His Presence

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Have you been able to get alone with God for even a little while this crowded Christmas season? Just to take a step back from the activities, the decorations, and the presents to ponder anew HIS presence? 

I admit this time of year when I should be even more focused on the incarnate Christ, I am usually running myself ragged doing all the things I feel I need to do to make this another “great” Christmas for my family. I know, I know. It’s already great for heaven’s sake. After all, it’s Christmas! 

Still, I love doing all of it. The planning, decorating, shopping, wrapping (okay, so I don’t love all of it), cooking, baking, on and on it goes. Some really sacrificial and spiritual things too, you know, like baking cookies for neighbors, shopping for a little girl who hasn’t much at all in this world (not even a family), giving more to missions, buying chickens and goats for the poor in third world countries, etc. You know. All that deeply spiritual stuff. And it is spiritual, truly. It’s all about giving because of Christ’s giving and it makes my heart soar to do it. 

But without spending time in and dwelling on His presence, it all becomes merely something else to get checked off my ever growing to-do list and at the end of the day I’m just left tired and all emptied out.

So today I’m pondering His presence. Really, really mulling it over. His presence set me free! When He came,  I no longer had to worry about which sacrifice to make, the bull or the doves or the lamb (even though I never did due to the fact that I’m not Jewish and didn’t live during those days). Now, which kind of offering am I to make this time? Should it be a smoke offering, or burnt, or a grain, or a drink offering (I don’t know!)? No more meaningless rituals to cleanse me from my sins (even though I never did those because I’m Baptist). I’d never have to stay after Sunday School another day to write 100 times, “I will not sin. I will not sin.” (Even though I never did have to because I didn’t have weird Sunday School teachers). No! His coming set me free. Free from trying to do and be good enough. His coming paid my sin debt and yours. Christmas made Easter possible.

“You shall call His name Jesus, for He shall save His people from their sins.”  Matthew 1:21                                                                                                                                            

THAT’S what I’m celebrating this season. Our freedom made possible because of His coming as flesh to dwell among us. 

His coming answered thousands of years of prayers and brought deliverance and freedom to a world groaning under the sheer weight of trying to make atonement for all their sin. I’m sure that on that first Christmas night in the stillness and hush that finally came after all the excitement, you could have heard a collective sigh of relief from a world that was at last set free. Their freedom and ours would be found in that humble baby wrapped in swaddling clothes lying in a manger (Luke 2:12). The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory (John 1:14). 

The birth of The Messiah, our long-awaited Deliverer, Our Wonderful Counselor, Mighty King, Prince of Peace, Immanuel, God With Us fulfilled all God’s promises He had given throughout the ages.

Promises such as He loves us, He hears our cries, He gives us strength and comfort, His grace is all sufficient, He died for us and we are His.

Promises like Deuteronomy 31:8, “The Lord is the one who goes ahead of you; He will be with you. He will not fail you or forsake you.” 

And Exodus 33:14, “My presence shall go with you, and I will give you rest.”

So as I enjoy my family and all the food, fun, and festivities, and as I delight in all the kids opening their presents, I’ll be careful to be aware of and ever so grateful for His presence which truly is the best present of all. 

My prayer for you is that you are experiencing His presence due to having accepted God’s divine gift of love and deliverance for you through the birth, life, and death of His only Son, Jesus Christ. 

“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)

May God continue to bless us all with His peace and may we be ever mindful that He IS with us and will never leave us. He is worthy to be praised! Hallelujah!

Merry Christmas! 

Love and blessings, 

Becky

“Oh, what joy for those whose disobedience is forgiven, whose sin is put out of sight! Yes, what joy for those whose record has been cleared of guilt.” Psalm 32:1-2

Thy Will, Not Mine

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To what is He calling you?

Thy Will  by Hillary Scott…
I’d heard this song before and thought it was pretty. I’ve heard some say the radio stations are running it into the ground by playing it so much. But then today… today a friend sent it to me, knowing I am struggling, and it’s like I heard it for the first time. It completely undid me. Especially the first part. It’s as though it could have been written about my questions and feelings regarding our adoption 13 years ago and all that has happened in consequence of our obedience: the tremendous joy of precious children to love and give back to the Lord, as well as indescribable sorrow we are not yet able to share. It’s only natural that people who know us will have questions. We are grateful you care, but it’s a story that we’re still living and processing and it affects other people besides just Brian and me, so we have to decide what to tell and when, if at all. So you may wonder why say anything at all then? Because for years we’ve been stuffing it and suffering alone, keeping on keeping on and it’s starting to take a toll. In the meantime, this little bit of letting out is helping ever so slightly with our healing. So will you allow us some of that and just give us grace and time for the healing to begin ever so slowly. Fast is too painful. We have to let it come at God’s pace, while protecting others involved, as He knows best what we can all handle. And will you just keep praying for us?
Of course, there’s been much joy alongside the grief. We can’t imagine our lives without these kids, especially the ones who do love us back and bring such happiness to our family. But even they bring tough issues and baggage. So yeah, we’ve wondered, “Did we hear you wrong, God? Surely we did, because this couldn’t possibly be what you had in mind for our family when You led us to adopt. I mean, all we wanted was a bigger family, more kids to love. But what we got was a lifelong ministry. And yet we know we did hear You right and this is Your will for us, because it’s not about us. It’s all about You. Your plan, our growth, Your kingdom, Your family, not ours. It’s about trust and sacrifice and doing it all over again just because it’s what brought us to our knees and closer to You than we ever would have been had we not answered Your call. For that reason alone, yes Father, we’d do it again. Thy Will Be Done.”
To what is He calling you?

“Thy Will” is the first single by Hillary Scott (of Lady Antebellum) and the Scott Family, off their upcoming new album Love Remains. Download “Thy Will” now…
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Real Joy, Real Pain, Real Life, Real Jesus

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imageThose nights when you can’t sleep because to everyone else your life on the outside looks so perfect, when in reality you’re dying inside and you just don’t know into how many more pieces your heart can break or just how much more sorrow you can take before it. all. comes. crashing. down.
I’m tired of the Facebook façade. You know the one. Where all is sunshine and roses and smiles and laughter. We thank God there IS a lot of that! But life is not a series of either mountain top or valley experiences. It’s not one or the other. It’s more of a journey going along on parallel tracks made of joy and sorrow running side by side each other often at the same time. So, yes, we have a tremendous amount to be thankful for and joyful over, while at the same time we continue to be blasted with enough sorrow and pain to last us a lifetime.
Personally, our story is one that we are still processing. It’s not ready to be told. If you know us, please don’t ask questions. Just pray for us. For our family.
We’ll be alright. We’re strong in the Lord. It’s in our weakness HE shows Himself strong. He carries us. HIS GRACE IS SUFFICIENT! Every single time.
Aren’t we all just broken vessels? And when we stop hiding the cracks and let our brokenness show, that’s when more of His light can seep out into the darkness around us, helping to illuminate  someone else’s dark path they’re on.
I’m afraid what spills out of my brokenness a lot of times isn’t the light and love of Jesus. It’s fear, doubt, and the anger of heartbreak. But I pray that through all this, He’s changing me.
In my brokenness and failures, I want HIS light to shine and for this earthen vessel to be softened, yielded to His loving hands shaping me into His image, not mine, using me to further HIS kingdom and plan, not mine, and to ultimately pour out comfort to others and bring glory to Him. That is what I pray is the end result. That’s the goal, right?
How about you? Need prayer? I don’t think FB (or in this case, a blog page) is the place to air dirty laundry but it’s okay to say things aren’t perfect and to admit you’re hurting. I know some friends who are. I know some family members who are. I am. Leave me a comment. I love to pray for people. I believe in it. I believe in the One Who hears our cry. My hope is in the Lord. Let’s pray for each other in the sweet, powerful, mighty name of JESUS believing that He hears, He cares, and He IS completing the good work He’s begun in us! Amen!

Love, blessings, and prayers to you.

Becky

 

This Hard Place

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Isaiah 43:1-3, 10-13

In what hard place do you find yourself right now?

Are you in a difficult work environment? Perhaps you have no work.  You may be under great financial strain.

Some are miles from friends and family, feeling isolated and alone. Do you find yourself in a too-small house, overrun with toddlers and laundry and more demands than you can ever meet? Or maybe your home that was once filled with laughter and activity is now too quiet, too empty.

Many are experiencing overwhelming sorrow over the loss of a child, spouse, parent, or friend. Others are feeling a deep sadness from being in a loveless, cold marriage, feeling lonelier than they ever have. Maybe you are a parent paralyzed by fear and grief over a teen or young adult child who is engaging in self-destructive behavior while running hard and fast away from you and God.

If you are living through any of these circumstances, chances are great that you are struggling with questions you know will probably never be answered this side of heaven. If you are a follower of Christ, you do have a loving heavenly Father to whom you can pour out your heart. He doesn’t shy away from our tough questions, but He wants us to ask “what” and “how” along with our “why.” Ask what He wants to do in and through you in the midst of this circumstance. How does He want to use this in your life? How does He want to use you?

He has purposes for you that He established before the formation of the world. He’s growing you and shaping your character. He’s preparing you. Take a deep breath. Take heart. Take God at His word. He promises to come through for you.

God does not promise to answer all of our questions, but He does promise to bring meaning to our pain and suffering.

(1 Peter 4:12; 2 Corinthians 1:4; Isaiah 53:3; Philippians 3:10; Romans 5:3; Romans 8:17, 18, 28)

God is in control. He loves you. He IS working in and through your circumstances.

His Word tells you…

Your God who created you, who formed you, who tells you not to fear has redeemed you. He has summoned you by name and you are His.

When you pass through the waters, He will be with you. When you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned.

He is the Lord, your God. The holy One of Israel, your Savior. He gives your enemies for your ransom and in your stead.

You are precious and honored in His sight. You are loved. You are His witness, His servant whom He has chosen, that you may know Him and remain steadfast in Him. Know that He is. There were no gods before Him and there will be no gods after Him.

Besides Him, there is no Savior. It is He who has declared the future and has saved the nation (His people) in times of danger. He has shown that He is God. You are His witness and He is your God. No one can deliver out of His hand. He acts and no one can reverse it.

See Him in all of His power and might. He is asking you to let go of your fears and trust Him. Trust who He is and who you are in Him. Trust that He is accomplishing the plans and purposes He has had for you since the beginning of time.

No matter what you’re going through, He is with you. He loves you. Remember, what He calls you to (by name!), He will walk you through. He is right by your side.

Won’t you let go of your fears and trust Him? Rest in Him. Take a deep breath. Take heart and take Him at His word.

Know that He is working!

Blessings, Becky

“This hard place in which you perhaps find yourself is the very place in which
God is giving you opportunity to look only to Him, to spend time in prayer, and
to learn long-suffering, gentleness, meekness – in short, to learn the depths of
the love that Christ Himself has poured out on all of us.”   ~  Elisabeth Elliot

 

Timing is Everything

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Acts 1:1-11

Jesus appeared to His disciples over a period of forty days between His resurrection and ascension. He ministered to them and spoke to them about the Kingdom of God.

He told them not to leave Jerusalem but to wait for the gift His Father had promised… the gift of the Holy Spirit.

The apostles asked Him if He was going to restore the Kingdom of Israel at this time. In verse 7,  Jesus tells them it is not for them to know the times and dates the Father has set by His own authority!

He told them they would receive the power of the Holy Spirit when He comes on them and they were to be His witnesses until He comes again.

Great reminder for me or for anyone waiting on the Lord’s answer or waiting for Him to move in a particular situation.

He has the timing all worked out by His own authority. When He’s ready to let us in on it, He will.

Until then, we are to continue to live and walk in the power of the Holy Spirit and to let others see Him living through us.

Remain faithful!

Blessings, Becky

A Happy Fix

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We cannot secure happiness on our own. The words “happy” and “secure” probably should not even be in the same sentence. Happiness is based on circumstances which are anything but secure. Instead, we should look to our relationship with Christ as the foundation for true and lasting joy.

Ecclesiastes 2:1-11

Verses 10 and 11 speak to the futility of chasing after everything we think will make us happy:

10 I denied myself nothing my eyes desired;
I refused my heart no pleasure.
My heart took delight in all my labor,
and this was the reward for all my toil.
11 Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done
and what I had toiled to achieve,
everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind;
nothing was gained under the sun.

I have certainly been guilty of “chasing the wind.” It’s as if the state of being happy is this elusive prize we think we can attain.

“Maybe under different circumstances I’d be happy. Possibly with different people around me I’d be happy. I would be happy if I had a better job or a nicer house. Perhaps if I buy more things or give more stuff away then I’d be happy.”

The list of things we believe will make us happy can go on and on. But I have learned that the only genuine source of lasting joy in my life is my covenant with the Lord. He never changes. His Word is true. He always, always keeps His promises. His presence is the only truly stable, completely satisfying thing in my life.

So rather than pursuing temporary happiness by “building my kingdom just to watch it fade away,” I must instead press in to my relationship with HIM every time I need a “happy fix!”

Blessings, Becky

Psalm 68:3   But may the righteous be glad and rejoice before God; may they be happy and joyful.

Psalm 84:1-12     v. 10 – Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked.

John 3:3-8  3 Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.”

4 “How can someone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!”

5 Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. 6 Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. 7 You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ 8 The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”

John 3:16-18    16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.

1 Timothy 6:6-7     6 But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7 For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.

“Yes, Lord!”

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Read  Matthew 1:18-25.   This remarkable passage speaks volumes about Mary and Joseph’s love for and commitment to God and each other.

Not to mention trust! Their level of trust in their situation being from the Lord is amazing. It certainly wasn’t their plan and dream for their future life together.

Can you imagine the chaos had either one of them thrown up their hands, ranted and raved, and ultimately rejected God’s sovereign plan for their lives?

Isn’t that our first reaction sometimes to our plans not going our way? At first, anyway? I know it has been my experience to react that way.

I usually settle down, stop fighting it and eventually give up my plan for His, but how much better it would be if I learn to take a deep breath in and breathe out the words, “Yes, Lord!” His plan is always better than mine anyway!

In this short account of the conception of our Lord Jesus Christ, we see in v. 19  that Joseph had his mind made up about how to handle this unexpected situation. He had made his decision.

But once the Lord had let His will in the matter be known to Joseph (vv. 20-21), there was no arguing on Joseph’s part. There was no offering up of numerous excuses as to why he simply could not do what the Lord was asking Him to do. “But, God, what will my friends and family think? Will I lose my standing in the community? How will this affect my business? God, are you sure Mary didn’t … ? Lord, do you know what you’re asking me to do?”

No! There was none of that. Joseph believed God! He and Mary both knew their God could be trusted and that He had a plan far greater than either of them could imagine. They faced making the decision to obey or not obey God in the midst of their confusion. Thankfully, they yielded their hearts, their hopes, their expectations, their plans; yes, their very lives to His and said, “Yes, Lord!”

Think of the eternal things that happened because of their obedience!  May our prayer be like Mary’s (Luke 1:38), “I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as you have said.”

Blessings, Becky