Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Miraculous Conception

Over the next 5 weeks, my husband will be taking a break from his Nurture series to focus on messages for the Advent Season. This Sunday is the First Sunday of Advent and he will focus on the Miraculous Conception of Jesus Christ. There will be one important thread throughout the sermon series and that is that the Holy Spirit is present in power at every crucial event in the life of Jesus - from his conception through his resurrection.

Matthew 1:18 tells us that Mary "was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit." This was confirmed to Joseph in verse 20 of the same chapter. So why is this important to me? This same power is present in the lives of those "who have received Him, to those who believed in His name." John 1:12

Perhaps that's why the following popular song on Christian radio means so much to me.  Here are the lyrics for "Same Power" by Jeremy Camp (I've italicized the words in the chorus for emphasis)

I can see
Waters raging at my feet
I can feel
The breath of those surrounding me
I can hear
The sound of nations rising up
We will not be overtaken
We will not be overcome

I can walk
Down this dark and painful road
I can face
Every fear of the unknown
I can hear
All God’s children singing out
We will not be overtaken
We will not be overcome

The same power that rose Jesus from the grave
The same power that commands the dead to wake
Lives in us, lives in us
The same power that moves mountains when He speaks
The same power that can calm a raging sea
Lives in us, lives in us
He lives in us, lives in us

We have hope
That His promises are true
In His strength
There is nothing we can’t do
Yes, we know
There are greater things in store
We will not be overtaken
We will not be overcome

Greater is He that is living in me
He’s conquered our enemy
No power of darkness
No weapon prevails
We stand here in victory

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Gratitude = the power to change the world

"Why bother to pray?" I have said this and others have said it to me. What we actually mean is "Why bother to pray when we don't get what we want?"

It's not IF we should pray that's the problem. Jesus prayed, so we, as Christ-followers, must also do likewise. Rather, it's HOW we should pray. Throughout my life, if I want to learn how to do something, I study. I read books about it. I watch people who are good at it. I ask questions. Then I practice what I've learned.

The Book of Daniel is one place to go for teaching on prayer. Most would agree that Daniel is a good example for prayer. Afterall, how many of us have been thrown into a lion's den and come out unscathed? Daniel 6: 10 says "Daniel prayed three times a day, just as he had always done, giving thanks to God." We can learn a lot about prayer from this one verse.

  1. He prayed three times a day. How many times do I pray faithfully in the morning and then by noon I am totally stressed out? What if I stopped and prayed at noon? And what if I took the time at dinner to give thanks to God, not just for my food, but for other blessings. Would my focus start to shift from my worries to a God who wants to bear my burdens?
  2. Just as he had always done. It's hard to start praying as an adult - or even after a 1 month sabbatical from prayer. That's why it's crucial we cultivate a habit of prayer in ourselves, our children and our grandchildren. This habit builds a foundation of trust in God. (see Daniel 6: 23) Are we doing that?
  3. Giving thanks to God. We tend to forget that Daniel was taken from his land, his people and his home. He was a refugee. Yet he didn't resist God's plan. Instead, he prospered in it. How? It has got to be linked to his prayer life and his heart of thanksgiving. 
Ann Voskamp, in her book, One Thousand Gifts, says "Because gratitude ushers into the other side of prayer, into the heart of God-love, and all power to change the world, me, resides here in His love."

Did Daniel change the world? Well, after he came out of the lions' den, King Darius issued a decree to every part of His kingdom that people must fear and reverence the God of Daniel. That's a pretty good start to changing his world.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Like God

It blows my mind when I read Ephesians 4:23-24 (our verse for this Sunday):
..."To be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness."
We were created to be like God. Not like the very best person we knew once. Not like our mother or father, but like God. Like God how? A few posts back (see October 14th), I mentioned that when I study God's character, I believe I am led where He wants me to go. Since that post, as I continue to read God's Word, there are two character traits that keep standing out to me. One is His unfailing love (Just to name a few places: Psalm 89:24, Psalm 92:2, Psalm 100:5, Psalm 108:4 NLT ) and the other is His faithfulness (Psalm 89:1-2; 8; 24, Psalm 92:2, Psalm 100:5, Psalm 108:4b NLT).

My husband has said over and over that Jesus Christ was born in the flesh, not only to show us the way to gain eternal life, but to also show us an example of what we were created to be like here on earth. Like God! And the same power that was present with Jesus on earth, is available to us - so we can be like God. Wasn't it God's unfailing love that drew me to Him? And isn't it His faithfulness that keeps me with Him? Then I am to take on a new attitude in my mind and put on a new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.