Thursday, December 24, 2015

The 22nd, 23rd and 24th Days of Advent - Three Gifts

Days 22, 23 and 24 of Advent -- Three Gifts
I have been without a working computer for the last two days and so I have combined three days of advent posts in this one.

My friend Abby has a tradition of giving in her family.  Everyone gets three gifts: something they want, something they need and something for their soul.

Here I offer you something that you want:

Jubilant singing "How I Got Over"

Something that you need: A godly older friend

This is Dorothy.  She is a thoughtful, prayerful woman.  At age 92 she goes to Bible study and Sunday school every week and has a prayer meeting in her home.  Many times when I stop in to visit, I find her scrubbing her floors on her hands and knees.  She writes the most beautiful Christmas letters every year, exalting the her Savior, Jesus Christ, and pointing us all to heaven.  Just spending time with Dorothy has made me a more thoughtful and centered Christian. 
Here is something for your soul:
George Herbert's Christmas poem
Christmas (1)
After all pleasures as I rid one day,
My horse and I, both tired, body and mind,
With full cry of affections, quite astray;
I took up the next inn I could find.

There when I came, whom found I but my dear,
My dearest Lord, expecting till the grief
Of pleasures brought me to Him, ready there
To be all passengers' most sweet relief?

Oh Thou, whose glorious, yet contracted light,
Wrapt in night's mantle, stole into a manger;
Since my dark soul and brutish is Thy right,
To man of all beasts be not Thou a stranger:

Furnish and deck my soul, that Thou mayst have
A better lodging, than a rack, or grave.

Monday, December 21, 2015

The Twenty-First Day of Advent -- Ordinary people

Day twenty-one of Advent -- meditations in the days leading to Christmas

Mary, the mother of Jesus was an ordinary person.
God uses ordinary people to shine forth his glory.
That is good new for you and me.

Enjoy this beautiful rendition of "Mary Did You Know?" 
by Jordan Smith, winner of the Voice.
This song and the one performing it illustrate this point very well.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

The Twentieth Day of Advent -- How you deal with smelly feet

Day twenty of Advent -- Meditations in the days leading to Christmas
Image result for scrubbing smelly feet

Meditate on John 13:1-17

"True Christianity is not the Americanized, privatized religion that you think it is.  It is the scrubbing of smelly feet. It is service to others when they do not deserve it.  It is loving people who have wrecked your life, and loving them all the way to the end. The Bible is the giant eraser that should serve to leave rubber crumbs of all the enculturated ways we think about God and others. The greatest threat to your Christianity is not those who hold an office in our government whose political views differ from yours.  And it is not Islamic terrorism.  The greatest threat to your Christianity is a hundred little things you think fit into your Christianity but have no origin in Christ."
~ Spencer DeBurgh (teaching in Sunday school this morning)

This got me thinking that the best plans I could make for Christmas this year are the ones that involve sacrificing for others, being patient with others, serving others and loving them all the way to the end.  Do not look for me to do this perfectly, but pray that I will have great success as I depend on the Spirit of God for this. Join me in the challenge.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

The Nineteenth Day of Advent -- Hymn of Redemption

Day nineteen of advent -- meditations in the days leading to Christmas

     A Hymn of Redemption    

You ventured down, Oh Eternal,
took our form and remained
of our nature and transcendent
in one blessed body came.

Growing all in mind and visage
holding fast Your holy aim,
tried as we are yet our sinless
sympathizing priest became.

Bring Your foreordained deliverance
deal the serpent's crushing blow!
With Your injured heal perform it
sinner's health and life bestow.

Brightest morning all alive
with my Savior's victory;
Here is hope and forgiveness
Christ has risen so shall we!

Your obedience tells the story;
A Father keeps His ancient vow.
By His loving headship toward Thee
every knee will humbly bow.

Extol the Father, Head and Author,
Jesus His obedient Son,
Spirit seal your sons and daughters
'til your blessed kingdom comes.

                                  ~Amy DeBurgh  ©2007

Friday, December 18, 2015

The Eighteenth Day of Advent -- We will never die

Day eighteen of advent -- Meditations in the days leading to Christmas

I was very blessed to hear of the strong faith of these believers in Jesus.  Their loved ones were killed by ISIS.  You can watch it here: Believers take hope in the death of their loved ones, who died strong in their faith.  This was posted on twitter by Voice of the Martyrs. 

Ours is to rejoice and be merry and celebrate the finished work of Christ. Our souls are bought back. We will never die. Eternity with our Savior will outshine the trials and hardships of this life.

I read this verse this morning from Nehemiah.  He was rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem after having been exiled, as a nation, into the land of Babylon.  Now that they were returning, they wanted to make a new start of things.  They opened the book of the law and read it.  When they did, they began to mourn because they had been disobeying God.  Ezra told them to...
"Eat the fat and drink the sweet wine and send portions to anyone who has nothing" Neh.8:10

I think we should do the same.  We are living in a terrible world, but it is a world that will be redeemed.  We have the light of life, let's shine that with joy to everyone we know.  Enjoy the gifts you have been given this year and share with those who have less than you do.

Christ did not laugh much. He was a man of sorrows. But because of Him, I laugh at the future, I smile at all my regrets being washed away.  We will never die.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

The Seventeenth Day of Advent -- I want to be more like those people

Day 17 of advent -- Meditations in the days leading to Christmas

What really matters in this fallen world?
We know that Jesus was born into this world because we needed to be rescued from our fallen, sinful natures that have separated us from a God who could not look upon sin. We believe this, as Christians, but sometimes we forget that sin is the worst kind of tragedy.  We might see some people, like those who have down syndrome, or other intellectual or developmental disabilities and think that is the worst thing that could happen to a person.  It must be terrible to be born that way or to have someone be born into your family with a disability.  I have learned much about these very valuable people since I started working for Shepherds Ministries. They are sinners too, but most of them have some great qualities derived intrinsically from their situations in life that we don't have the benefit of cultivating as readily.  For example, most people with intellectual disabilities that I work with are not spoiled or impatient.  They are used to waiting for things and people and they appreciate it when others wait for them.  Most of them are used to not getting what they want, when they want it, so they value the little gifts with gratitude.  These people are also accustomed to others rushing through conversations with them in order to get on with "more important" people and things.  As a result they value relationships that are quality.  Most of the community of people, I know, who have intellectual disabilities are incapable of being fake, so they can tell if someone is being insincere with them. It's not that they are completely unconcerned about their physical appearances.  A day doesn't go by when I'm not made aware of a new outfit or necklace or watch.  But when it comes to choosing friends, they value the true person found on the inside.  Coolest of all, my friends at Shepherds have the ability to believe the gospel of Jesus Christ. Those who do believe, love to share it with others because they truly care about people and their souls.
I'm thankful for the example of these very special people who seem to care about what really matters in this fallen world. Christ has blessed me with these people to teach me how to be more like him.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

The Sixteenth Day of Advent -- Chin up and believe

Day sixteen of advent -- meditations in the days leading to Christmas

Nothing wrecks the Christmas season like a fallen countenance on someone like me, who has every reason to be joyful, in my savior, this time of year.

This morning, I meditated on Hebrews 6:9-12.  I recommend it, if you are burdened by ministry, if you are downhearted.  If you are wondering if you make a difference, if people that you pour yourself into are demonstrating little or no fruit, then you are in the perfect place to let the Spirit of God come and comfort you in his word, today.

I read these verses yesterday, so I had no excuse to be dispirited, but I didn't really have them in my heart.  I hadn't meditated.  I hadn't believed.  This morning, I did believe them and I am having victory today.

Here is the gist of these four verses:

1. Be sure of better things, if your are saved and serving others.

2. If the things you are doing belong to the Gospel, you can count on better things, because that is where the power is.

3. God is not unjust

4. He does not overlook your work  (though others do).

5. He does not overlook your love (though others do).

6. If you demonstrate love in his name, and serve in his name, he will not overlook you.

7. Show earnestness (be serious about what God has called you to).

8. Have full assurance of hope all the way to the end. (this requires discipline of mind).

9. All of the above is so that you will not become sluggish.

10. The opposite of sluggish is to imitate those who have gone before you who were patient and had faith that God would deliver on his promised inheritance.