A letter to my children this Christmas…

There is a lot of mystery – even in family – but I would like to unravel some of it for you:

You see, I grew up with ONLY the fairy tales. I grew up with the ‘finger’s crossed’ and the blown up Easter Bunnies and Santa Clause coming to town, and also the tooth fairy – but the fears and the insecurities and then anger rooted itself so deep in me-that there was no way out.

All the ‘believing’ I was doing was only in things like a ‘vapor in a cloud’ so to speak. When I reached for what I thought had substance to hold on to, it would simply vanish into thin air.

I moved far away from my home in Arizona to NYC, and the ‘mess’ that was inside me was working its way to destroy every bit of life in me, the ‘mess’ manifested itself in an eating disorder. My life became unmanageable.

I wasn’t seeking God. I never thought about God – but He knew me and He was watching me. So, in desperation, one day, I walked into a room filled with people with the same struggle and I read a poster on the wall- it only had one word on it- it read, “GOD”.

(Now, this is a mystery), THAT written word on the wall was the beginning of the rest of my life. You see, I needed something that had substance to hold on to – all the other ‘stuff’ was vapor.

I knew I needed help. And somehow, on that day, I realized that ‘GOD’ was the help I needed.

He drew me to Himself. And through time, He healed me completely, He saved me from the ‘self-destructive’ path I was on, He raised me up from a pit and set my feet on a Rock. He unveiled Himself as I began reading…His Word, the Bible.

Jesus gave me my life back after I gave Him the mess that was left of it.

So, that is why, when we had our first baby, we chose to spend time on giving you something that you could REALLY hope in and believe in. To hope and believe in God, because He is real!

And it is ONLY because of Him and the work that He had done in our hearts and lives that we had more, (OK, and more, and more…) children! So, kids-you are here- because JESUS was our substance, (and He still is!). Jesus is the One we put our hope in everyday.

So, if you ever wonder WHY we didn’t spend any time on the tooth fairy and Santa Clause, and it seems like a great mystery to you – at least now you know. I wanted to spend time and energy on the ‘unspoken’ stories about God. I wanted you to know the truth that I didn’t know, so perhaps you would be spared some of the ‘struggle’. But God allows the ‘struggle’, I can now see, because He wants you to discover Him as well, in a whole different way.

He knows you, He knows your name, He cares for you and He, the Creator of everything we see –He has a plan for you…(Jer. 29:11) Plans to give you a future and a hope.

So this Christmas, I just want you to know that He is always there for you. His love and power and might – will never vanish away. His phone is never busy. He is always there for you to call on –

(Jeremiah 33:3) “Call unto Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you know not of.”

 

Nothing is impossible with God.  And Nothing will ever separate you from God’s love, His love is Always and Forever.

Oh, how I love you all so much, and to think…God loves you so,so,so, much more! Chris &Chantal, Jared & Mandy, Carolyn & Patrick, Nick, Jonathan, Emily, Liz, Grace, David, Anneliese, and Matthew- I LOVE YOU ALL. You are my gifts, and I am so blessed to be called – mom!

 

 

 

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Oh, how we need to ‘hear the bells THIS Christmas day’…

“I heard the bells on Christmas day, their old familiar carols play, and wild and sweet the words repeat, “Of peace on earth, good-will to men.”

These familiar words were written by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, who had seen his share of ‘dark cloudy days’. He had suffered loss of his wife and the country had entered the Civil War, and on Dec. 1, 1863, he received news that his son had been seriously injured in the war – so on December 25, 1863 his feelings spilled out in this old Christmas hymn…and as we end  the year of 2013, these words seem as if they were written even today:

“And in despair I bowed my head: “There is no peace on earth,” I said, “For hate is strong, and mocks the song of peace on earth, good-will to men.”

Today, many are in this same despair that was experienced so long ago- “For hate is strong, and mocks the song of peace on earth, good-will to men”-but something happens as one makes the choice to ‘hear the bells’! God has spoken to us to speak to one another in…hymns – and this hymn says it plain and today I must speak it:

“Then peeled the bells more loud and deep: “God is not dead, nor doth He sleep; The wrong shall fail, the right prevail, With peace on earth, good-will to men.” Can you hear the bells this Christmas day? Do they have a sound that is loud and deep, ringing, “God is not dead, nor doth He sleep!” Maybe in general I can not do big and mighty things in today’s ‘wars’ that are raging, but perhaps I can allow to ‘ring in my ears’ words to another old hymn,

“Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with…me.”

Perhaps my life can be used of God to bring ‘peace on earth and goodwill to men’. “Till ringing, singing on its way, the world revolved from night to day, A voice, a chime,a chant sublime, Of peace on earth, goodwill to men!”

“Father, fill Your children with Your Holy Spirit that we may be filled with all the fullness of You, for You are love. And do this work in each of our hearts, that You, the God of hope, would fill our hearts with joy and peace in believing, and that we would abound in hope, (in these dark, cloudy days), by the Power of Your Holy Spirit. (Romans 15:13). That we might all hear the bells more loud and deep: ‘The wrong shall fail, the right prevail, With Peace on earth, goodwill to men’. Yes, God – Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin…

with me. In Jesus Name, Amen.”

“Abba, can You help unwrap The Gift for this child?”

“Abba Father, Your child can see Your Gift. It’s really not much to look at from the outside- wrapped in swaddling cloths with a Scarlet chord around it. But I can see it now. I couldn’t see it before because of all of the lights  and the sparkle and the noise of the jingle bells, but my world became squeezed, and I was pushed around and felt almost crushed…

so, I became broken and empty, forsaken and cold. But in my barrenness, Abba, Your hand came down with The Gift. It was for me. It even had my name written on it. I would have never noticed it before because I was moving so quickly, but I couldn’t move quickly now. Rejection and failure, loneliness and despair had brought my life to a halt.

Is this why they say that, “…all things work together for good…” (Romans 8:28)? Because, everything was ‘bad’ but You had The Gift for me, and You, so patiently waited  for the right time to hand it to me. How could I NOT reach out to receive The Gift that even had my own name on it, now?

Abba Father, I take hold of The Gift. I receive The Gift. Now what? Can You help unwrap The Gift for this child? My hands are weak and weary, my heart is hard and cold, my mind is overwhelmed, but my eyes are on Your hands. Please open for me, The Gift.”

So I watched His Hands unfold the plain and ordinary cloths, but not until after He had untied the Scarlet Cord. The Scarlet chord was untied with tears from My Father’s eyes. The tears fell on my cold, hard heart and transformed it then and there. Who would have thought, that as He unwrapped the plain covering, there would be such amazing brilliance and glory inside! Who can even imagine – there are no words that can describe!

Pure gold- gold as from The King. The Gold of love and acceptance – after rejection, failure and the sting from the world. But the gold was sprinkled with crimson because it had been hammered – hammered real hard. And it  had the scent of frankincense, the scent of a Priest. But somehow, The Father, my Abba, was helping make a little sense of all the mystery: the priest, going through the veil only once a year to sprinkle blood on the mercy seat. Perhaps, helping me realize that there was ‘No way’ I could go in there, but the Great High Priest – He was the ‘Way’ -He was the only One who could sprinkle His blood  of forgiveness over me.

But then, He  also showed me the Door in the  Gift wrapped plainly, tied with The Scarlet Chord, made of pure Gold with the scent of frankincense…

He waited until I opened The Door.  With long-suffering He waited… for me to open the Door in the Gold with the scent of frankincense. Why the wait, why the delay? There was a part of me that knew…I had heard the Story before. I knew that in the Door was…myrrh. We all know the three gifts brought to the Christ Child were gold, frankincense and myrrh! Myrrh is a burial spice!

THAT is why the delay! I knew God wanted me to open that Door and die to myself,because He died for me. If I make that choice, (each and every day, sometimes, each and every moment ), He offers to fill me with the fullness of Himself!

It wasn’t until I was ‘poor in spirit’, it wasn’t until I was ‘mourning’, it wasn’t until I was ‘hungry and thirsty'(Matthew 5),  it wasn’t until I knew I was ‘dead in my trespasses and sin’ that I was ‘willing to die’ . But when I made the choice to open the Door, and daily ‘die’ to myself, He, forever ‘changed’ this child!

He ‘made me alive’! (Eph. 2:1). And then I realized, that as my Father was unwrapping The Gift, He poured forth  the perfect Gift of His Spirit to me which in turn filled me with ‘power and love and of a sound mind’ and turned my mourning into singing, and even ‘my ashes into beauty’, and my thirst was quenched…and Power was given to me from the hand of God to give me sufficient courage and continual assurance of His love.

What a Gift! Not much to see on the outside, but on the inside… Eternal Life, and assurance: “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of My Hand…”(Words of Jesus, John 10:28). Now this gives me sufficient courage to ‘die’ that I might live because I take hold of The Gift-the whole of The Gift: the Gold,(that’s the easy part!) the Frankincense, (that’s the mystery part!) and …the myrrh, (the hardest part of all), but the wonder of it all is- He will help me:

“But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness.”Romans 8:10 (How beautiful is this, the ‘righteousness’ IS Believing!) “And if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit, who lives in you.” Romans 8:11.

This is Power and this is Life, and best of all, I have continual assurance:

“What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all – how will He not also, along with Him, graciously give us all things? …Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? …No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.” Romans 8:31-37.

All I can say, is, after Abba Father reveals His Son, as He unwraps the Gift that was given to me, my weak hands are strengthened, my weary and cold heart is warmed and repaired, my mind is healthy and all that was dead, now, is filled with Life!

“Happy birthday Jesus! You are the only One who has a birthday and EVERYONE gets The Gift! My Abba, You have strengthened me, You have changed me!  I pray, this year, more and more actually receive their personal Gift that the hand of God has reached out to give. The Gift  is You, plain on the outside, yet tied with a Scarlet chord, but pure Gold on the inside with the sent of frankincense and yes,with a Door for  the myrrh. May we receive all of You! In Jesus’ name, Amen”

…and the train done gone

The people keep a comin’ and the train done gone. Do you remember an old Christmas spiritual called, Mary Had a Baby? St. Helena Island Spiritual.

So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city. And Joseph also went up …out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to … Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David.” Luke chapter 2:4.

There was a lot going on then,  and there is a lot going on now.

This story isn’t only about the past, this story is about today, right now, this very moment. Mary had a baby, yes, Lord.

It has deep soul and sweet simplicity:

 Mary had a baby, yes, Lord,
Mary had a baby, yes my Lord,
Mary had a baby, yes Lord,
People keep a-comin’ an’ the train done gone.

It has it’s own natural melody. But, I can’t stop thinking about, People keep a-comin’ an’ the train done gone.

What ever do you mean, ‘people keep a-comin’, and “What train?”, you might ask.

Well, first you’ve got to hear that Mary had a baby.  Yes, the familiar Story is told in Luke 2.

What did she name Him? Yes Lord?
What did she name Him, yes my Lord,
What did she name Him, Yes, Lord,
The people keep-a-coming but the train done gone.

“A virgin shall be with Child and they shall call His name, Immanuel.” The Book of Matthew tells us in chapter  1 verse 23.

 Immanuel means God with us. That  is His name.

The people keep a comin’ and the train done gone.

These words make perfect sense. With this world spinning out of synch these days. Just as in that hectic time of Luke 2 verse 1:  “And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered.”

All the world should be registered? – The people keep a comin’ …

The word of God is living. It’s alive. It rings true yesterday, today, and forever.

‘Mary had a baby, Yes Lord…what did she name Him? Yes,  my Lord… ‘She named Him King Jesus, Yes Lord, …the people keep a coming but the train done gone.”

Days are busy. We are occupied with important things. But there is urgency in this matter – our eternity is at stake.

Perhaps you believe that there’s time to deal with this tomorrow. And why does it always have to be about Jesus? might be your question.

People here, people there, people everywhere. And, Jesus was born. Not in the inn, but the barn.

Joseph went up … out of Nazareth to …Bethlehem … to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child. So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.”

The birth announcement was made to a few smelly shepherds:

“Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. 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 2:8.

“And the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people.” 

“I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people.” this is what the angel said.

 A Savior has been born. Not just for that time way back when, but today – the good tidings will bring great joy because “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son…”  

“…that whosoever would believe in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” John 3:16.

The Immanuel has come. He is Savior of the world. That Babe left all His glory of heaven to be born in a barn and wrapped in a few rags for me. He came down for me. He, left all of heaven and came for you…

‘Mary had a baby, Yes Lord… The King of Kings has come. The glory train arrives today. We much choose to get on.

Mary had a baby, Yes lord!
The people keep-a-coming and the train’s right here.

J

The Bridegroom waits in longing for His Bride #14

Looking for Jesus – way before He arrived as the Christ Child- in these #’d studies we see Him so clearly in Genesis -the book of beginnings!  “But from there you will seek the LORD your God, and you will find Him if you seek Him with all your heart and with all your soul.” Deut. 4:29. ‘But from there…’, from all of the word! Wise men still seek Him, and what a glorious find is He.

In Gen. 24 we have the most wonderful story, but what is so amazing is this story can be our story! You see, the father of the promised son sent his servant away to find and bring  home a bride for the bridegroom:

(Abraham to his servant), “For the Lord God of heaven told me to leave that land and my people, and promised to give me an my children this land. He will send his angel on ahead of you, and he will see to it that you find a girl from there to be my son’s wife.”( Gen. 24:7, Living).

So here we see the father, (Abraham) sending his servant, (no name mentioned) away with 10 camels” loaded with the best of everything his master owned” (Gen 24:10, Living),  on a journey in search for a bride for Isaac.

So the servant arrives to his destination and prays, “O Jehovah, the God of my master, show kindness to my master Abraham and help me to accomplish the purpose of my journey…This is my request: When I ask one of them” (the girls of the village who draw water), “for a drink and she says ‘Yes, certainly, and I will water your camels too!’ – let her be the one you have appointed as Isaac’s wife. That is how I will know.”

“Hmmm,” you are thinking, “how can this be my story?”

Well, to start, Abraham is the ‘father of nations’, a ‘type of’  God, who is ‘our Father in heaven’. The servant is a ‘type’ of  the Holy Spirit sent by the Father, (Jesus tells us plainly), “But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me.” John 15:26. You see, the servant had no name because his job was to tell the bride-to-be all about the Prince! (For Rebekah, prince Isaac, for us the Prince of Peace!)

And Isaac, he is a type of Jesus. He was home preparing a place for his coming bride that the servant was bringing to him just like Jesus who is preparing for His bride, (the church, all who believe), those whom are drawn by the Spirit of God and say, “I will go.” Jesus is preparing a place and ‘as it is written: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him. But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit…” 1 Cor. 2:9,10.

And we will see in this story that there was a deep surrender and longing to be ‘one with him’ even before she ‘saw’ him! This is our story exactly, about our Jesus, “…whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory…”  1Peter 1:8,9.

So, back to the story: (Gen. 24:15-18, Living), ‘As he was still speaking to the Lord about this, a beautiful young girl named Rebekah arrived with a water jug on her shoulder and filled it at the spring… Running over to her, the servant asked her for a drink. “Certainly, sir,” she said, and quickly lowered the jug for him to drink. Then she said, “I’ll draw water for your camels, too, until they have enough!”‘

“I’ll draw water for your camels, too, until they have enough!”  Perhaps, I should write the word, ‘Selah’ or pause and think about this, right here! Rebekah is a picture of the bride (to be!) She was on the job at the spring first. She was hospitable and willing to ‘deny herself’ and serve this traveler, PLUS his 10 camels! (Oh how we must remember this, as at times we feel like ‘slaves’… I mean, ‘willing’ servants to others!)as the Bride of Christ is reminded in God’s word,  “Be hospitable to one another without grumbling.” 1 Peter 4:9.

So Rebekah is a great example to us when she answers the servant in regards to accommodations, “Yes, we have plenty of straw and food for the camels, and a guest room.” Gen. 24:25. And we see the servant welcome in their home…just as the Holy Spirit reminds us about the words of our Lord, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.” Rev. 3:20.

So the proposal is presented to the father and the older brother, as the story is told entirely, (Gen. 24:34-51!) But ultimately, ‘will you, or won’t you let the young maiden come back home with me to meet the Bridegroom.’ I love the answer of the family, whether they believed or not: “The Lord has obviously brought you here, so what can we say? Take her and go! Yes, let her be the wife of your master’s son, as Jehovah has directed.” Gen.24:50.

I love what comes next: The servant first worships the Lord. Then we read in  Gen.24:53, “Then he brought out jewels set in solid gold and silver for Rebekah, and lovely clothing;…”

You might be thinking,”I believe in  Jesus. I have opened up the door of my heart to receive and believe, yet I don’t see the gifts!” Ask the Lord to open your spiritual eyes that now:“…you must know (recognize) that you”(and I,) ” were redeemed (ransomed)…not with corruptible things [such as] silver and gold, but [you were purchased] with the precious blood of Christ, the Messiah, like that of a [sacrificial] lamb without blemish or spot.” (1 Peter 1:18,19 Amplified).

And just as Rebekah was given new clothing, we are as well:  “She has been permitted to dress in fine (radiant) linen – dazzling and white, for the fine linen is (signifies, represents) the righteousness…of the saints.” (Rev. 19:8, Amplified). (And we have learned that believing God and receiving His gift of Salvation in Jesus IS our righteousness – nothing more! We have learned this from Abraham, “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” (Romans 4:3).

There seems to be a struggle that arises in the story, and in our own story as well. The servant said, “Send me back to my master!” (Gen. 24:54), but the family wanted some time and desired to delay the departure.

“But the servant pleaded, “Don’t hinder my return; the Lord has made my mission successful, and I want to report back to my master.”(Gen. 24:56). “So they called Rebekah, “Are you willing to go with this man?” they asked her. and she replied, “Yes, I will go.” Gen. 24. 58.

The Lord longs for us, even more than we long for Him. Jesus longs for His Bride. It is His desire to ‘be’ with us.  In His final prayer recorded before the Passion, Jesus prays, “Father I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me;…” (John 17:24). May we not linger and wait to meet (continuously) with our Bridegroom.

Then, in the story comes, the long awaited moment:(Gen. 24:62-67 , Living), “Meanwhile Isaac,…One evening as he was taking a walk out in the fields, meditating, he looked up and saw the camels coming. Rebekah noticed him and quickly dismounted. “Who is that man walking through the fields to meet us?” she asked the servant. And he replied, “It is my master’s son!”  So she covered her face with her veil. Then the servant told Isaac the whole story.

And Isaac brought Rebekah into his mother’s tent, and she became his wife. He loved her very much…”

Jesus loves His Bride. How we need to be reminded and remember and meditate and take hold of all that is true and look forward to seeing our Jesus face to face, and as we wait, may we sing of our Bridegroom: “He brought me to the banqueting house, and His banner over me was love, (Song of Sol 2:4),…My beloved is mine, and I am His (Song. of Sol. 2:16),  and always keep close to our heart, His words to His Bride, “Behold, you are fair, my love! Behold you are fair! You have dove’s eyes behind your veil.”

Yes, this is our story, and this is our song: “Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.” Rev. 19:7.

If, by chance you have not felt ‘chosen’, think again: “Sing to the LORD a new song…”(Is. 42:10). “Thus says God the LORD, who created the heavens and stretched them out, who spread for the earth and that which comes from it… I the LORD, have called You in righteousness, and will hold your hand; I will keep you…” (Is. 42:5,6). The camels in this story remind us of how far the servant traveled – The Spirit travels far at times to reach His chosen. When He comes, I pray you respond,… “Yes, I will go!”

 

“Yes, I will go!”

What an ‘excruciating’ test! #13

Do you and I know anything about an ‘excruciating’ test? Yes, many of us actually do-(well at least we think so), where we were tempted to ‘lose our head’ but the one thing we knew we had to do was to ‘keep our wits about us!’

Actually, we get the word ‘excruciating’ from the cross. And I have thought many a time, “How did Jesus endure so much pain and so much suffering with a broken heart as well, being rejected and so misunderstood? How did He ‘pick up His cross’ and obey the will of His Father, even to the point of death, and even be able to pray for us all in the end: “Father, forgive them, they don’t know what they are doing.” Jesus knows everything about ‘excruciating’… and He went through it because –    His Father loved…

the world.(John 3:16).  Do we ever think how ‘excruciating’ this must have been for Father God as well as Jesus? They went through this together.

Well, in Gen. 22, we have a look at  an ‘excruciating’ test for father Abraham. To think that this father had to wait 25 long  (excruciating!) years after he was promised to have a son – for it to finally come to pass!  Twenty-five years earlier the father was given a promise, but it wasn’t a promise from just any one. It was by ‘The One’ -the All Caps LORD- the I AM:

“I will make you a great nation; I will bless you And make your name great; And you shall be a blessing… in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” Gen. 12:2,3.

To think that this father had his whole life recorded in The Book for all to read and see the ‘whole truth’ about his life and marvel that he would be called ‘the father of faith’. Anyway, THIS father was put through an ‘excruciating’ test where God seemed to be cold and mean. Where God didn’t make sense at all. Where God seemed to be…

so ‘unloving’. But did you know, that the very first mention of the word “love” is not in reference to a ‘husband and wife’ or even a ‘mother and her child’, but the word “love” is first mentioned in the whole of the Bible right here in regards to a ‘father and his son’. Here is the test: “Now it came to pass after these things,” Gen. 22:1. (about 12 chapters worth of things! A story worth reading if you are going through a ‘test’.) “…that God tested Abraham, and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said,”Here I am.” And He said, “take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love,

and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I will tell you.” Gen 22:2.

And we read, that this father who had waited so long for this son of promise whom he loved, rose up early in the morning with 2 young men, a donkey, his son Isaac, and some wood and traveled for 2 days, and on the third day of the journey, he told the two young men, “Stay here with the donkey; the lad and I will go yonder and worship and we will come back to you.”Gen. 22:5.

What is going on? This is even hard to read. This must have been an excruciating walk for the father, but also for Isaac, because now it says: ” So Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on Isaac his son; and he took the fire in his hand, and a knife, and the two of them went together.” Gen. 22:6.

The “two of them went together…”

What were they thinking?

Certainly Abraham was thinking of all of the promises. And certainly Abraham had told his son of promise all the promises as well. The promises, the promises, the words of the Lord: “…you will have a son to inherit everything you own.” Gen. 15:4.

“Look up into the heaven and count the stars if you can. Your descendants will be like that – too many to count!” Gen. 15:5

“I am changing your name. It is no longer ‘Abram’ (‘Exalted Father’), but ‘Abraham’, (‘Father of Nations’) – for that i what you will be. I have declared it…” Gen. 17: 5,6.

I am sure Abraham was also  thinking of these words from the Lord, “Next year I will give you and Sarah a son!”Gen. 118:10.

and Abraham was remembering these powerful words that the Lord Himself spoke, “Is anything too hard for God?” Gen. 18:14. Abraham remembered that God had told him specifically, “…for Isaac is the son through whom my promise will be fulfilled.” Gen. 21:12.

Abraham had been through so much with God through the many tests of time, that Abraham believed God no matter what and ‘he learned obedience through the things he suffered.’  And Isaac was willing to obey his father. Abraham loved his son, and he believed God was going to do something amazing… “Father,” Isaac asked, “we have the wood and the flint to make the fire, but where is the lamb for the sacrifice?”

“God will see to it, my son,” Abraham replied.Gen. 22:7,8.

and… God did.

Father God had provided a ram caught in a bush. But this was not until Abraham had laid his son Isaac on the altar, upon the wood, and before it was too late – the Angel of the LORD called from heaven and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” Gen. 22:11.

We have not gone through anything like this, but our Father in heaven has. For Him, His only begotten Son whom He loved suffered and died. You see, the first mention of love in the Bible is between father and son. God loved His Son, To think that God loves you and me so much that He was willing to give the most precious gift ever, His own Son.

Please know this forever – God loves you. And if you and I ever have to go through an excruciating test, you can be sure, that if you call on Your Father in Heaven – He’ll be with you, He will give you a Comforter to remind you of all the promises that you have in His Son, Jesus Christ.

Abraham got through an excruciating  test by remembering the word the Lord spoke to him, and by experiencing God’s faithfulness in the past. What has God spoken to you? What are the promises given? Search, ask, seek, and find because we’ve got to keep our head through some tough, ‘somewhat’ excruciating tests -we’ve got to know and remember the promises! We’ve got to remember His word –

then, ‘the God of hope’

 He ‘fills us with all joy and peace – in believing,(Romans 15:13)

and by keeping our wits about us because of His promises,   ‘we abound in hope’ ,(just like Abraham did) ‘by the power of the Holy Spirit’ Romans 15:13.

 

power of the Holy Spirit!’ Romans 15:13. It’s supernatural! ‘Is anything too hard for the LORD’

Abram (before he became Abraham) – was ‘rightly clothed!’ #12.

Abram’s life (not yet Abraham),reads in chapters in a Book -much like how we feel about our own lives, only we can’t read ahead to see the results of our choices. I guess the question is, Can we learn from his?

Let’s see, chapter 15 in the life of Abram, (not yet Abraham) is after all those tests that Abram passes with flying colors. But time passes, and Abram must be afraid, because  “the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision, saying, “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your exceeding great reward.” Gen 15:1.

In Gen. 3:10 we saw that Adam, the father of all men  had ‘fear’ after disobedience and he made for himself a fig leaf, and  God gave him a curse,(and then graciously provided the ‘right’ covering of animal skins to teach them God’s way).  But Abram, the “father of all those who believe” (Romans 4:11),had the word of the LORD come and say, “Don’t be afraid, I am your shield, your exceeding great reward!”

For the ‘father of those who believe’ (Abram) and for ‘those who believe'(hopefully all of us!) God provides Himself – He is our “shield of faith” (Eph. 6:16). We have access to be covered in the “whole armor of God” so that we can be “strong in the Lord and the power of His might”(Eph. 6:10,11). God is our ‘exceeding great reward!’

But Abram, the great man known for his faith – speaks, “Lord God, what will You give me, seeing I go childless…?” Gen. 15:2.

So, it is recorded for us all to see that Abram wasn’t sure about things being he had no children, but, ‘behold, the word of the LORD came unto him, saying “…but one who will come from your own body shall be your heir!'” (Gen. 15:4). This is when God brought Abram outside to look at the stars and said, “So shall your descendants be.”(Gen. 15:5).But it is this next moment in Abram’s life that is very, very important.

This moment in Abram’s life is recorded in three other letters in the New Testament along with Gen 15:6: “And he (Abram) believed in the LORD, and He accounted it to him for righteousness.”

It’s in Romans 4:3, “For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” And also Gal 3:6, ‘…just as Abraham “believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.'” And it is also recorded in James 2:23, ‘And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” And he was called the friend of God.’

Obviously this is important to the Lord that we KNOW this verse! Well, the Hebrew word, ‘righteous’ actually means, ‘rightly clothed’.

Abraham was clothed with ‘garments of salvation’ because he ‘believed God:

“I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. Is. 61:10.

God will look at us as righteous, not by our good works or all the ‘good stuff’ we do. It’s all about the right clothing! Are we wearing the ‘right clothing?’ Do we have garments of Salvation by believing in His Son?

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life”. John 3:16.

Abram believed God. But then we  have a whole chapter, chapter 16 of Gen. that records the huge mess that was made because God ‘seemed  to be delaying’. But God drew a contract with Abram, and it was not dependent on Abram at all (Gen. 15:8-17), it is only dependent on God.

God keeps His promises! If there is a chapter in your book that you don’t like, don’t worry. God writes a whole new chapter in your book when you make the choice to believe in Him. Believe in Him and  He will clothe you with garments of salvation, and he will cover you with the robe of righteousness,…

“How”, you might ask.

Because Jesus paid everything owed from your sin and mine – everything. You’ve been washed by His blood. There is only one  righteous work that you and I  must do. And that is – Believe! So, for those of us who believe are ‘waiting’ on God, let up pray, “Lord, increase our faith! increase our faith!”

May we let the “word of the Lord”  come and speak to us individually and guide and encourage us (individually!) as the chapters (of our life of faith) are being written.

“Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready. and to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints…” Rev. 19:7,8.

Abraham’s Tests before the BIG test, #11…

Imagine, if you will,  the stories of Abram (to Abraham) as if the King of Kings had called His servant Abram (Abraham) and put him through a series of tests, knowing that a BIG test was coming.

Well, the first test was an initial test of faith, and we know already that it is written that “Abraham believed God and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” (Rom. 4:3). And that was written even though Abram had some ‘lapses’ of faith. After Abram had ‘built’ an altar to the LORD, there was a famine in the land. Abram, it is told was afraid and went down to Egypt. (Gen. 12:10-20).(Which, we learn from his story- it is never a good idea to ‘fear’ and go to the world for help!)

But Abram learns from this ‘lapse of faith’ and he goes back, back to the place he had camped before, between Bethel (the ‘House of God’) and Ai,( a ‘heap’) where he had built the altar. “And there he again worshiped the Lord.” Gen. 13:4, Living Bible).

But the King continued to put his servant to the test. This time, we see a test of Trust. Abram and Lot, (his nephew) both had too much livestock to share the land without fighting – so Abram, (who had the right to choose first, then offer Lot a portion of land), chose to Trust – and let Lot choose first!

The story goes like this: (Gen 13:12), “Abram stayed in the land of Canaan, while Lot lived among the cities of the plain settling at a place near the city of Sodom. The men of this area were usually wicked and sinned greatly against Jehovah.”

And we can watch the servant of the King of Kings at this point and see that, ” Then Abram moved his tents to the oaks of Mamre, near Hebron, and built an altar to Jehovah there.” Gen. 13:18.  Abram makes all the right choices, he chooses to build an altar to the LORD, and do you think he just has calm and prosperous days ahead? NO! The very next verse speaks of war! Another test for Abram – a test of courage:

Gen. 14:1, “Now war filled the land -“ Five kings came and invade and we learn that even Lot was captured. Now watch the servant of the King of Kings who worships God in his heart and life, how God gives him sufficient courage to face these enemies:

When Abram learned that Lot had been captured, he called together the men born into his household, 318 of them in all, and chased after the retiring army as far as Dan. He divided his men and attacked during the night from several directions…and recovered everything – the loot that had been taken, his relative Lot, and all of Lot’s possessions, including the women and other captives.” (Gen. 14:14-16).

You would think, that after this amazing, miraculous victory that Abram could rest and celebrate, but , no, there is another test! Now comes the King of Sodom.

But at the same time, there appears the king of Salem, Melchizedek, the ‘king of Peace’,”who was a priest of the God of Highest Heaven.” (Gen. 14:18).

Melchizedek, (the king of ‘Peace’)” brought him bread and wine.  Then Melchizedek blessed Abram with this blessing: “The blessing of the supreme God, Creator of heaven and earth, be upon you, Abram; and blessed be God, who has delivered your enemies over to you.” Gen. 14:19,20.

And what does the servant of the King of Kings, Abram a servant of the true and living God do?

“Then Abram gave Melchizedek a tenth of all the loot.” (Gen. 14:20, Living).

This is a test in generosity and trust once again! And Abram passes his tests, but yet, there is yet one more test – the king of Sodom comes and says,’ just give me my men back and you can keep all our goods.’ But Abram answers, “I have solemnly promised Jehovah, the supreme God, Creator of heaven and earth, that I will not take so much as a singe thread from you, lest you say, ‘Abram is rich because of what I gave him!’…” (Gen. 14:22,23). So Abram had the king of Sodom give the goods to the men that helped him.

How does the King of King’s score his servant Abraham? Well, from the book that we read of him, he passed with flying colors!

“Lord, what a tremendous example to us who ‘choose to follow hard after You’. Tests of faith, trust, courage, generosity and ultimately love and devotion to You are ‘hard’. There is sacrifice involved with all of them.

But we are strengthened Lord, when You, Jesus, appeared as the Prince of Peace, the Savior of the world,  offering the ‘bread’ of Your  body and the ‘wine’ of Your blood in forgiveness and love. May we be filled with all the fullness of Your Spirit that we may pass these tests in our own lives as ‘believers of God’! In Jesus Name, Amen.

Trying to find Jesus in Christmas #10

We might feel challenged to ‘find Jesus’ in our Christmas season, but this is not a new challenge. In reading the ‘Book of Beginnings’, Genesis 12: 1-8, we can see Abram and a bit of his world and how he went about ‘keeping the main thing the main thing’ so to speak.

First, God spoke to Abram and  gave him ‘somewhat’ clear instructions  to “Get out” of his own country, (Gen. 12:1) and to go to “a land that I will show you.” And the LORD went on to tell him, …“and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” (Gen. 12:3). 

Abram received from the LORD direction and promise and blessing. How glorious! The Living Bible says, “and the entire world will be blessed because of you.”(Gen. 12:3). God’s word reveals the Savior spoken of in Gen. 3:15 – the ‘Seed of the woman that would crush the head of the ‘seed of the serpent!’

What did Abram do after receiving so much promise from the Lord?

Abram obeyed the LORD, and ‘went’ to the land of Canaan. “And the LORD appeared to Abram and said, “To your descendants,” (or ‘seed’-once again we see the ‘seed of the woman’, those who seek to follow God), “to your descendants, I will give this land.” (Gen. 12:7). (God tells us who the land belongs to right here, the nation of Israel, however to this day there is continual fighting about borders and boundaries.)

Anyway, you and I have been given direction and promise and blessing from the Lord. Scriptures like,“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.” remind us that ‘in Him’ we have direction, and in John 10:27,  we are not only given direction, but promise and blessing:  “I am the way, the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father except through Me.”John 14:6.

So Abram  obeyed, but he did something we need to remember, take note of, and ‘follow’ after –  AND it is recorded that he did this something again, even in the next verse.  I think these two verses will help us ‘find our Jesus’ in the crazy of Christmas.

In Gen. 12:7, you can almost miss it because it comes after that amazing promise that all the land belongs to him, but after the promise we read: “…And there he built an altar to the LORD, who had appeared to him.”

Abram didn’t just ‘talk to God’, he ‘built an altar to the LORD’. What does that mean in this day? What does this mean to me in this busy day where there is very little time, and Christmas is coming, and there is so much ‘other stuff’ to focus on?

So,  while we think about what all this might mean for you and for me, the very next verse shows the same struggle of  being surrounded by ‘stuff’ and trying to keep focus on God –  but Abraham will lead us well by his example:

(Gen. 12:8), And he moved from there to the mountain east of Bethel, (which means, ‘House of God’),and he pitched his tent with Bethel on the west and Ai, (which means ‘heap’ or ‘dump’) on the east; there he built an altar to the LORD and called on the name of the LORD.”

Abram was between ‘the House of God’ so to speak and a ‘heap!’ And it is “THERE that he built an altar to the LORD and called on the name of the LORD.” Right in the middle of it all, the word says that Abram pitched his tent with Bethel, the ‘house of God’ and we know that “Abram believed God”(Romans 4:3),  and that is why he was a righteous man,

but I can see also, just how ‘right’ it was that he built an altar to the LORD and to call on His name. The LORD was all He had at this point. Abram worshiped the One who called him instead of looking in a lot of directions. He pitched his tent with Bethel and there he built an altar to the LORD!  Faith is not trying to figure it all out!

You see, he had to gather stones in order to build an altar.  And today, you and  I can ‘build an altar’ and pick up and gather up all those wonderful stones of remembrance. We can remember God’s amazing love with which He loves us. Offering the greatest sacrifice ever given,  in giving His one and only Son for each of us that we might have life.

No more excuses! We must  pitch our tent with Bethel, between everything else,and make our lives an offering for Him. For the sake of the children. We’ve got to seek those stones of remembrance and collect them and talk about them to our children. At any cost, we have to search for that missing ‘Cornerstone’ that to some is a ‘stone of stumbling’ and a ‘stone of offense’ (1 Peter 2:5).

It takes time to build an altar and worship the Lord.  Perhaps if we spend time gathering thoughts of the precious stones of mercy and forgiveness that we obtained from the Lord and take time to think of the blessings of His love, and even hear Him say, “I love you with an everlasting love”, (Jer). then perhaps  Jesus- will shine through the, somewhat simple gifts we give at Christmas.

Today, may we gather our stones of remembrance and build an altar of love to our LORD and be overwhelmed by the love that He has poured out on us, and His protection and blessing – not on the stress of ‘gift giving’!

We have found our Love.  O come let us adore Him… “Lord, we offer you  our broken hearts, our weary bodies, and our stress. We come to You – “as to a living stone;

rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God… and precious”, (1 Peter 2:4). We choose to ‘build an altar’ and worship You.

“And it came to pass…”A spectrum of light throughout the story.#9.

We read the words,”And it came to pass…” in Gen. 7:10. What came to pass? Do we really remember it all?

Noah and his family went into the ark, in Gen. 7:7, along with 7 each of the clean animals, and 2 each of an entire zoo and more.(Gen. 7:13-17). This was a big ark and this is a big story, and the rainbow isn’t just at the end-there is an exciting spectrum of light of the grace of God throughout this cloudy story if we simply take a look!

Red, orange, yellow, green , blue , and violet are the colors in the spectrum of light, and ‘red’ is what comes to mind when I think of this  verse in the story of Noah and his household:

“And it came to pass after seven days that the waters of the flood were on the earth. ” Gen. 7:10.  Did it take seven days to load all the animals on? Or were the animals on and then they had to wait?Imagine, Noah and his whole family along with an entire zoo loaded into a boat, then having to wait 7 days for something to happen that had never happened before! Noah not only obeyed God, but he TRUSTED real big – I am sure waiting, and praying!

But make no mistake about it, the brilliance and the warmth of the color orange seems to appear in the story, because in Gen. 7:16 we read, “…the LORD shut him in.” The fact that it was God Himself that ‘closed them in’ makes me think,  “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?…Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.” Noah  and his household were ‘in’, and God closed the door!

The third color in the spectrum of light is yellow. Yellow is a color of mercy, and we can see mercy in that all “were destroyed from the earth. Only Noah and those who were with him in the ark remained alive.” Gen. 7:23.

Romans 8:6 comes to mind when I think of this part of the story: “For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.”

“Then God remembered Noah…” Gen. 8:1. There is mercy in these storm clouds for sure! These words are ‘life and peace.’

Now, the fourth color in spectrum is green.  Green reminds us of growing, and I think this next section in our story contains a lot of growing – growing in patience, and perhaps more patience, and, did I say PATIENCE! You see, it rained 40 days,(Gen. 7:17), and the waters prevailed 150 days, (Gen. 7:24), then the waters receded for 150 days, (Gen.8:3). We are talking about a year here ‘in’ the ark with all his family and the entire zoo! And there were rough seas on the outside as well! For the household of Noah, this was a time of growing, as our households do as well,

through the rough waters, that we may, ” grow in grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”2 Peter 3:18.

Blue is the next color and we can see it perfectly in that,  then the Bible gives us the exact day that the ark rests on the mountains of Ararat. “Then the ark rested in the seventh month, the seventeenth day of the month, on the mountains of Ararat.” (Gen. 8:4). This is as high as the sky amazing, because, the seventh month is the 1st month for the Jewish calendar and the 14th day of the seventh month is the Passover, when Jesus died on the cross, so three days after Jesus died – He rose again.

The exact date that the ark rested on the mount was the exact day that Jesus rose from the dead! How beautiful is that! That is not all, in the story Noah “sent out a raven, which kept going to and fro…” (kind of reminds us of our flesh and the enemy), how we need to send him ‘out’. But Noah also sent out the dove, (which reminds us of the Holy Spirit), and the dove flew back.  Noah “put out his hand and took her and drew her into the ark to himself.”(Gen. 8:9). 

This is heavenly, in that if we take hold of the love of God and the power of the Holy Spirit, we have hope, hope in believing.

The final color in the spectrum is violet. This is a color of royalty, and this brings us to Gen. 8:20, ‘Then Noah built an altar to the LORD…”

This was the first act of Noah outside the ark.  He worshiped the LORD.

The earth was all washed and cleaned up, but  the heart of man is still messed up, we learn from His word:  “And the LORD smelled a soothing aroma. Then the LORD said in His heart, “I will never again curse the ground for man’s sake, although the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth… So God blessed Noah…” Gen.  8:21,9:1.

God’s covenant to man is an everlasting covenant,(Gen. 9:16). Noah felt God’s covenant through that rough and rocky year on the ark- God remembered Noah, and Noah built an altar to the LORD.

God knows your name, and He knows mine. He remembers you and me and His covenant, He offers His spectrum of light in our cloudy lives, forever… shall we offer the sacrifices of our heart,

as a sweet soothing aroma to the LORD. Let us worship Him, He is worthy.