Saturday, December 12, 2020
Wednesday, November 25, 2020
The pilgrims had left England earlier and moved to Holland for a short time because they were unhappy with the way the Church of England had become. They wanted to be free to worship as they had and left the country in order to do so. The King of England had requested them to return and nothing had changed. They were under such oppression, they were willing to venture off to an unknown land. If they had only known what the trip ahead of them would be like. It is thought that the King wanted them to go to the new world to stake out some land. It's hard to believe things could have been so terrible that they were willing to risk the unknown.
I am sure, after 3 months on the sea, they were beyond grateful to see this new land that greeted them. It wasn't long after they had arrived the harsh winter came and diseases took the lives of most of the people. All that they gone through to get to the new world and then they didn't live to see their dreams fulfilled.
This story touched me as I listened to the lady at the tourist center tell me all of this. I had no idea and to be honest never really thought much about it. But it has changed my perspective of what people are willing to endure for freedom.
The pilgrims landed in the new world in 1620. Here we are 2016, almost 400 years later, still celebrating their victory. I am thankful God has blessed us with this great country! I am grateful for those who had the courage to make the journey and prepare the way for us. I am grateful that to this day we still have the freedom of worship! I am grateful for those who gave their lives to keep our freedom!
Jesus did that for us when he came to earth as a man. He stepped down from Heaven to the depths of the earth. He calmed the wind and seas. He healed the sick. He saved the lost. Then he was willing to go to the cross to bring us out of our distress. Because of his willingness to give his life for us, we will one day be in our desired haven called Heaven and gather at His table for the Wedding Supper of the Lamb and give Him thanks! (Revelation 19:9) Oh what a Thanksgiving day that will be! One that will last for eternity!
Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family and may God Bless America!
Sunday, November 22, 2020
Each tree is themed. To me, a Christmas tree can tell a story by the decorations it holds. I love all of my trees, but there's one that is actually where my heart lives. It's our keepsake tree. It's the tree that began in December of 1992. Jeff and I got married in November and we received ornaments as gifts. My mother-in-law started a tradition of giving us a Hallmark ornament with our picture every year. This tree started out as a 4 foot table top, but has since grown into the 9 foot tree. The tree if filled with special ornaments from Hallmark keepsakes, vacation destinations, handmade by my children, and ornaments I've inherited after the loss of loved ones. This tree truly is the heart of our home.
As I began unpacking the crates with these precious decorations, the Holy Spirit began to stir my heart with some thoughts. It all came together in my morning devotions when a particular scripture jumped off the page. This scripture pulled it all together for me. This is the story of the eternal keepsake tree.
The Christmas tree is usually an evergreen. This means it never changes color like trees with leaves. This tree is green, even in the coldest and darkest months. This symbolizes eternal life. The lights in the tree are symbolic of Jesus being the light of the world. As I looked at my tree, I realized the tree really symbolizes the cross. Over 2000 years ago, the light of the world hung on a tree to conquer sin and death once and for all.
One morning I was doing my daily Bible reading and I came across this scripture in Isaiah. "Look around you and see, for all your children will come back to you. As surely as I live,” says the Lord, “they will be like jewels or bridal ornaments for you to display." (Isaiah 49:18 NLT) All of the sudden, I looked at those ornaments that are placed so purposefully on my tree and realized we are God's ornaments. Each of us is like an ornament to God. Jesus died for every one of us. Just as my ornaments are from special people and places and given or bought throughout our marriage. We, like these ornaments are different and even though we were purchased at Jesus' death, we are placed on the tree in purposeful locations and are collected over the years.
Thinking about what keepsake really means, I felt the Holy Spirit ask me to separate the word and define each word. The word "keep" is to have possession of. The word "sake" is in order to preserve. Think about that. Jesus died for us so that we could become His "keepsake." First Peter 2:9 says, "But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light." We were chosen by God to be His ornaments to show others the goodness of God. The light of Jesus shines through us, just like the lights on the tree highlight the ornaments. It's really the light behind the ornaments that give them their beauty.
What a picture this is to me of salvation and what Jesus did for us at the cross. As we head into the darkest days of the year and not only seasonally, but truly as we seem to be heading into the the darkest days of this pandemic, it's time for the ornaments of Christ to shine. It's in these times when we can allow the glory of God to work through us giving a lost world hope for the future.
We were are here on this earth for such a time as this. Jesus told us we were the light of the world (Matthew 5:14). It's time for us to shine the love of Jesus to the hopeless, fearful, sick, and the lost. This Christmas, my prayer is that the Keepsake Tree of Jesus would be surrounded with those who choose the gift of eternal life. He said in John 12:32, "And when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself.” (NLT) I pray this Christmas the cross shines brighter than ever.
Saturday, November 14, 2020
Tuesday, June 2, 2020
The following thoughts are what was on my heart 10 years ago. I feel that they are more relevant today, than they were then. So much has changed for the worst and has happened in the past 10 years, yet at the same time, we have not resolved any of the issues that are still burning in the hearts of man today.
In recent years, our elections have been very interesting. Some of the propositions we have had on our ballots would have never been considered as early as10 years ago. The television ads that seem to run endlessly during the weeks prior to an election can be a bit confusing. Most of the time I believe the proposition ads talk in circles as to confuse the voter. As followers of Jesus, we shouldn't base our decisions necessarily on moral issues, but on the Kingdom of God principles. What does God's Word say about the things man's law is trying to pass. It would seem that it is "lawfulness" against "lawlessness" and "order" against "disorder."
This week we read 2 Thessalonians chapter 2 and the title of this chapter in my NIV Bible is "The Man of Lawlessness." Verses 1- 12 says, "Now, dear brothers and sisters, let us clarify some things about the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and how we will be gathered to meet him. 2 Don’t be so easily shaken or alarmed by those who say that the day of the Lord has already begun. Don’t believe them, even if they claim to have had a spiritual vision, a revelation, or a letter supposedly from us. 3 Don’t be fooled by what they say. For that day will not come until there is a great rebellion against God and the man of lawlessness is revealed—the one who brings destruction. 4 He will exalt himself and defy everything that people call god and every object of worship. He will even sit in the temple of God, claiming that he himself is God.
Sunday, May 31, 2020
Sunday, April 19, 2020
Over the next few days, something shifted. That peacefulness and stress-less life changed. My dreams have been much more active and I wonder if it could be from the lack of activity that my subconscious is reacting. When this time of isolation began, I had a lot of faith and hope that we were going to see the Holy Spirit move in a new way. We prayed for changed in 2020 and clear vision. We certainly got the change, but as far as the vision goes, it's become more blurred.
The other morning, I woke up completely confused. I had a dream that Jeff and I had a leadership conference in Temecula. Temecula is southern California's wine country. I'm not sure why there except we are either in need of wine or God was speaking to me about that location. Are we, as a church, being put into new wineskins?
But in this dream Jeff kept referring to Isaiah 54:17, "no weapon formed against us shall prosper..." He had made a small paper "knife-like sword." He said, "This is not a sword and this is what most of us carry as a sword." Then out of butcher paper, he made a life-size fencing type sword. He told the leadership that we were going to be making these for each one of us. He had run out of paper and we had to buy it from CVS. It was then I woke up with wonder on my mind.
Was God speaking to us? What are paper swords? I did find it interesting that Jeff kept quoting Isaiah 54:17. I decided to read that verse and it was interesting, which makes me believe now God was talking to me in my dream. It says, "But in that coming day no weapon turned against you will succeed. You will silence every voice raised up to accuse you. These benefits are enjoyed by the servants of the LORD; their vindication will come from me. I, the LORD, have spoken!" (NLT). Now the question is what does this mean.
"And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. For the old skins would burst from the pressure, spilling the wine and ruining the skins. New wine is stored in new wineskins so that both are preserved.” (Matthew 9:17 NLT) As a Church we need to be eating the Word of God together daily and meeting together via video to continue growing, "‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”(Matthew 4:4). The past 6 years have been training us for this season. Jesus said, "Put your sword back in its place,” Jesus said to him, “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword." I believe for us as a Church this means for us to put the word of God at the forefront of our lives. By putting the sword back in it's place, means it should be the first thing we turn to in our minds so we will be preserved and healed at the same time. No weapons of disease or financial loss formed against us will prosper. We will "live by the sword." And specifically the paper sword.