Monthly Archives: December 2017
God’s Blessings this Christmas!
May you be filled with God’s wondrous JOY
as you ponder the miracle of Christmas!
It’s the season of Advent – anticipation, expectation, and hope of Christ’s coming to earth. First as a baby over 2000 years ago and next as triumphant King and Lord over all. We prepare for Christmas with anticipation and generally with lots of excitement. But what about those who struggle this time of year. Those who feel like they have no hope, no family or friends, nothing to celebrate, feeling all alone …
The word Lament has been on my mind a lot this past month. I’ve watched loved ones and acquaintances struggle with heavy burdens. Physical issues of cancer, miscarriages and chronic pain. Spiritual issues of questioning God, grace, struggling with addictions. Mental issues of loneliness, abandonment, anger, rage and so many other overwhelming feelings. Life is filled with many challenges.
Right now, I am facing a loved one in crisis. Without sharing details, we aren’t sure if this person is getting the help they need or if they have literally disappeared from our lives. Lament. Deep despair. Hopelessness. The definition of lament is: “a passionate expression of grief or sorrow.” Some synonyms are: wailing, moaning, weeping, crying, sobbing. Lament is the ultimate act of surrender to God by opening one’s self with raw emotion and letting God bind the wounds, wrap you in His arms of love and cherish you, His beloved one.
I have two choices right now: stay filled with sorrow and the weight of despair over the situation or I can focus on Advent and Christmas and the HOPE of Jesus’s coming. There are times that I want to just curl up in a ball, sobbing and crying to God – “Why?” And I do. There’s nothing wrong with going to Him with my pain.
In an article by Autumn Kern on Psalm 22, she shares the meaning of Lament.
“Lamenting reveals the core of our humanity; it shows us that we are not God and that we need God.”
Throughout the Psalms, David very openly shares his soul-wrenching grief. Psalm 43 says:
Why am I discouraged?
Why is my heart so sad?
I will put my hope in God!
I will praise Him again—
my Savior and my God!
Psalm 13:1-2, 5-6
How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will You hide Your face from me?
How long must I take counsel in my soul
and have sorrow in my heart all the day?
How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?
But I have trusted in Your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in Your salvation.
I will sing to the Lord, because He has dealt bountifully with me.
Can you tell the relationship between the Psalmist David and his God? Pure, raw honesty. God doesn’t chastise him for crying out “Why?” or “How Long?” David pours out his heart from the pit of his stomach, groaning his anguish. And yet, do you see what he does next? He remembers God’s faithfulness. He praises God. God desires to have the intimate relationship with us He had with Adam and Eve in the Garden. He already knows the heaviness in our hearts and minds. He wants us to openly come to Him and share our deepest needs, burdens, concerns and desires.
In looking for resources to encourage me during this difficult time, I came across two encouraging quotes from Ann Voskamp:
God is so moved by our being entangled in suffering — that He moved Himself into our world and entangled Himself in the suffering with us. God with us.
His glory in the highest always runs down to meet us who are at our lowest.
If you have a loved one who struggles with mental illness, which often seems to be compounded at the holidays, I pray you will pour out your hearts to God. Let Him take your burdens and cares and carry them for you. The God who was the baby in the manger is also the God who died on the cross and rose again to save all who believe in Him. That same God is coming again to make a new heaven and new earth. God is in control of all things. Pour out your hearts to Him and remember with praise the incredible things He has done for you.
Praying for those who are heavy-hearted this season ~ Faye
Here’s some other quotes that I appreciated:
“Lamentation is a powerful, and meaningful, form of worship because it places our love for God above even the worst of circumstances in our life… God does not ask us to deny the existence of our suffering. He does want us to collect it, stand in those things and make Him an offering. The Holy Spirit, our Comforter, helps us to do this: He aligns Himself with our will and says, ‘I will help you to will to worship God.’ The glory of the majesty of God is that He helps us will and do.” – Graham Cooke
“If you are in mourning, you have the opportunity to worship in the most powerful way possible: lamentation. This worship isn’t done in order to have God remove the pain. It simply recognizes that God stands in the moment with us. Lamentation elevates God in the presence of our enemies. It brings out a side of God that other forms of worship simply cannot touch.” – Graham Cooke
“Praising God in the midst of difficulty is so powerful because God stands in the moment with us. The thing that I can testify during those moments of difficulty—when I brought my pain directly to God and walked with Him through it—was the reality that God was really there, and He gave me a deeper revelation of Himself.” – Michael Card
And this passage from Lamentations 2 and 3 has filled my heart as I’ve cried out to God in my pain and rejoiced with Him in His faithfulness.
I have cried until the tears no longer come;
my heart is broken.
My spirit is poured out in agony
as I see the desperate plight of my people.
Little children and tiny babies
are fainting and dying in the streets.
What can I say about you?
Who has ever seen such sorrow?
O daughter of Jerusalem,
to what can I compare your anguish?
O virgin daughter of Zion,
how can I comfort you?
For your wound is as deep as the sea.
Who can heal you?
The thought of my suffering and homelessness
is bitter beyond words.
I will never forget this awful time,
as I grieve over my loss.
Yet I still dare to hope
when I remember this:
The faithful love of the Lord never ends![b]
His mercies never cease.
Great is his faithfulness;
his mercies begin afresh each morning.
I say to myself, “The Lord is my inheritance;
therefore, I will hope in him!”
Abide, Remain, Dwell then Glorify
Don’t you love it when God uses a variety of ways in a short amount of time to get you to focus on a specific thing?
Here’s how God’s been getting my attention, encouraging and challenging me just this week:
- Women’s Bible study we were looking at John 15 – ABIDE, DWELL, REMAIN, STAY in Jesus.
- A devotional spoke of spending intentional time with God through prayer and in His Word; just listening. It had the following quote from Mother Teresa: “God speaks in the silence of the heart. Listening is the beginning of prayer.”
- Our pastor has been preaching on being WITH God, based on the book by Skye Jepthani, With. During the Advent season, he is looking at Immanuel, God With Us. (Check out his messages here).
- In working on some other Internet research, I came across this quote by Bill Hybels:
“If you lower the ambient noise of your life and listen expectantly for those whispers of God, your ears will hear them. And when you follow their lead, your world will be rocked.”
Expanding on John 15:1-17: Abiding, remaining, or dwelling is our response to Jesus’ words:
4 Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me. 5 “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. 6 Anyone who does not remain in me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned. 7 But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted! 9 “I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love. 10 When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love.
I appreciate the perspective/reminder of John 15:8:
“When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father.”
I love the idea of bringing glory to God for all He has done for me. During our time with God (abiding, remaining, dwelling) we may need to submit to God’s pruning knife where He cuts away things that draw us away from Him, so we may remain in Christ even more. When we do this we are able to produce more fruit so we can bring Him even more glory.
It’s December, generally a very busy season. There are school programs, Christmas parties, gatherings with family and friends, Christmas cards and shopping for presents, baking, volunteering and serving others and so many other good things along with our regular daily activities. So, spending extra time just being with God generally is not our primary focus when there are so many other good things that are demanding our attention. I am praying that you can find some time to just BE WITH God. Remain in His presence. Dwell in His love. Abide in His peace. As you do this, you will be blessed with God’s presence in you and you will bring glory to Him. What a perfect gift for you this Christmas.
Praying you are filled with time to abide, remain and dwell with God ~ Faye
Can You Imagine?
I wonder how it felt …
… Mary, a young teen, in her room and suddenly the angel Gabriel appears to her and says, “Greetings, favored woman! The Lord is with you!” What would your response be? Aside from the fear and shock of seeing the angel, disbelief at his message? The Bible says Mary was confused, disturbed and wondered what the angel meant. Gabriel repeats, “Don’t be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God!
I like how one author says, “She’s so ‘greatly troubled here that the angel asks her to sit down and catch her breath. ‘Fear not,’ he says in an attempt to comfort her. ‘You really are favored by God!'”
Favored (preferred/chosen) – Would you think you were preferred, precious, or chosen? Your whole life would change in a minute. You would be a social outcast as an unwed mother. All of your hopes, plans and dreams would be looking doubtful.
Each and every one of us is a precious and chosen child of God. Psalm 139:13-18 says,
13 For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
17 How precious (amazing are your thoughts concerning me) to me are your thoughts, God!
How vast is the sum of them!
18 Were I to count them,
they would outnumber the grains of sand—
when I awake, I am still with you.
What does Mary do after Christ is born? After the reality of all the upside-down life-changing events? She sings, praises and worships her LORD. She realizes Immanuel, God is With Us, has come to earth to be our Savior, Messiah. He actually was WITH her, inside her, a sinner. Mary wasn’t perfect. She wasn’t holy. She was a virgin and she was chosen by God to be the mother of Jesus. Once everything starts to sink in and she holds her baby, Jesus, in her arms, her heart sings. She can only sit in wonder, praising her Lord from the depth of her soul.God talks to you through His word, other people and His creation. Do you hear Him? In this busy season before Christmas, will you be still enough to listen to God? Will your soul and spirit MAGNIFY (praise, glorify) God for all the incredible wonders He has done in your life?
Praying you will find the favor of God in your heart so your soul sings with Joy to your Savior ~ Faye