JESUS IS THE SON OF GOD

And a voice from Heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with Him I am well pleased.”. Matthew 3:17

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Proud parents. Whether a child takes his or her first step, graduates from medical school or starts a new job you can be sure that anyone his or her parents encounter will know about it. Whatever happens to a child, regardless of their age, parents share in it. They hurt when we are hurting and cheer when we do well.

God felt that same way about Jesus. He was pleased that His Son was willing to leave Heaven to be born into a barn, as a helpless human. Jesus relinquished His place beside His Father so that some day each of us could be with Him too. God kept silent at first—after proclaiming the birth of course, with fanfare only Heaven could muster.

But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

“Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

Luke 2:10-14

Then Jesus grew just like other little boys. He took His first step, learned Joseph’s trade of carpentry and went to synagogue.

When the time was right to make it known who Jesus was and why He was here on earth God the Father spoke from Heaven.

History tells us that God had been rather quiet for many years because of the sinfulness of the world and the cold hearts of those who turned away from him instead of turning towards Him. But now God proclaimed from the Heavens that HIS Son had come to earth. God with skin on.

It took the Son of God to bring us into the family. As John 3:16 says,

For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life.

As proud as a human parent can be of their children, our earthly pride and pleasure pales in comparison to God’s on that silent, holy night.

Our Savior—God’s only Son had come to earth and no one who believes in Him will ever be the same!

 

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JESUS IS THE ALPHA AND OMEGA

“I am the Alpha and Omega, the First and Last,
the Beginning and the End.” John 1:1

To quote Maria in The Sound of Music, “when you read you begin with A, B, C…when you sing you begin with Do, Re, Me.”

Everything must have a beginning, a place to start. Genesis 1 describes for us the beginning of the world as we know it. The earth started out void and dark but as God spoke, light came to the earth and then day by day the rest of creation. Jesus was there at creation. He was part of it.

Scripture also tells us that Jesus will be here for the end of the world as we know it. Jesus will return for those who hold Him as Lord. At that time Jesus won’t come as a child but as King and Lord of all.

One of the most amazing things is that Jesus is in the middle too. When the time was right God sent Jesus to earth to walk in the midst of human beings. Jesus is also right here with us when we call on Him and allow Him to lead us and walk with us through the Holy Spirit.

We know Jesus was there at the beginning of the world, but is He there at the beginning of your day?

Do you spend any part of your morning asking the Lord to be with you and the Spirit of the Lord to fill you?

At the end of the day do you fall into bed without reflecting on the goodness of the Lord throughout your day and asking for the forgiveness of your sins through the blood of Jesus?

The Christmas season is filled with many wonderful traditions and events. Unfortunately there is danger in becoming too busy or too tired to spend time with the Lord whom we celebrate this time of year.

Photo07300602Let’s make a special effort to spend a few moments at the beginning and end of our days with Jesus, the Alpha and Omega.

 

JESUS IS THE WORD

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
John 1:1

Have you ever been asked, “what’s the good word?” It’s an interesting conversation starter and a phrase that opens us up to possibilities of discussion.

If John had been asked this question his answer would surely be “Jesus”. In today’s scripture John is introducing us to God in the flesh. He is opening the door for his readers to look back at the Word of God through the generations of promises and prophecies and see that they all come together in Jesus.

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:14

In John 1:14 we have the picture of the completion of these prophecies as God takes on flesh and lives among common man. Imagine being a shepherd on that hillside in Bethlehem. You had heard scripture read about One who would make everything right. He would conquer death and make a way for ordinary people to be  part of God’s kingdom. Then one night the sky above you fills with angels proclaiming that those words had come to fulfillment and a  Savior had been born!

The shepherds  couldn’t stay on their hillside any linger! They went to Bethlehem to see the Word come to life, and after they had seen Him they went away praising God. They didn’t—couldn’t keep to themselves the good news of the words of many generations come to life in Jesus.

Do you know this Jesus whom the shepherds met that night? He is the fulfillment of the words of prophecy for generations and the Savior for any one who trust in Him. If you don’t yet know Him as your Savior and Lord I pray this Christmas season will be one of new discovery about who Jesus is and you will come to know Him as your Lord and Savior.

If you already know Jesus , I pray this Christmas season you won’t keep the Word to yourself but will share it with all those around you. May this be the Christmas they too will come to know Jesus—the Word fulfilled.

 

Everyday Faith

Now faith is the assurance of what we hope for, the evidence of things not seen.
                                                                                                 Hebrews 11:1

What promise(s) has God made to you, deep in your heart, that you have not yet seen come to completion?

If you’re not sure, I encourage you to spend some concentrated time with the Lord over the next few days, asking Him to identify the desires in your heart that He has planted there. We’ll talk more about that process later this week.

Today as I contemplate Hebrews 11:1 I am reminded that God develops our faith as much in the everyday ordinariness of life as in those crisis, on our knees, face to the floor times. At least He desires to, if we allow it.

As we read on through Hebrews chapter 11 we are presented with a list of a few of God’s faithful servants. This is sometimes referred to as the “Hall of Faith”. A pattern emerges as the list unfolds. In the lives of many of these saints God made a promise but the fulfillment of the promise was a long ways off. For some their promise wasn’t even fulfilled in the his or her lifetime, but each continued to be faithful, seeking God’s direction for every step they took towards the fulfillment of the promise.

Consider Joseph. God gave him dreams as a young boy where he ruled over his family, each member bowing down to him. Joseph believed these dreams/visions were from God and yet the road his life took did not appear to be taking him toward the fulfillment of the vision. Sold as a slave by his own brothers and taken to another country, Joseph was tested, lied about and thrown in prison. But he remained faithful to the vision God gave him, trusting the path God laid out for him. Years later Joseph saw his dreams become reality as God blessed him in ways he couldn’t have imagined. (See Genesis Chapter 37 & 39-50)

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When God plants a desire in our heart or gives us a vision He often needs time to prepare us for the reality of that promise. Rarely are we instantly ready, and were God to bring the vision to completion before we are prepared it would certainly fail. We may also be tempted to think we have reached the vision in our own abilities instead of relying on God’s strength and direction. When we trust God to lead us where He wills, looking back we will see how we have grown and developed both spiritually and practically, watching each piece falling in place.

Walking through these times is not always easy. We can be tempted to lose faith or turn from God’s path toward what seems to be an immediate reward. At times we may even question the vision God gave us, wondering if the desire is ours alone and not one planted by God. It is during those times of unrest we need to run to the scriptures and fall to our knees. As we pour our hearts, our doubts and questions out to God He will point us to scriptures that will encourage us, build us up and replace our anxiousness with His peace.

Trust Him. He is faithful to bloom in us what He has planted.

tulip potential blooming

Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
Philippians 1:6

Blessings and peace as you watch God’s visions develop in you.

Paula

 

 

That One “Thing”

The other morning this friend’s post greeted me on my Facebook feed:

What is the one thing you NEED to do today?

Forget the rest of your list for a moment.

Will you get that ONE thing done today?

My first instinct was to feel pressure. I was getting ready for work, didn’t have time to spare and I was pressured with wondering if my day included the most important “ONE” thing! How was I supposed to know what that “thing” was, let alone get it done before the day was done?

As I pondered this challenge more I wondered if perhaps the elusive “thing” might not be a concrete task to add to my list? What if it was an action prompted by the Holy Spirit that would bring glory to God regardless of my abilities?

I thought of Ephesians 2:10:
For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works,
which God prepared in advance for us to do.

If God has already prepared the good works in advance for us, what do I have to fret about? I shouldn’t feel pressure, but a sense of gratefulness that God wants to use me to accomplish His good plans. By trusting in Him and asking the Holy Spirit to lead my thoughts and actions for the day, how can I go wrong?

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The other thought I had was of 1 Peter 4:10
Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.

We are each given gifts that God desires and expects us to use each day.

Some days God tasks us with a challenge, asking us to reach out of our comfort zone. He may ask us to give money to a person or cause when we don’t think we can spare it. Perhaps it’s lending a hand to someone who acts like they have everything under control. Or maybe he needs us to speak to someone about God’s gift of salvation even if we’re uncomfortable with that.

Other days God may ask us to smile at someone who is having a difficult day, hold the door for someone, or speak softly when someone speaks sharply to us. Maybe we are to do a little something extra at home, or send a card to a friend, just because.

If you’re not sure what your gifts are, ask God to show you. You might also ask friends or family members to point out areas where you use gifts that you haven’t noticed yourself. Once you have identified your gifts ask God to show you ways to use them every day.

The reality of it is that we need to be aware. Each morning as we begin our day, part of our routine should be giving the day, the tasks, and the people we encounter in His hands. Throughout the day we should remind ourselves to seek how God could use us, not always being in a hurry to accomplish our agenda but to take the time to let the Holy Spirit lead us to someone who needs a touch from Him that God desires us to provide.

At the end of the day a brief visit with the Lord can help us identify where we were listening and where we could have done better – not to beat ourselves up but to become more in tune with the Holy Spirit and using our gifts.

So as we begin a new day, and a new month let’s ask God to show us each day what that “One Thing” is that He desires from us before we lay our heads on the pillow that night. Not only will we bless others but we will find the blessings we receive are pretty great as well.

Blessings and peace to you as you serve God today!
Paula

 

 

 

Growing In The Valleys

If you were hiking, would you choose a mountaintop or a valley?

In your walk through life would you choose one over the other?

When you’re on a mountaintop and the sky is clear it seems you can see forever. The world is laid out before you and you can make a plan for where you’d like to explore or what areas to stay away from. Sometimes on a mountaintop we say we are “on top of the world”. It can be exciting, glorious experience and we may be reluctant to come down.

You may have heard someone speak of a mountaintop experience in life where he or she had an exceptional time of fellowship and learning, feeling especially close to the Lord. They may say they received new insight into their lives and clarity they were lacking. Just like hiking on a mountaintop we can be reluctant to come away from a mountaintop experience and return to the reality of life.

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That life reality can sometimes bring a time in the valley. In contrast to being “on top of the world”, walking in the valley usually comes with a negative connotation. In the valley it might feel like we can’t see farther than a step or two ahead. It doesn’t seem we could get any lower, and looking up brings a reminder of the mountaintop that was so wonderful, now such a long ways away, far too far to climb.

I have been walking through a valley of sorts recently. It’s not the deepest valley I’ve been in but sometimes it feels that mountaintop is far away. The light can be difficult to find amidst the shadows and loneliness can easily set in. In the past I might have welcomed the darkness and allowed it to swallow me, but instead this time as I longed for the mountaintop I began to compare in a different way.

As I compared mountaintops to valleys I realized something important for me:
In nature there isn’t much that grows on a mountaintop.

While a few shrubs and wild grasses may grow on the mountaintop, things don’t generally flourish there naturally for long periods of time. The extreme climate and dry ground don’t nourish crops very well. The higher up you go on a mountain the less green you’ll see.

However, valleys are green and lush. The climate is more even and the ground holds more moisture to nourish crops. Valleys tend to be filled with colorful flowers and foliage. Seeds can be planted in valleys with confidence that growth will take place without a great deal of assistance.

“Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you—you of little faith! And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.”                            Luke 12:27-31

I realized God desires me to grow in this journey through the valley. I can choose to focus on the shadows or look and listen for areas where God wants to bring that growth. I can worry about what tomorrow may or may not bring or I can see the beauty around me and trust that tomorrow will bring more joy, even if it’s in the midst of pain or sorrow.

And as always happens when I’m seeking God instead of feeling sorry for myself He showed me once again how I don’t have to walk through the valley alone. He walks beside me whether or not I sense His presence. And there are many here on earth to walk with me as well.

Possibly the most important area of growth in the valley is remembering others walk in valleys too, many darker and deeper than the one where I’m walking. They need companions too. I can walk with some side-by-side and others through prayer. As we walk together we will be strengthened by the presence and prayers of each other.

Are you walking through a valley today? How can I pray for you in your time of growth?

Yes, mountaintops are spectacular and precious times in our lives but we should never neglect our time in the valleys of life. Rather we should embrace the time and welcome the growth God has for us.

Blessings and peace to you wherever you’re walking today!
Paula

Strength for the Race

Hebrews 12:1-2

Since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight and the sin which so easily entangles us and let us run with endurance the race set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Do you like to run? In junior high school I ran a little cross-country. I liked how running made me feel free and light and the challenge of the ups and downs of the trail. The pursuit of running to not only beat my competitors but to better my own time was part of the appeal as well. For the most part I was in control of my own destiny.

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The race of life is a little different. We don’t always get to choose our race.

When life is filled with joy and we see a flat, easy road ahead of us we feel like we can run it forever. It can be tempting to run it on our own and not depend on Jesus or draw strength from our faith. We may also run past others, not stopping to see their needs or learn from those who have run their race before us.

Sometimes it feels like our life-race is uphill. We look ahead and behind and only see twists and turns. It takes endurance to keep going and not give up. It can seem impossible when we are tired and overwhelmed. We feel like there is never an end to the race, or an easy road ahead of us.

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In an uphill race it is so important to keep our focus on Jesus and to allow those around us to come alongside us, support and encourage us. It can be so easy to feel like we’re all alone, but we don’t need to be.

As the writer of Hebrews points out, we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses, both here on earth and those who have gone before us to leave examples of running the race with endurance. We can be reminded that we have the same reward waiting for us that Jesus did, an eternal forever with our Lord. Jesus endured shame, disgrace, and a nasty death on the cross to bring us with Him to this paradise.

We are made lighter and more free to endure the twists and turns of life when we examine what entangles and weighs us down. Repenting of our sins and releasing the weight of worry and the need to control our surroundings frees us and reminds us to look up, and perhaps find the good things hidden along our path.

Whether the race is smooth or an uphill climb we can’t do it on our own, but by the grace and strength of Jesus, the precious Holy Spirit and those He has put in our lives to walk alongside us, we can keep going…and find blessings along the way!

 

Blessings and peace along your race today,
Paula