In search of a star

When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road. Matthew 2:10-12 (CEB)

Today is the 12th day of Christmas. Tradition tells us that this is when the Wisemen arrived to see the baby Jesus. How did the Wisemen know that Jesus had been born? The Wisemen knew that something was about to happen because they had been watching. They weren’t distracted by things going on around them. They were intently looking. Not only did they notice that the star began its move they also followed.

There is much I can learn from the Wisemen. I can learn to patiently watch and listen as God reveals His vision for my life. Sometimes, even when I try hard to do so, I just don’t see God in the everyday things and events. But I think this is why we are given the story of the Wisemen.

Epiphany gives me the time to remember to watch, wait, listen, look, anticipate, and discern the light, life and truth of the Lord’s presence in my midst. It reminds me that it is important that I remember to look for Him in my life. It is vital that we remember to watch. Once I see His presence in my life I should not return to who I was before. I must seek a new path for my life. How applicable that this story comes so near to the first of the year with its opportunity of a fresh start!

Dear God, Thank you for second chances and for new beginnings. Thank You for signs in our life that show us the way to go. Help me to go down a different path this year. Help me to search for you in even the smallest moments. Help me in my search to be transformed through Your never endig grace. Amen.

Wholeness and Purpose

I know that good doesn’t live in me—that is, in my body. The desire to do good is inside of me, but I can’t do it. I don’t do the good that I want to do, but I do the evil that I don’t want to do. But if I do the very thing that I don’t want to do, then I’m not the one doing it anymore. Instead, it is sin that lives in me that is doing it. So I find that, as a rule, when I want to do what is good, evil is right there with me.  I gladly agree with the Law on the inside, but I see a different law at work in my body. It wages a war against the law of my mind and takes me prisoner with the law of sin that is in my body.  I’m a miserable human being. Who will deliver me from this dead corpse?  Thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then I’m a slave to God’s Law in my mind, but I’m a slave to sin’s law in my body. ~Romans 7:18-25 (CEB)

Life is not a game I can win, and God is not a trophy I earn. No matter how “good” I am, I am not good enough for God. On the other hand, no matter how “bad” I am, I can never be outside of God. I can only hope in each thing I face to hold such a consciousness of God that no lesser gods can capture my attention nor can my self centeredness keep me away from the awareness that is the fullness of Life. It is the goal of life to come to a Wholeness, to experience a Purpose beyond all purposes, to come to the identification that my strength is Him.

Heavenly Father, help me with the ever present war that wages inside. Help me to come to a Wholeness and to experience a Purpose beyond all purposes. Help me to not be self-centered this day forgetting that it is You from which my strength comes from. Amen.

A new day

The LORD your redeemer, the holy one of Israel, says, For your sake, I have sent an army to Babylon, and brought down all the bars, turning the Chaldeans’ singing into a lament. I am the LORD, your holy one, Israel’s creator, your king! The LORD says— who makes a way in the sea and a path in the mighty waters, who brings out chariot and horse, army and battalion; they will lie down together and will not rise; they will be extinguished, extinguished like a wick. Don’t remember the prior things; don’t ponder ancient history. Look! I’m doing a new thing; now it sprouts up; don’t you recognize it? I’m making a way in the desert, paths in the wilderness. The beasts of the field, the jackals and ostriches, will honor me, because I have put water in the desert and streams in the wilderness to give water to my people, my chosen ones, this people whom I formed for myself, who will recount my praise. ~Isaiah 43:14-21 (CEB)

Every day we are given the chance to start anew. New beginnings are available all the time. There also is always the opportunity for a new beginning in our relationship with God. God is infinite so there is the unlimited possibility for growth and starting anew. No matter how intimate our relationship with Jesus Christ is there is always room for growth and new beginnings. The changes He is calling us to might be slight or it might be radical.

Heavenly Father, show me how You want me to grow this day, what new levels in our relationship are you stretching me to. Give me the strength and courage to rise up to the changes You are calling me to make today. Amen

Forgiving the church

If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it; if one part gets the glory, all the parts celebrate with it. You are the body of Christ and parts of each other. ~1 Cor 12:26-27 (CEB)

I was once by my perception, hurt deeply by “the church” or rather by the people in the church. I was confused. I couldn’t understand how “Christian people” could act in such a way as they did. I was holding them up to my standard of perfection and not seeing them through God’s eyes… wounded and broken like me.

“When we have been wounded by the Church, our temptation is to reject it.   But when we reject the Church it becomes very hard for us to keep in touch with the living Christ.  When we say, ‘I love Jesus, but I hate the Church,’ we end up losing not only the Church but Jesus too.  The challenge is to forgive the Church.  This challenge is especially great because the Church seldom asks us for forgiveness, at least not officially.  But the Church as an often fallible human organization needs our forgiveness, while the Church as the living Christ among us continues to offer us forgiveness.

It is important to think about the Church not as ‘over there’ but as a community of struggling, weak people of whom we are part and in whom we meet our Lord and Redeemer.” ~From Bread for the Journey, by Henri Nouwen

Although I never officially left a church over my wounds I know I was guilty of losing Jesus while I held onto my hurt and anger. Even though I continued to grace the steps of the church that hurt me I was blinded by pain, thus unable to see Jesus and His Grace for me. As always, unforgiveness only injures me. In time I was able to see that we are all human and none of us perfect. Now I see that time period as a necessary part of my journey. Many life lessons were learned as I regained my sight of Jesus through that time of trial. Most important of all was the reminder that Jesus forgives me every day and I need to extend that same grace to others.

Heavenly Father, I thank You for the grace you give me every day. Help me to see others as needing your grace too. May I not let my past hurts blind me so deeply as to not feel Your love this day. Amen.

When He came calling

I will bless the LORD at all times; his praise will always be in my mouth. I praise the LORD— let the suffering listen and rejoice. Magnify the LORD with me! Together let us lift his name up high! I sought the LORD and he answered me. He delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to God will shine; their faces are never ashamed. This suffering person cried out: the LORD listened and saved him from every trouble. On every side, the LORD’s messenger protects those who honor God; and he delivers them. Taste and see how good the LORD is! The one who takes refuge in him is truly happy! You who are the LORD’s ~Psalm 34:1-8 (CEB)

“You called, shouted, broke through my deafness; you flared, blazed, banished my blindness; you lavished your fragrance, I gasped, and now I pant for you; I tasted you, and I hunger and thirst; you touched me, and I burned for your peace.” ~From The Confessions by Saint Augustine

Once I began to listen to God calling to me, the more I wanted to hear. A simple taste of God’s word was not enough; it left me hungering for more. To the one who delivers me from all my fears I want even more today. I am never satisfied. As long as I seek refuge in Him I find true and complete happiness.

Heaveny Father, I thank You this day for calling out to me, for searching the dark depths for my lost soul. I thank you for finding me while I was lost, caught up in trying hard to live right. I thank You for the peace that awaits when I rest in Your arms. May I never stray so far to feel darkness’ bleak fear, help me stay in the light of Your love. Amen.

God sings

Rejoice, Daughter Zion! Shout, Israel! Rejoice and exult with all your heart, Daughter Jerusalem.~Zeph 3:14 (CEB)

Reading Zephaniah shows us that God pleads for us to turn to Him. He does not want our destruction. He wants us to come away from our self-willed path and find a road that leads to him.

Have you ever wondered what God is saying to you when you line your steps with his? Zephaniah 3 says this:

Rejoice, Daughter Zion! Shout, Israel! Rejoice and exult with all your heart, Daughter Jerusalem. The LORD has removed your judgment; he has turned away your enemy. The LORD, the king of Israel, is in your midst; you will no longer fear evil. On that day, it will be said to Jerusalem: Don’t fear, Zion. Don’t let your hands fall. The LORD your God is in your midst— a warrior bringing victory. He will create calm with his love; he will rejoice over you with singing. I will remove from you those worried about the appointed feasts. They have been a burden for her, a reproach. Watch what I am about to do to all your oppressors at that time. I will deliver the lame; I will gather the outcast. I will change their shame into praise and fame throughout the earth. (Zep 3:14-19)

He sings a song of joy and commands you sing too!

Heavenly Father, thank you for your songs of joy that You plant in our hearts for our day of return. I thank You that You are so willing to turn our ashes to joy, our suffering to purpose, and our pain to victory. Thank You for the calm you promise us if only we will look to You, our Hope and Redeemer. Ever guide my steps this day. Amen.

Redefinition

Simon Peter told them, “I’m going fishing.” They said, “We’ll go with you”. They set out in a boat, but throughout the night they caught nothing. Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples didn’t realize it was Jesus. Jesus called to them, “Children, have you caught anything to eat?” They answered him, “No.” He said, “Cast your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.” So they did, and there were so many fish that they couldn’t haul in the net. Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It’s the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard it was the Lord, he wrapped his coat around himself (for he was naked) and jumped into the water. The other disciples followed in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they weren’t far from shore, only about one hundred yards. When they landed, they saw a fire there, with fish on it, and some bread. Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish that you’ve just caught.” Simon Peter got up and pulled the net to shore. It was full of large fish, one hundred fifty-three of them. Yet the net hadn’t torn, even with so many fish. Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” None of the disciples could bring themselves to ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. Jesus came, took the bread, and gave it to them. He did the same with the fish. ~John 21:3-13 (CEB)

For three years Peter spent his time with Jesus. He was even one of his most sacred, hand-picked inner circle. He was not just a disciple but a friend. But in one moment he goes from over reacting and attacking a guard  in his anger to denying Jesus three times in panic. To fall so far.In Peters confusion he returns to his old way of living.  Its not that his past life was wrong, it’s that he forgot the truths that he had learned at Jesus feet. Peter had gone to a dark, unwelcoming place.  Jesus was crucified before he had a chance to reconcile.  No opportunity to right the wrong. No space for an explanation. With  his confidence shattered he goes back to the life he had had before.The night of fishing lacked it’s previous satisfaction, but the dawn of a new day brings with it new mercies. The man who should be dead stands on the shore. After asking about their success from the night’s fishing and telling them to cast their nets on the other side John turns to Peter saying,  “It’s the Lord.” Peter, the one who had failed Jesus the most can’t wait for the boat to reach the shore. He jumps in and starts swimming.

I too find myself at times confused as to what Christ has called me to do. In my panic I find myself in old habits. In my anxieties I find myself returning to my old way of life. When I find myself where I don’t want to be I remember what Jesus told Peter before all this took place. “You will be sifted, when you return to me help your brothers. When you find your way again share the good news.” Jesus came looking for Peter in his old way of life,  not to  ask why or tell him he must earn his favor back, but to remind Peter who he was.

My failures do not define me. In Christ, my failures can redefine me. Jesus comes looking for me and calls me to a greater task. Fear can no longer define me.  Love must prevail.

I am thankful Lord that when I find myself fishing again, you come to the shore to find me. Thank you for always seeking me out to remind me who I am. Amen.

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