Friday, December 21, 2018

She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. Luke 2:37b NIV

Anna, a prophetess was very old. The Bible tells us, when Jesus came to the temple in Jerusalem for the first time, Anna was there. She, like Simeon was waiting and watching for the fulfillment of the promised Messiah. 

Her husband died after seven years of marriage. I wonder if she thought about what her life would have been like if he hadn't died?Would she be serving God in this capacity in the temple? I think we can surmise from her dedication to the work of God she didn't dwell on the past.

I think her focus was on what God was about to do in the world. A birthing of a new dispensation and freedom among the people of God. A salvation that would bring eternal perspective, and change the way others thought of each another.

God, in human flesh! The impossible made possible.

It's never easy to figure out exactly what a move of God would look like. Did Anna know that many people would believe and others would not? Did she realize the upheavel and change the Promised One would bring to the Hebrew people?

None of these things mattered as much as His coming. The hearts of all men would have to decide if Jesus spoke God's truth and live with the consequences of their choices. The same choice is necessary for us today. 

Jesus said: "I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. John 14:6 We can't choose to believe He was a good man, because He says His is God. Either we choose to belive He is who He says He is, or turn away completely.

There is no middle ground and the enemy of our souls know this too. He is well aware of the power and magnificence of God, and will do anything to keep us away from this truth. Don't believe His lies. God loves you and wants to pour down blessings on your life.

He is a good, good Father and has done all to save you. His plans are for you to be whole, in every way. May Jesus come afresh and anew in your heart this Christmas!

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all people, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel. Luke 2:29-32 NIV

Simeon is looking for Jesus, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. It had been many years that he sat, and prayed and longed for their meeting. God spoke to Simeon about this time, when the two would be in the same place, at the same time. The verse above is what Simeon spoke over Jesus at the proper time.

God spoke to Siomeon's heart that he wouldn't die until he saw the Messiah! He was a devout man which means he was dedicated and set apart for God. This knowledge of the meeting to take place was a serious and exciting time for Simeon. The Holy Spirit would lead him to the place, at the right time.

Israel was under Roman rule, and no Isrealite was happy about it. Some thought Messiah would deliver them from Roman hands, but Simeon  probably knew better. He knew Jesus would be: "a light of revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel."

This would be a new era in Biblical history, the time of revelation to the Gentiles, or the church era. This is where we live now. The ingathering of the Gentiles. It is a sacred time, and it may be coming to a close soon. God, in His excellent grace has extended His salvation to all those who will believe.

Every race and country in our world has believers who will stand for the kingdom of God, and in Jesus' name. Simeon and Anna had a part in the fulfillment of the promise. They dedicated themselves to prayer and to the will of their Heavenly Father. 

* We are the Annas and Simeons of our day.

God ushered in the promise, by His grace, but He used His servants and heard their cry. Their suffering is over. The promise is a baby, destined to cause the "falling and rising of many in Israel." Luke 2:34.

 The shaking to come for the people would be severe. Those who had contrite hearts, truly desiring to see Jesus, would be blessed, healed, and given revelation into the things of God. Those who liked religion the way it was, would be appauled and offended. These would call for His crucifiction.

Nothing has changed. Today we see people polarized to one position or another. Some may call their religion secularism, or liberalism, but it is their God. Some call out to Jesus, as Simeon did, for Him to come and right every wrong. This is God's heart, and He will come, in the proper time. He knows all things.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

When it was time for Elizabeth to have her baby, she gave birth to a son. Her neighbors and relatives had heard that the Lord had shown her great mercy, and they shared her joy. Luke 1:57-58 NIV

A baby for Elizabeth! What a blessing after many years of waiting. A baby after her body was not able to produce a child? Yes, after everyone thought it was impossible, the God of the possible brought it to pass.

I'm sure there was singing in heaven on that day as well. Rejoicing and dancing by angels and God, because another huge step was set in motion. The plan was unfolding for the Messiah's entrance into the world! John the Baptist was the child born, and he was the forerunner of Jesus Christ.

Elizabeth and Mary were expecting at the same time, and I'm sure were able to comfort and help each other. "I can imagine Elizabeth, soon to be mom of John the Baptist, drawing Mary, soon to be mother of Jesus, onto her aging shoulder. Two women, the old and the young, embracing in mutual identification. Two women seeking solace in each other's company. Two women honorably connecting to one another. Sisters of divine circumstance shouldering the future of humanity." Patsy Clairmont- "The Women of Faith Study Bible"

Did they have any idea the divine destiny unfolding before their eyes? I think they understood in part, but the full magnitude of this historical event no one could fathom. Even today it is hard for me to imagine all the difference the coming of the Son of God meant to the world at large.

Where would we be if He hadn't come? Would the world still exsist? There might never have been any charitable organizations, or food pantries. The Holy Spirit would not have been sent, and we would be empty and cold on the inside, but He chose to come, in obedience to His Heavenly Father.

This day of celebration, Christmas, and all the happenings before it, is a blessed time of remembrance and joy. It makes life worth living, because of the hope of the Savior. What He has accomplished by His coming, death and resurrection, and what he does in our own lives on a daily basis. Let's not forget what He plans to do in the future!

Restoration of all the earth is on God's agenda for the future when He returns. Restoration of our bodies and minds. No decay, loss or sadness, ever again. Just as Mary and Elizabeth looked forward to Jesus' first coming, we look forward to His second. He first restored our Spirits to the Father, but soon all things will be restored. 

As Mary and Elizabeth couldn't fathom the future neither can we!

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

How will this be, Mary asked the angel, since I am a virgin? The angel answered, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be callled the Son of God." Luke 1:34-35 NIV

This is a silly tree. It reminds me of Charlie Brown's tree in a way. This one has needles, but it's missing a top and something around the middle. It's not meant to be a Christmas tree, but then It could be. It depend how you look at it.

Charlie Brown loved his tree, and didn't care if anyone else liked it at all. It had special significance to him. The verse for today has nothing to do with how Charlie felt about his tree. It cannot be interpreted any other way than the way it's said.

Angels don't fool around. They deliver the message given them and then exit. God made them to send us messages and so this is their job, at least some of them. Gabriel is used for the most important messages in history. He's not the type of fellow you want to mess with!

Most angels are horrifying huge and overwhelming to mere mortals.This is why, before the message is given they say, Don't be afraid, because you might faint.The little cheribs we see in artwork through out the centuries do not justify the reality of who these creatures are.

Mary had every reason to believe every word Gabriel said. This didn't make life easy once she told others. We can only imagine the trouble she went through when others didn't believe the reality of her experience. We are told how Joseph took the news.

He wanted to put her away privately because he didn't believe her. Remember,  400 years of silence since God had spoken to His people. God is faithful to care for the details. Joseph is visited by an angel and told all is well with Mary and he should marry her.

Many Jews in the times of Joseph and Mary were crying out to God for the promised one, the Messiah. Many centries past were filled with those who longed to see Yeshua. This was His time to enter into our world.

Just the thought of God coming to be "with us" is mind boggling. We cannot comprehend such a love, and sacrifice! My words, once again, are very limited in expressing His majesty. The Holy Spirit is here to help us receive just a taste of the glory of God! 

Monday, December 17, 2018

The angel answered,"I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news. And now you will be silent and not able to speak until the day this happens, because you did not not believe my words, which will come true at their proper time." Luke 1:19-20 NIV

 I have decided to choose a verse for each day this week that I like about the birth of Jesus. You may not see this verse often but I will explain why I like it. The angel has just told Zechariah that he and his wife would have a son, after many years of being barren and old.
 Zechariah was chose by lot to enter the holy of holies which happened once a year. As High Priest he may have waited years for this opportunity and he probably wouldn't have another chance in his life. He represented all of the people, and if he didn't do everything just right he could die from the intensity of the presence of God.

I don't know what thoughts were flowing through his head at this time, but maybe he was nervous about his duties? Was the angel in likeness as a regular man, and Zec didn't recognize him as Gabriel, coming from the throne room of God Himself?

It is hard for me to believe Gabriel would come in any way other than in magnificant splendor and power. Why would Zechariah not believe his words? Was he old and cynical about the power of God to do such a thing? Maybe he had never seen a miracle as this?

Before we write off Zechariah as an unbeliever, maybe we ought to remember God hasn't spoken to His people in 400 years. Miracles were talked about but not seen in his day. Every Israelite wanted to see the day of the Messiah as God had promised so long ago.

Mary had a visit from Gabriel too. Her response was different. "I am the Lord's servant, Mary answered. May it be to me as you have said." And the angel left her. Luke 1:38 NIV What a remarkable young woman she was. God's grace and strength was on her. What would I have said? I hate to think!

I think I would have argued with every excuse imaginable! To be publicly exposed as "with child" and not married? Not me, but what stands out in this verse to me is:"it will come true at it's proper time." Isn't this true for us too? God has set a time and hour for everything to happen at the "proper time."

It's not our time clock, but His. Why the 400 years of waiting? Why did Zechariah and Elizabeth have to beyond child bearing age? We may never know but it was the right time. Can we trust God with timing in our lives? Yes, we can.

Friday, December 14, 2018

For he longs for all of you and is distressed because you heard he was ill.  Indeed he was ill, and almost died, but God had mercy on him, and not on him only but also on me, to spare me sorrow upon sorrow. Philippians 2:26 NIV

Paul is writing to the Philippian church from Rome. Depending on the route taken, this can be 800 to 1,200 miles away. When Epaphroditus left Philippi to come to Rome, he traveled over land  probably on foot.

How long did he travel? It's just a guess, but I think about 2 months. If you think we have snail mail, what did these people have? Waiting and praying was a necessary attribute. Personal messengers brought letters back and forth.

As nice as it is to receive gifts, the greatest gift we have in our lives are people. Paul is thankful that Epaphroditus didn't leave this world on his watch, because Rod, {I call him this for short} was a great help and blessing.  People are what make life worth living, because God made us for relationship.

Many have lost relationships because God's basic principles  have been swept aside. Honoring God by doing what he said is huge because he has good reason for what he said. Just because we don't understand doesn't make His way wrong.

Obeying when we don't understand is a great form of honor. It's trusting God because we know He is GOD, and He has our best interest in mind all of the time. Listen to this: For the Lord takes pleasure in His people; He will beautify the humble with salvation. Psalm 149:4 How can this be true? The Bible says God delights in me?

Maybe this is a mistake. Someone didn't translate the verse properly. The Lord is gracious and full of compassion, Slow to anger and great in mercy. The Lord is good to all, And His tender mercies are over all His works. Psalm 145:8-9 Can this really be true? Yes, it is!

God sees me through eyes of mercy because Jesus has washed me clean by the work He did on the cross. The truth is better than a lie, it transends every fake accusation against God and His nature, and leaves us with peace and restoration.

This is what His coming is all about. Tranforming us to be a people who are filled with the power and presence of God. It's a free gift for every person who believes. It is truly the best gift ever!

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

But I think it necessary to send back to you Epaphroditus, my brother, fellow worker and fellow soldier, who is also your messanger, whom, you sent to take care of my needs. Philippians 2:25 NIV

It's beginning to look like Christmas! I love the richness of this wreath against the old door. You can tell the wood is aged because it's not smooth, and it speaks of many years gone by. The molding is heavy and shows a craftsman took time to measure, cut and design just the right look.

Perhaps the wreath is hand-crafted too. Someone had to carefully place each ornament in its place to give it a certain appeal.The right balance of dark and light colors form an article that stands out and stands for something special.

No time of the year is as decorated as this! Why do people get all decked out and fancy? I don't know about them, but I do it because of Jesus. God wants us to be a people that celebrate, and what could be better than the birth of the one and only Son of God!

He is the best gift to come into our world. No one gave more than God did when He gave His son. No one could love us more.When you think of Jesus giving up heaven to come to our stinky, sin drenched and evil world, you realize the sacrifice made by both Father and Son.

Heaven is a perfect place with no heart ache and disease. No lying, cheating, robbery or abuse. No one ages and dies because death is a defeated foe. No worries or fears either. We can hardly comprehend such a place. It seems surreal, but only because we see mostly this side. 

The Bible is clear about the fullness and completness we will have in heaven. We can have it now because Jesus made the way for us to be whole on earth. We have to fight for it though. Fight lies and distortions of who God is and His goodness for us.

Where do we hear the truth? Church, and others who know the truth, but the most reliable source is His Word. Love the Word of God. Hold on to it as if your next breathe depends on it.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

And I am confident in the Lord that I myself will come soon. Philippians 2:24 

I love Paul's optimism in this verse. He is unshaken, immovable, and steadfast in God. His heart is undivided and enduring regardless of the circumstances.What a witness he is to all of us throughout the ages.

His life is a miracle, but then, so is yours. You were ordained to be you from the beginning of time. God created you as He wanted you to be. You are here on earth at this specific time, to be His hands and feet. What great things does He have for you?

My husband said to me last night, "God has much for me to do." And I replied, "You have done much for so many already." He wasn't satisfied with my answer. Every day he touches people who are hurting and lost. He walks forward being who He created us to be. 

If only I could have half of the faith and tenacity of Paul! God says, "Call it forth!" His power is within me, and as I allow Him more  space in my heart, foward I will go. It doesn't matter if I don't see it now. We don't see very much of what happens spiritually.

We can know because God's Word is true, when we ask, He will provide. Not according to our whims, but according to His will and what's best. Life is tough, but it helps to know He holds everything in His hands. 

Some day we will see the puzzles of our lives, and how all the pieces fit. From God's perspective looking down, He sees every curve in each peice and exactly how it fits. We are too close to our "pieces" to understand. As we read His word we can see how He weaved people's lives to make sense.

Look at Ruth, left with her mother in law, no support, or plan, until she went to Israel. She clung to the God of her husband's people. God gave her family, provision and peace. Mary, a young girl, pregnant and unwed, but in the will of God, and He made it all fit exactly as He had planned.

None of these knew how their story would end.  God did, and He took their faith and trust in Him and put life together. God honors faith and trust. We are just as important as those who have gone before us. 

Monday, December 10, 2018

Therefore I hope to send him at once, as soon as I see how it goes with me. Philippians 2:23 NKJV

Grace is an important gift. It's a gift from God to us by way of His son. Maybe you have never thought of grace in this way. Unmerited favor is the common Biblical definition for grace. We certainly haven't earned a right to belong to God.

Grace was available to believers before Christ came by way of remembering the promise of the coming Savior. They looked forward to the coming Messiah, as we look back to the completed work on Calvary. 

What a day of celebration we have each and every day as we pursue Christ, our All consuming fire, our all in all. He is aware of eveything we are thinking, doing and feeling at any given moment. This is a great comfort to me, and I hope for you too.

His eye is on us because of His abounding love for us, not to catch us in sin. "Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends." John 15:13 These are Jesus' words. Verse 14  says we are his friends if we do whatwever he commands us.

God is not looking for perfection, but for willing hearts to serve Him. Did you know He cares for you right now, where ever you are, and no matter what you are feeling toward Him. He is a good good Father as the song says.

There are many hurts in this world, but He has overcome them all. He invites you to partake of His healing for you heart. The goodness of God is greater than any hurt you are experiencing, and He knows about hurt. Even His best friends denied ever knowing Him, but still He loved them.

If you reach out to Him now He will welcome you into His arms. A simple task but one that can be so painful and humbling. I assure you He will not disregard your feelings. Be blessed today as you are loved! 

Thursday, December 6, 2018

But you know that Timothy has proved himself, because as a son with his father he has served with me in the work of the gospel. Philippians 2:22

Is this what your church looks like? Probably not, but bless those who come out in the snow to this simple place of worship. It never matters what the building is like, since we are the tabernacle, the dwelling place of the Lord. 

Every one of us could use a Timothy in our lives. Someone who understands where we have been and why we think the way we do. Paul is mighty blessed to have a young man who is dedicated to his care. Maybe Timothy knows this is his calling for God?

Timothy takes over the church in Ephesus while Paul is in prison,but I'm jumping ahead here. I think this young man is called and set apart to serve the Lord, and he isn't looking out just for himself either.

The young man sat with the Apostle Paul and learned much from the seasoned leader. I can see them now sitting together in Paul's house while under house arrest. "Now Timothy, make sure you tell all of my friends to visit me. I know I'm far away but I'll make it worth their time. I'll find a place for them to sleep somewhere!"

Timothy hurriedly writes every word so he remembers each command. The anointing of the Holy Spirit was probably flowing from Paul like river over a cliff. Oh, how I wish I could have been there to hear Paul's words and instructions.

When I get to heaven, I will ask Paul to tell me what was said. I might not remember this particular verse, because I'm sure I will have lots of questions for everyone. Who do you want to find first and what will you ask them?

Jesus is the first one I want to talk to, and rightfully so,  He is the King. Can you imagine having access to the Supreme Ruler of the Universe? Wait a second, I already do! Yes, but this is different. I will see Him face to face. 

I can't imagine I will be able to formulate words, so forget about questions. Do you think about what heaven will be like? The Bible is full of answers for us. Why not find some facts today in God's Word? 

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

For everyone looks out for his own interests, not those of Jesus Christ. Philippians 2:21 NIV

Do you remember being a child in someone's arms? I can't quite bring a memory up but I know I was, and you were too. What was life like at age 5? Most likely ego centric, and now oriented. I pray, as I am an adult I do not ever act this way.

Having a giving heart begins when we look outside ourselves to those around us, I guess about age 13 as I recall. I remember being in History class and the teacher was enthusiatic about her subject. I recall all of a sudden being aware of other places and people, and I wanted to know more.

It was an awakening for me of life outside the four walls of my home and school. I feel bad Paul says no one is caring for the cause of Christ.  He is inside the four walls, and  he may be feeling the world to be a small place at the moment.

Perhaps it refers to a specific situation we don't know about, or is it a general insight he has? 

As I read Paul's other letters I have to say He must be referring to a specific situation. Maybe he is tired of being in jail, and he feels no one is doing what needs to be done. His perspective may be tanited by the surroundings at the moment.

Perhaps he isn't updated on the progress of the work of the Lord, but we know it was happening. Anyone can have an off day. I'm sure he wasn't having any picnics chained to a palace guard. 

We are not going to take this verse out of context and develop some theory about the man. God knows enough of this sort of thing has happened over the ages. We will let him be. We can enjoy this man for what he was, a true disciple of Christ. How many millions has he influenced for Christ? Maybe I can ask him when we meet!

Monday, December 3, 2018

I have no one else like him, who will show genuine concern for your welfare. Philippians 2:20 NIV

Can you believe the weather today? It is 58 degrees in New York on December 3. I have never experienced this. If you are south of us this may not seem like a big deal, but it is. I went outside with my pruning shears and trimmed my hydrangeas!

I was in the car about 10 minutes ago, and my daughter Stephanie called to tell me she lost our puppy in the woods. Our golden retreiver is having surgery on is hind leg today for a torn ligament. He will be in the hospital for two days. The dog scenerio is ridiculous, and the saga continues.

Those of you who are empty nesters can laugh because you remember being in this place. My Lena passed almost two weeks ago, and now I'm back at the Veterinary Hospital. Some years are like this. I praise God we can have such lovely animals.

The time we have with loved ones, animals or human, is only temporary. Chaos has no hold on me because I know it is temporary. I walk with God regardless.When I feel weak, I lean in to Him a lot more. This is how we learn His faithfulness. 

God has given us precious relationships to show us His love. Paul is thankful for Timothy because he cares for the church at Phillipi with the same intensity Paul does. Paul is blessed by the loyality of his friend. God uses people in our lives to the extent we allow him. 

Some of us have been hurt by others and are hesitant to allow help, and not everyone is trust-worthy. We will know others by their fruit. How consistent is another's concern for you? 

Yesterday our Pastor shared about giving and the first thing he said was he wasn't talking about money. Often we think of our monetary giving in a church setting, but God has given us many other gifts we need to share. Time, compassion, listening, are only a few of what we all need. If we are friendly to those around us, eventually friendship will be returned. Thanks for listening to me today.

Friday, November 30, 2018 I hope in the Lord Jesus Christ to send Timothy ...

I hope in the Lord Jesus Christ to send Timothy ...
: I hope in the Lord Jesus Christ to send Timothy to you soon, that I also may be cheered when I receive news about you. Philippians 2:19 NI...

I hope in the Lord Jesus Christ to send Timothy to you soon, that I also may be cheered when I receive news about you. Philippians 2:19 NIV

Thank God for the Timothy's in life. Paul relied on him to keep the communication open between Philippi and Rome. Remember, Paul didn't have the luxury of texting and phone calls. 

The rich had messengers who ran from one city to the next with information, but Paul wasn't in any means able to afford this, I think. It was 700 to 1,200 miles from Rome to Philippi, depending on the route chosen. A GPS wasn't any help in this venture either!

Wow! This was an amazing trip. One would have to travel to the boot of Italy, across the Adriatic Sea, and across Macedonia by foot I imagine. Maybe an occasional ride on the back of a stranger's cart. And we think travel is hard today?

Things didn't happen fast, and sickness could take a life in a matter of days. It could be weeks before news could travel about the welfare of a loved one far away. These things we take for granted in our modern day.

Patience was understood as a way of life because no one knew any different. Prayer and trust in the Lord was a huge part of a believer's life. There wasn't anyone else to trust in. No medical science to hope in. No doctor who could relieve pain. 

 Jesus was sought after because He had the ability to heal. Those who followed in the ways of God after His ascention were sought after too. Healing of body and mind are great needs in our day too.
No much has changed in this respect.

The answer is still the same. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. James 1:17 NIV

Thursday, November 29, 2018

So you too should be glad and rejoice with me. Philippians 2:18 NIV

Psalm 19:1 says; "The heavens declare the glory of God;"and this picture reminds me of this. All of nature speaks to me of His hand and His ways. His hand on my life and yours. I can see God working in those around me. Attitudes have changed, and peace has replaced worry and fear.

Can you remember a time when you were worried about something and you asked for prayer from a friend or family member? What was it, and how did the situation end? Maybe you can't remember the details, but you remember how it made you feel.

God wants to remove even the emotions behind our seasons of fear. We will remember the situation, but we don't have to live with the pain any longer. Jesus came to remove all worry and fear so why hold on to it? Freedom is what he purchased for us!

Rejoicing and being glad is something we hear about more at Christmas time than any other season. Maybe it's hard this year because a loved one is gone, or sick. Give thanks for the good things. No one says you have to sing and dance when life gets tough.

God knows your pain and feels it too. I can't imagine a love like His. Even though He knew all about us, He still wanted to come to earth. His passion and desire to set us free over - powered the knowledge of the pain He would endure.

Paul connected with Jesus when he said he was willing to die for his faith. How many martyrs has endured suffering and pain for the sake of the cross? Why would anyone do such a thing? The truth is worth dying for. My Pastor says "If you are willing to live for Jesus, you will die for Him."

I believe he is right. We may never have to do this, but when our hearts are for Jesus, we give our all. Who else holds all things in the palm of His hand? I know not one.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you. Philippians 2:17

A selfless life. Paul understood what his life was about. He was declaring the truth of Jesus Christ no matter what. It was part of who God made him. He was an all or nothing kind of guy.

We see this before his spiritual transformation. He was determined to find those who had left the faith of Juduism,  and put them in jail for treason. He would not relent from punishing christians. He was a Rabbi, who knew the law, and would not tolerate anything else in place of God.

This is why Jesus pursued Paul.  He had the tenisity and will power to do for God what others might not. Paul saw in Jesus Christ the fulfillment of every law and need of humankind. Of course he needed a great awakening first, by way of a horse and blindness, but he got the message.

I believe Paul felt he was serving God by condemning christians. His intentions were to honor God, but he was a bit misplaced. His devotion and love for the Savior were genuine, and complete once he saw Jesus. I guess I can be the same way at times; turned around and without focus on what God truly desires.

I don't do this on purpose. It happens when I'm not careful. God pulls me in to himself, and holds me close when I realize I may have moved from where I truly want to be. I  never want to waiver from being close but it can happen so quickly. Of course, He hasn't moved, it was me.

  Paul must have felt shame after he realized he had been attacking the very people God was trying to establish! What would that have been like for him, I don't know. Did he live with feelings of guilt for a while? Time heals all wounds, it is said. I do know he was forgiven and loved by God so it wasn't an issue. 

Here in verse 17, we see Paul is ready to die for his fellow saints in the Lord. They are his family not his enemy. Transformation done God's way is eternal. I  think Paul would be grateful to God for stopping him from self destructon, as all of us are when we realize where our own efforts would get us.

Thank God today for loving you even before you walked in His ways. What a truly awesome, loving, compassionate God He is!  

Monday, November 26, 2018

as you hold out the word of life - in order that I may boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor for nothing.
Philippians 2:16

How are you on this first Monday after Thanksgiving? We had a hard week. Last Tuesday we had to say goodbye to a wonderful friend who has been in our house for 11 years, our West Highland Terrier, Lena.

 We found a lump on her back two weeks before. It was huge, and hard and I knew right away it wasn't good. The doctor agreed with me. He ran some tests and found it was cancer. The next day I had to get on a plane to Chicago fro my daughter's swearing in by the Chicago Supreme Court as an Attorney.

I was torn.  I wanted to stay home, but decided I needed to go to Chicago. Once I arrived I was fine, and my son Matthew watched after Lena at home. My greatest heartache was thinking she would die while I was away, but by God's grace, she didn't.

We had a wonderful time with Rachel in Chicago although it was 20 degrees. We didn't care much. Coming home to Lena was a blessing. She wasn't any better but she wasn't any worse either.

We had a week of no change, but last Monday she didn't seem right. By Tuesday she wasn't eating, and didn't want to move much. She had trouble breathing. I knew it was time. The day before I took her to the vet, and I felt the Lord say to me, "you will be back here tomorrow."

I wasn't suprised, but my heart ached, and I cried. My golden retreiver had an appointment at another vet in East Islip for surgery. I went there with Matthew my son, knowing what I must do when I got home. How I wished I could avoid saying goodbye to Lena!

I knew since I saw that lump it was a serious problem, but now actually having to face it troubled me. She was very sick by the time I got home, and when we arrived at the doctor, her blood pressure was low, and he said she was pale. 

I don't know why I'm writing this today. I didn't plan on it. Last week we also had a broken washer and a job loss in the family. Life can be just plain rotten at times, but the overall adventure is worth every mile, bacause as Paul writes, "I did not run or labor for nothing." All of our lives have meaning, and value with its ups and downs. God is good, and He intends for all of the hicupps to work out. 

Monday, November 19, 2018

"so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe." Philippians 2:15 NIV

Complaining can really become a bad habit. If we continue in it, we can loose focus on the Lord, and His goodness to us in this generation. One of the reasons He hasn't returned to the earth, is because of His great compassion on the lost. He is steadfast and true.

As the Apostle Paul shares in this verse our purity is found when we stop the complaining. "Do everything without complaining or arguing. Philippians 2:14 I have never seen this before.  I think of purity as a thought but not a word. It has to begin somewhere. Thoughts become words if we allow them.

This is why we are encouraged to read, study, memorize, post and write the word of God. As we get the truth into us, whenever possible, what comes out in the form of thoughts and maybe words will be pure. Thinking is a lost art, I think.

It left us when texting and social media came in. It used to be if you spoke on the phone no one but the person you are speaking to would hear. Maybe some people in the room will hear, but that's it. It's not like this anymore. 

Almost everything can be retreived in some way. This should cause us to be more careful with our words, but I don't think research will back this up. Our young people might be suseptible to this, more than the older generation. 

Maybe God is more concerned about complaining than I realized. Why can it seem to be easy sometimes? For me, I need to catch it in the little things so it doesn't pile up. Worry, doubt and fear can be the spark behind my words. I guess you could probably say the same. 

This Thanksgiving season, let's catch ourselves before saying something that might lead to an argument. Even the smallest doubt about another can come out. Pray before your guests come if you are cooking to ask God to help you watch  your words. Pray before you go to someone else's house. Pure thought become pure words.

"Do all things without complaining and disputing." Philippians 2:14 NKJV

If I could look out onto this ocean scene everyday, I wouldn't complain ever! It may seem like this but we can get pretty familiar with even the most picturesque scenes. In our house, complaining started with our oldest son. 

He had a reason why he couldn't do eveything. He would debate,  lecture, and try to make a deal. Nothing happened easily with him. My husband would say: "someday he will be a great lawyer,"and he was right. He is well liked in the District Attorney's office, and may join my husband in his Law Firm at some point.

He is better about the complaining, and he can get along with everyone. The banter across the dinner table can be pretty fierce with three lawyers at one table. I ask a lot of questions since I don't know legaleze.

Our daughter Rachel was sworn in  as a lawyer in the Illinois Courts last Thursday. Our son Matthew is taking the law school admissions test tomorrow. They will have Stephie and I outnumbered for sure. You should have been here when they we growning up!

Wow! Some wild arguments went on before maturity took hold. At least they are able to put their previous home training to good use. As all professions it takes many years before a sense of achievement is found. Now they have to put up with complaining from clients or defendants.

The Bible has many verses to help us understand why complaining is not a healthy thing. Anger can cause us to complain. Psalm 39:3
"My heart was hot within me, while I was musing the fire burned: then I spoke with my tongue."The words we wish we hadn't said come out when we start to complain.

Our stress levels are influenced by our complaints. I was mad, I mean, mad at our puppy yesterday. She is with us for two months and we are still house training? I reached my level of tolerance. What can I say? She is better today. I'm thankful for all God has done in my life. I'm not saying this because Thanksgiving is 3 days away. 

Thursday, November 15, 2018

"For it is God who works in you both to will and to do for
His good pleasure." Philippians 2:13

The doing of God's work is one thing,but the will to do it is another thing entirely. If you don't have the will to do, it doesn't matter. God is after our hearts and the whys of what we do. 

We can do lots of things for Him, but this is not His concern. Motives and attitudes are important. Anyone who has lived with a teen knows what this is like. 

Stephanie: I hate school and I hate work!
Me: Sounds like you are depressed.
Stephanie: No Mom, I like my friends.
Me" Oh, so you just don't like anything you have to do. Why don't you think about only seven more months and you will be finished with High School for ever! College will be so different, really!
Think about all the great things in your life!
Stephanie: No Mom, you don't get it.

What is it that I don't get? I'm showing her all the wonderful things she has in front of her. {If someone else said the same thing she might agree! Funny.} Her will to focus on those things was not engaged. Praising God for what He has given and done for us lifts us out of bad attitudes and into a whole realm of hope, life, and peace.

There is nothing in life more wonderful to focus on than what God has for us now and in the future. Stephanie will figure this out, as she matures. Aligning our will with God builds a strong bond of faith and catapults us into divine blessing!

I am all in for this! I'm thinking you want some of this too. Who doesn't want all good things for life and eternity?The work is worth it. Press in for more life and hope!

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

"Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling:  Philippians 2:12 NKJV

Why is Paul telling the Philippians to fear and tremble? Isn't this the opposite of what he has told them in the past? No, not really at all. When we think about our lives and what we do with these lives it can be a very serious.

 All will be known before God and the world at the end of time. This is a sobering truth. Our works don't save us, but they do determine where we will be in the Kingdom. None of this makes any sense right now, but it will for eternity.

The younger you are, the less you might think about eternity. We may think we have plenty of time before we die, but no one knows how much time God has allowed them. Instead of having a bucket list of things to do before you die, what if we had a basket of gifts to give to others?

What do you want to do to bless others? Maybe you have always seen yourself as a teacher's aide in a school setting. My friend Steve Falletta worked in business and traveled for many years. In his retirement, he works at a local Elementary School brightening everyone's day.

Maybe this wasn't something he dreamed of doing, but he loves it. Maybe you have wanted to have a Bible Study in your house or a prayer meeting? There are things we can do from our house to bless others, maybe even write a blog?

We can pray for all things from home, and we can send messages of love and comfort to those who might need some encouragement. I remember Ellie Lofaro sharing about going door to door in her new neighborhood asking the ladies to come to a Bible Study in her home. She gathered a small number, but it grew to hundreds over the years, coming and going.

What you are able to do is unique to who you are. Serving God in church or outside those walls is necessary so our lights don't shine just on other lights. We can make a difference as we allow Jesus to flow out of our mouths, hands and feet!

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

"and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." Philippians 2:11 NKJV

God is the one who gets the glory for every good, perfect, beautiful and noble thing on this earth. Any tongue professing anything else will be found guilty of unbelief at the end. What exactly do we believe as christians?

Jesus Christ came in the flesh, as the Son of God, to die in our place. He gave His body willingly to save us from sin. All those who believe in Him will live eternally not in this body, but in a heavenly body. Life on earth will cease for everyone at some time, but not all will escape the judgement of sin.

Our debt before God has been paid, we are no longer far from God, as sin is what separates us. Do we sin, yes at times but we are no longer walking in sin habitually. We have been set free, so it is our choice now to choose to live in grace, or in the flesh. Oh how I wish it was as simple as writing this on the page!

We have a battle on the inside at times. We want to do what's right but our flesh, the natural woman inside wants to do things her way.
My Pastor says, "What we feed will lead." Feed your spirit, and it will follow after God. Feed the flesh it will take you down the wrong path.

I don't know about you, but I have had enough of the wrong path. Who wants to take years off of their life? God's way will add years to it, and His years will be productive and satisfying. Lay down heavy burdens and allow God to carry them.

Life isn't perfect, but Jesus in our lives makes life amazing. We can see glimpses of what is to come, and this causes in us a longing for more. Wholeness now, in our sinful flesh has been obtained. It's a free gift, and the freedom we get with it, sends our spirits sailing!

Friday, November 9, 2018

"that at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth and of those under the earth," Philippians 2:10 NKJV

It is lovely seeing this  picture of a child outside, as I sit indoors on this snowy day in Chicago. We are here visiting our daughter Rachel, who was sworn in as an Attorney yesterday in the state of Illinois. How quickly she has become a force to be reckoned with, although she had this ability from her childhood. 

This is not to say she was strong willed, because she wasn't  always, but she knew what she wanted, and had strong opinions about life. Kindness to others has been an important issue for her. Her love for children in the foster care system has influenced her deeply. Although her current job isn't in her desired field, she will make a difference.

I am surrounded by attorneys, but I have authority because I am the Mama., and a respected wife. The authority of Jesus supersedes All. As we have been talking about in this chapter, there is no one like Jesus. I used to have a sticker on the garage wall in the house where I grew up.

It read: "Every knee shall bow." My Dad didn't like it, because he didn't want to bow. He didn't take it off the wall, so I prayed he would see it and understand. I don't know if he ever did, but 40 years later I'm glad it was there. This is a verse that's not easy to ignore or forget.

The enemy doesn't like it most of all, because he knows it applies to him too. No matter what he does, he will not escape, so this makes him angry with us. We are the light of God, and His servants on this earth. 

We stand for the Kingdom of God, and pray for His Kingdom to come on this earth which puts him out of business. He will try to wrangle his way into our hearts and lives any way he can. He plays dirty, but he isn't in control, unless we believe him.

Don't give him an inch, because he is the father of lies. Don't allow him to have your identity because this is a precious gift. You are a daughter of the Most High King. If you were a Princess, would you allow others to push you around? You are a Princess in a greater Kingdom. Would you be polite if Queen Elizabeth came to your house for tea?

Yes, I think you would, and you would serve her your finest and best of everything. What about your sisters in Christ? We should serve them just the same. Maybe you will find a simple way to do something special for a friend or stranger today? Princesses like us don't have the bank accounts like Princesses in this world. Don't despair, I hear the benefits of serving Jesus run deeper than any bank account!

Thursday, November 8, 2018

"Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, Philippians 2:9 NKJV

When we praise God in prayer or song, we are saying back to God what He has said to us about Himself. The exchange of truth and affirmation is hell shattering. The power of God is released when we  align our will in praise to the Holy One.

Our relationship with God is strengthened, our spirits are lifted and our hearts are complete. There is nothing else ever that will bring our hearts to peace and wholeness. When we say to God, There is no one like you, and there will never be another like you, we declare His majesty!

We were made by God for relationship. First with Him, but also with others. No one can excel or be complete without communion with the Father. When I say, Father, it is assumed the Son and Holy Spirit are included, as they are one. One is never separate from the other. I do not understand the trinity fully, as most of us can say, but I am taking a shot at it.

As humans, we can't be separate from our bodies, souls and spirits. It is the same with God. The entire entity of who He is, is incorporated in the Godhead. We need to know how each one operates to meet our needs. How confusing it would be if we didn't know Jesus as He is, the Savior of the world. This knowledge sends a message to our brain. It says: All is well, I have already paid the price for you.

The Holy Spirit is our comforter, and was sent to meet our needs. He speaks to our emotions in a quiet whisper. All is well.  The Father as Creator speaks loudly to us through His creation. All is well, see how my perfect order rules the world! Our bodies are fantastic and complex and not understood completely.

When the Millennial Kingdom  comes, it will dispel all doubts, answer all questions, and cause us to wonder even more at the vastness and awesome power of our God. We will rule with Him which boggles this simple Mama's mind. We won't be bored in this new completed place.

Jesus will be with us! We can ask Him any question we like, and He will explain it to us. We will be capable of understanding science and math in ways we connect connect to now. We will meet people we have admired, and ask them what their life was like. 

We will play with the lions, run with the cheetahs, splash in the waterfalls,  and jump off cliffs. { only if you want to.} Our bodies won't break, we won't be limited by time and space, so ponder this for a moment. What do you look forward to enjoying?

As you might has guessed, I have been reading about the millennium. "All Things New- Heaven, Earth, And the Restoration of Everything You Love" by John Eldredge gives us understanding of what God has for us. It will give you a fresh perspective on the future. Hope is what may be missing in many lives because there is no room to dream. God wants us to dream Big! 

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

November 7, 2018

" And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Philippians 2:8

 Thinking about my childhood has been engaging more of my time lately. I remember my mother telling us the same stories from her childhood when we were young and until she passed. She never grew tired of telling us, and we tried to stay interested.

These were important times in her life, and she wanted to make sure we understood this. I truly understand it fully now. Her memories from the past may have been her best memories. As a christian, I have much anticipation of the future.  This is not to say I didn't have fond memories of my childhood.

We had some wonderful times being young, but my brother, sister and I had heartache from the time we were very young until now.  Many of those heartaches have been melted by the power of Jesus in me. My sister has experienced some healing too. 

No matter how old I am, I know the healing will continue. Without the power and grace of God in my life, I would have been a very different person. Shame and guilt would have engulfed me, but this is not my story. Did you know when God originally made the Garden of Eden, guilt and shame were not present?

These two horrible lies from the enemy are from the result of sin entering the world. Adam and Eve did not know any such feelings until sin entered the picture. These are some things the Holy Spirit has worked out of me over time. In my growing up years, these were put on me in a strong way.

God NEVER INTENDED for us to experience shame or guilt. These are from our enemy, never from God. Using such cruel tactics to control or coerce others is never O.K. In some religious settings, I have been told, guilt was used to push people to do what the authorities said.

Jesus took our guilt, shame and heartaches on Himself when He went to the cross. He was the sacrificial lamb that was slain for the sins of all. Nothing more will ever have to happen for us to be right before God. This truth drives us closer to Jesus, and to righteousness. God's love is what held Him there.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

But made himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. Philippians 2:7 NKJV

My first question after reading this verse is: what exactly is a bond servant? In Israel, a servant who was a fellow Jew was to be paid for their work. The master had to show kindness to a them as a brother or sister. Jesus, took on the role of a bondservant, which means He served without wages.

 Another word for bondservant is slave. The Master and Creator of the whole earth, sky and sea became the lowliest of servants to save us from sin. He, who was over all things became nothing to fill all things. "He who also descended is also the One who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things." Ephesians 4:10

This verse refers to Jesus descending into hell and then ascending to  heaven to fill all things. For our purposes today I think we can use it. What does this mean? Jesus, out of His own will, came to suffer and die. He knew all things, and He chose the hard road.

There was only one choice to redeem us. No backup or plan B. Going forward was all He knew.What an awesome Savior! What a triumphant Lord. His stellar example speaks volumes.

Only Jesus can give us the authority to overcome sin and death. Only Jesus can stand victorious over the enemy. Only Jesus could take our place on the cross. Only Jesus can love us the way we need to be loved. He doesn't remove our personalities, He completes them.

Annihilation of  personality is a buddhist belief.  God never said we had to die to our personalities. He said to die to self. Our personalities are a gift from God.

 Our fullness of strength in God, is  realized when we yield under His mighty gentle hand.

We all know people who are outgoing and personable. God uses them to speak His word boldly. Some of us are a good witness for God but we are the opposite. We tend to display God's glory through our quiet, gentle ways. All of these personality types declare His truth, and get His message across. Aren't you glad God has a personality? I am, and He has a great sense of humor too.

Monday, November 5, 2018

Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, Philippians 2:6

Christ didn't take advantage of His deity while on earth. He humbled himself and became like us. He could have left earth at any time while here, but He chose not to.

And the verse before this says: Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Philippians 2:5 How can we ever attain to be like Christ? It is impossible! Do worry if you thought God was asking you to do this in your own strength.

Christ wanted to be like man in order to redeem us. Before God created the world he knew we would need to be redeemed. To empty himself of all deity to become one of us, this is powerful. It was the only way.

While Jesus was maturing He probably wasn't able to move in the power of the Holy Spirit, but once His ministry began, there was no stopping Him. The world isn't big enough to hold an account of all the miracles. The Holy Spirit was at work before Jesus came, and is at work today.

God wants to send a revival beyond our wildest imaginations. It will be the last outpouring of His grace and mercy in a huge way. Many have been praying for this and we believe it is coming soon.What will it look like when it comes? 

Many will be healed and brought to the faith. People will want righteousness in the land. Marriages will be saved. Lawlessness and hatred will diminish. It will be the reverse of what we are seeing now. Hatred will almost be eliminated among people.

The enemy of our souls will be angry. He will try to deceive, and some will go back to their previous lives of believing the devil. 
Christ will return to start His millennial reign on earth, and we will reign with Him. 

This will be a time many have wanted to live in. Peace will last, joy will be unwavering, and complete. In the presence of Jesus, we will enjoy restoration of the earth. The garden of Eden will return, without any weeds, pests or work for us. We will understand the hows and whys of everything.

Friday, November 2, 2018

"Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:" Philippians 2:4 NIV

What a cute group of children! I stumbled upon this picture and thought you might enjoy it. This was taken in 2003, at the Christmas tree Farm in Miller Place, New York. You can see the trees in the distance.  From the left: Rachel, 12, Rudy,14, Matthew, 9 and Stephanie was 2.

Thank God He doesn't tell us everything about every child all at once. I don't know about you, but I need to face life one day at a time. Think about Jesus. He knows all about us but loves us anyway! From before we are born to the end of life here on earth, He sees us as one continuous life.

At the end of the age we will review all our life before God. This is a sobering truth, but I hope it will keep me at His feet. It's when we wander into dangerous territory we get into trouble. My biggest trouble is my emotions. I can get angry, passive, discouraged much too easily.

Maybe this is a woman's thing, but I won't use this as an excuse. "His divine power has given us everything for life and godliness." 2 Peter 1:3 Do you know the women who followed Jesus? Some of them were Mary the mother of James, Salome, and Mary Magdalene. There are some unusual things about these ladies.

Each of them had money to provide for the needs of Jesus and his disciples. Women in those days didn't have control of money, but God made a special provision for these few. They lovingly went from city to town in front of Jesus to find lodging and food.

God provided for their needs and the needs of others. Maybe I should write this again. God provided for their needs so they could provide for the needs of others as well.  God's economy works by multiplication. He took what was provided and made it work.

 God can make something out of nothing. It all depends on what lesson He wants to teach us at the moment. When our attitude is in step with God's, we can be sure miracles will happen. What are you trusting God to do for you today?