Friday, December 30, 2011

My Prayer for You in the Coming Year

...having no hope and without God in the world. 
BUT NOW 
IN CHRIST JESUS 
you who formerly were far off 
have been brought near by the blood of Christ.  (Eph. 2:12c, 13)


...I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, 
the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him...
(Eph. 1:17) 


JESUS -


OUR



and OUR



And this is eternal life, 
that they may know Thee, 
the only true God,
and Jesus Christ
whom Thou hast sent.  (John 17:3)

In the coming year, may your time with the Word, in His Word, be consistent, rich, rewarding.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Piper Nugget

 "The beast was allowed to make war on the saints and conquer them."  
Revelation 13:7  
Where is God in our defeats?  
Reigning by allowing.
 ***

I thought this was good.  It kept me pondering for quite awhile.  God is sovereign, over all.  He works all things after the counsel of His will. (Eph. 1:11) Whether or not we are in the generation that sees these things take place, how valuable it is to know the plan and character of God. Be in the Word often, friends. Study God's character. Know Him. Jesus is our peace.  Knowledge of Him settles the troubled mind and heart between now and when He returns.


"Do not let your heart be troubled.  
Believe in God, believe also in Me."
John 14:1 

Monday, December 26, 2011

Correction...

I had said in this post that the angels were created sometime during creation week.  I don't like being biblically inaccurate!  I was reminded today that angels sang at creation.  Here is the biblical record from Job 38:1-7:


"Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind and said,
“Who is this that darkens counsel 
By words without knowledge? 
“Now gird up your loins like a man, 
And I will ask you, and you instruct Me! 
“Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? 
Tell Me, if you have understanding, 
Who set its measurements? Since you know. 
Or who stretched the line on it? 
“On what were its bases sunk? 
Or who laid its cornerstone, 
When the morning stars sang together 
And all the sons of God shouted for joy?



Angels therefore must have been created before Jesus created the physical universe...


(And Kristen, I do love your mom's theory that the star was actually an angel...I thought that was really cool...)

I Agree...

We had a great Christmas at the Hall house.  Having Christmas fall on a Sunday is the best.  Annie thinks we should have church on Christmas, every year.  I agree.  It is a wonderful way to start out the day - getting the focus on the Person who's birth we are celebrating.  I love the singing, hearing all those voices lifted in worship, celebration, and praise.  During the service, the power went out.  We get very windy here in the Northwest, and lose our power often.  I was wondering if we were going to have to warm the ham in the bar-b-q, but only Annie's power was out.  We were fine, so when we got home from church I was able to get my cheesy potatoes in the oven and then the ham went in after that.  (I made my rolls the day before...)  We opened gifts around three.  I told you how Daniel likes big trucks (along with spiders, by the way, the spider was back the next morning, much to Daniel's delight.)  This picture doesn't show it, but when he opened the package that had this "little" shovel in it along with several other "little" earth movers, he danced around, clapping and cheering, it was so cute.


 We have a tradition when we are opening presents.  We go around the room, starting with the oldest.  They open one present while we all watch.  (Tim has me beat by six years, so no, it wasn't me.)  Then, we move on to the next oldest - yes, that would be me.  This is a lot of fun.  We get to watch the person's expressions and join in their joy, and the gift opening takes longer than five minutes.  The mess is less too.  We have a box in the middle of the floor and after the gift-opener is finished, they wad up the wrapping and try to make a basket in the box.  We were all finished, when my husband goes out of the room and then comes back in with this big box.  He blew me away with what was inside...


Yes, it was this Kitchen Aid mixer!  I love making homemade bread.  My bread machine recently gave up the ghost, and I had mentioned how I would love a Kitchen Aid mixer.  They come with a dough hook.  I started making my bread all by hand, after my bread machine died.  You have to knead the dough for eight minutes.  Now, with my new Kitchen Aid, it will do all that work for me!  My husband is wonderful!  

The power was still out at Annie's at bed time last night, so they stayed over night with us.  This turned out to be a lot of fun too.  This morning, I broke the new mixer in by making pancakes.   I have a great recipe using whole wheat pastry flour, so they are semi-healthy...



After breakfast, Annie and crew packed up.  Hugs and kisses were given and received, and off they went with their gifts and some left-over ham and Christmas cookies (which, next year, Lord-willing, I will make on my new Kitchen Aid mixer...)  Just before Annie left, she said, "Mom, we should spend the night every Christmas..."  

"I agree!", was my reply.

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas, too! 

Friday, December 23, 2011

Jesus Made the Spiders

On the twelfth, Daniel turned two and a half, and he's all boy.  He loves garbage trucks and fire engines.  He loves excavators and steam trains.  He even knows the difference between a steam engine and a diesel electric locomotive.  He loves to wrestle, and he loves jumping into a pillow on my lap while I'm sitting on the couch.  He also loves bugs and spiders.

Three or four mornings a week I have Daniel while Annie serves coffee at Starbucks to sleepy-eyed Gig Harborites on their way to work.  I drive over to the Dannells and enjoy some quiet time with the Lord, waiting for him to wake up.  Once he is awake I take him into the back bathroom where his potty chair awaits him.  For the past couple of weeks, there has been a spider living in the corner above the bathroom door.  Daniel has been checking every morning to see if the spider is still there.  (I think it is dead, because it never moved.)  This morning, it was gone.  His eyes got real wide.  I asked him where he thought the spider went.  He said, "Grandma's."  (Oh, I  hope not.)  I got him dressed and into his car seat for the ten minute ride back to "Grandma's."  In those ten minutes, I sing to him - we look for big trucks, and we talk about all kinds of things.  We talk about school buses.  He loves school buses and we see a lot of school buses picking up children for school.  We talk about the moon.  It is still dark sometimes and I tell him that Jesus made the moon.  I point out the beautiful evergreen trees that Jesus made.  We talk about the misty fog that Jesus made, and the pink clouds that Jesus made, and the noisy crows that greet us - we talk about all the birds that Jesus made.  I tell him that Jesus loves him and the Bible tells us that and the Bible is all about Jesus.  As I was pulling him out of his car seat this morning, I decided to just say the word "Jesus," to see what his response would be.  He said, "Jesus made the spiders."  He still had that spider on his mind...

***
Jesus is the Creator.  He spoke and effortlessly, there was light.  He spoke again and effortlessly, there were the heavens.  He spoke again, and the waters gathered to their places, the oceans and the seas.  He spoke again and effortlessly, the dry land appeared.  The earth sprouted plants and flowers and fruit trees, all different kinds of vegetation.  Jesus spoke again and effortlessly, the sun and the moon and the twinkling stars appeared.  Then the sea creatures appeared, and the birds, and all the animals and creeping things, including spiders.  Then God spoke and said, "Let Us make man in Our image," and Jesus made man from the dust of the earth - finishing off His beautiful creation, effortlessly, in six days.

But soon man fell by not listening to the counsel of the Creator, and Jesus' good creation was plunged into sin.  Mankind needed a Savior.

Somewhere during creation week, Jesus spoke, and the angels were created.  And He created the angel that two thousand years ago spoke these words to a group of frightened shepherds,

"Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord."


The One Who created the heavens and the earth and all the good things in them had just joined the human race as an infant.  The One Who thought up oxygen would now breathe it in through a pair of tiny lungs after spending nine months being wonderfully knit in the womb of one of His creations.

Amazing.

The Creator, came to be our Savior.  The Creator came, to redeem lost and sinful mankind.  And He would thirty-some years later, go to a cross on behalf of a sinful world, made from the wood He'd created, and pay for the penalty for sin.

Truly, amazing.

***
"Yes, Daniel, Jesus made the spiders.  He made you and He made me.  Jesus is God, He loves you, and He is amazing."

Wishing all my friends a blessed Christmas, and take every opportunity you get to pour Jesus into the little ones in your life.  We can't save them.  That is up to the Creator.  But we can point them to the Savior - it's our calling, and a lot of fun...

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Looking in His Face...

Every Sunday my pastor has something written in the bulletin, introducing his message.  I especially liked this last Sunday's and wanted to share it with you...

     When Moses came down from Mt. Sinai after being with God, he covered his face so that when the glory of the Lord that came at his encounters with God on the mountain began to fade, the children of Israel would not notice.  (2 Cor. 3:7)  When instructions for the tabernacle were given so that Israel could worship God in the wilderness, a veil was erected to separate the most holy place from man.  God's holiness demanded that He remain separate from sinful man.
     For the first ten years of my ministry, every time I officiated at a wedding the bride wore a veil.  She would come down the aisle with her face covered.  Then, after the pronouncement of the marriage is given, her husband would lift the veil.  Seeing the sparkle in her eye, he would be the first to see her face in such a condition.  It was a very romantic part of the ceremony that has almost been totally lost.  
     The day that Jesus died, the veil in the temple was torn from top to bottom.  (Luke 23:45)  Man's sin was paid for and the barrier that had separated God from man since Eden was removed.  This visible reality exposes a spiritual truth.  Those whose sin has been paid for by the faith-applied blood of Christ have intimate access to God that is known by no other.
     Throughout the Old Testament, there are occasions when God appears to men in a preincarnate physical form called a theophany.  God no longer has to appear to men in theophanies, because He has exposed His face to all who wish to look upon Him in saving faith.  When our redemptive hope is placed on Christ as we turn from sin and look to Him for cleansing, our spiritual eyes are opened and we are able to see Him face to face.
     As we look forward to Christmas, we look into the manger in Bethlehem and there we see the face of God.  Looking into His face, we shall see what we ought to look like.  


When we look into the face of Jesus, in His Word, we are looking into the fullness of God and from His glory is where we draw our confidence - to be bold to share Jesus with others.  Jesus came, to save us from our sins and to give us abundant life.  That is the message He wants us to get out.  He will be with us, until He returns, at the end of the age.  Living like we believe that, we will boldly proclaim the good news, and lives will be changed into the image of Christ, for the glory of God.

Monday, December 19, 2011

God With Us - Our Satan and Death Conqueror

"Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, 
He Himself likewise also partook of the same,
that through death He might render powerless
him who had the power of death,
that is, the devil.
and might free those who through fear of death
were subject to slavery
all their lives.

Hebrews 2:14-15

Jesus as eternal God only, couldn't die.  In His divine nature alone, His life is indestructible.  If He couldn't die then He couldn't rise from the dead and it was His death and resurrection that conquered Satan and shattered sin and death.

The word "share" is from the Greek word koinonia.  It means to have fellowship, communion, or partnership.  It involves having something in common with others.  All human beings have flesh and blood.  In this we are all alike.  It is our common nature.  "Partook" is from a different Greek word - metecho.  This word has to do with taking hold of something that is not naturally one's own kind.  Jesus was not by nature flesh and blood.  He purposefully took hold of something which did not naturally belong to Him.

In celebrating the birth of Christ, we celebrate the Savior who added to Himself our nature of flesh and blood so that He could die and coming out on the other side in resurrection, He conquered Satan and shattered sin and death and the fear of death.  When we repent of our sin and receive Jesus, death no longer holds any power over us.  It is no longer terrifying.  It simply releases us into the presence of our precious Savior.

Jesus - Immanuel - God with us, putting on human flesh - to be our Satan, Sin, and Death Conqueror.  Our Eternal Life, so we could be with Him, forever.



Cookie Decorating at Grandma's







Sunday, December 18, 2011

A Christmas Verse


 "For He was foreknown 
before the foundation of the world, 
but has appeared in these last times 
for the sake of you." 

1 Peter 1:20


That Jesus was foreknown before the foundation of the world means that the Father planned, before creation, to send the Son to save His chosen ones.  ("...who are chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father..." 1 Peter 1:1c, 2a)  

A couple of truths pulled from this verse: 

The Father did not react at the Fall with a last minute fix.

"He...has appeared...for the sake of you..."  

We are loved...

I've never really thought of this as a Christmas verse, but it jumped out at me as one this morning...


Saturday, December 17, 2011

Love His Smile

This picture of Tim was taken just over fourteen years ago.  It is one of my favorites - because it shows off his great smile - and I love his smile.  (No jokes about the glasses...)

Today is his birthday.

This is the man who's love for me has been steady, sure, unwavering, rock-solid, sacrificial, like Jesus love, for the last thirty-two years.  As secure as I am in the love of Jesus, I have been secure in his love.

Thank you, Lord, for Your love, and the love of this man.  I am so blessed, and undeserving.

It really is a great smile, isn't it?

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

With You Forever

"I will ask the Father, 
and He will give you another Helper, 
that He may be with you forever."
John 14:16

Just wanted to point you to another eternal security verse...

Jesus asked.
The Father gives.
No take aways.

Romans 11:29 -

"For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable."


"Irrevocable" -  UNALTERABLE

Contagious Joy

I think you're going to love this.  I wasn't able to get through it without tearing up, for a couple of reasons - 1) Jesus is exalted in a mall, with beautiful, clear voices, where probably most of the shoppers minds are completely elsewhere.  It pointed the shoppers to Him, and the true meaning of Christmas.  2) It made me think of the day when Jesus will be exalted throughout the world.

Enjoy.

Monday, December 12, 2011

His Own Love Toward Us

"But God demonstrates His own love toward us, 
in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us."
Romans 5:8

There is a truth from this verse that I have been meditating on over the last several days - biblical love is action based, not feelings driven based on attraction.

It is also the will moving to meet a specific need.  In the action, self is laid aside and the one being loved is put first. 

It is the Christmas season and we are celebrating the birth of Jesus.  We wouldn't be celebrating Christmas if it weren't for the love that Jesus had for us.  The actions of His love began in eternity past.  He wrote our names down in the book of life and agreed with the Father that He would come and die for the people written in the book, because He knew they would fall into sin and need rescuing.

Two thousand years ago - Jesus came, continuing with His actions of love.  John MacArthur writes regarding Jesus birth in his book, "The Miracle of Christmas", "Here's a side to the Christmas story that isn't often told.  Those soft little hands, fashioned by the Holy Spirit in Mary's womb, were made so that nails might be driven through them.  Those baby feet, pink and unable to walk, would one day walk up a dusty hill to be nailed to a cross.  That sweet infant's head with sparkling eyes and eager mouth was formed so that someday men might force a crown of thorns onto it.  That tender body, warm and soft, wrapped in swaddling clothes, would one day be ripped open by a spear."  

Why?  

Because of love that was action based, not feelings driven based on attraction.  Jesus grew up and walked among men, women, and children - healing them from all kinds of sickness and disease.  He fed them, miraculously.  Compassion did move Jesus to action.  God is love and Jesus being God in the flesh, lived a life of action, meeting need after need after need, giving of Himself, time and time again. The greatness of His love culminated at the cross.  There was no greater love in history, than at that moment.  It was not feelings driven.  There is nothing lovely and attractive about sinners.  It was based out of our need and Jesus desire to please His Heavenly Father.  

And this is how we are called to love.  Love that is feelings driven will never last because feelings come and go.  God demonstrated for us how we are to love.  It is the choice to lay ourselves aside and meet the needs of another.  God's love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit.  We are empowered to love in the same way Jesus loved.  And the wonderful thing, we are created that when we love in such a way, great joy is produced from our choice to be like our Savior.  When we consistently choose biblical love, the feelings just follow.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

By Him, For Him

"He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything."  Colossians 1:15-18

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Christmas Prayer

"Though you have not seen Him, 
you love Him, 
and though you do not see Him now, 
but believe in Him, 
you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and 
full of glory,  
obtaining as the outcome of your faith 
the salvation of your souls."  

1 Peter 1:8,9

The King is coming.  Jesus Christ has come and will come again.  This is the hope of the Church whom He purchased with His blood.  It is the eager expectation and desire of His people.  In His coming is our joy, for He is our treasure, our greatest good - Advent Guide by The Village Church.

***

My dear children - 
Ruh, Annie, Ben, and Mai, 
and my dear grandchildren - 
Daisy, Daniel, and Charlie:

My prayer for you this Christmas is that you will find Jesus Christ to be your greatest treasure, shining brighter and purer than all other treasures...

That you will come to the place where He is your deepest longing...

That He is the fullest captivation of your thoughts...

That obedience to Him is your greatest desire and reality, discovering that it opens up the floodgates of blessing and joy...

That when the storms in life arise you remember He is right there with you, His sovereign and loving hands enclosed around you...

And that you will come to have times in which the joy of knowing He loves you is so immense, you can't put it into words, instead, you just know your heart is going to explode...

***

When Love was Born

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Like Jesus

The cause of Satan's fall -
I will ascend and make myself like Jesus.

***

His lie to Eve -
Disobeying God will make you like Jesus.

***

The truth -
A bowed, submissive heart and
obedience to God is what makes us like Jesus.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Living Nativity

Discovery Baptist had their Living Nativity again this year.  It was wonderful, as usual.  Here are some pictures from it...

When we told Daniel we were going to see some animals, he got excited and began looking for the monkeys and dinosaurs...we had some explaining to do...

















In the sanctuary there are beautiful works of art on display during the Living Nativity.  Nehemiah Suko just recently made this replica of the Ark of the Covenant.  Beautiful, isn't it?  Thank you, Discovery, for this wonderful outreach ministry to Gig Harbor each Christmas, for the past thirteen years.

The Same

"And the Word became flesh, 
and dwelt among us, 
and we saw His glory, 
glory as of the only begotten from the Father, 
full of grace and truth."
John 1:14

"Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever."
Hebrews 13:8

"But God demonstrates His own love toward us,
in that while we were yet sinners,
Christ died for us."
Romans 5:8

"But we all, 
with unveiled face,
beholding as in a mirror
the glory of the Lord,
are being transformed into the same image
from glory to glory,
just as from the Lord,
the Spirit."
2 Corinthians 3:18

Jesus, 
Who is full of grace, 
and love,
for us...
came,
to be sin for us,
when we were full of sin.
But,
it didn't change Him.

He is holy, holy, holy,
from eternity past.

We are changeable,
we need to be changed...
desperately.
We are changeable,
He is not.
He came,
to change us,
to be
like Him.

Aren't you glad?

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Hungering for the Word

Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 

Colossians 3:16

If I could wish one thing for you, it would be that you would have a love for the Word.  At the beginning of this third chapter in Colossians, Paul instructs us to set our minds on things above, not on the things of the earth.  The way to do that, is to have our minds filled with the Word.

In the body of Christ, our desire for each other should be for what Jesus laid hold of us - the molding and  transforming us into His image.  That was Paul's passion and for what he worked.  He wrote the Galatians, "My little children, for whom I labor in birth again until Christ is formed in you."  That happens when we are in the Word, walking in obedience, surrendering our will more and more to the Father's will. 

If you don't have an appetite for the Word, how do you develop one?  The same way you do with any food.  You take a bite, and then another bite, and then another bite.  The psalmist wrote, "Oh taste and see, that the Lord is good."  If it's been awhile since you've picked up your Bible, don't go to bed tonight without doing so.  I'd like to suggest that you read John 14-17.  It won't take long.  These are Jesus words of comfort to His disciples just prior to His death.  There is much instruction there for us.  We also clearly see the heart of Jesus for us.  This passage is rich in learning about the character of the Father and the Son.  In chapter 17, Jesus actually prays for you and me.  Do you know what Jesus prays for you?  I'm not going to tell you, I want you to look for yourself.  

What we long for is an indication of the condition of our hearts.  We need His Word in us, to do battle with our sinful flesh.  We need His Word in us, so we know what pleases Him.  We need His Word in us, so we can encourage others.  We need His Word in us, especially as we draw closer to His return.  Perilous times are coming.  We need His Word in us, so we become more and more like Him.  When His Word is in us, dwelling richly, and we walk in obedience, Jesus is glorified, and that is what life is all about.

   

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Jesus -

While we are in this flesh, this is a truth of which we need to be constantly reminded - 

"For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things.  
To Him be the glory forever.
Amen."

Romans 11:36


Jesus is the answer to our -

insecurity
fear
pride
anxiety
deceitful hearts
chaotic world...

Jesus is the path to -

peace and joy

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Just for Fun!

It's Christmasy at the Hall house...  :)


















Hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving...

Friday, November 25, 2011

Her Seed

"And I will put enmity between you and the woman, 
and between your seed and her seed;
He shall bruise you on the head, 
and you shall bruise him on the heel."

Genesis 3:15

JESUS' ENTRANCE INTO HUMANITY was planned from before the beginning of time.  God softened the punishment of the curse that resulted from the sin of Adam and Eve by offering a promise that someday a Seed would rise up and crush the serpent.  Even though death came through Adam, Christ's coming brought life to humankind (Romans 5:12-21).

The Hebrew word for seed can literally mean a plant's seed, or can figuratively mean one's descendants. In Genesis, it refers specifically to the coming Messiah, in God's promise that the woman's Seed would crush the serpent.  As such, the term takes on great importance in the Bible:  Through Abraham's seed, both collectively in Israel and singularly in Christ, God would reach out to save His people.

John MacArthur

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Magnify with Thanksgiving

"I will praise the name of God 
with song 
and magnify Him 
with thanksgiving."




Our God is infinite and infinitely good, giving us infinite opportunities for thanksgiving.  David wrote in Psalm 69:30 - "I will praise the name of God with song and magnify Him with thanksgiving."  The Lord is enlarged and intensified in significance as we pile on the thanksgiving!  Dear Blogging Friends, may your day be filled with ever enlarging and intensifying thanks, as your thoughts rest on the person, works, and character of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, and our Heavenly Father who gave Him, so we could belong to Him. 



Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Benefit and Blessing

"But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed...His grave was assigned with wicked men, yet He was with a rich man in His death, because He had done no violence, nor was there any deceit in His mouth...
Isaiah 53:5, 9

When we choose to sin, or not walk in God's ways, we choose to suffer - and our sin always causes others to suffer as well.

Our hearts should be broken by this truth.

Here is what I am awestruck with this morning.  Jesus never sinned.  His actions never, ever brought suffering to anyone.  His actions only brought benefit and blessing.  Oh, He called the Pharisees out on their sin, but as God His actions were always holy, righteous, and just.  How many people did He touch and heal from sickness and demonic oppression - benefit and blessing flowing out to them?  A woman only had to reach out and touch Jesus in faith, and she was healed - benefit and blessing flowing out to her.  He fed thousands upon thousands - benefit and blessing.  He kept His disciples from the evil one.  He prayed for them.  Benefit.  Blessing.  Jesus actions only brought benefit and blessing, His actions never brought suffering to anyone, yet He is the One who has undergone the most suffering of anyone, ever. 

Sin causes suffering and it was not because of His sin that Jesus suffered, it was because of our sin.

Jesus, the Innocent, was crushed for me, the guilty, for all the sins I have ever committed, and will commit - He took the piercing that I deserved for the suffering that my disobedience has caused others. Jesus, being obedient to the Father, stood in my place, and bore the wrath of God for all my sin and gave me His righteousness.  If you have trusted in Him as your Savior, He stood in your place too, and bore the wrath of God for all your sin and you also are clothed in His righteousness.

Is there something you are struggling with as far as obedience to our Heavenly Father?  As God's children we are called to walk by faith.  Faith is believing the Word of God and acting on it, no matter how we feel, because God promises a good result.  We don't always feel like doing what we are called to do.  This is when we need to remember the cross.  Remember the love of our Savior.   Remember His willingness to undergo the greatest suffering anyone has ever undergone, and He didn't deserve it.  You and I did.

Sin brings suffering.  Obedience always brings benefit and blessing.  Let's be Jesus to those around us today.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Isaiah 55:6,7

Seek the LORD while He may be found; 
Call upon Him while He is near. 
Let the wicked forsake his way 
And the unrighteous man his thoughts; 
And let him return to the LORD, 
And He will have compassion on him, 
And to our God, 
For He will abundantly pardon.

True seeking in faith is accompanied by repentance, which is described as forsaking ways and thoughts and turning from sinful living to the Lord.  A sinner must come believing in God, recognizing his sin and desiring forgiveness and deliverance from that sin.  At the same time he must recognize his own inability to be righteous or to satisfy God and cast himself on God's mercy. It is then that he receives complete pardon.  His sin has been covered by the substitution of the Messiah in his place.  

John MacArthur


This Wondrous Love - Conclusion

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him.  In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.  In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace which He lavished on us."
Ephesians 1:3-7

"Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma."
Ephesians 5:1,2

"For I am confident of this very thing, 
that He who began a good work in you 
will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus."
Philippians 1:6


"...work out your salvation with fear and trembling; 
for it is God who is at work in you, 
both to will and to work for His good pleasure."
Philippians 2:12b, 13


"Seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.  For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust.  Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love.  For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.  For he who lacks these qualities is blind or short-sighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sins.  Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble; for in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you."
2 Peter 1:3-11

I need to go find my husband, throw my arms around his neck, and tell him I love him,
and thank you, for loving me as Jesus loves me.  


Sunday, November 13, 2011

This Wondrous Love - Chapter Four

A Story of God's Love and Grace -

My Hero

It's time to introduce you to the Hero of my story.  

My Hero is Jesus.  

Before Jesus spoke creation into being, the Father planned that I would be a gift to Jesus.  He recorded my name in His Lamb's Book of Life.  I would be included in those who the Father would bring to Jesus.  I would be part of the people of His own possession.  He included me in His redemption plan.  Jesus, the eternal God, shed His blood for my sins.  Jesus agreed to absorb the wrath of His Father - so I could be His and bear His righteousness.  He set His everlasting love upon me and determined from before creation, that I would forever belong to Him.     

Yes, Jesus is my Hero.  With His love and grace, He placed me in a home with a believing mother who, from the time I was born, took me to church every Sunday and prayed for me.  He gave me wonderful, believing grandparents who also prayed for me.  Jesus placed a Good News Club in the neighborhood in which I grew up, where, when I was nine years old, the Holy Spirit opened my heart and understanding to the gospel.  It was at this Good News Club that Jesus took me from the domain of darkness and placed me into His kingdom, and began His good work in me of transforming me into His likeness.  

As infinite as His glory, holiness, and worth, I was totally undeserving of His love, mercy, and grace.  

From the time Tim and I got together at his sister's wedding, until the day of our wedding, we'd only spent about thirty days together.  We'd pretty much carried on a long distance relationship over the phone.  I woke up that July 5th morning with a lot of doubts.  Did I really know Tim?  Did I really love him?  Now I was the one with cold feet.  I wanted to back out, but I didn't.  I was terribly homesick in those first months.  I started to sinfully live by my feelings.  It's a simple truth that transformation takes place as we look to Jesus and as we walk in obedience to His Word.  When we live according to our feelings and not the Word of God, transformation is halted and Jesus is not exalted in our lives.  I took my eyes off of Jesus, placed them on my feelings, and began to only see Tim's flaws.  Marriage is a picture of the relationship Jesus has with His church.  Tim loved me.  Tim put me first.  Tim was Jesus to me but I was not a picture of the church to Jesus.  I did not give him the honor and significance that a wife is called to give to her husband, like the church is called to give to her Savior.  Instead of glorifying my husband and serving his interests, I served my own interests.  I put on a good, hypocritical face at church and around my family, but at home I was mostly quiet and withdrawn from Tim.  With my eyes off of Jesus, I'd let many fears about being a wife take root in my heart.  I had become a hearer of the Word only in the area of my marriage.  Yet Tim continued to love me with forbearance, grace, and patience.  

Jesus loves His own possession with an everlasting love.  His love never stops.  He doesn't withdraw His love, even when we withhold ours to Him.  In reality, not loving Tim the way Jesus wanted me to love him was not loving Jesus.  Jesus was merciful to me.  In His lovingkindness and grace, Jesus brought about circumstances which set me on a path to obedience, joy, and blessing.  He introduced me to James MacDonald's faith definition -  Faith is believing the Word of God, and acting on it, no matter how I feel, because God promises a good result.  When I set my feelings aside and began to act on His Word, the blessings and joy began to cascade into my life...

Saturday, November 12, 2011

This Wondrous Love - Chapter Three

A Story of God's Love and Grace - 

"Yes!"

(The last paragraph from Chapter Two...   Then, out of the blue, Tim stood up.  He pulled a small, blue, velvet box from his pocket.  One of his knees dropped to the floor.  He looked up at me.  He smiled - and then I caught my breath as he asked me the question almost every girl dreams about being asked...)

"I love you, Kath, will you marry me?"

...I threw my arms around Tim's neck, "Yes!"

Tim took me out to a really nice dinner after that but before we went into the restaurant he said, "I need to make a phone call."  This was before cell phones, way before, so we found a pay phone and Tim dialed my home number.  My mom answered the phone and Tim asked for her permission and blessing to marry me.  My mother queried him with these three questions...

"Do you love her?"

"Yes."

"Do you love the Lord?"

"Yes."

"Will you love me?"

"Yes!"

She really did ask those questions, in that order.  Tim really did answer, in that way, and his answers were all true, then, as they are now.

We had my mom's blessing.

It was Ground Hog's Day, February 2, 1980.  (It is just as romantic to get engaged on Ground Hog's Day as it is on Valentine's Day.)  Before I flew home to finish out the school year, we set the date for July 5th.  There were a little less than four more months of school left.  Four more torturous months.  Five months to plan a wedding.  I was still actually going to a couple of my classes.  One was a calligraphy class.  I never turned in my final project and was flabbergasted to learn I'd received a "C" in the class - it was totally undeserved.

I did not graduate.  I had attended Biola on a four year scholarship, based on my mom's income and a fairly decent high school GPA.  Biola required a year of Bible.  So technically, it takes five years to get through Biola, if you don't take interterm classes, summer classes, or heavy loads.  I was ready to be done with school, ready to be done with the pressure of homework, of lab-work,  and term papers.  I had no desire to have a career.  I wanted to be married, set up a home, and raise a family.  It's all I had ever really wanted.  Oh, there was a time when I thought it would be fun to be a park ranger.  My family grew up camping and I loved the outdoors.  And then I thought I wanted to be a nurse.  From a nurse it went to a PE Teacher.  From a PE Teacher it went to a Christian Camp Director.  They actually offered a degree in it at Biola.  The last classes I took were Education classes.  I'd finally settled on teaching, but the scholarship money was ending, and my enthusiasm for school was long gone.

Yes, I wanted to be married and I thought I understood what it meant to be a godly wife.  I would soon learn however, just how self-centered I was.

Here's where the story of God's love and grace unfolds...

Friday, November 11, 2011

This Wondrous Love - Chapter Two

A Story of God's Love and Grace - 


Sleepless Nights

(Last paragraph of Chapter One - Happy Anniversary, Sheryl and Skip!  It was evening by the time we got to the pier.  It was just natural to take Tim's arm as we walked.  We fell behind the rest of the group.  It was a cool evening, he gave me his coat, I was falling in love...)

...I'm sure I didn't get much sleep that night.

Tim was going to be at church the next day and then he would be flying home, back up to the Bay Area.  He needed a ride to the airport.  (He picked me.)  It was before 9/11 of course, when you could go all the way up to the gate and say good-bye.  We sat and talked, the clock ticking closer and closer to boarding time.  Tim waited until the last second, he drew me into his arms, kissed me sweetly, and then disappeared with a smile.

I loved his smile.

I know I didn't get much sleep that night.

The rest of November came and went.  I spent little time in class, except for my Bible classes.  (Yes, I was a rebel.)  I did go to the required chapels - I loved them.  I also worked my dorm maintenance job which I actually enjoyed.  My dorm room was at the end of a very long hall.  There were two phones in the hall to serve about one hundred girls.  My roommate was engaged.  She had a phone installed in our room.  Now half the calls coming in were to me.  Most of my earnings went to pay my phone bill.  Each toilet I scrubbed meant at least five minutes on the phone with Tim.  It was worth it!  There were letters.  I loved to write letters.  I would write each day, sending Tim puzzle pieces to my life, and after a few days I would put the compilation into an envelope and mail it off.  I learned Tim was not a letter writer.  A phone call was his thing but every once in awhile he would manage to get a letter off to me.  That he would take the time to write, a task he didn't really enjoy, told me how much he cared for me.

In December, just after Christmas, Tim flew me up to the Bay Area.  I stayed through New Years.  Tim owned his own home which he shared with a couple of roommates.  I stayed with his parents who lived just a couple of miles away.  Tim and Sheryl's parents were wonderful.  We hit it off from the start of my friendship with Sheryl. They loved me.  I loved them.  They were thrilled about my budding relationship with Tim.  Dad was a big tease and he loved to tease me and I loved it when he teased me.  Dad was also a kindred spirit in that he loved the Lord and His Word.  We had some great conversations regarding spiritual things.  

January was Tim's turn to make a quick flight down over a weekend.  He stayed with Sheryl and Skip.  We hung out at their house.  Tim and Sheryl and Skip came over and had dinner with my family at my house - I usually went home on the weekends.  All my siblings liked Tim.  Our families had just plain fun together.  There was much laughter.  Skip and Sheryl called my mom "Mother", just like her five children did.  Tim went to church with me on Sunday, and then it was back home again.  More letters and phone calls, and another huge phone bill.  (Tim's phone bill was just as big.  We switched back and forth.  I would call him and then the next night he would call me.  We talked for at least an hour each night, sometimes two.  I didn't have time for homework, so why go to class?)  The girls in the dormitories loved to pull pranks on each other.  One afternoon I pushed a toilet stall door open, getting ready to pay for another five minutes on the phone with Tim.  Half a male mannequin (from the waist up) was jutting out of the toilet.  I screamed.  Several girls came running into the bathroom.  We all had a good laugh.  I endured several practical jokes, but it was worth the time I got to spend with Tim on the phone.

I knew February would be my turn to fly up again.  I finagled it out of Sheryl that Tim had asked her about my ring size.  I just knew he was going to ask me to marry him!  When he picked me up at the airport he was unusually quiet.  He walked me up to his parent's apartment, didn't stay long, and went home.   The smile that I loved just wasn't there.  I knew something was up.  I definitely had trouble getting to sleep that night.  He picked me up the next morning.  We headed over the Santa Cruz mountains to Mt. Herman, a Christian Conference Center.  We were going to spend the day there.  His pastor owned a beautiful home in the area.  We had use of the fireplace for the afternoon.  The ride over was very quiet.  A knot lay in my stomach.  Before going to the home, we went for a walk in the woods.  I asked Tim what was wrong.  He hemmed and hawed, then finally told me he had planned to ask me to marry him, but he was getting cold feet.  He wasn't sure if I was the right girl for him.  I spent the next twenty minutes, talking non-stop (which was totally out of character for me!), declaring my love to him.  I told him I desired to be his wife, his helpmeet, and that I wanted to be married to him!  He seemed to relax and the smile returned.  

We went to the pastor's house - Tim lit a fire in the fireplace.  We talked.  We talked some more.  Then, out of the blue, Tim stood up.  He pulled a small blue, velvet box from his pocket.  One of his knees dropped to the floor.  He looked up at me.  He smiled - and then I caught my breath as he asked me the question almost every girl dreams about being asked...