What is there to hold on to….

So what are we going to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He didn’t spare his own Son but gave him up for us all. Won’t he also freely give us all things with him? Who will bring a charge against God’s elect people? It is God who acquits them. Who is going to convict them? It is Christ Jesus who died, even more, who was raised, and who also is at God’s right side. It is Christ Jesus who also pleads our case for us. Who will separate us from Christ’s love? Will we be separated by trouble, or distress, or harassment, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, “We are being put to death all day long for your sake. We are treated like sheep for slaughter.”

But in all these things we win a sweeping victory through the one who loved us. I’m convinced that nothing can separate us from God’s love in Christ Jesus our Lord: not death or life, not angels or rulers, not present things or future things, not powers or height or depth, or any other thing that is created. ~Romans 8:31-39 (CEB)

“Life is unpredictable.  We can be happy one day and sad the next, healthy one day and sick the next, rich one day and poor the next, alive one day and dead the next.  So who is there to hold on to?  Who is there to feel secure with?  Who is there to trust at all times?

Only Jesus, the Christ.  He is our Lord, our shepherd, our rock, our stronghold, our refuge, our brother, our guide, and our friend.  He came from God to be with us.  He died for us, he was raised from the dead to open for us the way to God, and he is seated at God’s right hand to welcome us home.   With Paul, we must be certain that “neither death nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nothing already in existence and nothing still to come, nor any power, nor the heights nor the depths, nor any created thing whatever, will be able to come between us and the love of God, known to us in Christ Jesus our Lord”  (Romans 8:38-39).” ~From Bread for the Journey by Henri J.M. Nouwen

A New Year looms ahead. The possibilities are endless. Sadness and happiness are mixed at the close of an old year; anxiety and excitement greet the New Year. What will it hold? For most there is the underlying hope that the New Year will be better. I may not know what tomorrow and the New Year will bring but I do know that Jesus came down from God to hold my hand through whatever I face, both the good times and the bad.

Merry Christmas!

I ask you Heavenly Father to walk with me into this New Year. I welcome Your Presence in my life. I thank You for the gift of Your Son to guide and direct my steps as I enter the New Year with a clean slate of possibilities. May I ever hold close the belief that You will use all things for my good. Amen.

Clothed in human form

Nearby shepherds were living in the fields, guarding their sheep at night. The Lord’s angel stood before them, the Lord’s glory shone around them, and they were terrified. The angel said, “Don’t be afraid! Look! I bring good news to you—wonderful, joyous news for all people. Your savior is born today in David’s city. He is Christ the Lord. This is a sign for you: you will find a newborn baby wrapped snugly and lying in a manger.” Suddenly a great assembly of the heavenly forces was with the angel praising God. They said, “Glory to God in heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors. ~Luke 2:8-14 (CEB)

“New discoveries about our universe seem to emerge every day. Telescopes in space enable us to see into the created order farther and more clearly than ever before. But even with all of this marvelous technology we have not been able to chart the boundaries of creation. And even if we could, the idea of a created order many billions of light years in depth is too much for us to comprehend. So how can we comprehend the One whom we call the Creator? Clearly, an infinite God has a communication problem with finite humankind. Christians find the answer to that problem in Jesus Christ. The mystery of this magnificent universe finds resolution in the mystery of the birth in Bethlehem. Jesus Christ came and was clothed in human flesh to let us know who God is and what God is really like. In Jesus Christ we see that God is approachable, and to a degree knowable by creatures like us. God can understand our condition because God has made us. We can know God because God has been revealed in Jesus Christ.

Colossians 1:15 and 16 say it so well. ‘He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; for in him all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and things invisible. Whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers- all things have been created through him and for him.’ In Jesus we have the perfect reflection of God. While the Creator of this vast universe may seem distant and unknowable, we can see, understand, and know Jesus of Nazareth. While it may seem too much to ask the Maker of the complex creation to hear us as we pray, we remember Jesus listened to everyone. So we, you and I, can communicate with the One who is author of all.

Our earthly existence takes on new meaning when we remember that God chose to put on our humanity and chose to wear that humanity as an ordinary working man. Our ordinary existence is not so ordinary when we remember that God chose this existence to give us a true picture of the divine. Therefore there are no unimportant moments in any lifetime. All are precious gifts of opportunity to know and serve the One who made us and chose to stand with us and like us in the great life.” ~From A Guide to Prayer for All Who Seek God, Rueben P. Job

It is humbling to think that the Creator of the universe loves me so much that He stripped Himself of Heaven to enter this world as nothing but a naked vulnerable infant. He clothed Himself as a human just so that I could get a better understanding of how wide, how deep, how high and how far His love is for me.

Merry Christmas!

Heavenly Father, Thank You for coming down to earth in Your Son Jesus Christ. Thank You for loving me so much. Amen.

Arise and Shine!

Arise! Shine! Your light has come; the LORD’s glory has shone upon you. Though darkness covers the earth and gloom the nations, the LORD will shine upon you; God’s glory will appear over you. Nations will come to your light and kings to your dawning radiance. ~Isaiah 60:1-3

“It requires a lot of inner solitude and silence to become aware of these divine movements. God does not shout, scream or push. The Spirit of God is soft and gentle like a small voice or a light breeze. It is the spirit of love. Maybe we still do not fully believe that God’s Spirit is, indeed, the Spirit of love, always leading us deeper into love. Maybe we still distrust the Spirit, afraid to be led to places where our freedom is taken away. Maybe we still think of God’s Spirit as an enemy who wants something of us that is not good for us.

But God is love, only love, and God’s Spirit is the Spirit of love longing to guide us to the place where the deepest desires of our heart can be fulfilled. Often we ourselves do not even know what our deepest desire is. We so easily get tangled in our own lust and anger, mistakenly assuming that they tell us what we really want. The Spirit of love says: ‘Don’t be afraid to let go of your need to control your own life. Let me fulfill the true desire of your heart.” ~From Here and Now by Henri J. M. Nouwen

Jesus came into the world so that I don’t have to hold onto control so tightly. He knows the real desires of my heart and only wants good for me. He sent Jesus into the world so that I could begin to see beyond the “Thou shalt not’s” to the freedom He desires for me.

Merry Christmas!

It is the call of my heart God to be close to You. Your whispering is heard as it blows through my heart giving me new life. Bolster my unbelief so that I may live life more fully. Give me freedom instead of the chains that bind me to a life I don’t want. Help me to live in the Freedom you promise if only I believe. Help me this day to rise and shine for You. Amen.  

To become the beloved

We know that God works all things together for good for the ones who love God, for those who are called according to his purpose. We know this because God knew them in advance, and he decided in advance that they would be conformed to the image of his Son. That way his Son would be the first of many brothers and sisters. ~Rom 8:28-29 (CEB)

“Becoming the Beloved means letting the truth of our Belovedness become enfleshed in everything we think, say or do. It entails a long and painful process of appropriation of, better, incarnation. As long as ‘being the Beloved’ is little more than a beautiful thought or lofty idea that hangs above my life to keep me from becoming depressed, nothing really changes. What is required is to become the Beloved in commonplaces of my daily existence and, bit by bit, to close the gap that exists between what I know myself to be and the countless specific realities of everyday life. Becoming the Beloved is pulling the truth revealed to me from above down into the ordinariness of what I am, in fact, thinking of, talking about and doing from hour to hour.” ~From Life of the Beloved by Henri J M Nouwen.

The process of being reshaped according to God’s intended pattern takes time. It is the work of the Holy Spirit and is called sanctification in Christian theology. After turning my heart back to God and receiving the justification that comes through faith in Christ, then begins the work of bringing my whole character in line with that of Christ. I begin to mature in knowledge, wisdom, and love. My growth in the Spirit is marked by movements up and down, forward and backward, and sometimes even in circles!

For human beings, the spiritual life is no straight line of unimpeded progress. It is however, by God’s unwavering goodness, always undergirded by grace. This is what gives me the hope and courage to persevere.

Merry Christmas!

Mold me Lord so that I can be more like Jesus. Help me to not be discouraged when I find myself running is circles for even my circles can be progress in Your hands. I thank You for the strength You give me through Your unwavering grace as I begin to mature in knowledge, wisdom and love. I carry with me into this day the assurance that I am Your Beloved. Amen.

In focus

A revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place. Christ made it known by sending it through his angel to his servant John, who bore witness to the word of God and to the witness of Jesus Christ, including all that John saw. Favored is the one who reads the words of this prophecy out loud, and favored are those who listen to it being read, and keep what is written in it, for the time is near.

John, to the seven churches that are in Asia:

Grace and peace to you from the one who is and was and is coming, and from the seven spirits that are before God’s throne, and from Jesus Christ—the faithful witness, the firstborn from among the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth.

To the one who loves us and freed us from our sins by his blood, who made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father—to him be glory and power forever and always. Amen.

Look, he is coming with the clouds! Every eye will see him, including those who pierced him, and all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of him. This is so. Amen. “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “ the one who is and was and is coming, the Almighty. ” ~Rev. 1:1-8 (CEB)

“God presents himself to us little by little. The whole story of salvation is the story of God who comes.

It is always he who comes, even if he has not yet come in his fullness. But there is indeed one unique moment in his coming; the others were only preparations and announcement.

The hour of his coming is in the Incarnation.

The Incarnation brings the world his presence. It is a presence so complete that it overshadows every presence before it.

God is made human in Christ. God makes himself present to us with such a special presence, such an obvious presence, as to overthrow all the complicated calculations made about him in the past.

‘The invisible, intangible God has made himself visible and tangible in Christ.’

If Jesus is truly God, everything is clear; if I cannot believe this, everything darkens again.” ~From The God Who Comes by Carlo Carretto

Merry Christmas!

I thank You this day for Your presence in my life. I thank You for revealing Yourself to me piece by piece until complete clarity is finally achieved.  I thank You for sending Your son to bring into focus Your love for us. Amen.

One message to give…

The Word became flesh and made his home among us. We have seen his glory, glory like that of a father’s only son full of grace and truth. ~John 1:14 (CEB)

If I could give only one message to the world what would it be? If I had only a few seconds of fame, what would I want the world to know?

The message that I could shout from the top of Mount Lecont, is that God did not come down to earth in Jesus Christ to make life just a tiny bit better but to make things exceedingly remarkably better. God came down to earth not just so I could tolerate living here on earth but to transport my life right now into a life of real living. Jesus came not just to prepare the way for the next world but so that I might live life more freely now. Jesus came to show us how to live in a way that was a costly reconciling love, relentless hope and reverberating joy. God came down to earth so that we could live like Him. He came to save us from violence by showing us the way to peace. He came to save us from greed by showing us the way of compassion. He came to save us from our addiction of living for self by showing us the way of self-giving love. God came down to earth through Jesus Christ to save us from sin by showing us the way to forgiveness; to save us from death by showing us the way to live; to save us from sorrow by showing us how to be joyful.

The good news of the gospel is not that Jesus came to show us the way to climb up to God, but that God came down to us, descending into the real stuff of our everyday ordinary lives- God with us in Jesus Christ.

Merry Christmas!

Thank You Heavenly Father for the example You sent to me through Your Son Jesus Christ. I thank You for the examples of self-giving love, forgiveness and joy that he brings to my life. I thank You for his example of a peace that goes beyond my present understanding. I thank You O Lord, that I know the end of the Story and that You use all things for Your ultimate glory. Amen.

The key

The Son is the image of the invisible God, the one who is first over all creation, Because all things were created by him: both in the heavens and on the earth, the things that are visible and the things that are invisible. Whether they are thrones or powers, or rulers or authorities, all things were created through him and for him. He existed before all things, and all things are held together in him. He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the one who is firstborn from among the dead so that he might occupy the first place in everything. Because all the fullness of God was pleased to live in him, and he reconciled all things to himself through him— whether things on earth or in the heavens. He brought peace through the blood of his cross. ~Col. 1:15-20 (CEB)

Christmas holds the key to unlocking the deepest mysteries of my life: Who am I, where did I come from, is there meaning to my life, and where am I going?

In Christmas rests the revelation of God’s self to humankind. Through Jesus’ birth I can now understand God in human terms. Because of Jesus I can make sense of my life and understand more fully who I am and where I am going.

If we were left with just the creation story and the sacred texts we might feel that God is distant, uncaring and unapproachable. But when Jesus appeared as the revealer of a divine God, God becomes nearer, more loving and approachable. Now we know that God understands us and that we can begin to understand God. The birth of Jesus allows an experience of God with us and within us.

The great mystery of God unfolds in the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Now I know who I am- God’s beloved child; to whom I belong- my faithful redeemer; and where I am going in my journey of life- to a place prepared for me.

The wait is over… The nights are getting shorter…  Merry Christmas!

What a humbling thought O Lord, to think that You, the Creator of more than my limited vision can see, loves me and calls me His beloved child. Today I thank You for sending Jesus into the world to reveal to me Who You are. Without his example of Your love for me I might not be able to grasp how far, how wide, how high and how deep Your love for me really is. Thank You for the story of Jesus’ birth, life, death and resurrection. May I remain secure in my knowledge of Your love as go out into a hurting world. May I be a reflection of Your mighty love to everyone that I meet this day. Amen.

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