Strength for The Journey

IMG_4727And the angel of the Lord came back the second time, and touched him, and said, “Arise and eat, because the journey is too great for you.”           I Kings 19:7

Elijah was on a journey and like we who are facing the beginning of a new year, he only knew where the journey began. As I look back over 2014 I am in some ways thankful that we didn’t know in advance what we would pass through. Two of our closest friends were kissed good-bye for the final time, our grandson’s kidney failure continues its path unabated, and dear friends moved away to Brazil. But along with the struggles have also come great blessings such as our son finally finding a wonderful job after a year-long search. These are just a few of the many threads which God chose to weave into the pattern we can see now only as we look back .

Today we stand at the starting line of a new race. There will be many miles, mountains and valleys to pass through and one part of me is like Elijah. I just want to do the minimum and lie down to sleep again. I feel exhausted just thinking about what may lie ahead on this road to points unknown. But God has promised above all things to be with us. He will neither leave us nor fail us. He has baked bread with His own hands on the coals and brought us a cup of cold water directly from His crystal river. He is shaking us awake. We dare not sleep as the disciples did when Jesus prayed at Gethsemane. Our greatest challenges lie ahead and we will need to be wide awake and eat and drink all that our God has sent. In our own strength the journey will be too great. But God has sent His angel. God has given us living bread and the water of life, and these will give us His strength to journey all the way to the mountain of God!

Facing the New Year

“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God.”’ Revelation 2:7

In  few short days we will be at the edge of 2015. The New Year will beckon us, bless us, challenge us and put us at times in the middle of struggles we can never imagine now. Jesus has promised to always be with us yet the promises of God for this coming year are for those who are willing to stick out their necks, leap into the fray.

Jesus has not promised we wouldn’t have battles, but that when it seems that the strong towers of our life are ready to fall He will fight for us. He will be with us even to the ends of our world. So if you are fearfully facing the unknown this year think about the promises of our Lord Jesus Christ.

When you don’t know which way to turn, He is the Wonderful CounselorIMG_5068

When you feel abandoned and betrayed, He has told us that He is our friend

When you are struggling under demands of life, He said to come and He would give us rest

If you suffer the loss of those dearest, He has promised comfort

If even death comes to stand at the doorway, He has said:

… “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. John 11:25

So let the New Year come with its wind and waves, with its promises and challenges. Let’s prepare for the great adventure of faith. Take hold of God’s promises and see what He will do when we will trust in Him with all our heart!

This is the Day

IMG_3976This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. Psalm 118:24

When we look back through the Bible at the history of God’s dealing with man we see not just words and stories but a collection of days which all are leading us to today. here are just a few highlights which are something of like the Year of the Lord in review (Remember that a single day with Him is like a 1000 years!)

The first day God created man and breathed his own breathe into Him and created woman from man’s rib

The day Noah entered into the ark (And God shut the door)

The day Noah came out of the ark to begin a new world

The day the Lord called Abram and the day He fulfilled His promise and Isaac was born

The day Moses was called at the bush and the day the Red sea parted

The day God gave 10 commandments on the mountain and the day the Jordan opened

The day David defeated Goliath and the day the Temple was dedicated

The day Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego entered the furnace and the night Daniel slept with the lions

The day Mary met the angel Gabriel and the day Jesus was born

The day Jesus multiplied the bread and the day He walked on water

The day Jesus shone like the sun on the mountain and the day He washed His disciples’ feet

The day Jesus was crucified for our sins and the day He rose from the dead

The day Jesus appeared to Mary at the tomb and the day He breathed on the disciples giving the Holy Spirit

The day when Jesus was taken up to heaven and the day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit came like wind and fire

The day Paul was struck to the ground by the light and the day when John fell at Jesus feet on Patmos

All of these days were “the day the Lord has made”

If we have seen the sun rise this morning then today is again the day the Lord has made. How we value this day will be determined by the words we say and the things we do. The choices we make to give or to keep, to laugh or to cry,  to sacrifice for someone else or to demand our own way will one day matter more to us than we can ever imagine.  Today is again the day the Lord has made. What will we do with His gift of a brand new sunrise?

 

Christmas long ago

Family Christmas 2011 005 The year was 1974 and we had been married just a little over a year. We had a small baby and a tiny 3rd floor apartment. Yes I had a job but we had not a dollar to spare. There was no Christmas tree, there were no presents. We had no special meal prepared and no plans. As I finished my work on Christmas eve after my normal work-day I received my pay envelope and to my surprise along with my check there a $50 bill inside as a bonus. In those days that was nearly equal to a week’s pay! I could hardly believe my eyes as I looked up and thanked my boss! I couldn’t wait to get home to show my wife!

After a quick meal we packed our little boy into the back of the car and headed out to the downtown to see what might still be open to buy some things for Christmas. In an open lot we found one of the last trees left from the season. It was tiny and scrawny but at five dollars we happily handed the man our money and tied it on top of the car. Then we headed to Woolworth’s and found single bulbs from boxes that had been opened for just 10 cents apiece. I have no idea what gifts we purchased, but when we returned home after the last store locked its doors we had real fun in celebrating. It wasn’t at all about comparing our lights to the neighbors or about large expensive gifts. We were entirely content in the knowledge that God had been watching and given us a special Christmas blessing. It was a moment I will savor forever and look back on as our most Merry Christmas of all.

Things may seem out of control, bleak and hard, yet in the smallest things God comes to remind us again each Christmas that Jesus came to be with us. He didn’t come to Bethlehem to be coddled and spoiled but to live out a simple life of grace and to give His life for ours. Merry Christmas to all. God bless and keep you all through the year ahead!

“Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.” Matthew 1:23

A Christmas Song

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The angels gave their message

The Shepherds gave Him praise

The wise men brought their gifts

And we our voices raise

Mary gave Him herself

Joseph gave his Amen

God gave His only Son

To be born in Bethlehem

Now we each year remember

The joy to sing His songs

His star will still be shining

All through the dark night long

A Christmas Song by Peter Caligiuri