Monday, December 21, 2009

Deuteronomy 11-13; Luke 4:31-44

”At daybreak Jesus went out to a solitary place” (Luke 4:42). The chapter quickly moves on after this, but this verse in particular struck me. Jesus spent time alone at daybreak. Even he needed time alone with his Lord. I’ll be honest here, I don’t always have as much quiet time as I should. It’s easier on the days when I’m home alone, but if my husbands home from work, or friends are visiting, my time with God quickly moves to the back burner. It’s as if he’s not as important on the busy days. Inward cringe. Have you ever been in a similar place? Does your time with God decrease as your business increases? Then here’s my encouragement for you this Christmas week.
Find a solitary spot each moment to pray. Perhaps it’s in your car, in the kitchen, or in the bathroom, whatever it may be, spend some time with your Savior this week. He is the reason for the season, isn’t he?

Lord, in all the business of Christmas, please help me to stop and spend some time with you.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Deuteronomy 8-10; Luke 4:1-30

It’s painful to read about Jesus’ rejection in Nazareth. These are the people he grew up around, the people that knew him from birth, yet they tried to kill him for saying that he was the Messiah (Luke 4:29). I don’t like reading about people who mistreated my Savoir, but just the same, it’s comforting to know that he truly understands the feelings of loneliness and rejection I face at times. As a man he felt pain, cried tears, agonized over those who would not believe him. I, too, have felt rejection in my life. Friends who were my closest allies turned their backs on me, saying that I was unworthy. Even writing this I can still feel the pain and anguish I felt as a thirteen-year-old girl. Years doesn’t numb the pain. But that moment, as I sat on my pink bedspread and cried my little heart out over my lost friends, God meant me. He reminded me that he was the only friend who would never leave me not forsake me. He understood my pain and would help me get past this intense season of loneliness. What a promise. And what peace I felt because of it. No, the pain didn’t go away instantly. I had a lot of lonely days still ahead of me. Days of eating my lunch alone, and watching my former friends laugh across the room. Days of wishing I was still apart of their circle, but knowing I never would again. Just the same, Jesus was right beside me, helping me through each healing moment, and giving me new friends that loved me the way I was.

Are you lonely today? Has someone rejected you? Cry out to Jesus, he’s ready and waiting to help you through.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Deuteronomy 5-7; Luke 3

“So be careful to do what the LORD your God has commanded you; do not turn aside to the right or to the left. Walk in all the way that the LORD your God has commanded you, so that you may live and prosper and prolong your days in the land that you will possess.” (Deuteronomy 5:32-33).

I’ve known the Ten Commandments for as long as I can remember. They were ingrained into me as a little girl. They’ve been listed before me so many times, that I’ve started to forget how important they really are. Out of all the rules and laws, these ten were what God saw as the most important. They were the laws he wanted to set down for all generations to follow. Why? Because He knew that his people were an imperfect people in an imperfect world.

I like to thin that I’ve always kept the Ten Commandments, but that’s untrue. I slip up in one area or another on a regular basis. Without realizing it, I often put things before my God. This could be in a relationship, a hobby, a book, or even time spent in the internet. When I value these things above God, I am in fact “worshiping” them as a god. Ouch. I had a tough time even writing that last sentence, but it’s oh so true. For me it’s a daily battle of giving up myself and focusing on my Saviour instead. I’ll leave you today with a rather long passage of scripture that is oh so dear to me. Please, read through these scriptures, and contemplate the daily struggles of your life and then claim victory from them in Christ Jesus:

But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Philippines 3:7-4).

Friday, December 11, 2009

Deuteronomy 3-4; Luke 2:25-52

“Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them slip from your heart as long as you live” (Deuteronomy 4:9).

How quickly I forget the great things God has done. One thing I’ve been amazed to see over the course of this Bible study is how closely I identify with the Israelites. Time and again I fall back into the same practices. I make the same mistakes. I start to doubt my God. And time and again I have to fall on my face and ask him for forgiveness once again. That’s why these words of caution from todays reading are so important, even to me. I too, have things I never want to forget.

What things do I never want to slip from my heart, you may ask?

That day when I was a friendless, broken twelve year old girl, and God spoke to my heart and told me that He was ready and waiting to be that friend that would never leave or forsake me.

The long night of grief when I was nineteen and he gave me a peace that passes all understanding.

That moment when I pledged my life to my husband at the age of twenty-five, and God began the task of teaching me what true, agape love was really like.

And so many other moments in between. My life has been radically changed by my Savior. Each and every day he’s pushing me to grow and change and become more like him. Sometimes I fail, but other times I’m victorious. In all of this, God is ingraining lessons on my heart each and every day, things I never want to forget, things I want to change me forever.

What lessons has God taught you over the years? What things do you never want to forget? Is there anything that you want to start afresh today? How will you go about that?

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Deuteronomy 1-2; Luke 2:1-24

“But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart” (Luke 2:19).

It’s just one small verse, but it catches my attention every time I read through the gospel of Luke. This verse says that Mary “treasured up” the moments when she held the Savior of the world in her arms. The Greek word for treasured is syntēreō which means to preserve or to keep with one’s self, to keep in mind.” She preserved these memories of a beautiful, simple time, so that she would have them in later years. She considered the honor and privilege of being chosen to be the earthly mother of Jesus. She did not take these experiences lightly, but instead she treasured them.

How often do I go through life and not really consider the blessings God has given me. How many mornings do I wake up, look at my husband, and not thank God for him? How many times do I open the cupboard, take out some food, and not thank God for his provision? How many times to I truly praise my God for what he has done, like Mary? She truly considered and treasured up all that God had done. I need to do the same. From now on, I want to start my day, not by griping and stressing, but being thankful for all of the small and big things God has done in my life.

What about you?

“The LORD has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy” (Psalm 126:3).

Monday, December 7, 2009

Numbers 34-36; Luke 1:57-80

At the end of Luke 1, we are told that Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and began to prophesy. He had these words to say about his newborn son, John:

76And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High;
for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him,
77to give his people the knowledge of salvation
through the forgiveness of their sins,
78because of the tender mercy of our God,
by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven
79to shine on those living in darkness
and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the path of peace."

John had a very special purpose in this world. He was the one who prepared the way for the coming Messiah. He would live his life preaching the good news, and even die a brutal death because of it. John’s purpose was clear from the moment he entered this world. My purpose has not always been as clear. I look at myself, at the life I live, and at the spiritual gifts God has given me, and wonderful how these things will ever be used for his glory. I wonder if my life will ever have any significance. I wonder if I’ll ever amount to anything. Have you ever felt similarly? Have you ever felt that you’re life has no real purpose? In these verses above, we have a great reminder of what truly matters in this world. Jesus. Our ultimate purpose is to worship him and proclaim him with every ounce of our being (see Matthew 28:18-20). If we’re doing this, that’s all that truly matters. Jobs, stations and life, even relationships, may come and go, but the Lord will always be there, waiting for us to totally surrender and worship him. He has shone the light on the dark parts of our lives and saved us from a life of sin. For that, I’m eternally grateful. Yes, my earthly, day to day career might still have a big question mark hanging over it, but I know that my ultimate purpose and identity is secure in my Savior. What about you?

Lord, thank you that my real purpose has been known since the day you created me. I’m meant to worship you and live my every moment for you. Please teach me how to do this today.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Numbers 31-33; Luke 1:39-56

“And Mary said:
‘My soul glorifies the Lord
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has been mindful
of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed,
for the Mighty One has done great things for me—
holy is his name’” (Luke 1:46-49).

Something just wasn’t right. Instead of being joyful, I was grouchy today. Instead of enjoying this beautiful Winter day, was resentful and unhappy. Instead of living each moment for the Lord, I gave today over to my uglier half. It wasn’t very pretty, I’ll admit it.
Sometimes I think that Satan sees the beautiful possibilities in a day and tries all the harder to keep us from succeeding. He knew that I was going to Bible study, so he tried his hardest to put me in a bad mood. For today he succeeded. Hopefully next time I’ll know better.
And so, although the day is almost over, I’d like to start anew. I’d like to thank God for all of the wonderful things he’s given me today, and every day. So here goes:
It was wonderful waking up to fresh snow on the ground this morning. It was my favorite kind of snow, light and fluffy, but not messing with road travel or anything.
It was wonderful having a few minutes with my husband, before he left for work. Most days I sleep through the time we leaves, but this morning we actually had a few minutes to talk and sip on coffee today.
It was wonderful having Bible study at the church today. I love the fellowship that comes with women of all ages and backgrounds come together and pour over the word of God.
It was wonderful coming home to a warm house, a full fridge, and a lit Christmas tree.
These are things I’m thankful for today.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Numbers 26-30; Luke 1:1-20-38

Hello all,
I am now back after a wonderful holiday spent with family and friends. I love this time of year. It’s a time for singing carols, baking cookies, giving gifts, and being reunited with family and friends. Most of all, it’s a time to be thankful. This Christmas I am thankful for the words the Angel Gabriel speaks to Mary in Luke 1: 37. The angel tells her that “nothing is impossible with God."
How wonderful this simple truth is. God can do anything he sets his mind too. Nothing is outside of his reach. I’m so thankful that he can look past any circumstance and work for the ultimate good (Romans 8:28). I’m so thankful that he sees every part of my life (Psalm 139). And I’m thankful that he will do things in his own timing, as we saw with Elizabeth. He knows our deepest desires and wants us to be happy. All he asks is that we delight in him (Psalm 37:4).
What does delighting in him mean? For me, it means delving into his word, praying with utter abandon, and rejoicing over all of the small gifts he has given me already. Instead of pining over the things I want so bad, I’m leaving them in his capable hands.
For today I’m just going to be thankful.