Endure

December 31
                            Give thanks to The Lord for he is good; his love endures forever. 
                                                              1 Chronicles 16:34

Well, we have endured another year and it appears 2013 was not the year of Christ's return.
While we had no weddings or babies born this year, we did have a grandson pray to receive Christ!
One of those blessings beyond description!

A family reunion in June and my father's reunion with Christ and the saints who have gone before him make the top five list. Children have made moves and job changes.  I faced some health issues that dampened my dance temporarily, but the love of The Lord remained steadfast.

The Psalms are filled with references of how God's love and faithfulness endure throughout eternity.  Likewise His kingdom will have no end.  Proverbs teaches us that truthful lips and the human spirit endure, but earthly riches do not keep on keeping on.

Ecclesiastes 3:14 tempts us to ponder God with this statement:  I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it. god does it so that people will fear him.

Isaiah 40:8 thrills our hearts with a reminder of how God's Word, which we implant in our heart, is an everlasting treasure.   The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our zygodactyl endures forever.

Such comforting thoughts...then we shift gears to the New Testament and a reminder of all that Jesus endured for our sake and the reality of the persecution of Believers.

We work hard with our own hands.  When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endured it.  1 Corinthians 4:12

Hebrews 12: 3,7 and Revelation 3:10  are verses which speak to the substance and depth of our faith. It's not a cake walk, but certainly worth holding onto right up to our heavenly entrance.

Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.  Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as children.  For what children are not disciplined by their father?
Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come on the whole world to test the inhabitants of the earth.

WW

December 30
Stand still and consider the wondrous works of God.
Job 37:14

Another year nears its end.  The greeting of Merry Christmas has been tucked away and the current chit chat has already swayed to Happy New Year.  I'm going to be intentionally different these next few days and throw out the inquiry..."What was God's most wondrous work in your life in 2013?"

I'd love to hear from each of you on the subject matter!  Email me at boojoyful@gmail.com

Mistletoe

December 28-29
Spending the night in a hotel with a couple of our grandchildren last week, I got a glimpse of God's watchful eye. Our two year old granddaughter had fallen out of bed.  My husband placed her back in bed, but about 10 minutes later, I noticed him leaning over her bed. Asking if everything was alright, my heart was so warmed by the concern this grandfather had for his sweet granddaughter.
Isn't it a precious thought that God never slumbers or sleeps. He is always watching over us.

He will not let your foot slip-
he who watches over you will not slumber; 
indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.
The Lord watches over you-the Lord is your shade at your right hand.
Psalm 121:3-5

This year I hung artificial mistletoe on the posts of our bed…a reminder to my husband to kiss me when we go to sleep and when we awaken.  :-)

Have you ever thought as to whether Jesus will greet us with a kiss when we get to heaven?  

Greet all God's people with a holy kiss.
1 Thessalonians 5:26

Greet  one another with a kiss of love. Peace to all of you who are in Christ.
1 Peter 5:14


The Trilogy Conclusion

December 27
Friday afternoon, December 6th we gathered in the most immaculate barn you have ever seen.  As my friend introduced me, she asked me to explain The Christmas Trilogy.  My reply, "I have no clue, but my guess is the trilogy will be something totally different for each of us...God meeting us where we are at this point in our lives and blessing us.
That morning as I was praying for the afternoon, God gave me a song...music, words the works. It freaked me out as I sat plunking out the notes on the piano!  A bit hesitant whether this was really for this particular event, confirmation came as the Louie Giglio was speaking in a video called "The Twelve Words of Christmas."  He used a phrase straight from the lyrics of the song.  I turned to my husband and pointed out the words on the sheets I had typed up.  In this same video, Louie is making reference to Mary and says, "And her water broke."  At that instance, the horse in the stall nearest us let his bladder go and the sound of water breaking had us all gasping in disbelief with the timing. Only God or a VERY smart horse could have made that happen.  For days following the event that is all the guests could talk about.
Now remember, I did not know the individual whose home would be used for part two. My husband and I asked him to join us for dinner the Thursday before his event on December 10th, thinking it might make him more comfortable before these women descended upon his home.  The evening was delightful. There were many overlaps in our lives, that made discussions easy.  He grew up in the town my grandfather was from and where my grandfather's brother was the mayor for years. This man had lost his wife to a long battle of cancer the year before and his love for her as deep as any I've ever seen.
As he explained it was ovarian cancer that took her in the end, I shared the story of a young singer/song writer living in Nashville for whom we'd been praying having just undergone similar surgery.  Calmly replied, "She sang at my wife's funeral and her father, an Anglican priest, offered my wife's last communion to her."
Returning home that evening I emailed the priest and told him how much he and his daughter had obviously meant to this man and his wife.  The priest explained his daughter was home recovering from her surgery, but he thought they could drive to There was Rejoicing and his daughter could even sing!
Unexpected Blessings!  All in attendance were in awe of what God had woven together.
Under the Stars was the evidence of spiritual warfare and how real it is.  Not exactly the part I had hoped our home would play in the trilogy, but a reminder for us all that we battle not against flesh and blood, but against demons and principalities.  After my husband spoke, the plan was to show a powerful video of the song…Mary Did You Know.  I had literally wept when we previewed this piece. Each time Jesus was shown, the video would stop. It was quite distracting. Many of the people in the room recognized the attack and were praying. I finally got up and walked outside and shouted at the devil to be gone in the name of Jesus.  When I returned, my husband had abandoned the idea of showing the video and was praying.  As he finished praying, one of the women in attendance stood up, shaking she was so nervous and tears dripping down her cheeks…her message was the unexpected blessing for the evening.
Humbly, she shared her testimony of how she had prayed to receive Christ here at Shiloh when she was fifty years old.  With honesty in her heart, she confessed how hard it was to get up and say what she felt the Spirit leading her to say, which was that if there was anyone in that room who had never asked Jesus into their hearts, to not wait another day.  It was the perfect ending to The Christmas Trilogy…God had put these events together from start to finish!  It was a wonderful wild ride!

The Trilogy

God's gifts and surprises are unexpected blessings, 
which come in God's perfect timing.
 It Began in a Barn
 There Was Rejoicing
 Under the Stars
December 26
How do I explain the Christmas Trilogy...an encounter that enriched my life and still has me in awe of what God can do?
Sneaking away with the Lord, November 17th, I heard three phrases. "It began in a Barn, There was Rejoicing and Under the Stars." Having no clue what that meant, I offered up a few short intercessions for others and went on with my day.  The following day, I changed up my getaway spot with the Lord and sat in our dining room.  Watching out the window  the sun shone brilliantly as I hoped to see the giant Blue Heron who lives near our beach.  He or she is one of those "God is with me" symbols in my life.
With paper and pencil in hand, I positioned myself to listen and again I heard the three phrases, but they were prefaced with this title: The Christmas Trilogy and as each phrase came again there was a location, which joined it.  "What does this mean?" I questioned the Lord.
The third segment, didn't phase me at all.  The elements were easy to fulfill...asking my husband to teach on the Star of Bethlehem on our patio for a group of friends.  Segment one and two...not so simple.
It Began in a Barn involved asking a woman, whom I had only met a couple months ago to invite a group of us to her lovely barn and for her to teach on Mary's encounter with the angel.  Being excited about what God might be up to, I called this woman whose reply was...
"That's interesting. The verse you just quoted is what I taught on in Sunday school last week. Let me talk to my husband."  His response was a brief, "No!"  November 22nd I receive a phone call from my new friend, who states, "We have to do this!  Every devotional I've read this week has to do with obedience."

The Trilogy was to take place the first week of December...at this point we had only two weeks to get the guest list together and pull this off.  The fact that God was giving the party is the only thing that made it doable.  Three days before the event my barn buddy called to see if I had a manger or a banner for her barn.  No go on the manger, but I went to my fabric stash and hunkered down that day and made her the banner in the first picture!  Her barn hand hung lights she had ordered for the barn, which were AMAZING and he also whipped up a manger!  She and I were both in shock with all that was unfolding.

Backing it up to November 22nd...parts one and two were in place, but I was really dragging my feet with part two.  You see, I had never met the owner of the home for part two or been to his home.  The vision I had seen there was the guests singing around a grand piano. Approaching this gentleman was WAY out of my comfort zone, so I began to attempt some other avenues.  They were road blocks and so of me, not Him!  

By this time we had begun mentioning this idea to two Bible study groups. who were to be the invited guests.  Confirmation came when I called the pianist, who was to play for There was Rejoicing.  I was hopeful she could direct me to where we would hold part two and hoped her home would be a possibility. Instead she says, "You should call....and named the man God had put on my heart."  She assumed I knew this individual and I just played along, not sharing what God had been up to with me.  

Taking a deep breathe and ushering up a prayer, I found the necessary phone number and called fully expecting to not receive an answer.  Instead, grace beyond measure was offered...his home, coffee, tea, pastries...I was in shock. Hanging up the phone I walked into the living room where my husband sat and said, "Why do I ever doubt God?  Why am I so slow to obey?  This man just offered abundantly more than I could have ever imagined. He was SO nice."

For me the Trilogy had done it's work. It was a lesson in obedience.  It became though the gift that kept on giving...more to come....

The UPS Encounter

December 24-25
I dread showing my face again at our UPS store.  While having a package full of my father's army and college memorabilia weighed for shipping, I lost it when the lady behind the counter told me to take my hand off the box.  It was then I realized emotions mounting up, as I was letting yet another part of my father go away.  Immediately, the image of not wanting to let the funeral home people take him away in the hearse came to mind.  The sobs came forth and I couldn't stop.
Apologizing to the store owner, she said, "Hey, that's alright. That's what grief does…it just jumps up and grabs you at unforeseen moments. Tomorrow will be a better day."

Daddy teaching all the children and their spouses to play pass the orange!

For all of you wishing you had someone specific sharing Christmas with you and it just isn't possible, my heart goes out to you.  It's a bizarre season…happiness for so many, yet unbearable hurt for others.
I think the demons work overtime at Christmas. Sing praise the next couple days. It gives strength and encouragement to the angels who battle so diligently for us and it really ticks the demons off!  

Glory, Glory, Glory to God in the Highest!

Then remember, the one whose birth we celebrate will never leave us or forsake us. I can only imagine the celebration in heaven this time of year!  Wait...there is that kind of celebration everyday in heaven!

So they hurried off and 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. They shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.  Luke 2:16-20 

Due to computer DISASTERS it is necessary for me to post my Merry Christmas message while I have a computer to use.  My the video below brighten you day and may you find time this Christmas to sneak off with the birthday boy and bow before him in humble adoration!

http://www.godtube.com/watch/?v=01091JNU&utm_source=GodTube%20Today&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=12/05/2013

An Angel's Story or The Dirty Devil's Dance

I am in the midst of a computer nightmare. I am not able to send out any emails and both laptops have no memory left, therefore they cannot function.  We met with Apple personnel (not a fun thing to do a few days before Christmas, what a mad  house) who informed us we will very likely lose all the data.  A program I've enjoyed using called Smilebox, along with the high resolution in the photos I take, have zapped my laptops. One computer has already deleted my complete photo file. (I know, it is not of eternal value.)  The desk top we wanted was not available in the store, so it will be after Christmas before this arrives.  I will not be available by computer for a few days.   If this is the last devotional post until after Christmas…Merry Christmas…I love you and Jesus does too!


December 23
Last week I read an intriguing, Max Lucado, mini book called "An Angel's Story…The First Christmas from Heaven's View."  I highly recommend this quick read.  The back cover states…
"We know the Christmas characters well.  The chosen teenage girl. The surprised carpenter. The scared shepherds.
We know the Christmas story too.  The journey to Bethlehem. No room at the inn. A stable birth.
But could there be more?
In this best selling Christmas classic. Max Lucado pulls back the curtain and imagines the cosmic drama that accompanied that very first Christmas…from the perspective of an angel."

Check out these quotes from this 30 minute spiritual thriller!  Be aware of the battle all around you even today!

"I drew my sword and turned to do battle with Lucifer."  Gabriel
"What are you staring at Gabriel?" Lucifer sneered. "Aren't you glad to see me?"

"You speak so confidently," replied the Father, astounding me with His patience.
Lucifer stepped forward, his cloak dragging behind him. 'Of course! I thwart everything You do! You soften hearts, I harden them.  You teach truth, I shadow it.  You offer joy, I steal it.'

'Every act you have intended for evil, I have used for good.'
God the Father.
The story unfolds as the demons do their best to keep the baby Jesus from being born!  During this glorious season, may we not let down our guard to be on the alert for Spiritual danger.  Lucifer is still on the lurk and he comes to hurt, kill and destroy. Also, to distract believers from their God given purpose and detain those who have yet to receive the Lord from making their way to Jesus!

Our fight is not against people on earth
but against the rulers and authorities and the powers of this world's darkness,
against the spiritual powers of evil in the heavenly world.
Ephesians 6:12

Angel Upon Angel



December 21-22
Friday night I decided to slip into Luke 1-2 in The Message version and look back upon some of the angelic encounters in The Christmas Story.  We come to except the fact that angels were the norm, as messengers with block buster news!
I believe with all my heart angels are still around!  One of our grandsons has been dreaming about them every night.  One morning he told his mom he dreamed about angels who had saved him!  The next night he said they were singing. His mom asked if they were singing to God and he said, "No!  They were singing to me!"
A child like faith most likely makes angel encounters less frightening than for those of adults!

 Suddenly, God's angel stood among them and God's glory blazed around them.  They were terrified. The angel said, "Don't be afraid.  I'm here to announce a great and joyful event that is meant for everybody, worldwide: A Savior has just been born in David's town, a Savior who is Messiah and Master.   Luke 2
Unannounced, an angel of God appeared just to the right of the altar of incense. Zachariah was  parlayed in fear. Bit the angel reassured him, "Don't fear, Zachariah. Your prayer has been heard. Elizabeth, your wife, will bear a son by you.  Luke 1

In the sixth month of Elizabeth's pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to the Galilean village of Nazareth to a virgin engaged to be married to a man descended from David.  His name was Joseph, and the virgin's name, Mary. Upon entering, Gabriel greeted her:
Good morning!  You're beautiful with God's beauty.
Beautiful inside and out!  God be with you.
She was thoroughly shaken, wondering what was behind a greeting like that.
But the angel assured here, "Mary, you have  nothing to fear. God has a surprise for you:
You will become pregnant, and give birth to a son and call him name Jesus.
Luke 1:26-31

There angelic visits all seem to come on by surprise and shock the living daylights out of the recipients of the unannounced encounters.  What follows each time is a "setting at ease" of those chosen by God for this experience.  They stick around and are forever changed.

Friday, I thought something had dropped out of the sky and landed on my car. I was parked in front of a local business waiting to meet someone. My head was down, as I read my mail.  All of a sudden, a huge thud was heard and felt on the hood of my car, but when I looked up I saw no one. Then I looked out my window and the body of a man was on the ground up against my car.  I can relate to how these individuals, who saw the angels, felt. I was shaken up. I couldn't open my door without hitting the man, so I put my window down and called to him. He was alive, but afraid to move.  He did not want me to call 911. I told him the first thing I was going to do was pray over him and then crawl out another door.
The story has a happy ending, angels were watching over him.  I was thoroughly shaken though like Mary!

Monday, I have a follow up for you on angels.  If you have Max Lucado's little book The Angels of Christmas get it out for a quick read this year!

A Guest in My Own Home

Some welcome houseguests making homemade cookie dough.
Summer guests at Shiloh
December 20
When I go to sign onto the Internet, I am asked for the Guest Code to our wireless system.  Oh, yes, we do have a main sign in, but we've forgotten where we wrote down our password, but we can remember the one for guests!

For many people, Christmas is a time of being a guest and welcoming guests.  As most of us reading this devotional decorate, bake and put out our welcome mat, let us remember there are those who are never extended an invitation to be a guest or have the confidence to beckon others into their own homes.

On the side of our house, I  have this verse plastered as a reminder of how God wants us to use Shiloh:

Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.
1 Peter 4:9

David was such an honest man relaying excellent relational examples of how we can approach God.  I love  how he expresses, in The Message, how welcome he is in the Presence of God.

You've always given me breathing room, as a place to get away from it all, a lifetime pass to your safe-house, an open invitation as your guest.  You've always taken me seriously, God, made me welcome among those who know and love you.
Psalm 61:3-5   

If you have never read Philemon, check it out in The Message. Paul is imprisoned and has met a man named Onesimus, whose life has been transformed as he has come to know Christ.  Paul is pleading for restoration in a relationship. I love how in the story Paul expresses that, because of Philemon's prayers for him, he fully hopes to get to be a guest in his home again some day.  Believing by faith, he will be released from heaven some day.

I'd type it all up for you, but my house guests are HUNGRY!

Devotion, Discipline, Dedication


December 19
Chapter 8 of the Women of Christmas-"Come Thou Long Expected Jesus", highlights the life of the prophetess, Anna.
Listen to what Higgs writes about this widow, who lived a sold out life at the Temple.
"She plugged into life, whatever her age. She keeps informed; she stays involved; she reaches beyond her comfort zone; she cared deeply about people.  Above all, she has a vibrant relationship with God that shines around her like sunlight…She gave thanks to God. Luke 2:38
If we did this one thing-it would change our lives and the lives of those around us forever.  Anna not only lifted her voice to the Lord; she also proclaimed the truth of the Messiah with joyous abandoned. Oh yes, she talked about Jesus to everyone who would listen and especially to all who have longed for his appearing."  Luke 2:27
Anna was a woman of exceptional devotion, incredible discipline and endless dedication."

Whew, devotion, discipline and dedication. I fall short in all three categories.

More self-evaluation challenges:
Am I plugged into life?
Do I stay informed and involved concerning my family, my community, my church, my government?
When was the last time I stepped out of my comfort zone for the Lord?
Do people feel loved and cared for by me?
Is my relationship with God vibrant and obvious to others around me?

The ladies in this study group, loved the fact this book highlighted the usefulness of older people.  Elizabeth, Zechariah, Simeon and Anna and possibly the wisemen, key players in the greatest story ever told, were on the flip side of life…closer to heaven.  Simeon was ready to check out immediately after seeing Jesus.  God found them all useful!

Chatterblocks


December 18
Today's message was to be a little more insight from The Women of Christmas, but that plan has been usurped by a lump of joy sent by my daughter in law yesterday.  As you all know, my life verse is
Be joyful always, pray without ceasing and in all things give thanks. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

We sent this little family a Christmas gift called "Chatterblocks."  Thus the photograph with the words they spelled out on their hearth.  "Be joyful."

The parents of these two have chosen to be quite intentional in their training up of their children to love the Lord.  Having both been raised in Christian homes, they know from experience the value of implanting scripture in the hearts of their children at a young age.  It is always a delight for us to hear what they are learning and the video they just sent us is chocked full of joy…dancing for the Lord breaks out around the Advent wreath after reciting: 1 Thessalonians (a mouthful of a word) 5:16

Be Joyful Always
 The "Chatterblocks" were also given to our son, who is a writer, and his wife.  They are having fun leaving messages for one another. Their first "set up" is the acronym with which our children grew up hearing on a regular basis from their Pop.

Don't Do Anything Stupid

Both Chatterblock Designs..."Be Joyful Always" and "D.D.A.S."... hold valuable life lessons!

May your day be Merry and Bright, because you know Jesus is with you!








When Our Eyes See Jesus


December 17
Yesterday morning a group of us finished our shared reflections on Liz Curtis Higgs' book, The Women of Christmas.  I do wish I had recorded the discussion.  The final three questions in the back of the book prompted probably the deepest inner reflection of the whole study.  The reader is challenged to see which of the three women, Elizabeth, Mary and Anna, they are most like, learned the most from and would like to become like.  The honesty shared was quite moving.

Chapter 7 "And Our Eyes Shall See Him at Last" had me thinking…
I'm sure Mary and Joseph could not wait to see Jesus.
The Shepherds certainly were spurred on by an angel to check him out.
The wiremen, having studied in the school of Daniel, knew the skies foretold of the coming King and when that brilliant star (possibly Jupiter and Venus closely crossing paths) shown so brightly, the wiremen set out to see their prophesied king!
Herod wanted to see Jesus…yup..see him DEAD!
I wonder if Elizabeth got to see him.  John certainly knew their paths would cross.
Simeon had waited a life time to see the newborn king and Anna had her eyes open and wits about her when Jesus came with Mary to the temple.

So we ask ourselves... Do we long to see him.  Will we dance in His presence or to our knees will we fall, when we see him face to face?

Expectancy


December 16
I am expecting….(funny, I have said that many times in my life), but today I am expecting guests, not a baby, so this will be brief.

Think about the Christmas story…Mary was expecting to deliver a baby boy (and she hadn't even had an ultra sound, but was certain of the sex). Elizabeth, was expecting to deliver a son as well. The Wise Men were a well studied group, from the school of Daniel,  and they were expecting a star from the east to announce the birth of their king.  Simeon and Anna were both expecting the birth of Christ.

Two questions for each of us today…
Are we expecting the return of Jesus?
Are we expecting to spend eternity in heaven.

There perfect hymn for this topic is: Come Thou Long Expected Jesus

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UbMwD24flbA

Woo Girl


December 14-15
Plans changed the other day and I had some free time.  The ideas of what could be done, flew through my head, but knowing better, I stopped and asked the Lord what he had in mind for the day. (Oh, His ways and plans are rarely our ways and plans.)  During the conversation, I went into bargaining mode, trying to opt out of  parts of his agenda.  This conversation took place near a photo of the woman who raised me.  As I offered the Lord an option to his suggestion, I heard in my mind, 
"Woo Girl, you best not be doing that. You listen to the Lord."
If I was walking through a field of land mines, I wouldn't bargain.  I'd step exactly where the Lord told me to step.  Maybe I best look at the field of life like in such a manner.  When we go astray, things can BLOW UP!
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.
Proverbs 3:5-6 

Embrace the Magnificent

December 13
If Jesus is not thrilling your heart…you are missing the best part.  Reading Lysa TerKeurst's post last week nailed an emotion I have during the Christmas season. I think it is so easy for us to miss moments with Jesus. The way this man felt about the clouds in the sky is the way I want us to experience the Christmas story!  We should be AMAZED at what occurred in Mary's life. In Joseph's life.  In Elizabeth and Zacharias' lives. Their angel encounters should leave us mesmerized and wishing for our own.  Our hearts should THRILL over God's magnificent plan for salvation through a baby!
Maybe tonight you can sit outside and simply study the stars as the wise men did!  Don't miss the moments around you!

"Embrace the Magnificent"  by Lysa TerKeurst
Yours, Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours. Yours, Lord, is the kingdom you are exalted as head over all.
 1 Chronicles 29:11

"A few years ago on a flight to Michigan, I had the distinct privilege of meeting AJ. He was sitting in the row in front of me and made sure to welcome me the minute I took my seat. It didn't take long for AJ to make everyone around us aware of how excited he was to be on this plane.
His voice was loud, his exclamations seemed a bit child-like for a man his age, and his stuttered words made it difficult to completely understand him.
But one thing was unmistakable to me: his passionate embrace of the magnificent.
As we rose into the sky he clapped and bounced in his seat. His eyes were wide as he turned to the man sitting next to him exclaimed, "The clouds are huge!"
That's when the nudging on my heart started. This gentle prodding to ignore the task-oriented part of me that wanted to work and tune out what was going on around me.
Embrace this moment Lysa. Notice him. Notice me.
And that's how it is when God wants to get my attention. he interrupts my self-centered thoughts in such a way startling way, it can only be Him. He sends my train of thought off the well-worn tracks and suddenly I found myself bouncing along in a meadow full of unpredictable adventure.
Because there is something about God everywhere, every place we look My mind parked itself on 1 Chronicles 29:11, "Yours, Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours.  Yours, Lord, is the kingdom; you are exalted as head over all."
Everyone else on the plane looked tired from their travels that day.
But not AJ.
He saw what no one else did. We were in a fast moving tube, taking off from the ground, flying through the clouds, being transported from one place to another many, many miles away in matter of minutes. Minutes!  Not days or weeks or months, but minutes…oh what would people a hundred years ago have thought of this feat?
And there we all sat, bored. Not even bothering to look out at the clouds and notice. Too focused on the task at hand begging for our attention.
We'd lost out passionate embrace of the magnificent. Our appreciation for noticing God and His provisions had been strangled by what  the world begs us to pay attention to.
But I'm not interested in what the world classifies as important. I'm interested in where God wants to point my focus. I'm interested in humbling myself in childlike awe of all that He is.
When we landed, AJ's excitement reached a new level.  He clapped and whooped and rushed into the aisle of the plane tripping over others.  When he spotted his mom waiting for him at the end of the jet way, he got even louder pumping his arms into the air telling everyone that was his mom! That was his mom right there! There she is!! 
His mom's face reddened but kept the sweetest, gentlest look as she embraced her son. She sweetly pressed her fingers to her lips signaling him to quiet down just a bit.
That's when I reacher her. With a lump in my throat and tears cresting my eyes I touched her shoulder, "Your son is amazing. Really, really amazing."
How might we remember to embrace the magnificent on this ordinary day?
Dear Lord, I praise You today for Your magnificence in all things. Humble me as Your child and guide  me as I follow hard after You instead of the world.  In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Sorry about yesterday's scriptures. I didn't proof the entry and had tried to cut and paste the verses, which did not work. Probably because God wanted me to typed them into my heart. They are fabulous verses for us this time of you.

December 12
While listening to Chris Tomlin’s Christmas CD, I was really getting into the spirit and rejoicing. As I thought about the word rejoice, the meaning of the prefix “re” came to mind.  It means again and again. Indicating repetition or restoration. Wow, Jesus’ love for us is certainly repetitious…he forgives us again and again and again. In fact his forgiveness and restoration is unlimited.

In Christ we are "recycled" creatures...reusable refuse!  
Now that’s reason to rejoice again and again.

We had a group of students visiting our home one Sunday morning for a church service in our yard. Deke was preaching on the importance of the foundation of our faith. , Being an educator, he asked the students what the three “r”s of learning were.  The anticipated answer… reading, riting and rithmetic. The comeback was…reduce, reuse, recycle.  That threw him for a loop.  But I think those three “r” words are excellent in our relationship to Christ.
He reduces the death penalty for our sin (actually lets us go free), he reuses us for the purposes for which we were ordained and he recycles our potential by putting into action our God giving gifts and talents.


 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!  
Philippians 4:4

My hear, O God, is steadfast;
I will sing and make music with all my soul.
Psalm 108:1

Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice.
Psalm 105:3

He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth.
Luke 1:14
   

Peacefaker


December 11
"Heavenly Father, during our holiday family gatherings use me as a peacemaker, not a peace-faker."
Boyd Bailey

It's upon us.  Christmas time!  Where there is joy in the world, ok, so maybe we have to settle for joy in our hearts.   Is there really joy in your heart?  Joy trumps bitterness, resentment, and unforgiveness.  Will you be able to enter the various party scenes and family gatherings honestly exhibiting the love of Christ for others or do you have a sense of dread when it comes to having to be with another individual.

Is there clearly segregation between his family and her family?
Does your gift giving or lack of it reflect how you REALLY feel about someone?
Have you been contemplating just the kind of verbal ammunition you are packing in your come back arsenal, being ready for anything?
Is the "zipper" attitude already in place as your survival method?  (You know, making your appearance, but sitting in a corner with your mouth zipped, waiting until you can make your much desired exit, that will hopefully last twelve months.)

Make every effort to live at peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no now will see the Lord.  Hebrews 12:14 

There is an addendum to live in peace with everyone, it's be holy. Why?  So others will see the Lord.
The energy it takes to be unkind, to ignore others, to speak in distain is negative energy.  It takes you down in spirit as well,  as it wounds the other person.

But you say, "Get real, Boo! This person will be staying in my house for days.  You can only be smacked down so many times when you have to defend yourself."  Yup. In our power we can only do so much. That's why Jesus sent a helper.  The Holy Spirit is the work force in a believer's life! We must choose to die to ourselves, our desires, our human reactions and let Him have center stage. You see, the Holy Spirit enables us to put on the performance of a life time without being a peace-faker.  He equips us to exhibit sincere love, lifting others up closer to Christ!

So let's agree to use all our energy in getting along with each other. Help others with encouraging words; don't drag them down by finding fault.  You're certainly not going to permit an argument over what is served or not served at supper to wreck Gods' work among you are you?  
Romans 14:19-20 The Message

The Bell Collection


December 10

I shared with you the other day about the delightful "bell" gift I received.  This Christian company, in Texas states, on a card in their packaging, that it is the mission of their staff to honor God in all their endeavors by always putting God and family first and to bring joy into the lives of others with their craft.  What a great mission!  On their site: http://www.collectbells.com  the themes of the various bells is vast.  The one I received is called the Nativity Bell and here at Christmas I wanted to share what they wrote about this bell.

"Truly a work of art that fittingly depicts the birth of God's beloved son. The bail represents the Star of Bethlehem, while four scenes portray Mary and Joseph's search for shelter, a shepherd, a wise man following the star and Baby Jesus in a manger."

(I must stop and tell you a funny.  When I first read bail, I thought that was Texas talk for bell.)

Take those five elements and ask God what they represent in your relationship with Him.

The Star Quest
The Search for Shelter
The Security of the Shepherd
The Seeking of the Wise Men
The Salvation brought to earth by a baby in a manger.

After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was.  When they saw the star, they were overjoyed.  Matthew 2:9-10

Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.  Psalm 91:1

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night.  An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.  But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.  Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.  This will be a sign to you:  You will find the baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."  Suddenly a great company of heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
"Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those whom his favor rests."
Luke 2:8-14   

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all those things will be given to you as well.
Matthew 6:33   

Then Zachariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied, Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel; he came and set his people free. He set the power of salvation in the center of our lives, and in the very house of David his servant, just as he promised long ago through the preaching of his holy prophets:
Deliverance from our enemies and every hateful thing; Mercy to our fathers, as he remembers to do what he said he'd do, What he swore to our father Abraham-a clean rescue from the enemy camp.  So we can worship him without a care in the world, made holy before him as long as we live.  And you, my child, "Prophet of the Highest," will go ahead of the Master to prepare his way.  Present the offer of salvation to his people, the forgiveness of their sins. Through the heartfelt mercies of our God, God's Sunrise will break in upon us, shining on those in darkness, those sitting in the shadow of death.  Then showing us the way, one foot at a time, down the path of peace.
Luke 1:67-79 (The MSG) 

Amazon Grace

December 9
Tis the season to be frantic occasionally.  This is the week of our big Christmas Trilogy. More to come about that when it has completed.  We were in need of a Christmas Star and ordered a couple from Amazon. One came Saturday and had 78 pieces to be assembled. My husband gave a huge sigh of disbelief when he opened the box.  Taking the assembly process on, I discovered  3/4s of the way through two pieces were missing.  Ugh, Ugh, Ugh. I know "It is not of eternal value, " but I wanted this star.
Grabbing my computer I proceeded to find a way to explain my dilemma. Most importantly, I didn't want to have to disassemble this star connected with 48 rivets, pack it up and then start again.  Time was of the essence, but my email of distress received an "I'm sorry, you will need to return this product for a refund or accept a 30% refund and kept the faulty product."  Frustrated I proceeded to sign out when a "Did we solve your problem?" note popped up. I checked "NO".  At that point there was an option for human contact through a phone call and Caesar entered my life! Hallelujah!  Truly, the second I hit send, the phone rang.  We were shocked.  My husband said they should solve the health insurance problems.  Caesar laughed and said insurance  was on Amazon's "We don't have it…YET" list!

Totally "getting" my time and construction dilemma, Caesar came up with the solution of immediately giving me a refund and shipping out a whole new set, which will allow me to take out the 2 pieces we need and then return the rest.  So the star lays beneath our tree awaiting help!

I asked Caesar what I could be praying for him.  His reply was precious…"For good health, good family and friends!"

The grace Caesar and Amazon offered me, made up for the disappointment in this faulty product.  Whew, God's grace is good grace too!
For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people.
Titus 2:11

A Second


December 7-8
We had all gathered in Nashville for Thanksgiving and our youngest, an Auburn grad, broke the news to me…"Mom we have tickets for the Iron Bowl, so we are going to leave Friday night."  In previous years, I would have felt cheated out of time with this child, but Auburn football is BIG and well…there are grand babies to fill the void now. :-)

Joy abounded as we listened to the game of the century!  I didn't count how many texts I sent throughout the game, but my heart was jubilant these two Tigers were able to scream "War Eagle" to the very last second!
If you like football, you will enjoy this historic recap of the game.
http://m.espn.go.com/wireless/relatedvideos?id=10073941&backText=Video&wjb

There's a lot that can happen in a second.  Our hearts can stop beating! The word "cancer" can be spoken. The power can go off! A proposal can be accepted or rejected with a one second word.
Also, eternity's location will be determined in a second.

Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed in a flash, 
in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet.  For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be
raised imperishable, and we will be changed.
1 Corinthians 15: 51-52

Opportunities, Provisions and Miracles

December 6
Beginning the day with some Bible study, I was struck by the "To do" activity in the study.
"Write down a short prayer regarding what you are asking for, whether it is an open door for a new opportunity, daily provision, or a miracle.  We will revisit this request on day 5 to see if this focused time of seeking has brought part of the answer or if your request has changed."   Sheila Walsh

The categories intrigued me.  The thought process went something like this:
How often do I go looking for a new opportunity? I've got plenty to do as it is.
Now daily provisions…I ask for those daily!  A day doesn't go by my husband doesn't pray for a good night's sleep!
Miracles.  I pondered…Do I pray big enough?  Is my positive expectancy, for a God sized outcome, obvious?
Most importantly…Do my requests line up with what is pleasing in God's sight?  You know, things that will bring Him glory and bring others into a closer relationship with him.

It's 12:16AM. A new day is upon me. The calendar has slipped over to December 6th.
I'm plunging into my prayer time right now with a new fervency! Watch out heaven.
Here they come!

Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.
Matthew 7:7-8

You and Me Baby

December 5
Yesterday, I awakened with a cold and didn't feel like going anywhere. When I explained this to the Lord, his response brought a smile to my chapped lips...
"It's just you and me baby, let's put on some Christmas music and pray the day away!"

I vowed to not answer the phone, to get off the computer and to have a pray day with Jesus! A friend and I are doing a special Christmas ministry for our Bible Study women called The Christmas Trilogy. It's totally a God thing that we are trying to be faithful and "go with".  Part one begins in her barn and she emailed she wished she had a Christmas banner to hang in her barn, so while Jesus and I were chilling yesterday we made her one!
Now this is how much fun God is.  My friend had given me a gift bag the other day and I emailed her to thank her for the delightful devotional she had given me. Emailing back, she said, "There's more in the bag. Look for the little black box."  In that box was a beautiful silver bell called "The Nativity Bell".  I told her it was as if Jesus has sent me a special gift on our day off together!
If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children,
how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!
Mathew 7:11


Preparation

December 4
Oh, my!  We prepare the food, prepare our shopping lists and for wrapping the presents and for the decorating of the house. The preparations this time of year are off the wall.

Noah had a lot of preparation for his ark adventure.
David prepared place for the ark of the covenant.
John the Baptist was chosen to prepared the way for Jesus here on earth.

Jesus tells us in John 14:2  "My Father's house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?"

Peter reminds us of the preparation we are to have: "But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect."  1 Peter 3:15

The greatest gift we can give away this Christmas is the truth of the Love that came down for each of us.  The best food we can offer to others is the Word of God which they can always feed upon.  When we decorate. what decorations do we have out to stir the hearts of those who enter our home to think about who the Christ child grew up to be?  The Savior of the World.

Be prepared to encounter Jesus.

Talking and Teaching

Friends decorating our neighborhood country club tree.
December 3
Every year I make the effort to slow the pace, but somehow the rat race of the double holidays jumps up to bite me and I get sucked right in.  So much of it is "doing good" but we could spread those good acts out across the year and leave a little breathing room for November-December.

With boxes falling on my head, I was searching last minute for packing options for truck loads of food the school children had gathered for needy families.  I had saved these empty boxes in the garage , wanting to be prepared should our house sell.  Now my husband needed them for a GOOD purpose, yet I was hesitant to let them go.  Sorting through this I thought, "Now what will happen if someone calls and wants us to move out of the house this week and I need to start packing."
The Holy Spirit conviction set in and I heard-"Don't hold on to things which are perishable."
"But God…" I started to rationalize with Him and he cut me off with the reminder, "My ways are not your ways."
Packed into my husband's truck, off the boxes went.  God and I were still going round and round.  By this time I had picked up a broom and was sweeping.  I heard, "Drop everything, go sit and listen to me."  Here I was having the interaction with God I long for and I wanted to sweep. He wanted me to go "take note" of His teachings.
The devil was tossing darts of distraction by the time I got my pen and pad out.  The phone was ringing, the floors looked dirty and in need of mopping, but I sat.  How rude I am to walk out on God at times, right when he is talking and teaching.

But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, 
will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.
John 14:26

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
Isaiah 55:8

Do not remember the sins of my  youth and my rebellious ways;
according to your love remember me, for you, Lord, are good.
Psalm 25:7

Never Gone

December 2

Colton Dixon rocks out a little too much for my musical preference, but his message is powerful in this video.  I've personally experience the pain of a runaway prodigal and admit  I've run away from Christ myself at times. Yet,  He has never left me or forsaken me.

If you ever see the little battery operated lantern used in this video, let me know. I'd love to get those for our grandchildren.


http://www.godtube.com/watch/?v=01FB01NU&utm_source=GodTube%20Today&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=11/25/2013
Be strong and courageous.  Do not be afraid or terrified of them, 
for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.
Deuteronomy 31:6