Three Questions for 2015

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Holidays are a time to catch up with out-of-town family. Over the years, I have discovered an extra joy: worshiping together in their home church. Being in God’s house away from home, I always learn something new and am prompted to reflect on God’s word. This past Christmas was no exception. In her sermon, the pastor posed three questions:

1. What gift has God given to you?

2. What gift do you give to the world because of God’s gift to you?

3. What is the song of your heart?

These are my type of questions in that they bypass the fluff and get right to the heart of the matter. The first question: what gift has God given to me? Salvation is the obvious answer. Without God’s salvation, I would have nothing of eternal value. But that wasn’t my answer. My answer was hope. The birth of Jesus and the realized promise of salvation fill me with hope. Hope for every circumstance and relationship in my life. Hope for my future, both here on earth and in heaven. And hope for living the life of hope that God has called me to. The second question: what gift do I give to the world because of God’s gift to me? Hmm, as a professing Christian, I should have many good answers. I went with the first one to pop into my head: love. Because God’s hope swells up inside of me, I can express and share God’s love. In a world beset with wars, political divisiveness and bitterness, love is a beacon of hope. Love starts with me in my little corner of the world and can spread beyond my reach through God’s reach to the world. The last question: what is the song of my heart? This was the hardest question. I thought I needed a highly profound answer. I stuck with this one because it is the mantra that motivates me each day. “Everything, even the little things that I do in the name of Jesus, matter to God.” My significance and my influence stem from heeding God’s word in my life and exercising faith daily. Great questions to ponder. May God’s answers spoken to your heart guide you in 2015.

Please feel to share your answers (short or long version) to these three questions in the comments section of this post.

 

Romans 5:5

And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. 

 

 Hebrews 10:23-24

Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.

 

 

Spiritual Lessons From a Safety Pin Angel

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The Christmas ornament made out of safety pins and beads caught my eye. I decided to copy the pattern and make my own to give out. If only it had ended up being that easy.

What I remembered as cheap plastic beads are now considered “fine jewelry.” I paid a premium for the right-sized beads to form the angel’s skirt. However, the holes in the beads were the wrong size for the safety pins. My search for the perfect match of craft supplies continued. I moved on to the halo. My middle-aged eyes and clumsy fingers struggled with threading the tiny gold beads onto the wire halo.

The cute angels had become a time-consuming, expensive, and frustrating project. At my lowest, I thought about giving up. That’s when the Holy Spirit provided the revelation needed to finish.

Use the resources available.I found bags of miscellaneous beads in my craft box stored in the garage.

Accept help. My mother-in-law cleaned out her craft stash and passed on beads that I could work in.

Dare to forge a new path. The angels wouldn’t look exactly like the original. Rather, the ornaments would reflect my touch.

Allow expectations to be changed. I had to accept that something different from what I envisioned was still worthy.

Persevere despite the circumstances. My sense of satisfaction was greater because I worked harder than I thought necessary or possible to reach the end goal.

Don’t lose sight of the why. My purpose in making the ornaments was to give them away and bless others. The why should fill me with joy that permeates every aspect of the process.

Angels made. Check. Spiritual lessons learned. Check. Who knew that so many spiritual lessons could come from a safety pin angel!

Psalm 91:11

For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways;

Hebrews 1:14

Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?

 

 

The View Outside My Window

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As I spend time in the kitchen, I enjoy the view outside my window. The hummingbirds entertain me with their flying antics. I am constantly surprised by the menagerie of visitors along the treeline: goldfinches with their splash of sunshine, one very big hawk, the scurrying squirrels, the groundhog that stayed for a little while and then moved on, the stray cat and the family of ducks. The fountain across the street is a relaxing sight and a relaxing sound on cool days when I open the window. I witness the colors change with the seasons from blooming flowers to ripening tomatoes. I experience beauty, peace and occasional humor from a distance. I find that I am content to watch as life happens outside my window. Sometimes, I live out my faith in the same manner. I am content to simply view life from my window onto the world. I encourage others. I rejoice over others’ victories in Christ. I live vicariously through their adventures of faith. I am content. But God did not purpose us to be simply observers of faith. We were created to own our personal adventures of trust with God. I am called to exercise my faith. To step outside of my comfort zone. To push aside self-imposed limitations and to grasp God’s possibilities.  For the view that God has for my life is up close and in action.

 

Psalm 16:11

You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.

John 10:10

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life and have it to the full.

 

Gee, Thanks for Letting Me Know

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Our car is being recalled. From the letter we received in the mail, here is the problem in a nutshell: “Your vehicle has a condition in which the transmission shift cable may fracture at any time. When the fracture occurs, the driver may not be able to select a different gear, remove the key from the ignition or place the transmission in park.” The word crash is mentioned twice in the notice. After giving us the bad news, we are presented with even worst news in capital letters, “PARTS ARE NOT CURRENTLY AVAILABLE.” Gee, thanks for letting me know about something I can’t do anything about. This is so like the world: problems galore and no real solutions readily available. Contrast this with God’s ways. God informs us that we have a sin defect which puts us in imminent danger. That’s the bad news clearly stated in Scripture. However, the bad news is always followed up with the good news so that we can have peace today. Jesus took our sin problem on as his own. He dealt with the sins of the world once and for all by his perfect sacrifice on the cross. Jesus rose from the dead to show us our future filled with hope. With God, the problem is identified. With God, the solution has already been implemented. With God, the outcome is guaranteed: we are highly favored by God and can look forward to our forever home of heaven. Thank you Lord Jesus for letting me know about all the wonderful things you have done to keep me safe.

 

Romans 6:23

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

 

Zechariah 9:12

Return to your fortress, O prisoners of hope; even now I announce that I will restore twice as much to you.