Getting Over It

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Gifts are not something you should have to “get over.” Particularly when you are on the recieving end and it is a good gift from a good giver. Even beyond that, especially when it is something hand-made by the ultimate Creator of all things.

When we were made, we were knit together by God (Psalm 139:13).
This means we were purposed, planned. If I knit something, I surely decide what colors and textures to give it based on my purpose for it–a blanket, a scarf, a pair of gloves. {Ok, I don’t actually knit, but if I did…}

And when we become believers in Christ Jesus by faith, God makes us anew. We receive the Spirit inside of us. We are meant to grow and the more we pursue and draw near to God, the more He draws near to us. (Galatians 3:14, James 4:8)

With the Spirit’s indwelling come the various gifts for the building up of the body of Christ which is the Church, which is meant to grow, which means our gifts {used in love} are for the benefit of all peoples to the glory of God. (1 Corinthians 12:4-6; 27; 1 Thessalonian 3:12)

Send us your best travel stories and get a chance to win a free trip for two! If you'd like to learn more, go visit company.com-contestBut gifts must be received and put to use to be enjoyed. We must recieve them. When we offer their outflow to others, they, too, can choose to receive that.

For too long, I’ve been hung up on using the gifts God has given to me without concern of how they might be received. I am getting over it. Because these gifts are not from me nor for me. We are all God’s workmanship, or His masterpiece as the New Living Translation says. Note that it doesn’t say “you are God’s workmanship,” it says “we.”

Pursuing intimacy with God is how we receive the good gifts of the Spirit. And staying rooted in that intimacy is how we rightly {humbly} offer them to others for God’s purposes.

We each have gifts to use. Sometimes we might find it difficult to recognize them in ourselves. I found this short article easily sheds light on the topic in a relatable, every day context–a conversation with a child.

Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms,   1 Peter 4:10   NIV.

Whose Image?

Well since this is tax day and a familiar passage hit me during my pastor’s sermon with fresh insight yesterday involving a coin, it seems appropriate to share it.

And he saith unto them, “Whose is this image and superscription?”
Matthew 20:22 KJV

Some Pharisees are trying to trap Jesus with a trick question about whether or not it is right to pay taxes to Caesar. Jesus wisely has them bring a coin (a denarius) and asks whose image is on it.

“Caesar’s,” they replied. “Then he said to them, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s”

The word “image” struck me yesterday. I usually read scripture in the NIV which says, “Whose portrait is this?”

The ESV says “likeness.
The Message says “This engraving–who does it look like?”
All of  these convey the same meaning and understanding.

Still, it’s funny how reading God’s word in different translations than we’ve grown accustomed to can be used by God to shed new light on familiar truths.

Because when I read this passage in the KJV and the word “image” stuck out to me, it made me think of Genesis.

And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. Genesis 1:26-27 KJV

So the image on the coin represented Caesar…. give him what is due him {earthly ruler, earthly currency}

But as Jesus says next…”give God what is God’s.” We are his creation. We belong to him.

What is due God is summed up a few verses further down when Jesus answers yet another question meant to entangle him:  What is the greatest commandment in the Law?
(Matthew 22:36)

Jesus replied:  Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. (v 37)

We are made in his image — with a heart, soul, mind. Give God what is due him. All of us.

 

How Should We Be Like the Manger?

The manger had to do with available space and time.

Reading in Luke this morning, I am dwelling on God’s plans and timing.

In Luke 2, we read how God planned the time for Christ to be born, and for it to coincide with the first ever census while Quirinius was governor of Syria.  It’s the type of detail I’ve often overlooked when reading scripture, but we must ask ourselves, why is it there for us?

God caused the Romans–in His great sovereignty–to document a census that puts historical evidence of scriptural truth before men. Then and now. (There’s a whole other topic to dwell upon, how God provides evidence, yet still requires faith.)

But this census also caused Mary and Joseph to be in Bethlehem when Christ was born (which fulfills prophecy), AND it also meant the town was packed with people.

[box] While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn,   Luke 2:6-7[/box] 

How Are We Like the Manger?

  • Humble accommodations – God could have sent His Divinity to earth in limitless ways with limitless means. The fact He sent a baby in a manger was purposeful. Christ was not sent with priority on comfort and convenience, but on humility and sacrifice.
  • Available spaceThe contrast of a town too full versus an available manger can serve as a picture of our hearts. If my heart is full of my interests (which usually involve comfort and convenience) is there room for Jesus to reign there as my King? 

God holds time. 

God fulfills promises. God chooses to work in a way that involves man. Sending us to be the hands and feet to deliver the good news of Christ is also purposing humble accommodations for the divine.  

God make us, keep us, humble and available–first and always before You, and to those around us to do what You call us to do.

“As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world” John 17:18.

Free Download: Luke Praise Journal

Christmas time is supposed to be a celebration of Christ–the promised Messiah–coming to us. Yet, it seems we get even more easily distracted away from our relationship with God during this time of year with TOO. MUCH. OTHER. STUFF.

Even our usual Bible study groups dismiss for weeks around this time of year. Mine won’t start meeting together again until mid-January.

I prepped a little reading plan and prayer journal for them and thought I’d post it here as a free download for anyone who is interested.

Download a copy of the Luke Praise Journal and spend some focused time every day between now and Christmas.

 

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

 

A Lesson in Belief from The Breather of Stars

God wowed me and taught me a lesson about belief.

A couple of mornings ago, I walked out early with my dog to the front yard. The sky was still a dark blue. The moon was bright, the dipper was showing along with some other stars.

As I began whispering a prayer of how beautiful it was, a song flooded my mind that I hadn’t thought of or heard in years. I’m thinking probably 20 years or more. The song was, “Oh Lord, You’re Beautiful,” by Keith Green.

As I told my God how gorgeous that sky was, I told him, it is not to be praised, but you are. You are beautiful. You are creative. You are imaginative. You amaze me. And then, as I was praying and looking at his creation, a star shot across the sky and faded out.

I cannot come up with a word to describe my reaction. EXCITEMENT. WORSHIP. AMAZEMENT. AWESTRUCK.

And also, DISBELIEF.

My heart was stunned. Was it really a star? Had it somehow been an airplane?

And then, I was humbled by the fact that I believe my Lord Jesus died for me. I believe I have the ear of the Creator of the Heavens and Earth when I pray. And yet, part of me hesitated to believe he would bless me with that sight in that moment of praise.

Our God is so personal and yet He is universal–all at the same time.

The next day, as I’m still reflecting on this awesome exchange, I encounter this beautiful scripture reference, courtesy of iBible Verse.

Let the words of that Keith Green song lead you into worship of God, the one who is on his throne and has made you his child by the grace of Jesus Christ.

One Word Brought Me to Awestruck

Do you ever just get struck by one word?

Even in a familiar passage, sometimes God uses one word to speak new depths to me.

Psalms 139 {one of my favorite passages} has one of these words: KNIT.

 For you created my inmost being;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb ~ Psalms 139:13   NIV.

What’s involved with knitting?

Decision and purpose.

  • What will be knit?  A scarf, a blanket, a baby’s sweater {it starts with purpose}

  • Based on this purpose,  what colors and textures will be selected? {personality, gifts, talents}

  • How is it formed?  Personal touch. Intentional  and detailed motions of the hands doing the knitting {God’s fingerprints on a life}

When I think of God knitting me together for a purpose, with intricacies He selected, I am awestruck.  Which is fitting as I began studying Wonderstruck by Margaret Feinberg this week. {Join me as I follow this online study at Women’s Bible Cafe}

I expect to be blogging about how God shows me where He is at work and ways He increases my sense of awe for Him in the every day.

Your Turn. I’d love to hear about a word in scripture that thrilled you, revealing new depths. Or, what have you seen this week that filled you with wonder and awe?

Raising Surrendered Hearts-

Jeanette

 

 

Waiting On God’s Timing

“You may think of waiting as a passive, inactive time. Waiting on the Lord is anything but inactivity. While you wait on Him, pray with a passion to know Him, His purposes, and His ways.”  Henry Blackaby, Experiencing God

Jesus knew what it was to wait on God.

  • He waited 30 years to begin his public ministry. It began after John the Baptist called men to the baptism of repentence.
  • He prepared the disciples for his own death and pomised to rise on the third day, but He taught until the time was revealed.

Jesus prayed in Gethsemane as He waited for His arrest. He prayed to align Himself to the Father’s will. He was not waiting on men, but on the Father’s timing and plan. 

Mark 14: 1 -2 Now the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread were only two days away, and the chief priests and the teachers of the law were looking for some sly way to arrest Jesus and kill him. “But not during the Feast,” they said, “or the people may riot.”

This passage reveals man’s evil desire to kill Jesus, but it also reveals this was not the time they wanted it to occur. God created the plan for salvation and He chose the time.

Mark 14:12 On the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, when it was customary to sacrifice the Passover lamb, ….”

This is the day God said, “Now,”and heaven’s perfect lamb, Jesus Christ, was placed in hands to be slain.

God’s timing and plans will prevail, and they will be perfect.

Christ will come again, let us be actively waiting, until God again says, “Now,” and Jesus returns.

 

Image via photoxpress.com by Clark Duffy

Jesus Changes Everything

He {John the Baptist}  went into all the country around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins~ Luke 3:3

Have you ever tried to imagine living in that place, where the baptism of repentence was first proclaimed?

A shift from the ongoing, bloody animal sacrifices to a call for repentance outwardly proclaimed through baptism in water.

Talk about a paradigm shift.

Perhaps that’s why the ancient scripture of Isaiah’s prophecy, puts it this way:

“A voice of one calling in the desert,

‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.

Every valley shall be filled in, every mountain and hill made low.

The crooked roads shall become straight, and all mankind will see God’s salvation.'”

Note all the reversals. Valleys filled in. Mountains lowered. The crooked straightened.

Our Lord Jesus changed everything.

Jesus fulfilled the law and offered us grace through faith in His ultimate sacrifice as forgiveness of all sin. And, He changes our hearts.

When asked, “Jesus, what is the greatest commandment?”

Jesus replied, “Love the Lord your God with all of your heart, all of your soul, and all of your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. (see Matthew 22:35-40)

Jesus changes our selfish hearts bent on our own desires, our own performance, our own plans and molds it into a heart that yearns for God and to please Him.

What does God desire?  Draw near to Him with a sincere heart and assured faith. Discover hope, and love there. Be spurred on toward good deeds and encourage one another.

Suggested reading: Hebrews 10: 1 – 25

Spend some time in listening prayer, asking God, “What do you want of me, Lord?”

Image via photoxpress.com by Andrew MacDonald.

Come to Me, the Faithful One

I watched the Brady Bunch daily as a child. I used to be able to tell you which episode was starting within the first 10 seconds. Seriously.

In the earliest Christmas episode, Carol Brady sings O Come All Ye Faithful. This is a miraculous event because she’s had laryngitis all week, and her voice returns just in time to sing her solo at church.

Perhaps this is why it’s been one of my favorite Christmas songs. But unlike the program where Cindy asks Santa to make her mom’s voice return, we are to come to the Saviour with all things.

The angels came to rejoice and annouce the birth of Christ. As a man, the Saviour told us to come to Him and receive.

[box] “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30[/box]

 

Read all of Matthew 11 to frame what Jesus is saying. You’ll see:

  • John the Baptist is in prison. Doubt has crept in. Is Jesus the Messiah after all, because this doesn’t make sense?
  • Christ affirms John the Baptist as a prophet and says the one who is not offended by Christ (because of circumstances) is blessed.
  • Christ challenges the people there listening as to why they gathered. Was is for curiosity or for truth? To judge or to seek?
  • Christ warns of judgement on towns where miracles were performed to display authority and power, yet no repentance or following took place.

If we only come motivated by curiosity, to get a miracle, or even under a routine of worship, we miss what Christ calls us to.

Come to Me,” Christ calls out. This requires a willingness to move to Him, with open hands, lives and hearts.

This is a seeking surrender. This is where we receive rest. This is where we learn what we need from Him. We experience His gentleness, and He lightens our load by removing what we can never do on our own.

Come to Him again and again. He is the faithful One. He is our righteousness, our King of Kings. Knowing Him, the truly faithful One, is our grandest miracle.

Merry Christmas!

Celebrate the miracle birth that made possible

the miracle of relationship with the Lord of Lords!

Choose A Side – This is the Day

This is the day.

image via photoxpress.comThe presidential election will take place. An outcome will occur. So much of today’s fodder will be about choosing and rooting for a particular side.

But today, like every day, is a day that the Lord has made. And I am reminded on this important day that God chooses to work out His plans for us in ways that are foreign to us.

 

  • God chose to make a nation (Israel) out of a barren couple, both around 100 years old
  • God chose to have that nation grow while enslaved in another country
  • God chose to bring that nation out of slavery some 400 years later
  • God chose to allow that nation an earthly king, even though He was to be their true King
  • God chose to discipline that nation by allowing an enemy–a godless nation He will judge– to overcome them and hold them captive
  • God chose to protect a remnant and restore them again in their own land
  • God chose to speak His plans through prophets
  • God chose to bring a new covenant to the unfaithful people of His nation
  • God chose to take His diety and wrap it in humanity to deliver His promised rescue
  • God chose a horrific death on the cross to secure salvation
  • God chose this sacrifice for sin to be freely given to all –Israel and all others– based on faith

God chooses to work out His Plans in His own ways.

Christ willingly laid down His life for us. A day we know caused Him grief, as scripture records in Mark 14.

 He began to be deeply distressed and troubled. He went to pray. “My soul is overwhelemed with sorrow…Take this cup from me… Yet not what I will, but what you will.” (see verses 32 – 35).

What a day for our Lord Jesus. It was the day the disciples got bewildered. It was a day many didn’t see as part of God’s promise to bring an eternal king from the house of David.

image courtesy of Donald Janski via photoxpress.com

When Christ was crucified, many must have wondered – What is God doing? What have we done?

Yet, God’s plan was at work in all of it. In every choice, on every day.

Let us sing praise, just as Christ did shortly before going to Gethsemmane (see Mark 14:26) . Let us pray, just as Christ did in that garden.

Whether distressed or elated by the end of this day, let us sing.

This is the day the Lord has made.

We will rejoice and be glad in it.

These words come from a song of ascent, sung over generations as the Israelites journeyed to Jerusalem for the feasts. A time to celebrate The Passover. Words our Lord Jesus would have sang many times. Perhaps even words He sang on that day.

Meditate on the entire truth of this pilgrimmage hymn today. Remember this day is part of a journey that leads us to His eternity. You can read Psalm 118 here.

Key exerpts from Psalm 118 are below:

 1Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever. 

 4 Let all who fear the Lord repeat: “His faithful love endures forever.”

5 In my distress I prayed to the Lord, and the Lord answered me and set me free. 6 The Lord is for me, so I will have no fear. What can mere people do to me? 

8 It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in people. 9 It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in princes.

10 Though hostile nations surrounded me, I destroyed them all with the authority of the Lord.

14 The Lord is my strength and my song; he has given me victory. 15 Songs of joy and victory are sung in the camp of the godly. The strong right arm of the Lord has done glorious things!

 21 I thank you for answering my prayer and giving me victory!

22 The stone that the builders rejected has now become the cornerstone. 23 This is the Lord’s doing, and it is wonderful to see. 24 This is the day the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it.

28 You are my God, and I will praise you! You are my God, and I will exalt you!

29 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever.