Wednesday, December 31, 2008

A Game of Battleship

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

My brother and his children gave Melea a giftcard to Target for Christmas. She couldn't wait for the chance to go to Target, choose just the right items...making sure the cost came out just right, and pay for it herself...even the extra cents for the tax. The young lady at the cash register was so kind and patient and treated Melea just like a grownup. Melea chose a DVD and the game "Battleship." Melea loved the fact that the giftcard came from my brother, and that he and I had loved playing the game when we were children!

Yesterday as Melea and I played, I found myself wanting to let her win...even help her win...with comments like, "Whew! That was close!" or "Oh, you almost got me!" I wanted to make it easy for her. But is that the best thing to do? She really needs to learn things like good sportsmanship, tenacity, strategy, the ability to cope when things just don't come easy. (And by the way, she is getting that from her Daddy...highly competitive....Yep, he enjoys winning!) As we were playing, and I was thinking how much I love to see my sweet girl have victory, the verses came to mind from Matthew 7:9-11, which say, "Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!" But is the "good gift" always in the form of an easy win?

In Romans 8 (and I encourage you to read over the whole chapter), Paul says (in verses 14-18) that "because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons (and daughters) of God...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. I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us." And skipping down to verses 31-32, "What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all--how will He not also, along with Him, graciously give us all things?"

Paul also encourages us in Philippians 3:8-14 (and again, the whole chapter is so rich), "What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own...but that which is through faith in Christ....Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me....I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus."

So, what's the prize? The victory? A heritage as sons and daughters of the Most High--co-heirs with Christ! Glory that comes from enduring...and trusting the words of Jeremiah 29:11 "'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

And remember, when you feel as if you are on life's "battleship" with waves crashing...the engine pushing you into unknown waters...with a fear of what lies ahead, or facing a fierce enemy, that we are sons and daughters of the Victor!! "When you go into battle in your own land against an enemy who is oppressing you..."[believe that] "You will be remembered by the Lord your God and rescued from your enemies." Numbers 10:9

Lord, Abba, Father, thank you for your great love. Thank you for the many promises in Your Word that remind us of the depths of your Fatherly love for us, and for your desire for us to be victorious! Help us to seek you, to trust you, to believe you...even when it's not easy...even when it requires suffering. Help us in our unbelief. We want to be like you.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Signs of His Love

"And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love." 1 Corinthians 13:13

It was dusk and I was taking my faithful companion, Cocoa, outside. I heard a rustle in the leaves in the pasture behind our house. I had to strain to see the source because of the time of day, the dense trees, and the color of the creatures carefully watching me. It was the wag of a white tail that gave them away...then ears standing perked attuned to any signs of danger. I stood perfectly still, my eyes scanning the lot in front of me. Then I saw them all...three deer...camouflaged, as God intended...regal, yet cautious. We just stood...watching each other. And then I just had to giggle with joy as once again God tangibly showed His love for me.

You see, it's just a sweet way He has used over the years to say "out loud," "I love you." I think way back (before we knew the sign language for I love you), my Daddy had his own. He would just hold up his middle three fingers, and I knew what he meant. He loved me. Years later, God used three finches on my finch feeder (which by the way was a part of a three part bird feeder "condo", that my husband gave show he loved me") to say "I love you." There have been other times...three blooms on a bush, three butterflies. I just smile...and know He loves me.

As I've been pondering the deer (and dear) sighting over the last couple of days, I'm reminded of the ultimate demonstration of His love for me...and for all of us, and it's found in John 3:16. "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him, should not perish but have everlasting life." (KJV) And as a direct result of that love...of God sending His own Son to walk this earth blamelessly and give His life (and "...the Son of Man [spent] three days in the heart of the earth...." Matthew 12:40...rose again...and ascended back to the Father) so that we, also, might live forever with Him. And then...we have completion through the Trinity by way of the "promised Holy Spirit" Ephesians 1:13, as He dwells in us...comforts us, counsels us, strengthens us...until our Heavenly eternity begins!

So..."May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all!" 2 Corinthians 13:14 Bless-ed Trinity!

Abba, Father, thank You for Your great love for us...Your compassions that never fail...Your mercies that are new every morning. Thank You for Your Word that reminds us of Your unfailing love. Thank you for those tangible ways that you speak to us...minister to us...personally to show us that love as we walk this sod, and await the day that we will see You face to face! Oh, "what a day of rejoicing that will be!! When we all see Jesus, we'll sing and shout the victory!" Amen...and I mean it. :)

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Inspired to Prepare My Home and My Heart

"And this shall be a sign unto you; ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger." Luke 2:12 (KJV)

My friend, Jean (My Conversations with God blogger), inspired me yesterday to get up and get moving!! She was talking about getting rid of "clutter" and what my upstairs was cluttered with was boxes of Christmas decorations. Contrary to the wishes of my 8 year old, I had a bit of trouble conjuring up the desire to tackle the mountain of cartons filled to the brim with Christmas-y "treasures" collected over the years.

I turned the TV to that wonderful station that plays holiday songs, took a deep breath, and set to work! In a matter of minutes, I was humming...and smiling...and I must admit, there was a bit of dancing around the room. (I was home alone.) Warm memories (Hmmm... "Winter must be cold for those with no warm mem'ries." Name that movie!...sorry! family quirkiness!)...warm memories of days of decorating when the girls were small...and home...brought such a feeling of satisfaction and joy. As I took out each item, thoughts of the circumstances surrounding their becoming a part of our collection...given as gifts from friends, family, or students of mine or bought for personal reasons...made my heart feel glad...and appreciative. I worked for hours finding just the right spot for each. Finally I was able to just sit and look around at how it my aching back...and breathe a sigh of relief.

As I surveyed the room, I thought, "Man, that took a lot of preparation!" And without skipping a beat, I heard the words, "Joy, to the world! The Lord is come. Let earth receive her King. Let every heart prepare Him room...." During this time of year we do so much "preparation." We decorate the house. We bake the Christmas cookies. We shop. And shop. And shop. We wrap the gifts. We hustle. We bustle. We run here. We run there. And I'm thinking we need to just prepare Him room in our hearts and in our holiday. Let's take time to sit by the fire, or by the tree and enjoy the peace of His presence, and consider the depth of His love...that God would come to earth as a baby, take on flesh, die, and be resurrected that we might live. "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace...." Luke 2:14 (KJV)

Lord, please forgive us when we let the cares and activity of this world keep us from You. Please help us to take the time to worship talk to listen to read Your celebrate You and Your birthday this season.