Sunday, January 13, 2019

Unfailing Love



Every sunrise is a promise of His faithfulness and unfailing love. Praise His name.
"Let the morning bring me word of Your unfailing love,
for I have put my trust in You.
Show me the way I should go,
for to You I entrust my life."
Psalm 143:8

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Plans


A week has passed since the beginning of a new year. Many came to it with hope and determination, looking forward to a fresh start. Others, jaded by years of failed resolutions, look back with feelings of discouragement, regret and guilt. Have I, they wonder, ruined the plan God had for my life by my inability to change and make right choices? Have I squandered the gifts I've been given and lost the chance to realize the dream?

On the very first page of my Bible I have a written note from a long ago sermon. It says:

"God has a plan for my life and the power to carry it out. As I obey, I walk into the plan God has for me. God's plan reaches beyond all the mistakes of my past. In redemption, there is hope of a measure of recovery. I can only overcome my past in Christ." 

I thought back to the story in scripture of one of the great heroes of our faith - Moses. God had a plan for his life. Against all odds, baby Moses survived when Pharaoh ordered the murder of every son born to a Hebrew woman. Raised in the palace by Pharaoh's daughter he became "a man of power in words and deeds." (Acts 6:22). When he turned 40 he was drawn to his own people who were suffering in slavery, and in an attempt to help ended up murdering an Egyptian.

The story is a familiar one. Moses, fearful for his life, fled to the land of Midian. There, he lived in obscurity for 40 years, until the day God spoke to him from a burning bush. This once powerful, articulate man tried to convince God he could not possibly be the man for the job. It was too late. He had ruined everything. He simply couldn't do it.

We know the rest of the story. God used Moses in a miraculous, powerful way to rescue His people from slavery in Egypt and to lead them to the Promised Land.

To all outward appearances it seemed Moses had blown it. Instead of waiting on God's timing, He had taken matters into his own hands and ended up a murderer. Surely, he had ruined the plan God had for his life.

We have heard it said that God never wastes anything in our lives. He used that long 40 years, years we might consider wasted, to shape Moses into the man He would use to deliver a whole nation of people - the man to whom He spoke "face to face, just as a man speaks to his friend." (Exodus 33:11)

We mustn't let the failures of our past rob us of the good things the Father has for us. He can redeem our mistakes and, although we may bear the scars and wounds of the wrong choices we've made, work out the beautiful plan He has for our lives.

I have another quote in my Bible I have treasured for years:

"God knows where you are, and He can get you to where He wants you to be."
 Pastor Robert Emmitt

"For I know the plans that I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you,  to give you a future and a hope."  Jeremiah 29:11

Blessing,
Linda

Thursday, January 3, 2019

An Invitation


As the new year approached, I began to think about picking a word for the year. I've done it for several years, often "hearing" the Lord whisper a word into my heart.
However, this year I couldn't seem to hear Him above all the noise in my head. So many voices and words vying for attention - good words, wise voices - but not His voice. I felt somehow out of focus. 
As I lay in the quiet darkness before drifting off to sleep I began to sense a certain something just below the noisy surface. Not a word this time - instead a gentle invitation. 
An invitation to let go of all the self-imposed expectations and sit at His feet. An invitation to put my hand into the hand He has extended and walk with Him - to stop looking back in regret and worrying about the future and take one step at a time with Him. To rest in His presence and let service - not all the "shoulds" that constantly plague me - flow from a growing intimacy with Him.
He invites us to come - the Almighty, Holy God of all creation . Miracle, miracle.



Tuesday, December 25, 2018

The Gift


This year would be different. Instead of waiting until the last minute, wandering up and down store aisles searching in vain for inspiration, she began weeks in advance of Christmas. Thoughtfully, she considered each loved one for whom she wanted to buy a gift - the things they loved or had perhaps spoken about in a random conversation, the perfect compliment to those things they enjoyed doing.

She began her shopping before the rush of holiday shoppers, taking the necessary time to find exactly what she had in mind. A sense of joy and a certain peace flooded her soul as she imagined the happiness her gifts would bring.

As the days flew by toward Christmas, she felt her anticipation grow. The carefully wrapped gifts were placed under the fragrant tree, waiting for eager hands and hearts.

In the early morning darkness of Christmas Day, she slipped quietly into the living room and sat in the soft glow of the tree lights waiting for the others to make their way downstairs. Moments later the silence was shattered as they woke up and began calling to one another to hurry downstairs and see. Her heart beat a bit faster as she watched them stop their mad dash and stand looking in awe at the treasure under the tree.

She urged them to come and sit and open their presents, but they didn't move. Instead they stood there, eyes wide with wonder, and chose not to open a single gift. Her heart was broken.

As difficult as it may be to imagine such a scene, it is one that plays out over and over again. There is a God in heaven who has purchased a gift for each of us - one whose cost is beyond human calculation and worth more than anything the world has to offer. It comes with a love we feel unworthy to claim, but still it comes.

We give each other gifts at Christmas because He gave to us the Gift of gifts. He longs for us to receive it. He thought so much of each one of us, loved us so deeply, He gave His beloved Son. Through His life, death and resurrection He gave us everything we ever hoped for.

We need only accept the gift.

 “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life." John 3:16
Blessings,
Linda

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Light Dispelling the Darkness






As a small girl, I feared the dark, dreading bedtime when I would have to lay alone in my little bed. My mother understood and provided me with a night light we named "Friend." 

It was indeed my friend, illuminating the  dark corners where all the frightening, imagined dangers were hiding.  It's soft light dispelled the fears and carried with it a quiet peace. 

On a cold December night, a gentle, humble light broke through the darkness. He shone into a world filled with pain and suffering and sorrow bringing the promise of life and peace and hope. The darkness would never overcome it. It shines for us still:

"The people walking in darkness
    have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned." Isaiah 9:2

"Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
John 8:12

Blessings,
Linda

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

What Do We Make of Santa


The days are slipping by so quickly, and I long to slow them down – to savor this time. I love soaking in all the beautifully written things about the true meaning of Christmas, listening to the familiar carols and looking with wonder at the miracle of the Gift.
I have a little confession to make, however, that involves my childhood – Santa, visions of sugar plums, stockings hung by the chimney with care and leaving milk and cookies by the easy chair. I wonder if it would be all right to take a lighthearted look at Christmas…just for a little bit; because intermingled with all of the spiritual, I have images of make believe that always surface during this season. One in particular, is as vivid today as it was over sixty years ago.
I was old enough, that year, to have come to the bitter-sweet conclusion that Santa Claus wasn’t real. However my little sister , four years younger than I, was still a firm believer. My Dad, Mom and I became co-conspirators in keeping the dream alive for just a little while longer. We never lost the baby Jesus in all of this, we just allowed Santa to have a part too.
It began snowing earlier in the day that Christmas Eve and was accumulating quickly. The snow plows attempted to clear the streets of our little sub-division, but by the time darkness fell we were snowed in. The little houses and yards were nestled under a soft white blanket, and the world was hushed.
Little sister was already tucked into bed, having set out the plate of Christmas cookies and glass of milk for Santa, when a knock at the front door broke the silence. We couldn’t imagine who would be out on such a night. We looked questions at one another as Dad went to open the door. There on the front stoop stood a rotund figure clad in red and dusted with snow. We watched, transfixed as he stepped into the living room.
Dad went to get the little sleepy head and carried her, tousle-haired and sleepy-eyed, to see our night-time visitor. I will never forget the look of wonder in her eyes. It was a magical moment.
I don’t remember what was said. I just remember the sweetness of the moment. Santa didn’t stay long. He had a long night ahead of him. When he stepped out into the night, we gathered at the door to watch.
He walked down the center of the snow-filled street. The soft light from the street lamps illuminated the swirling flakes and shone down on Santa as he disappeared into the night. That picture, like the most beautiful of Christmas cards, is imprinted on my heart. I take it out every Christmas and marvel.
I see the picture of one who came with no other motive than love. One who gives lavishly with no thought of receiving anything in return. One who is no respecter of persons – visiting both the lowly and the mighty – knowing each by name. One who takes the time to make dreams come true even for little girls.
Perhaps, forgive me if I over-step, just perhaps Santa might be a tiny picture of The One who came with no other motive than love to bring the greatest gift of all.
Christmas Blessings,
Linda
(another repost from the blog)

Monday, December 10, 2018

Unto Us



When I turn the calendar page from November to December, I turn on the Christmas Music.  I love it all from the traditional carols to the contemporary songs.  There is one, however, that stands out from all the rest.  When I hear it, the goosebumps start and tears fill my eyes.  It can, quite literally, bring me to my knees.
It is from Handel’s “Messiah” – “For Unto Us a Child Is Born.”  Written in 1741, this portion of Handel’s masterpiece was taken from Isaiah 9:6:
“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.”
Aside from the breathtaking beauty of the music and the awesome message contained in the lyrics, there is one little word that stops me in my tracks.  “US.”   This child was given to us – to you and to me.
Picture the humble shepherds, the very lowest of the low in the days when Jesus was born, tending their sheep on the darkened hillside outside Bethlehem.  It was a night like any other until an angel suddenly burst through the heavens and delivered a message none of them would ever forget:
“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 Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.”
“…unto YOU…”  this child was for them and for every seeking heart that hungers for something more.  They didn’t waste a moment.  They hurried to the place where the baby was, and when they had seen Him they told everyone about Him.
We are privileged to have “seen” so much more than those lowly shepherds.  They saw only in part.  We know the baby’s story, and have been given the gift in its entirety.  We have only to respond as the shepherds did – to believe and accept.  He is no longer a baby.  We call Him, wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.
He is all of those things, and He has been given to us.  It is the miracle of Christmas –  the breathtaking glimpse of a love far greater than we have ever known.   It is mine; it is yours.  It comes wrapped in grace, and you have only to accept it.
Christmas Blessings,
Linda
(A repost from the archives.)