Remnants of Christmas


christmas-decorations-in-box

Yesterday I ran across a pre-decorated holiday gift box. Somehow I missed it when I packed up all the other Christmas decorations a few weeks ago. When I touched the box I had several fond memories of Christmases past flash through my mind. What I remember most is the Joy of Christmas, not gifts. It got me to thinking, “Why can’t we have Christmas Joy all year?”

During the holidays, people are generally happy and seem joyous and excited about the season. Sadly, most are not really experiencing joy, but are experiencing happiness instead. Happiness is fleeting; it’s based on external circumstances. The realities of this broken world soon return and their thoughts focus on problems, rather than the meaning of Christmas.

The Bible mentions joy, or joyful, over 200 times! Joy is a gift our Heavenly Father wants us to have. In John 15:11 Jesus said, “These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.” What a cause for celebration – not just at Christmastime, but every day.

Joy is internal. It’s a spiritual reality based on our relationship with God. The great message of Christmas is that Jesus, God’s precious son, has come to save us. We have the promise of eternity, with our beloved Savior, no matter what happens to us in this life. Proverbs 10:28 reminds us, “The hope of the righteous brings joy, but the expectation of the wicked will perish.” Therefore, the Christian can find joy in the midst of any circumstance.

1 Peter 1:8-9

Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

Romans 15:13

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

 One of my favorite Christmas carols is Joy to the World. I’m singing this wonderful song to myself as I type this post. Joy to the world, the Lord is come! May your heart be filled with joy today and always.

joy-to-the-world-cross-550x320

joy to the world lyrics

 

Scripture: www.biblegateway.com

Images: google images

A Fresh Journey Through The Scriptures


829326-A-compass-and-a-bible-on-the-verse-of-Proverbs-3-5-6-Trust-in-the-LORD-with-all-your-heart-and-lean--Stock-Photo.jpg

I was busy tending to my daughter when I heard the doorbell ring followed by the thud of a package dropped on the doorstep. Knowing its contents I was a little annoyed at how carelessly the package was handled, but I reminded myself the book inside probably wasn’t damaged.

I had been looking forward to receiving this particular box for over a week. I tore open the package like a kid unwrapping a Christmas gift. Inside that box was my new Bible. I don’t really need a new Bible. It’s just that I decided to embark on a new adventure through the Scriptures and thought a new “vehicle” would help me get the most out of my upcoming journey.

Four times I’ve taken the challenge to read the Bible in one year, and each time was a blessing. This time, I’m taking a different approach. I’m going to read the Bible in three years. I know it sounds like I’m taking a half-hearted approach, but hear my plan.

  • Year 1: Read the New Testament, history between the testaments, and the study notes for each verse. Read a Psalm and a Proverb every day.
  • Year 2: Read ½ the Old Testament, (Genesis to Esther), history of the Israelites and the study notes for each verse. Read a Psalm and a Proverb each day.
  • Year 3: Read the second half of the Old Testament, (Ecclesiastes to Malachi), accompanying world history and study notes for each verse. Read a Psalm and a Proverb every day.

Instead of speed reading the Bible, I look forward to savoring every morsel. I want this trip through the Scriptures to be a personal exploration of the Bible. I also want to plant all of God’s Word deep in my heart and soul. To do that I need to take more time to mediate on individual verses and passages – something difficult to do when you intend to read the entire Bible in just one year.

So, for my three-year quest I bought a new Bible, in a different version. It’s a Study Bible with thousands of articles and dozens of maps. These tools should guide this new adventure like a compass and detailed map. Fortunately, I will also have a dedicated tour guide for my quest – God. Care to join me?

Blessings on your day.

*The Bible I selected is the ESV Study Bible.

 

Psalm 119: 18     Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law.

2 Timothy 3:16-17

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.

Psalm 119:105     Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.

Joshua 1:8

This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.

Hebrews 4:12

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

Scripture: http://www.openbible.info

Image: Google Images

The Faith of my Daughter


images

Rising up a child in the faith is a constant thing. We can’t just let Children’s Ministers and Youth Group leaders be responsible for the spiritual training of our children. Parents must also cultivate a deep faith in our children and constantly set an example. I’ve tried to do that, by answering my daughter’s questions, and keeping our faith alive at home. In addition to regular church attendance, my daughter watches her parents pray, attend Bible Study, and listen only to Christian music. Sometimes I wonder if I am being successful. Monday morning I got my answer.

My 10 year-old daughter had knee surgery yesterday. I spent quite a bit of time in prayer leading up to her surgery, asking God to guide the surgeon’s hands, keep the medical staff alert and accurate, and for my daughter to not feel significant pain. I prayed for quick and complete healing. I alerted my church and posted my prayer request on Facebook; many friends lifted my daughter up yesterday morning. I knew she was covered in prayer.

After my daughter was prepared for the operating room she asked for a moment of privacy – to pray. A 10 year-old asking for privacy to pray! My heart leapt for joy!

Children surprise us sometimes, don’t they? Just when we think they haven’t heard a word we said, we find out that they have been listening – intently. Proverbs 22:6 tells us “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” This verse tells us that what we do as parents does matter and should give us encouragement to continue set the right example and to train up our children in the faith.

That my daughter’s faith is growing should not come as a surprise to me. During the summer of 2014 my daughter asked for a Bible and a cover. She wanted to pick a Bible that was meaningful and useful to her. That trip to the Christian book store was a wonderful experience. We prayed she would select the Bible God wanted her to have. I watched as Elianna opened different versions, read some verses, and finally selected a simple, NIV Bible. She still uses that Bible frequently and has highlighted numerous passages. She was only 9 at the time she chose it.

My daughter knows the words to most of the Christian music we listen to, and often signs along. She knows my favorite songs and has a knack for knowing when to play a specific song for me. Until yesterday I didn’t realize what a big deal this was. I just thought she was playing music like any tween would. But when we drove her home from the hospital, it was Christian music she wanted to listen to. It calmed her and gave her peace.

My daughter’s story of faith goes back to when I was pregnant with her. I had prayed for a daughter for many years, but had lost several precious babies to miscarriage before I became pregnant with my daughter. To honor God for this special, precious gift of a baby, we gave her a name that would also be her testimony: Elianna. Elianna is a Jewish name that means “The Lord has responded, or God has answered my prayer.”

I have prayed other prayers for my daughter: for her safety, her spiritual growth, to do well in school, to meet and marry a godly man, and to have a career that will bless many. Parents, prayers for your children are powerful, and our great God hears them all. Won’t you pause for a moment and lift up your precious child (ren) to Him right now?

Father God,

We lift up the child(ren) You entrusted to us. As parents, we ask for wisdom to guide them to You and be godly examples. We pray earnestly for them to know You and accept Salvation through the precious blood of Your Son, Jesus. We pray for them to be obedient to You. We pray for our child(ren) to trust You fully and grow deep roots of faith. We pray for them to gain spiritual wisdom so they can make the right choices and follow the perfect path You have for them. Lord, we ask you to protect our child(ren) from every harm. Grant them wisdom to recognize the tactics of the enemy and flee from every temptation. Help them be strong in this broken world, and grant them the ability and courage to share Jesus with many others. Amen.

May you recognize how the Lord has richly blessed you and your precious children!

Scripture: www.biblegateway.com

Image: Google Images

 

The Season Of Light


john-8-12

At this time of year I look fondly at Christmas memories, my heritage, and holiday expectations. There are so many traditions to enjoy, including food, enjoying certain activities, and decorating our homes with lights. Both a tradition and expectation are the lights we see at this time of year. Our homes, businesses, and even the streets shine brightly with millions of white and colored lights. We enjoy decorating our homes and driving around to look at all the light displays. Why do we have such a fascination with light?

I won’t attempt to answer this question from a scientific perspective, although I think we are probably wired to be interested in light. I believe our love of light is explained within the pages of our Holy Scriptures.

Light is a common metaphor for God throughout the Bible. The first thing God created was light (Genesis 1:3) and He separated light from the darkness (Genesis 1:4). Interestingly, He created light before He made the sun, moon and stars on the fourth day (Genesis 1:14-16). Isaiah 9:1-7 predicts the birth of our Savior, calling Him a great light.  As Jesus was born He was called light (Matthew 4:16 and John 1:5). Jesus told us He is the light of the world (John 8:12 and John 12:46) and we’re also told that God is light (1 John 1:5). More exciting is that we are children of God; therefore we are children of light (Ephesians 5:8 and 1 Thessalonians 5:5). At the end of the Bible God tells us Jesus will be the light for the New Jerusalem (Revelation 21:23).

There are more references in Scripture to light than are practical to post, but I think you get the idea. Jesus is light. Therefore decorating with light is fitting, as we prepare to celebrate the birth of our Savior.

James 1:17

…Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the father of lights…

May your Christmas be richly blessed by the Light of the World.

 

Scripture: www.biblegateway.com

Image: google images

Thankfulness – Day 26


in-his-image-genesis-12623-13-638

Dear Heavenly Father,

Today we give You thanks for food. Lord, you have blessed us with an abundance and variety of foods and drink. You also gave us taste buds to enjoy the food You have provided. As we feast today keep us focused on You alone, the giver of all good things.

 Ecclesiastes 9:7

Go, eat your bread with joy, and drink your wine with a merry heart, for God has already approved what you do.

1 Corinthians 10:31

So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

Genesis 9:3

Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. And as I gave you the green plants, I give you everything.

 Koko_Thanksgiving_Overeating

 May your Thanksgiving Celebration be blessed.

Scripture: www.openbible.info

Image: Google Images

Thankfulness Day 24


gen 1 28

 

Almighty God,

Today we thank you for technology. Thank you for these brains you created to solve problems and create things. Thank you for the comforts these advances have provided us. Guide us to use technology to spread the precious Gospel.

Matthew 28:19

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,

 

Scripture: www.biblegateway.com

Image: Google Images

Thankfulness Day 21


2Thessalonians2v15

Thank you Lord for the gift of traditions so that we may come together as family and friends, and remember to celebrate your goodness. Thank you also for the traditions of our faith that provide structure to our worship experience.

 2 Thessalonians 2:15

So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by our spoken word or by our letter.

1 Corinthians 11:1-2

Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ. Now I commend you because you remember me in everything and maintain the traditions even as I delivered them to you.

 day 21

From Leviticus 23

The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the people of Israel and say to them, These are the appointed feasts of the Lord that you shall proclaim as holy convocations; they are my appointed feasts.

The Sabbath

The Passover

The Feast of First fruits

The Feast of Weeks

The Feast of Trumpets

The Day of Atonement

The Feast of Booths

 

May you experience abundance and blessings as you celebrate the traditions of this season.

 

Scripture: www.biblegateway.com

Image: Google Images