Cobwebs and Conversations

I was down in the basement the other day, getting out my Christmas decorations. For some unexplainable reason I had this surge of energy and thought to myself; “I think I’ll clean up the basement then next year it will be easier to find what I need at Christmas.” Brilliant!

I get that urge ONE day every year, and it usually results in a partially clean office, or closet, or spare room. This year, the basement was about to become the recipient of my good intentions.

I had no idea at the time; God was going to turn my burst of energy into a teaching opportunity.

While I was rooting around in the dust and cobwebs through the bowels of my house, In the back of a closet, I found some old clothes. You have them too, that favorite dress, or  a coat from a time and “size” long gone by.

Now, I try to follow that rule that says, “If you haven’t worn it in a year, then get it out of your house”. Still, when I had the dress folded up and about to go into my donate box, I just couldn’t put it in.  A voice inside was saying “Just because I can’t fit into it now, doesn’t mean I won’t someday”.

It occurred to me that I’d had that conversation with myself before, many times in fact. And since these old favorites were old enough to almost be back in style again, it looked like I had that conversation with myself LOTS of times. So with a sigh, I let go and into the box everything went.

Moses had his God encounter on the top of the mountain and the disciples were in a garden. Me? Well I was climbing the stairs out of the basement with a box of old clothes in my arms.  That’s when I heard that small voice of the Spirit whisper to me.

“There are some things you find very hard to give up on, aren’t’ there?”

I’ve walked with God for a long time, now, so I like to think I recognize his voice. It’s not some bright light. He doesn’t break apart mountains or burn up bushes.  It’s just this firm idea that once I think about it, it won’t go away.  It’s like when your kids “Mom” you over and over and over.

So God and I have been having a conversation for a week now about that box of old clothes. It’s gone something like this:

God: There are some things you find very hard to give up on, aren’t’ there?”

Me: Well, it’s hard to accept you will never be a size six again

God: Six?

Me: Alright, Nine. Are you happy?

God: The real question is, ‘Are YOU happy?’ You hold on so ferociously to something that matters so little, while you let go of important things so easily.

Me: I don’t know what do you mean?

God: Yes, you do.  Why do you miss a couple days reading your Bible and praying, call yourself a failure, and give up all together?

Why do you stumble in a sin, one more time, and then throw in the towel, convinced you are not worthy?

Why do you have a few arguments, and surrender your relationships?

Why do you give up so quickly on becoming who I know you can be?

Aren’t these things much more important than old clothes?

Me: Um…Yes, Sir

God: Don’t give up on us.

2 Corinthians 4:7-9; 16-18 : We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed…Therefore we do not loose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day, for our light an momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes on what is unseen, not on what is seen.  For what is seen is temporary but what is unseen is eternal.

 

Twas Long Before Christmas

Twas long before Christmas, before you and me.
Before ribbons and boxes were piled under trees.
The stars were hung in the heavens with care
Knowing mankind soon would be there.

The moon in the sky hung her pale head
Wrapped in the night like a blanket in bed.
When God in His Glory, along with the Son,
Planned out the gifts He would give everyone.

We’ll start with a dawn that comes everyday
Chasing the darkness and night away.
With every morning as life starts anew
A reminder to all, my mercies are too.

Fill up the earth with wondrous sights
Mountains that soar, eagles in flight
Children that laugh, and mothers that sing
A world overflowing with every good thing.

Tell me, what Father whose son asks for bread
Would give him a stone or a snake instead?
If we who are evil can give good things
How much more does the Heavenly king?

The Father paused, lost in his thoughts.
Something is missing. Something is lost.
He pondered a time, What did they need?
The Son stepped forward,… I think it’s me.

Ancient eyes turned, looked at the son.
Speaking his names, one by one.
You are Alpha Omega, Beginning and End
Their Savior, Messiah, Redeemer, their Friend.

To the earth you will go, born in a stall
Proclaiming my favor to the great and the small.
So unto us the Son was born,
Laid in a manger, used and worn.

Unto us the Son was given
Light of the World, the Hope of Heaven.
He lives with us. Emanuel,
God himself has come to dwell.

Dressed in humanity from his head to his feet.
His clothes were humble, his home not so sweet.
The beam of the cross would be flung on his back.
The gifts He would bring provide all that we lack.

His wounds give healing; his words give life.
The Spirit he brought gives power and light.
He taught to forgive and be forgiven,
Take joy in our life, and long for heaven.

To care for the poor and defend the weak
Help those in need, and always seek
Joy and peace, New Birth, and Grace,
Hope and Love, for the whole human race.
Wrapped in that infant, ever so slight.
That first Happy Christmas, for all a good night!

Good News of Great Joy

Joy!

“But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people;” (Luke 2:10)

In the 1960 movie Pollyanna, Pollyanna’s missionary parents died, and she was sent to live with her controlling aunt in a town that basically her aunt Polly ran. Aunt Polly would even give the minister his passage for his sermon each week. Pollyana loved playing the glad game. She would look for the positive or glad side of things. At one point Pollyanna ran across Rev. Ford practicing his sermon, shouting and all, in the middle of the field. She told him no one owned the church. She also told him that her dad had told her there are 800 “glad” passages in the Bible. The next day Rev. Ford told the congregation about his encounter with Pollyanna and said she was wrong. There were actually 826, and he knew because he had stayed up all night counting and reading them.

A couple years ago I spent time looking up the word JOY in the Bible. There are pages of references. What this tells us is that God considers joy quite important. Let’s take a look at a few.

In Psalm 63:6-8 we read, “When I remember You on my bed, I meditate on You in the night watches, for You have been my help, and in the shadow of Your wings I sing for joy. My soul clings to You; Your right hand upholds me.”

Isaiah 49:13 reads, “Shout for joy, O heavens! And rejoice, O earth! Break forth into joyful shouting, O mountains! For the LORD has comforted His people and will have compassion on His afflicted.”

Jeremiah 33:9 tells us, “It will be to Me a name of joy, praise and glory before all the nations of the earth which will hear of all the good that I do for them, and they will fear and tremble because of all the good and all the peace that I make for it.”

These are just 3 of the passages that mention joy. In these we see singing for joy after meditating on all the things God has done. We also see joy because of the comfort and compassion He pours out. When we consider all that God has done for us, how can we not sing for joy.

In Luke 2:10 (the verse at the beginning) we see the angels declaring to the shepherds that they brought good news of great Joy. The newborn King had just been born. All of heaven was rejoicing, and now the earth could too.

During this time of year, it’s easy to focus on all that needs to be done, to think about how hard this past year has been, or about the loneliness you feel while the rest of the world is out having parties and fun. Dear friend, I want to encourage you. Take a step back, take a deep breath, and take time to reflect on the Christ of Christmas. Let each of us fix our eyes on Jesus.

Spend time during this season to talk about the things God has brought you through this year. End by thanking God for all He has done and sing songs of joy together.

“Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy…” (Jude 1:24)

Preparing our Hearts
for Christmas

Celebrating Advent

Welcome to one of the most peaceful, beautiful times of the year. Most of my life I didn’t really know what advent was. Sure we had different calendars that we opened the little windows or a green felt hanging that had little candy canes tied to it. Each night we would take a candy cane off until we reached the bottom with the little bell and then rang out that it was now Christmas. It was a countdown thing.

Several years ago, the church I was attending, started using the advent wreath and candles. In my mind at the time, it was something liturgical styled churches did. I really had no idea what it was. I was intrigued though. So, I started researching and studying to really figure out just what it is and how to celebrate.

The dictionary defines Advent as “the arrival of a notable person, thing or event. In Christian theology it is the coming or second coming of Christ. Preparation for the commemoration of the birth of Jesus.”

Here is how I define it now: It is a time of reflection and devotion focusing on the real meaning of Christmas. It is a taking time out of our busy schedules to slow down and spend some time preparing our hearts for what God has in store for us.

Would you like to take this journey of preparation with us? For the time leading up to Christmas as well as Christmas day, there will be devotionals to help lead us to the place our hearts need to be for this time of year. There will also be little activities you can do with your young children (if you have them) to help them prepare their hearts.

 

2017 Advent Ideas

Subscribe to Postcards (our blog) to receive our 2017 Advent Ideas. You will receive 4 emails (one per week) leading up to Christmas. These emails will include an Advent devotional as well as optional activities for children, all created by contributor, Cindy Snyder.

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