Posted in Blogger's World, The Way, Thoughts & Musings

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas! Yay!

While I cannot stand it when retailers start putting up Christmas decor the day after Labor Day, I’m always ready and anticipating Christmas. And since Santa Claus came to town at the end of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, it’s okay to start decorating!

This year it’s a Coca-Cola Christmas in my house. (I wasn’t ready to use the Coca-Cola theme the last 2 Christmases, but it’s time this year!) So, this one’s for you, Steve! Merry Christmas in heaven.

Christmas 2018

So, as I sit here knitting by my tree, I’ve been thinking about Pastor Scott’s sermon the other week, how, without Good Friday and Easter, Christmas loses its meaning. If we forget that the reason the King of Kings humbled himself to become a mere mortal like us was so that he could be humiliated, die, and then blow death and sin to smithereens by rising again, immortal and glorious, then Christmas has no meaning. After all, if God did not have a plan to bring salvation and restoration to His creation and execute that plan, then what reason would He have to become like us? Why go through all the pain and trials of being a human unless there was something bigger, more important to Him at stake?

So, as you celebrate the birth of Jesus, remember His death and resurrection, and give thanks!

Posted in The Way

And leaving everything, he rose and followed him.

Luke 5:28

As I was reading this morning, this simple passage struck me powerfully, Here was a Jew, Levi, who worked as a tax collector for the very people, the Romans, who were holding the Jews in oppressive circumstances. Levi was viewed by his own people as a traitor and one of the oppressors. He might have been demanding more in payment than the Romans required, thereby enriching himself. He was not esteemed by the Romans, either, as he was still a Jew and not considered their equal. But he was most likely wealthy because of the habit of extortion by the tax collectors and obviously quite liberal with that wealth, at least among the ‘lowest of the low,’ as seen in the next paragraph when he threw a great feast for them.

BUT GOD, in the person of Jesus, met up with him in his “office,” a booth in the marketplace, and simply said “Follow me.” That is amazing enough in and of itself, that God would call an outcast among his own people, a man who was probably dishonest and robbed these people. But what I find even more amazing is that Levi heard Jesus and merely (merely?!) got up from his desk, left everything behind and followed after Jesus! Imagine the scene if you will:

Here is the despised tax collector, Levi, sitting there in the market as one by one his neighbors and relatives reluctantly come up with their hard earned coins to pay those horrid Romans their required taxes which are used to support the troops that keep the people in line! As the Jews come to Levi’s booth, they give him their money, but he asks for more. They both probably know that Levi is keeping the extra. But then the next person comes up WITHOUT a coin for the Romans (or Levi!) and Levi looks up. This man he may have never seen before says “Come. Follow me!” Outrageous! Incredible! But what does Levi do? He actually gets up, leaves his possessions, the money for the taxes and his own pockets, EVERYTHING, and follows! The people still in line would have been confused, puzzled. But there’s all this money sitting there – what did they do? Did they rush the table and take it back? Did the Romans intervene? We don’t know, but we do know it would have been chaos at the very least.

Why? Why would what our standards would have considered a successful businessman get up and abandon it all? Because he heard the voice of God in Jesus. Levi may have heard about this preacher from Galilee before, may even have heard him speak, who knows? But in that place, at that moment, Levi knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that Jesus was all that he, Levi, needed. And he did the only reasonable thing – he left behind the encumbrances of his former life and went after the most precious thing!

How about any one of us? Do we seek out the most precious, important thing, or do we run after things of this world that do not last, that rust away and decay? Do I seek out Jesus each and everyday, to sit at His feet and learn what He has to teach me, or do I busy myself with busywork that leads no where? These are things we need to consider daily and decide how we chose to live. The choice we make has eternal repercussions, so choose wisely!

Oh, how did Levi’s story turn out, you ask? Well, he never went back to being a tax collector. Instead, he continued to follow Jesus for three years, becoming one of his inner circle of 12. He was one of the men Jesus chose to be his ambassadors and to tell the world about Himself. And just how, do you ask, did Levi fulfill this mission? Well, Jesus changed his name to Matthew. Matthew then went on to write down everything he had learned from Jesus so that others could come to know, as he Matthew did, that Jesus was the promised Messiah to the Jews, the one foretold by the prophets and promised to Levi’s ancestors, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob!

Posted in The Way

Be Still

Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”  Psalm 46:10

Being still is hard work.  At least for me.  I have to remind myself to breath.  I have to remind myself to trust Him.  I have to remind myself that I never was in control and that God is always in control.  I have to remind myself to surrender, to stop, to listen, to just BE!  Hard work.

I want things fixed now.  I want this move over now.  I want all these headaches and delays gone now.  God says, “Wait for Me.  I know best.”

I also have to remember to thank Him in the midst of the turmoil and uncertainty, to give Him the praise for holding us close and guiding each step we take.  So right now I am taking that time.

I’ll praise you in this storm, and I will lift my hands,

For You are who You are, no matter where I am.

So, Heavenly Father, I just thank you know for the You, for being the Rock in the storm, a shelter from all the chaos.  I thank you for the truth that You fulfill all the promises that You make.  I thank you that You will ‘never leave me nor forsake me.’  Mostly  I thank you for being the Almighty, El Shaddai, King of kings and Lord of lords.  But above all this, I thank you for the free and priceless gift of Your salvation, Jesus Christ, Messiah, Name above all names, Redeemer! Amen.

Posted in Monday Matters

An Enlarged Heart

A medical condition known as “cardiomegaly” is not generally considered a good thing.  It means your heart is working harder than it should, trying to deliver oxygenated blood to the rest of your body.  It can be genetic, or the result of something else being wrong in your body such as high blood pressure or valve disease, or it can sometimes become weak for unknown reasons (idiopathic). You should work with a qualified doctor to treat this condition.

However, there can be times when an ‘enlarged heart’ is a good thing.  But I;m not talking about your physical heart – rather, your spiritual heart, the one at the center of your being, the heart that is Command Central for your emotions.  This morning, I read a statement by Anne Cetas:

God tests our patience to enlarge our hearts.

Ms Cetas was writing about patience and kindness, and how quickly we all jump when we feel slighted, frustrated, ignored, wronged, hurt, rejected, etc., etc., etc..  Oh boy, is that me – “Did that guy just cut me off?  Where’s his turn signal?”  “Why did she have the nerve to jump to the front of the check out line?  Plus, SHE has more than 10 items!”  Sound like you, too?  So what are we to do?

First, gentle readers, let me suggest, nay, urge you, to seek out the true source of kindness and love: my best friend, Jesus.  He has experienced every hurt, frustration, insult that you and I have, and then some!  Watch him.  Learn from him.  After all, if we want to excel at a sport, don’t we go to a pro to teach us?  So go to the One who is the ‘pro’ at kindness and love.

Second, kindness and patience are the outcome, the fruit, of the working of the Holy Spirit in us.  (Galatians 5:22-23) They don’t come naturally to us flawed humans.  We need an advocate, someone to teach us how.  Hence, one of Jesus’ gifts to us:  the Holy Spirit.  The Spirit of God opens hearts and minds, teaching and correcting, guiding and prompting.  Tap into his power, get to know him.

Enlarge your heart today!