Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Consider Joseph

Journeying to Christmas, perhaps we can pause a moment and look at the nativity scene focusing in on Jesus' father, Joseph.
Put yourselves in his place and consider how you would feel if...

You were in love with a beautiful young lady and were engaged to her only to find out SHE'S PREGNANT!!!! (and you know you're not the father!). All the wonderful plans and dreaming of having her as your wife suddenly die and disgrace replaces them. Consider that.

In the night while you are spinning in your mind about the sudden turn in your life path, you dream and an angel of God is there....a huge shinning, beautifully powerful angel (Gabriel was one of the highest angels...an arch angel...the same as Lucifer was before his fall). He begins speaking directly to you an unbelievable message. And the message is actually telling you something to do regarding your future. You find out who the father is. And you are directed to take on an important role in a story only God could create. And that he would be the father of "God come in the flesh"!!!

Despite your situation and the disgraceful and judgmental thoughts/talk (whispers) that surround you, you quickly embrace the angel's directions and leave with your pregnant wife-to-be (there is no hiding the baby in her womb now) and go to your hometown to fulfill a required government law. All of the sudden, you are no longer living for your own needs...you are now a to-be-husband and a soon to be father (you know in a matter of days)!!!

Probably you meet and see others childhood friends and their family that have shown up in your hometown too. You struggle with not being able to explain what is happening but you determine to "obey God" over and over. It's really hard on you.

In your desperation to find a suitable place for your to-be-spouse (as any good father would do) to have this "special baby", the best you can provide is a cave animal shelter. There is no one to help deliver the baby....perhaps you even have to help deliver this baby and see your to-be-wife unclothed for the first time in this setting. Awkward at best.

Then there were those poor scraggly, smelly strangers that just "showed up" specifically to see your new baby (and you hadn't told anyone yet)....and they knew, like you, Who this baby is! Imagine the goose bumps...the joy (that had not been in your situation for months).

Imagine your thoughts turning to what it would be like to take your wife and new baby back to Nazareth...and then in sleep (again!) there is "that" angel and now he's saying to live somewhere else...not just another city, but a different country because the head government official has ordered soldiers to find and kill your baby! Imagine alarming feelings and urgency as a new father and husband! Imagine having to make hugely important decisions all of the sudden and second guessing yourself at every turn because you want to do what is best for your new family.

I've given you some of Joseph's story...but there is more in Luke and you might want to let the Holy Spirit lead you on to more wonderings....continue to journey to Christmas....

it is good for us to "consider Joseph"....a real man of God.

Sunday, December 6, 2009


There is much to ponder as Christmas approaches...much.
God has given us much to think about before Him.

It has been very meaningful to read the Christmas account in Luke.
There are many stories in this account woven into the bigger story of the Lord Jesus being born.
When I looked at John the Baptist's story, I was amazed at so many things...

Read the first four verses of Luke 1 and you will read why Luke felt compelled to write down what happened...to whom it happened...where it happened and when it happened.

Luke's Christmas story starts with the father of John the Baptist, Zacharias...
Luke 1:5-25

Luke 1:39-45

Luke 1:57-80

It's a fascinating story...to ponder...mull over and see parallels in today.

John had a key role in Christ's first appearing...to prepare the way of the Lord.
Christ is coming again....who is in the role of John the Baptist now? Could it be the Church, the Bride of Christ

enjoy...and send your impressions
We journey on to Christmas

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Something to ponder....

Last night while reading a Guidepost Christmas story, the last paragraph from the story,
"The Christmas everything went wrong" caught my eye and I've pondered it today.
From the title you can tell alot about the story of a newlywed couple that had "planned" their first Christmas together and how perfect it would be....then "life" happened and one thing after another fell apart. Nothing happened as they thought it would....severe disappointments....then God stepped in in a myriad of little ways that were like dominos to turn everything back around.

The husband ends the story,
"Linda was right. The more important we make things, the less important people become.
We can work for, and hope for, a "perfect" Christmas, but the more we are caught up in
engineering it, the more readily it's mystery eludes us.
Christmas is Christ's day, not our day, but He has a way of sharing it with us as we share with
one another."

something to ponder, isn't it..
"and Mary pondered all these things in her heart"

Monday, November 30, 2009

Making a goal

Christmas is coming again!
When you climb into bed on the evening of December 25th, 2009, what will you say about the Christmas season that you just went through?
Was it the best ever?
Was it deeply meaningful to you?
Was it just another Christmas season to cross off the calendar?
Was it depressing and draining?
Will you feel like you're glad it's over?

What is in the Father's heart for you this coming Christmas season?
Have you thought to inquire of Him about it?
Does He even have an opinion...or better yet, a desire for you with Christmas?

These are thoughts that have been coming to my mind and He is leading me to look ahead towards December 25th and make choices now about what I desire for this Christmas season.
From these choices, I feel He is saying to me, "make time and heart-effort to prepare for what I desire for you this Christmas".

December 1st is tomorrow and we will be stepping into the 24 days before Christmas.
Our flesh may feel sudden alarm that Christmas is so soon and we have so much to do....shopping, sending cards, decorating....

but wait...
we are talking about preparing our hearts as the primary thing.
For now, let's let the others things go on the back burners of our mind.
Let's come back to what the Father wants for you and I this Christmas.
Let's make that the main thing in our thinking

Let's ask for help from the Helper that Jesus gave us...
"Holy Spirit, lead us to Jesus. Lead us into the steps of preparation this Christmas in order to bring our very best gift from our heart to the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen"

Here are a couple of things to help us begin:
1) the name CHRISTMAS means...
Christ..."Anointed of the Lord"
mas...."festival or feast day"
Combined...."festival of Christ (the Anointed of the Lord)"

Try and think about it everytime you see the word "Christmas"...on a card; on tv; in music; on the internet, etc

2) The first Christmas was about God's Anointed one coming to earth as a servant and as our Savior...every Christmas can now be a wonderful reminder that He is coming again; this time as the reigning Lord of Lords and King of Kings that every eye will see and know. We must prepare for that day as Jesus told us in the parable of the 10 virgins. It means we must prepare now. Christmas can be a wonderful exercise for our future in Christ...looking for His return. Remember, we have the Helper that Christ gave us to do this..."ask and you will receive; seek and you will find; Knock and the door will be opened to you."

"Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!"

Monday, November 23, 2009

God's jewels of comfort

From Psalm 23

"The Lord is my shepherd"
God's comfort message...God will care for you and be your personal shepherd if you ask Him.
For: Someone who needs care

"I shall not want."
God's comfort message...God will provide for you.
For: Someone who has any need...physically, mentally, emotionally or spiritually...
facing fears of "not having"

"He makes me lie down in green pastures; He lead me beside the still waters"
God's comfort message...He leads you to a quiet place in your life (He gives peace).
For: Someone overwhelmed by busyness and constant unrest..someone weary

"He restores our soul"
God's comfort message...God will heal your soul
For: Someone who is wounded and beat up from life or relationships with others

"He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name's sake."
God's comfort message...The Shepherd has the greatest wisdom to lead you.
For: Someone trying to make big life decisions

"Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil."
God's comfort message...You don't have to fear evil even in the valley of the shadow of death...God is still God no matter what happens to you.
For: Someone facing crisis and a life-threatening situation

"For you are with me"
God's comfort message...The Shepherd is with you (you are not alone no matter what you feel or things seem like).
For: Someone who feels overwhelmed with lonliness or feels rejected by others or feels like a failure

"Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me"
God's comfort message...The Shepherd's rod and staff provide security and protection for you.
For: Someone fearful regarding their safety or the safety of someone they love

"You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies"
God's comfort message...God is God and He is greater than any of my enemies.
For: Someone afraid of harm from being harassed and oppressed by enemies

"You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over."
God's comfort message...God anoints you with His grace and love and wants HIs blessing to overflow in your life.
For: Someone who is doubting that they are of any value or lovable

"Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life"
God's comfort message...you have a future full of HIs goodness and forgiving love.
For: Someone fearful, anxious and stressed about what's ahead for them or someone they love

"....and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever"
God's comfort message...there is someplace wonderful for you after you leave this life.
For: Someone facing death or someone you know that is facing death

Pray for this person in need of comfort...if you don't know how to pray, try this...

"Holy Spirit of Truth, my Comforter, speak Your life-giving love message of comfort to ____________ right in this moment as You have done so many times for me.
I surrender myself to You completely and will do whatever You tell me to do so that ____________ experiences Your comfort. If you want to use me to speak Your words, I am willing....if you want me to give something that would communicate Your comfort, I am also willing....or if you only want me to continue quietly interceding, then I am willing. Anoint _________with the soothing oil of your comfort and blessing that they may see Jesus, the Great Shepherd, and want Him more deeply in their life.
In Jesus' name.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

comfortable vs. uncomfortable

The root word in the words, comfortable and uncomfortable is "comfort".
Comfort on the exterior can seem merely like a "warm fuzzy feeling"...but when you add it all up, comfort is much bigger and more powerful and amazing than that.
Why, Jesus even sent a Resident Comforter to live in us, the Holy Spirit of Truth. Comfort must be pretty important to God if He offered such a Gift as that for every believer.

God has wired us to receive comfort in many tangible ways through our senses...
eyes...photographs; Christmas ornaments from childhood; new fallen snow; a tire swing next to a swimming hole; a log cabin; a fire in the fireplace; a rocking chair; a front porch swing...
ears...our mother's voice; a dinner bell; mail being dropped into the mailbox; children's voices on a playground; chicken frying in a skillet; music in all it's varieties; a purring cat....
smells...chocolate chip cookies baking in the oven; fresh bread; steak on a grill; fresh cut grass; rain; clean laundry; a christmas tree; scented candles; lavender...
touch....a hug; a kiss or holding hands with someone you love; a down comforter; a hand-sewn quilt; silk; cotton; hair; a soft teddy bear; a cat's fur; holding a warm cup of coffee on a cold day...
taste...many many kinds of foods...salty, spicy, sweet, savory. Many, many kinds of beverages...

These are tangible means of comfort that each of us receive as a gift from our Loving Father, but He has comfort in much deeper ways as well.

Think how often we turn to receive comfort. Many times a day we don't even realize that we are seeking comfort because we are feeling afraid or worried or upset or tired or discouraged or lonely.
Life throws alot at us.
I guess, those who seek comfort are those who have a need?

How each of us "receives" comfort will be how we "give" comfort.
We can only give what we have first received...that is why the second great commandment is defined, Love your neighbor "as yourself". Who are we to love (as God does) first? Me!
Loving myself as God does means I first receive His love for "me"...then give it to others in the same way. We are learning to love. It's important for us to learn to receive His love daily.

Isaiah 40 begins, "Comfort ye; comfort ye My people...." It is the theme of that chapter.
How does the Holy Spirit direct this to be done?
Tell them good news! In fact, shout it out as loud as you can....from a high mountain.
What are we to shout out as the good news specifically to bring this comfort?

The rest of the chapter, Isaiah, as a messenger repeating the King's words, lavishes on the reader many word-pictures comparing things about God's character with things in nature.
We begin to feel very small...and our problems seem small...in the light of the greatness and bigness and unchangeableness of the God that made and loves us! The "Truth" of who He is and what He has done brings an incredible "comfort"...His truth frees us into the place of safety; which is in Him alone.

Comfort is all about knowing you are "safe". This is what His love does for us individually.

Our safety is hugely important to God...just read Psalm 23 and 91 and John 10. Even when everything is falling apart around us and we are abandoned by everyone else, He says..."I will not leave you as orphans but I will come to you and live with you forever".
Forever is a long time! It leaves nothing unguarded. And our God now lives "inside" us..."Christ in you, the Hope of glory". He's closer than we can define in words.

The truth frees us from fear and all that causes panic and anxiety and depression and takes us into the arms of the Father to live in the safety of His love that is the strongest force in the universe. He actually invites us to be bold about coming anytime.

Comfort equals His love which is revealed in His truth.
I pray you are comforted!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Our Strongest Weapon

We are all in warfare...whether we think we are or not....whether we want to be or not.
There IS someone who is an expert at being deviously evil who wants to use us to slap God in the face. He lives to see destruction to come to each one of us.
He does not have control...God does. He's already been defeated...his time is short...and he knows it. He is filled with rage against God....against man; because he knows man is who God loves with all His heart. He is out to destroy who God loves.
Since he does not have the power to destroy us, his strategy had to become to lead each one of us to "self destruction".

The recent news event of suicide here in our home town has once again made this clear.

First he tempts us to make a lofty expectation that is centered around our own desires or rights.....when it's not met, then come fear and jealousy and judgment and anger towards those involved with alot of energy. Discouraging thoughts are welcomed in our minds almost without any reservation. He works tirelessly to keep feeding these fires that we chose to let in. Bitterness sets in like gangrene and it festers and swells and begins to poison everything about our life....life loses it meaning and purpose and we feel extremely insignificant.

When this goes on long enough then he can easily bring depression without any resistance. We don't want to let anyone into our life...keep everyone around us an arms length away. The deception here is that if I have to give up my anger and judgments of others then I also have to admit that I am wrong.
And THAT is self pity! We have been tricked and are trapped by our own choices.
Though self pity begins as something that feels like comfort (in a sick way!), it soon becomes very painful and a sure path to self destruction.
We feel trapped by holding on to the crusade that we ARE "the right one".
We've fallen for the bait....hook, line and sinker.
Our enemy has us deceived and trapped by our own pride.

Anytime we start to see our need and soften, he just "yanks" on the pride ring in our nose.
Depression goes lower and lower until "hopelessness" becomes our norm.
We are consumed by our own perspective on everything...."it's all about me, me, me!"
Finally thoughts of suicide begin to sound pretty good...."a way out"....the ONLY way out of the pain that has come from our own choices.
Self destruction.

What is our strongest weapon against this diabolical scheme that has been laid for each one of us?
Simply, a thankful heart. A heart that is stirred by the kindness of God that is everywhere in our life...down to the smallest things that we often forget to see and connect that they have come from our Father that loves and cares for us throughout eternity.
A thankful heart is a soft heart...a humble heart...a contented heart....a peaceful heart....a heart that can enjoy the simplest things with pure joy....a heart that is bursting with life and zest and purpose and meaning. A happy heart.

Is that what you have right now in this moment?
Stop. Turn to Jesus and ask for a thankful heart...and then fully surrender yourself once again to Him and look around you to begin noticing the smallest things around you to give thanks for.
Jesus has won that way out of self destruction by laying His own life down for each one of us. It's His gift to us...moment by moment...we only need to see our own wrongness and His rightness and embrace Him as "our life" here and now.
Results? A thankful heart.
What a wonderful, rich way to live!