8th Christmas Gift

Eighth Gift of Christmas – Rest

In all the hurry towards Christmas, it is easy for us to forget to rest for a moment at the manger. But He patiently lingered the unhurried nine months in the waiting room of Mary’s womb. Shepherds were the first to know as they rested with their flocks. Then Jesus was born and quietly grew up in the tiny village of Nazareth. He didn’t burst forth with proclamations of greatness but rather in the back of Joseph’s carpenter shop. He had brothers and sisters with whom He had to share a straw mattress on the floor and what simple meals were put before them. Never do we hear of a complaint, or detect an attitude of frustration. Jesus simply waited for the day when His work would begin and rested in the place where God had placed Him. It was there in Nazareth that He learned to give thanks for bread and fish. In the ordinary circumstances of His quiet life He learned how to wash feet, celebrate weddings and how to handle wood and nails. The same God who in Christ rested in the boat in the storm has also invited us to come and rest our souls in Him!  p1010967

Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls Matthew 11:29

The Promise

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“When you choose to look beyond the horizon: the sky’s the limit” Gail McWilliams

God’s promise of mercy is greater than our ability to receive it. My greatest encouragement today is that God is on my side. When I feel hopelessness trying to surround me like a fog I am snatched away from the cliff of despair by the faithfulness of the God who chose to love me. May you also be lifted up and encouraged today. Lift up your eyes to the horizon because He is on the way to help!

God’s Most Dangerous Weapon

No bullet proof vest can stop its penetration

No nuclear blast can melt its foundation

No government or law can abort its operation

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It is a flood that tears away any wall of separation

Like the lightning that strikes without hesitation

A guided missile that speeds to the enemy’s position

 

So potent a composition that can not be diluted

So pure that its nature it can not be polluted

 It shines in the night for the wise man to view it

 

So patient that when we say NO Lord No! No!NO!

That Jesus answers Yes from the cross  for our soul!

 

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.  For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers,  nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.                 Romans 8:37-39

Seedtime and Harvest

 But he who received seed on the good ground is he who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and produces: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.” Matthew 13:23

The farmer waits all through the year for harvest. He prepares the soil, plants the seed, and then he waits and hopes for rain and sun to coax the seed into germination, then growth and finally full ears on the stalk. As harvest approaches he fuels up the combine and heads to he field for the  reward of his year’s labor.

The Bible tells us that God is in some was just like this farmer. He too has sown a seed into our lives.  He to works to prepare us for something more than we can imagine. Harvest time is not only about we go when we die, but rather about what we have done while we have been alive.

When someone has been hungry, have we fed them? When a neighbor has been alone, have we been a friend? When we meet the abandoned, have we stood with them? Each choice springs from the seed we have allowed to be planted in our hearts. Harvest time is every day. Every day is exactly the right moment! What will be harvested in our life today? Walking by faith is the adventure of finding out!

 

God’s Unique Sabbath – Day Six : Lord of the Sabbath

So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.” Mark 2:28

This interesting story about Jesus and the disciples walking through the corn or wheat fields is recorded in three of the four gospels. Though we may have never once heard a message preached from these verses, Matthew, Mark and Luke each considered it so important that they included it among the highlights of Jesus’ teaching.

My personal belief is that our own ignorance of the Sabbath and the treasure that God intended it to be is one of the great losses of the present day church. God’s Sabbath came not only before the law, Sabbath came even before sin. Sabbath was built into the matrix of the universe. To put it into literary terms God’s Holy Sabbath was His denouement : “the final part of a play, movie, or narrative in which the strands of the plot are drawn together and matters are explained or resolved.” Without understanding Sabbath in fact we will never be able to fully understand God’s story.

When the Pharisees started cluck-clucking about the disciples rubbing some grain in their hands on the seventh day, Jesus  had finally had enough of their cold analytical hypocrisy and proceeded to give them a Sabbath lesson. In that lesson, Jesus made it clear that the very central purpose of the Sabbath was for it to be a day of healing and blessing to man. God had not created man so the Sabbath could be observed, but He had created Sabbath to be a day of healing and blessing for man.

I fear we, the modern-day church, have gone far beyond just losing the gift of Sabbath; I believe we are losing even the last vestiges of memories of what it is. Sabbath is a precious gift and unless we battle to take back God’s Sabbath blessing

August 28 2008 102then we may one day run down like an unwound watch.

We once visited for several days a small village in Switzerland, On the Sunday morning of our stay, I left our hosts’ home and went for a long walk up through some of the most beautiful hill country I  have ever seen. On my walk I found a wonderful ancient church and as I watched a man drove up, unlocked the door and went in to ring the bells. How lovely they sounded as they peeled over the valley. It was an almost perfect picture. But then as he finished his duties, he left the church, locked the doors and drove away.

That image still lingers in my memory. Is that what we have become? Do we just go about our duties, ring the bells and go home? Do we ring the bells and no one any longer hears? Do we remember vaguely that it is God’s day but barely pause long enough to catch our spiritual breath? There will be a price to forgetting God’s Sabbath because it remains a blessed part of the creation from before there was sin. The Sabbath is built into not only the universe, but also into who we are as men and women. Sabbath rest, worship and prayer are the breath, the life and the foundation and basis from which we go out to do all the work which God has called us to do.

If we will choose to remember then God has a promise that we will look into on the seventh and final day. Stay tuned!

Seven Reasons why the Sabbath is Unique

For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy. Exodus 20:11

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As I was resting today I began to thank God for having planned for us a day of rest. Rest is coded into the very DNA of God’s creation. The Sabbath was unique because on that day when He was no longer busy with creation, God set aside an entire day just to spend time with Adam and Eve. God wasn’t at all worn out or tired from His work but instead He rested by choice.

Today is to be the first in a seven part series on why God has made the Sabbath unique. I am sometimes afraid that in our modern 24/7 world that we have forgotten how to rest. We worry. We Hurry. We push and we compete, and it is so easy to forget the value of Sabbath rest. God’s day is not meant simply as a ritual observance or a duty to be carried out with gritted teeth. God’s Sabbath is in fact His gift for us. Together let’s slow down and allow the wheels of life to cease turning just long enough for us to unwrap His gift and look into God’s humble and unhurried heart.