God’s Christmas Gift

As we enter into this week before the celebration of Christ’s birth, it is so important that as Christians we remember without the Christ of the cross, Jesus is just a baby in a manger. The beginning of the story is amazing and wonderful. But without the end of the story, salvation is not possible. Celebrate and rejoice in the birth of the Christ child, but also give thanks for the sacrifice He made so that you and I could spend eternity with the Father.

That is the true gift of Christmas. That is the story foretold. That is what makes the season magical.

Christ’s gift to us. His life to save ours. This. Just. This. Is the true story of Christmas.

In the book of John, Jesus leaves us with a message about his love. We all know John 15:13, but without the verses before it, and the ones that come after, for me the message is not clear because verse 14 says “You are my friends if you do what I command.” (vs. 14).

A friend of Jesus. A sister to the King. A follower of the Christ child who came into the world willingly, fully knowing the end of the story.

“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love.  I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.  You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. This is my command: Love each other.” John 15:9-17.

That sweet friend, is the true gift of Christmas.

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Mary’s Story

Sometimes I wonder what Mary was like before this.

Before Gabriel visited her.

Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the descendants of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. And coming in, he said to her, ‘Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.'” Luke 1:26-28

As she listened, the bible says “But she was very perplexed at this statement, and kept pondering what kind of salutation this was.” Luke 1:29. This young girl, probably alone in her room, is visited by an angel.

I’m sure that kind of thing didn’t happen every day. Not to anyone, but certainly not to a young girl.

Realizing her apprehension, Gabriel tries to put her mind at ease. Luke 1:30-33 recounts the conversation for us. “Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God.  And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David;  and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end.”

Before God chose her, she was just Joseph’s fiance, but after the words of the angel, she learns she is to be the mother of the Christ child and she reacts as any young woman would “Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” Luke 1:34.

I can’t even imagine. How do you reconcile this if you’re Mary? Even at her young age she would have been aware of what had to happen for her to have a child. So she asks the question any woman would ask. How?

Gabriel is ready for the question and his answer still takes my breath away almost 60 years after the first time I heard it.

The angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God. And behold, even your relative Elizabeth has also conceived a son in her old age; and she who was called barren is now in her sixth month. For nothing will be impossible with God.” Luke 1:35-37.

She would be the mother of the Savior of the world. This young girl who had no royal lineage but who had the faith she needed to be God’s chosen one.

Mary never hesitates. At least if she does, the bible doesn’t tell us. No, according to Luke 1:38: And Mary said, “Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word.”

Gabriel’s job was done. Mary knew her role and when she acknowledged it Luke 1:38b says “And the angel departed from her.”

But Mary’s story doesn’t end here.

Luke 1:39 – 44 tells us of her hasty visit to her cousin Elizabeth.

What better way to confirm what she had heard than to see for herself that Elizabeth was indeed with child.

The Bible tells the story like this:

Now at this time Mary arose and went in a hurry to the hill country, to a city of Judah, and entered the house of Zacharias and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. And she cried out with a loud voice and said, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And how has it happened to me, that the mother of my Lord would come to me? For behold, when the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby leaped in my womb for joy.

Elizabeth is pregnant and her baby’s reaction to Mary’s presence is all Mary needs to believe. As Elizabeth tells her:

In response Mary speaks what has become known around the world as Mary’s Song. Luke calls it “The Magnificat”. Mary’s faith, her trust in God, and her belief that what has been told her all comes together in these verses.

“My soul glorifies the Lord
   and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has been mindful
    of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed,
    for the Mighty One has done great things for me—
    holy is his name.
His mercy extends to those who fear him,
    from generation to generation.
He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;
    he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
He has brought down rulers from their thrones
    but has lifted up the humble.
 He has filled the hungry with good things
    but has sent the rich away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel,
    remembering to be merciful
to Abraham and his descendants forever,
    just as he promised our ancestors.”

But before she was the mother of Christ, she was just a girl. She was just someone’s daughter, someone’s sister, someone’s friend, and Joseph’s fiance.

 

Living life with Purpose from a place of Gratitude

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It’s the beginning of a new year, and we all know what that means.

Resolutions.

But, I don’t believe in resolutions.

Never have.

I do, though, believe in purpose.

Living my life with one.

Finding mine in this crazy world.

I decided to look up the definitions of both words to see just what it is that people mean when they talk about resolutions or purpose. I was surprised.

According to Merriamwebster.com, the word resolution means “the act of finding an answer or solution to a conflict, problem, etc. : the act of resolving something.”aqxfqklmyytahetleifd

 

 

purpose-wordlePurpose, however, is defined as ” the reason why something is done or used : the aim or intention of something.”

Purpose. That’s my word. I am living my life with PURPOSE this year.

I am doing things with AIM.

With INTENTION.

I don’t have a problem to solve.

I don’t need a solution to something.

I need to live with purpose.

In all areas of my life.

but it is all because of grace.

Try it with me?

After all, the Bible tells us in Romans 8:28 that“…we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

Then there are these verses that make it clear that God has a purpose for each of us.

“But I have raised you up for this very purpose, that I might show you my power and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth” (Exodus 9:16).

“I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted” (Job 42:2).

“Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails” (Proverbs 19:21).

“The purposes of a person’s heart are deep waters, but one who has insight draws them out” (Proverbs 20:5).

“Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose” (Philippians 2:12-13).

“He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace” (2 Timothy 1:9).

Living with purpose.

Living in GRATITUDE.
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2017 – let’s do this.

Being Content

As I prepare for the start of 2016, I look to this post to remind me.

And, in 2016, my goal is to live content and to resolve to put God above everything.

To truly live faith, family, friends.

Come on 2016. I. am. ready.

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It hit me over the weekend.

As I sat a baseball game with my hubby. 11407285_842408325840074_8629597503444942428_n

I am content.

I mean it.

Deep down in my soul.

Finally.

Fifty-six, claiming Philippians 4:11-13 for years.

Now. I am there.

I’ve searched for decades.

Tried new houses.

New jobs.

New friends.

New churches.

Nothing helped.

IMG_1712At least not until I stopped trying.

And I know why.

It’s God.

That’s it.

Just. God.

He filled the empty spaces. He calmed my wandering heart. He placed me in the palm of His hand and refused to let go.1305785931_l-1

I can say now with confidence “ Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.  I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled…

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I Am Loved

I am loved.

I repeat these three words over and over to myself. 719e8965e9cbbcbf5bab48b073f16743

The God of the universe loves me.

I. Am. Loved.

I want to believe.

I John 4:8 declares it.

“The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.” (emphasis mine)
I am His chosen, so I am loved.

In the Hosea study Jennifer Rothschild tells us “Just because. That is why He loves you.” (pg. 32)

Mindblowing, isn’t it?

Even in all my sin.

My guilt.

My shame.

I am loved.

I am loved as Gomer was loved.

As Israel is loved.

Not because of my past, but because of His present.

Not because I am lovely, but because He was bruised.

I am loved and I am lovely.

Through Christ alone.

I am returned again and again to Jennifer’s explanation of this and I thank God for it. “God’s love never started. Because He is eternal-self-existent-so is His love. So, if He never started to love, He cannot cease to love.” (pg. 31)

Wow!

I have no words.

No way to express what that means.

I am loved.

With an “everlasting” love (Jeremiah 31:3).

gods-love

 

 

I Am Chosen

I am chosen.

These words from Jennifer Rothschild’s Hosea Bible study won’t let me go.

Her words that take me through the picture of being chosen by God give me hope.

Galatians 3:29. “If I belong to Christ, I am one of Abraham’s children and heirs according to the promise.”

I am chosen.

Words that bring peace to my soul.

Echoes of past mistakes.

Promises of bright tomorrows.

God chose me.

I am his first choice.

I am his best choice.

Remember the days of waiting to be chosen?

On the playing field as a child.

In PE as an adolescent.

For a date as a young adult.

Always afraid of being last,

or being passed over.

No more.

With God I am chosen first.

Not because of anything I have or haven’t done.

Because of who and what HE is.

I’m a Gomer Girl and I am a chosen princess of the King.

Jennifer says “God chose Israel, Hosea chose Gomer, and God chose you.” (pg. 28)

“For I am God and not man – the Holy One among you;” Hosea 11-9a.

God sees us through His son.

Man sees us through our mistakes.

Our flaws.

Our insecurities.

Praise God He sees us as we are, covered in the blood of Jesus.

I am chosen.

I am loved.

I am a daughter of the King.

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