recognizing that her help came from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.

So today as I fight ANOTHER horrible cold, feeling very weak and zapped of all energy, I say, “Dear Lord I need your strength for this day. This is the only day I’m promised.” And He comes through – works every time!

I encourage you to learn from Hannah’s lead. She had no idea how we would cling to her words and look to her example for encouragement. I don’t know what you’re facing today, maybe nothing – maybe all is well and you’re full of energy and hopping around in the Christmas spirit! Or maybe you are tired or sick or weary or discouraged or frightened or at a loss for words or answers, and you need His strength. Pray that prayer each morning, “Dear Lord, I need your strength for this day.” And watch Him work!

“But I will sing of your strength, in the morning I will sing of your love; for you are my fortress, my refuge in times of trouble” (Psalm 59:16).

Hope

Your Sovereign Timing!!!

Saturday, December 19th, 2009

Oh Father, You awaken me with a heart full of thanksgiving and praise to You. I have so much to be thankful for!  Bless Your name!  Thank You for the privilege of living in the United States of America – the home of the free and the land of the brave. Thank You that there are young men whose lives will stand in harms way on my behalf this Christmas so that I can celebrate Your birth in freedom! Thank You for the great blessing of other lives that You place in our path to encourage, to spur us on, to come alongside us. Thank You for the blessing of being able to open our home and have friends over this last month – expected and unexpected. Thank You for our children’s friends and the joy You give us in allowing us to see You accomplishing Your purpose in their lives. Thank You for their new friendships and relationships and the perfect plans You have for each of their lives. Thank You for a “girl party” yesterday and Christmas brunch with Hannah’s friends. I love girl parties and I love those girls! Thank You that the greatest blessing we ever receive on this earth is giving our lives away to someone else! That is what You did, isn’t it? You gave it all away! And through the giving of Your life, You purchased eternal life to all who would receive You!

 

I anticipate what You are going to speak to my heart this early Saturday morning as I sit with You in quietness in my living room by the lighted Christmas tree and read the Christmas story. Speak loud to my heart! It will be Your presence this Christmas and time spent alone with You that will be the highlight and will be what is remembered!

 

Father, as I read this morning You remind me of Your sovereign timing. You change the seasons. You say in Genesis 8:22 in TLB, “As long as the earth remains, there will be springtime and harvest, cold and heat, winter and summer, day and night.” In Your timing, You change the seasons. In Your timing, You accomplish all that You have purposed. You will never be late in accomplishing all that You have purposed to accomplish. Galatians 4:4-5 has been the December scripture  that sits on the windowsill above my kitchen sink for many years. When December comes and I turn over my perpetual calendar this scripture from the TLB translation always blesses my heart and You write it afresh even this morning.

 

“But when the right time came, the time God decided on, He sent his Son. . . so that He could adopt us as His very own sons!” It is all about Your timing, isn’t it Lord? You will not miss fulfilling any of Your promises. Oh no, You will accomplish every one of them in Your time. I know there are things that I have sought You for and I am waiting for their fulfillment. And You encourage my heart again this morning that when the time comes, You will certainly accomplish everything You have purposed to accomplish.

 

I saw Your sovereign timing over and over as I read the Christmas story from Luke 2 this morning. v.5 “In the time. . .” v.8 “Once when Zechariah was serving. . . he was chosen by lot. . .” v.10 And when the time. . .” You made promises. You said to Zechariah in v.13, “you will bear a son. . .” v.20 the angel Gabriel tells Zechariah “my words which will come true at their proper time.” v.23 “When his time of service was completed. . .”

 

What happened when Zechariah’s time of service was completed? He went home and after many years of being barren, his wife, Elizabeth, conceived! And she knew that this miracle had been the Lord’s doing! “The Lord has done this for me,” she said. “In these days He has shown His favor and taken away my disgrace among the people!”  In Your sovereign timing and plan, Father, You accomplished what You had promised to accomplish!

 

Your word is slam full of Your promises to me! I stand on them! I desire to see them accomplished and fulfilled! As I continue reading the Christmas story this week, will You continue to show me all the ways You brought Your plan and purpose to pass “in Your time.” In the name of Jesus, I pray, with thanksgiving, Amen!!