Celebrate The Day It All Began

I recently celebrated my wedding anniversary. Four days before that, my son was blessed to marry the love of his life. And on this same day, my sweet in-laws celebrated 57 years of wedded bliss. WOW!!!! I thought, what an accomplishment. So, here they are 57 years later, celebrating the day is all began.

That’s what we really celebrate isn’t it? The day it all begins? A birthday celebration takes us back to the beginning! So here we are, approximately 2000 years later, celebrating The Beginning; celebrating the greatest gift to all mankind; celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ.

Let’s be sure to go back to the beginning, and celebrate the glorious gift of God with Us….Emmanuel! He came to give us the gift of His favor, of hope, of peace, of joy, and best of all His Salvation.

If you’re a bit lost in this journey we call life, and you feel like you don’t have hope or joy; go back to the beginning, and start all over again. Jesus is waiting.

We celebrate Jesus’s birth, because without His life we would not have life. Jesus said, “I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance-to the full, till it overflows”. John 10:10 amp

THIS IS WORTH CELEBRATING! This Christmas, celebrate the day it all began…..the day Jesus came into this world to save us, to give us a blessed abundant joy filled life!

I recently celebrated my wedding anniversary. Four days before that, my son was blessed to marry the love of his life. And on this same day, my sweet in-laws celebrated 57 years of wedded bliss. WOW!!!! I thought, what an accomplishment. So, here they are 57 years later, celebrating the day is all began.

That’s what we really celebrate isn’t it? The day it all begins? A birthday celebration takes us back to the beginning! So here we are, approximately 2000 years later, celebrating The Beginning; celebrating the greatest gift to all mankind; celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ.

Let’s be sure to go back to the beginning, and celebrate the glorious gift of God with Us….Emmanuel! He came to give us the gift of His favor, of hope, of peace, of joy, and best of all His Salvation.

If you’re a bit lost in this journey we call life, and you feel like you don’t have hope or joy; go back to the beginning, and start all over again. Jesus is waiting.

We celebrate Jesus’s birth, because without His life we would not have life. Jesus said, “I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance-to the full, till it overflows”. John 10:10 amp

THIS IS WORTH CELEBRATING! This Christmas, celebrate the day it all began…..the day Jesus came into this world to save us, to give us a blessed abundant joy filled life!

It’s Okay To Make a Sandwich

Eat God's Word Bible highlighted

Who ever said the only acceptable way to consume God’s Word is actually opening the hard copy of the printed Bible? No one did, that’s who. But God does want us to get a daily dose of His Word. Reading scripture is food to our soul! Our physical bodies need to consume food daily or we grow weak, and we could even starve to death. As important as food is to our physical existence, it’s equally important to our spiritual existence. I don’t always have time to sit at a gourmet restaurant; sometimes I make a sandwich. What’s important is that I get food regularly!!

Don’t misunderstand me. I love to sit down with the printed Bible and really take my time to read and study it. It’s my personal preference: always has been.  I feel so alive afterwards and uplifted. But guess what, I don’t always have time for that.  I am hesitant to admit that I went through a period of time when I actually felt guilty if I didn’t have the time….I actually felt like I was failing in my duty to read God’s Word…like I was a big  ‘let down’, a failure, a hypocrite.  But guess what? God never did feel that way about me.

No sir, God relieved me of that burden one day with this simple statement, “it doesn’t matter where you read The Word, as long as you read The Word.” In other words, it doesn’t have to be the published and printed hard copy. I can soak in God’s Word by listening to scripture readings on CD or the radio. I can read my daily scripture sent to my iPhone. I can read a few scriptures in an email devotion. I can even read my own handwritten scriptures on a chalk board in my home.

Printed, digital, audio or handwritten…..it doesn’t matter as long as we are consuming God’s Word!!!

In this age of advanced technology, we are without excuse. God’s Word is so easily and readily available to us at the touch of our fingertips or at the command of our voice.  So when you don’t have time to sit in a restaurant, it’s okay to make a sandwich.

P.S. Reading God’s Word is a great way to Worship Him

Hearts Like Flowers

I love plants! I’ve learned that each plant must have specific needs met in order to flourish. One of those needs is the proper sunlight. This means I can’t just place it any old place inside my home. I’ve also noted that no matter what, the plants will always bend toward the sun…leaning in toward its vibrant light.

Isn’t this a good picture of how WE should be with The Son? Leaning in toward His vibrant light…soaking in those life giving rays!! Lately, I feel God’s prompting to simply BE in His Presence…..to sit at His feet and SOAK Him in. Isn’t this what the flowers do? And what happens as a result of flowers staying in the presence of the sun is the unveiling of great beauty….the sprouting of new growth…..and later the prompting of a new seed for a new season.

Recently we sang a remake of an old song written in 1907 by Henry Van Dyke, “Joyful Joyful We Adore Thee.” I’ve heard this song and played it on my piano many times, but on this particular Sunday my Spirit translated the lyrics like this:

Hearts unfold like flowers before You Oh God….Opening to The Son

During that worship service I could imagine how beautiful it must be to God…. to see every member of the congregation as a flower, opening before the Glory of the Son of God in complete worship…..completely reliant upon Him in every way. Sitting at the feet of Jesus!  In doing so….we have life! We live, blossom and flourish!

During the hustle and bustle of the Christmas season, let’s don’t get so busy that we forget to be like the flowers before Him. Be Still in His Presence, and soak in The Son!!!

 

Into The Deep

At eight months old, my daughter didn’t know how to swim, much less hold her breath. Yet my husband would confidently carry her in his arms into the deep water of the ocean. This girl- who was still eating sea shells and sand, was fearlessly and joyously caught in the rapture of the moment. Why wasn’t she afraid? She was with her father.

WE can go into the deep with God. No more hesitation. No more excuses: you don’t have to be a Bible scholar…..you don’t have to be saved for a certain amount of time….you don’t have to know church etiquette…..and you don’t have to have your ducks in a row before venturing into the deep!  Let’ get caught up in the joyous and fearless wonder of Jesus Christ!! Don’t be afraid. You are with your Heavenly Father!

Take a moment in the Presence of God right now.  Click this link and let the words of this worshipful song become a prayer! Boldly go into the deep!!!

“Into The Deep” by Citipointe Live

Deep

VERSE
When my hands stretch out towards the sky
You never let me run dry
When I dive in-to the depths of You
My heart is made anew… Jesus in You

CHORUS
Your love is a flood and I’m
Caught in the current of Your living waters
It’s Your love… it’s Your love

Your Presence is a flood
And I’m caught in the wonder
You have taken me over
You have won… my heart

BRIDGE
Into the deep I will go with You
Sub-merge my feet… to my head in all of You
As your Presence falls
I am drowned in Your love
Immerse me….. immerse me

My Weapon! My Praise! My Prayer!

Prayer is my weapon
Prayer is my praise
Prayer is my connection to the God of my days

Crying out in grief; in sorrow; in utter desperation
My aching heart soothed in a wash of anticipation

As He bends down to listen
To every word spoken

Every sound, every thought, making its way
To my Father who knows I’m broken

Who collects my tears, knows my sorrows and removes my fears
He holds my hand every step of the way
Lifts my head, turns my sorrow to praise

He hears it all! My petitions made known!
Boldly brought before His throne

There I stand after having said all,
Voicing my worship to the God of my soul

Praising Him for Perfect Love covering imperfections
Seeing beyond faults
Transforming me to His reflection

He only, deserves my attention
My thoughts, my ways
Worshiping a God that defies comprehension

His thoughts, His ways much higher than mine
Yet on me His love does shine

Overcome and amazed, my heart in awe
Standing still in His Presence
Know that HE! IS! GOD!

A Warrior before me Who teaches me to fight
With weapons of warfare full of His might

Armed by His Word on the tip of my tongue,
I speak out truths that have already won
The battle. I will not be discouraged, I will not be afraid

Because I know that prayer is my weapon
Prayer is my praise
Prayer is my connection to the God of My days

by Tracey Ray

Psalms 3:3, Isaiah 41:13, Psalms 116:2, Psalm 56:8 , Psalms 34:4

My Messy Life: God Loves me Anyway!

You know you messed up yesterday at work when you lashed out at your co-worker…..and remember that time you expressed a little road rage?……..recall that grudge you’re still holding against Jane?…..Oh and don’t forget the bad decision you made when you clearly knew God was against it…. And there’s the impure thought…..the unfair treatment to your spouse…the list could go on, and I’m sure you get the point.

We all mess up right? Right. Does it ever make you feel like you don’t deserve to be loved by God…..ever make you feel condemned during a church service…..feel unworthy and undeserving? I’ve felt that way before, but that is wrong thinking. The truth is, when we think that way WE are the ones placing conditions on God’s love. We are in essence telling HIM how to-OR-not to love us.

This kind of thinking can make you hold back during praise and worship service, keep you from getting involved in ministry, and sadly it can even keep people from attending church all together. All because we don’t feel like we deserve love when we have messed up so bad.

I have a surprise for you: God loves you anyway, whether you want Him to or not! As a society, we tend to place conditions on everything, including love. But God’s love for us is conditionLESS.

I’ve seen a lot of information out there that disagrees with me, so allow me a chance to explain. I’m not saying that you don’t have to repent of sin, and be saved to go to Heaven: you most certainly do. I’m also not saying that you can sin to your heart’s content and have God’s approval.

I’m simply saying there is NO condition to simply be loved by our Creator. Let’s look at the definition of unconditional love:  affection with no limits or conditions; complete love.

His Word tells us that He loved us when we were still sinners (Romans 5:8))! In other words, He loves us BEFORE we have a chance to get our messy lives ‘right.’ He loves us BEFORE we love Him (I John 4:19). Our sin….our mess ups from last week…..our stinky attitudes could never limit God from showering His perfect love on us. You want to know what that looks like: it looks like the cross, and it looks like an empty grave. He loves you to death!!

Let’s get something straight here. God doesn’t love us because we are lovable or good. God loves us simply because He Himself IS Love.

So go to church!
Sing loud during praise & worship!
Say Amen to the preacher!

Don’t let shame and condemnation cause you to disengage from God, from church, from people, from His plans for you! God loves you: messy life and all.

Overflow

We were created for worship. Each week worship leaders have the wonderful opportunity to use our gifts and talents to lead others into God’s Presence.  But let’s face it, Satan wars against us to steal the worship that God deserves. Satan will use anything to accomplish his goal. Sometimes he’ll use your own ministry to do it. We can get caught up in the “doing” of the ministry, that we neglect the founder of our ministry: Jesus Christ. From the beginning of time, our primary purpose has always been to have a relationship and to fellowship with our Creator. This is what we were made for.

In order to do that, God says to “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it (Proverbs 4:23). What’s in you will overflow into other areas of your life…..If we are filled with negative things like bitterness, unforgiveness, resentment; THAT is what will spill out of us. We have to be on guard because these things sneak up on us….slowly creep in….leaving less and less room for the Presence of God.

God wants us so full of His Presence that His goodness just spills out of us into our instruments and into our singing. But if we are filled with anything else, that too will spill over into our instruments and our singing.

My heart is overflowing with good news. I will direct my song to the King.
My tongue is a pen for a skillful writer. (Psalm 45:1)

So, how can WE keep our heart overflowing with good news? How do we stay full? Personal time with God is the answer: prayer, reading His Word and having our own intimate time of worship. But we have to be on guard because the enemy will try to invade that time and fill it with……life. Not necessarily bad things, just anything that will keep us from spending time with God.

We can’t help others hear from Heaven until Heaven hears from US (I’m referring to our personal time of worship). Sundays…we can’t wait to fill up with God’s Presence when we arrive- we need to arrive filled with His Presence!

When I prayed about this devotion, God gave me this word: overflow.

OVERFLOW:

  • To flow over the brim
  • To flow beyond the limits; to run over
  • To be superabundant
  • To have surplus; extra

I want you to imagine with me a pitcher full of water. Now imagine one glass full of water, and one glass empty or half-empty. The pitcher is God’s Presence-ready to be poured out. The glasses are worship leaders. When God’s Presence is poured over the full glass of water, His Presence will overflow to the congregation of worshipers in a way it never could with an empty or half-empty vessel.

There is another definition for overflow that I want us to focus on:

  • To be an OUTLET for what OVERFLOWS thus ALLOWING the SURPLUS to be RELEASED

God wants to MINISTER from the overflow: where WE are an outlet for His Presence where He can release Himself over the people, and fill the room. As we usher in the Presence of God He wants to MANIFEST in this overflow.

Peter was so filled with the Spirit of God that people lined up their sick in the street in hopes that his shadow would fall on them and they would be healed. For Paul, he was so full of the Presence of God that the sick were healed when they touched the same garments that had touched Paul. Now that’s operating in the overflow!

I also think of Obededom: the Ark of the Covenant rested at his home for 3 months. During this time He experienced the overflow of God’s presence so much so, that everything he owned prospered. So when David moved the Ark of the Covenant back to Jerusalem, Obededom and his family followed the Presence. Experiencing the overflow will create followers of His Presence.

Let’s allow God to use US as an outlet for His overflowing Presence, allowing His fullness to be released.

I want to end with a few excerpts from: THE OVERFLOWING CUP by Charles Spurgeon….. a sermon on Psalm 23:5 “My cup runs over.”

“Does your cup run over? Then call in your friends to get the overflow. Let others participate in what you do not wish to monopolize or intercept. Christian people ought to be like the cascades I have seen in brooks and rivers, always running over and so causing other falls; which again by their joyful excess cause fresh cascades and so beauty is joyfully multiplied.

If God fills one of us, it is so that we may bless others; if he gives His ministering servants sweet fellowship with Him, it is so that their words may encourage other to seek the same fellowship; and if their hearers get a portion of food, it is so that they may carry a portion home.

If you get the water for your own mill and dam it up, you will find that it is overgrown with rank weeds, and becomes a foul thing. Pull up the sluices, man, and LET IT RUN! Let It Run! There is more coming…. there is more coming.

It may be that God sent YOU the running over on purpose so that those who were ready to perish might be refreshed” (Spurgeon).

References
Spurgeon, Charles. The Overflowing Cup. 2017. Web. 2 May 2017. <answersingenesis.org>