Serving Advent

Sami's Manger

This photo is of a Manger craft my daughter made when she was about 4 years old. I asked her at the time why Baby Jesus had red spots and she informed me “Oh, He is Sick!”

I promptly responded “Poor Baby Jesus! Not only does he have to come and save the entire world from their sins, but He also has the pox.”

I do not remember getting to the bottom of why Jesus was sick. Four-year-olds have vivid imaginations is probably the best answer. I do know that it makes me laugh each year as I unwrap it and put it out to display. It is a sweet memory.

This year advent seems aptly summed up in a Baby Jesus with the pox to me. It feels like the traditions and celebrations are becoming obligations and I am wondering what our faith would be like had Jesus felt that way about you and me? I am so grateful that He did not look at His Christmas to do list and say “I am obligated to go and save the world.”

No obligation just deep, deep love and a wish to reconcile our broken and estranged relationship. Not only did Jesus come to give us abundant, eternal life, He did so with a servant’s heart.

…the Son of Man did not come to be served. He came to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many people. ~ Mark 10:45 NCV

This Advent Season I am challenged to serve. Instead of being obligated to do, to buy, to organize, to entertain, etc. How can I serve those I know and love? How can I celebrate our hope together? How can I show deep, deep love without a hint of obligation?

Dear Lord, Help us now to draw close, that we might await your advent with a servant’s heart.

What Advent Traditions bring you joy? What weighs down your celebration? Talk to me…

 

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Posted in Christmas, God's Unchanging Character, Hope, Love, Provision, Redemption, Serve, Truth | Leave a comment

Peace, Be Still

Charity Rattray

12 Days of Christmas by Charity Rattray

I have had many a stranger ask me after a short conversation “You were a cheerleader in high school weren’t you?” (The answer would be yes by the way).

I have a Sunshine and Buttercups personality. I tend to find the silver lining in all situations. I have found a way to make the very dry reading of the Book of Leviticus seem refreshing! Ha!

But, for some reason, when the Christmas Season starts to loom on the horizon of my calendar I fall victim to melancholy. Can I just be honest? Christmas and the holiday season tend to stress me out!

Me, yes me, the one who is always preaching HOPE wants to hide away from this season that represents the very coming of the greatest hope.

“The virgin will be pregnant. She will have a son, and they will name him Immanuel,” which means “God is with us.” ~ Matthew 1:23 NCV

Instead of running and hiding my head in the sand and pretending there is not a holiday season I will choose to embrace the Advent Season. I will anticipate being with the One who came to live With Me!

So today I recommend to you and me a little piece of Peace and Sanity in this maddening time we fondly call the Holidays:

12 Days of Christmas
by Charity Rattray
You are invited to gather with me at your local coffee shop, morning table, or even in your car between errands. Together we will find the refreshing needed to face your Holiday Season. 
Twelve short devotionals with links for reference and resource crafted with you in mind. The “HOLIDAZE” are fast approaching so be intentional and reclaim the HOLY in your home this holiday.
This would make a great 12 days before Christmas gift for the women in your life!

 

I hope you will choose to take the time to read my dear friend Charity’s book 12 Days of Christmas available at Amazon. Most of all I hope you will find time to dwell with Immanuel all year long!

How can I pray for peace for you this season?

Posted in Christmas, Hope, Inspiration, Love | Tagged | 2 Comments

Without Hope?

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Last week I posted some very powerful words mostly taken from God’s Word in regard to hope and who is our source of hope.

I want to expand on this concept of hope this week.

Remember that in the past you were without Christ. You were not citizens of Israel, and you had no part in the agreements with the promise that God made to his people. You had no hope, and you did not know God. But now in Christ Jesus, you who were far away from God are brought near through the blood of Christ’s death. Christ himself is our peace. He made both Jewish people and those who are not Jews one people. They were separated as if there were a wall between them, but Christ broke down that wall of hate by giving his own body. ~ Ephesians 2:12-14

“You had no hope, and you did not know God.”

I read this sentence and I feel the hopelessness of a life lived outside of the knowledge of God. An empty cavern the size of the universe seems to swallow me at the thought of just one day, one moment without the Savior I have come to know. The one who used His own body to break down the wall of hate that separates us from one another and His promises.

Our world is broken, scary and lacking peace. Honestly, it has always been so. Tell me what generation, what continent can you run to or back in time to that has perfect peace and security? Not possible. Running only compounds the lack of peace the panic the hopelessness. So where can we go when we are without hope?

So, Lord, what hope do I have? You are my hope. ~ Psalm 39:7 NCV

The only secure place to anchor the ship we call life is in a God who is bigger than our world, our brokenness, our hurt, pain and disease. We must fasten ourselves to the Christ who used His own body to secure that hope and peace we so desperately need.

God wanted to prove that his promise was true to those who would get what he promised. And he wanted them to understand clearly that his purposes never change, so he made an oath. These two things cannot change: God cannot lie when he makes a promise, and he cannot lie when he makes an oath. These things encourage us who came to God for safety. They give us strength to hold on to the hope we have been given. We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, sure and strong. ~ Hebrews 6:17-19

What is making you feel hopeless today?

Is God your source of hope?

Let’s discuss this together…

Posted in Courage, God's Unchanging Character, Hope, Provision | 2 Comments

My Source of Hope

Remember that in the past you were without Christ… You had no hope, and you did not know God. But now in Christ Jesus, you who were far away from God are brought near…Christ himself is our peace. ~ Ephesians 2:12-14 NCV

I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit. ~ Romans 15:13 NLT

We put our hope in the Lord.
    He is our help and our shield.
 In him our hearts rejoice,
    for we trust in his holy name.
Let your unfailing love surround us, Lord,
    for our hope is in you alone. ~ Psalm 33:20-22 NLT

I rejoice in the hope of that glory to be revealed, for it is no uncertain glory that we look for. Our hope is not hung upon such an untwisted thread as “I imagine so,” or “It is likely,” but the cable, the strong tow of our fastened anchor, is the oath and promise of Him who is eternal verity. Our salvation is fastened with God’s own hand, and with Christ’s own strength, to the strong stake of God’s unchangeable nature. ~ Samuel Rutherford

God wanted to prove that his promise was true to those who would get what he promised. And he wanted them to understand clearly that his purposes never change, so he made an oath. These two things cannot change: God cannot lie when he makes a promise, and he cannot lie when he makes an oath. These things encourage us who came to God for safety. They give us strength to hold on to the hope we have been given. We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, sure and strong… ~ Hebrews 6:17-19 NCV

Posted in But God, God's Unchanging Character, Hope, Provision, Redemption | 3 Comments

God is the Source

Forever Reign by Hillsong has some very powerful words.

God is love, hope, peace, joy, life. He will always be enough.* Have you every considered God to be your provider of all the intangibles?

My flesh and my heart may fail, But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. ~ Psalm 73:26 NAS

Ann Voskamp approaches God’s provision in this way:
“Remember and give thanks? For what?…Christ… All gratitude is ultimately summed up in Christ, all remembering a remembrance of Him. For in Him all things were created, are sustained, have their being. Thus Christ is all there is to give thanks for; Christ is all there is to remember.**

Everything can be summed up and sustained in Christ. Not only is God the source for what we need He is what we need.

Lord, You alone are my inheritance, my cup of blessing, You guard all that is mine. ~ Psalm 16:5 NLT

God is our inheritance. He is the one who provides access to Himself.

Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this: The faithful love of the LORD never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning. I say to myself, “The LORD is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in him!” ~ Lamentations 3:21-24 NLT

Hope in Him! Seek Him as the source for all your needs. Be grateful for all He has provided. God is the source even of that hope:

I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit. ~ Romans 15:13 NLT

 

* Hillsong – Forever Reign From the album “A Beautiful Exchange”

** Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are, p. 154-155

Posted in But God, Courage, God's Unchanging Character, Hope, Provision, Redemption | 1 Comment

Yes, it’s me!

Late Bloom

Yes, it’s me!

Melisa is Greek and means Honey Bee.

“Honey Bees are very industrious.  They have a need to be about their purpose.  Driven to reach just one more flower that they might produce all they have been called to do!” Pollinating Grace

Which brings me to the topic we discussed last week; the importance of separating our performance from our title and embracing our call.

It is not so much how busy you are, but why you are busy. The bee is praised; the mosquito is swatted. ~ Marie O’Conner

Lately, I have been wondering is all of my “Pollinating” making any honey or just noise? We can tell ourselves that God has chosen us based on His affection for us not our deeds or contributions but still we worry.

But I said, “I have worked hard for nothing; I have used all my power, but I did nothing useful. But the Lord will decide what my work is worth; God will decide my reward.” ~ Isaiah 49:4

Yes, it’s me…the one who, it seems, needs constant reminding who I am in Christ!

One of the tragedies of our life is that we keep forgetting who we are.” ~ Henri Nouwen

I am called to pollinate grace. This calling does not change even when I lack perfection, make a lot of useless noise, or am unsure of my results. God is the one who produces fruit.

You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit – fruit that will last.  ~ John 15:16a        

You and I did not get lucky and stumble upon God and then vie for His attention: “Oh pick me, give me a job”.

Each of you has received a gift to use to serve others. Be good servants of God’s various gifts of grace. ~ I Peter 4:10

Don’t forget who you are in Christ. Remember that He calls, He perfects, and He produces the results.

Show up! Bee yourself! Bloom Brave!

Tell me, what noise have you been making? I bet it is sweeter than you think!

Posted in Bloom Brave, But God, Chosen to Tell, Courage | Leave a comment

Mom, is that you?

We have been discussing our unchanging God and His unchanging call. We are chosen by God to tell how His story of redemption is uniquely wrapped up in our own stories.

Today I want to wander off the path a bit and “muck about” in this concept.

…for God’s gifts and his call are irrevocable. ~ Romans 11:29

Irrevocable is a strong word meaning unchangeable. So we know that God has not changed His mind about calling you or I.

For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. ~ Ephesians 1:4

Wait we are chosen to be blameless?

How can I be blameless in my call? God won’t change His mind about me, but I need to be perfect? What? HELP!

Let me explain. Two weeks ago I sent my children to school like this:

Homecoming Week – Tacky Tourist
(Not pictured are the socks with sandals)

In the same 48 hour period, I also allowed our household to run out of Milk, Butter, and Salt! My husband was out of town at the time. The first morning after He was home again with us and we discovered how difficult breakfast was going to be minus all of the above ingredients my husband said:

“You let our son go to school in a coconut bra and we are out of butter and milk! I don’t think I should ever leave town again.”

His body language was hilarious. He had his hands on his hips. He blew out his breath as the corners of his mouth turned up into a slight smirk, and all the while his eyes told me he adored me. It’s all good.

I am still the wife and mom at this house! My call has not changed just because I have had a supposed lapse of judgment (not that I am admitting one mind you) or forgot to do some simple shopping.

Calling and performance are two very different things. And if being a domestic diva was a requirement to be the Turner’s wife and mom, well I would have been fired years ago!

The same is true with our relationship with God. He called you and me before He redeemed us. Remember what Ephesians 1:4 said above “…before the creation of the world.” I am pretty sure none of us had the ability to be perfect before time began. Our performance or perfection was not a part of the deal He offers. It is God who makes us holy and blameless. And when we make errors, forget duties, or have a lapse in judgment there is forgiveness.

God has chosen you and made you his holy people. He loves you. So you should always clothe yourselves with mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Bear with each other, and forgive each other. If someone does wrong to you, forgive that person because the Lord forgave you. Even more than all this, clothe yourself in love. Love is what holds you all together in perfect unity. ~ Colossians 3:12-14 NCV

You and I really are irrevocably called even in our imperfection. We have freedom to separate our performance from our title as a child of God.

I am an imperfect mom, but a fun mom. I am also a good mom!

What are you good at (not perfect) but good at?

Embrace your call and run swiftly when you need forgiveness.

Posted in Chosen to Tell, Courage, God's Unchanging Character, Good Mom Award | 2 Comments