February 19, 2018

Come On, Ring Those Bells

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Everybody likes to take a holiday
Everybody likes to take a rest
Spending time together with the family
Sharing lots of love and happiness.
Come on, ring those bells, light the Christmas tree,
Jesus is the King born for you and me.
Come on, ring those bells, everybody say,
Jesus, we remember this is Your birthday.

Celebrations come because of something good.
Celebrations we love to recall
Mary had a Baby boy in Bethlehem
The greatest celebration of all.
Come on, ring those bells, light the Christmas tree,
Jesus is the King born for you and me.
Come on, ring those bells, everybody say,
Jesus, we remember this is Your birthday.

Come On, Ring Those Bells ~ Evie Tornquist

*  * * * *

Isn’t it true—everybody loves to take a holiday, a rest from our normal busy schedules of life. Even our five year old granddaughter said after the Thanksgiving weekend, “We go back to school tomorrow!?”  She loves preschool, but she was loving the relaxed time with the family too.

That weekend we also celebrated “something good,” or should I say “something(s) good.” We had three family birthdays between the end of October and Thanksgiving that we hadn’t had time to celebrate, so all four celebrations were packed into one day. It was a full and fun day!

The greatest celebration of all, though, is to celebrate the birth of Baby Jesus. Why is the birth of a little baby in a dusty, smelly stable so important that we should celebrate? The answer is in this carol—Jesus is the King born for you and me !

He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High.
And the Lord God will give to Him the throne of His father David,
and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever,
and of His kingdom there will be no end.
Luke 1:32-33

Jesus came for you and me! He came to rule and reign in our individual lives so that we can be reborn into new life—a living relationship for all eternity with God. I do believe that is worth ringing the bells and lighting the Christmas tree!  I do want everyone to say, “Happy birthday, Jesus!  We remember this is Your birthday.”

Let’s make a point of teaching our children and our grandchildren that Christmas isn’t about the gifts under the tree.   More importantly, it’s about God’s gift—Jesus as King and Savior—to us.

Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel,
because He has come and has redeemed His people.
He has raised up a horn of salvation for us….
Luke 1:68-69

Then let’s teach them that they can give the gift of themselves to God as they submit their lives to Jesus.

His mercy extends to those who fear Him, from generation to generation.
Luke 1:50

Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; His greatness no one can fathom.
One generation will commend Your works to another;
they will tell of Your mighty acts…
They will celebrate Your abundant goodness and joyfully sing of Your righteousness.
Psalms 146:3-7

Come on and ring those bells with me, and light your Christmas tree!
JESUS IS OUR REASON TO CELEBRATE!

Esther – Chapter 9:17-32

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As we read this lengthy section of Scripture, we see the final explanation of this time of salvation and rejoicing for the Jews. The Jews in the provinces killed their enemies on the 13th of Adar and rested on the 14th (Esther 9:17).  But the Jews in Shushan were given permission to stand against their enemies two days, 13th and 14th, and then rested on the 15th (verse 18).  On those days of resting from their enemies, there was a great celebration—gladness, feasting, and exchanging of gifts (verses 22-23).  Esther and Mordecai confirmed that this celebration would become a new holiday for the Jews called Purim (verses 29-30), named after the Pur (lot) that was cast for their destruction was turned on their enemies (verses 24-26).  It is still celebrated every year by faithful Jews.

Darlene Schacht includes a commonly accepted fact that Moses was circumcised on the 13th of Adar. “Circumcision represents the cutting away of the flesh and the putting off of a former life.” The Jews “cut down” their enemies on Adar the 13th.  God provides the way for us to have our old life “cut away” to cleanse us from all sin (Haman), and celebrate new life and freedom (Purim) in Christ.  Darlene and I ask, “Have you exchanged your sinful life for a new life? If not, you can make that decision right now by…asking God to forgive you for your sins and inviting Jesus into your life.”  Now is the time to put your faith in Him.

After the Jews cut down their enemies, they rested (Esther 9:22).  God gives us rest from our enemy, sin, when we allow Jesus to cleanse us and give us His gifts. He gives us:

…a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.

Isaiah 61:3

“Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

Matthew 11:28-30

This doesn’t mean that we won’t have trials and temptations.  It’s not a “sunny day at the beach ever-after.”  But, James 1:2-5 and 12, encourages us that we will want to “…persevere under trial because, having stood the test, that person (we) will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love Him.”

Did you notice that it wasn’t Esther’s position as queen that set her people free from the sentence of death?  It was actually because of the king’s love for her and his generosity (grace) to her people that he provided a way to put them in “right-standing/righteousness” with him.  It was upon his word and his name (Esther 9:25) that Mordecai and Esther were given permission to write the new decree that made the way for the Jews to live and have rest.

The joyous truth of our salvation in Christ is that we are forgiven and are now in right-standing/righteousness with God.  It is not based on our own merit, our position, our own standard of right and wrong, or even on keeping every ‘jot or tittle’ of the old law.  There is no rest in those.  Isaiah 64:6 (KJV) tells us, “But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags.”  Instead, it is based on His love and His grace.  In His righteousness there is rest.  There is freedom from condemnation, and a blessed assurance that we belong to God.

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.

Romans 8:1, 2

Esther knew that she would find her salvation only in her king, so she came to him in obedience and courageous submission.  When we realize that our salvation can only come from the power, love, and authority of the King of kings, Jesus, we too will want to live in obedience and courageous submission to Him.

This great story of love and salvation of Esther and the Jewish Nation was, and is, to be shared from generation to generation, and in every province (Esther 9:26-32).  The Great Love Story of our salvation given us through Christ Jesus is to be shared in every family from generation to generation and in every “province” until Christ returns for His Bride, the Church.  “…future generations will be told about the Lord. They will proclaim His righteousness to a people yet unborn—for He has done it” (Psalms 22:30-31). “The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come!” And let him who hears say, “Come!” Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the Water of Life” (Revelation 22:17).

Praise the Lord, my soul; all my inmost being, praise His Holy name. Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all His benefits—

But from everlasting to everlasting the Lord’s love is with those who fear Him, and His righteousness with their children’s children—with those who keep His covenant and remember to obey His precepts.

Psalms 103:1-2, 17-18

* * * * *

Dear Lord Jesus, thank You for the rest we find in our salvation that comes only from You, not from our own merit.  Thank You for changing our mourning into joy and our despair into a garment of praise!  We praise You that the joyous truth of our salvation is evidenced in our right-standing before God, our Father.  Help us, O Lord, to live in the beauty of courageous submission to You, our King of kings.  Help us find creative ways to share Your Great Love Story with our families from generation to generation, and in every “province” until You return for Your Bride. In Jesus’ Name.

Amen.

Crazy Love: Week 1 / Chapter 1: “Stop Praying” – Before the Throne (pgs. 34-38)

This week we have looked at creation from the expansive galaxies to the smallest creatures. We have examined the eternal attributes of God. But, have you ever spent time thinking about what it must be like to BE with God in Heaven; to actually BE in His presence; to SEE Him? If you have not taken the time to read Revelation 4 and Isaiah 6, click this link and read it now.

What image comes to your mind of what it must be like to be in the actual physical presence of God? As Isaiah said, “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty” (Isaiah 6:5). What a powerful statement! As sinful humans, we aren’t worthy to be in God’s presence. We just aren’t. God is perfect and holy. But, He loves us so very much that He sent Jesus, His Son, to make a way for us to be with Him in Heaven one day. What response do we have other than bowing down in worship to our King?

“You are worthy, our Lord and God,
To receive glory and honor and power,
For you created all things,
And by your will they were created
And have their being.” (Revelation 4:11, emphasis mine)

God created every single galaxy, placed each star; he created every creature that roams the earth… including you and me. He could have created anything, but it is by His Will that we are here. He wanted us. He wants us still. And even though we are human and cannot seem to get out of God’s way most of the time, He still loves us without conditions and without expectations. His only desire is that we acknowledge Him, accept Him, and love Him with all of our heart, all of our soul, all of our mind, and all of our strength. He wants to be part of our lives; to walk this rocky road of life with us. He wants our heart. And not just a piece of it – He wants the whole thing.

Will you give Him your whole heart and trust in his enduring faithfulness to see you through?

I leave you with one of the most incredible worship songs ever – Revelation Song by Kari Jobe. Spend some time worshiping the King of Kings today. Imagine that you are John standing in the Throne room, experiencing what he experienced. Put yourself right there. Think of it each time you begin your prayer or devotional time. It’s quite a picture, isn’t it?!


LET’S PRAY:
Father, you are deserving of our enduring love, praise, and worship. You create and sustain all things. It is by YOUR WILL that all life was created, Lord, and we can do nothing but bow to you in thankfulness for who you are and what you do for us each and every day. Help us to see You in all things and to see beyond our current circumstances to the abundant life that you have for us in Christ. And it is in His precious and holy name that we pray, Amen!

YOUR ASSIGNMENT:
I have the “Living Crazy Love” study guide to go along with this book and I’d like to pose the question that is in the guide because it goes so well with today’s blog post. What do you think would come out of your mouth the moment you first saw God? What would be the first words you would say?



If you are interested in joining this amazing online Bible study for Crazy Love, click HERE to sign up. Once you are registered, you will receive an email with further details.

If you would like to email a private message to Donna in regards to this blog, please email her at: Jennifer@girlfriendscoffeehour.com.

Crazy Love: Week 1 / Chapter 1 – “Stop Praying” (pgs. 27-28)

The story goes of two men walking along the beach.  One man said to the other:  “Tell me all you know about God.”  His friend reached down and scooped up a handful of water in his hand and said:  “What I know about God, I can hold in the palm of my hand.  If you want to know more, you will have to go swimming for yourself.”

On pages 27-28 in our book, Chan expands on God’s diversity, creativity, and sophistication in the universe, on earth, and in our own bodies.  I marveled at how the thought of it just engulfs him. 

I sense his excitement in the video, “Just Stop and Think,” as he walks along the beach in awe of God’s creation, and his realization of how the God of the universe could love him so much.  One can readily tell that he is genuinely in love with God, as well as has a deep understanding of how much God loves him. I feel his intense desire that we, too, embrace this crazy kind of love he is being overwhelmed with in his relationship with God. Crazy!

But, to be honest, I have to grab hold of those truths for myself.  They cannot be poured into me by someone else, even a teacher such as Chan.  I have to experience it in order for that craziness to be a part of my life.

For me personally, I have caught just a small glimpse of this crazy love that God has for me through the relationship I had with my earthly father.  In his book entitled Father Hunger, Robert McGhee stated:  “as you see your earthly father, so shall you see and relate to God.” 

I shall never forget teaching this concept to a group of inmates at Stiles Prison in Beaumont, Texas. I made the statement that “my daddy had a sense of humor, and I often laugh out loud with God, because I believe He has a sense of humor, too.”  To which an inmate replied:   “Woman, you must be crazy.  God doesn’t laugh.  He is standing there just waiting for you to mess up, so he can swing his axe at you.”

I said:  “Tell me about your own father.”  At that point, he began to cry and related how he was physically abused as a child and how hard his dad use to “whip up on him.”

My heart broke for him because, you see:

  • My dad was firm in discipline, but gentle and not abusive. 
  • When the deed was over, it was never brought up to me again.  
  • He was fun to be with.
  • I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that he was, indeed, crazy in love with me. 

As secure as I felt in my dad’s love, my heart tells me that his love could not reach to the height and depth of God’s love for me.

And so, I ask you:  Do you want to experience this crazy love that Chan is, not only talking about, but obviously experiencing?  If so, let’s go swimming together toward the King of Kings.  I long for more glimpses of the One who bought the whole world to get a piece of the treasure, which is you and I.

*****

Let’s Pray:  Father God, may we worship You for who You are, and never cease to have the praises of God flowing from our lips.  Show us anything in our lives that is hindering our relationship with You.  In Jesus name I pray, Amen

Your Assignment:  Did you follow Chan’s suggestion at the bottom of page 28 to meditate on the Almighty One?  If so, what did you discover in your silence?

Be blessed,

Martha



If you would like more information about Crazy Love Bible study, please email us at: GCH_Womens@girlfriendscoffeehour.com, OR click HERE to be taken to the sign-up page.

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