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Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Constant and Able




In the next few weeks we will be inundated with commercials promoting diet plans and exercise equipment. Social media will tout resolution ideas for the new year. After all, we have indulged ourselves with plenty of sweets and tasty meals since Thanksgiving. I’ll be the first to raise my hand and admit it. I’m a little hesitate to step on the scale this week. I may just skip it altogether. 

On a more serious note, I usually ponder on the past year. It’s been a challenging year for me. I’ve been stretched like a wineskin, pliable, expansive to hold more. A good kind of stretched. It’s not an enjoyable process. It involves a lot of pulling and personally yielding to this process. 

As I look over the past year, I can see this played out many times. I surrender and then God stretches me out.  And it simply came down to choices. Will I let this situation knock me down? Will I allow it to keep me in a pit? Will I respond selfishly with anger and resentment? 

I’m sorry to admit that I’ve not always responded correctly. I’ve caused the process to plod on longer. I’ve messed it up a few times. I’ve popped an attitude. But as I look back on this year, one word comes to mind:

Constant. 

Through the fire and the storms, my failings and weaknesses, He has been constant. Whenever I have turned to Him, He has been there. I have felt His presence near and heard His still small voice, reassuring me once again that He will see me through this. 

And so a new year lays ahead like a blank canvas. The brush is raised and the Painter smiles in eager anticipation at what He will create in me. May I be receptive and yielding to His touch. 

He is able to create something beautiful out of whatever is to come. “I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able”

I feel compelled to pronounce a new word for this new year:

Able. 

Able to do immeasurably more than we can ask or imagine. Able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. Able to help those who are being tempted. 

Able to save completely those who come to God through Him, because He always lives to intercede for them. Able to keep you from falling and to present you before His glorious presence without fault and great joy. 

Let us step with confidence into this new year knowing He is able. “His Divine power has given us everything we need...” 

Monday, December 22, 2014

His gift to you



Jesus stood up in the synagogue and read these words about Himself: 

The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the LORD's favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion-- to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor. Isaiah 61:1-3

He laid His hands on the scroll and said, “I have fulfilled it.” Indeed He has! He didn’t just give a gift, He gave Himself to us. He is the gift. 

In this past year, I had challenging times. I was brokenhearted, in need of comfort. I had moments of uncertainty, when I didn’t know the way. Many times I felt so vulnerable and needy. 

Yet in those moments, when I turned my face to Jesus, He gave Himself. And He was always enough. 

Beloved, what a precious Gift you have been given, Jesus. In whatever is to come in this new year, know whatever you lack, He will give Himself to meet your need. 
Seek His face, lean on His arm, rest your head on His chest and lay your burdens down. He will be your answer. 

Monday, December 15, 2014

Blessed are you






There are two women in the Christmas story that always inspire me so. Elizabeth and Mary. Elizabeth was actually a relative of Mary’s. Of course we are all familiar with Mary’s story, a teenager chosen to bear God’s own Son. 

Elizabeth was an older woman who was childless. But just like Sarah of old, God did a miracle in her life and she became pregnant. 

You could say a Holy Ghost meeting happened when these two met. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped within her and she was filled with the Holy Spirit.  And in response Mary spoke beautiful words of praise for her God. It had to be amazing just to witness it. 

Elizabeth said something to Mary that has become a special verse to me. “Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill His promises to her”. 

I had the privilege of meeting a well known author who wrote this verse along with his autograph. I’ve loved it ever since. What a beautiful verse for all of us who have or are struggling to believe when it’s difficult. 

I want to give a shout out to all of you today. 

To those who have stood true and did not turn aside when they asked, “Where is your God now?” They tried to discourage you and feed you negative poison. But you stood firm in your faith. 

Blessed are you who have believed that the Lord would fulfill His promises to you. 

To those who “encouraged yourself in the Lord” with pain in your hearts and tears flowing. You are hurting, but your God surrounds you and holds you tighter.

Blessed are you who have believed that the Lord would fulfill His promises to you.

To those who kept seeking His face instead of giving in to fear and despair when nothing makes any sense and you don’t have any answers.

Blessed are you who have believed that the Lord would fulfill His promises to you. 

To those who kept praying when the prayer isn’t quickly answered or didn’t happen the way you expected it to. Simply because you “considered HIm faithful who had made the promise”. 

Blessed are you who have believed that the Lord would fulfill His promise to you. 

To those who said “Your will be done in my life” when you don’t understand the how, when and what. And you sure don’t understand why He would choose you in the first place. 

Blessed are you who have believed that the Lord would fulfill His promise to you. 

To those who had to give up and let go in sweet surrender. When every cell in your body wants to take over and do it your way. You answered the call of the Shepherd and allowed Him to lead. 

Blessed are you who have believed that the Lord would fulfill His promise to you. 

To those who felt the “peace that passeth understanding” deep within, when the storm rages and the wind howls in your face. You stood on the Rock and remained unshaken.

Blessed are you who have believed that the Lord would fulfill His promise to you.

To those who when people say “you are so strong”, smile in response and know it’s only because He is your strength that you left the house today. 

Blessed are you who have believed that the Lord would fulfill His promise to you. 

Now you know why I love this verse so much. I’ve been all of these and I’m sure you have too. 

Because of our Savior who was born, we have a Everlasting hope. Unbelievers don’t have this hope. Life can be hard enough. I honestly don’t know how people plod along without knowing Jesus. 

Don’t take this for granted. In fact share it with those around you whose heads are bowed low. What a special, blessed gift we’ve been given: Jesus. 

Monday, December 8, 2014

He has not forgotten.




I sat down to write this blog this morning and pondered how to start this off. I decided  just to be real with you. I love Christmas just as much as the next person, but it’s difficult to get into the Christmas season when you are going through a tough season yourself. I know I’m starting this off on a depressing note, but I personally know people who are really struggling. It just seems to double up on you this time of year. 

I myself have struggled because of various issues that our family is going through. But my Lord has gently reminded me that I am not alone in my struggles. He has always been beside me. 

I thought about Jonah who rebelled against God and ended at the bottom of the ocean in the belly of a whale. Talk about being alone and in despair. He brought all this trouble on himself. He deserved it. Yet there in the darkness, with the currents swirling around him, and the seaweed entwining his neck, he “called to the Lord, and He answered me.”

God had not forgotten him. “He brought him up from the pit.” 

Beloved, I know you feel alone in your troubles. Perhaps you even are in despair. Do you feel entrapped by your circumstances? I want to remind you that you are not alone. He has not forgotten you. 

How can He forget the one He loves so much? You are engraved on the palm of His hand. Listen to His gentle words today:

“There is no pit too deep I can’t reach. No darkness too overwhelming that I can’t alight with my presence. Even in the belly of the whale I heard the cry of Jonah. I hear your prayers, my beloved. 

I have not forgotten you. Nor have I abandoned you. I am the God who sees and who is able to bring you out. 

You only need to reach out to Me by faith. Grasp My hand and I will take you to a higher place. A spacious place with fresh air and green pastures where you can rest in Me.”

I hope this encourages you today. You know sometimes we just have to shut everything out and listen to that still, small voice. Enjoy His presence today.