A Reason for the Season

coffee, cup, laptop, memeGood morning and happy Thursday! It’s a bit nippy outside my door, and right on time. Christmas is coming.

The movies have started, the malls are brimming with shoppers, Christmas music is in the air, along with a definite aroma of cinnamon. The sights and sounds of the season.

All the rushing around causes me to wonder, am I ready for this? Can I conjure up a Christmassy-feeling? Bake some gingery-spicey things for the aroma, decorate with pretty lights and holiday bows?

Anticipation of the shiny eyes and excited faces of the children on Christmas Eve, watching and waiting, spurs me onward. Put up the tree, hang the lights, bake the cookies.

But, am I really ready? Something’s most definitely missing.

So, I turn my shiny eyes and excited face inward, to remember the One who started it all. As He made a natural entry into the world to begin an unprecedented journey that would span the next thirty-three years.

Yesterday, I wondered what it was like for Him, looking out through brand-new infant eyes. The Creator now a creature, helpless and dependent. Experiencing one of the greatest of all natural miracles–a mother’s love.

My heart brims over with love as I prepare to make a difference.

So, in the midst of all the gift-giving and rushing about, remember what it really means. Let His love shine out of your eyes and into your little corner of the world. Give from the abundance of your heart–kind words, a smile, a hug–spread His love. Help others remember the true meaning of the season.

Jesus.

Click to Tweet: Give from the abundance of your heart–kind words, a smile, a hug–spread His #love. Help others remember the true meaning of the #season. #MerryChristmas

How to Let Go

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I love this beautiful meme by my friend, Lynn Mosher. This scripture was the base of my main message while in Cuenca, Ecuador. I was able to share this on several occasions.

God is speaking in a very specific way through this particular passage of scripture. This is something we need not only to hear, but to pray about and listen to what God has to say to us, His children. Whoever has ears, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches… –Revelation 2:7 NIV

You’ll find this repeated many times in the New Testament. Jesus included it in the Lord’s Prayer–forgive our sins as WE FORGIVE those who have sinned against us. In some versions, you’ll find this translated as “debts”. I think that’s interesting, because if you forgive someone’s debt, the debt is gone. They don’t owe you anymore. If you have ever taken bankruptcy, you know exactly how this feels. You walk out of the courtroom feeling free.

Our Father wants us to have this experience, and He wants us to share it–by forgiving; releasing the sins of others committed against us. This not only frees the other person, it frees you, too.

It’s not always an easy thing to do, but I hope you will consider it. Don’t pass this to the next generation. Let it go. Teach your children how to forgive one another, and in so doing, you’re showing God’s love and teaching them to love also.

Jesus was once asked, “Master, which is the greatest commandment in the law?”

He answered: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” –Matthew 22:37-40 NIV

 

 

Love Without Prejudice

BiblestudyJesus was once asked the question, “…which is the greatest commandment in the law?” He answered with two commandments He felt were on equal footing. The first, of course: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” The second, he said, was “like it” or similar to it. “Love your neighbor as yourself.” He said, “All the law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:34-40, New International Version)

Why are these the most important? Can you narrow it down? I can, in one word: LOVE.

If you LOVE God as outlined in the first commandment–with all your heart, soul, mind–and if you LOVE your neighbor as yourself, won’t you be living out the rest of the law? If you truly love God, will you willingly break his commandments? If you love your neighbor, will you willfully hurt them? If you truly love yourself, will you purposely self-inflict pain?

heartWe all know the answer to all of these can be Yes, we can. But in a perfect world, or perhaps if we ourselves are perfect (as Jesus was), we would not hurt the ones we love.

These scriptures also shine a light on another aspect of our beliefs. Who is our neighbor? Those who live on this planet, regardless of race, origin, nationality, personal beliefs…the list goes on.

Your redneck, hillbilly neighbor with the ancient fridge and washer on the front porch, the rusted-out cars sitting around the ill-kept property, and the noisy barking dog chained to a tree in the back…he’s your neighbor. Those scruffy construction workers who whistle and yell catcalls at you as you pass by their work site? Neighbors. The third cousin who shows up drunk at holiday dinners, also your neighbor.

In the days when Jesus walked and ministered throughout the region of Judea, there were the Samaritans, who were considered pond scum by most Hebrews. Each one thought the other one was right in their beliefs, and the rift between them was insurmountable. The Jewish believers avoided Samaritans. To illustrate this very passage of scripture (as told in Luke 10:25-37), Jesus told a story–a parable–about a man who was brutally attacked on the road and left for dead. A priest came along, saw the man lying there, and crossed to the opposite side of the road to get past him. A Levite came through next, but did as the priest had done. Finally, a Samaritan happened along. He took pity on the poor man, tended his wounds then transported him to the nearest inn, where he took care of him. The next day, he paid the innkeeper to look after the man and promised to return and reimburse him for any extra expense not covered.

Jesus asked his listeners which of these three was the good neighbor. The choice was easy. It wasn’t the priest or the Levite, both respected religious leaders of the Hebrew faith. It was the good ole boy neighbor from the wrong side of the tracks. It was the Samaritan who reflected God’s LOVE, went out of his way, delayed his journey, spent his own cash.

Jesus wasn’t glorifying Samaritans, he was saying that anyone, even the outcasts–the ones we look down upon–can show God’s love. Sometimes we’re surprised by the ones who do. Reaching out to someone in distress usually requires some sort of sacrifice. But everything you give up for the Kingdom of God will be returned to you at some point. Every sacrifice made from a pure heart shows your love not only for your neighbor, but for God, who created that other individual as well as you.

In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.–Matthew 5:16

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