Continually inspired… Hallelujah! His mercies are new EVERY morning!

Isn’t your entire being moved during Handel’s Messiah? When you hear, ‘Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!…’ it’s as if “the glory of the Lord has been revealed, And all flesh see it together.” (Is. 40:5)

Well, did you know that it was Isaiah 40 that inspired Handel to compose the Messiah? It is written that George Frideric Handel was greatly inspired by Isaiah 40, “Comfort, yes, comfort My people!” says your God.
Perhaps these words spoke volumes to him because at this time his music was perceived as ‘outdated’ and he was thought of as an ‘old fogey’, after having great success at the Royal Academy of Music which he had opened years before.

The story is told that Handel shut his door in London on Aug. 22, 1741 and started composing music to these words, “Comfort, yes, comfort My people.” After 23 days, Handel’s Messiahwas birthed.

Have you read Isaiah 40? Well, they come after 39 chapters of “woes”. Isaiah 40 comes after 39 chapters of judgement,
“Comfort, yes comfort My people!” says, your God. Speak comfort to Jerusalem, and cry out to her, that her warfare is ended, that her iniquity is pardoned; For she has received from the Lord’s hand
double,(or forgiveness) for all her sins.”

These words have inspired me, as they did Handel.
You see,after suffering great amounts of trial,(in my opinion) the Lord showed me His hand, it was nail pieced and He offers forgiveness for all our sins. So I feel in some strange way that just as John the Baptist fulfilled Is. 40:3 in Jesus’ day, that God uses our voices today, to be “a voice crying in the wilderness: saying “Prepare the way of the LORD;”

So I close my door, so to speak, to complete a book that I am writing called, “God’s Hand.”
“Why?” you might ask.

I think Isaiah 40: 6,7,and 8 answer the question: The voice said, “Cry out!” And he said, “What shall I cry?” “All flesh is grass, And all its loveliness is like the flower of the field. The grass withers, the flower fades, Because the breath of the LORD blows upon it; Surely the people are grass. The grass withers, the flower fades, But the word of our God stands forever.”

In other words,
He has shown me that life is short, but in that short life, God allows some tough times to blow, but in the wind and torrent, His Word becomes my life, and His word stands forever,
so I write because God has spoken, “Lift up your voice with strength, Lift it up, be not afraid; Say to the cities of Judah, “Behold your God!”

So the book IS being written, but not as I originally thought. The book is many books, and each book in and of itself has one theme: “Comfort, yes, comfort My people!” So Lord, I pray, that if I compile any words, that they speak to Your children, young and old and are centered on Your Word, because this is a day when ‘truth’ is vague, and ‘lies’ are everywhere, and it’s hard to see and know which way to go.

“Jesus, bless us, all Your children with more and more understanding of You. Because all of You is good, and Your love endures forever, and Your lambs constantly go astray, but will You draw us to You…You are like no other, and it is truly Your kindness that leads us to repentance! Oh yes, how You welcome your wayward sheep, and not only that…

when we turn and come on home, You run to us with open arms! O Lord, Your ways are not the ways of man! Thank you that you forget our sin as far as the east is from the west. Thank you that your steadfast love never ceases, and that Your mercy never comes to an end, and Thank You, thank You, thank You that even better than all of that, Your mercies are new every morning! Great, O how Great is Your faithfulness!

Hallelujah, Hallelujah! Ha-le-lujah!

Thank you for the comfort of Your word. In Jesus name we pray. AMEN. “

Let my words be few. However, His Word…

These words by Matt Redman come to mind this morning,

“You are God in heaven, and here am I on earth,…”

You are not only God in heaven, You are my Father.
And You hear my prayers when I come to You and ask.
Just like a parent who didn’t give his child everything that he asked for for Christmas, You answer our prayers in Your way, in Your wisdom. You are love, even when we don’t understand.

“So I’ll let my words be few,…”

Your heard my prayers to bring the music back in our family. This Christmas, there was music. There was melody, there was harmony, there was the sound of the strings. What a glorious sound. I will let my words be few:

“Thank you Jesus.”
You showed me that You hear my prayers to the minute-est detail!

The song: “Jesus, I am so in love with You.”

It is true that we would not tell our earthly fathers that we are ‘in love’ with them. However, we would most certainly tell our husbands or our wives, “I’m in love with you.” The Bible teaches that Jesus is the groom and He is coming for His bride. We, the church are the Bride of Christ.

Jesus, came over 2,000 years ago as a baby. He lived, He loved, He died. Jesus rose from the dead. And He is coming back very soon:

“then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war.His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself,

He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God…” (Rev. 19:11-13).

(Rev. 21) “AND I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away… Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying,

“Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God.

“And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying; and there shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”

Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all t hings new.” And He said to me, “Write, for these words are true and faithful.”

“And He said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End…”

We will trust You Lord, while we live in the middle. “You are God in heaven, and here am I on earth,
And I’ll stand in awe of You.
Yes, I’ll stand in awe of You.
And I’ll let my words be few,

“Jesus, I am so in love with You.”

The Prince of Peace has come and broken down the wall…

Today, Christmas Eve, I’m thinking of our Prince of Peace. Also thinking about family. So, I remember a very, very old praise chorus from about 28 years ago:

“He is our peace, who has broken down every wall. He is our peace, He is our peace.
He is our peace, who has broken down every wall, He is our peace, He is our peace.
Cast all your cares on Him, for He cares for you.
He is our peace, He is our peace. Cast all your cares on Him, for He cares for you, He is our peace, He is our peace.”

Our family is together under one roof! There are no words to describe my joy and thankfulness. Moms and Dads that have older children that are grown and even married – understand – THIS is a Very Special Time (!)Exclamation Point! I am so happy inside that I just want to cry,(that’s a woman thing, sorry dads.) However, I don’t think the kids really know how we feel. We are just so happy to be in the same room together. “O how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!” (Ps.133:1)

Today, they don’t understand, but someday, the kids will know.

Back to the song: “He is our peace, who has broken down every wall…”

Thinking of family, thinking of the Father God and the earthly place where He, The Father is thought to ‘rest His feet.’ the spot that comes to mind is Jerusalem! And we all know that Jerusalem means the City of Peace. And yes, we all know just how peaceful Jerusalem is! Hmmmm, Jerusalem, the City of Peace – totally dysfunctional!

So, I am encouraged because God, our Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace KNOWS and UNDERSTANDS a dysfunctional home! But I am sure that none of you understand what I am talking about because you all have children like the show ’21 and counting’! But God knows what I am talking about – He has Jerusalem! My family gets along very well,we can sing a nice ‘melody’, but we do have a moments where we truly are not ‘harmonizing!’

The song again: “He is our peace…”

Well, as a mom, I can say simple words like “O.K.” and get into trouble! I can enter a room, with everything fine, and say one thing and cause a cascade of raised voices! What in the world is going on here? God knows, He has Jerusalem!

“HE is our peace, who has broken down EVERY wall…”

It is all making sense to me now. You see, every son and daughter will not have what he or she needs emotionally from his or her mother or father. God is the One who can meet that need. He is the One we must seek. Just as every wife or husband will not have all of their emotional needs met by his or her mate, because only GOD can meet those needs. He is there and able to provide all that is needed. We’ve got to get our vertical relationship right so we can sing in harmony with our horizontal relationships.

Don’t you see? The dysfunctional leads each of us to HIM! The Prince of Peace has come. Jesus doesn’t give peace.

Jesus IS peace.

So God uses ALL the dysfunction to draw us ever so close to Him.
The song: “Cast all your care on Him, for He cares for you. He is our peace. He is our peace. Cast all your care on Him, for He cares for you. He is our peace. He is our peace.”

So today, this Christmas eve we talk to the the Father, the Wonderful Counselor; we
meaning moms and dads, sons and daughters – we pray today:

“Father God, we thank you that You sent Your Son to come to pay a huge debt that we owed, the shed blood on the cross for our sins.By believing and receiving Your most precious Christmas gift ever, Your son,
we then are covered by Your blood. And Father, you see us as perfect. You see us as all those beautiful children in a Christmas program with their wiggles and squirms and even a tiny bit of pushing and shoving, You hear our voices with melody and harmony, even though they may be squeaking and out of tune. You are Wonderful, You are Counselor.

Dear Lord, we even thank you for moments of ‘dysfunction’ in our families because You alone work all our dysfunction for your good – and (Eph 2:13-14) “Now in Christ Jesus, you who were once far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation. Draw us to You.” In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

“He is our peace, HE

is

our

peace.”

“Come and Behold Him”

It is Dec. 23rd. And we hear the song, “O Come all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant…”
and we think back over the year. For some, you could have never imagined the trials that you have been through. We agree with an old hymn,
“Though Satan should buffet and trials should come,”

“Oh, yes.” We respond, “Satan did buffet and trials did come.”

But the Hymn continues:
“Let this blessed assurance control,”

We’ve got to keep our head about things! Even in Revelations Chapter 2+3, it is repeated over and over again, “to him who overcomes…”, “And he who overcomes,” “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says…”

The Hymn: “That Christ has regarded my helpless estate and He’s shed His own blood for my soul.”
He regards our helpless estate.

How many of you were diagnosed with cancer this year? Christ does regard our helpless estate – yes, it was two years ago, I was bald because the chemo kills all of the fast growing cells in the body. Needless to say, the chemo kills the good and the bad and yes, you do feel VERY ugly! But “He’s shed His own blood for my soul.”

So, I must share this story again:
It was after my third chemo treatment. Jesus met me, personally when I thought I was going to die from the chemo. I was talking to God,(because that is what you do when you think you are going to die,) and I remarked, “Lord, aren’t I supposed to see lights about now?”

All I saw (with my eyes closed, of course),was darkness – but then I saw a door, and it was open. Then He presented His hands to me, palms up, His nail-pierced hands.

Remember the Hymn? “Let this blessed assurance control, that Christ has regarded my helpless estate and He’s shed His own blood for my soul.”

I just learned the words to this Hymn, It is well with my Soul two years after that date, and THAT is exactly what Jesus did for me. Basically, He was saying,
“Toni, you are going to live, but not all know ME. Not all know Me as their King, as their Father, as their Abba.”

So, from this horrible disease and painful experience God has used it for good.
“How?” you might ask.

Because now I can tell you from the depth of my heart that “Christ has regarded your helpless estate and He’s shed His own blood for you soul”
Yes, you may ask,
“Why does Toni ALWAYS write about Jesus?”
I will simply answer, “because HE is my life.”

“O come let us adore Him, O come let us adore Him, O come let us adore Him, Christ the Lord!”

Death?Tragedy? “It is well with my soul.”

It was a funeral…
so much loss, so much sadness.

“When peace like a river attendeth my ways,
when sorrows like sea billows roll.”

It was a funeral,
thinking of the void, also thinking of the many funerals this year.
Parents who have lost their children, wives who have lost their husbands, children who have lost their parent. And what about the mommies and the daddies who lost their babies in that horrible massacre in Connecticut?

The Hymn is being sung,
“Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say, “It is well, it is well with my soul.”

You remember this Hymn – these words were penned in the late 1870’s by Horacio Spafford after going out by ship to meet his wife and passing the spot where the ocean had swallowed up his 4 girls, Maggie, Taneta, Annne and Bessie, who were on a ship with their mother for some much needed rest after suffering great financial loss, and exhausting reconstruction from the Chicago fire in 1871.This was his response after all of that.

“It is well with my soul.” Is that our response?

You see, he could have that response for only one reason. Jesus Christ. Horatio knew and believed His Word. He knew what death was to a believer. He knew Jesus’ Words in the Book of John, chapter 11:

(Jesus after hearing his friend Lazarus, Mary and Martha’s brother, was sick,) “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”(John 11:4)
(Vs. 14) , “Jesus said to them plainly, “Lazarus is dead.”

(Vs. 23), Jesus said, “Your brother will rise again.”
(Vs.25,26), Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die,
he shall live.”
“And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?”

Well, Horatio believed this. His babies weren’t dead. There is no death for the believer. He went on to write vs. two of his hymn,

“Though Satan should buffet and trials should come,
let this blessed assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate and He’s shed His own blood for my soul. It is well, with my soul. It is well, it is well with my soul.”

In grief and despair, a Christian is not the same as one who does not believe.
WHY? The hymn will tell you,

“My sin, O the bliss of this glorious thought! My sin, not in part but in whole was nailed to the cross and I bear it no more,
Praise the LORD, Praise the LORD, O my soul!”

THAT is how a believer in Jesus Christ can sing,
“It is well, with my soul. It is well, it is well with my soul.”

“But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Co 15:58)

I was at a funeral, but this was not a ‘loss of a battle to cancer’, as the pastor spoke. No, this was a ‘pathway to victory – victory to the presence of the king. Victory of arrival to home! Horatio’s conclusion,

“And Lord haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
the clouds be rolled back like a scroll.
The trumpet resound and the the Lord shall descend,
Even so, It is well with my soul.
It is well, it is well, it is well, it is well with my soul.”

“O Death where is your sting? O Hades where is your victory?”…
“Death is swallowed up in victory!…
“Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed- in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye,
at the last trumpet. for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised…”(1 Co. 15:51-54)

I believe as a nation, we are grieving.
We hear the question form the people, “Where is God in all of this?””There is so much death, so much tragedy?”

He is here! ‘The Lord is come, let earth receive her King.’
I know that it is hard to see, but receiving Jesus in your heart is like putting on a pair of glasses- Come and see the glory of the Lord.

It was a funeral, yes, but it was a glorious celebration as well.
“Even so, it is well with my soul!”

“Fall on your knees!”

“Fall on your knees, O hear the angel voices…” O don’t we have so much fun on that part of the song of O Holy night! We sing it, we have fun with the notes sometimes, we believe it – but there needs to be a time, where we actually ‘fall on our knees, and hear the angel voices.’

this makes me think of a very familiar verse in the Bible:
“And He said to me, My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness”(2Cor 12:9). “God’s grace is sufficient.” We say it much like the playful way we sing, “fall on your knees” in the Christmas Carol! We hear it, we believe God’s grace is sufficient, BUT RESTING in God’s grace? a totally different matter all together!

I’ve been wrestling with this idea of ‘resting’.(!) Instead of just standing and ‘looking’ at a most cozy,lazy chair – resting is actually taking the steps forward to actually ‘sit’ in the chair! Why is it so hard for some of us? Or should I just say, me?

Of course, physically we can not be ‘resting’ all the time! There is a time we need to be about our work -even God created the heavens and the earth in 6 days – BUT on the 7th day, He rested.

What God is trying to show me-and I’m not even close to grasping it- is that spiritually, we can be resting ALL the time! Resting in and on God ALL the time!This is the ideal, this would be truly glorious!

It’s like looking at that most comfortable,cozy,lazy chair and saying, “I want that!”
“I want to be resting on the promises of God right now!”

And God says to me,”Well, why aren’t you?” “Come, and sit in My sufficiency.”

2 Corinthians 3:4, “And we have such trust through Christ toward God.”
Trust God. Is that the Name of this heavenly chair? On earth we have Lazy Boys, the heavenly chair has to be called Trust God!

So I finally ‘sit’.

“Fall on your knees”… and I actually do hear the angels sing…
“Glory to God in the Highest, and on earth peace…” yes, the Prince of Peace. And the Holy Spirit then reminds me,
“Toni, God graciously sent Jesus.
He is sufficient today to
“uphold you in His righteous right hand,” Is. 41:10, to

“comfort you in all your tribulations.” 2 Cor 1:4, to

“to make all of your troubles usefull,” Romans 8:28, and

“to even make you rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom.” All because He is sufficient to

“keep His promise to those who love him.” James 2:5.
And He is even sufficient to take all your angers and hurts and to take care of them – “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord.

(Wow, this RESTING in God’s grace is invigorating! New life is being restored. My faith increases by hearing, hearing by the word of God.)

So even though we have to physically, be busy about our day, we can be ‘resting in God’s grace because it is sufficient to fill us with hope and fill us with all joy and peace in believing,

“Not by might, not by power, but by My Spirit says the LORD.” Zech 4:6

Has God brought you to your knees? He has me. But I can hear the angel voices…

and I hear, “Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ,” 2 Cor. 2:14.
So, which one of our chairs am I now going to call my Trust God chair?!
Mike, my husband, will be so pleased, and God will too!

God: “_(your name)__, you are Mine.” (Is. 43:1)

I received a little gift yesterday, but for me, It was ‘my present, literally a present, but it was also a ‘present help in a time of trouble.’

You see, in this little box was a very beautiful, thin gold-hinged case with small little gems of all colors surrounding a little medallion, with a large gem like a diamond in the middle. And when I opened it, I could see my face in the small mirror.

It is as if God used this little gem covered mirror case to speak words to me that I needed to hear – and just at that moment!

The outside of the case was an example of God and all He is, (Rev. 4:3) “And He who sat there was like a jasper and a sardius stone in appearance and there was a rainbow around the throne, in appearance like an emerald.”

And when I opened it up to a refection of myself, it is as if I could hear Him say, “Toni, you are Mine.”
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; you are Mine.” (Is. 43:1)

The King over all kings, He knows our name.
The Jehovah-jireh, the Lord who provides, He knows our name.
The Jehovah-rapha, the Lord who heals, He knows our name. Yes, you and me.
The All knowing One, The Omniscient, He knows our name. Yes, you and me.
The All powerful One, The Omnipotent, He knows our name.
But wait, He is also our Father! Of course He knows our name! We are His girls and boys, even if we are as old as we are! He says, “You are mine!”

Well, if we are His, then that most certainly means that – He is ours!
He is all powerful, and all knowing, and He is in control – and He is mine!

And He calls us His own and says,
“In this this world you will have trouble, but I have overcome the world.”
“…you are Mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, nor shall the flame scorch you. For I am the LORD your God” (Is. 43:1-3).

So, I treasure this little gift. Not only does it remind me of God’s word, “you are Mine.” But also of the fact that, “I am my Beloved’s and He is mine. His banner over me is LOVE”.

Now, the big question: Can I rest on Him again? Have I rested on Him before and He failed me? He is asking me, “Can you rest now, once again on Me?”

Yes, after looking at the feeble face that looks in the mirror, I close the case and am reminded once again, ‘He is able to accomplish what concerns me today.’

You are calling us all by name, the God of the Universe, to say,
“you…
are
Mine!”

Looking up to the heavens…

Songs have been written from Ps. 121, one in particular comes to mind:
“I look up to heavens, to the hills I turn my eyes,
who will come to help me? Can I find a place to hide?

Sometimes, we find ourselves, looking up to the heavens.

We know the shepherds from the Luke 2 story were probably simply looking at the fire they had just built for the night, but now, they were looking up to the heavens!
Did you ever wonder WHY they received the message from the angels?

Shepherds? They were least, they were last. ‘And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them,and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid.'(Luke 2:9)

And of course, if you ever see an angel, that is what you will be – afraid! greatly afraid!And if you ever see an angel, you will know the angel is real if the first words that are spoken are, “Do not be afraid!”
But this angel had a message to all people! Not just the shepherds – maybe they were the only ones who would listen.

The wonderful message: “For behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. “For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord,
a Savior.”

Maybe the shepherds were aware of their need for a Savior, we don’t really know. The angel didn’t bring the message in the heart of the city, no, it was in the wilderness. Is that where most of us hear the message? We go about our normal days, just as the shepherds, after a hard days work, gazing at the fire, as we go about, busy, then focused on those things that make us feel warm and rested, but all of a sudden…

we are made to look up to heavens, because God somehow has our attention, just like He did the shepherds on that night.
Can you hear the words to the song?

“The One who made the heaven’s and the earth will hear my call,
He is never weary, and He will not let you fall.
He will not let you fall, He will not let you fall. He is never weary, and He will not let you fall!”

Yes, a song of Psalm 121, the verses read as if a heavenly chorus of angels is singing:
(vs. 5,6) The LORD is your keeper; The LORD is your shade at your right hand. The sun shall not strike you by day, Nor the moon by night.

(vs. 3,4) He will not allow your foot to be moved; He who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, He who keeps Israel Shall neither slumber not sleep.

(vs. 7,8) The LORD shall preserve you from all evil; He shall preserve your soul The LORD shall preserve your going out and your coming in From this time forth, and forevermore.

Yes, and amen, “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, good will toward men!”Luke 2:14.

“Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, And to present you faultless
Before the presence of His glory
with exceeding joy,
To God our Savior,
Who alone is wise, Be glory and majesty,
Dominion and power,
both now and forever,
Amen. (Jude 24,25)

A Savior. He keeps us from stumbling. He presents us faultless. And before the presence of His glory we will have exceeding joy, just like the shepherds did when then went to ‘go and see this thing that the Lord had made known to them’ – when they saw the face of the Child- that first Christmas night.

I will look up to the heavens, I will look full in His face, that is where I find my exceeding joy, both now and forever!

If I say, “My foot slips,” Your mercy, O LORD, will hold me up.(Ps. 94:18)

If I say, “My foot slips!”

Why are some days like this? Lord, today I say, “my foot slips!” Every step is an effort. I wake up with doubt and fear and ‘trouble on every side’ so to speak! Does anyone else have this happen to them?

Yet, Ps. 94:18 reminds me,, “My foot slips, Your mercy, O LORD, will hold me up.”
What if I didn’t have the word to remind me? My very own thoughts are the death of me!
God has brought me to a place where obeying the word is no longer a choice – it’s a matter of life and death! Once again, I must enter into battle.

So, I take up my sword, the word of God, to help fight my enemies of fear and doubt:
“Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him for the help of His countenance.”(Ps 42:5)

“Lift up your eyes on high, And see who has created these things, Who brings out their host by number; He calls them all by name, By the greatness of His might and the strength of His power; Not one is missing. (Is. 40:26)

Then I remember my Hymn, (I’m calling it ‘my’ Hymn now. I have two that I call my own, Be Still my Soul and Be Thou My Vision.) But today, I think on these words:“Be still my soul, thy God doth undertake, to guide thy future, as He has the past. Thy hope thy confidence, let nothing shake – all now mysterious, shall be bright at last, be still my soul, the waves and wind still know, His voice who rules them while He dwelt below…”

I need ‘Thy hope thy confidence’:(Hebrews 10: 35,36)“Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God you may receive the promise.”

This is our confidence: (1 John 5: 14,15) “Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, he hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.”

And finally, “Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.” ‘Your mercy, O LORD’ is holding me up! Your word gives me solid footing again.

All of a sudden, I feel my step getting a bit lighter, and my own countenance softening. Is this what it means to ‘work out my own salvation? with fear and trembling?’ (Phil 2:12) Maybe this is what Paul meant as well in Philippians 2:16 when he said,
“holding fast the word of life…”

So I started my day with my head in the dumps, but thanks be to God for His wonderful mercy, that brought me to His word, to hold me up. When I wake tomorrow, I will remind myself, before thinking of the realities of life – to ‘hold fast the word of life!’ then maybe my path won’t be so slippery.

There is a gift, and there is a Gift!

Don’t your eyes just gravitate to signs that read “Buy One, Get One FREE!” We love the word ‘FREE’! But truthfully, when I really do the addition, I’m paying the right price for the product anyway!

The only thing that is truthfully free is the gift of salvation from Jesus Christ.
It’s FREE! (Well, it wasn’t free for Jesus, it cost Him His life, but for us – it’s FREE.)

Now, believing in Santa is fun, and you get presents, (if you were nice and not naughty); but the presents get old and wear out, they are the gifts that ‘keep on breaking!’

But believing in Jesus brings the gift of His gracious salvation, with a special add-on, the peace of God.He alone offers a free gift and He alone offers a gift that really keeps on giving!
His gift? Seventeen times in the New Testament the gift is:
“Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” Who doesn’t want unearned favor? Who doesn’t want peace? But the only way to have peace, is to first have…grace! Unless we receive His grace, we will never know His peace.

You see, unlike Santa, Jesus is not checking His list of who’s ‘naughty and nice.’ And you don’t have to work harder to deserve His love.
“But I’ve really messed up,” You might say, ” I really don’t think I ‘do’ a lot of good things that make God happy.”

This is the message that we must “Go, and tell it on the mountains”:
GOD IS LOVE. He is gracious. He pours out blessing on the undeserved. God’s love is not dependent on my faithfulness – God’s love is dependent on His very nature of love.

Our nature? “All we like sheep have gone astray;” (Is. 53:6), (not just you, ALL of us ‘miss the mark’.) “We have turned everyone to his own way;” (not just you, everyone.)

God’s nature?”…and the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.”

THAT is grace. That is saving grace. Songs are written of this ‘amazing grace!’
God didn’t wait until we all got on the right road, no, because God demonstrates His own love towards us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for the ungodly. (Romans 5:8)

Today, have you received His grace? It’s free. “Be still and know that He is God.”
Take time every day to receive God’s love. As if He is handing you, not a once a year gift, but a daily gift , and you say, “Lord, I receive Your love.”

There’s a lot of ‘Ho-Ho-Ho’-ing going on, so while we are out and about, let us receive the grace of God, His undeserved favor, and we in turn will be filled with His peace. “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” But if you are not sure you have ever had that conversation with the Father in heaven about wanting to receive the love and forgiveness of His Son, …

it’s easy. You see, the work has been done by Jesus. He knows that we as sheep, have ‘all gone astray.’ He knows we have  ‘turned  everyone to his own way’, but “the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” (Isaiah 53:6).

Simply come to Him, just as you are this moment. “Don’t be afraid. For  there is born to you THIS day,… a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:11).  “This is the day the Lord has made…”  (Psalm 118:24). He will receive you. Give Him your mess. He’s the only One who is big enough for it all. He will take it and make you new! “Therefore if anyone be in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away, all things have become new.” (2 Corinthians 5:17).

That’s what the age old songs tell us over and over again: “Joy to the world the Lord is come, …no more let sin and sorrow grow, nor thorns infest the ground! He comes to make His blessings flow…”That’s the grace part! And we hear it as the song is played: “Hark! the herald angels sing, “Glory to the new-born King. Peace on earth and mercy mild, God and sinners reconciled…” That is peace.

“Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation,…”(2 Corinthians 5:18), and in case we still don’t understand, the word continues: “…that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.” (2 Corinthians 5:19).

That is “grace to you and peace multiplied!”(1 Peter 1:2, emphasis mine!)

There is a gift, and there is a Gift! “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!…God is the LORD, And He has given us light;…” (Psalm 118:26). So just as the shepherds who were ‘harkened’ by the angels, after they had ‘seen this thing that the angels had told them about, they went about glorifying and praising God!’ (Luke 2:20).

Today is the day…the light has come into the world. The wise men saw it and ‘rejoiced and were exceedingly glad!’ (Matthew 2:10). Let us receive Him, one time for salvation…

daily for grace and peace! Amen!

Do I hear an Amen?