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Twinkle Lights

One of my favorite things to do at Christmastime is to sit with all the lights off in the living room except the Christmas tree. It’s a great time to relax and unwind, or in the case of this morning, to wake up gently with the warm glow of colorful lights. It’s also a time to remember. Our tree is filled with ornaments with a story. Some Mom has had since childhood, others acquired through the years at places we’ve visited or to remember a benchmark of our lives. The memories bring to mind all I have for which to be thankful, and also remind me to pray for those I love, or those I may not even know who are not enjoying the beauty I am this season.

This year our tree has twinkle lights. The lights dance through the tree, adding character and dimension. As I study the movement of the lights I realize that they are really just blinking lights scattered throughout the tree, causing a whimsical effect that is rather mesmerizing. Since each light goes out at a different time the tree is never dark and there isn’t an absence of light. In fact, my attention is drawn more to the tree than other years because of the unique pattern.

As I pondered the tree this morning I thought about how God calls us to be like these twinkle lights in a couple different ways. First, we are called to be God’s light to a world so filled with darkness. Jesus directs us to this in Matthew 5:14-16.

You are the light of the world…let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. Matthew 5: 14 & 16 (NIV)

How can we be that light? By allowing God’s love and goodness to shine through us. A smile to a stranger, a kind word for a store clerk or a small gesture of assistance or concern to someone you encounter shines a light in the darkness of the world. So often people are concerned with only themselves and in a hurry to get to where they are going or move on to the next agenda item that acts of kindness sometimes get pushed aside. But these acts are never overlooked by those who receive them. Think of a time someone smiled at you when you were navigating your way through a busy store, or allowed you to have a prime parking spot they could have taken. How did that affect the rest of your day? Similarly, not only will the light you shine impact the recipient in the moment, but often it will provide a warm glow for some time.

The other lesson I got from the twinkle lights this morning is the importance of preferring others. If each of the twinkle lights didn’t stop shining for a moment the tree would have a different look to it, and wouldn’t draw my eye to them the same way.

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. – Philippians 2:3-4 (NIV)

Similarly, when we step aside, keep our mouths shut and encourage others to shine in the ways they are gifted, it allows God to be more effective in His work. This scripture is not suggesting that we shrink back and belittle our own abilities, but to not always need to be the center of attention or have things done our way. God has created us to work together and He is pleased when we combine our gifts with others to reach more people with the message of His love and salvation. Sometimes God even has a blessing in store from us through someone that will be missed if we don’t let them shine.

We are so close to Christmas, and the days often get more rushed and we may become less thoughtful of others and more centered on ourselves. Let’s remember the lessons from the twinkle lights as we encounter others through the next few days. Be God’s light, and allow others to shine theirs as well.

Blessings and peace to you!
Paula

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God’s Strange Ways

Have you ever wondered what God is doing in your life? Have circumstances come about that don’t make sense to you from an earthly perspective? I know I’ve had times when I just don’t understand what God might be up to in my life.


This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.
But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”  Matthew 1: 18-21

Imagine being Joseph amidst the circumstances of the birth of Jesus. His quiet carpenter life was interrupted by an angelic visitor. His plans for marriage were turned upside down and he found himself at a crossroads – believe the angel and accept God’s mission, thrusting his life into an unknown future, or reject the angelic message and move on  with his quiet life. We spend much time considering Mary’s role in the birth, and rightly so, but do we consider that Joseph was also chosen? He had the role of raising, protecting, and educating Jesus. Remember, Jesus was fully man, so he needed the direction of an earthly father.

The song by 4Him, A Strange Way to Save the World gives us an imagined glimpse into Joseph’s thoughts. He had spent 9 months facing questions and side-glances by his neighbors and friends. Even his family probably thought he was crazy for choosing to take Mary as his wife despite the circumstances. He must have wondered, “why me?” a hundred times through those months, but I think perhaps that question developed from a whining tone to an astonished sense that he was chosen above other men he may have felt were more deserving. And then, in a stable in Bethlehem, a long way from home Joseph looks down at this child – God’s Son and wonders again, “why”? What a responsibility! Was he up to the task?

Are you at a place in life where you are asking, “why me” this Christmas? Maybe your question has a whining tone to it. You’re in a place you don’t want to be, especially at this time of celebration, and you can’t imagine how God could have something good planned through your current circumstances.

Perhaps your “why me” comes from a place of believing God is working in your life but not picturing how it will all come together. Maybe you are in the midst of a contemplative Christmas, wondering what the new year will hold. You don’t really believe that God can use you for something important…or you don’t realize that just by serving Him faithfully you are doing important things.

The Christmas story is a beautiful story of God using ordinary people to accomplish His extraordinary purpose. Joseph is not mentioned again in Scripture after Jesus’ childhood, but that doesn’t mean he was not still used by the Lord. God’s plan for saving the world was certainly strange from an earthly perspective, but that seems to be the way He works.


For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.

1 Corinthians 1:25.

If this Christmas finds you contemplative or asking “why me?” I hope you will choose to trust God in the midst of it. Press in closer to Him and accept that God’s plan for your life might not make sense to you He wants to use you for important purposes if you allow His hand to guide you.

Blessings to you as you celebrate this Christmas!
Paula

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Magnificat

The Magnificat is taken directly from Luke 1:46-47. It is a powerful expression of a young woman who has put her full trust in the Lord and His plans for her.

As I reflect on the lyrics of the Magnificat I can’t help but wonder at the precious state of Mary’s heart and desire that for myself.

It is remarkable to me that this young woman whose life had just been turned upside down would have an attitude of praise and openness to whatever God willed in her life. She was facing several months of people not understanding what was going on in her life and inside her body. Certainly some would not believe that she was still pure and the child growing within her was from the Holy Spirit – a gift, not a shame.

In spite of whatever Mary’s external circumstances were her heart was filled with joy and gratitude. We don’t see Mary taking credit for being good enough to be the mother of Jesus but rather a humble spirit and wonder that Her Lord would choose her for His remarkable plan. And she gave all the glory to Him.

Here is a link to one of the most beautiful renditions I have heard of this song.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0TEL_7TS5FE

Reading these lyrics and listening to the song reminds me I also have much for which to glorify the Lord. He has also looked on me with kindness and mercy and has done great things for me. Too often I forget to give Him the glory for who I am and who He is creating me to be.

I also have been reflecting on whether or not I allow God to put His Spirit inside me to use me as He desires. Am I open as Mary was to carry out His plan for me or do I drag my feet, ignore His voice or shrink back from fear?

How about you?

God’s plans for us are not always grandiose but they are always important. Whether it’s taking the time to listen to someone who needs to talk, lending a hand to someone as they carry packages or dropping a note in the mail or sending an e-mail to let someone know you are thinking of them and praying for them, little things can make a difference and may be just the touch from God someone needed.

And like Mary, God may have something bigger planned for your life. Are you open to Him using you to lead others to Christ, to go to the mission field, lead a bible study or write a book? Don’t let your opinion of yourself and your abilities hinder what the Lord desires to do through you.

My greatest desire this morning is to keep the attitude of Mary’s Song in my heart and carry it in my spirit not only throughout today but each day of the coming year.

“For He has looked with mercy on my lowliness.”

“And Holy…Holy…Holy is His Name.”

Praying for blessings and peace in your life this Christmastime. 

Paula