Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2015 Word

A very wise friend offers the follow challenge for finding a Word to bring new life in your life in 2015. The Apostle John opened his book by saying; "In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God."
In ancient times, wise men and women fled out into the desert to find a place where they could be fully present to God and to their own inner struggles at work within them. The desert became a place to enter into the refiner’s fire and be stripped down to one’s holy essence. The desert was a threshold place where you emerged different than when you entered.
Many people followed these ammas and abbas, seeking their wisdom and guidance for a meaningful life. One tradition was to ask for a word – this word or phrase would be something on which to ponder for many days, weeks, months, sometimes a whole lifetime. This practice is connected to lectio divina, where we approach the sacred texts with the same request – “give me a word” - something to nourish us, challenge us, a word we can wrestle with and grow into. The word which chooses us has the potential to transform us.
What is your word for the year ahead? 
A word which contains within it a seed of invitation to cross a new threshold in our lives?



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My word for 2015 is "Kindness." I believe that I need to strive to be filled with a spirit of kindness that goes with other fruit of the Spirit, including, "Love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, faithfulness, goodness and self-control.  These traits can only be lived by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Happy New Year

Friday, December 26, 2014

God's Promises

It is written in 2 Pe 1:3-4 “As His divine power has given us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises.” There are as many as 7500 promises in scripture, conditional and unconditional, specific for a circumstance and for us all today. There are some I want to highlight that are always true. At Advent and Christmas it is especially wonderful to know these truths of God's faithfulness.

1.   God (Immanuel) is always with me (I will not fear) “It is the Lord who goes before you, He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed. Deut 31:8
2.   God is Always in control ( I will not doubt) “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him , and he will make your paths straight.” Prov 3:5-6. Conquer the wave of doubt, live by faith, trust, He is sovereign. God’s promises are an assurance God gives his people so they can walk by faith while we wait for Him to work. God’s promises never fail.
3.    God is always GOOD (I will not despair) “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good for those who are called according to his purpose.” Rom 8:28.  I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Ps 27:13.
4.   God is always watching (I will not falter) “No temptation has overtaken (seized) you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted (tried) beyond your ability, but will provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” 1 Cor 10:13.

5.   God is Always Victorious (I will not fail) “No weapon formed against you shall prosper, and every tongue which rises against you in judgment you shall condemn. This is the  heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is from me.” Isaiah 54:17 NKJV

Thursday, December 25, 2014

God's Indescribable Gift

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“Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift.” (2Cor 9:15). Yes, a gift too wonderful for words. It is beyond telling and inexpressibly precious. It is a free gift. I can try to describe it, but it is exceedingly and abundantly over that.  Because of His surpassing grace, unmerited favor, this Christmas, to us a child is born, to us a son is given, as the Prophet Isaiah proclaims in v. 9:6.

In this desperate world, where people are walking is darkness, a light has dawned. For us, those living, all of us in this dark sphere, a great light has come, shines! Do we see it or even know it exists? It seems not as I look at wars and slaughters and drugs and destroyed or lost lives.  Jeremiah the prophet in v. 17:9 said, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and beyond cure. Who can understand it?”

Christmas is the answer to this awful thought. It is not in the celebrations. It is not in our gifts of giving or receiving, but ONE.  Christmas is in the giving of and our receiving of God’s gift of His son. “For God so loved the world that he gave His one and only son, that whosoever believes in his shall not perish, but have eternal life.” (John 3:16).

The gift given was prophesied 1000s of years before it was given and God said in fact that all should be able to know and perceive it, but not all will receive it. It is for all, not exclusive, not for those who deserve it. In fact none of us deserve it. It is a gift immeasurably beyond what we could ask or imagine this Christmas. It is there in brilliant light and rainbows of ribbon.  Take it, open it, receive it and be renewed, remade, restored and reborn in the one who came as a child, but is from the beginning and is now here for you and will be forevermore.

Merry Christmas.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Christmas 2014

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                                            “Glory to God in the highest,
                                              and on earth peace to men on
                                           whom his favor rests.” Luke 2:14
    It is Christmas and Luke and the other Gospels bring us the wonder of the night that the precious gift was given to us in Christ Jesus. The angel had just appeared to the shepherds watching their flocks by night and they were terrified as they were told the Good News of great joy that will be for all the people. Jesus came to bring peace, but also a sword He tells us in Matthew 10:34. What is that about?  He knew that many or even most would not receive the gift and many who did would not open and embrace it with thanksgiving in their hearts. In fact from the beginning of creation man has been against man and war not peace has been the common element on earth. Why? For since Genesis pride, arrogance, selfishness, greed and fear have continued to reign at the behest of Satan who has masqueraded as the “angel of light.”  Yes, even though those walking in darkness have seen a great light shining in the darkness as Isaiah the Prophet tells us, yet, the darkness has remained. But thanks be to God, His kingdom will not be overcome by Hades or Satan (Matt 15:34).  However, unless we are filled with the Holy Spirit of God we will not be able to overcome the world as Jesus did.  We are told to be in the world but not of the world; to be filled with the Spirit of trust, goodness and righteousness. 

Once we are His we are to live in the Spirit, and walk in the Spirit.  We need to be continually filled and controlled by the Spirit. We are to walk in the light and not darkness, being clothed with Christ and the fruit of the Spirit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Gal 5:22). Then and only then can we do what Paul asks of us in Romans 12:18, “If it is possible, as far as it depends upon you, be at peace with everyone.”  This Christmas as the Christ child comes again let us remember that His peace is not as the world gives. He came to redeem the world from darkness, war and unforgiveness, to reconciliation and forgiveness of our sins.  

As much as it depends upon you, if it is possible, be at peace, forgive and live in His love.  This is the message of Christmas, love one another as He has loved you.
And these three remain, faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.  So receive His gift, open it and embrace it this Christmas so that you might live in the light as He is in the light and be at peace with one another.


Friday, December 19, 2014

Overflowing Hope


The Advent of Christmas is around the corner and the polar vortex of cold weather is upon us as well. The world is struggling economically and the Middle East is at war as usual. However, I find scripture promises that are great and hopeful in the midst of the winter season.  Yes, the coming of the Christ child, Immanuel, God with us is very hope-filling.  Moreover, there are many important promises in scripture that speak of overflowing with abundance in the midst of trial or tragedy.

David the Psalmist’s best known Psalm 23 builds us in hope even after walking through the valley of the shadow of death and darkness. He is comforting and saying fear not, for the Lord is spreading a banquet in the midst of our enemies and anointing our heads with the oil of gladness in the Holy Spirit.  Also “my cup overflows.” Yes, and even goodness and mercy will follow us all the days of our lives and we will dwell in his house forever. Get it? Our cups, or lives are overflowing with God’s bounty, his presence, peace, love and HOPE, even in the valleys.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows. If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort. (2Cor 1:3-7).
Paul writes to the Corinthian church regarding the comfort of God in our sufferings.  We can have hope in this promise, for as 2Peter 1:4 tells us, his promises are every great and precious. Notice that just as His sufferings flow over in our lives, so also does His comfort OVERFLOW. Overflowing means a surplus or flood beyond us. Just as suffering is often beyond or too much for us, God is also saying that Christ’s comfort will be overwhelming for us. Isn’t that a great promise when we face troubles in this world?

My favorite verse in the New Testament is Romans 15:13, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace, so that you may OVERFLOW with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Here again is a promise to those who will believe. Paul has just reminded the gentiles of the prophesy of Isaiah that “the Root of Jesse will spring up, one who will arise to rule over the nations; the Gentiles will hope in him.” (Isaiah11:10). He is speaking of Jesus Christ, born of the lineage of David, Jesse’s son. This is our great hope, “Christ in you, the hope of glory.” (Col 1:27).

We can have overflowing hope in this Advent season.  Isaiah prophesies to us, that “the people walking in darkness have seen a great light…a light has dawned and enlarged the nation and increased their joy…For unto us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the governance will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:2-3,6). He is a great and overflowing joy and light.

This Advent and Christmas be overfilled with the hope and light of your lives, be flowing over with his peace and love. AMEN