October 19, 2017

(Only Love) Sólo El Amor

psalmshymnsspiritualsongskjv

For love I’d do almost anything
I’d cross the widest of oceans
For love, I’d fly with an broken wing
Just to taste it for a moment
For love, I’d turn back the strongest tide
There’s no storm I couldn’t weather
‘Cause it’s more than a gleam in someone’s eye
It’s what holds us all together
But I’ve only known once in my lifetime
Love in its purest form
He came here for me
Suffered and then died under a crown of thorns

Sólo el amor es la salida {Sólo el amor, only love can save me}
Limpia, construye, concibe y procres {Conquering death and the sting of the grave }
Tan solo el amor sana la herida {Kingdoms will fail and tongues will cease}
Que alguna vez nos causara el dolor {But through all eternity love will remain}

Sólo el amor, when all else has failed me
Will take me to places that I’ve never dreamed
Healing my wounds and setting me free
There’s nothing else worth living for
Sólo el amor

Por amor murio crucifecada la esperanza de la humanidad
{For love the Hope of humanity made the lame to walk again}
El amor es al fruta sagrada {For love He settled the raging sea}
La promesa de la libertad { And became the sinner’s friend}

For love He drank of His Father’s cup
With all my shame on His shoulders
And He offered forgiveness through His shed blood
Tell me, is it any wonder
That I’ve only known once in my lifetime
Love in its purest form
He came here for me
Suffered and then died under a crown of thorns

Sólo el amor…only love

Sandi Patty and Miguel Angel Guerra
Songwriters: Donato Póveda / Kelly Minter

*   ~   ♥   ~   ✞   ~  ♥   ~   *

This morning I was sitting at my piano playing, and singing along to the words of this song.  I was struck so deeply by the very first line: “For love I’d do almost anything…”.  Because I WOULD do almost anything due to the love I have for my family and loved ones!  You would, too…I am sure!  Those of us who are mommas (or grammas!), we know the truth of this feeling in our hearts.  Y’know the whole “don’t get between a mother lion and her cub!” thing.  Definitely a deep, strong, passionate love there. But there is a love that goes beyond what you or I have done or could even imagine doing—the love of Jesus our Savior and Redeemer.

You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless,
Christ died for the ungodly…
But God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Romans 5:6 and 8

For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son,
that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.
John 3:16

Despised and rejected by men;
a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief…
we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.
But He was wounded for our transgressions;
He was crushed for our iniquities;
upon Him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with His stripes we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned every one to his own way;
and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.
Isaiah 53:3-5
(spoken prophetically about our Messiah)

But God—so rich is He in His mercy!
Because of and in order to satisfy
the great and wonderful and intense love with which He loved us,
Even when we were dead (slain) by [our own] shortcomings and trespasses,
He made us alive together in fellowship and in union with Christ;
[He gave us the very life of Christ Himself, the same new life with which He quickened Him, for]
it is by grace (His favor and mercy which you did not deserve)
that you are saved (delivered from judgment and made partakers of Christ’s salvation.)
Ephesians 2:4-5

Christ’s death is not only the demonstration of God’s love (John 3:16), it is also the ultimate expression of Jesus’ own love for all mankind. And my part (yours AND mine) is being convicted of this fact: “Christ loved me and gave Himself for me.”  And not just convicted…my response (OUR response) should be LOVE.   How do we prove our love for our Savior?  Simply by our obedience.

No matter where you look in the Scriptures—whether back in the records of the Old Testament…or in the words of our Lord contained in the Gospels…or in the doctrine given to the 1st century Church—to say ‘I love You, o God’ means you choose to obey.  Here are just three examples:

Know therefore that the LORD your God, He is God, the faithful God,
who keeps His covenant and His lovingkindness to a thousand generations
with those who love Him and keep His commandments;
Deuteronomy 7:9

“If you love Me, keep My commands.
Whoever has My commands and keeps them is the one who loves Me.
The one who loves Me will be loved by My Father,
and I too will love them and show Myself to them.
…Anyone who loves Me will obey My teaching.
My Father will love them,
and We will come to them and make Our home with them.
Anyone who does not love Me will not obey My teaching.
These words you hear are not My own;
they belong to the Father who sent Me.”
John 14:15, 21, 23-24

By this we know that we love the children of God,
when we love God and observe His commandments.
For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments;
and His commandments are not burdensome.
1 John 5:2 and 3

*   ~   ♥   ~   ✞   ~  ♥   ~   *

I would love to leave you with a couple of resources that communicate so beautifully about the love of Jesus demonstrated through the sacrifice of His life for you and me.

  •  Herein Is Love, a sermon that Charles Spurgeon preached.  Click here.
  •  Fifty Reasons Why Jesus Came to Die,  a book written by  Pastor John Piper wrote.  Click here.

I hope that you will take make the time to read and meditate on the words of these two wonderful men, maybe not today but soon…or perhaps read them as part of your quiet time over a few days.  As you listen to this song and read through these teachings, my prayer is…

“…that you, being rooted and firmly established in love,
may be able to comprehend with all the saints
what is the length and width, height and depth of God’s love,
and to know the Messiah’s love that surpasses knowledge…”
Ephesians 3:17-19

Joy in the Night

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For hundreds of years the Jewish people had prepared for and hoped for the Messiah to come. Finally the time had arrived, but it didn’t come as many had expected—with great fanfare and pomp. (Not that angels lighting perhaps a moonless sky wasn’t pretty fantastic!) But there was no big parade in the middle of the day down the center of town for all to see. Instead it came to a few. Instead it came to the forgotten of society. Instead it came in the darkness of night.

That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep.
Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them,
and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them.
They were terrified, but the angel reassured them.
“Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people.
The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born….
Luke 2:8-11

The joyful news of the arrival (the Advent) of the long awaited Savior, the Messiah, came at night. Not only was the world dark with physical night-time. I quote from Reverend Billy Graham,

“It wasn’t night because the sun had gone down. It was night because the world was surrounded in spiritual and moral gloom. People were driven by greed, intolerance, and lust for power. Religion had become a device for the rich in the exploitation of the poor. Men robbed and swindled and profiteered under the cloak of religion; they even fought wars in the name of religion. In every arena of life, it was night when Jesus came.”

excerpted from Arrival, Preparing to Celebrate Christ’s Birth.
(click here for a free download of this devotional)

And all this is still true today. People still live in darkness—the darkness of all kinds of sin and its repercussions. But the joyful news is that Jesus came, and He brought light to all mankind.

The Rock of Israel said to me:
‘The One who rules righteously,
Who rules in the fear of God,
is like the Light of morning at sunrise,
like a morning without clouds,
like the gleaming of the sun
on new grass after rain.’
2 Samuel 23:2-4

Jesus, the Light of morning, came for all people so that none of us would have to walk in darkness.

Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the Light of the world.
Whoever follows Me will not walk in darkness, but will have the Light of life.
John 8:12

Jesus knew that His Light would bring life and joy to all who choose to follow Him. Even in His last major prayer for His disciples He said this:

“Now I am coming to You <His Father.>
I told them many things while I was with them in this world
so they would be filled with My joy.
I have given them Your Word.”
John 17:13-14

If you feel forgotten, if you are mourning, if you are still walking in darkness, then now is the time to allow Jesus, the Light of the world, to step into your world and give you His life and His joy.  Rejoice with great joy!  Jesus Christ, the Messiah, is the Light of the morning!  We don’t have to walk in the darkness of night (sin), because JOY comes in the morning!

Sing to the Lord, all you godly ones!
Praise His holy name.
For His anger lasts only a moment,
but His favor lasts a lifetime!
Weeping may last through the night,
but joy comes with the morning.
You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing.
You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy,
that I might sing praises to You and not be silent.
O Lord my God, I will give You thanks forever!
Psalms 30:4-5, 11-12

Sing for joy, O heavens! Rejoice, O earth! Burst into song, O mountains!
For the LORD has comforted His people
and will have compassion on them in their suffering.
Isaiah 49:13

*    ♥  ~  ✝  ~  ★    *

Dear Lord Jesus, thank You for Your great compassion.  Thank You for Your joy that comes when we walk out of our “night” and into Your Light.  For those who make that decision during this Christmas season, I pray they will experience Your Light and Joy like they have never experienced anything before.  For those of us who already walk in Your light, we thank You for Your Joy, unspeakable joy!  You are our Light of Life!  All honor and glory belong to You, our Savior and King!  IT IS SO!

Sólo El Amor

psalmshymnsspiritualsongskjv
For love I’d do almost anything
I’d cross the widest of oceans
For love, I’d fly with an broken wing
Just to taste it for a moment
For love, I’d turn back the strongest tide
There’s no storm I couldn’t weather
‘Cause it’s more than a gleam in someone’s eye
It’s what holds us all together
But I’ve only known once in my lifetime
Love in its purest form
He came here for me
Suffered and then died under a crown of thorns

Sólo el amor es la salida {Sólo el amor, only love can save me}
Limpia, construye, concibe y procres {Conquering death and the sting of the grave }
Tan solo el amor sana la herida {Kingdoms will fail and tongues will cease}
Que alguna vez nos causara el dolor {But through all eternity love will remain}

Sólo el amor, when all else has failed me,
Will take me to places that I’ve never dreamed
Healing my wounds and setting me free
There’s nothing else worth living for
Sólo el amor

Por amor murio crucifecada la esperanza de la humanidad
{For love the Hope of humanity made the lame to walk again}
El amor es al fruta sagrada {For love He settled the raging sea}
La promesa de la libertad { And became the sinner’s friend} 

For love He drank of His Father’s cup
With all my shame on His shoulders
And He offered forgiveness through His shed blood
Tell me, is it any wonder
That I’ve only known once in my lifetime
Love in its purest form
He came here for me
Suffered and then died under a crown of thorns

Sólo el amor…only love

Performed by Sandi Patty, Miguel Angel Guerra
Songwriters: Donato Póveda / Kelly Minter

*   ~   ♥   ~   ✞   ~  ♥   ~   *

This morning I was sitting at my piano playing, and singing along to the words of this song.  I was struck so deeply by the very first line: “For love I’d do almost anything…”.  Because I WOULD do almost anything due to the love I have for my family and loved ones!  You would, too…I am sure!  Those of us who are mommas (or grammas!), we know the truth of this feeling in our hearts.  Y’know the whole “don’t get between a mother lion and her cub!” thing.  Definitely a deep, strong, passionate love there. But (as the lyrics go on to tell us) there is a love that goes beyond what you or I have done or could even imagine doing. The love of Jesus our Savior and Redeemer:  “He came here for me, suffered and then died under a crown of thorns.

You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly…
But God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Romans 5:6 and 8

For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son,
that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.
John 3:16

Despised and rejected by men;
a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief . . .
we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.
But He was wounded for our transgressions;
He was crushed for our iniquities;
upon Him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with His stripes we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned every one to his own way;
and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.
Isaiah 53:3-5 (spoken prophetically of our Messiah)

But God—so rich is He in His mercy! Because of and in order to satisfy
the great and wonderful and intense love with which He loved us,
Even when we were dead (slain) by [our own] shortcomings and trespasses,
He made us alive together in fellowship and in union with Christ;
[He gave us the very life of Christ Himself, the same new life with which He quickened Him,
for] it is by grace (His favor and mercy which you did not deserve)
that you are saved (delivered from judgment and made partakers of Christ’s salvation.
Ephesians 2:4-5

Christ’s death is not only the demonstration of God’s love (John 3:16), it is also the ultimate expression of Jesus’ own love for all mankind. And my part (yours AND mine) is being convicted of this fact: “Christ loved me and gave Himself for me.”  And not just convicted…my response (OUR response) should be LOVE.   How do we prove our love for our Savior?  Simply by our obedience.

No matter where you look in the Scriptures—whether back in the records of the Old Testament…or in the words of our Lord contained in the Gospels…or in the doctrine given to the 1st century Church—to say ‘I love You, o God’ means you choose to obey.  Here are just three examples:

Know therefore that the LORD your God, He is God, the faithful God,
who keeps His covenant and His lovingkindness to a thousand generations
with those who love Him and keep His commandments;
Deuteronomy 7:9

“If you love Me, keep My commands.
Whoever has My commands and keeps them is the one who loves Me.
The one who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I too will love them
and show Myself to them.
…Anyone who loves Me will obey My teaching. My Father will love them, and We will come to them and make Our home with them.
Anyone who does not love Me will not obey My teaching. These words you hear are not My own; they belong to the Father who sent Me.”
John 14:15, 21, 23-24

By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God
and observe His commandments. For this is the love of God,
that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome.
1 John 5:2 and 3

I would love to leave you with a couple of resources that communicate so beautifully about the love of Jesus demonstrated through the sacrifice of His life for you and me.

The first is a sermon, Herein Is Love, that Charles Spurgeon preached.    Click here.

And the second is a book, Fifty Reasons Why Jesus Came to Die,  that Pastor John Piper wrote.  Click here.

*   ~   ♥   ~   ✞   ~  ♥   ~   *

I hope that you will take make the time, maybe not today but soon…or perhaps read them as part of your quiet time over a few days.  As you listen to this song and read through these teachings, my prayer is “…that you, being rooted and firmly established in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the length and width, height and depth of God’s love, and to know the Messiah’s love that surpasses knowledge…” (Ephesians 3:17-19).

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?

Welcome To Our World

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Hearing this song brings many vivid images to my mind: those of Mary and Joseph holding their new child, the odors of animals that have lived in the stable, the gentle lowing of the livestock. Then all of that is forgotten when this precious, heavenly Babe is held in their arms. I can imagine both of them with tears in their eyes as the infant stretches and yawns.

Then I recall the story of how the angel appeared to Mary, then to Joseph. There were some troubling times before they were together. Heavenly intervention was in order for Mary and the Babe to thrive and survive.  Joseph bended and heeded the advice he was given.

But after he had considered this,
an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said,
“Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife,
because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.
She will give birth to a son, and you are to give Him the name Jesus,
because He will save His people from their sins.”
Matthew 1:20-21

I wonder if Joseph thought, “Me, raise Jesus, our Messiah? Are you sure? I’m a carpenter!”  God prevailed. I am sure there was a peace that fell on Joseph like a warm winter coat. That was all the confidence he needed to proceed and trust what was to happen.

Welcome to Our World   ~  sung by Michael W. Smith, written by Chris Rice

Tears are falling, hearts are breaking
How we need to hear from God
You’ve been promised, we’ve been waiting
Welcome Holy Child
Welcome Holy Child

Hope that You don’t mind our manger
How I wish we would have known
But long awaited Holy Stranger
Make Yourself at home
Please make Yourself at home

Bring Your peace into our violence
Bid our hungry souls be filled
World now breaking Heaven’s silence
Welcome to our world
Welcome to our world

Fragile finger sent to heal us
Tender brow prepared for thorn
Tiny heart whose blood will save us
Unto us is born
Unto us is born

So wrap our injured flesh around You
Breathe our air and walk our sod
Rob our sin and make us holy
Perfect Son of God
Perfect Son of God
Welcome to our world

Dear Lord,

Thank You for sending Your Son, Jesus, to be born of man and to live on the earth. Thank You for thinking of a way for Jesus to be a part of everyone’s story. Thank You for the redemption of the Cross and bringing hope to all of us and peace as we seek to know You more intimately. Help us to focus on You and Your Son, not on ourselves and what we think makes others happy. If we line up with Your will, then all things will work out as You have ordained them.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Away in a Manger

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If you were to ask me what my favorite Christmas carol/song would be, my first instinct would be to say “Away in a Manger”, by Mahalia Jackson.  (THAT version – it MUST be Mahalia!)  When I was in middle school my family moved to Nashville from Ohio, where we had literally lived around the corner from my grandparents.  Each year at Christmas break we would travel back to Ohio to spend two weeks with my grandparents and extended family.  I loved those times, we had too many people in too small of a house, but it was always a time of laughter, movies, cards, a TON of food and music – LOTS of music. One particular compilation album my grandparents owned included “Away in a Manger” by Mahalia Jackson.  I had never heard anyone sing like her!  What I didn’t realize then was that she had been an incredible gospel singer – and when she sang about Jesus, sisters, you were having worship! She sang “Away in a Manger” like she was singing in the presence of God.  Even at a young age, that song affected me at such a spiritual and emotional level that it still brings me to tears and worship – every time I hear it.

Fast forward to me as a college student, and the compilation album has been lost.  This track of Mahalia’s is nowhere to be found. No record, no tape (this shows you how old I am…), no CD of hers had it available, and I couldn’t find it on iTunes. I searched for this song for YEARS, sisters, no exaggeration.  Then one year, my closest friend at the time gave me a Christmas gift. “It’s not much,” she said, “but it was all I could get for you.”  I opened it to find….. a CD with the Christmas music of Mahalia Jackson and Nat King Cole – with “Away in a Manger” included.  SHE FOUND IT!! It was the one thing that mattered the most to me and she presented it to me in her true humble fashion. The best gift I had ever been given.  Well, by a person….

The best gift I have ever been given is the gift of Jesus.  And He, in turn, gives the best gifts!  James 1:17 says; “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.”  We are given the gift of the Holy Spirit when we receive Christ as our Lord (Acts 2:38).  Romans 12:6-8 tells us that we are all given gifts in order to strengthen the body of Christ.   We are also given grace (thank You, Lord!): “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8).

Perhaps you are like me. You have searched for years for the thing that would make you happy, but have never found it.  It is Jesus. Just like that song ushered (and still ushers) me into the Presence of God.  That Savior, born away in a manger, brings us boldly into the Presence of a God that loves you and wants to shower you with gifts – gifts that no one (but He!) could ever give you. Won’t you receive His gifts today?

I LOVE THIS SONG!!!  I hope you enjoy it, too. When she sings: “I love thee, Lord Jesus! I ask thee to stay close by me forever, and love me, I pray,” it brings me to tears every time.  “I DO love You, Lord Jesus. Thank you for loving me!  Stay close.”

 

Merry Christmas!  May God bless you abundantly with His good and perfect gifts!

Away in a Manger, no crib for a bed, the little Lord Jesus lay down hHs sweet head. The stars in the sky looked down where He lay, the little Lord Jesus asleep on the hay.

The cattle are lowing, the baby awakes, but little Lord Jesus, no crying He makes; I love Thee, Lord Jesus, look down from the sky and stay by my cradle till morning is nigh.

Be near me, Lord Jesus, I ask Thee to stay close by me forever and love me I pray; bless all the dear children in Thy tender care, and take us to heaven to live with Thee there.

Esther – Chapter 3:12-15

Esther_Wk3_Clella

As we continue to read the events of this story we see that Haman’s sinister plan was coming together! King Xerxes was just “along for the ride.” I’m not sure that he had even thought through the potential consequences of such an order. He let Haman take full control. Haman dictated the order to the scribes, and then sealed it with the king’s signet ring. This seal guaranteed the death and destruction of God’s people.

When we come to Christ for salvation we are given a seal too. Ephesians 1:13 says that when we believe and are saved, “you were marked in Him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of His glory.” So the Holy Spirit’s presence in our lives is our seal, the evidence of our salvation, and the guarantee of our future inheritance, which is eternal life with Christ.

One king’s seal sealed the death sentence of God’s people. The King of kings’ seal seals the guarantee of eternal life for all who believe in God’s Son, Jesus.

Another opposing comparison that I see is this: Esther 3:12-15 tells us that Haman made sure everyone, everywhere knew that this order was given to destroy all the Jews everywhere. Satan wants all God’s creation destroyed. John 10:10, “The thief (Satan) comes only to steal and kill and destroy….” God, on the other hand, wants all His creation saved. Jesus said, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved,Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere,….” (Mark 16:15-20.) In Isaiah 45:23 God says, “turn to Me and be saved, all you ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is no otherBefore Me every knee will bow; by Me every tongue will swear (confess allegiance).” Again in 2 Peter 3:9, “The Lord isn’t really being slow about His promise, as some people think. No, He is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.”

All of the Jews were “perplexed” (Esther 3:15) and hopelessly dreaded that coming day of doom and destruction. All believers are looking forward with great hope to the day when every knee will bow before our King and we will live!

In this story, Haman and Mordecai represent the struggle of death and life. Haman is trying to kill off the Jews and Esther, whereas, Mordecai is determined to the best of his ability to protect Esther and save their people.

In our individual lives, our flesh, that is our fallen nature, is constantly struggling against our redeemed spirit–that same struggle of death and life. As our author says, “As long as we’re still in the flesh we will continue to struggle with this until the return of our Lord when Satan is destroyed for once and for all.”

Romans 7:18, “And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. I want to do what is right, but I can’t.” Is it your temper, a bad habit, telling “white lies,” rebellion, envy, selfishness, or you name it? We are all tempted on every side or have some area of our life that needs cleaning up.

You might be thinking, “But we have the Law (Ten Commandments and other Old Testament ordinances) to show us how to live right.” God’s Word addresses that in Romans 3:19-20, “Obviously, the Law applies to those to whom it was given, for its purpose is to keep people from having excuses, and to show that the entire world is guilty before God. For no one can ever be made right with God by doing what the Law commands. The Law simply shows us how sinful we are.”

Haman’s orders singled out the Jews and condemned them to death. The Jews couldn’t stop Haman’s death sentence on their own.  They needed someone to intervene for them. They needed a savior.

The Law singles us out by pointing out our sins and condemns us to death, which is separation from God. Romans 6:23, “The wages of sin is death.” Like the Jews, we can’t stop the death sentence of the Law on us. We too need a Savior.

Let’s pray over what we have learned today, and then look forward to “the rest of the story.”

Dear Lord, we thank You that as Christians we have the seal of Your Holy Spirit on our lives, and with that the guarantee of our inheritance of eternal life with You.  We are looking forward to the day when we will all bow our knees before You as You sit on Your Heavenly Throne. In our own flesh we are tempted and can never do enough good deeds or obey enough of The Law to redeem ourselves. We thank You, Lord, that Your plan of redemption covers us as we submit our lives to You.  In Jesus’ Precious and Holy Name.

Amen.

 

Captivating: An Adventure to Share – Why Beauty Matters

An Adventure to Share:

Healer, Protector, Provider, Savior, Defender – BEAUTY.  So that last one isn’t typically in my vocabulary when I describe our God.  Before I read this part of Captivating, that may have been one of the last words I used to describe Him.  In fact, most of the words I typically use are associated with the heart of man – a strong leader.  But wait!  Women are strong too…in the most beautiful way!

Ezer Kenegdo.  I’m not sure I can even pronounce that right, so I’m glad this is an online study.  BUT how awesome is this concept! To be someone’s Ezer, to be someone’s “lifesaver,” to be someone’s only hope.  Wow.  WOW!  And that’s the role and the responsibility God has placed on the heart of every woman.

“Women are endowed with fierce devotion, an ability to suffer great hardships, a vision to make the world a better place.”

We can be someone’s “Ezer” with just a smile, a positive comment, a loving remark.  I have to constantly remind myself that every day!  God gives us the opportunity to be someone’s Ezer with friends, co-workers, family, and even strangers.  You never know what just a little smile can do – you may have saved someone’s life! And that’s the beauty in you! That’s you, acting in God’s image, and loving a hurting world.  To be an everyday Ezer Kenegdos…that’s our mission!

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After I graduated college, I moved to Philadelphia, a humongous city where I knew absolutely no one.  The year and a half that I lived there was the most trying time I may have ever been through.  Many times, I found myself so incredibly exhausted – in every way.  Mentally, spiritually, emotionally, physically.

Fortunately for me, I only lived an hour away from the shore of the Atlantic Ocean.  One lonely Friday night, I decided to escape.  Escape people, my exhausting life and situation, and run away…to the beach.  So I threw some PJs, a beach towel, and my bathing suit in a bag, hopped in my old, rusted car and headed straight for the shore.  Did I have hotel reservations? No.  A plan for the weekend? Not at all.  But what did I find? As the sun was setting over the ocean, I found God.  As I walked through a local flower show, I found God.  As I listened to the crashing waves, I found God.  I found God because I found beauty.

When was the last time you stopped your life and found God like that? Have you realized yet that this beauty that we find in nature – we are that beauty?  We, as women, are beauty incarnate.

Does your life exemplify the beauty within you?  Set aside the make-up and jewelry, your career goals, your obligations, society’s pressures…I want you to take a big breath.  Come on, one big one!  And exhale.  Good!  Now surrender all of those things to God and ask Him to help you reveal your true beauty.  Ask Him to reveal it in your attitude, your thoughts about yourself and others, and your actions.

You are beautiful.  You are created in the image of God.  You are essential.  You matter.

Praise Him,
Carissa


Let’s Pray
Father, thank You for who You are and who You have created us as women to be: a living example of true beauty.  Lord, I pray that all doubts or thoughts of insecurity be surrendered to You.  We know, Father, that when we rest in Your beauty, all is well.  Lord, help us to be that example of beauty to those around us, that beauty that we were created to be.  We love You, beautiful Savior. In Your Holy Name we pray, Amen.

Your Assignment
Find beauty today.  Meditate on the fact that YOU ARE THE BEAUTY YOU FOUND – and so much more!  Being with a woman who is at rest, a woman comfortable within her own beauty, is an enjoyable experience. She is trusting God, not striving to become beautiful, but allowing His beauty to more fully inhabit her.  Have you had the experience of being with a woman who was stressed, striving, worried? And how did you feel around her?

Which woman do you want to be?



If you are interested in joining this amazing online Bible study, click HERE to sign up.

Once you are registered, you will receive an email with further details.

If you would like to send a personal message to Carissa in regards to this blog, you may email her at: Carissa@girlfriendscoffeehour.com.

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year from Girlfriends Coffee Hour

Merry Christmas

All of us here at Girlfriends Coffee Hour want to wish you and your loved ones a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

We will be taking this week off to celebrate the holidays with our loved ones.  We will be praying for you, and your loved ones.  May the good Lord bless your time together, and bring His amazing grace, peace, and agape love into your homes!

We’ll be back again next Sunday with more news about our upcoming 2013 studies!  

Until then, God bless you & your loved ones!!

Christi, Megan, and the GCH Leadership Team

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