April 28, 2017

About Robin Caddell

Robin Caddell - Blog Contributor
Robin Caddell lives in Murfreesboro, TN with her husband Berry and two dogs, Wyatt and Dyson. In fact, she credits her relationship with her dogs with helping her further understand how God relates to us, as his children!
Robin firmly believes that all of us are capable of being ministers in our own way, with the talents and gifts God gave us, in our own spheres of influence. Passionate about encouraging others, she strives to remind all of the amazing love God has for mankind, and that freedom, abundance and power are available to all of us when we lead a life directed by Christ and the Holy Spirit. Active members of her church with her husband, Robin sings in the adult choir, is a member of the coffee team and teaches two small groups throughout the year – one of which in her home – just for ladies!
In addition to her dogs, Robin loves reading, watching Tennessee Titans football, and is crazy about crafting, cooking and entertaining. She owns a business on Etsy named Little Black Dog Boutique, where she sells handmade dog accessories, all natural treats and fun things for their people! She and her husband are also in the process of building their first home in middle Tennessee.

You Won’t Let Go

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No shadow comes without the light making a way
No raging storm can ever defy one word of faith
My heart remains sure in the wind, sure in the waves

You are the anchor for my soul
You won’t let go
You won’t let go
No matter what may come I know
You won’t let go

No valley low, changes the truth
So I’m not afraid
You hold me close
You lead me through and light up the way

You are the anchor for my soul
You won’t let go
You won’t let go
No matter what may come I know
You won’t let go
You won’t let go

Neither life, neither death,
The highest high, the deepest depth
Nothing can
Nothing can separate
Neither tears, neither trials
Certain as the sun will rise
Nothing can
Nothing can separate

You are the anchor for my soul
You won’t let go
You won’t let go
No matter what may come I know
You won’t let go

My heart remains sure in the wind, sure in the waves, always

~ Sing this song with me as our prayer and worship today. ~

Written by Michael W. Smith, Seth Mosely, and Mia Fieldes
Sung by Michael W. Smith

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If God is for us, who can be against us?
Romans 8:31 NIV

Last weekend I had the most incredible experience.  Michael W. Smith led worship at my church, and as a member of our church choir, was able to accompany him as he led.  He (and we) sang several songs from his new CD, Sovereign, and each touched my heart and ministered to me in a very special way.  The first song we sang was this one: “You Won’t Let Go.”  What an incredible message and great reminder!  You know, we go through many trials and tribulations in life. Good times and bad.  I’ve said this before and I will say it again – God is good, all the time! Our circumstances don’t change the truth of who God is.  He is constant.  He is steadfast.  He is faithful.  He is able.  He is still the pillar of fire in our dark times and the pillar of cloud during the day.  He is our rock, our anchor!  And He loves us relentlessly.

I love the Book of Romans.  It was written by Paul to the Gentiles (Gentile meaning anyone who is not a Jew) in Rome.  So much encouragement in this book!  In chapter 8, verses 35-39, Paul writes:

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?
Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?
As it is written: ‘For your sake we face death all day long;
we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.’
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,
neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth,
nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us
from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Isn’t that AMAZING??  It says there is NOTHING that shall separate us from the love of Christ.  NOTHING.  That means that there is not anything that you can do that will keep Christ from loving you.   Does that mean He’ll approve of everything you do?  Of course not.  Does that mean that there might still be consequences for your actions?  Yes, it does.  But will He still love you?  Absolutely.  So through the trials you face, the doubts you have, the times you question His path for you – He still loves you.  When you are angry with Him – He still loves you.  When you don’t act like the child of God that you should – guess what?  He STILL loves you!  And you know what else?  Those things that you’ll do in the future that will break God’s heart?  He will love you with an unfailing love even then.   What a wonderful gift!

So whatever you are facing right now – hardship, trial, stressful situation – know that your God is unchanging.  So you can place all of your faith in the One Who cares so deeply for you!  And He’s never letting go.

Thank you, Lord!

Shackles (Praise You)

psalmshymnsspiritualsongskjv

Whoo!
It sure is hot out here, Ya know
I don’t mind though
Just glad to be free
Know what I’m saying, uh!

Take the shackles off my feet so I can dance
I just wanna praise You
(What’cha wanna do?)
I just wanna praise You
(Yeah, yeah)

You broke the chains now I can lift my hands
(Uh feel me?)
And I’m gonna praise You
(What’cha gon do?)
I’m gonna praise You

In the corners of mind
I just can’t seem to find a reason to believe
That I can break free
‘Cause You see I have been down for so long
Feel like the hope is gone
But as I lift my hands, I understand
That I should praise You through my circumstance

Take the shackles off my feet so I can dance
I just wanna praise You
I just wanna praise You
You broke the chains now I can lift my hands
And I’m gonna praise You
I’m gonna praise You

Everything that could go wrong
All went wrong at one time
So much pressure fell on me
I thought I was gon lose my mind
But I know You wanna see If I will hold on through these trials
But I need You to lift this load
‘Cause I can’t take it anymore

Take the shackles off my feet so I can dance
I just wanna praise You
I just wanna praise You
You broke the chains now I can lift my hands
And I’m gonna praise You
I’m gonna praise You

Been through the fire and the rain
Bound in every kind of way
But God has broken every chain
So let me go right now

~  Sing this song with me as our prayer and worship today.  ~

Be joyful always;
pray continually;
give thanks in all circumstances,
for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Be joyful always?  Give thanks in all circumstances?  Seems like a tough one, doesn’t it?  When things are going really well for us, I hear folks saying “God is good!”, but are we saying that when things AREN’T going our way??  We should! God is good, friends, ALL THE TIME!

I have a playlist on my computer simply called “Praise.”  This song (Shackles) leads the group.  Whenever things seem to be a bit overwhelming or I’m having a particularly rough day, I crank that playlist and sing with all I’ve got.

Psalm 100 tells us:

Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.  Worship the Lord with gladness; come before Him with joyful songs. Know that the Lord is God. It is He who made us, and we are His; we are His people, the sheep of His pasture. Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise; give thanks to Him and praise His name. For the Lord is good and His love endures forever; His faithfulness continues through all generations.

You see, it’s not about MY circumstance, it’s about HIM.  I know who I belong to, and the One who made me is good, He loves me and will be faithful to me!  So I praise him through ALL circumstances.  I don’t have to like the circumstance, but I do love God, and I trust that when He tells me that He works all things for my good (Romans 8:28), that He is able to turn anything around!  As an added bonus, when I focus on praising God, I take my attention off myself which then allows God to lift my spirits!

Why not try it today?  Crank up this song and sing and dance unto the Lord!

  • Praise Him for His greatness and love for you!
  • Praise Him for having all things under control!
  • Praise Him for loving you unconditionally and caring about the circumstance in which you find yourself – no matter how challenging!

Then feel how those waves of praise come back to you in the peace and love of Jesus.  Praise the Lord!!  😀  Have a wonderful day filled with the love of God!

Christ is Risen, He is Risen Indeed

How can it be, the One who died
Has born our sin through sacrifice
To conquer every sting of death
Sing, sing Hallelujah

For joy awakes as dawning light
When Christ’s disciples lift their eyes
Alive He stands, their Friend and King
Christ, Christ He is risen

Christ is risen, He is risen indeed
Oh, sing Hallelujah
Join the chorus, sing with the redeemed
Christ is risen, He is risen indeed

Where doubt and darkness once had been
They saw Him and their hearts believed
But blessed are those who have not seen
Yet, sing Hallelujah

Once bound by fear now bold in faith
They preached the truth and power of grace
And pouring out their lives they gained
Life, life everlasting

The power that raised Him from the grave
Now works in us to powerfully save
He frees our hearts to live His grace
Go tell of His goodness

He’s alive, He’s alive
Heaven’s gates are open wide
He’s alive, He’s alive
Now in Heaven glorified

~  Sing this song with me as our prayer and worship today.  ~

Songwriters: Keith&Kristyn Getty, Ed Cash / Performed by Keith&Kristyn Getty

 *  ~   ♥   ~   ✞   ~  ♥   ~  *

It’s a traditional Easter greeting as old as the first-century Church.  One says, “He is risen!” the other answers, “He is risen indeed!”  What a joyous way to greet each other!

Easter has become quite a joyful time for me over the last few years.  Growing up, I was raised in a church tradition/denomination that celebrated Easter, but not with as much focus as I do currently.  Do you know what really made a difference for me?  One year I read my Bible from cover to cover.  (If you haven’t, you should – it’s amazing!)  Far from being outdated and irrelevant, the Old Testament showed me how much God truly loves His people.  Before Jesus, there were a pretty strict set of rules in relation to how you would be considered righteous before God.  When the Israelites fell short of the rules, blood was required in the form of sacrifice to cleanse sin.  In addition, only priests could come into the Presence of God in the temple/tabernacle. If you messed up, you brought your perfect sacrifice to the priest who would offer up prayers, petitions, and make atonement on your behalf.  As you can imagine, the priests were probably pretty busy, continually offering up sacrifices to cleanse the people of their sins.  This continued for hundreds of years!

Now enter Jesus.  When John the Baptist sees Jesus and says “Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29), my heart always starts beating faster. Jesus was IT, the final and perfect Sacrifice.  The blood requirement for all time that would cover every sin for everyone.  Jesus was (and still is) the Son of God, a revolutionary person that loved you and I so much that he willingly gave His life so that you and I could live with God forever!

Understand me here, friends.  JESUS LOVES YOU!!  Jesus wasn’t tricked into dying for us.  He wasn’t forced into it.  He’s not sitting in Heaven angry with you for having to be crucified.  He willingly took our punishment so that we could be free!  LOVE died for you.  And guess what?  LOVE lives for you, in Heaven!  The grave couldn’t hold him!  Death couldn’t keep him!  Jesus kicked death in the face and told him – “you’ve got NOTHING on me!!” (My modern day translation…)  And the power, the beautiful power that raised Christ from the dead – you know, the Holy Spirit!– It LIVES in you and me when we give our lives to Jesus.  Hallelujah!!!  Just like our Lord, you aren’t a victim – you’re a victor!  Our bodies may decay, but our spirits are not bound by death – Jesus triumphed over death and evil so that we, too, could be triumphant!  If you can work through what that means in your life—if you can truly get your head wrapped around it and live like you believe it—you will be amazed at the change it brings in your life!  It did to me.

When I realized that Jesus LOVED me so much that He died for me…that He wasn’t mad at me…that He wanted me to live a full and abundant life…my life changed dramatically.  I went from being delivered from sin, to living a life of freedom in Christ!  You can too!  Jesus’ triumph over the grave means total freedom!  So, do I love Easter??  You bet!  It’s the ultimate celebration and glimpse of the glorious time we will be having in Heaven!

So I praise God and His glorious Son, Jesus with every ounce of my being!!  CHRIST IS RISEN!!  What say you, friends??

This Is Amazing Grace

psalmshymnsspiritualsongskjv

Who breaks the power of sin and darkness?
Whose love is mighty and so much stronger?
The King of glory, the King above all kings.

Who shakes the whole earth with holy thunder
And leaves us breathless in awe and wonder?
The King of glory, the King above all kings.

This is amazing grace. This is unfailing love.
That You would take my place. That You would bear my cross.
You laid down your life that I would be set free.
Oh, Jesus I sing for all that You’ve done for me.

Who brings our chaos back into order?
Who makes the orphan a son and daughter?
The King of glory, the King of glory.

Who rules the nations with truth and justice?
Shines like the sun in all of its brilliance?
The King of glory, the King above all kings!

Worthy is the Lamb Who was slain.
Worthy is the King Who conquered the grave.
Worthy! Worthy!

This is amazing grace. This is unfailing love.
That You would take my place. That You would bear my cross.
You laid down Your life, that I would be set free.
Oh, Jesus I sing for all that You’ve done for me.

~  Sing this song with me as our prayer and worship today.  ~

Written by Phil Wickham and Jeremy Riddle/Performed by Phil Wickham

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It was five words that would change my life forever: “God is not mad at you.”  Let me give you some backstory.  I have a rich heritage of Christ followers in my family.  My grandparents laid a strong foundation of faith that has reached and shaped generations.  I was attending church in the womb – you know what I’m saying? I came to Christ at an early age, but for some reason this truth never really sunk in as it should.  I heard those five words a little over four years ago, after I married and began to return to worshipping regularly.  I thought “This guy is crazy.  He needs to stop telling folks that God is not mad at them. We’ve all sinned. God hates sin. How can he tell these people God is not mad?”  The man continued to talk about how much God loves us.  I mean, I knew that. But I began to read in my Bible to get some answers.  I needed proof to back up everything I’d learned, right?

Perhaps you’ve heard the same things I did growing up.  That my sin placed Jesus on the cross.  That every time I sinned I nailed him back up there. We learn guilt and shame and “we’re not worthy of the blood of Jesus.”  True.  We are not worthy. But what does John 3:16 say?  “God so loved the world….” Loved. LOVED the world. Loved the world so much that he gave his Son. Not that He was so angry with the world.  Not that He was so mad at the world.  Not that He was so exasperated that He was forced to send Jesus.  Nope.  LOVE.  It took me a while to come to grips with that truth, to be honest. I had to pray about it. I needed God to help me break some strongholds of religion and denomination and come to grips with what The Word said.  Can you understand what I’m saying?  You want a pure relationship with God?  You need to allow Him to break down your barriers to his unbelievable, unfathomable, supernatural, all-powerful, relentless love for you. “Yeah, but you don’t know….” I can hear those wheels turning in your head.  So can God.  Sorry, friend. God is bigger than your objections. HE. LOVES. YOU.

He loves you so much that He GAVE His Son in your place. It’s called the “divine exchange.”  Jesus took on your garbage so you could have the good stuff. MANY books have been written on the topic.  If you’d like some awesome reading, I will suggest “Bought with Blood” by Derek Prince. With Scripture it shows you exactly what Jesus took in our place when He died for us, and what we receive in return.  I could seriously be here all day talking about what happened on the Cross, but here’s a teaser, so that you can allow God to show you Himself:

  • Jesus was punished that we might be forgiven
  • Jesus was wounded that we might be healed
  • Jesus was made sin with our sinfulness that we might be made righteous with His righteousness
  • Jesus tasted death for us that we might share His life
  • Jesus was made a curse that we might receive the blessing
  • Jesus endured our poverty that we might share His abundance
  • Jesus bore our shame that we might share His glory
  • Jesus endured my rejection that I might have His acceptance with the Father
  • He was cut off that we might be joined to the Lord
  • Our old man was put to death in Him that the new man might come to life in us

Hallelujah!  This is why I love this song – it reminds me of how AWESOME God is and how deeply Jesus loves us.  “Jesus, I DO sing for all that You’ve done for me!”  Friend, let me tell you today: God is not mad at you.  God loves you.  Don’t believe me?  Ask Him to show you, just like I did.  Believe Him when He shows you.  Then watch what unfailing love can do in YOUR life!

Ain’t That Good News

psalmshymnsspiritualsongskjv

I got a robe up in that Kingdom
Ain’t that good news, Ain’t that good news
I got a robe up in that Kingdom
Ain’t that good news, Ain’t that good news

I’m gonna lay down this world,
Gonna shoulder up my cross
Gonna take it home to my Jesus,
Ain’t that good news, ain’t that good news

I got a crown up in that Kingdom
Ain’t that good news, Ain’t that good news
I got a crown up in that Kingdom
Ain’t that good news, Ain’t that good news

I’m gonna lay down this world
Gonna shoulder up my cross
Gonna take it home to my Jesus
Ain’t that good news, ain’t that good news

I got a Savior in-a that Kingdom
Ain’t that good news, Ain’t that good news
I got a Savior in-a that Kingdom
Ain’t that good news, Ain’t that good news

I’m gonna lay down this world
Gonna shoulder up my cross
Gonna take it home to my Jesus
Ain’t that good news, ain’t that good news

~  Sing this song with me as our prayer and worship today.  ~

DSA Concert Choir / Traditional Negro Spiritual
* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *
Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness,
which the Lord, the righteous Judge will award to me on that day
—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for His appearing.
2 Timothy 4:8 NIV
If you’ve read any of my blogposts, I’m sure it will come as no surprise that music was an integral part of my life growing up.   My parents were careful to guard what my sister and I listened to when we were younger, and the radio was not on often.   We did, however, have a treasure trove of records (some of you probably don’t even know what records are…) of some of my parents’ favorite music that we listened to often.  Many of those albums I now have on CD or in a digital music file on my computer!

One of the records I dearly loved was of a college gospel choir, who sang many gospel classics and Negro spirituals.  This song, “Ain’t-a That Good News” was one of my favorites from that album, and always made my heart rejoice.   Imagine being a small child (or anyone, for that matter) and hearing that you had a robe and a crown awaiting you—in a kingdom!  I was royalty!  That was, indeed, good news!  I may not have understood salvation when I first heard that song, but I could still feel the joy of being a princess.

Some of us still don’t truly understand the full measure of what it means to be saved.  We don’t realize that, yes, we ARE children of God, the ultimate King!  We ARE royalty, by the love and sacrifice of Jesus. We have a robe, a crown, and our Savior in that Kingdom, awaiting our arrival.  Ain’t that good news??

In Romans 8:16-17 the apostle Paul writes:

The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.
Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ,
if indeed we share in His sufferings in order that we may also share in His glory.

So if we look at this verse, it also tells us in order to share His glory we will also share in His suffering.  We’ve all tasted that, haven’t we?  All of us have been touched by sickness, sorrow, death, discouragement—but this beautiful song says that “I’m gonna lay down this world, gonna shoulder up my cross, gonna take it home to my Jesus….”

At the feet of Jesus I will lay all the burdens, trials, troubles, and my own cross where He daily receives me!  And when my short time on this Earth is finished and I get to go home, I get my robe, my crown, and the Presence of my Savior!  Hallelujah!  Now ain’t that good news?

Your Love is Like a River – third day

psalmshymnsspiritualsongskjv

 ~  Listen while you read, please!  ~

Oh, oh, oh, ooh, oh, oh, oh
Your love is like a river flowing from my heart

When this cruel world tears us apart
Your love is like a river flowing from my heart
When sharpened words have left their scars
Your love is like a river flowing from my heart
And it’s overflowing and showing us all
How deep and how wide is your love

It never stops, it rages on
Your love is like a river flowing from my heart

When I am tired and so afraid
Your love is like a fire that will light my way
When darkness falls and my vision fades
Your love is like a fire that will light my way
And it’s always burning and stirring my soul
To love you and love you much more

It never stops or ever fades
Your love is like a fire that will light my way

Oh, oh, oh, ooh, oh, oh, oh
It’s never gonna stop
Oh, oh, oh, ooh, oh, oh, oh
It’s flowing from my heart

Oh, oh, oh, ooh, oh, oh, oh
It’s never gonna fade
Oh, oh, oh, ooh, oh, oh, oh
Your love will light my way

When all my strength and hope is gone
Your love is like a rock that I am standing on

Oh, oh, oh, ooh, oh, oh, oh
It’s never gonna stop
Oh, oh, oh, ooh, oh, oh, oh
It’s flowing from my heart
Oh, oh, oh, ooh, oh, oh, oh
It’s never gonna fade

Oh, oh, oh, ooh, oh, oh, oh
Your love is like a river flowing from my heart
Your love is like a fire that will light my way
Your love is like a rock that I am standing on
Your love is like a river flowing from my heart

~   Performed by Third Day  ~

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God said to Moses: ‘Why cry out to me? Speak to the Israelites.  Order them to get moving. Hold your staff high and stretch your hand out over the sea.  Split the sea! The Israelites will walk through the sea on dry ground.  Meanwhile I’ll make sure the Egyptians keep up their stubborn chase – I’ll use Pharaoh and his entire army, his chariots and horsemen, to put my Glory on display so that the Egyptians will realize that I am God.’  The angel of God that had been leading the camp of Israel now shifted and got behind them.  And the Pillar of Cloud that had been in front also shifted to the rear.  The Cloud was now between the camp of Egypt and the camp of Israel.  The Cloud enshrouded one camp in darkness and flooded the other with light.  The two camps didn’t come near each other all night.  Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea and God, with a terrific east wind all night long, made the sea go back.  He made the sea dry ground.  The seawaters split.  The Israelites walked through the sea on dry ground with the waters a wall to the right and to the left.

Exodus 14:15-22 (MSG)

I LOVE this song.  The first time I heard it I broke down and wept – hard.  One of those ugly cries that leave you emotionally drained, unable to breathe and a sopping, wet mess.  You see, God knows where to hit you right where you live.  He knows how to speak to the deepest hurt, the deepest disappointment, the deepest fear, the deepest discouragement.  Ever since we decided we were going to build a house, my husband and I both have been in an extremely challenging season.  What would seem to be a joyous occasion (which it is, don’t misunderstand, I am extremely grateful for the home we are building) has also been one of great trial, testing, strain, and obedience.   As we are nearing completion, I am in a fairly constant state of emotional exhaustion.  Satan attacks often with words of doubt fear and worry.   How many times have I prayed for strength, for reassurance, for guidance, for deliverance, for my marriage?  Does the phrase “pray without ceasing” ring any bells?

Then I am reminded of the Israelites.  How God rescued them from the bondage of slavery.  And not only did He rescue them once—He continually placed them in situations that were out of their control—only to rescue them again.  Sisters, this is a hard truth, but also one we need to recognize and own in our lives: sometimes God will lead us into difficult places so that we can learn to trust Him.  Only when I allow Him to take over my situation do I have peace.  When I try to do this on my own I have doubt, fear and worry.  It’s a daily tug of war, ladies—the “I can do it by myself” versus “Ok, God, YOU do it.”

Enter this beautiful song that reminds us that when we are going through our toughest times, God’s love is there.  Period.  His love is everything I need to be whole.  It’s a river that washes away hurts and wounds and soothes us.  It’s the Pillar of Fire that lights our way when we are weary and tired and groping our way around, lost in the dark.  It’s the ROCK that we can stand on when we have nothing left and it feels like the ground beneath our feet has suddenly given way and we are falling, falling….

It’s never gonna stop.

It’s never gonna fade.

His love is like a river.

{{  Thank You, God, for loving us so much and so relentlessly!  }}

Forgiveness – Matthew West

psalmshymnsspiritualsongskjv

~  Listen while you read, please!  ~

It’s the hardest thing to give away and the last thing on your mind today
It always goes to those that don’t deserve
It’s the opposite of how you feel when the pain they caused is just too real
It takes everything you have just to say the word—”forgiveness”

It flies in the face of all your pride, it moves away the mad inside
It’s always anger’s own worst enemy
Even when the jury and the judge say you gotta right to hold a grudge
It’s the whisper in your ear saying ‘Set It Free”

Show me how to love the unlovable
Show me how to reach the unreachable
Help me now to do the impossible
Forgiveness, forgiveness
Help me now to do the impossible…forgiveness

It’ll clear the bitterness away, it can even set a prisoner free
There is no end to what it’s power can do
So, let it go and be amazed by what you see through eyes of grace
The prisoner that it really frees is you—Forgiveness

Show me how to love the unlovable
Show me how to reach the unreachable
Help me now to do the impossible—forgiveness
I want to finally set it free so show me how to see what Your mercy sees
Help me now to give what You gave to me—forgiveness

~  Matthew West  ~

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It’s the hardest thing to give away and the last thing on your mind today
It always goes to those that don’t deserve
It’s the opposite of how you feel when the pain they caused is just too real
It takes everything you have just to say the word—”forgiveness”

Sisters, do you want the most of what God has planned for you?  Do you want to feel the FULL expression of God’s love?  Then you have to step out in faith and forgive. This song by Matthew West came to mind last night after praying for a choir member who is going to see his dying, aged father this weekend for the first time in over 30 years.  He is going to forgive his father, and seeking forgiveness himself.  This song would not leave my mind all night, so I figured God put it heavily on my heart and mind because he needed me to share it with you all—and also make sure my own plate is clean.

It flies in the face of all your pride, it moves away the mad inside
It’s always anger’s own worst enemy
Even when the jury and the judge say you gotta right to hold a grudge
It’s the whisper in your ear saying ‘Set It Free’—Forgiveness

Some of you may feel offended or irritated that I would suggest that to feel the full measure of God’s love that you would need to forgive others.  You might be thinking right now of a person who you should forgive but don’t want to.  You know of someone that justifiably deserves your anger for all of the wrong committed against you, right?  I don’t know what you’re going through.  That’s true…I don’t.  (But God does.)

Show me how to love the unlovable
Show me how to reach the unreachable
Help me now to do the impossible
Forgiveness, forgiveness
Help me now to do the impossible…forgiveness

You see, God does understand.  He sees your life.  He sees you’re hurt.  He knows the pain that has been brought on you by others.  But He says to lay your cares on Him, to let Him avenge your wrongs—He is faithful to do those things for you, because He loves you.  He also knows that when you don’t forgive someone, the person it really hurts is YOU.  The anger, the emotion, the pain – it keeps you in bondage. When you don’t give that person over to God to deal with, you remain a captive to the hurt you feel.  The circumstance has power of you, not the other way around.  And, in case this hasn’t crossed your mind lately, when was the last time you hurt God?

It’ll clear the bitterness away, it can even set a prisoner free
There is no end to what it’s power can do
So, let it go and be amazed by what you see through eyes of grace
The prisoner that it really frees is you—Forgiveness

Was it yesterday that you sinned against God?  Have you even made it this far into the day before you’ve done something that could separate you eternally from the presence of Jesus?  Do you really understand the power of God’s love and forgiveness toward you?  In 1 John 1:9, the Bible says “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” God can (and will) forgive us daily.  If you’ve truly felt the full measure of God’s forgiveness—why not extend that to someone else?

Show me how to love the unlovable
Show me how to reach the unreachable
Help me now to do the impossible—forgiveness
I want to finally set it free so show me how to see what Your mercy sees
Help me now to give what You gave to me—forgiveness

You know, no one said forgiveness is easy.  And you may not forgive others because you don’t fully realize what it feels to be forgiven.  You may not accept the gift that forgiveness is.  But God is here to help you—to help you accept your own forgiveness, and to help you forgive another.  Try it today…and experience freedom from the bondage of hurt!

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Let’s pray:  Dear Lord, thank You for Your abundant forgiveness.  Please help me to forgive others as You have forgiven me.  Help me to extend the same healing power to others as I have received.  Where I am resistant, help me change.  Break down the bondage of unbelief.  Free me from the need to get revenge.  Help me to trust that You will vindicate me.  Help me to see others how Your mercy sees them.  Help me to love those who have hurt me.  Forgive me where I have hurt others and hurt You. Help me to walk in freedom!  In Your Son’s name, Amen.

Gabriel’s Message – Sting

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The angel Gabriel from heaven came
His wings as drifted snow
His eyes as flame
“All hail” said he “thou lowly maiden Mary,
Most highly favored lady,” Gloria!

“For known a blessed mother thou shalt be,
All generations laud and honor thee,
Thy Son shall be Emanuel,
By seers foretold
Most highly favored lady,” Gloria!

Then gentle Mary meekly bowed her head
“To me be as it pleaseth God,” she said,
“My soul shall laud and magnify His holy name.”
Most highly favored lady, Gloria!

Of her Emanuel, the Christ was born
In Bethlehem all on a Christmas morn
And everyone throughout the world forever saved
Most highly favored lady, Gloria!

Gabriel’s Message  ~  Sting

I first heard this song sometime in the ’80s.  Musically depicting the events told to us in Luke  chapter 1 (verses 26-38, 46-55),  I was originally drawn to the description of the Angel Gabriel and what it must have been like to have been visited by a messenger of God!  Now that I am older and in a different place in my walk with God, I am still drawn to this song, although now focusing on Mary and her obedience.

To me be as it pleaseth God.” – that line always brings goose bumps! In Luke 1:38, Mary says more specifically: “I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as you have said.”  What beautiful humility!  What a servant’s heart! What a willingness to be a vessel (literally) for God. Surely she had to know the risks, the potential to be shunned and humiliated.  What would Joseph think?  What if he left her? She was a “lowly maiden” – what if she was financially unable to take care of herself and her child? What an amazing trust in God to fulfill His promise to her!  In verses 46-55 we see Mary’s beautiful song of praise:

“My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for He has been mindful of the humble state of His servant.  From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me – holy is His name.  His mercy extends to those who fear Him from generation to generation.  He has performed mighty deeds with his arm, He has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.  He has brought down rulers from their throne but has lifted up the humble.  He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty.  He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful to Abraham and his descendants forever, even as He said to our fathers.”

To me be as it pleaseth God.”  Mary’s obedience brought our Savior into the world!  Do I say to the Lord, “May it be to me as you have said”?  May we follow Mary’s example and be as obedient, sisters!  When we do, God uses US as vessels for His divine purpose, and brings blessings to others!

Merry Christmas!

And may God bless you richly with rewards for your obedience to Him!

The Promise

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Michael W. Smith performed a date of his Christmas tour last December 2012 at my church, and it was my honor and privilege to be included in the choir that accompanied him and the orchestra.  It was in preparation for that concert that I first heard the song, “The Promise.”  The song is intensely beautiful and grand, with a lush orchestral score and choral arrangement.  Combined with the lyrics, it is a song of worship and promise that brings me to tearful and grateful praise – every time I hear it. (In fact, I made myself listen to it so often last year that I quit listening to the words – I was afraid I would start crying during the concert!) To me, it’s message is the essence of Christmas.

It often makes me sad around Christmas time, when I hear people wishing that the “spirit of Christmas” would last the entire year. It makes me sad, because it IS entirely possible – the “spirit of Christmas” is entirely within our grasp.  Granted, Christmastime is often stressful (perhaps even because you have to endure someone else’s stress or impatience), but what do you think of when you think of the “spirit of Christmas?”  Love?  Peace on earth?  A sense of joy?  Of hope?  Of child-like wonder and belief?  People giving, being generous, and watching out for others?  Or perhaps folks gladly volunteering time, money, and/or other resources to help the poor and those less fortunate?  What about a desire for beauty and an appreciation for what we have?  When you think about it – don’t all of those things describe Christ?  When the world wishes for the “spirit of Christmas,” ironically, they don’t realize that they are wishing, literally, for the spirit of Christ to reign.  Hallelujah!   One day, it will, and HE WILL!!

Don’t we, then, sisters, have the “spirit of Christmas” within us every day?  Doesn’t it live within us and want to shape how we live our lives?  Don’t we have the power to make others around us feel like it is Christmas every day?  Perhaps the way to win others to Jesus is to fill our lives with the Spirit of Christ daily.

My favorite verse from “The Promise” says: “……we will see Emmanuel, GOD is with us, GOD is for us, GOD IS IN US, we will see….”  The fulfillment of the promise of the God Child that will redeem us, restore us, heal us and free us lives in us every day!  When we allow that to really sink in, won’t it be easier to have that feeling of Christmas every day?  We can all have it. The world can have it.  Oh, dear God, that is my prayer this Christmas!

Merry Christmas, sisters! May the spirit of the Living God fill you this Christmas, and every day thereafter!  I hope you enjoy the song – I hope the praise in Heaven feels like this!

The Promise  ~  Michael W. Smith

Fear not, oh, Israel for there is peace still to come;a word to break the silence, a Promise set to bloom; the Promise to redeem us, one to free us; break this silence in the violence in our lives

Emmanuel is sure to find us soon; the mighty rule to Jesse’s star of truth; and bring us unto glory, tell His story; heal the broken and restore thee to His name

The star will guide us to the humble place; where Christ the King reveals His earthly face; and we will see Emmanuel; God is with us, God is for us, God is in us, we will see

We’re singing Hallelujah! We’re singing Hallelujah! Emmanuel, our God is with us

We’re singing Hallelujah! We’re singing Hallelujah! Emmanuel, our God is with us

We’re singing Hallelujah! We’re singing Hallelujah! Emmanuel, our God is with us

We’re singing Hallelujah! We’re singing Hallelujah! Emmanuel, our God is with us

Emmanuel, our God is with us

O Come, O Come Emmanuel – Francesca Battistelli

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Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child
and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.
Isaiah 7:14

This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and 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.’
All this took place to fulfil what the Lord had said through the prophet: ‘The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel’–which means, ‘God with us.’”
Matthew 1:18-23

By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept when we remembered Zion.
There on the poplars we hung our harps, for there our captors asked us for songs, o
ur tormentors demanded songs of joy; they said, ‘Sing us one of the songs of Zion!’
How can we sing the songs of the Lord while in a foreign land?”
Psalms 137:1-4

O Come, O Come Emmanuel” has long been a favorite song of mine.  More of a somber tone than most carols sung this time of year, it expresses sadness and longing, while at the same time being hopeful. In this song you feel the disquiet and loneliness of Israel in captivity and the readiness to be rescued – “Come, Emmanuel, ransom the captives!  Free your people from tyranny! Save us from death! Cheer us up and give us hope!” The tone of the song – melancholy and reflective – invites me to identify with Israel: ‘Have I not, too, been a captive to sin? Haven’t I also felt lonely and separated from God? Am I not also subject to discouragement? Does death not also want to claim me? Don’t I also, desperately, need to be rescued from darkness?’

Ah, but the song is not finished!  REJOICE – we are told – REJOICE! “Emanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.”  And He did.

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever.
Isaiah 9:6-7

Do not be afraid.
I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.
Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you:
He is Christ the Lord.
Luke 2:10-11

God IS with us! Through the birth of that Child the plan of God to save and redeem us was put into motion. Through Christ’s life, death, and resurrection we indeed have cause for rejoicing – we have been freed from captivity!  Death has no claim over us!  We have a hope for life everlasting!  So while the tone of the song is contemplative, the message is clear: “REJOICE!!” your salvation is here!

Merry Christmas!  May you feel the exhilarating joy of freedom in our Lord Jesus!

O come, O come, Emmanuel  and ransom captive Israel
that mourns in lonely exile here until the Son of God appear
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel  shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free thine own from Satan’s tyranny
from depths of Hell Thy people save and give them victory o’er the grave
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel  shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Day-Spring, come and cheer our spirits by Thine advent here
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night and death’s dark shadows put to flight.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.