I love the holidays! There is excitement in the air, and for most people, the holidays are filled with peace, love, and joy. For some, however, the holidays can be a time of great poverty, sadness, and loneliness.
This year I am burdened with a loved one, a dear one who is lost and scared, and in need of a Christmas miracle. It is easy to get caught up in our own little worlds and miss the fact that there are hurting people all around us.
Take heart, there is hope, and we have good news…
In the Old Testament book of Isaiah, the prophecy of the good news is given.
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.- Isaiah 9:6
This is the beauty of Christmas, a message prophesied so long ago. The Light that breaks the darkness is the Word made Flesh in John 1. The Christ child—fully man, fully God come to save the world. His name is Jesus, and He is the Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father and Prince of Peace. He is our Savior, and the only one who can take away our sins, and reconcile us to the Father.
Those that want the gospel, walk in darkness, and in the utmost danger. But when the gospel comes to any place, to any soul, light comes. Let us earnestly pray that it may shine into our hearts, and make us wise unto salvation. – Matthew Henry Commentary of Isaiah 9:6
This Christmas season, let us earnestly pray that the gospel shines through us to bring hope to a lost and hurting world. We as believers are anointed to bring the good news to the weary, the poor, and the lost.
The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound -Isaiah 61:1 ESV
Jesus Christ came to bind up the brokenhearted, to liberate those who are held captive by Satan and sin. My heart is heavy and burden for those I know who are lost. My prayer is that the Light of Christ will come into their darkness, and they will be saved.
And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. – Acts 2:21 (Berean Study Bible)
I love my new teapot! It is a beautiful Mckenzie Childs teapot that I have had my eye on for quite some time.
I don’t just love it for its form or its function. What I love about it is what it represents. If I am using my teapot that means I am at home, safely nestled in my sanctuary away from the crazy world in which we live. It is hard to find a quiet spot anywhere in the world. Read about the World being loud here
A proper cup of tea takes time to make, which means that I am slowing down, which is good for my soul. It refreshes me and brings me joy. Today the boys and I are enjoying our wonderful little cups of tea, enjoying the aroma of a beautifully scented candle, while we work and listen to Mozart. I am busy working on my Bible study, while the boys sit near me working on their school.
I am savoring this moment because I know that it is fleeting….
Psalms 27:11 ESV says, “Teach me your way, O Lord”
It is in these quiet moments in my home teaching my boys, that the Lord is teaching me. Teaching me to slow down, and listen to His voice. Teaching me to love them well.
Tomorrow we will be back in the car fighting traffic to get to the other side of town, and we will rush from thing to thing to thing. But today, we sit here in tranquility and civility and sip our tea.
What recharges you? I would love to hear from you! What do you do to help renew your spirit?
Choosing joy in the midst of difficult circumstances is not always easy, but it is what the Lord commands us to do.
“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.” – Philippians 4:4
We can rejoice no matter what circumstance comes our way, because of the great love that Jesus has for us, in that while we were full of sin, he chooses to lay down his life to save us. Jesus has forgiven our sins and cleansed us from all unrighteousness. Through his death, burial, and resurrection we have divine power to choose joy, no matter our circumstance.
In the many years, I have been alive, I have experienced many difficult trials. From having the monumental task of raising a special needs son, to the death of those closest to me—my Mom and Dad, my Mother-in-law and Father-in-law, my brother, several babies, and dear friends. Other tragic situations happened as well, like family problems, marriage problems, health problems, terrible accidents, financial difficulties, church splits, and just the overall effects of sin in a lost and fallen world. Life can be downright, and if though you have walked on this earth very long, I can guarantee that you have had some sort of trouble in your life.
“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” – James 1:2-5
[ctt template=”2″ link=”k8i3o” via=”yes” ]Whatever problems seek to plague us in life, we are told to COUNT IT ALL JOY![/ctt]
We all face trials of different kinds. Our struggles and challenges may be similar or different than our friends’ and neighbors’, but we all face difficult times. These challenges test our faith, and as we endure these trials it produces a life of faithful endurance. That steadfastness then helps make us more Christlike and conforms us to the image of God, which is a gift from God to make us whole and bring us to maturity in our spiritual walk.
Horatio Spafford penned the beautiful lyrics to the song “It is Well with My Soul” after a Job-like tragedy struck his life when he lost his son at age two in the Great Chicago Fire. The fire financially ruined him and then shortly afterward, all four of his daughters perished in a shipwreck crossing the Atlantic. Horatio could have become consumed with anger, bitterness or regret, yet he chose to have joy and to praise the Lord! In this life we will have struggles, but how will we respond? We will choose joy? May we learn from his example!
“It is Well with My Soul”
When peace like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say
It is well, it is well, with my soul.
It is well, (it is well),
With my soul, (with my soul)
It is well, it is well, with my soul.
Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.
My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Was nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!
For me, be it Christ, be it Christ hence to live:
If Jordan above me shall roll,
No pang shall be mine, for in death as in life,
Thou wilt whisper Thy peace to my soul.
But Lord, ’tis for Thee, for Thy coming we wait,
The sky, not the grave, is our goal;
Oh, trump of the angel! Oh, voice of the Lord!
Blessed hope, blessed rest of my soul.
And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so it is well with my soul!
Last week, a terrible storm blew through Houston, and it left many people who live in my area of Northwest Houston devastated by flood waters. Hundreds of people had to be evacuated by boat in this historic storm. Many homes were inundated by several feet of water. This unnamed storm seemed to come out of nowhere, and the damage took everyone by surprise. The storms in life will come, and when they do, how will we respond?
“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” – James 1
We are to be joyful, even in the midst of our trials. I witnessed exactly that this weekend in the aftermath of last week’s devastating storms. My son Ian and I were sent out with a prayer team from our church to pray for and with flood victims. I was amazed to see a man who a few days early had two feet of water in his home, and all of his family’s belongings destroyed to have a smile on his face. He was joyful, in spite of his circumstances, because he knew that the Lord was faithful and that He would carry them through the trials and tribulations of life.
Our church sent over a 1000 people out into the community on Saturday to love on people, pray with people, share the gospel, and help them tear out sheetrock, carpet, baseboards, and ruined furniture. Teams were sent out to all areas of town to help people in the affected neighborhoods. I am so grateful to be a part of a church that loves God and loves people—love them in their need and where they are hurting. We were being given T-shirts that said: “The Church has left the building.” What a beautiful picture of the hands and feet of Jesus!
It is the trials that we face, that test our faith, and that testing produces steadfastness, and when it has its full effect, we lack nothing. So my question for you, friend, is this: how will you respond when the storms of life take you by surprise? Will you count it all joy?