Saturday, December 24, 2011

Fullness of Time... Fullness of Grace

"But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons." Galatians 4:4-5(NASB)
We as humans are procrastinators by nature. We say things like,"It's not the right time yet." We hear things like, "It was the right time, and the right place."
Approximately 700 years passed from the time that Isaiah prophesied that Jesus would be born to a virgin and Jesus was actually born. We might ask, "What was God waiting for?".
The fullness of time...
He was waiting for the perfect time, in fact He had the perfect plan that was set in motion from even the beginning of time.
This Scripture tells us "at the fullness of time". God sent forth His Son. Do you fully realize what all this entails?
When Jesus was born there was a star that appeared in the sky that was so distinct that the Wise Men knew to follow it. That means that when Jesus spoke the world and the universe into existence, He knew that at just the right time, when He Himself was born, this star would be apparent to these wise men.
I look at it like a cup that is so full, it is about to run over. An egg that has the baby chick is born "in the fullness of time". At just the right time, the egg cracks. When a human baby is born, we as it's Mother have no control of when he or she will be born. At the "fullness of time" it knows when to come.
So, in the "fullness of time, God sent forth"... and Mary "brought forth..."
God in His love and mercy, "sent forth His Son" to us! He emptied His heaven of His own Son, so that we could be His sons and daughters also! God wanted to be a Father to us.
Abba, Father... Daddy.
He knew that we could not keep the law, so He sent forth one who could. He would live a sinless, perfect life so that we could be free! We could be adopted by God into His family! We have the awesome privilege and honor of calling God Almighty Father, Abba, Daddy.
We are redeemed, purchased by Christ. He bought us back. He reconciled us to God. Just like the line in the carol, "Hark the Herald Angels Sing". ..."God and sinners reconciled", saved, redeemed, adopted!
I will join with the angels and sing..."Glory to the newborn King... God and sinners ( that's me) reconciled!" Glory to God in the Highest be praised, we have been given the most valuable Christmas present of all, Salvation and a place in God's family!
I thank God for His "fullness of time"... and fullness of grace.

Friday, December 16, 2011

"Untangling Christmas"

Recently when I was sick I downloaded several free, or inexpensive Christmas books for Kindle. I have been reading, "Untangling Christmas: Your go to guide for a Hassle Free Holiday" by Karen Ehman and LeAnn Rice.
Just the cover caught my eye with the Christmas lights tangled around the young woman's legs. That's a good example of how we feel as busy women during the holidays! Why do we do that to ourselves?
Some good ideas she has are to talk to your family members and ask them what Christmas traditions are important to them. Even the dishes you fix. Does your family even like them? There are a lot of things that we put on ourselves during the holidays that maybe your family doesn't even like. So why not just let it go? You don't have to bake that fruitcake that nobody even likes! You don't have to do Christmas cards if it is something that takes up too much time away from what is important. Learn to let some things go!
One of the main themes in the book is: "Simplify, What speaks "Christmas" to you and your particular loved ones? Whatever doesn't... : LET IT GO. Just keep the Christmas traditions that unify your family and that are meaningful. So ask yourself, "What else can you let go of and not feel guilty about?"
Karen says, "Let's let go of "Perfect", our house doesn't have to look like it was featured on HGTV." We don't have to try to be Martha Stewart. ( She might need to get real anyway!)
She asks, " Are we trying to make memories and celebrate Jesus or are we trying to keep pace with the holiday crowd running beside us with no idea where they are headed?"
" Just where are you headed? Toward Christ and calm or toward clamor and chaos!"
I like the Chapter entitled "To Face Unafraid The Plans That We've Made". What kinds of grand plans have you made for you and your family for this Christmas? Can you face it "unafraid", or do you dread it because you have bitten off more than you can chew?
Karen had a great idea in her book about putting a box under your tree with pieces of paper that you have written things you want to do for Jesus in the coming year. Also put a nativity scene under the tree to focus on the real meaning of Christmas. I like this idea. I think we will incorporate this for our family.
I did send out Christmas cards this year, but not as many. This Christmas season let's take a time-out for ourselves. Time to pause, " Bible and heart opened wide, and ponder the wonder of Christmas- the Word- made- flesh who came to earth in a lowly manger so we might have eternal life."
So let's take this good advice from one of the Chapter titles and "Seek the Saviour", wise "women" do still seek Him.
Stop and ask yourself, "Am I all tangled up this Christmas?" We don't have to be. Take some time and reflect on all the things that you are trying to get accomplished this Christmas. You may want to cut some of these things out. Cut your to-do list. It's okay, give yourself a break. Your family and friends will not mind. They will still have a good Christmas, and they will still love you. No one is giving out super-woman awards anyway!
So, let's "Untangle" our Christmas. What do you say?!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Jesus Christ, " The Branch"

What is one thing that rich or poor has to have during Christmas? I think it's probably a Christmas tree. I want to think about the meaning of part of the tree today.
The "Branch"
The part of the tree that branches out away from the trunk.
I have been studying prophetic verses about Christ during this Christmas season. Today I want to reflect on the "Branch" scriptures.
Zechariah 3:8 says, "... I am going to bring in My servant, the Branch."
Zechariah 6:12 "... Thus says the LORD of hosts, "Behold, a man whose name is Branch, for He will branch out from where He is; and He will build the temple of the LORD."
Isaiah 4:2 " In that day the Branch of the LORD will be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the pride and adornment of the survivors of Israel.
Isaiah 11:1 " Then a shoot will spring from the stem of Jesse, and a branch from his roots will bear fruit."
Jeremiah 23:5 " Behold, the days are coming", declares the LORD, "When I will raise up for David a righteous Branch; and He will reign as king and act wisely and do justice and righteousness in the land."
Jeremiah 33:15 " In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch of David to spring forth; and He shall execute justice and righteousness on the earth."
The "Branch" is a "growth" or literally "sprout". This is a "sprout" of Yahweh (LORD) Himself. The righteous "shoot" (tsemah) appeared to be decayed or dead, but it was not.
Joseph came from the line of David, but his family had seemingly lost all claims to the throne because they were poor. But this dynasty of David's tree would burst forth like a shoot.
This ruler, Jesus. will spring forth, or bud forth as a Righteous plant. He is the blossom of the Jewish nation that will spring forth from what appears to be a dead stump.
The coming Messiah would be a joy and honor in the days of calamity to the Jews. But not only that, this branch became "beautiful". He sprouted and brought forth fruits of divine grace, righteousness, reconciliation, peace, pardon, adoption, sanctification and eternal life. He also became "glorious". He was glorious when He rose from the dead.
The gospel IS the fruit of the Branch.
This Christmas when you take off your ornaments that you placed on the tree, let's think about Christ "The Branch".
He needs no ornaments, He was the Branch, and yet He Himself was also the ornaments. He brought forth these glorious "ornaments" that I mentioned above. The peace, pardon, grace, salvation, etc.
These are the most glorious, and beautiful ornaments of all.
You and I as Christians have been en grafted into Jesus Christ, The Branch. Romans 11:16-24.
Who knows? Maybe next year when you put your tree up you will remember about Christ,
"The Branch", and you will stand back and look at this bear tree, think about Christ and all that He gave to us and say, " Thank you Lord that You are my beautiful and glorious Branch."
Let's think differently about the Christmas tree from now on. That the most beautiful part of the Christmas tree are not the ornaments... but the Branch.
( I credit part of this information which was gathered from commentaries from

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

"God Make You Strong and Valiant Gentlemen"

The Christmas carol, "God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen" is over 500 years old.
It is a song of Joy and Celebration. We often sing Christmas Carols each year because of tradition
without knowing their meaning, and such is the case with this Christmas carol.

I recently received a devotional from "Girlfriends in God" and they were talking about the actual meaning of this. So I also researched it and it was interesting to find out the true, historical meaning of this carol.

To understand the first line of the hymn, "God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen," years ago, the words
"rest" and "merry" had different meanings. "Merry" meant strong or valiant, as
in Robin Hood and his merry men: they were not happy, but strong and valiant.
Rest meant, "to make." So the line means, "God make you strong and valiant,
gentlemen." The next line then makes sense, "Let nothing you dismay". How can we be strong and courageous in the face of difficulties? The next line tells us how.

"Remember, Christ our Savior was born on Christmas day." The coming of God to be
with us and that He might bear our sins is sufficient reason to be strong and courageous in this world. If God be for us my friends, then who can be against us?
So... God rest ye merry, Gentlemen (and women).
The real meaning of this IS "good tidings of comfort and joy!"

Monday, December 12, 2011

Random Acts of Kindness (Operation Candy Cane)

During this Christmas season people are hurrying and scurrying about. The people you encounter at the check-out line are barely acknowledged. I have watched as I stand in line how rudely some of them are treated. So I decided to let the love of Christ show in little ways.
Operation candy cane.
Random acts of kindness.
Last weekend I did some Christmas shopping and I decided that I would give a candy cane to every cashier that helped me with my purchases. It was such a surprise to them when I would give them a candy cane and a smile and say, "Merry Christmas!"
I love the way their faces would light up, and they would smile back. They would tell me, "Merry Christmas!", in return. At Starbucks I was getting myself a treat. I gave the young man his candy cane, and he got so excited he turned to all of his coworkers and said, "Hey everybody, look what I got!"
So, I am challenging you to participate with me in operation candy cane. Let's lift the spirits of the people we come in contact with during the remaining Christmas season. Whatever random acts of kindness you can think of will be great.
Pay for the person's coffee in line behind you at Starbucks. Hide a dollar bill inside the toys at the Dollar Store. People have really shown their worst side during this holiday time. (Just think back of the stories on black Friday). Why don't we as Christians show the world something different? Wouldn't it be great if so many people did this that they reported this on the news instead of the fighting?
Let the joy of Christ that we have in our hearts splash over on others. In some of the stores I go in frequently, the girls know me. Stop and ask their names. Befriend them.
I'm not quite done with my Christmas shopping yet. Instead of dreading it, I'm looking forward to giving out my candy canes!
So, next time you go shopping, give it a try. Give out some candy canes. You may find that you lift two spirits at once. Theirs, and yours!

Friday, December 9, 2011

It's Christmas... where can I go to rest?!

Title of picture: "Come To Me"

Peace... that seems to be what everyone wishes for. You even see the sentiment expressed on Christmas cards this time of year. "Peace on earth, good will toward men." We are all looking for peace in a world where we can find very little of it.
Now close your eyes and picture the Christmas holiday time in America, or in your home. Do you think of peace? Are you thinking, I can't wait for Christmas this year because it is so peaceful? I know, it's just a dream right?
Well what if it doesn't have to be?
Recently I was sick and so I was forced to stay home. At least for this brief time, I wasn't running to and fro like a chicken with his head cut off! You know what I discovered (other than the fact I hate being sick)? I discovered "peace".
I discovered that I don't have to do all of the things that I think I have to do during the holidays! That's right, it was slower and it was sooooo nice.
I went online and downloaded some free Christmas books. I sat by the fire and read them. I read through the Bible looking for prophetical Scripture about Jesus birth. I made do with what I had without running to the store every five minutes. I became more relaxed, at peace. I was forced to rest.
In looking through the scriptures I found this verse yesterday, " Thus says the LORD, "Stand by the ways and see and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is, and walk in it; and you will find rest for your souls..."
I was meditating on what the meaning of this is. The Lord Himself was telling Judah to Stop, and think, as if they were at a crossroads. These paths crossed, or converged. Stop, and see, and then ask. Ask someone wiser which is the best path. There is a path that you can choose that is "the good way". It is a path that is ancient. God prepared it from long ago. He tells you if you choose this path, you will find rest for your souls.
Rest, peace, isn't that what everyone wants? This peace is an eternal rest. When you find it you will have a peace that passes all understanding.
What is this ancient path? This path leads to Jesus. The other leads to chaos and death.
Augustine said, " Our souls can find no rest until they rest in Thee."
Jesus said, " Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden 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." Matthew 11:28-29 My Bible has these words capitalized because Jesus is quoting Scripture and many believe He is quoting this text in Jeremiah.
Many people are uneasy because they are not at peace with God. They know and sense that something is wrong inside, but they don't know what the cause is. So what do they do, especially this time of year? They run for the "stuff"! They think maybe if I buy this new gadget, or the new wide-screened T.V. or anything you can imagine, fill in the blank, I will find peace. Then when they have it, they find out it didn't bring them any peace or happiness.
What is the answer? We find peace in Jesus. Jesus said, "Come to Me... and He would be the giver of rest. He would give you peace.
Go to the manger, take time out of your busy, hectic schedule and just draw near to the Lord. Spend time with Him in quiet reflection of what He did when He came to earth to be born as a little baby. He didn't come empty handed, He came bearing gifts. The greatest gift was salvation and the other was peace. Peace... why would anyone not want that?
Ahhh... peace and rest, now doesn't that sound wonderful?

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Hallelujah Light Has Come!

I was reading my Bible this morning and came across this verse," The LORD is God, and He has given us light..." Psalm 118: 27. The Psalmist is thanking the Lord for His light and all of His goodness in this Psalm.
I was thinking about this verse in "light" of this Christmas season. David spoke of a "light", but there was one to come whom Himself would be this light and bring this light. I wanted to list a few of these verses about this great "light".
Isaiah 9:2 (NASB) "The people who walk in darkness will see a great light; Those who live in a dark land, The light will shine on them."
Isaiah 60: 1 ( NASB) “Arise, shine; for your light has come, And the glory of the LORD has risen upon you."
John 1:4-5 (NASB)" In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it."
John 8:12 (NASB)"Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.”
John 12:46 (NASB)" I have come as Light into the world, so that everyone who believes in Me will not remain in darkness."
2 Corinthians 4:6 (NASB)" For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness,” is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ."
1 John 1:5 (NASB)" This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all."
This God who spoke the words, "Let there be light" and light was. He Himself IS light. He had an only begotten Son who was also THE light. He wanted to bring light for us to see with our eyes, but He also cared and loved us so much that He sent His Son, the "light of the world", to illumine our hearts and show us the way. We live in a dark world, but we don't need to stumble around in darkness. God has provided that light for us in His Son.
In John 8 Jesus was speaking during the Feasts of Booths or better know as the Feasts of Tabernacles. One of the features of this feast is light. They would light up the temple, and people would also ascend the temple steps with lights. Can you imagine the scene when all of these lights are all around? Then Jesus says, "I am the Light of the world; he who follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the Light of life. (Light of the living)
We have so much to celebrate as Christians this time of year! We have been given the greatest gift we could have ever received and that is the gift of Jesus Himself. He came to give us eternal life. This One comes with a light that never dies! It never needs batteries!
Hallelujah, Light Has come! We never have to live in the darkness ever again!