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Posts Tagged ‘Family’

We have entered the season of Advent. This is a time of year that I love and look forward to with anticipation … A time of family and friends … A time of gathering and fellowship … A time of celebration and a time of expectation.

Advent … “the expectant waiting for the celebration of the Nativity of Jesus”; Latin, meaning “coming” … expectant, waiting, coming. Each of these words conjures up a sense that something big is about to happen. This Advent I will write a few thoughts and publish them here on what, to me, Advent is speaking in this season.

AdventCandles

I hear the words “Come and See” this Advent season. God in His infinite love and mercy has issued an invitation to “Come and See.” This isn’t the first time He has spoken these words. Throughout the scriptures we read this invitation. Some have accepted His invitation, others have not. This year, in 2015 Advent, God is yet again, issuing the invitation to “Come and See.” Will you accept His invitation? It will look differently from person to person, but will you “Come and See?” Will you “Come and See” His miracle power? Will you “Come and See” Him heal the brokenness within you? Will you “Come and See” God breathe life and restoration into those things that are withering and dead? Will you “Come and See” the hand of God reach out to you and touch you, lift you up and set you into the place of promise? Will you “Come and See” the babe in the manger and know that this is where Hope has been birthed? Will you “Come and See” the peace of God this Advent 2015?

Remove the blindness of culture, remove the blindness of hate, remove the blindness of apathy from your eyes and in this Advent season … expectantly and with anticipation,“Come and See.”

“He said to them, “Come, and you will see.”

~ John 1:39a ~

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“I hate, I reject your festivals, Nor do I delight in your solemn assemblies, “Even though you offer up to Me burnt offerings and your grain offerings, I will not accept them; And I will not even look at the peace offerings of your fatlings. Take away from Me the noise of your songs; I will not even listen to the sound of your harps, But let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever flowing stream.” ~ Amos 5:21-24

I can’t think of anything more painful than the knowledge that God has rejected my worship. But there are hundreds upon hundreds of people who stand in churches around the world with hands raised to God only to have their worship rejected and even hated by God. What causes God to reject your worship? How about; Hands raised to Him in worship that were just hours before used to sin … Heart turned to God on Sunday but throughout the week leading up to Sunday was turned toward deceit, or hatred, or jealousy … Eyes looking to God in worship that were just days ago looking at pornography, erotic novels, or TV shows depicting demonic situations … Voice singing in worship to God that until that moment was an instrument of hate, vulgarity or lies. We cannot be a people who walk hand in hand with the world Monday through Saturday and come Sunday think we can reach out and grab hold of God with our dirty hands. A continued rejection of what God is asking of us as a people called by His name will only end with “justice rolling down like waters and righteousness like an ever flowing stream.” The Holy Spirit has departed from many church bodies because of the corrupt atmosphere within. Rejection by God is death to the one who He has lifted is Hand from. The American church has lost its authenticity, credibility and integrity over the centuries. Today God is calling His church back to a season of repentance and through repentance receiving the grace and hope of Jesus Christ. We are to cleanse our hands, heart, eyes and voice so that we can lift them all to God in worship and so that our worship is not a stench but a sweet aroma in throne room of God.

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“Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.” ~ John 11:32b

How often do we accuse or blame God when bad things happen? Unfortunately the answer to that question is quite often if we answer honestly. In our scripture focus up above, we see Mary doing the same thing when her brother Lazarus died. You can hear the deep pain and the accusations in her words.

In our own conversations with God, when we are going through tough times, we too say “God if You had (fill in the blank) then (fill in the blank).” “If/then” statements work in mathematical equations, but they do not work in our relationship with God. Next time, why not delete the “if/then” and instead say; “God I don’t understand but I trust You.” … or … “God I believe in You and I choose to rest in You.” By choosing to trust and believe in God instead of choosing to accuse God, your situation already has moved from darkness to light, from pain to peace, from condemnation to freedom.

When we “draw near with confidence to the throne of Grace” it is there “that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16)

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So many people are going through some difficult life struggles already this year. They have become disheartened that 2015 has begun in such a way. Whether it is at the beginning of a New Year when we want things to go smoothly to wipe out the negatives of the previous year or if it is at any other time throughout the year that life deals you a challenge, do not lose hope! If we base our hope on what is happening in our lives, our hope will diminish quickly and our lives will pull us into the chaotic whirl and dizzying sense that we are out of control and can only ride along. If we base our hope In Christ Jesus, we will find our hope is constant, our strength to bear up under our “present troubles” is more than we expected, and we will find that in Christ Jesus we will be able to not only bear up under the troubles of the day, but we will succeed in overcoming those troubles.

“For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever!”

2 Corinthians 4:17 NLT

When we overcome, we allow the glory of God to shine! With Jesus orchestrating and directing your way, life troubles will seem small and manageable. If you are facing some challenges in this new year, know that through Christ you will not only make it through, but you will overcome!

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Christmas and the holiday season for most people is a joyous time of fellowship, family, and fun. For others it is a time of great despair. They meet the impending holiday with a heavy heart for loved ones lost, financial stress, and so much more. It is a season of sadness and despair versus a season of joy and hope.

“For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given;

And the government will be upon His shoulder.

And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor

Mighty God, Everlasting Father,

Prince of Peace.” ~ Isaiah 9:6

To me, this scripture verse is a great source of strength and hope throughout the year. My hope is that if you are in a season of despair that you will find great hope in these words. It is only through Christ Jesus that true joy and true hope is found. Any need that you have, Jesus will meet it and exceed it. Look again at this verse; look at the names of Jesus and what they mean. He is our everything. People will fail you time and again, but Jesus never will. My prayer for you this Christmas season is to look into the manger with eyes cleansed of culture clutter, washed of tainted tradition, and truly see all that lies before you in the miraculous birth of Jesus Christ and may you exchange your despair for hope!

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I have become appalled with the behavior of our culture over the years. Our culture has evolved into an entitlement culture. The lingo of the day is “I have to have” or “I need” or “I can’t live with out …” This language is not being applied to things like food, water, shelter, safe living environment etc. It is being linked with statements like: “I have to have the iPhone 6” or “I need the 2014 BMW” or “I can’t live with out those Ugg boots or I’ll die” … really, has our culture become so shallow and self-absorbed that people really believe they are entitled to all these ‘things’? Let us live counter culturally and daily live with a heart of gratitude. Cultivate an atmosphere of gratitude for all that God has provided.

 

“In every thing give thanks, for this is the will

of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”

1 Thessalonians 5:18

 

Let’s stop using statements like “I need”, “I have to have” in regards to things that bring no benefit to our lives. Instead, let us shift our thinking to “I need God’s presence in my life in a deeper way” “I have to have my heart beating in sync with God’s” and “I can’t live with out the Holy Spirit’s power operating in my life” then thank God for all that you do have … develop a heart of gratitude toward God and others!!

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“… I will give to the one who thirsts from the spring of the water of life without cost.” 

Revelation 21:6b

Thirst … have you ever been so thirsty that your tongue stuck to the inside of your mouth?  Those thirst headaches are the worst.  When you are thirsty, you are miserable.  The only thing you can think about is finding something to drink to quench the thirst.  Once you do find that thirst quencher, it is so refreshing!

The same experience can be applied to our lives.  We thirst to fill that void in our lives.  The void is misery.  We want nothing more than to fill that void so that the misery will end.  Sadly, too many people turn to the things of the world to fill the void … alcohol, drugs, relationship, shopping, eating, over exercising … and the list goes on.  Unfortunately, these things do not quench the thirst but increases the thirst at an exorbitant cost.  Thirst after God … not the things of the world.  He is the only One that is able to truly fill us!  He is the only One that is able to fill the void within us!  Thirst after Him and He will quench your thirst and fill you to overflowing with His love, grace, mercy, and presence!  It will cost you nothing … but it cost Jesus dearly … and He paid the price willingly so we wouldn’t have to!!

 

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