Advent 2018 Seeing With The Heart

Ann is referencing the scripture, 1 Samuel 16:7, But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”

Today we could practice seeing with our heart, to see another person’s heart. When we learn to see with our heart, this is where Jesus is. We begin to feel again. We can feel how someone else may be feeling and offer comfort. All the fake worldly possessions  and endeavors numb us to what is real and true. It’s up to us to uncover this mask that the world puts on and feel the rawness of life. We can only do that by living through our heart. This is the eyes to see God. What is Christmas without being able to see Jesus?

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Polar Express Journey Of The Heart

Before I was saved I had watched Polar Express with my kids and like everyone else I thought this movie was about Santa but after you have eyes to see, after you have been born again, you realize the kids in the movie represent the different types of people there are and the believing is about believing in God.

When I saw this movie again the ticket really stood out to me because of my father in law. He passed away in 2009. He was suffering from cancer and was bed ridden for a year. During one of the visits my husband had with his dad, he spoke of his ticket. His dad was looking all over the bed for something and my husband asked him what he was looking for. He said he was looking for his ticket. He went on to say that it had been punched and Jesus told him all that he had to do was wave his ticket and he would be let in. He said God was around the corner and he was just waiting to be let in. He found the ticket and sat there holding it peacefully, but to my husband, he saw nothing.

I know the movie has a surface meaning about Santa but I see a deeper meaning and wanted to write about it. I see the Polar Express as a journey of the heart. The boy who the movie is about is a doubter. Although he does want to believe, he needs proof.  He looks to his books for answers and finds that the North Pole is stark, barren, devoid of life. A lot like people’s hearts today.  This boy takes a journey into his heart and finds life, wonder, belief.  On his journey he meets three people. One is a believer, a girl, who has faith, doesn’t try to figure things out, just believes. She sees the wonder in it all and makes people want what she has. There is a boy who is a”know it all”. He has knowledge spilling from the brim! But all the knowledge in the world will not compare to experience. He fills his mind with all the facts but doesn’t give room in his heart for faith. He really doesn’t know anything at all because he can’t see with his heart, like the girl. Then another boy he meets is negative. He is portrayed as poor because that’s how he views himself. He actually blocks his blessings because of his negative attitude. Life doesn’t happen for him because he has no faith. He denies himself the experience but there is hope for him because he changes his mind. This is what repenting is about, changing our mind about it.

At first the boy is afraid to board the train. Aren’t we all? Afraid to take that leap of faith. Afraid we might find out it’s true and it will change us forever. We are afraid to search our hearts because our natural mind doesn’t understand it. It’s another realm, another world. The unknown. He does it though! He jumps aboard and goes on this journey.  After he meets the kids he meets a ghost who helps him along. This represents Jesus to me. The ghost is always there to save him or help him. The conductor reveals that he had a helper once and the boy knew who he was talking about. The conductor goes on to say sometimes the most real things in the world are the things we can’t see.  The spiritual realm for instance is invisible to us because we are in the physical realm but we can access it through our heart. The girl and the poor boy sing a song describing two different perspectives. She describes what she has experienced and he describes what only he has heard about. Her Christmas experience is full of wonder and awe and his is not filled with anything. When you block your heart from something you are missing out.

When they get to the North Pole the girl describes how beautiful the bells sound but the doubting boy doesn’t hear anything. Even with Santa right in front of him he can’t hear the bells. Just like when Jesus was right in front of the Pharisees, they didn’t recognize Him. The boy has to change his heart to receive the sound of the bell. When he holds it up to his ear and shakes it there is a voice saying, doubt, doubt, doubt. This is what Satan does to us. He is always whispering to us to get us off track. The boy decides to confess that he believes and then everything changes. When we confess our belief, like it says in the Bible to do then everything changes. Romans 10:9, If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. God hears us when we confess we believe. The boy could then hear the ringing of the bell. When Santa goes to speak to them he tells each one a word of wisdom. The “know it all” boy needed humility and patience. The poor boy needed friends. The girl was told she was full of confidence and spirit, keep up the good work. The doubting boy got to go to the sleigh. He was an overcomer. Since he overcame his doubt he got the first present. His present was the bell. Santa said the bell was just a symbol. He said the true spirit of Christmas lives in your heart. God’s Holy Spirit lives in our heart.

Make room for His Holy Spirit to live in your heart so you can experience all God has to give. Don’t be a doubter, a person who knows all the facts but doesn’t have experience, a negative person who blocks God’s blessings. Believe and receive the Holy Spirit to lead you, teach you and be your friend. When we believe a whole new world opens up to us. We will begin to see and hear the invisible.

Advent 2018 God Only Knows

This is a song by, For King And Country, God Only Knows. It seems appropriate for today’s reading. It’s about Ruth. How she stuck by her mother-in-law, Naomi. Things were pretty bad, but Ruth stayed with her mother-in-law, maybe because that was all she had left. But I believe she knew the power of Naomi’s God. She knew there would be life in that choice of going wherever Naomi went.

As long as you are going in the direction of God, you will have life. A line from Ann’s book, ” When your Father’s hand isn’t readily apparent, it’s only because He’s readying gifts. Gifts always come out of the unseen and hidden places.”

Advent 2018 Jesus-Our Lifeline

Today’s reading is about Rahab. She was a woman who lived in a place that didn’t believe in God and she was a prostitute. She trusted and believed that by hanging a red cord from her window, she and her family would be saved when the Israelites attacked.

That little mustard seed of faith did save her and her family. She went on to be part of the lineage of Jesus. Not only was her life radically changed by trusting God but her legacy changed also.

I know that when I was saved eight years ago, my legacy was changed. I also believe that because of me, my family will be saved.

When one person grabs the life line of Jesus, it effects those around them.

I like what Ann says: ” No personal choice that muddied your life can ever trump the divine choice to wash your life clean.”

 

Advent 2018 Law Transforms To Love

Today’s focus is on the Ten Commandments. I know your first inclination is to back away at the mention of the law but that’s because we are guilty of breaking it. I remember when I wasn’t saved and I would be flipping radio stations and I would hear worship music and I liked it but I wouldn’t keep listening. I felt unworthy. That’s the problem with the law, we know we are guilty of not keeping it and so we shy away from God.

But God gave us the commandments to show us how to live. How to have life! If we follow His law we will live! He did this out of love. He then sent Jesus not to abolish the law but to fulfill it. Matthew 5:17, Do not think that I came to do away with or undo the [a]Law [of Moses] or the [writings of the] Prophets; I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. He is the only one who fulfilled God’s law and showed us how to love. I like how Ann says it: “Jesus, the Love who doesn’t just die the death we deserved to die; He lives the love we’ve desired to live.”

God doesn’t want people who follow out of fear, He wants us to follow out of love. Once I fell in love with Jesus, I realized I wanted to obey Him because I love Him! There shouldn’t be any obligation to love, Jesus came so we could freely love!

Elyse M. Fitzpatrick said, “I am more sinful and flawed than I ever dared believe, more loved and welcomed than I ever dared hoped.”

This song No Matter What fits perfectly

 

Advent 2018 It’s All Good

This was actually yesterday’s reading but I was stumped on what to say, really. And then we got some bad news and threw my day off.

Yesterdays’s reading was about how  no matter what bad happens, God can use it for our good. Ann quotes one of my favorite lines from one of my favorite stories  in the Bible. It’s the story of Joseph. He tells his brothers, “You intended to harm me but God intended it all for good.” And the Bible tells us in Romans 8:28,  And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. I like what Ann goes on to say, ” What was intended to tear you apart, God intends to set you apart.”

Now I know whenever we are going through hard times, it’s hard to see the good in it. Ann calls these hard eucharisteos.  In her book One Thousand Gifts, she talks about counting the gifts God gives and being thankful. She says even in the hard and bad stuff, look for the gift. Eucharisteo means: grateful, grace, joy. We are to be thankful for God’s graces toward us and we will have joy. God doesn’t allow hard lessons without a gift as Ann puts it. We have to look for them.

Two years ago, right after I read One Thousand Gifts, I got a bad case of strep throat. I couldn’t talk and I was throwing up. During that week of misery, I wrote down my hard eucharisteos and prayed to get better. Being thankful was soothing to my soul because it reminded me that I wasn’t alone. God is with us!

The bad news we got yesterday was my son’s friend was in a car accident Friday night. He is brain dead and can’t live without life support. He is only 19 years old. His parents are now faced with the awful task of having to decide his fate. I’m in tears over this news! It’s so tragic and it’s hard to know what good can come from this. But with God, He will work it out for good somehow. In the meantime, this family has to deal with this awful tragedy. God is with them and will show them the way to go. His sister posted a picture of him and on his chest he tattooed Psalm 23, beginning with,  Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death…

So sad, especially at Christmas. Please join me in prayer for him and his family.

Christmas Window by Regina Gibson

This is a poem I wrote some years ago and wanted to share it for Christmas.

 

With the Christmas tree decorated  red and green,

it was the most beautiful sight that I had ever seen.

My place empty and barren,

I did not know the joy of giving presents and sharing.

I see tape and scissors on a table,

along with lights and figures and a stable.

The fire burning looks so warm,

I began to melt into this scene of tranquilty and charm.

For a moment I was there,

in that wonderful place.

Eating turkey and saying grace.

A Christmas Poem

This is a poem I saw posted on Facebook. They don’t know who wrote it but it was very special to me and I wanted to share it. I don’t claim any rights to it, just thought you would like it too!

T’was the night before Christmas,

God glanced over the earth.

He looked to and fro,

all over it’s girth.

They missed it again He said with a sigh,

A heavy heart and a tear in His eye.

I gave them My Son,

So they could be free.

My Greatest Gift,

to them from Me.

They traded Me in,

for a man in red.

A little tree,

and a horse drawn sled.

How do I save them,

and make them see.

My love is complete.

My grace is free.

How do I help them,

when all they know.

Is a talking snowman,

and a box with a bow.

Maybe next year,

they will see.

The biggest gift of Christmas,

is the little Child from Me.

Advent 2018 Bridge

Today is about how Jesus came down for us. He is our bridge to God. We don’t have to climb, strive or produce our way to God. Jesus came so that we can go to God through Him. John 1:51,  He then added, “Very truly I tell you, you will see ‘heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”  I like what Ann says: Jesus doesn’t show you the steps to get to heaven- Jesus IS the steps to heaven.

When my father in law was soon to pass, he said there was a bridge and his wife’s brother, who was his friend in Vietnam, was standing there saying, ” Come on over.” He was killed in the war at 18 or 19 years of age. When my father in law did pass, my husband’s brother had a dream. This was before the funeral. He saw his dad standing behind Jesus and he was waving.

When you feel distraught and tired of reaching, reach for the One who makes the Way, Jesus. Only Jesus gives us rest for our weary souls. Matthew 11:28, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.

Take a break from the hussle and realize all you have to do is focus on Him and all the stress melts away.

I found a song the other day  or I should say God gave it to me, called Bridge by Cloverton. It wraps all this up for Christmas. Enjoy! It’s a gift from me to you, from Jesus to you. Let it soak into your soul. Jesus loves you! Merry Christmas!

 

 

Advent 2018 Provision

Let me count the ways……. God has provided for me over and over and over again. He always supplies my needs and the needs of my family. Not only does God provide our physical and material needs, He also provides for our spiritual and emotional needs. Corrie Ten Boom wrote: Who can add to Christmas? The perfect motive is that God so loved the world. The perfect gift is that He gave His only Son. The only requirement is to believe in Him. The reward of faith is that you shall have everlasting life.

I really love that last line because I never thought of faith as having a reward but I love the fact that my faith causes me to have eternal life. That is definitely motivation for me to hang on to my faith. Faith is a gift from God that He provides. Ephesians 2:8,  For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— Romans 12:3,  For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.

When I was on the verge of being saved I bought a necklace with the word faith on it with a cross. I didn’t realize at the time what that really meant. I didn’t know God was giving me the gift of faith right then in that moment. It was weeks later that I was saved at my kitchen table.

Today you could watch The Gospel of John, like I did, to strengthen your faith. Spend time with God and thank Him for giving you faith. Thank God for all His provision in your life. And whatever it is that you are concerned or worried about this Christmas, confess that God will provide out loud like Abraham did when Issac asked him where the sacrifice was. Abraham answered, ” God Himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” See, Abrham thought he had to sacrifice Issac but by faith he told Issac God will provide and at the last minute, God did. So even if you aren’t seeing anything happen in front of your eyes, remember this, Ann Voskamp says: “The mundane is what’s making miracles.” Hold on to your faith and confess it to be so and you will get a Christmas miracle!