Sunday, November 30, 2014

Advent Day 1: Jesus is The Word

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.....The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us."
John 1:1,14a

What does Advent mean to you? I have been thinking about this question the last couple of days.  If I was to give a definition I would say that is it the beginning of the Christmas Season, celebrating the Jesus' birth and His coming to Earth.  That's an okay definition I think but what does it really mean.  I tried to do some research on the internet but was not satisfied with the answer.   This morning my pastor gave a short definition that has stuck with me through the five minutes of research ha.  She said (as best as I can remember) that Advent was the season of preparation for Christ's coming and the hope that we have in Him.

This is a solid definition but now how can we prepare to celebrate Jesus' birth?  This year, every day of Advent, I am going to write a short devotional about a name of Jesus.  Please join me on this journey of discovering a deeper understanding of Jesus' role here on Earth.  All of the names I drew from the Bible and each day will come with a scripture.  Sign up on the right with your email to receive each day's devotion right in your mailbox!

The first name of Jesus I chose was the Word.  I never really understood this name until I starting to study Genesis and Exodus closer.  

"And God said"
Genesis 1:3a
God spoke and there was light, earth, the whole universe as we know it! Wow His Words must be powerful! He also keeps His covenants or promises, therefore His Word are always true.  Now if we think about Jesus, He was powerful and the Word He spoke were always true.  He resisted the Devil's temptations with scripture---God's Word (Matthew 4).  Jesus was also the Flesh version of God.  John says the "Word became Flesh".  God became Man--Jesus! 

Jesus' life here on Earth is an example for us to live and strive for.  He was living out God's Word by the actions of His life.  Jesus was the Word because He was the message from God.  Therefore, this Christmas season as your stress levels rise, please be careful of the words that come out of your mouth or stick in your brain.  Human words are powerful, but God's Words can heal.  So when you are angry, open your bible and read the Love Letter God has written to you and remember Jesus is the Word. 

With His Love,

P.S. This reminder is really for me :D I need to hold back my tongue and only let words of life flow from my mouth

Sunday, November 23, 2014

God's leaders do the hard thing

Wow.  It's been a long time since I have written.  The last post I published was on July 20th!!  I have five other posts in draft mode but never got around to writing them.  I took a bit of a break from social media because I felt like I was bragging and not glorifying God.  I also needed to learn moderation and restraint from constant checking of my notifications and social media sites.  Then I became busy.  I had prayed for months for something to do, then suddenly my plate was full.  I went from 0 to 60 in less than a month.  Don't get me wrong, all the new activities in my life were great but I needed to learn again how to manage time and structure my days.  Along the way I lost my voice.  There were topics I wanted to write about, five in fact, made the draft but never wrote.  I knew what I wanted to say but couldn't write it down.  But now I'm back.  I have learned so much in the past few months and I want to share it!! I have a special Advent project in the works and I will announce it later this week! Now onto the main show!

One of my new activities is becoming a children's leader at my bible study.  I attend Bible Study Fellowship and I encourage you to go to the link, find a class and GO!! I have learned so much in the past two years that I have attended.  It is a nondenominational bible study and this year the study is the Life of Moses.  Last week and this week's lessons are my inspiration for this post.

Let me give you a background of the scripture that influences these thoughts.  God has brought the nation of Israel out of Egypt where there were enslaved for 400 years.  He gave them His commands through His servant Moses.  The people are wondering in the desert on their journey to Canaan or the Promised Land.  Right now they at Mount Sinai.  God's Glory and Presence has engulfed the mountain in cloud and smoke so the people cannot see Moses at the top, learning from God and spending time with them.  So they go to Aaron, Moses' brother, who is in charge while Moses was on the mountain receiving instructions from God.  The people said "Come, make us gods who will go before us" (Exodus 32:1).  They were impatient waiting for Moses.  So Aaron, the leader of the God's chosen people, cast a golden calf from the gold jewelry the people had acquired in Egypt!  They bowed down and worshiped this idol after God had given them the Ten Commandments strictly stating they were to only worship Him!  Aaron didn't say no even though he was the leader of the people and heard the same commandments from God Himself.  He didn't stand firm.  He said yes under pressure and built an idol.

God's leaders do the hard thing, they say no.  The phrase doesn't say God's people (although it could) but leaders.  Those who lead others need to say no to things.  Aaron needed to say no to building other gods and point back to God and reassure the people that Moses would come back down from the Mountain (He had been gone 40 days) What could those things be that you need to say no to?  They are different for everyone.  For me, it is food mainly.  I was on my run this morning (I usually keep Sunday's as rest days but due to scheduling conflicts, I got up early before church) and grumbling to God and myself about how terrible my eating and exercise patterns have been for the past few weeks.  Then that phrase we learned this week at BSF popped into my head (I'm assuming by Divine intervention, aka God placed it there!).  This morning I had said no to sleep so that I could say yes to a run and exercise.  (Another note, running is the only sure time that I can be alone.  Therefore, I usually pray or talk about my life with God.  It makes the run go nicer and I can spend some extra time with God just resting in His presence and strength to get me through the miles). 

So here I am, grumbling about my lack of discipline and I realize that it's my inability to say no.  I usually can't say no to food.  Even if I'm not hungry, I will eat.  If I make cookies, I can't just eat one, I'll eat four.  These thoughts also arose because last week at BSF, we learned about the tabernacle God was instructing the Israelties to build.  This was going to be the place where God would dwell among the people.  Then we learned that when Jesus died, He torn the veil between us and God (physically in the temple that separates the Most Holy Place where God dwelled and the rest of the tabernacle, and metaphorically the separation of our sinful lives and the purity of God) so now we can approach God.  Then God sent the Holy Spirit to us at Pentecost (Acts 2).  As a result, God (in the form of the Holy Spirit) dwells within us!

"The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us." 
John 1:14a

"Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own." 
1 Corinthians 6:19

Both of these verses made an impact on me this morning as I was running and trying to figure out how and why I need to say no to certain things.  The Greek word for dwelling is ἐσκήνωσεν and means tabernacled among us! Our bodies are a temple or tabernacle for God!!  That means we need to take care of them.  All I could keep thinking was that I want to encase my tabernacle with gold on the inside and outside just like the physical tablernacle the Irsaelites bulit.  The Ark of the Covenant, where God dwelled, was covered inside and out with gold (Exodus 25:10-22).  Now this doesn't mean I want literal gold but gold was the best and most precious substance that could be used.  That's how I want to treat my body.  Once and for all I need to learn to say no so that my tabernacle can be healthy and useful for God.  Also saying no to all treats isn't the answer but saying no to that second cookie or waiting til tomorrow to eat another one is the answer.

When you say no to one thing, you are saying yes to another.  Often times your struggle may not be with food or exercise but with overbooking your schedule or watching TV.  What do you need to say no to so that you can be a leader for God? However I want my life to be an example and I want to be a leader for God.  This revelation doesn't just apply to the care of my body but all areas of my life.  If the activity is going against God and His commands, then I need to say no.  Often times they could be thoughts or feelings.  So every day I'm going to be diligent in my pray life, asking God to reveal to me those thoughts, feelings or actions that I need to say no to so that I can say yes to a life pleasing to the Lord.  Would you join me??

With His Love,

p.s. For more in depth study read Exodus and Hebrews together for the parallels between the Old and New Covenants!