The Hope of the Season

winter-2957821__480When someone is good to you, you want to share it with others.  When they are kind, patient, understanding and self-sacrificing on your behalf, you want to give back somehow.  When someone has extended mercy and forgiveness to you and has pursued you even though you felt you were not worth pursuing, you want to express thanks.  And my way of thanking God is to tell others about Him.  To share with others that He is good, patient, forgiving, humble, and a seeker after them.  When Jesus left this earth to go back to His Father, He told his disciples to tell others about Him.  To let others know that they could come to Him if they wanted to have a life with He and the Father.  Both here and now, and forever.  When I think about Christmas, I think of all of the fun things that our culture does to celebrate the season – the lights, the Christmas trees, the gift giving, but there’s this quiet voice in my heart that keeps reminding me that Jesus was the greatest gift ever given, and that Christmas is about Him being all we need when entering a relationship with God.  We don’t need to make special sacrifices (Jesus did that), we don’t need to put on special garments (Jesus is that), and we don’t need to be perfect (Jesus was that).  All we need to do is invite Jesus into our hearts and lives.  I was lost before He became a part of my life.  I was searching, but I didn’t realize I was searching.  And even though I wasn’t looking in His direction, He gently knocked on the door of my heart and drew me to Him.  There is nothing I can do to repay God for what He has done, but I can tell others that God is hope, and He can fill your heart with it.  That’s not to say that life will be perfect, Jesus told us that life would not be without struggles, but He will never abandon us in those struggles.  It is a Merry Christmas, and it’s all because of Jesus.

“And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.  And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.  And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.  For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.  And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.  And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” – Luke 2:8-14

Where Is Your Treasure?

holding-hands-2600576__480My husband and I flew to Vermont last week to see his mom and stepdad.  It made me uneasy, as I am an unenthusiastic flyer.  I sometimes wonder if at least part of the reason for this is that my grandfather died in a plane crash, and although it occurred before I was born, I witnessed the hole it left in the hearts of his (my) family.  So although flying is statistically a safe form of travel, it can make me fearful.  Some may think that a Christian should not be subject to these feelings since they believe that God has their back and in the end, will be with Him anyway, but the feelings are a result of our humanness, and although I believe that God would prefer we trust Him in every situation, I know that He also has compassion on us in our weaknesses.  My husband often says that once we move beyond this life and are with God, we won’t have a care in the world, and that it’s toughest for the people here who mourn our passing.  I do agree.  When we are in God’s presence, we will be completely content.  The Bible verse I read on the morning of the flight encourages people to “store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy” (Matthew 6:20).  It reminded me that if what we value most is our eternal life with God, then our hearts can rest more easily when we are doing things that make us afraid.  Like flying, for instance.  I’m glad that God calls us to Himself through Jesus, not only so we have our eternal home with Him, but so we can also experience the comfort of knowing Him as we walk (or fly) to each new destination in this life.

When Words Became Voice

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I remember that soon after I became a Christian I was impressed by the fact that the Jesus I was coming to know was consistent with the Jesus I was reading about in the Bible.  It was as if the love, gentleness, kindness, compassion, and understanding that He demonstrated, and the truth that He brought had been gently set down inside of me; to teach me, guide me, and comfort me.  The Bible says that when we trust in Jesus to be our Redeemer, God’s Holy Spirit makes His home in our hearts.  This was when the words on the page also became the Voice in my soul.

“And because we are his children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, prompting us to call out, “Abba, Father.” – Galatians 4:6

Hold Onto Him Tightly

sleeping-670736__480“So commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these words of mine.  Tie them to your hands and wear them on your forehead as reminders.  Teach them to your children.  Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up.  Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates…Show love to the Lord your God by walking in his ways and holding tightly to him.” – Deuteronomy 11:18-20, 22

These verses from Deuteronomy give us a good indication of what pleases God.  Although God was speaking to the Israelites, it is clear to me that He desires these same things from us today.  He wants us to remember His words and to keep them so close that they sit just above our eyes, on our foreheads, and at the front of our minds.  He wants us to teach them to others, and to speak of them so often that they flow from our lips at home, as well as when we are riding on a plane, getting our coffee, or waiting for a bus.  When we are tired and scooping our feet off the floor at night, and when we awaken in the morning and lift ourselves from bed, He wants us to be speaking of His ways.  He wants His words displayed for others to see, on our gates and on our doorposts.  He wants us to walk in His ways and to hold onto Him tightly.  He asks us to stay close, to cling to Him, and to remember His words.

Jairus, the Woman, and the Crowd

religious-2144550__480In the Bible there’s a story about a synagogue leader (Jairus) who seeks Jesus out to ask Him if He will accompany him to his home and heal his daughter who is dying.  On the way to Jairus’ house, a messenger arrives to tell them that his daughter has died.  Jesus tells Jairus not to be afraid, to have faith, and that his daughter would be healed.  At the same time, a woman who had been suffering with “constant bleeding” for over a decade approached Jesus and touched the edge of His robe in the hopes that her health would be restored.  Her bleeding stopped immediately.  When Jesus arrived at Jairus’ home, he found a crowd that had gathered and was beginning to mourn the young girl’s death.  Jesus told them to stop weeping, that she wasn’t dead, and that she would be healed.  The crowd laughed.  Jesus took the girl’s hand, told her to get up, and she did.  Jairus and the woman approached Jesus with humility and childlike trust, whereas the crowd laughed at Jesus’ declaration that the girl would be well again.  I am assuming that some in the crowd must have had a change of heart after they saw Jesus’ miracle, but were there others in the crowd who didn’t?  If so, they missed out on a relationship with not only the One Who loves them most in this world, but in experiencing first hand, Immanuel, “God With Us.”

“Then Jesus took her by the hand and said in a loud voice, “My Child, get up!”  And at that moment her life returned, and she immediately stood up!” – Luke 8:54-55

Love Made Me Love

baby-1884898__480I have found that I need to be careful not to fall into the trap of trying to appear as if I have my life “together” in the hopes of being a better example for God.  Since I am human and not without fault, I will never truly have a handle on everything.  If I did, I might not seek out God’s help.  The most important thing I can do in an effort to bring God glory is to let others see His love in me.  That is what drew me to Him.  I saw His love expressed through a friend who chose to accept me as I was at a time when she could have passed judgement instead.  The love she showed me not only glorified Him, but it made me more curious to know the God she loved.

Love takes your hand
and walks beside you
in silence
Love invites you
to climb onto its back
and be carried
Love owes you nothing
but wants to give you everything
Love says, “let’s do this again tomorrow,”
when you feel like giving up.

– kb

“Rabboni!”

easter-25821__480My Friend lived a sacrificial life.  He defended outcasts and made sure that those who came to Him for help got what they needed.  He traveled far distances to let people know that God was near.  He didn’t always tell people what they wanted to hear, but He told them what they needed to hear, and He always told the truth.  He was compassionate.  He was forgiving.  He spent a lot of time in prayer.  He was a good Friend.  That’s why I feel the need to say that He is Easter.  Although I am an animal lover and appreciate rabbits for the simple fact that they are God’s creatures, they are not Easter.  They are cute.  They are fun.  I myself buy Easter cards with bunnies on them, and I always enjoy receiving those same kinds of cards, but they are not Easter.  Easter is the news that Jesus is still alive.  It is the news that He is in heaven.  It is the news that death could not keep Him in the grave.  It is the news that we can all have life through Him; that we can all approach God the Father through Him.  It is the news that God loves us.  It is this…

“Mary was standing outside the tomb crying, and as she wept, she stooped and looked in.  She saw two white-robed angels, one sitting at the head and the other at the foot of the place where the body of Jesus had been lying.  ‘Dear woman, why are you crying?’ the angels asked her.  ‘Because they have taken away my Lord,’ she replied, ‘and I don’t know where they have put him.’  She turned to leave and saw someone standing there.  It was Jesus, but she didn’t recognize him.  ‘Dear woman, why are you crying?’ Jesus asked her.  ‘Who are you looking for?’  She thought he was the gardner.  ‘Sir,’ she said, ‘if you have taken him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will go and get him.’  ‘Mary!’ Jesus said.  She turned to him and cried out, ‘Rabboni!’ (which is Hebrew for ‘Teacher’).” – John 20:11-16

Freedom In Believing

“We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ.  And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are.” – Romans 3:22

horse-430441__480I can very much identify with the man who said to Jesus, “I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24)  One thing I desire is to believe God; to believe all He tells me in the Bible.  I am not advocating trying to hide our questions from Him, or pretending that we don’t have doubts at times, but in my experience there comes a point where a decision needs to be made — to either believe that what we are reading is God’s message to us, or it isn’t.  I would hope that all would be on the side of believing, but with that said, even those who say they believe sometimes struggle with allowing God’s words to penetrate their heart.  I did (do).  But I also know what it’s like to believe Him, and the latter is much better.  When I believe Him, there’s a feeling of freedom that goes along with it.

“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” – 2 Corinthians 3:17