Wednesday, December 31, 2008

God's Perscription for a Happy New Year

2009 is standing on the threshold and once again the question arises … “What about New Year Resolutions?”
I think most of us have been there, done that, and realized they are all too soon forgotten!

I wondered about why we have such a fascination with the first day of a new year !
I thought .. usually when something seems to have such an ingrained importance somewhere there is a link back to a God-deposited truth or principle.
And then the thought struck me that if that were true then there would be something to glean from scripture.
I did a search and found some interesting references. I used them to create this post, leaving the verses in the order of occurrence in the bible.

I invite you to walk with me through “God’s Prescription for a Happy New Year!”

Trust His Promises

The very first reference to the first day of a new year is in Gen. 8:14 where it says……”And it came to pass in the six hundred and first year, in the first month, the first day of the month, that the waters were dried up from the earth; and Noah removed the covering of the ark and looked, and indeed the surface of the ground was dry.”

Here we have the first reference to a New Year’s Day .. and isn’t it exactly how we see a new year - as a new beginning, a clean slate, a reason for renewed hope and excitement of what the new year will bring?

Here we see Noah standing with the promises of God over him , symbolized by the rainbow !

How thankful we can be for God’s promises that are new again on the first day of a new year!
What promises of God are important to you as you begin 2009?

Pay attention to His Commandments

In Ex. 12:2 we read…”This month shall be your beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year to you.” Then followed God’s instructions to Aaron and Moses regarding the Passover. If they would follow His instructions God promised the destroyer would not have power to strike them !

What a great time to review God’s commandments…. Are we obeying God’s laws so that He can bless our coming in and going out in 2009 ? Is His Word held high as our shield to protect us from the firery darts of the enemy ?

Prepare a Place of Worship

In Exodus 40:2 , God commanded the Israelites ….. “On the first day of the first month you shall set up the tabernacle of the tent of meeting.”

What a perfect time … the first day of the first month… to set up a time and a place for us to fellowship with God - to prepare our heart as a tabernacle in our busy lives where we can retreat to meet with God face to face throughout the year !

Make Necessary Repairs

In II Chron. 29:3 we read about Hezekiah , the king. “In the first year of his reign, in the first month, he opened the doors of the house of the LORD and repaired them.“

Perhaps your ‘tent of meeting’ needs some repair. Has something crept into your life that has broken it down or made it a place cluttered with things that should not be there?

Santify Yourself

2Ch 29:17 "Now they began to sanctify on the first day of the first month, and on the eighth day of the month they came to the vestibule of the LORD. So they sanctified the house of the LORD in eight days, and on the sixteenth day of the first month they finished."

Though the sanctification began on New Year’s Day .. it took some time.
As it should for us as well. It takes time to examine the things in our life and put them in order. To prioritize, to downsize, to sort and discard, to clean.
We belong to the Lord, we are His tabernacle. Is everything in our life ‘sanctified’ -- set apart ‘ for His use? Or are there things that we keep just for ourselves, our own selfish pleasure or profit?
If we ,at the beginning of each year, examined the things in our life - our personal inner life as well as the outer things seen by others, would we not be putting ourselves in a place of service to honour and glorify our Lord ?

Prepare for a Jouney

It is interesting that Ezra, having received permission from the king to travel to Jerusalem to rebuild the walls of his beloved city, began his journey on the first day of the first month --- and .. I love this…. “according to the good hand of his God upon him.” (Ezra 7:9)

On New Year’s Day we embark on a journey, it promises to be be exactly a year long. We have no idea where the journey will take us …or even if we will complete the journey. Though the journey is one into uncharted territory, how comforting to know it is ‘according to the good hand of God upon us’ !!
He has already gone ahead to prepare the way for us !


In Ezra 10:17 we read “By the first day of the first month they finished questioning all the men who had taken pagan wives.”

Is there sin in our life that is displeasing to God? Are we willing to rid ourselves of it, repent and then wholeheartedly follow after God and His righteousness?

Listen for God's Voice

There are several verses I found where it spoke of hearing God’s voice as in Ezra 29:17 “And it came to pass in the twenty-seventh year, in the first month, on the first day of the month, that the word of the LORD came to me, saying…”

Do we hear God’s voice this New Year’s Day ? Are we listening, eager to hear what He is saying to us ? We are so quick to make our own plans….but how important it is to listen first to what God has to say and then our choices, our decisions will be good ones and our steps will fall in solid places!

Prepare a Sacrifice

In Ezra 45:18 God called for a special sacrifice on New Year’s Day…. “Thus says the Lord GOD: ‘In the first month, on the first day of the month, you shall take a young bull without blemish and cleanse the sanctuary’ .”

A sacrifice… something special you offer to God that is of value to Him because of what it accomplishes.
I offer you a challenge. This new year give something to God that is just between you and Him…perhaps something He has already been speaking to you about… perhaps something you have never done before… perhaps something no one else will ever know about!

I already know what mine will be…. Do you know what yours will be ??

I wish YOU, my blogging friend, a very blessed New Year ! and pray that it might be a special journey that leads you into a closer walk with God.


Saturday, December 27, 2008

A Parable with a Christmas Proof !

I think that if I could have lived in the time that Jesus walked this earth.. I would have loved to sit at His feet and listen to Him tell stories !
But, the truth is, He still walks among us, doesn’t He? And His stories are still fascinating and the pearls of truth they teach are still valid for today !
One of Jesus' parables caught my attention just a few days before Christmas!

A man, late one night, heard a knock on his door and opening it found a friend seeking shelter. Of course he welcomed him in … but…his mind was racing ! He had no bread.. what was he going to feed his guest? NOT to feed him was the ultimate disgrace of an ungracious host! Ah... yes.. of course.. . he would run across the street to another friend’s house.. and borrow a few loaves of bread!
Quickly settling his guest… and barely taking time to throw his cloak around his shoulders he quickly ran out. Reaching his friend’s house he banged loudly on the door, breathlessly calling his friend’s name. The startled voice of his friend came from inside …. “I can’t get up .. all the kids are in bed with me… and I don’t want to wake them all up !! !”

Ignoring his friend’s reluctance, the man refused to give up and kept knocking …. And calling .. and begging…. until his friend …. FINALLY.. opened the door and handed his friend as many loaves as he wanted !!

Jesus told this story immediately after He taught His disciples the Lord’s Prayer!
The most common interpretation of this parable is that when we pray we should keep on praying until we get what we are asking for !
But that is really missing the point of Jesus’ teaching.

There is a clue at the end of this parable in Luke 11:13…. Jesus says… “If you, then, being evil……” Those few words unlock the truth Jesus wanted us to understand from this parable.

The man in bed did not answer his friend’s request because he felt compassion or even sympathy with the man’s need ! He didn’t care if he would be humiliated in front of his guest ! Look at his first response… “Go away .. you are bothering me… I’m in bed… I don’t want to get up … you are inconveniencing me!”
And why DID he finally answer his friend at the door ?? Because the friend’s insistent ‘noise’ was going to keep the whole family from sleeping …and probably awaken the ire of his neighbours as well, so he answered him – TO GET RID OF HIM !!!!

And here is the beauty of Jesus’ teaching … He was saying… “If you ,being by nature evil, can be PERSUADED to do the right thing… then how much more will God, who is by nature righteous, answer you at your very first knock!”

A few of the NT scriptures that fit with this parable are…..

Jas 4:2 "... you do not have because you do not ask."

1Jn 5:15 "And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him."

Php 4:19 "And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus."

I love how God will always confirm His word.
A couple of days after I was thinking about this parable, it was the 23rd of December.
Vic and I were down to one last gift for my oldest granddaughter … just to even up her gifts with her sister’s.
Trying to save time … and gas… I suggested we go to the drug store just across from our grocery store where we needed to go anyway!
To our surprise we found very few shoppers wandering the aisles of the drug store, even though it was the last shopping day before Christmas… and I soon saw why. Virtually NOTHING was on sale in the store.. not even their Christmas wrapping paper!
I found a gift nail-care set that I knew my granddaughter would love but it was a little too expensive.
We decided we’d drive a little further into town and see if we could find one cheaper. We did and found nothing . All nail-care sets were sold out.
Finally, we decided we're rather just get our shopping done than focus on saving money! We decided to go back to the original drug store and get the set we saw there.
Back at the drug store, I stood at the shelf .. searching for a ‘hidden’ sale sign that I had perhaps missed earlier … but there was just the “Great Gift Idea” sign with the reg. price on it !

I picked up one of the boxes and on the short walk from the display shelf to the counter I prayed a very quick prayer … “Lord, you see there is nothing on sale in this store.. but You could still make this nail set be on sale, couldn’t You?… Please ?”

I got to the cashier.. she scanned the price bar.. and with a startled look on her face exclaimed .. “OHH ! this comes up on sale !!” I looked at the screen.. Yes, indeed !
It came up at 50% off !!
I smiled…. NOT at the cashier… but at my Heavenly Father ! who truly DOES give good gifts to those who ask !!!!

PS...... Please note -- There MAY, at times, be a delay from the time your ‘answer’ is shipped to your delivery date !


Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas Day Morning Walk

I'm happy you stopped by !
I left an invitation for you to join Vic and me on our Christmas Day morning walk through our 'snow-covered' back yard!

I love the little snow caps on our fence posts.

This is looking out from my front door, and up at Thom Mt.

It snowed again early this morning, but by the time we started on our walk the blue sky was breaking through.

The mountains in the distance were beautiful.

The deer have been making their rounds to the houses in our complex where they can count on apple handouts.

Just checking out the reindeer ornaments, 'wanna take my picture' ?

"How do I look?"

A little stream still running.

The snow capped shrubs soo pretty with the sun shining on them.

Good thing Vic took his shovel... so that he could shovel off the 101 steps !
The snow laden branches against the blue sky are stunning.

So quiet...except for the crunch of the snow under our feet ! The mountain trail so beautiful .

Me in the knee deep snow with a final wave!! "Thanks for joining me !!"

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Wishing YOU a Blessed Christmas!

"I wish each and every one of you, my dear friends, the most blessed and joyous Christmas. As you celebrate , each in your own traditions, may the love of family and friends fill your hearts and overflow to the One who is the Reason we celebrate!"

"Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!" (Luke 2:14)

Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Joy of Wrapping Paper

It was a Sunday close to Christmas Day and our pastor asked people to share their favourite memories of childhood Christmases.
A friend of mine, Jeannie, stood up and went to the mike.

Her eyes sparkling and her voice animated, she told of her childhood joy at Christmas.

Jeannie grew up in a poor family, that lived gypsy-style. Her father did not believe in education and refused to send his children to school so the family moved often to keep the authorities from catching up with them. My friend never set foot into a schoolroom until she walked through a classroom door with her own child by the hand.

Her home was not a Christian home and she had few of the things most children take for granted.
There were no Christmas traditions .... no special dinner .... no extended friends.... and there were no gifts waiting for her or her siblings on Christmas mornings.

But…. she found her own Christmas joy.

Every year, Jeannie, would eagerly wait until after Christmas when everyone put out their garbage including the wrapping paper all their gifts had been wrapped in. Then my friend would sneak unnoticed out to the garbage cans and collect all the discarded Christmas paper and sometimes even pretty ribbon!

The beautiful designs and finishes … the colours , the shine, the gold and silver accents…delighted her and she would spend hours smoothing out the paper, cutting and folding making little shapes and cut outs and paper designs… teaching her creative ideas to her siblings.

I had the bitter/sweet feeling that the throw-away paper brought her more joy than the gifts brought to the ones who thoughtlessly tore off the paper wrapping them.

Those who have an abundance often miss out on the joy that simple things can bring.
This Christmas….. will you have time to notice and enjoy the simple things?
A single ornament.... loved ones around the table.... the wide-eyed joy of a child.... a favourite carol….. a walk in the snow…..the voice of a loved one..... a Christmas card....a nativity scene …..stars in the night sky ..... the familiar words of the Christmas story....

"When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy." (Mat 2:10)

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

A Picture Tag

Marg tagged me for a picture game. Here are the rules…..

1.Open the 4th picture folder on your computer
2. Open the 4th picture and post it on your blog.
3. Explain the picture.
4. Tag 4 people to do the same!

Having an addictive amount of curiosity.... smile... I HAD to know what my photo would turn out to be...

I found that it was a school photo of me in first grade. I am in the first row second from the right. The year? 1953.

Time passes sooo quickly, doesn't it ? I can't believe how many years, how many memories have crowded into my life since the day that picture was taken.
How little I knew then about what my life would bring... what I would do ... who I would become.
We are once again celebrating the Christmas season..... How many Christmases have come and gone since that night the shepherds gazed upon the new babe born in Bethlehem!

The people alive at that time, lived that 'special' day as ordinarily as they had the day before.. little guessing that the world would never be the same again.

History has recorded the changes.

We all love to look back on the past... we try to preserve our memories , capturing them through the written word or imprisoning them in a photo.

This festive season, even as we enjoy the traditions that have become important to each of us...may we not forget the WHY this time of year is a time of celebrating ... It is a time we look back over the last 2000 years and see that God's love has never ceased. Once more this Christmas season we have an opportunity to remind the world that the God-given invitation to accept the baby boy child we now worship as God - is still open to anyone who prepares room in their heart to receive Him.

May you be blessed this holy-day season ! and may His joy and peace flood your soul as you reflect on the Greatest Gift ever given to mankind !

Now I must tag four - I choose ....

Monday, December 15, 2008

The Name

A name is a label… In itself it has nothing to do with ‘who’ a person is – it is simply an enabling identification for the purpose of communicating with others.

And yet…
When you hear a name spoken…. You either draw a blank because the name has no meaning to you beyond the sound of its letters…. OR … there flashes into your mind the image of the person who bears that name.
In your mind's eye you see much more than just his/her physical features which are but the frame for the character traits you immediately think of …. His/her smile… his mannerisms….his voice…the way you know him to act and react….the memories you have of interacting with him.
His name brings to mind the PERSON of his character that has become synonymous with his name !

There is a beautiful prophecy of the coming Messiah in the well know passage in Isaiah 9. Verse 6 says…. “…and His name shall be called Wonderful, Couseller, The might God, The everylasting father, The Prince of Peace.”
His ‘name’ - Jesus - is not mentioned but how easy it is to recognize Him by the description given of Him.

Wonderful !! - synonyms for ‘wonderful’ are extra-ordinary, breathtaking, grand, splendid, tremendous, magnificent, superb, amazing, astonishing, fantastic, brilliant, great, miracle!!
“And when the chief priests and scribes saw the WONDERFUL things that He did…” Matt. 21:15

Counseller ! someone full of wisdom, able to advise, direct , guide and teach !
" Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!

The Mighty God ! Powerful, All-knowing, All-seeing, All-Present !
For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen.”
“ and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power.” Eph.1:19

The Everlasting Father! Tender, compassionate, loving, caring, disciplining.
"O Jerusalem….. How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, but you were not willing!” Luke 13:34

The Prince of Peace ! the Creator of Peace, the giver of Peace, the Ruler over Peace.
“Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” John 14:27

Jesus came, born a babe in a lowly stable, and yet was recognized from the description of His name - a description that preceded His birth by some 700 years !

In this beautiful time of year, Jesus is the reason……He is either recognized for who His is and worshiped. or His name has become a reason for mocking .

Everyone knows His ‘label’ … Jesus… but do you KNOW His name? Intimately ? Does who HE is rule who YOU are?
If you have taken His Name - His character- do people ‘recognize’ you for your likeness to Him?

“O Come , let us adore Him,
Christ, the Lord! …. For He alone is worthy! “

Thursday, December 11, 2008

"How are we doing, God?"

Last Sunday I was so blessed by the little 4/5 year old boy who asked to say the prayer for the little ones gathered up at the front of the church before being sent off to children’s church.
He prayed…. “God, thank you for this church, thank you that we could be here today , thank you for this day..... How are we doing God? …..”
Out of the mouth of babes is often wisdom spoken. His innocent words should be our prayer every day , should it not?
To ask “How we are doing, God?”

His prayer especially caught my attention because of what had filled my thoughts on the way to church.
As we drove out of our complex we passed several people out walking their dogs. I remarked to my husband how we would have reacted with astonished disbelief if any of the adults in our childhood had put the family dog on a leash and taken him for a walk down the road.
Before you jump to conclusions . .I AM an animal lover! BUT.. I’m wondering if we as a society don’t need to stop and ask… “How are we doing, Lord?”

Animals can teach us many things.
Who hasn’t been moved by the ready forgiveness of a pet for the neglect or cross words of its owner?
Who hasn’t been touched by the love of an animal for its young.
Who hasn’t been moved to tears by a bird sitting on the road beside its ‘road kill’ mate.
Whose heart has not swelled with love in response to an adoring, tail wagging dog-welcome?

BUT… have we turned God’s intended purpose backwards?

When God created animals … he called Adam to ask him to name the animals. I grew up on a hobby farm, we raised our own beef , pork and chickens.….but we did not eat the animals we named. It is very difficult, if not impossible, to ‘eat’ an animal that has been a pet!!
So God, in asking Adam to find names for the animals, obviously meant there to be a relationship between man and his four legged friends.
But what was it meant to be?
Was it not that the animals would serve man and teach man, by example, some of the finer points of life ? and not the other way around?

I know a woman who cannot stay for coffee too long because her dog will be waiting for her and doesn’t like to be alone.
Another woman down my street will not go anywhere without her dog and if she is invited somewhere that is in appropriate to bring her dog she simply will not go. She stays in seclusion in her house with her dog.
My neighbour lady has in her will left a large sum of money to her cats and dog for their care in the event of her death.
There are dog hotels with TV sets …. There are dog funeral homes and pet cemeteries.
A local church has a yearly animal blessing service where animals are brought into church and individually blessed by the priest.
There is a retired pastor here in our complex who daily walks his dog…. But he is always alone .. just him and his dog.

There is nothing wrong with having pets and loving them and enjoying their devotion in return …. But have we crossed a line somewhere?
Instead of letting the animals teach us how to love people better …have we allowed the love of our animals satisfy our need for human connections?
Do we now prefer the easy commitment to pets instead of working at building relationships with people?
Do we find it easier to give to pets who require soo little… rather than giving of ourselves and our gifts to the people God put into our lives ?

I’m just asking … I’d love to hear your opinions ……

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

A Stoning

While I was in the middle of writing this post , I got an e-mail from an atheist here in our complex. He sent me a bible quiz put together by the Freedom from Religion Foundation .. and the bible quiz was set up in such a way as to provoke people to scoff at the bible and show God up to be an evil tyrant.
Interesting timing considering the subject of my post......

“Come..” said Shelomith to her son…”lets go for a walk around the camp.” The boy willingly went with her.
At some point in their stroll a quarrel was provoked in the camp …..and the boy and a man fought with each other.
Perhaps the quarrel centered upon their opinions about God.. because the boy suddenly blasphemed and cursed the name of God.
His voice rose above the normal sounds of the camp.… and the people who heard him … were shocked into stunned silence and could only stare in horror.. What would happen now? This kind of talk was unheard of !
The mother’s pleas went unheeded as the boy was seized and brought before Moses.
Moses demanded that he be put into custody until he could seek the Lord’s face to know what was to be to done with the boy.
The Lord spoke His judgement - swift and unmerciful. “Take him who cursed outside the camp, let all those who heard what he said, lay their hands on his head.. and then instruct all the congregation to stone him to death.”

When Moses spoke the Lord’s words to the people… they obeyed immediately and did as the Lord had commanded.

If this would have happened today instead of several thousand years ago… there would be an immediate public outcry ! “Cruel and unusual punishment!!!” And who would believe that Moses had truly heard God’s voice commanding him to have the boy publically stoned ?

Granted, the most stern among us grapple with this kind of punishment – at least our first reaction! But it is in our bible. It is recorded for our learning .. for our admonition.
I wonder how many of you reading this today were familiar with this story tucked into the pages of a little read book .. Leviticus. (24:10-23)

Does this account fit with your image of God?
Is our God not a merciful God, a forgiving God ?
Before you brush this aside as being Old Testament.. lay this story alongside the New Testament story of Ananias and Sapphira whom God struck dead for “a little white lie”.

Our Leviticus story is the very first reference to anyone blaspheming against God or of someone cursing God.

Are you curious what the boy actually said ? Where did the words come from ? We are given one hint… his father was Egyptian. Had his father taught him what he had learned back in Egypt ? Although, if you are a parent have you not been shocked at how early our little ‘angels’ find the words to tell us how angry they are with us when we don’t let them have their way?
I do not believe this boy was a very small child. He was probably more a youth.

I did a bit of a word study to gain some insight into the severity of the boy’s crime.
What does it mean to blaspheme? The original Hebrew word means literally to bore through… to violently poke holes. Poke holes in what ? The character of God – either by scoffing, making light of God or by slander….telling lies about Him!
To curse is to declare someone to be evil, utterly detestable.

No one of any culture would dare to speak thus about their gods – not without fearing for his life.
Could God turn a blind eye? Could He say .. “awww.. I’ll let it go this time… maybe he didn’t understand.”
Obviously, he did understand! He used the words to express the thoughts of his heart. He believed that he could get away with it. But he couldn’t. If God had allowed Him to get away with it …….. people watching would have lost their fear of God. And when fear of God is gone.. a violent criminal society is not far behind.
Are we not living the consequences of a non-God-fearing society ? Are we not a criminal society surrounded by uncontrolled violence?

We have taken on the mind set of defending the criminal, protecting his rights, making sure he isn’t mistreated ! YES ! he is innocent until proven guilty! But when he is undeniably guilty he must bear his shame and appropriate punishment.

Was God unfair? Hardly! God had given the warning… He commanded the people that none should blaspheme Him… nor curse Him. Exo 22:28 "You shall not revile (same Hebrew word translated ‘blaspheme’ in our Lev. Story) God, nor curse a ruler of your people. “
The people all understood – we have the evidence of how quickly the boy was taken to Moses.

If we do not let God’s love burn away our weakness toward sin … then our sin will be our curse.

Man needs strong deterrents.
No one drives down the wrong side of the freeway.
No one drinks the insecticide that they pour on their garden.
No one puts their hand into the fames of a campfire.
No one opens the door of an airplane and steps out.
Why ? the deterrent is too strong… We KNOW and BELIEVE the consequences that are unavoidable.
So is it not wise on God’s part , when He sets up the government of His kingdom ..both physically or spiritually, that He makes the deterrents strong to help us live the way we should ? and also to create a free and safe environment?

But there is also another reason … God is a holy God and hates sin. Sin is contrary to His nature and destroys what He loves. We need to change the way we have today diluted ‘sin’ to the realms of ‘mistakes, or missing the mark, or physiological tendencies, or mental disorder, or even justified by excuses- ‘I’m only human’ ’ Sin is Sin – live contrary to the laws and commandments of God and the consequences are fatal – every time.

By making an example of the one boy… God saved many more who would , through this example, avoid the danger. We know the wisdom of that reflected in our every day sayings, “A stitch in time saves nine” “Nip it in the bud” “Do the crime, do the time”. We are always crying for stronger police protection, tougher laws, stiffer sentences. Why do we think God should have a lower standard of justice than we have ?
God knows exactly what works and what doesn’t. Had we followed God’s rules for government we would not be in the mess we are today – a society gone mad. And had we followed His rules for the church we would not have the problems we have today with the world's standards and thinking sooo infiltrating our sanctuaries that we have made it ‘user friendly’ to those who have never been born again.

We have the example of Ananias and Sapphira…. God revealed His judgement against sin through their sudden death.. and the result ? The people feared … and a pure church was the end result.

I know that there is a wave, a move spreading abroad to day to make God a permissive, all encompassing, compassionate God who in the end will bring everyone into fellowship with Him, regardless of the life path they chose.
My friends… that is not true! And in the end those who buy into that philosophy will pay with eternity .
I think the time has come where we need to stand strong and declare that our God reigns.. Our God is Powerful and the One most Wise and before Him every knee will bow !
He is a God who demands our obedience but He is also the most loving Father to those who love Him and have fellowship with Him and one with another.

"And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as He is pure." (1Jn 3:3)