Tag Archive | truth

“O HOLY NIGHT” written by Placide Cappeau; composed by Adolphe Charles Adams

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Have you ever thought “God won’t use me because I’m nothing special?” I have, and I think most humans with a faith in God have thought and felt that! I’ll come back to this…

This season can bring me blues, but I love Christmas time! My parents and one of my siblings are no longer on earth. Those siblings who are on earth live far away from me in opposite directions! Being the last of eight children, I was accustomed to large holiday gatherings (not just at Christmas). At Christmas, Mom would make tons of treats: divinity, fudge, frosted cookies, gingerbread men. You get the idea. Then, on Christmas Eve around 9 p.m., we would gather in the living room. Dad would read about the birth of Christ from one of the Gospels. We would sing songs like “Away in a Manager” and “Silent Night”.  After this devotional time, we would munch on goodies and open our gifts. That was our family tradition.

As my family changes, tradition changes too. As I struggle with conflicted emotion over adult children and lost family, I desire God’s peace and joy daily.  And, I wonder how God can use me in this season? I am an average person. Does God use the average?

Let’s look at the history of the  song: “O Holy Night”.

Placide Cappeau was born in France 1808. Around age 8, he had a hand amputated. I am sure the other kids called him names and ostracized him. He grew up in spite of that hardship. He became a merchant of wine and spirits.  He was known for his poetry, not his church attendance, although he did attend church irregularly. In 1847, the parish priest asked Placide to write a poem for Christmas mass. He agreed and using Luke’s account of Jesus’ birth he wrote “Cantique de Noel”.  Placide felt it would make a wonderful song. So, he approached his friend (and well-known composer) Adolphe Charles  Adams to compose the music. Adolphe didn’t celebrate Christmas or Jesus as Messiah. But he accepted and three weeks later, at Christmas Eve mass, the song was performed. Knowing how popular the song is now, it is easy to imagine how well-received it was by the church. It became a staple of Catholic Christmas masses.

Then, two things happen: Placide left the church to become part of the socialist movement; and church leaders found out that Adophe was Jewish! Although the song was still popular, the Catholic Church decided not to sing it anymore.

Fast forward ten years: American Abolitionist John Sullivan Dwight made a personal connection with the lyrics. He translated it into English: “truly He taught us to love one another, His law is love and His gospel is peace. Chains shall break free for the slave is our brother and in His Name all oppression shall cease”. The song was embraced by Americans, especially The North during the Civil War.

You might think that’s three ordinary people that God used to bring a beautiful song into so many lives; THE END. Wrong! A violin-playing chemist and professor, Reginald Fessenden, designed a more efficient way to broadcast using radio waves. On December 24, 1906, he played “O Holy Night” on his violin during a radio broadcast for many to hear.

Now to recap: a purveyor of wine and spirits, a Jewish man, and a chemist-professor (no this isn’t a poorly written joke) were used by God to bring the story of Jesus’ birth to millions of people! Sometimes I need the iron skillet to the head for something to sink into my brain. God will use anyone who is obedient! I want to be obedient! Do you?

As you ponder that this Christmas season, ask God to reveal how He is using you – an ordinary person!

God’s blessing and peace to you and  your family!

lg

 

 

My confession – I am stubborn! (don’t tell my husband!)

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I am stubborn. (Some of you are going “duh!”) Often, I think of how stubborn the Israelites were: they didn’t want to leave Egypt (even though slaves – they were in a comfort zone), they didn’t want to trust God would provide food, shelter, land, etc. They wanted to do things their own way. When reading the stories of their travels and trials, I think to myself “they just wouldn’t learn! Time and time again, they wouldn’t trust God.” Then, a gentle voice whispers, “look at your own stubbornness.” I think I am at least as stubborn as they were.

Things I have in common with the Israelites:

  • I like my comfort zone – the Israelites knew what to expect in Egypt, not necessarily comfort, but a certainty of food and shelter.

  • I want things in my time and my way – the Israelites wanted food and water when they first felt hunger and thirst, not waiting for God’s timing. Lack of trusting that God won’t let me down.

  • I fool myself into thinking my ways work, when they don’t. The Israelites created a false god. That certainly didn’t work out well!

  • I give everything to God, but keep holding on with one hand. The Israelites kept after Aaron (in Moses’ absence) for the back-up plan.

 I’m not a good passenger. I like the control of being the driver. I know when I will brake and turn and accelerate.  As a passenger, I am left guessing. In case you didn’t notice, it’s all about “me”! “I” this, “I” that. That’s part of my stubbornness: I want to be in the center of everything and the one in control.  Even though God’s ways are higher, I still take over; sometimes I don’t’ even realize I have!

All that being said, I WANT God to be my pilot! Not the co-pilot or navigator! In the perspective of a parent to an adult child, I can see how God knows things I am unable to see. I watch my adult children and want to advise them and help them avoid the pitfalls. But it has to be their choice, not my choice. That’s how God is with us. He is Abba Father. We have free will. We must willing hold on to Him as He is holding us!

Romans 2:4, “God is kind, but he’s not soft. In kindness he takes us firmly by the hand and leads us into a radical life-change.” (MSG)

John 3:30, “He must increase, but I must decrease.” (ESV)

 

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Obedience: An angel in disguise?

“Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.” Hebrews 13:2

The other morning, I stopped at my regular Starbucks for my morning coffee. I have frequented this coffee shop on a regular basis since it opened more than five years ago. For the first time, I saw someone was washing the glass storefront. This young woman was diligently working, checking her work and moving on to the next pane. God whispered to me “give her a bottle of water”.  It seemed silly since she could ask for ice water inside and get it for free. Thankfully, I was obedient. I ordered my coffee and purchased the water.  I took the water outside to the woman and gave it to her. She turned to me with the most beautiful smile! and said “thank you”. Her smile is etched in my memory. Who is the angel here? I cannot say if I was her angel or if she was mine that morning. Is it always as simple as a bottle of water? It can be… I.E. moving a shopping cart, letting a car into your lane, helping someone with car trouble. Or, it may require more of your time and money… I.E. buying groceries for a homebound neighbor, visiting the hospital (does anyone like the hospital?), driving someone to an appointment completely out of the way. I can make it complicated. I am not always obedient. It is NOT about me, but I make it about me. It is about obedience to God’s nudging. So, try it today. Take notice of God’s nudging and be obedient. You may be someone’s angel!

 

The King will reply, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for Me.” Matthew 25:40

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The Answer is…

Keep your eyes on Jesus!

The question? In last week’s post, you will find it. The world can be distracting and I take my eyes off Jesus letting the circumstances around me dominate my mind.

Matthew 14:28-31

Peter, suddenly bold, said, “Master, if it’s really you, call me to come to you on the water.”

He said, “Come ahead.”

Jumping out of the boat, Peter walked on the water to Jesus. But when he looked down at the waves churning beneath his feet, he lost his nerve and started to sink. He cried, “Master, save me!”

 Jesus didn’t hesitate. He reached down and grabbed his hand.

Peter was distracted by the wind and waves. He took his eyes off Jesus and began to sink. So many questions have the same answer: Jesus! It seems quite simple, but my earthly flesh rebels. I intend to read His word every day. Then, I oversleep, the dog gets sick, or some other bump in life misdirects me. It seems that’s the first thing dumped off the “TO DO” list. I have told myself, “I will read this afternoon,” and when afternoon arrives there are other bumps in my road. I have put Bible apps on my phone and tablet. Now I can read on my break time. Or just make time wherever I happen to be. I have to choose to do it, to focus on Jesus.

Luke 9:23 

And He was saying to them all, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.”

The key is to follow Jesus DAILY- 24/7/365. I am still a work in-progress, diamond-in-the-rough. God has redeemed me and given me grace which is all-sufficient! Hallelujah! I hope some of you can relate to this…

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An Open and Shut Case

As another year has evaporated and a new one is beginning, I find myself once again trying to resist being mired in nostalgia.  Our youngest child just moved several states away, and the other four are also already established in their adult lives.  Having five children who are making their way in the world is indeed cause for rejoicing, but I instead am resisting a tidal wave of nostalgia that borders on sadness and could very well end in self-reproach, if I allow the undertow to drag me there.  However, Jesus has set before me an open door that no man can shut (Isaiah 22:22).  I can choose, if I like, to remain in a former season of my life, but my desire to dwell there does not change the fact that it is over.   The lights are out in that room of my life; I am no longer a mother of five young children, five young adults, or even one college student.   The end of that era has arrived.  I can shed tears over stories I didn’t read and games I didn’t play because I was busy washing dishes or folding clothes (the business of survival as a mother, which clouds legitimate priorities such as game-playing with one’s children), or I can believe what God says about me:  that I, too, am fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14) and that He knows everything about me (Psalm 139:3), and that, what’s more, He still LOVES me (Jeremiah 31:3). 

God has opened another door, a door into a new season, and He has turned the lights on, HIS light, in that new place.  He urges me to enter through that door and “Come up here” (Rev. 4:1).  However, the choice is actually mine.  I can choose to stay in the old place, which is no longer filled with the daily routine of tending my children and feathering my personal nest; it is now filled with treasured memories, which will be tainted by acute pangs of regret over things I did or did not do, should I choose to dwell in a hollow room and refuse to walk through the door God has provided into this next season.  The Lord cautions us against remaining too long in the womb before allowing Him to birth us into the new place (Hosea 13:13).  From the baby’s perspective, every birth feels like a death until the light of the new place is fully experienced. 

Do I want to stay in the darkened room and begin to believe my own opinions of myself (I didn’t do this or that right; I didn’t love my children enough; I wasn’t a loving and tender wife and mother; I was too labor-oriented, etc.)?  — OR, would it not be better to take a step through the door into the light of this new season God has ordained and experience, together with my husband, grown children, grandchildren, and precious friends, the delights and challenges He has appointed for me?  I don’t want to miss anything for wallowing in the past (with or without regrets that may or may not be unfounded).  The fact is, if I allow myself to be mired in the pit of regret and sorrow (nostalgia gone bad), I am calling God a liar, for yielding to the undertow means I reject the Truth of His love and His Word, the truth of what HE says about me.   Now THAT is a serious place to be. 

Father, I choose to walk through the open door You have provided for me into this new year and this new season of life.   I choose to believe the truth of Your love and care for me.   I choose to believe that You empower me to bear fruit that remains, in spite of my inadequacies and failings.  I choose to believe that You are more than able to compensate for any and all mistakes I have made, for You love my family far more than I do.  I thank You, Father, that You sent Jesus as the Door to ALWAYS being in Your Presence.  I embrace You, the Truth, and invite You to carry me over the threshold into whatever You have chosen for me to do!

“I know your works.  See, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it;”  Revelation 3:8aimagesCAI2R0S0

Unmasking the Deceiver

The story of the first sin in the book of Genesis exposes the serpent as the deceiver.  He deceived Eve by causing her to question God’s intentions for her and Adam.  The good news is that this story also contains the first prophecy regarding the One Who will save us from the deceiver.  Genesis 3:15 expresses God’s judgment on the serpent:  “And I will put enmity between you [the serpent/deceiver] and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.”  The Seed of the woman refers to the promised Messiah, Who came to save us from sin.  Part of our role as followers of Jesus is to recognize the enemy and expose him as the deceiver.

The process and power of unmasking the deceiver is  beautifully illustrated in the story of Jael in the fourth chapter of Judges.  Jael and her husband had moved away from the rest of his tribe (a group of people historically in alliance with Israel) and had made friends with Jabin, king of the Canaanites.  When Deborah and Barak were making war on Jabin’s troops, God gave the enemy armies into Barak’s hands, but  Sisera (the general of Jabin’s armies) escaped on foot and fled to a place of safety, the tent of his friends, Jael and Heber.  Jael greeted Sisera and invited him in to rest.  She showed great hospitality to him, serving him milk and allowing him to lie down to rest.  Jael, however, also recognized a very important truth about this “friend”:  she discerned that he actually was NOT her friend, but her enemy!  When Sisera was asleep, Jael picked up a tent peg and hammer, crept up to him, and drove the peg through his head.

Jael’s story is a prophetic picture of what Jesus did for us on the cross:  he unmasked the deceiver, disarmed him, and defeated him (see Colossians 2:13-15).  In fact, it is very interesting that the word used for the cross in the Hebrew translation of the New Testament (pronounced yah-tade) literally means “crucifixion stake” and is the same word used for Jael’s tent peg.  What a perfect reminder that the TRUTH of the cross of Jesus Christ has the power to crush the head of the deceiver!

When we begin to question what God has spoken to us through His Word or to have doubts about the goodness of His plans for us, the enemy is always at work.  He tries to masquerade as our friend and stirs us up to believe things about God, other people, and ourselves that are perversions of actual fact.  The Lord does not want us to be ignorant of the deceiver’s tricks; rather, He wants us to expose the liar by opening our hearts and minds to receive the Truth.  The Truth is a Person, One with the power to destroy the deceiver and nullify his power.  Ask God to expose the areas where you are believing lies rather than His truth and allow Him to bring fresh life, hope, and joy to you!


The Truth in Us

“Behold, You desire truth in the innermost being, and in the hidden part You will make me know wisdom.”  Psalm 51:6  NASB

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lie detector test

Years ago, I had to pass a polygraph (lie detector) test in order to be cleared for employment.   It was actually rather frightening to be connected to multiple electrical sensors that recorded every physiological parameter.  The examiner did his best to make me comfortable, and I had no intention of lying, but I was very nervous nonetheless!  I wanted to be very certain that I answered each question as accurately and factually as possible.

God has a different view of truth;  for Him, truth is more than simply a set of factual information or accurately-reported data.  In David’s celebrated psalm of repentance, he affirms the fact that God’s desire is for truth to RESIDE in our innermost being.  When we remember that Truth is a Person, Jesus Christ, this verse takes on fresh significance.  In John 14:6 (NASB), Jesus declares, “‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.'”  The truth is indeed not a set of facts, but the Person of Jesus Christ, the image of the invisible God (Colossians 1:15) in all His fullness.  God’s desire is to dwell in our inmost being.  What an amazing, mind-boggling concept!  Jesus IS Emmanuel, God with us, in us, the hope of glory (see Matthew 1:23; Colossians1:27).   The cry of David’s heart and his recognition of God’s desire for truth in our innermost being was fulfilled in Jesus Christ.  David was truly expressing prophetic Truth!  God dwells in us by His Spirit and transforms us from the inside out!  He promises that we will KNOW the TRUTH, and that the TRUTH will set us free (John 8:32).  We don’t have to rely on external indicators, piles of factual information, or electrodes to verify the truth — we have the truth resident IN us!  Praise God for His Truth, His Presence, and His resurrection Life IN US!  May the Truth accomplish His perfect work in me!