For Such A Time As This

Maximizing everyday moments to glorify God

Immanuel – God With Us

“The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel – which means God with us.” Matthew 1:23

Did you know that from the end of the Old Testament and the beginning of the New Testament, 400 years passed without a single word from God? 400 years! That’s a really long time for complete silence. It’s hard to imagine what people must have thought. Did God die, was He angry, or did He just stop caring? Generations passed with nothing but silence.

And then it was time to reopen the communication lines. He was sending His one and only son to the Earth to take human form to become the gift of all gifts. A Savior for mankind.

He could have shaken the foundations of the earth to announce Jesus’ arrival. But, no. Instead it came in the form of the sweet, soft cry on a newborn. Incredible. Can you just imagine what that must have been like for Mary? As a mom, I know the overwhelming surge of emotion that came with giving birth. But, can you even fathom knowing that you are carrying the Son of God?

blue nativityAnd to know that the cry of her newborn baby was the announcement to the world that the silence was broken! Think about that for a bit – I have, and I still can’t seem to think anything but pure amazement. And the news was spread when the angel of the Lord said, “Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:11) He was here. Our gift of salvation in the form of a tiny baby.

It makes me think about the gifts and blessings in life that I know I take for granted. Breath, our senses, quiet, the beauty and wonder that surround us every day. There are so many subtle, but incredible things that are so easily overlooked, we may not even think about them being gifts from God. God doesn’t have to loudly announce anything. Small, soft whispers are more than sufficient for the Creator of the Universe.

The soft cry of a baby. In a manger. In a stable filled with animals. Where no one could make room. The Savior of the earth. The One who created the stars, yet chose to come and live among us with one purpose. To save us.

As I think about Christmas, it’s easy to get caught up in all the mayhem of the season. Presents, decorating, baking, parties, cards, shopping and everything else. It seems everywhere we turn there are distractions the world is throwing at us. But the best gift is the one we cannot give. The one we don’t deserve. The one we can’t repay. The one we simply receive.

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God…” Ephesians 2:8

Jesus

He chose to come to be the Way. Without Him, we have no hope. Without Him, or future is dark. But, if we choose to accept and receive His gift of salvation, we are secure. There is hope.

Every year about this time, I try to get away and relax with Him. Even if it’s just for an hour or so, stepping out of the hustle and bustle of the commercialized Christmas activities keeps me focused on the true meaning: His unbelievable gift of salvation for all eternity. His choice to humble himself to a life of poverty and scorn, only to die a death He didn’t deserve and pay the price for all sins past, present and future. In order that we might spend all of eternity with Him…

…He loves us that much!

No store gift could ever compare.

And, He knows that there is nothing I say or do could earn His gift. I simply have to receive. Lay down my pride, my fears, my doubts, my control and anything else that my hands might be grasping on to hold. Empty them, so that I might receive the best gift ever.

Jesus.

This Christmas, I pray we all pause long enough to sit in absolute wonder at the greatest gift of all. Jesus in our midst. Jesus, the giver of the ultimate gift. Salvation.

Everything else, no matter how spectacular, pales in comparison and is simply pointing us to Him.

Merry Christmas.

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Immanuel – The Greatest Gift

“The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel – which means God with us.” Matthew 1:23

Did you know that from the end of the Old Testament and the beginning of the New Testament, 400 years passed without a single word from God? 400 years! That’s a really long time for complete silence. It’s hard to imagine what people must have thought. Did God die, was He angry, or did He just stop caring? Generations passed with nothing but silence.

And then it was time to reopen the communication lines. He was sending His one and only son to the Earth to take human form to become the gift of all gifts. A Savior for mankind.

He could have shaken the foundations of the earth to announce Jesus’ arrival. But, no. Instead it came in the form of the sweet, soft cry on a newborn. Incredible. Can you just imagine what that must have been like for Mary? As a mom, I know the overwhelming surge of emotion that came with giving birth. But, can you even fathom knowing that you are carrying the Son of God?

blue nativityAnd to know that the cry of her newborn baby was the announcement to the world that the silence was broken! Think about that for a bit – I have, and I still can’t seem to think anything but pure amazement. And the news was spread when the angel of the Lord said, “Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:11) He was here. Our gift of salvation in the form of a tiny baby.

It makes me think about the gifts and blessings in life that I know I take for granted. Breath, our senses, quiet, the beauty and wonder that surround us every day. There are so many subtle, but incredible things that are so easily overlooked, we may not even think about them being gifts from God. God doesn’t have to loudly announce anything. Small, soft whispers are more than sufficient for the Creator of the Universe.

The soft cry of a baby. In a manger. In a stable filled with animals. Where no one could make room. The Savior of the earth. The One who created the stars, yet chose to come and live among us with one purpose. To save us.

As I think about Christmas, it’s easy to get caught up in all the mayhem of the season. Presents, decorating, baking, parties, cards, shopping and everything else. It seems everywhere we turn there are distractions the world is throwing at us. But the best gift is the one we cannot give. The one we don’t deserve. The one we can’t repay. The one we simply receive.

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God…” Ephesians 2:8

Jesus

He chose to come to be the Way. Without Him, we have no hope. Without Him, or future is dark. But, if we choose to accept and receive His gift of salvation, we are secure. There is hope.

Every year about this time, I try to get away and relax with Him. Even if it’s just for an hour or so, stepping out of the hustle and bustle of the commercialized Christmas activities keeps me focused on the true meaning: His unbelievable gift of salvation for all eternity. His choice to humble himself to a life of poverty and scorn, only to die a death He didn’t deserve and pay the price for all sins past, present and future. In order that we might spend all of eternity with Him…

…He loves us that much!

No store gift could ever compare.

And, He knows that there is nothing I say or do could earn His gift. I simply have to receive. Lay down my pride, my fears, my doubts, my control and anything else that my hands might be grasping on to hold. Empty them, so that I might receive the best gift ever.

Jesus.

This Christmas, I pray we all pause long enough to sit in absolute wonder at the greatest gift of all. Jesus in our midst. Jesus, the giver of the ultimate gift. Salvation.

Everything else, no matter how spectacular, pales in comparison and is simply pointing us to Him.

Merry Christmas.

 

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The Greatest Gift

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God…” Ephesians 2:8

A few years ago, I received an envelope. It was unmarked and addressed to me. I hesitated to open it, thinking it was probably junk mail or some unwarranted solicitation. It nearly went into the trash pile without a second glance.

But, something told me to go ahead and peek inside. When I did, I was amazed. It contained a touching note and a check for a significant amount. Anonymously. The person’s note spoke of being blessed. God had used something in my writing to touch her intimately. She knew of struggles my family was facing and wanted to help. Somehow, she found my address and acted upon that nudging…

…I was overwhelmed.

She gave a gift. A gift I could not repay or even personally thank her for giving. A gift I simply had to receive.

As I think about Christmas, it’s easy to get caught up in all the mayhem of the season. Presents, decorating, baking, parties, cards, shopping and everything else. It seems everywhere we turn there are distractions the world is throwing at us. But the best gift is the one we cannot give. The one we don’t deserve. The one we can’t repay. The one we simply receive.

Jesus.

blue nativityHe chose to come to be the Way. Without Him, we have no hope. Without Him, or future is dark. But, if we choose to accept and receive His gift of salvation, we are secure. There is hope.

Every year about this time, I try to get away and relax with Him. Even if it’s just for an hour or so, stepping out of the hustle and bustle of the commercialized Christmas activities keeps me focused on the true meaning: His unbelievable gift of salvation for all eternity. His choice to humble himself to a life of poverty and scorn, only to die a death He didn’t deserve and pay the price for all sins past, present and future. In order that we might spend all of eternity with Him…

…He loves us that much!

No store gift could ever compare.

And, He knows that there is nothing I say or do could earn His gift. I simply have to receive. Lay down my pride, my fears, my doubts, my control and anything else that my hands might be grasping on to hold. Empty them, so that I might receive the best gift ever.

Jesus.

At Christmastime, I pray we all pause long enough to sit in absolute wonder at the greatest gift of all. Jesus in our midst. Jesus, the giver of the ultimate gift. Salvation.

Everything else, no matter how spectacular, pales in comparison and is simply pointing us to Him.

Merry Christmas.

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Surprised

christmas-gifts-presentsThe craziness of an overly commercialized Christmas season is upon us. I must admit, I do partake in a bit of the frenzy, heading out to shop for a few items on Black Friday, and even on Thanksgiving. It’s more about a tight budget than the thrill of the deal, however.

My kids know that at this time of the year, mom’s closet is off limits. Until presents are wrapped and under the tree, they remain “hidden” behind the clothes in my closet. I do this because I want to surprise them with their gifts. I love the look on their faces when they open something they asked for and were hoping to receive.

There’s a surprise, however, that is coming that may or may not be a good thing, depending on where your heart is focused.

Jesus is coming back.

When He does, it will be to make things right and to bring believers home. It will also be a time of judgment for those who have chosen to defy Him and His gift of redemption.

For believers, it will be a joyous time. For non-believers, it will be the surprise of a lifetime, and not in a good way. If they’ve chosen to reject Jesus’ gift of salvation, there will be no turning back. It’ll be a one-way ticket to eternity separated from God.

I don’t know about you, but that option has zero appeal to me. In fact, it terrifies me to think about people I know who are living this choice out every day. The surprise is that we don’t know when He is coming. It could be today, tomorrow, or years from now. But regardless, He’s coming and we can either be excited for it or not. It’s not a decision to be taken lightly or put off.

We need to be prepared – in our hearts and in how we live our lives.

When people are saying, “Everything is peaceful and secure,” then disaster will fall on them as suddenly as a pregnant woman’s labor pains begin. And there will be no escape.

 But you aren’t in the dark about these things, dear brothers and sisters, and you won’t be surprised when the day of the Lord comes like a thief.  For you are all children of the light and of the day; we don’t belong to darkness and night.

1 Thessalonians 5:3-5 NLT

We have the option of choosing eternity in Heaven. It’s a free gift. Not one we can run out on Black Friday and purchase. Not one we can deposit into a “faith 401K” and earn interest to allow us into Heaven. It is a treasured gift from God to us in the form of Jesus’ death, resurrection and return to Heaven – taking on OUR sin in order that we might be saved.

“God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God.”

Ephesians 2:8 (NLT)

Have you chosen? Have you accepted the gift?

It will be the best decision you ever make, trust me.

 

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The greatest gift of all!

“Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” Luke 6:38 NIV

My friend wrote about having a God pocket. Basically, put an amount of money in a pocket (an amount that you and He determine). Keep that with you and pray for Him to give you the person who needs it. I love this idea.

ImageLast Friday, my son and I were shopping and as we were in the checkout lane, the lady in front of us was obviously buying Christmas presents. She was looking through her money and asked about the price of one of the items in her cart. When the clerk told her how much it was, she sadly asked the clerk to put it back. “I can’t afford it,” she said.

I felt a tug in my heart and tears began welling up in my eyes. I opened my wallet and only had the exact amount that her purchase was short in order to buy that item. God whispered, give it to her.

I took the money out of my wallet (money that I had intended to use for my own purchase). Walking up to her, I gently put my hand on her back and whispered to her that I wanted to help. She protested. As I insisted that I wanted her to be able to get that item for whomever it was she was buying it for, we both started crying. She took it, got her item and we hugged. She was a total stranger and we were as close as could be for an instant, because God was in that moment with us. I told her ‘Merry Christmas,” and walked back to my son at our cart. His eyes welled up.

On the way home, we talked about God moments. Those times when you know that only HE could be in charge of the situation. We have had a lot of them, but this one was particularly special.

As we got home and opened the Christmas cards that came in the mail that day, I was in for a surprise God moment myself.

In one of the cards was a check. It was exactly ten times the amount that I had handed the woman at the store just a half hour before.

God’s blessings are all around us. He sees our generosity. He sees our forgiveness. He sees into our hearts and knows our motives. I didn’t give to that woman to get something back. He knew that. But, He doesn’t let generosity, despite circumstances, go unnoticed. This was an unexpected blessing.

I wish you could have seen my son’s face. Sheer marvel.

God’s gifts are all around us, if we pause long enough to see them.

At Christmastime, I pray we all pause long enough to sit in absolute wonder at the greatest gift of all. Jesus in our midst. Jesus, the giver of the ultimate gift. Salvation.

Everything else, no matter how spectacular, pales in comparison and is simply pointing us to Him.

Merry Christmas.

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