Friday, November 30, 2012

Repeat the Sounding Joy!

"Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds...." Deuteronomy 11:18 (NIV)

What's playing in your head?

You know how you get a song stuck on your mind.

Or the words someone said to you.

Well, I had a revelation that really hit home with me this week. I've mentioned before that we have a clock tower in our neighborhood that chimes the hour, quarter hour, half hour, and three quarter hour. Sometimes I hear it. Sometimes I don't. The funny thing is that sometimes I hear it even when it hasn't tolled.

Also, we've been keeping our radio tuned to our local Christian radio station which plays all Christmas music these days. Strangely, I've found myself "hearing" some of the songs even when it wasn't on.

The things we hear in our minds can be uplifting or can push us toward despair...whether music or words.

In this season where we're told, "It's the most wonderful time of the year," let's face it. It just isn't for everybody. Some folks face great struggles, hurt, loss, and sadness. I know. I've been there.

In those circumstances, the only source of true joy and hope comes from the Lord. In Nehemiah 8:10, we are reminded that "the joy of the LORD is [our] strength." Psalm 19:8 tells us that "The precepts of the LORD are right, giving joy to the heart." And 1 Thessalonians 1:6 encourages us to do as the church at Thessalonica did as they "in spite of severe suffering...welcomed the message with the joy given by the Holy Spirit."

Uplifting music helps. Especially that which comes directly from God's Word. And most importantly spending time reading His Word. His words are the ones we need to hear repeating in our minds. He loves us unfailingly. He loved us so much that He sent His one and only Son to earth where He experienced the struggles, hurt, loss, and sadnesses that we face. And He endured it for a purpose that was only accomplished through more suffering...on the cross.

To bring us victory. To bring us joy. To bring us peace.

He came "to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair."

Whether you find yourself wrapped up in the joys of Christmas or in a tangled mess, I pray that you will seek the One who can brings light into the darkness. And may you find yourself repeating the sounding joy.


Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Wednesday Worship~Thanksgiving to God

How can we say thanks? By giving Him all the glory for the things He has done. May He fill your heart with joy, worship, and thanksgiving today.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Monday Meditation (Tardy on Tuesday)~Overflow of Thanksgiving!

It is written: "I believed; therefore I have spoken." With that same spirit of faith we also believe and therefore speak, because we know that the One who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you in His presence. All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God."  2 Corinthians 4:13-15 (NIV)
With prayers that the overflow of your heart...your giving of thanks...for His grace, His power, His great love for us...brings great glory to our Redeemer!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Return to Me...Return to Me...Return to Me

"Return to Me, for I have redeemed you." Isaiah 44:22 (NIV)

I woke to the roar of leaf blowers.

Several men labored intently to beautify our neighborhood. In a matter of minutes sidewalks, lawns, and streets were cleared of fallen leaves as they gathered them into crunchy piles which were sucked up by a giant yellow vacuumy tube. Ah. All clear.

For maybe an hour.

Soon strong gusts of wind plucked hundreds more from their limbs, tossing them into the air, and leaving them strewn all over the ground like fallish confetti.

I couldn't help but wonder if those men felt defeat next time they passed that way.

Yet, they just return and do it all over again. And again. And again.

And I wonder how often that happens to us.

You know, when you achieve victory in cleaning up some area of your sin unforgiveness...or gossip...or a critical spirit...and then Boom! you do it again.

Or when you've welcomed and accepted the peace that only Jesus can give over a situation and then Whack! worry slams you and sucks you into its grasp.

Or you've taken a step of obedience to God and then Whoosh! fear rushes over you like Niagara Falls.

And then there's embracing of acceptance and fulfillment in the realization that you are chosen, loved, a child of the King, and that He who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it and Crash! you fall into a pit of insecurity, doubt, and feelings of unworthiness.

When that happens, you've got to take action. Get out your own blowing machine and blast those thoughts and the actions they prompt to smithereens!

Return to Him. He loves you and has redeemed you. Get in His Word and hear His encouragement to you.

Return. Again. And again. And again.                                                         

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Monday, November 12, 2012

Monday Meditation~Be Still and Know

Psalm 46 (NIV)
God is our refuge and strength,
An ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the
earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging.
There is a river whose streams make
glad the city of God,
the holy place where the Most High
God is within her, she will not fall;
God will help her at break of day.
Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;
He lifts His voice, the earth melts.
The LORD Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.
Come and see the works of the LORD,
the desolations He has brought on
the earth.
He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth;
He breaks the bow and shatters the spear,
He burns the shields with fire.
"Be still, and know that I am God'
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth."
The LORD Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.
Whatever our day...or week...or month...or year holds, we must remember that "the Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress." He is "our refuge and strength." We need not fear. We must have still and know that He is God.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Wednesday Worship~Never Alone

"The LORD Himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged." Deuteronomy 31:8 (NIV)

God is with us.

In the good the hard times.

He will never leave us nor forsake us. We are never alone.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Monday Meditation~The Bell Tolls for You!

"The Lord is near."  Philippians 4:5b (NIV)

Last week as I had my quiet time, a devotion by Sarah Young in Jesus Calling resonated in my soul.  As she wrote of words that Jesus would speak to us, she said, "I am with you. I am with you. I am with you. Heaven's bells continually peal with that promise of My presence....When you step back into the mainstream of life, strain to hear those glorious bells; I am with you. I am with you. I am with you."

This really struck a chord with me. We live in a neighborhood with a clock tower that chimes the hour...and the quarter hour...and the half hour...and the three quarter hour. What before were just bells chiming the time of day, now have become constant reminders that God is with us. God is with us. God is with us. Ah, what a sweet sound!

No matter what time of day or night, whether life flows like a tranquil stream or blows like the winds of a hurricane, remember the prophecy in Isaiah 7:14 and the fulfillment revealed to Joseph in Matthew 1:23 that says, "The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call Him Immanuel-which means, 'God with us.'"

Yes, God is with us. God is with us. God is with us.

Wrap your heart around that promise today and embrace His presence.

His Word reminds us, "Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart."  Jeremiah 29:12-13

Listen. Do you hear it? The bell tolls for you.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Do You Want More?

I'm going to 'fess up.                                                                        

I'm a Halloween grinch. I'm so glad that it's over. I'm just not a fan.

There's just something about it that rubs me the wrong way. Maybe it comes from a traumatic experience in my first year of motherhood. Or from years teaching in Christian schools. Or the concept of spending way too much money on candy that children really don't need. Or just that it's creepy.

I don't like creepy.

Now, that doesn't mean that I didn't love seeing my darlin' grandbaby dressed up like a ladybug or that I never allowed my daughters to go trick or treating. I did. But I much prefer church fall festivals and such that give families fun options for the evening. For years we've taken advantage of those types of activities or just gone out to eat and avoided being at home until the ghosts and goblins finished their rounds.

This year, because we moved to a new neighborhood, we decided to be good residents and participate by turning on our porch light, filling a really big bowl with candy (and refilling it several times) and handing it out to the costumed visitors. It was sweet to see babies dressed as sheep...or puppies...or elephants...little girls all princessed up...and some really cute superheroes. Not so sweet to see those with blood dripping from their mouths...or kids (that were way too big to be trick or treating) masquerading as other ghoulish characters...some really, really scary.

What horrified me the most, though, was the little princess who looked at the three pieces of candy that I cheerfully dropped in her plastic jack-o-lantern and mumbled, "Can I have more?"

Honestly, I was a bit dumbfounded. Yet I gave her another piece.

I don't think she even said, "Thank you."

I haven't quite been able to shake that interaction. I've mulled it over in my mind. I've meditated on various spiritual "take-aways."

Here's my favorite.

I want to boldly look up to the Father and ask for more.

Not sweet treats. Not more stuff.

Just more of Him. More knowledge. More wisdom. More time in His Word. More share. 

And I pray that I always remember to say, "Thank You."