December 21, 2009

It’s Good to be ME!

“…For behold, from this time on all generations will count me blessed.” Luke 1:48b (NAS)

Somehow I caught a glimpse of a television commercial the other day that struck me the wrong way. I can’t tell you what it was for but I can tell you what it said and my impressions of the context. I saw a fairly attractive woman; likely in her 40’s or 50’s lounging around like Queen Sheba, talking to a handsome man. I got the impression she was vain, arrogant and spoiled – used to getting her own way. I gathered this from her posture and expression. She boldly turned to her paramour and exclaimed, “Oh! It’s good to be me!”

I don’t care to see that ad again. But it made me think. I think society is probably trapped in a Me-Syndrome and perhaps a lot of people feel like this woman for all the wrong reasons. Yet, I must admit, sometimes I think the same thing too. However, my reasons are quite different than the general population or this ad.

It kind of goes back to Mary, the mother of Jesus. Let us consider the circumstances she found herself in when she made this awesome statement found in Luke chapter one. Mary had an up-close and personal encounter of the divine kind when an angel of God informed her that she’d be mother to the Messiah.

She was engaged to Joseph, but not yet married when she conceived the Christ-Child by the Holy Spirit. But she knew the rules. Mary faced certain shame and disgrace from her family and her community. She also faced a possible death penalty for adultery. At the time of Luke 1:46-56, she had basically run away to her cousin’s house, all of this during her young teenage years. Care to imagine the pressure she might have felt?

Yet, amazed by the grace she had received, Mary cried forth, “My soul exalts the Lord and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior for He has had regard for the humble state of his servant.” [See Luke 1:46-48a]

Basically she was standing before God in all humility and submission exclaiming, “It’s good to be me!” Not a sign of vanity or self-accomplishment. Mary knew all the goodness she had been blessed with was not of herself but of God alone, for His holy purposes not her self glorification.

This Christmas, we find ourselves in much different times than in Christmas past. The economy has changed. Our politically leadership has changed. Our job situations have changed. Our families may have even changed and perhaps we are lacking some of our “Christmas spirit.”

Regardless of what our situation’s entail, it is because of Christmas – the birth of Christ, the Lord, our Savior – that we can state in reverence and awe, “It is good to be me!” Why?

Because of what the Lord has done and we will exalt His name and rejoice in His goodness and mercy.

Because when the darkness surrounds, His is the true Light and a sure hope.

Because like Mary, we can rest assured that whatever state we find ourselves in – God has victory in the situation at hand.

Merry Christmas my dear beloveds! For the Might One has done great things for all us – the greatest being the gift of love and eternal life through Christ Jesus the King of Kings and Lord of Lords! Forever may His name be lifted up and praised!

Love, Barbara

December 13, 2009

Seeds

“In the LORD shall all the seed of Israel be justified, and shall glory.” Psalm 45:25 (KJV)

Who brings up seeds at Christmas? Generally, not me. Lights, always. Stars, without a doubt. Angels, obviously. But not seeds, I don’t even think about them until spring!

Then let today be a first!

Actually, a case for seeds can easily be made for Christmas. After all, the Holy Spirit planted the seed of the Christ-Child in Mary. This brings us to possibilities.

Okay, this probably sounds like a broad jump but bear with me. Our choir performed the Christmas Cantata last night, entitled, “Mary, Did You Know?” It’s one of my favorite songs that asks a question pondered by many hearts, just what did Mary know?

I guaranty Mary knew more than what God allowed in written Scripture because she was there. Obviously the Bible leaves us wondering on a few details especially regarding the actual seed-planting. But that is okay, after all, the moment was holy and private. I rest assured God told us all we needed to know.

Mary knew this was definitely God’s work, not just a possibility. But I wondered if some of the things she pondered were about the possibilities of her Son. Was it possible He really was the Messiah they’d looked for all those years? Was it possible she’d see her people delivered in her lifetime? Could she even imagine the possibility of her Baby Jesus healing the sick and raising the dead?

Whether she fully understood or not, the answer to all of these questions was yes. It was all possible and it indeed came to pass. Why? It was because He was His Father’s Child. Jesus possessed all that the Father was and His possibilities were infinite.

We’ve mentioned seeds and possibilities. Now let us move pass them and hop-scotch over to trees. If you are like me you have a tree in your living room. I love Christmas trees. They make me smile with all the lights. If you have a real tree, that tree grew from a seed. Everything that tree is right now – is due to the blueprint contained in its seed.

Now here is where we wrap up this package for today. I came across this statement a few months ago and it has stayed with me. Let me share it with you right now: The seed includes all the possibilities of the tree – An Ancient Egyptian Proverb.

Jesus Christ was born with all the character, capability, purpose and potential of His Father because Jesus was of His seed. Bless His holy name! Celebrate the fact that this “tree” grew up to become and accomplish exactly as He was destined to accomplish.

Rejoice that you too, are a tree. Metaphorically speaking. But your seed is not of yourself. I John 3:9 tells us, “…because His seed abides in him [you]…” The minute you accepted the Christ-Child as your Savior, you became of His seed with all the possibilities that entails.

Christmas is when we celebrate His birth, the beginning of God in Flesh, who came to sinful man to accomplish the greatest possibility of all: reconciliation of man to God. It is also, because of that reconciliation that we can grow into a servant with endless possibilities of service – all because we are His seed!

So what’s possible for YOU today?

Barbara

December 07, 2009

Our Need For a Savior

But Jesus answered, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink?” They said to Him, “We are able.” Matthew 20:22 (NASB)

By the time you read this, my household should be well as we have been sick. It’s been a rough week and I got sick first. However before I had any chance to recover, Bob became ill. That’s when life became interesting, especially since we didn’t have the same thing. (This baffled the doctor, who rendered assistance anyway.)

Being sick, we did the things sick folks do. Moaned, groaned and laid around like zombies. Bob was banished to the spare room where neither us of us would catch what the other had, on top of our own disease. Now, I must admit, Bob took the worst part of the deal. Cold and sinus infection were my enemies. Bob picked up some kind of tummy virus and couldn’t even eat Jell-O.

He spent many hours being nauseous. Now I am sure I don’t have to explain the difference between queasy and down-right naw-seous. One makes you miserable; the other affords you the opportunity to imitate Linda Blair in the Exorcist.

Personally, I hate the feeling. In fact, if the CIA ever needed to get information from me, forget the bamboo shoots under the fingernails, just make me sick and I’ll tell you whatever you want to know and if I don’t know anything, I’ll make up a real good story!

Okay, I know this is not a pleasant subject and I bet you are wondering why I am telling you this. Well, there is a point amidst the gory details.

The point being, Bob was not queasy. I felt so bad for him and told him on several occasions that day, if I could be sick for him, I would and I meant it. The only thing more pitiful than a sick child is a sick husband.

Later that night, I woke up about 2:30 in the morning, let us say, to render aid to my husband. After making a few cold compresses and assured he was ready to go back to sleep, I headed back to bed – still not feeling well myself.

I wasn’t in bed for two seconds when I felt my own tummy take a turn. I thought, this is it, I’ve gotten Bob’s virus. I moved quickly to be near places one should be near when feeling this way. In that moment, I remembered my earlier words to Bob thinking God had taken my up on my offer. The waves of nausea hit hard and I felt close to passing out. Then a split second later, I heard my mind call out to God saying, “I take it back, I don’t want this!” It was not my proudest moment.

In my defense, I recanted that statement a few seconds later when I realized what I was thinking and how horrible it sounded. But God got the message across. Yes, I actually believe it was a message from God. After fifteen minutes (which seemed like a year), my tummy settled down and I went back to bed without any “ill” effects.

However, I laid there for quite a while pondering the dose of medicine God gave me, so perhaps I would better sympathize with my sweet husband, who did not ask to be sick. It also was a VERY vivid reminder of my need for the Savior. I thought of Peter’s denial and of today’s verse, and of how quick I could change my tune when the suffering became mine.

Matthew 20:22 was Christ’s response to one mis-motivated mother’s request. Sometimes we say things without realizing exactly what we’re asking for or committing to. Then when the reality of our words hits us squarely between the eyes – we are forced to confront our own weaknesses and sin. We are faced with the facts that as strong as we think we are at times, we are not. Christ told the disciples at the Garden of Gethsemane, “Keep watching and praying that you may not enter into temptation, the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.” (Matt 26:41)

For the same reason, we needed His death, we needed His birth. For without one, the other is meaningless. As we look to the Reason for this Season, let us start by confronting our own weaknesses and personal need for a Savior. May the Holy Spirit take my experience and use it your life to do just that!

Humbly,
Barbara