“Jesus went into the temple and threw out all those buying and selling. He overturned the tables of themoney changers and the chairs of those selling doves. He said to them, “It is written, my house will be called a house of prayer, but you are making it a den of thieves.” Matthew 21:12
This passage is so hard to read. When we read it knowing the words, “Don’t you yourselves know that you are God’s temple and that the Spirit of God lives in you?” (1 Corinthians 3:16), more conviction comes. During the days that Jesus walked the earth as a man, He lived with purpose and accomplished what He came to do. The boldness of His temple clearing amazes me. Can you imagine if this happened today? And yet, do we not all need a good cleaning out before this new year begins? Will we be brave enough to ask Him? In light of this scripture may we ask that He search us, see if there is anything that does not belong and drive it out.
Lord, at times we become thieves of your glory, wanting attention and the praise of man more than we want you. Drive this desire out, for it is not of you. Overturn our tables of loud opinions and information that proves our point. May we return to prayer and humility. We have cut ourselves off from others because they do not go along with our plan and have our mindset. Reconcile us, Lord, for this is not your heart. You came to save sinners. May our actions point to you, for I fear we have abused others with our words of judgment. How your heart must break. We have sold the lie for so long that we only accept/love those who agree with us. Have mercy, for we once did not agree with You.
Come in and overturn the chairs of pride and comfort that keep us from being desperate enough to bow at Your feet for our every need. May we be humble enough to be wrong and accept correction from You, our loving Heavenly Father. And at Your feet may we find grace and mercy. Give us another chance to reflect You with a purity and holiness that was not there before. Have your way, Lord, as we walk into this coming year. May we look back with 20/20 corrected vision with eyes of love. Amen.
“Delight yourself also in the LORD, and He shall give you the desires of your heart.” Psalm 37:4
For many years I got this verse wrong. My desires were more of a wishlist that I presented to God and the delighting part was a bit skimmed over. There were many other things I found delight in until even those lost their shine. And then the Lord in His patient kindness worked circumstances for me to begin the journey to truly delighting in Him. As He has become my delight, His desires have become mine. Oh, I still get plenty of things wrong, but my desire is to be dependent on Him and that is a delight.
Sometimes I have ideas, desires that I take to God. I still ask if this was His or mine. Another desire has circled back. Could this be the part you would have our family play in your kingdom building? Have we been entrusted with gifts for this very reason? I have asked before and the answer was no at that time. Will this time be any different? Perhaps we were not ready, more training and shaping was needed.
So, I ask again and read the wisdom of King David in this beautiful Psalm. I see reminders for us to continue to trust and do good. I have committed my ways to Him and patiently wait, expecting God to be God. Humility comes with the thought that He could use us to be beacons of light, pointing others to Him. To be a place of rest and fun, away from the cares of this world. A place of welcome and a place to serve. We have been this place, but could there be more? And with open hands I place this desire before our God and I wait and pray. “For your glory alone,” Lord, as my husband often says.
Looking back over the Christmas season, I have to wonder why God does some of the things He does when He does not have too. It should be enough that He came, died for our sin and has gone to prepare a place for us. He even sent a helper, the Holy Spirit, to live inside of us. Wouldn’t that be enough? He is such a good Father that He just does not stop there. He gives gift after gift. I just cannot get over His generosity.
He gave us friends that set an incredible example for our kids and love us when we have done nothing to earn their kindness. He gave us the Bethlehem Star to see on our road trip to North Carolina. He gave us a family that is fun and we laughed a lot this past week together. He gave my dad a beautiful new home that he and my mom designed. Her touches are evident even though her presence is missing. He gave snow on Christmas Eve, the first for our youngest. He gave us presents around the tree that everyone loved. He gave time with friends that we have known for over twenty years. And He surrounded us with His beautiful creation. How can I not praise Him?
As I set and wonder about His goodness, I also have to wonder how I missed it for so long? How did I miss His kindness and evidence of love? How did I become so expectant and easily offended when things did not go my way? How could I be so critical, judgmental and speak words against others? I wonder why He has been so patient with me when I looked nothing like Him? And then it hits me. I am His child. A good father is patient and slow to become angry. He is kind and protective, always seeking the best for his child. He also has the advantage of having written our story. I pray you know Him.
“Arise, shine; for your light has come!” Isaiah 60:1
We are people who know the reason for Christmas. We are people who know this baby born for all the world. We are people of light, lit from within because of the gift of the Holy Spirit. We can shine in this dark world because we bring His light everywhere we go. On that last minute gift run or quick grocery store stop. To the relatives house, the Christmas Eve service at church or sitting around the table enjoying an incredible meal. We can shine with the ever present light of the world! Jesus has come, we have received Him and now we shine!
Decide now that you will allow Him to shine. Decide now that He will be gloried in your speech. Decide now that your focus will be on Him. Decide now that being right is not always the best gift. Decide now that judgement is not welcome at any gathering. Decide now to see the best in the person in front of you, for they were made in the image of God. It has not been an easy year for anyone and grace would be remembered long after the decorations come down. Who knows, might just be the best Christmas yet!
“For He made Him who knewnosin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” 2 Corinthians 5:21
Jesus, the Son of God, became sin for you and for me. All my sin and your sin from the past, present and future was absorbed into the body of our Savior. How can this be? How could one so perfect and holy be made into sin? How did our beautiful Savior transform into an unrecognizable figure? Can you see His beaten body, which is such a stark contrast from the newly born baby lying in the manger, dying on the cross? The baby wrapped in swaddling cloth by His mother, is the same one who was wrapped in grave clothes 33 years later. He came to die.
Have you received this gift of righteousness? Have you gotten lost in your own sin, thinking it is too great for our Savior? Do not miss the gift offered this Christmas. Your sin was found in the very makeup of our Savior. To not accept His death is to forfeit life. Who can refuse such a gift? Be certain of this, our enemy would love for you to believe the lie whispered in your ear countless times that your sin is too horrible for Christ to have died for. Remind him of the horrible cross. Each wound on our Saviors body is payment for our sin. Such a costly gift. How do you wrap such a treasure?
Think of it this way. What if you accumulated such a great amount of debt that you could not pay? Just when you think you are ruined, someone steps in and says they will pay every penny you owe. They love you too much to see you ruined. Would you say no? Of course not! Then why would we not run to the cross and accept Him?
“The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him.” John 1:9-10
Just reading this verse gives us a reason for anticipation. Light was coming and it was for everyone. Hundreds of years of darkness had come and gone, but now light was coming. This light would illuminate hearts and open eyes so used to darkness. The light would expose sin in order to restore relationship for all of eternity. This light would walk the earth as a human and draw many into fellowship. Lives would never be the same. How could you return to your former state after such an encounter?
This light is Jesus and He has come for you and for me. We celebrate to remember. In remembrance we are thankful and go out as lights ourselves in this dark world. We shine because the Holy Spirit lives inside of us. There is no brightening cream we can buy at a makeup counter than can compare or last. However, I do know that at times our light can dim a bit. Worry, fear of the unknown, hurt, change and just the heaviness of these days, can have that effect. Maybe we just have to fight harder to remind ourselves of what is true by reading God’s word. Regardless of how we feel, God has not changed and neither has His word. So, may we come often to the Light and then shine bright this season. We may be the only reflection of Him others see. Shine on!
“…because he willingly submitted to death, and was counted among the rebels; yet he bore the sin of many and interceded for the rebels.” (Isaiah 53:12)
Are you counted among the many? Have you believed, acknowledged your sin and repented or do you think He died for everyone else but you? It is almost too much to accept this willingness to die for you and for me. Our sin was the reason for His death and His blood is the only thing acceptable. How can that be and could God not have come up with another plan? Were the lambs and other animals not enough? Why this precious Lamb? Am I worth it?
When you think of the birth of Christ and realize the moment of His arrival began the countdown to His death, do you dread Christmas just a bit? Do you look at the baby in the manger and see a cross close by? I have this year and it often causes my eyes to tear in gratefulness. Seems He had been waiting all of time for this moment, for you and for me. I pray you know this baby as your Messiah and Savior this Christmas.
“What are you relying on? You think mere words are strategy and strengthfor war. Who are you now relying on that you have rebelled against me?” (Isaiah 36:4-5)
A powerful enemy was coming to attack Jerusalem in the time of King Hezekiah. The royal spokesman for the enemy came to deliver a message. Fear was used as a mighty weapon. He goes on to make this statement, “Don’t let your God, on whom you rely, deceive you by promising that Jerusalem won’t be handed over to the king of Assyria.” (37:10). Do not miss the compliment, “on whom you rely”. Could there be any higher praise and an example for us today?
I think the schemes of satan have not changed. He uses those available to speak fear and to plant seeds of doubt about our God. The only deceitful one here is satan. He has done quite a job here in the U.S., but we are on to him. It is time to rise up and rely on our God. We can use our words to offer Him praise, pray for our nation and thank Him for what He is and will do. We can rebel against our enemy by relying on our God. Join me?
“Seek the LORD while He may be found; call to Him while He is near. Let the wicked one abandon his way and the sinful one his thoughts; let him return to the LORD, so He may have compassion on him, and to our God, for He will freely forgive.” Isaiah 55:6-7
If you are a parent, how many chances do you give your children as they grow up? We have them in our home for such a short time to guide them while they are near. During this time, they come to us for help and call out when they are in trouble, because they know we love them. We are their parent, why would they go to anyone else? And we would not think of hiding from them. Why is this so hard of a concept for us to grasp when it comes to our Heavenly Father? Have we forgotten His nature?
Friends, we need God to be near today and to once again have compassion on us. We need Him to forgive our country for how we have not sought Him, not called out to Him, not abandoned our wicked ways and for our sinful thoughts against Him and each other. He is our Father and has said from Genesis to Revelation to come to Him and acknowledge He is God and we are His. Come to Him, just as we are, for we are created to belong to the One who made us. Think about this, do we wait for our children to become perfect before they can come to us for help or forgiveness? No, we have compassion on them and remember how the Lord has shown us grace upon grace. And if needed, we go to them. Is this not what Jesus did for us at Christmas?
May we join together and call out to Him once again for our country. This is so much more than who gets elected President. This is a battle of good versus evil. May the Lord be gracious again.
“If I should speak then let it be of the grace that is greater than all my sin, of when justice was served and where mercy wins, of the kindness of Jesus that draws me in, oh to tell you my story is to tell of Him.” – My Story by Big Daddy Weave
Years ago when we lived in Houston we attended an incredible church. Sometimes we like to revisit that church online on Sunday mornings. Today was one of those days and I am so glad we did. The lead singer of Big Daddy Weave sang a few songs and this was one of them. The line that really caught my attention was, “to tell you my story is to tell of Him.” This perfectly sums up why I type out a few words on this blog. It is a way to make much of Him. It is a way to bring Him glory and redeem the many mistakes I have made. It is to bring His forgiving light into areas I naturally would rather remain in a dark corner of shame. Because this I know with full assurance, all my sins have been paid for and grace says it is so. When I forget, I take a look at the cross and remember. I have accepted and opened His gift of mercy like a kid at Christmas and I am free. His kindness draws me early each morning and there is no other place I would rather be.
I pray you know Him this Christmas season and see Him wrapped in grace, extending mercy and love that lasts all year long.