Friday, December 21, 2007

Christ Brings Peace

This season has been very full for me and my family. My house has been filled with family and activities that come with extra people in the house. The days are full---with touring the island of Maui for first-time visitors, with preparing meals, shopping and wrapping packages, playing games, etc. Our son, Rich, has been involved in a very stressful launching of a new program at his workplace that has involved long and hard hours. Our grandson, Bryan, faced final exams for the first time in his life and studied hard for them all week. In and through all the busyness, God speaks to us in various ways. Even while touring the island, God reminds me of His creative beauty. While sitting in the evenings around the Christmas tree, and watching Christmas programs, God's voice reminds us that He is the reason for the season. This morning during my devotional reading, I read The Daily Bread and wanted to share what Wednesday's devotional wrote.

"Let us at all costs avoid the temptation to make our Christmas worship a withdrawal from the stress and sorrow of life into a realm of unreal beauty. It was into the real world that Christ came, into the city where there was no room for Him, and into a country where Herod, the murderer of innocents, was king.

"Jesus comes to us, not to shield us from the harshness of the world but to give us the courage and strength to bear it; not to snatch us away by some miracle from the conflict of life, but to give us peace---His peace----in our hearts, by which we may be calmly steadfast while the conflict rages, and be able to bring to the torn world the healing that is peace."

"Christmas is not a retreat from reality but an advance into it alongside the Prince of Peace."

Christ brought peace to the nation of Israel by His birth and who would then later reject Him as King. Christ brought peace to the world by His sacrifice on the cross for our sins. Christ promises peace for eternity when we leave this earth. How about today? Will you allow His peace to permeate your heart today and throughout this wonderful Christmas season where we celebrate God's gift of His Son to a very needy world. Christ is our peace!

Have a very peaceful Christmas!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Preparations for Christ-mas

The past few days have been very hustle and bustle around here as we are excited about visitors coming today for the holidays. We have cleaned, decorated the halls with boughs of Christmas everywhere, shopped, wrapped packages, hung lights outside, baked cookies, and put on the final touches before we go to the airport to pick up our guest.

Have you ever thought about the preparation that took place on that first Christmas long ago? God began preparation at least nine months before Christ was born by sending an angelic message to both Mary and Joseph that they would be parents of the Christ-Child, and His name would be called Jesus. God had to prepare Mary's heart to accept this wondrous and most unusual treasure that was given to her, and Joseph had to accept Mary's news and confirmed by an angel that they would be parents to a child that was born by the Holy Spirit, and not by his own seed.

God's preparation continued as he prompted Caesar Augustus to declare a census to be taken so that Mary and Joseph would have to travel to Bethlehem, the city in which was prophesied a child would be born who would be the Messiah. God lit up the sky with a host of angels that brought a message to shepherds in the field that they should follow a star to locate "a Savior" who is "Christ the Lord." Even after the birth of the child, God's preparation saved the child from death as God prompted Joseph by another angelic messenger to take his little family to Egypt as Herod had ordered the murder of all children under the age of two. God's preparation continues throughout Scripture to bring about His perfect plan for His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, to be the sacrifice for all the world's sin by His shed blood on the cross, and by His resurrection from the dead. How amazing is the Christmas story that ends in triumph and victory!

Has God prepared your heart to receive this Savior who was so obedient to His Father's will? Mary and Joseph's perspective in raising their child in obedience to God's will is a marvelous confirmation that Christmas is not a season, but a gift expressing the extent to which our loving God was willing to go to make us His children. The wonder that Mary and Joseph felt during those early years of raising their Son, Jesus, can be the same wonder that we experience when we realize what Jesus means in our own lives on a daily basis when we know Him as Lord and have that hope beyond imagination of eternal life with Him.

As you ponder the real reason that we celebrate Christmas, may the wonder of it all take your breath away and cause thankfulness to well up inside your soul as never before.

"As many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name."

Friday, December 07, 2007

December 7, 1941 - Day We Should Never Forget

Surprised Infamy
by Roger W Hancock

A Nation’s Infamy,
Attack within America.
Surprise attack,
Wounds or kills four thousand,
Early on that dreadful morn.
Sounds of planes overhead,
Alarms ring, howl, screech,
Rude awakening from dead of sleep.
Battlestations, orders called,
Unexpected confusion, duty calls.
One hundred planes overhead,
Japan’s last emperor ordered,
Attack that lives in infamy.
American battleships… five,
American destroyers… three,
Four hundred planes all destroyed.
News spreads as wildfire.
“Pearl Harbor Attacked!”
President Roosevelt pledges,
“…triumph. So help us God."
America sleeps no more,
Two fronts fought ‘til victory,
Domination interests quelled.
December 7, remembrance,
Pearl Harbor attack,
Felt around the world.

Remember on this day all our troops that are fighting around the world for our freedom!

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Blustery Winter Weather

Living in Hawaii, you don't expect to experience "winter" weather, but for the past two days, we've had very high winds and slashing rain storms that have battered our lovely islands. Electric poles are downed, flooding has blocked roads, trees are blown over, branches everywhere. But as I talk to people on the Mainland, their winter storms have certainly devastated areas all over the continental United States, as well. Their storms are snow, ice, cold, flooding, power outages, etc. that are just as crippling to their life style as our storm has been here in Hawaii.

I just read interesting verses in Psalm 147:15-18 that God is in control of the elements that come our way:

"He sends his command to the earth; his word runs swiftly. He spreads the snow like wool and scatters the frost like ashes. He hurls down his hail like pebbles. Who can withstand his icy blast? He sends his word and melts them; he stirs up his breezes, and the waters flow."

God is in control of the seasons of everything in our lives. "There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven." (Eccl. 3:1)

We don't often get a choice of what comes our way in life. There are the unexpected, the devastating, the crippling, the unwanted and unasked for trials that come our way. But I still firmly believe that God is still very much in control of them. He doesn't promise us that we will go through life without trials, but He does promise that He will see us through them by His power, strength, courage, determination and will. He is the victor ultimately over all that attempts to destroy us. We just need to trust Him and lean on Him through the toughest times. "Cast your cares upon me, for I careth for you."

A quote I read once is: "God does not expect the impossible of us; He only expects us to expect the impossible from Him."

"This is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith." Our triumph has been won by Christ, but we must identify ourselves with his victory.

Let us never dare doubt!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Be at Peace

We are now experiencing a bad winter storm in Hawaii with high winds up to 50 mph gusts and rain. The power has gone out already at least twice during the night and morning hours, so my words today will be brief and I give you this thought for the day:

"The same Everlasting Father who cares for you today will take care of you tomorrow and every day. Either He will shield you from suffering, or He will give you strength to bear it. Be at peace, then, and put aside all anxious thoughts and imaginations."

My prayer today is that the Lord will watch over and protect us all through the storm!

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Oh, My Aching Shoulder

I had on my schedule this morning to weed my much-neglected flower garden. When I woke up this morning, the winds were blowing more than usual, sorta whistling around the corners of the house. Upon going outside to start my weeding project, already shredded leaves and branches lay all over the driveway and yard from the wind. I decided before tackling my flower bed, I'd better sweep up the driveway and rake the leaves and branches from the front porch and surrounding area. It took longer than expected.

But finally I headed out to the flower bed. The weeds must have been there a very long time, because most of them had very deep roots and it took some pulling to loosen them up enough to remove them. The winds were still blowing quite hard all around me, but I worked mostly with my head down, pulling and pulling away all the weeds. About three hours later, I began to sense that maybe danger was near. Branches that had broken loose from the trees around me were lying everywhere. I said to myself that I must be crazy for being out there, so decided to come in. When I walked back to the driveway and front yard area, it looked worse than it did before I raked and swept everything a few hours before. I felt like I was fighting an uphill battle, and I'd better just let the wind take its course before finishing the job.

I wonder if God feels that it's an uphill battle for him to show us and rid us of the weeds in our life sometimes. The "weeds" of our heart that we hold on to so tenaciously get harder and harder to remove if we neglect them over a long period of time. God likes for us to confess those tender roots of bitterness, anger, hostility, etc. at an early stage---not after they've grown to the hardened stage where we have grown accustomed to their presence within us. Sometimes we don't recognize the danger that those roots are causing. Just as weeds drown out the health of the plant, our sin destroys us from within the longer it is allowed to sit there and fester and grow. Just as pulling the weeds from our gardens allow the plants to breathe and receive nourishment from the soil, confession cleanses our hearts and allows us to grow into healthy spiritual human beings.

My shoulders are definitely aching from the tugging and pulling of those tenacious weeds. But in a couple of days, the soreness will go away, and I will look out on my garden with satisfaction that once again it is free of the weeds that wanted to destroy its beauty. Don't let sin destroy your beauty! Confession is so cleansing and good for the health of your soul!

I John 1:9

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Does Age Bring Wisdom?

As I get older, I realize that the more I think I know, the less I actually know. When you measure knowledge by what you've learned over the years, you amass a certain wisdom that there is so very much more to know. What we know does not necessarily make us wise. Solomon asked God for wisdom to be given him, and yet Solomon toward the end of his life struggled with striving for knowledge and gaining wisdom that was "meaningless" in the world. Ecclesiastes 1:13 reveals his struggle: "I devoted myself to study and to explore by wisdom all that is done under heaven. What a heavy burden God has laid on men!" In verse 1:18, "For with much wisdom comes much sorrow, the more knowledge, the more grief."

In the New Testament, Paul writes to the Corinthians in 3:19, "For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God's sight."
So how do we as humans separate the knowledge we gain in this world from the wisdom that God desires for us? The Apostle Paul told us that "It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God--that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption." Can you grasp that statement that Christ became wisdom for us? Why?
Paul tells us "so that your faith might not rest on men's wisdom, but on God's power (2:5)." " one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us. This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom, but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words(vs. 11b-13).......we have the mind of Christ.(vs. 16b)"

Wisdom that God gives us is fathomless---He will teach us about Himself, I believe, throughout eternity. "The wisdom of this world is foolishness in God's sight" (I Cor. 3:19) Jesus, by becoming wisdom for us, offered Himself as the practical answer to the dilemmas of sin in the world. Adam and Eve sold their soul for the "knowledge of good and evil." Jesus came to pay the ultimate price for that one act---to "take away the sin of the world." Jesus became sin for us and met the requirements of an Almighty Holy God to redeem us from sin. Only the wisdom of God could plan out to perfection His plan for the redemption of man.

I pray that God has allowed you to wisely make the choice to receive Christ as your personal Savior, because, whether young or old in age, that is the one and only important decision that you will ever make to assure you of eternal life.

Jesus is our Wisdom!

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Do You Know Where Your Children Are?

In West Virginia, the mayor of Charleston would come on television every evening at 10:00 pm pointing his finger at the camera and say "It is 10 o'clock--do you know where your children are?" It was very poignant and hopefully parents in the area would respond with a positive answer regarding curfew for their teenage children.

My techie son, Rich, is now blogging with a program called "Twitter", which basically is a mini-journal of his activities throughout the day. Sometimes he jots down something every hour, sometimes sooner, sometimes hours apart, but as a Mom, it allows me to "know where my child is." Even though Rich is very adult, very responsible, and very mature, a mother always way down deep in her heart wants to know that her child is okay. It is a warm, fuzzy feeling and gives me comfort that I know where my child is throughout the day because of this technological means called "Twitter".

God knows where His children are at all times. He knows where we are physically. "You know when I sit and when I rise.....Where can I flee from your presence? If I go to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there." Psalm 139:2a and 7-8. There is never a time, day or night, that God doesn't know where you are and He will be there for you if you call out to Him, either to praise Him or to ask for His help and mercy.

He also knows where we are spiritually. He knows our hearts inside and out, and nothing we do, say, or think surprises Him. "You perceive my thoughts from afar." (Ps. 139:2b). "Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O Lord." (Ps. 139: 4) "How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast are the sum of them. Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand." (Ps. 139:17, 18) Why do we make such a concerted effort to try to "hide" from God. He knows us so intimately, and wants us to acknowledge our needs before Him. He wants our openness, and wants us to realize our freedom to go to Him about anything. That's basically what prayer is about. When we bow our knees before Him, and acknowledge that we love Him, that we are dependent on Him for everything in our lives, that we need Him and can't live life alone without Him, that's when God can minister to us His grace and allow us closeness with Him. When we neglect to admit that we are needy, we are missing out on that deep intimate fellowship with Him. God created us because He desired that fellowship with us. He wants to be truly our Friend closer than a brother. So often we hold our self-sufficient arm out to protect us from getting too close----why? He knows us inside and out and still loves us with such eternal love and all He desires from us is to love Him in return and for us to desire to be with Him.

God knows where His children are!