THE Arrival

In this Holiday season, I pray you all are keeping your devotion time going. Often we put them aside when we’re busy but that’s when we need them the most. We’re distracted and busy…and a prime target for the enemy. And, this Holiday is about Christ anyway, right? Let’s keep our focus and the flame of our love affair with Him burning bright. Do an Advent study/Devotion this season and worship Him. Grow deeper and closer to our Savior. 

And I think you’ll find keeping Christ in Christmas will help your busy Holiday time go much better! Also important: We see a lot of people this time of year that we don’t see regularly….as well as stores packed full of strangers. What a prime opportunity to share Christ and His Gospel. Remember why you’re here 😊

Arrival. That is what the word “advent” means. Only the Advent we are celebrating here is not just any arrival. It is THE Arrival.

This is Advent: the coming of hope to the hopeless, the arrival of peace, the long-awaited exhale of freedom for generation after generation gasping for air.

Advent is the elaborate yet stunningly simple plan of God to descend to His children, to become like them in the most unexpected, unglamorous, fully human way….and He’s coming again! 

Expect Him. Watch for Him. 

This is the beginning of a great ransom story. And you’re in it. 
Merry Christmas!

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Merry Christmas

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Merry Christmas!

Come, let us adore Him. Christ is the Lord!

Oh, what a deep, passionate love He has for you and me! He came to die! Did you get that? Really? He came so that He could die. For us. Tears streaming down my face, I thank You Jesus!!

And, truly, HE taught us to love one another. God is Love.

He not only stepped onto this planet, HE can step right into Your heart this Christmas. My heart is set on Home this Christmas. Wherever your heart is this season, bring it on Home to Daddy. Come as you are. Don’t wait.

Prayer:

Dear, sweet and wonderful Immanuel, God with us, give us that nearness all year long. Thank You for coming so that You could die for us, reconciling us and Daddy. We celebrate You today. Happy Birthday! And, because of You, those of us who have accepted You as Savior and Lord too celebrate our re-Birthdays. We’ve been reborn. Renewed. Redeemed. Bought and paid for by Your very life. Dear, Sweet, Jesus. May we celebrate You all year long. Happy Birthday and thank You. Thank. You. In Jesus name. Amen.

God With Us

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Behold, the virgin shall become pregnant and give birth to a Son and they shall call Him Emmanuel — which, when translated, means, God with us (Matthew 1:23)

It’s totally possible to have someone sitting right next to you everyday and never really know them. It’s shamefully easy to do.

It’s that way with God, too. God is with us. He’s right here, whether or not we acknowledge that or not. The difference is whether or not you’ll see Him , or miss Him altogether.

Draw near to God (James 4:8)

We have to take time to acknowledge God as Lord. We have to take time to talk to Him. When we draw near to Him, He draws near to us.

There’s no feeling like the feeling of snuggling up close to our earthly Daddy. It just fills you up and puts you in a delicious place in your heart to be that close. It’s the same way with our Heavenly Daddy. Snuggle up close and stay there.

Listen, God is here. He is. He’s closer than the air we breathe. He’s all around you.

Today is Christmas Eve. It’s the day before we celebrate the birth of our Savior, Jesus, Emmanuel, God with us. It’s the day before the party. My little girl told someone yesterday that she was so excited for Jesus’ party.

Take some time to snuggle up close, pray and set your heart on Him. Praise Him. Thank Him. He came for you.

Take a look around and you’ll see Him.

Prayer:
God, it’s so easy for us to get distracted this time of year and miss seeing You. Thank You for being so close. I see you. I hand over everything – the distractions of thinking this is all about me. I give you my heart this season to bring You glory in everything that I do and say – to praise You and thank You for who You are and for the way You love me so deeply, so passionately, so well. In Jesus name. Amen.

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Seeing God In The Everyday

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In this season of my life I am finding such deep, deep joy in the smallest of things along with the big ones. I don’t want to blink and miss one tiny kiss from my Heavenly Daddy. I don’t want to miss Him in the everyday.

The other day, I was rocking a sweet baby that was tired and wanted me to hold him. I began to sing to him about Jesus and he immediately relaxed and listened. He turned his sweet little face up toward me watching and listening as he smiled the sweetest little smile and started slowly blinking off to sleep. Seriously brought tears to my eyes as I looked at that sweet face and began praying for him, his life as a future Christ follower, his family and loved ones.

When I see Daddy moments (which is all the time) I like to say, “I see You, Daddy”

Merry CHRISTmas y’all.

Praise Immanuel, God IS with us! He’s EVERYWHERE, ALL the time. We just have to be watching and listening.

Joy To Your World

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Joy to the world. The Lord has come. Let earth receive her King. Let every heart prepare Him room.

You may have heard the Christmas story thousands of times before, but do you believe it? Have you embraced it as reality and truth? Or have you filed it away under Christmas fantasy along with magical bags of toys and elves?

The true Christmas story, the one that I have chosen to weave as truth into the fabric of my life, is the story of a girl who was ordinary, young and unqualified.

God chose to place Himself inside her womb so that you and I could, one day, carry His presence inside of our lives as well.

God, the Father, the Creator of the Universe, the Instigator of everything glorious and miraculous, chose you and me as the vehicle through which our generation would receive its greatest gift. It is our miracle that we have been called to demonstrate Jesus to the world in which we live.

The world will see the Light of the world when I allow my life to become a shining beacon to humanity.

Christmas was not all about Mary … or Joseph … or Elizabeth and Zacharias … or shepherds and Magi. Christmas is about you too! It is about making yourself available at this time in history – for such a time as this – to reveal the presence and love of our Savior.

You are the present that God is choosing to give to your world today. Your generation is desperate for the glory of a Savior.

As you contemplate New Year’s resolutions and plans that will encompass the 365 days to come, will you recommit yourself to be used by God?

Will you decide this Christmas day to allow God to use your life as the manger upon which the Savior of the world may be found?

Joy to YOUR World! Jesus has been born in YOU. God is looking for believers who will be bold enough and joyful enough to embrace the miracle of Christmas, not just one day a year, but every day of every season.

Merry Christmas! May you truly grasp how wide, how long, how high, and how deep the love Christ has for you.

Making A List And Checking It Twice

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Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. (1John 4:7-8)

As much as I try or even want to love on my own strength, I cannot love well and completely unless I am connected to God. Believe me, I’ve done that, and it ain’t pretty.

When we first know Who God is and experience His love, grace, and forgiveness in our own lives, we are then filled up with a supernatural love that overflows to others…..even those who are hard to love.

It’s this same supernatural love that God pursues us with. His tender passion is not found in this world, oh, no. This world is full of fragile loves–love that abandons, love that fades, love that divorces, love that is self-seeking, self-pleasing, and plain out selfish….me, me, me, it’s all about me, and right now. This isn’t love….these are “feelings”. God is not that kind of love. Real love is like God who is holy, just, giving, kind, patient, seeking others needs first, never gives up, never looses faith, always hopeful, and endures forever.

He’s personal and intimate with us in our hearts, in our prayers, and in our lives. His love is everlasting.

I just love Him so much that I have to do something about it. Who Christ is and what He’s done should cause us to act. His generous love and compassion is not to stop with us. We should find ways to show compassion to those who are suffering (even if it is at their own hands) because Christ is compassionate towards us. (Believe me when I tell you that there are days when that alone keeps me going. I could start another blog on that alone….these aren’t empty words here). His love for me is my fuel and lights me up…keeps me fired me up and overflows to others.

“You can give without loving, but you can’t love without giving….great happiness of life is the conviction that we are loved. Loved for ourselves and in spite of ourselves.” -Victor Hugo

Here’s your list….check it twice 😉:

  • Love for God can be seen only in love for other people (4:11-13,16-21,5:2)
  • Love and fear are opposites (v18)
  • Love is a gift, not a possession (v10,13,19)
  • Confession of Christ and love of others cannot be separated (vv19-21)
  • God’s love is certain. Christ showed that on the cross. (4:10,14; 5:6)
  • Because He first loved us….

    Advent: It Is Finished

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    Today is the first Sunday of Advent. The word “advent” means arrival. The Advent we celebrate is not just any arrival. We celebrate THE Arrival: Jesus.

    This is the Advent: the coming of hope to the hopeless, the arrival of peace to war-torn exiles, and the long-awaited freedom for generation after generation.

    It’s the elaborate yet stunningly simple plan of God to come to His children, to become like them in the most unexpected, unglamorous, fully human way: a Babe in a manger….born of a virgin.

    It’s the beginning of a great ransom story. And you’re in it.

    Our ransom story begins way back at the beginning. Way back to the fall in the Garden of Eden:

    Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’ ” “You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves. Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?” He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.” And he said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?” The man said, “The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.” Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” So the Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, “Cursed are you above all livestock and all wild animals! You will crawl on your belly and you will eat dust all the days of your life. And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.” (Genesis 3:1-15 NIV)

    “No sooner was the wound given than the remedy was provided and revealed” -Matthew Henry

    God’s rescue plan started right then. He couldn’t leave us there. His weapon of choice: Grace. He would use Grace to draw us back to Him in the form of His Son. A Messiah. A Savior. Emmanuel: God With Us.

    Yes, the evil one would strike His heel. Jesus would experience real suffering with real blood, sweat and tears. But, Jesus would have the last word. When He cried out, “It is finished!” the serpent’s head would receive the final, fatal blow.

    This is how He would become God With Us. Once His work is done….once you and I accept Him as Lord and Savior…..we will never be separated from Him again. God.With.Us.

    In this Holiday season, I pray you all are keeping your devotion time going. Often we put them aside when we’re busy, but that’s when we need them the most. When we’re distracted and busy we are a prime target for the enemy. And this Holiday is about Christ anyway, right? Let’s keep our focus and the flame of our love affair with Him burning brightly. Do an Advent study/Devotion this season and worship Him. Grow deeper and closer to our Savior.

    You’ll find keeping Christ in Christmas will help your busy Holiday time go much better! Also important: We see a lot of people this time of year that we don’t see regularly….as well as stores packed full of strangers. What a prime opportunity to share Christ and His Gospel. Remember why you’re here in the first place 😊

    First Things First: Peace

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    Rejoice in the Lord always. will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts, and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:4-7)

    It seems strange that a man in prison would be telling a church to rejoice. We can learn a lot about attitudes from Paul.

    Our inner attitudes do not have to reflect our outward circumstances

    Ultimate joy and peace comes from Christ dwelling within us. No matter what happens, Jesus Christ is within us.

    In all situations–everything–I need to run and talk to my Father about it. That should be my first thought and my first action. And, because I have done first things first, I have joy in the midst of tragedy. Because my confidence is in Him, I am calm, gentle and at peace instead of freaking out at that crisis, and anxious about a doomsday coming…..rather real or perceived.

    Even if things do go differently, remember…….

    ……..sometimes, when things seem to be falling apart, they are actually falling into place

    He guards our hearts and our minds with His supernatural peace.

    It’s His supernatural peace that enables us rest peacefully and to know in the middle of all the chaos, that we are “covered and under his wings in refuge”

    ……in the middle of all those unplanned crazy times, “his faithfulness is our shield and rampart”

    ……when we just don’t know how things will turn out, we can rest peacefully, because in Him, we “will not fear the terror of the night (unknown), nor the arrow that flies by day” (known possible attacks/crisis/tragedy)

    ……because we “dwell in the shelter of the Most High and rest in the shadow of the Almighty!”

    ……In the midst of everything we will say, “the Lord is my refuge, and my fortress and in whom I trust!” (Psalm 91)

    ……and we will say THANK YOU! Thank You Jesus, for you are near! I feel You! I see You! Thank You!

    How do I know? Because I’ve been here. I was just here four days ago, and He was faithful. He will be again.

    Joy To Your World

    20121211-055633.jpgNehemiah said, “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is sacred to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength (Nehemiah 8:10)

    When the people heard God’s Law, they experienced deep sorrow. They had ignored and betrayed their sovereign and personal God. The very thought of their sin made them sob. Instead of patting them on the back and telling them how great it is to mourn their sin, they encourage the people to turn their mourning into a celebration. Once they understand God’s written message and accept His mercy, their joy overflows.

    We need to do the same. Sinning is something to be sorry about (for real) and shed tears over because we have grieved our Daddy. I was a daddy’s girl growing up and nothing caught my heart quicker than grieving my dad. But we don’t have to stay there…..God’s mercy over us is something to shout about. Mercy is not giving us what we deserve. God had mercy on us and sent His Son to die so that instead of getting what we deserve, we get heaven…..we get forgiveness….a pardon….we get to dance and shout for joy instead of mourning. To skip Jesus means we are still lost in our sins. Don’t skip Him! He loved you enough to die for you! You are valuable to Him….that’s why He came!

    Jerusalem’s wall was strong and restored and now the people needed to restore and strengthen their relationship with God. Nehemiah tells them that their delight in the Lord will be their inner fortification.

    Need to mend the broken relationship between you and the Lord? Go ahead! He’s waiting. He’s not standing there with a pointed finger, waiting to say I told you so…..He’s standing there with a smile on His face, joy in His heart, and arms open wide for His prodigal child has come back. All of heaven is waiting too, with their party hats on and their noisemakers ready to scream and shout. You are valuable and dearly loved.

    The people were no longer to focus on their inadequacies, mistakes or sins. As they repent and find their source of life and celebration in the Lord, their self preoccupation diminishes. They came out of their sin heavy funk and had a party! They experienced the truth of Nehemiah’s words: “The joy of the LORD is your strength.”

    You’re forgiven child! When you bring that sin back up to the Lord, He’s going to say, “What sin?”. He’s not kidding when He says you’re forgiven. Don’t waddle in it anymore (and don’t do it anymore!)…..do a Jesus jig along with the rest of us because Jesus came and brought joy to your world! Ever see someone go through something so horrific with such strength? This is their secret….the joy of the Lord is their strength!

    “Send some to those who have nothing”….. spread the news! There are others around you who need the joyous news right now. There’s plenty of joy to go around, share the good news!

    God Sings and Shouts With Joy

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    When I think of the Lord God of the universe…..the Creator of EVERYTHING finding delight in me it seems so surreal. He has loved us so much and I am in awe that He sent His son to die for my sins….me personally an individually…..and you too….personally and individually.

    The Lord Himself exults over us with gladness and sings, resting in quiet ecstasy over us in whom is all His delight. Wow. WOW! Do you feel worthy of that? I don’t! But, it’s true! This awesome and undeserved love stirs within my heart a need to rise up and praise Him.

    The mighty God is with us…walks with us, speaks to us and quiets all the loud stirrings within us with His complete and perfect love. His patient, forgiving love. His peaceful love. His faithful, unending love. His joyous love. His kind love. His gentle love. Alllll of His love……. this awesome, huge love is given to you….brought and introduced first to this world in the form of a baby. Born to die…given to you. And all because he loves you!

    God is with you, mighty to save. He sent His Son to die on the cross for your sins. Giving your life to Him quiets and brings rest to your soul. You’ll find confidence in your future for you know He is with you in this life, and in the life to come. He is victorious….therefore those who belong to Him are victorious. Giving your life to Him causes Him great rejoicing. Yes, rejoicing no matter what you’ve done, and who you are, and where you are….He rejoices over you. And you too rejoice with gladness for you know what He rescued you from and forgave you for

    Giving ourselves to Him to love and care for us delights Him and causes Him to break out in a song and shout with joy (rejoicing!). This very day, as the great big mighty God of the universe thinks about us, He is glad, He is delighted, He loves us and it causes Him to sing.

    The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing (Zephaniah 3:17)

    It’s Simple

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    One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?” “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

    God’s laws are not burdensome. They can be reduced down to two simple principles:

    Love God and love others

    Love is the primary affection with which we are to relate to God–and do it with our total being…everything…..no holds barred….ALL……

    ……All is a keyword here. Life is so busy and sometimes we are partially focused on God. He wants all of us, not just our leftovers……

    …….There are no “ors” in this, it’s all “ands”…..grouped together with no room for partial pieces. All always means all!

    Love Him with all your heart (affections) and with all your soul (spirit) and with all your mind (intelligence) and with all your strength (will).

    This Christmas season, give Him your heart and let your spirit dance a love song with Him. Allow Him to refresh and renew your mind into right thinking and focus on Him. Say to Him, not my will but Your will be done.

    It Isn’t A Christmas Season For Me

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    And again, Isaiah says, “The Root of Jesse will spring up, one who will rise to rule over the nations; the Gentiles will hope in him. May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15:12-13)


    The believer’s hope comes through the Scriptures, which were written and inspired “by the power of the Holy Spirit”

    God alone is our source for eternal hope, life, and salvation. True joy and peace come from God. We often try to find joy and peace through worldly things that fade away.

    Our joy is directly proportional to the grace we have received–at least the perception of grace that we have received

    Receive a small gift, and your joy might be minimal. Receive a large gift, and your joyous reaction is greater.

    I just gave one of my daughters a cute note pad, and she had a big smile on her face and squeeled, “Thank you mommy!”. I gave my other daughter a car (very used) and she squealed, jumped up and down, cried and thanked me a million times. Receive a small gift, and your joy might be minimal. Receive a large gift, and your joyous reaction is greater. When I think on the grace, mercy, love, hope, joy, life, gifts and salvation God has given me I jump up and down too! My rejoicing is great and I start Jesus-jigging!

    When Christ followers don’t have much joy in their lives, something is wrong. Spend time thinking on the things God has given you–rescued you from–brought you to–brought you through. We’ve all been through some “stuff” and God has brought us through them.

    Just as when the disciples gathered up the remnants from the miracle of Jesus feeding the 5,000 into the storm, take those blessings from your past into your right now and into your future.

    True Christmas joy comes from rejoicing over the great big~bigger than life~gifts of grace.

    Christmas isn’t a time or season, it’s a year round state of mind….a condition of the heart.

    A Branch for Christmas: the richest gift of all

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    “The days are coming”, declares the LORD, “when I will fulfill the gracious promise I made to the house of Israel and to the house of Judah. “In those days and at that time I will make a righteous Branch sprout from David’s line”; he will do what is just and right in the land.



    God’s grace-filled promise is paid in full in Jesus Christ- the Righteous Branch. He came with a journey of love to carry out and He did it, and did it well….righting wrongs, and bringing justice for all who receive Him.

    Grace: giving us what we don’t deserve. I don’t know about you, but I certainly have done nothing to deserve this kind of love and sacrifice.

    God’s promise is true for my salvation and also just as true for my daily life. In all things (all means all) God works for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8).

    “In those days and at that time”….God knows what’s going on with you and me. Believe that God will swoop right in at the right time and work for your good. I ask again, do you really think God would love us enough to send His Son to die for us, and not care for us in our daily life? What would be the point? What about that would make us eager to serve Him? No, He’s all about the details of our lives. We just over look Him and aren’t listening for His voice.

    There’s a power of God that you and I can’t even imagine, and that power is at work in us, for us and through us

    This Christmas as we celebrate the birth of our Savior…..a King born to die….let’s remember that His love for us is consuming, overwhelming, never ending, awesome, and huge. He brought salvation to us, and He also brought an invitation….a front row seat to allow Him to work in us, for us and through us in such powerful ways.

    What a mighty and loving God we serve!

    Thank You, Lord for our Christmas Branch….a Branch for Christmas is the richest gift of all!

    Walk in loving power, and at the edge of your seats with the King.