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Archive for the ‘Holiday Thoughts’ Category

                                                                Each year following the festivities of Christmas, it seems as if we’re given another chance.  A brand new year.  There are endless possibilities that come with a new year, the thought of loosing weight, of becoming debt free (or just financially stable), beginning a new exercise routine, getting organized, or just spending time with family.

After “googling” New Years resolutions, infoplease.com (I don’t know anything about this website, proceed with caution!) gave me this tidbit of information:  “Resolutions: It is believed that the Babylonians were the first to make New Year’s resolutions, and people all over the world have been breaking them ever since. The early Christians believed the first day of the new year should be spent reflecting on past mistakes and resolving to improve oneself in the new year.”

And here is what our trusty dictionary says . . .  decision made at New Year: a decision to do or stop doing something, made or announced at the New Year, which is traditionally considered a time for a fresh start.

Why are people so hopeful at the first of the New Year?  What about opening a new calendar with a brand new year on the top gives us such motivation?

Scripture tells us in Lamentations 3:22-23  “It is of the LORD’S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. 23They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. 24The LORD is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him”  Christ gives his elect a new beginning EVERY morning!  We do not have to wait until January 1, we can wake up each new morning with a new beginning!

What if we are just needing a renewal for our world weary souls?  If so, we need look no further than our Lord!  Isaiah says, “But those that wait on the Lord shall renew their strength“, the Psalmist cries out to God to “Create in me a clean heart and renew a steadfast spirit within me,”  and yet another portion in Psalms confirms that God not only takes care of our daily needs, but he takes care of the world in which He created for us.  “These all wait for You, that You may give them their food in due season.  What You give them, they gather in; You open Your hand, they are filled with good.  You hide Your face, they are troubled; You take away their breath, they die and return to their dust.  You send forth Your Spirit, they are created; and You renew the face of the earth.” 

This New Years Eve, when you look back on your year, or on New Years Day when you look ahead to the coming year, ponder this. . . .  Are you exactly where God wants you to be? 

  • Spiritually (in His Word DAILY, in prayer, in intimate fellowship with Him)?
  • Physically (at home with your children, or in the mission field, or wherever God has planned for you)?
  • Mentally (sometimes we can be physically where God has called us, but we are longing for something else)? 

Grapics from Art.com

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The following was taken directly from “Word of Encouragement” by Charles R. Biggs. You may click here to read the entire article.

“Since it is the Advent season and the time we remember the significance and importance of Jesus’ birth, I will send out what I like to refer to as the ‘JUSTIFICATION of Christmas’. Using the letters from the word ‘Christmas’, we can reflect and be reminded of Christ’s birth, but also his accomplished work that he merited on our behalf. We rejoice that the “LORD has come” at Christmas, but we should also rejoice and be reminded of what the “LORD has done” for those who love him! The first letter of the word ‘Christmas’ is C…

C: CHOSEN IN CHRIST- Ephesians 1:11-14 In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession– to the praise of his glory.

H- HE IS OUR HOLINESS- I Corinthians 1:30 It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God– that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption.

R-RIGHTEOUSNESS OF CHRIST IMPUTED- Romans 4:5-8 However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness. David says the same thing when he speaks of the blessedness of the man to whom God credits righteousness apart from works: ‘Blessed are they whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will never count against him’

I-INCARNATION- Hebrews 2:14-18 Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death– that is, the devil– and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham’s descendants. For this reason he had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.

S: Sola Fide- “Faith Alone” Ephesians 2:8-10 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith– and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God– not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

T- “THEOLOGICAL ARTICLE UPON WHICH THE CHURCH OR INDIVIDUAL STANDS OR FALLS”- MARTIN LUTHERGalatians 1:6-12 I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you, and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even though we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to that which we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to that which you received, let him be accursed….For I would have you know, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ.

M- MESSIAH-THE LAMB OF GOD John 1:29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!

A- ACCOMPLISHMENT OF CHRIST IN ETERNITY AND THE APPLICATION OF HIS WORK BY THE SPIRIT Ephesians 1:4 …even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blemish before him in love… Titus 3:4-7 But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.

S- SIMUL IUSTUS ET PECCATOR- “JUSTIFIED, AND AT THE SAME TIME SINFUL” Eternal life is Christ dwelling in His righteousness in the soul of the justified person. So eternal life can be easily understood as union with Jesus Christ. And the word for that union with him is faith. The sinner comes to him, rests in him, trusts in him, is one with him, abides with him; and this is life because it never ends. The united soul abides in the Vine eternally. Weakness, sin, proneness to sin never brings separation, but only the Father’s pruning, which cements the union even and ever tighter (John 15:1-8).”

Mr. Biggs goes into greater detail on each of the “letters” of Christmas.  My husband found this site through links, and we do not necessarily agree with all of his teachings or writings, but we found this to be a very thought provoking article.  I hope you enjoy it!

Graphic from Art.com

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How often does our God change our hearts?  Why would He care for His own like He does?  Are we not rebellious, sinful children?  Having said that, let me tell you about “A Christmas to Remember”.  It was Christmas Eve, our whole family was home, the children and I were baking and decorating cookies and I had a huge pot of chili simmering on the stove.  The night before, the Lord had “blessed” us with about 14 inches of snow.  The roads were still covered, the ditches were full, and the car was completely buried in the snow.  Sounds like a perfect Christmas to a child, doesn’t it.  The only issue was, our tradition was to spend Christmas afternoon/evening with my family.  In order to do this, some major shoveling would have to be done.  Guess who is elected for the job?  My wonderful grouchy husband.  Don’t get me wrong he’s normally is a very happy, full of fun, loving man, but not this year.  For some reason he was really having a rough day.  It had been about 25 years since he had lost his mom, and about 10 years since his father had passed away and he was really missing them (for the entire story, click here).  Greg was really down and out right grumpy about this Christmas.  Finally he said, “We’re NOT going!” 

I was devastated and I said, “Well, you may not be going, but the kids and I are!”  (Did I mention to you I had a small problem with submission?  I’m getting better, but this is not a shining moment for me.)  I then soften a bit and say, “My Mom and Step-dad are not in good health, I really think we need to go.” 

Greg knew I was serious, so he donned his coveralls, put on his boots and slammed the door.  The kids and I continued to decorate cookies.  Let me step back and tell you about my “wardrobe”.  I had on a pair of sweats, an over-sized sweatshirt, no makeup, and flour from head to toe, not to mention the rainbow of colored icing from the cookies all over me.  Fast forward, Greg comes in after about an hour of shoveling to inform me that across the street a semi-truck had fallen into the snow covered ditch and couldn’t get out.  Greg was sympathetic to this truck driver, due to the fact he works for a trucking company (Greg is a bi-vocational pastor).  Here I am being compassionate for the poor man alone on Christmas Eve and stuck in the ditch, so I stop Greg from taking off his boots and tell him to take the man some chili and Christmas cookies.  Grumbling, he appeases me.  Well, the kids and I have basically destroyed the dining room, which is in full view of the front door, we are still icing and decorating away when Greg comes in with a sheepish look on his face.  (Remember what I’m wearing, and how I’m looking.)  He tells me the gas station where the man was seeking shelter was closing and the clerk’s eyes were pleading with Greg to do something.  God breaks the ice which had surrounded Greg’s heart all day, and he tells the man he’s the pastor of the church across the road and asks him if he would he like to stay with us until help can arrive. 

Before I can say anything, Greg steps aside, and an older Filipino man steps in.  I’m speechless (imagine that!).  He is holding his bowl of chili and his cookies and he begins to try to thank me.  His English is broken, but understandable when you concentrate.  I clear off a place at the table for him to set down and eat his food.  He is very appreciative.  OK, by this time my vanity kicks in and I’m mortified about the way I look, but this calm quiet man seems not to notice.  Our family sat down to join Jun (the Filipino man) in his dinner.  He offers to pray, and I have never heard such a heartfelt, Christ-centered prayer over the hospitality of strangers. 

During the evening we spent with him (The only tow-truck able to pull out a semi was over 1 1/2 hours away without snow.  The truck actually took about 6 hours to get there that day.), we were able to hear him call his family in the Philippians on his cell phone to wish them a blessed Christmas and we learned more about him.  About 10:00 p.m. Jun decided he really wanted some time in his truck alone to pray before the tow-truck got there, but before he left, he told us goodbye and prayed the blessings of Abraham, Issac, and Jacob over our home.  He also told each of the children what he perceived their “gifts” were.  Amazingly, my children were only two, five, and seven, but as they’ve grown his thoughts have proven true.  An hour later the tow-truck arrives, Greg goes out to help them, Jun drives off, and we are left contemplating the wonder of the evening.

Looking back, Jun was such a blessing.  God used Jun to change Greg’s heart and we had a wonderful time with my family.  The following November, my Step-dad passed away.  That was the last Christmas we spent with him.  Ten weeks later,  my mom passed away.  We were able to spend one more Christmas with her, but it was not anything like the year before.  There was sadness and emptiness over our loss.  Had Jun not gotten stuck in the ditch, we might not have had that last happy Christmas with my family.

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Thanksgiving

                      

I will be taking a few days off of blogging to prepare for family coming to celebrate.  God bless you, and have a blessed Thanksgiving.victorian004.jpg

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The Forgotten Holiday

Why is it that the world jumps from October 31 to December 25?  This has long been a real bone of contention with me, and it seems like it is getting worse.  The stores start shoving Halloween down your throats mid September and any more the Christmas decorations are decking the halls even before the 31st of October.  Where is THANKSGIVING?  Do you think if we began to make a big deal about giving out “Turkey Cards”, “Turkey presents”, or “Turkey treats” the retail shops might acknowledge the month of November? 

Coming off my soap box, it really saddens me that the country in which we call home has forgotten it’s foundation.  The founding of the United States was basically a church relocation.  Our Constitution and Declaration of Independence was written with the knowledge that we should be thankful to our Creator God for all of the blessings he has bestowed upon us.  A good majority of the signers of the Declaration of Independence were men of God, even pastors.  How could a country stray so far from it’s roots? 

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays.  It is all about thanking God for his provision, protection, and providence in our lives.  It is a time for the extended family to come together and fellowship, reminisce, and laugh. 

Please leave a comment and let me know what you are thankful for this year.

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