Monday, December 29, 2008

In the Midst of Tragedy

I just found out yesterday that one of my cousins was found dead yesterday morning. It seems like a homicide. It's so tragic. My heart broke. I felt an overwhelming sadness come over me that I had trouble sleeping last night. She was 29 years old and had suffered so much in her young life. She had three children (who are with her ex-husband) and struggled with drug addiction. A little over five years ago, I distinctly remember her crying at my parent's house (when my dad held worship services there) because she had given her life to Christ. She tried to stay away from the drugs, but her foundation wasn't strong enough to keep her from going back. Even so, she often told her mom that she would tell her friends about Jesus. My hope and prayer is that her tragic death will not be in vain, but that her friends and our family will turn to God even more.

My heart goes out to my aunt who has endured alot herself and now this. I can't imagine what she is feeling right now. The only thing that brings me comfort is the Holy Spirit...our Comforter. He not only rejoices when we rejoice, but He hurts when we hurt and He cries when we cry.

I am reminded by God's word that we serve a God who is able to relate to us no matter what situation we face. God knows exactly how my aunt feels and only He can truly comfort her. For God's own son was not spared. Jesus Himself came so that He could walk the path we walk and experience this life as we do...the good, the bad and the ugly. Scripture tells us in Hebrews 2:17-18: Therefore, it was necessary for him to be made in every respect like us, his brothers and sisters, so that he could be our merciful and faithful High Priest before God. Then he could offer a sacrifice that would take away the sins of the people. Since he himself has gone through suffering and testing, he is able to help us when we are being tested.

Jesus is our high priest. He understands. He is faithful and merciful. He is able to take away our sins. He is able to help. So in the midst of tragedy, I am thankful to our God that He is here for us and our loved ones and He is able to comfort as ONLY He can.

I appreciate your prayers for my family.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Praying in the Dark

The Christmas season is my favorite time of the year, but for some of us (including me at times!), it can be the most difficult time of the year. Whatever you're facing today, I pray this devotional will remind you that you are NOT alone and that He is your light and your salvation!

Do not rejoice over me, my enemy. When I fall, I will arise; when I sit in darkness, the Lord will be a light to me. Micah 7:8 (NKJV)

One morning I headed to my usual “quiet place” to meet with God which happens to be a certain chair in my living room. It’s normally dark as it’s early in the morning before the sun or my family wakes up. As I turned on the lamp next to my chair, I noticed someone sleeping on the sofa. No, it was not my husband! It was our 5 year old son. At some point during the night he had brought his blankie, pillow and batman with him to the sofa and had even moved the cat’s bed next to him. I knew I couldn’t leave the light on so I proceeded to “pray in the dark.” I found that morning particularly special because I was able to see my adorable son sleeping before me during my time with God. I must admit that I probably prayed a little longer and stronger for my family that morning. It was hard not to! As I got up from my prayer time, I noticed the sun was shining.

Sometimes, even in the midst of us seeking God, we feel that we are “in the dark.” It’s not a matter of “if” but “when” we feel that way. We all do at times. Whether that darkness represents a certain situation brought upon choices made by you or others, a relationship that is difficult, or when facing the unknown or something new, we can feel lost in the dark. Know that God knows where you are and He hears EVERY word you pray. Keep seeking Him and be thankful for what is before you (even the not so good stuff!) that will cause you to pray a little longer and stronger. Seeing my son laying there before me caused more fervency in my prayer time. While in the darkness, Child of God, pray with fervency because the Son of God is fixing to shine upon you! Believe it. The darkness cannot prevail in your life. You are a child of the Light. God is faithful to pick you up, dust you off and let His glory shine upon you and your circumstances. Be encouraged and just keep on...praying in the dark!

Meditation for the Week: I am a child of the Light and darkness CANNOT prevail in my life!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Christmas Blog: 3 Point Memo on the Magi

Since this is December, I thought I would start my blog with a Christmas one entitled “3 Point Memo on the Magi.” In Matthew 2:1-12 we read the story of the Magi known as the “Wise Men” in the Nativity Story. These Magi were actually pagan astrologers from Persia. These were men of intellect and means and God used something they were familiar with to get their attention, a star. They were on a pilgrimage. They followed this star for several months until it took them to Jerusalem.

(Point 1) There are seekers of God all around us. These Magi, even though they were pagan astrologers, were in pursuit of the King of the Jews. We must realize that people all around us, like the Magi, are on a pilgrimage. They are seeking for purpose, truth, fulfillment, meaning. Many times they are NOT seeking after God, but look to the things of this world (astrology, money, sex, drugs, etc.) or other “spiritual” religions. Even so, we need to be sensitive to the fact that they ARE seeking and need to encourage them in their pursuit of truth. The very fact that they are seeking lets us know that God is at work in their lives and is working on drawing them closer to Him (whether it be by a star, death of a loved one, divorce, etc.). God sometimes allows the unfortunate or uncommon in hopes of getting their attention. Think back to what God used in your life. So don’t give up or lose heart for those loved ones that seem to be stumbling through other things in their pursuit. For God will reveal Himself to those who are sincere in their search. In 2nd Kings we see Naaman who was seeking healing from leprosy when his servant girl pointed him to God through the Prophet Elijah. Naaman found more than just his healing. In 2nd Kings 5:15 he told Elijah, “Now I know that there is no God in all the world except in Israel….” So we need to continue to pray for those around us who are in need of what only God can give them. Live in a way that exalts and points to Christ and God is faithful to draw them to Himself. (John 12:32)

(Point 2) If seekers are to find TRUTH, they will find it only in scripture. The Magi had been following the star, but still did NOT know WHERE EXACTLY the new King was to be born. They needed more detailed direction. Only in the Word of God, did they find the answer they needed. The religions and philosophies of this world can only take one so far. They will eventually lead to a dead end. Even at our dead ends, God is there to give us truth that will lead us to Him, but ONLY in Christ, will one find God. (John 14:6) It is NOT our job to make people believe in Christ, but it is our job to give them the truth of God’s word so that they CAN find Him. I am not talking about sharing “Christianese”, but the truth of God’ word. There is a difference. Sharing a scripture and applying it in simple terms to one’s life can help someone in their way. God’s word is powerful and will not return to Him void. It is truth that helps to set us free from the lies of the enemy. Help bring clarity to someone around you by sharing the simple truth of God’s word in a meaningful way.

(Point 3) When one finds Jesus, worship is the only proper response. The Magi came prepared to worship the new King with their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrhh – which were gifts given to a royal court. They had found him! What gift of worship do you bring to Jesus this Christmas? If pagan scholars can bring Jesus gifts, how much more should not we, who believe Jesus is not only the King of the Jews, but our Lord and Savior? Let us give Him our worship of trust and obedience. We are to live our lives as a fragrant offering to our King. As the Apostle Paul said, “For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life…..” (2nd Corinthians 2:15,16)

Perhaps God has appointed you to be a “star” in someone’s life. Shine bright and shine true. (Matt. 5:16) You never know when someone will ask you, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews?”