The Witness (#jammed daily devo, day 154)

June #jammed: Under the Blanket of Grace.

Day 154: The Great Grace Witness.

“But as for me and my family, we will serve the Lord.” Joshua 24:15image 3

A snap-chat hit my phone. NCAA records were being smashed, and pre-race nerves and anticipation were in the air. Technology allowed me to witness a little bit of greatness through my friends’ lens. And because of my passion for distance running, I could feel the blood rush all the way to my toes as I watched a runner take a curve of the track.

Greatness. Witness. Passion.

Joshua pleads in today’s verse that God’s people fear the Lord, and choose to trust, serve, and worship him. (NIV Notes) In his life-time, he witnessed the movement away from the dreaded accounts of the past where God’s people had gone astray and worshipped other gods. Towards the end of his life, he warned them that times like these would come again.

Some people might have been discouraged by this pessimistic view of the future, and others arrogantly sure that they would not falter has their ancestors once had. But no matter where they stood, nothing could move the will of God. His timing is perfect, and unfettered by that we think we can and cannot do.

Joshua stated what they …we …can do.

“We will serve the Lord.”

By the grace of Jesus, no matter what we’ve done, we can come to God for forgiveness in the life of a new day. Our obedient strides are witness of His greatness and passion.

“You are witnesses against yourselves that you have chosen to serve the Lord.” Joshua 24:22 (NIV)

Chosen. They chose. As we choose.

“Yes, we are witnesses.” Joshua 24:22

When we witness greatness, we tweet about it …hashtag it on instagram …tag our friends on Facebook. But God …

He uses the triumphant and the painful moments of our lives to inspire souls we may never know in this life. His reach is much farther than the capability social media has to cast an image or a message. When we live life in pursuit of a heart like Jesus, ‘we are witnesses.’

#jammed click to tweet jun:jul:aug

Father, Praise You for the things that we are passionate about. Thank You for instilling remarkable abilities in us. Forgive us for failing to recognize Your hand in every facet of the life we were born to live in Your purpose. Bless our steps to follow Jesus, in humble acknowledgement of Your will for our lives. Make us great witnesses. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Get the conversation started by commenting below, and let’s encourage one another as we face life in 2017 armed with grace! 

#greatgrace17

Happy Witness-ing,

Megs

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The Great Thirty-eight. (#recall12 series, June.)

Welcome to the #recall12 series, where we are memorizing a little bit of God’s Word each month! This month’s verse is :

“I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:10b

#recall12 June image 1

“Thirty-eight is going to be great.”

God has been whispering this blessing over my life as I peer into the next year of it. The last decade of my life has been riddled with challenge and laced in blessing. Each encroaching birthday is little scarier than the last.

With each year, more are diagnosed, suffer, and pass away. The people that it’s happening to are getting closer and closer in direct contact with my life. Friends, family …cancer.

“Cancer sucks,” my 8-year-old daughter declares …and I sigh.#recall12 June tweet 1

Cancer is scary. Life is terrifying.

Parting is unfathomable.

With each passing year, I have more to lose …and that particular fear would like to plant it’s paralyzing seed right smack in the center of my heart. Fear of loss can only be overcome by perfect Love.

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:10

Lying in the first part of this month’s verse is the fan to fear’s flame. “The thief…”

thief-One that steals especially stealthily or secretly. -Merriam-Webster

The NIV Study Bible Notes declare, “His interest is in himself.” Indeed. Selfishness is akin to theft …and fear.

#recall12 June Tweet 2selfishness- Concerned excessively or exclusively with oneself. Merriam-Webster

Excessive and exclusive leave no room for the devil’s care for us. He’s messing to make us miserable enough to forgo the blessings in front of us. Worry and anxiety play an important role in what he’s trying to accomplish. His hope is that our hold on the world will overshadow the joy of Jesus’ heavenly embrace.

His breath filled all things

    with a living, breathing light—
 A light that thrives in the depths of darkness,
    blazes through murky bottoms.
It cannot and will not be quenched. John 1:4-5

Jesus is Life and Light. No new worry we discover to fret over is new news to Jesus, who sat with God from the very beginning of time. He knew us before birth, and I imagine that the Words He ordained to be written in the Bible for us to read were spoken with all of us in mind.

Through the darkness then, and murky bottoms now, He is Light and Life. Unstoppable. Unbeatable. Alive.

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“The thief approaches with malicious intent, looking to steal, slaughter, and destroy; I came to give life with joy and abundance.” John 10:10 (VOICE)

There is a joyful and abundant life to be lived here on earth, knowing that He wins. We win. Death may part us from our friends and family. Cancer will steal time and break hearts. There’s no need to reach for wretched news to wreck our day. But just as it surrounds us, so does He. In the sunrise, He reminds us He is here. In the smile of a child, He reminds us Life is good. Through the unexpected note from a friend or a hug from a stranger, He shows us that He cares.

Are we looking for life, or waiting for death?

“The Greek word for “life” is found 36 times in John, while no other NT book uses it more than 17 times.” NIV Notes.

Life … “zoe”in Greek, means both of physical (present) and of spiritual (particularly future) existence. The Lord intimately shares His gift of life with people, creating each in His image which gives all the capacity to know His eternal life. (Strong’s Concordance.)

Someone said to me recently that sometimes doubt can mean we are actually on the right track. Knowing the full scope of what the devil is up to, that makes perfect sense. He can’t make us do anything …but he can cause us to wobble in and out of doubt and anxiety. Fear is an attack on every good thing the Father has in store for us. All of the joy that Jesus died to lend us. Life was not promised to be easy …or fair …or painless …or always happy. There are times in this life that we will barely be able to lift our heads to the sky and ask Him , “why?”

The Lord is my light and my salvation—
    whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life—
    of whom shall I be afraid?” Psalm 27:1 (NIV)

Let’s continue to lift our heads and hold onto hope. It’s not a fairytale wish, but it is the stuff of fairy tales. Our Redeemer King has already rescued us. Live what He saved to the fullest.

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“I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:10b

Father, Praise You for Life. Thank You for Jesus’ gift to us. Grace surrounds us, yet we fail on so many occasions to face it. Forgive us for looking past You for comfort, and help us to fiercely follow Your Son’s footsteps each day that we are blessed with on this earth. In Jesus’ Name, Amen. 

Happy Birthdays!

Megs

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#recall 12 June Verse Memory Cards PDF

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“What Does It Mean?” Week 3: Joy.

Joy

A source or cause of delight –Merriam-Websterjoy-image-1

Joy differs from happiness in that it is an emotion.  -Wikipedia

Is there greater delight than the wonder of Santa, or the glee witnessed as a child unwraps the present they wished for? Can there be a sweeter tear than the touch of a Christmas memory?

 Yes.

Set a part from the fleeting feeling of happiness, joy defines what Jesus came to give.  It’s constancy flows through the entirety of our days, and allows us to laugh our way back to right. Joy is accepting who we are in confidence that we are cared for.

Acceptance & The ‘Damn’ Centers

Joy is the acceptance for who we are by the One who made us.

“Sarah said, ‘God has brought me laughter, and everyone who hears about this will laugh with me.'” Genesis 21:6

joy-tweet-1She was ninety …of course she laughed at the thought of giving birth. (Genesis  18)  Yet as God promised, she and her 100-year old husband Abraham had a son named Isaac …which means “he laughs.”

We often place God far off in the distance or high in the sky. But one of the endearing qualities of the Lord is that He is funny. I believe, in reverence, that Biblical conversations reflect the humor of a God for whom nothing is impossible. How often are we able to make light of our circumstances? Life isn’t always funny, but it is overflowing with joy …if we choose to accept it.

joy image 3.jpgMy six-year-old daughter exudes joy. It’s hard to discipline her with a straight face. When I asked her one afternoon why she had to stay in for recess, she said:

“I had to finish my damn centers,”  and rolled her eyes.

What else could I do but excuse myself to die of laughter?  She’s six! #longroad It further confirmed the spitfire personality that I love, along with the list of reasons she’ll never be allowed to go on spring break…

“Lo” doesn’t fall in line or take adults too seriously. Her laugh is loud and ever-present. I may joke about her tendency to test the rules, but embrace the tender heart behind those twinkling blue eyes. My love for her allows me to witness the brightness of her light.

God is not surprised by us. He loves the complete creation, and we are made to journey in joy! His love doesn’t lessen when we fall down. In fact, He seeks to share a laugh with us and reveal joy in hard moments. He’s accepted us. That’s why Jesus was born.

Christmas is closeness with God.

Confidence …For the Birds

Joy is the attitude of gratitude.

joy-tweet-3In the North where I live, Christmastime signals every bird that can’t bear the winter’s cold to start flocking together.  Millions of birds dance together in the sky, instinctively gathering and swooping and soaring until they’ve accumulated enough of a mass to drift as a dark “bird cloud” away with the warm air.

“…Look at them fly. It looks like God is taking pretty good care of them, doesn’t it? Remember that you are more precious to God than birds!” Luke 12:24

Birds are not even in my top 100 of favorite …or even likable creatures. Yet, over the years, I’ve come to admire the way they just know what to do.

“…God cares for every little sparrow …Since you are so much more precious to God than a thousand flocks of sparrows, and since God knows you in every detail—down to the number of hairs on your head at this moment—you can be secure and unafraid…” Luke 12:6-7

Birds don’t realize they are small or incapable. They operate confidently on carefully designed instinct.

“My little flock, don’t be afraid. God is your Father, and your Father’s great joy is to give you His kingdom.”Luke 12:32

Humans seek to be loved because deep within the design of our nature is a Creator who is love. Our confidence is found in Him, through Jesus.

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He came into this world a small baby in a manger. His light caused others to flock to Him and follow Him, shifting and moving and gathering and cackling and spreading the Word. Long after Christ gave His human life on the cross, the birds continued to fly and stories of Jesus spread. His Word still flutters and gathers. Christian faith is moving and shifting. God’s not surprised. We all instinctively seek the joy of Jesus.

    He is the light who reveals Your message to the other nations,
        and He is the shining glory of Your covenant people, Israel.” Luke 2:32 (The Voice)

Joy to the world, indeed. The greatest gift. #yulesee 

Happy Christmas,

Meg

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“What Does It Mean?” Week Two: Emmanuel

Emmanuel

1. Jesus Christ, especially as the Messiah (Matt. 1:23). 2. Immanuel. (dictionary.com)

“They will name him Immanuel (Hebrew for “God is with us”).” Matthew 1:23 (MSG)

Jesus appeased the ardent anticipation of our hearts. The questions have been answered. The gaps have been filled. Hope is available for the world to receive. “Emmanuel” explains how God came for us, is here with us, and is coming back for us through Jesus.

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Presents vs. Presence

“Jesus left that place and went to the vicinity of Tyre. He entered a house and did not want anyone to know it; yet he could not keep his presence secret.” Mark 7:24

Sometimes it’s a blessing to go unnoticed. Jesus knew the peace woven into the observatory silence of slipping through a crowd or standing at the back of a room. But though He was not an audience seeker, they followed and gathered by the droves to be in His presence.

“He could not be hid; for, though a candle may be put under a bushel, the sun cannot.” Matthew Henry’s Commentaryemmanuel-2

The celebratory countdown to Christmas isn’t meant to spotlight our generosity, but His.  When I feel hurried by my self-created hustle I linger a little longer in His presence …which isn’t a problem when you have no less than five Advent countdowns do maintain each day until Christmas. It’s a lot much, you can think it. I know it. But, I love it. The best way to lose your Christmas spirit is to make it all about what were getting and giving. Focus on the right “present” ignites the Spirit of Christmas.

present- something presented.  -Merriam-Webster

presence- the part of space within one’s immediate vicinity. -Merriam Webster

How many Christmas presents to we forget about, exchange, or get rid of each year? Christ’s presence is always applicable to our lives and within our lives …if we’ll only just open it. Emmanuel …God with us.

The Other Lego Girl

“Briiiiiiii!!!!!!!” my youngest wailed. “You got a Lego Girl the last time you opened up a square …that’s NOT FAIR!!!!”

Watching my girls fight over an Advent gift I’d given them to share put the “never-enough”nature of humanity on display. In the thick of presents about to hit many homes; and the dread of those who don’t have gifts to give; it’s vital to pull the true light of Christmas into focus.

emmanuel-tweet-2

“They will name him Immanuel (Hebrew for “God is with us”).” Matthew 1:23 (MSG)

“The first of many” verses that connect the Old Testament with the new, the above in particular fulfilled a verse written approximately 800 years earlier!  The treasures tucked inside these verses danced together the over eight centuries between them, until God whisper, “it’s time.” Somewhere around 740-680 BC, Isaiah, who’s name means means “the Lord saves” penned,

“Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.” Isaiah 7:14 (NIV)

Matthew, who’s name means “gift of the Lord,” recorded his words within 50-70 AD:

“The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).” Matthew 1:23 (NIV)

How does the Lord save? Through the gift of the Lord. Jesus. 

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We’re not always assured the final witness to inspired words, as a sign normally fulfilled within a few years taking 800 unravels the scope of God’s timing.  Isaiah’s words warned the stubborn king Ahaz (the great-great-grandson of King Saul-New International Encyclopedia of Bible Characters), but “he would not ask a sign for the confirming of his faith because he resolved to persist in his unbelief, and would indulge his doubts and distrusts…” Matthew Henry Commentary.

“Why don’t you judge for yourselves what is right?” Luke 12:57

Does it feel off-putting to revolve an entire season around hunting down doorbusters and toys your kid didn’t even know existed before the catalog hit the mailbox?  Beyond ancestral traditions and surrounding customs, we must own our truth as individually and honestly as Creator of our soul observes.

“Despite the insistence of the Pharisees, despite the Roman system and even despite the pressure of family, a person must accept God on his terms. ” -NIV Study Bible Notes

Is it just a story? Was He just a man? Our minds will remain elusively angst until we put down the proof and unlock our hearts. We’re not so hidden away while we decide what to do. He sees because He is, and He is here now. Presents don’t fulfill human hearts; souls are satisfied by the presence of Jesus.

God’s gift is ready to bless us upon opening. Grace waits because He knows us. Jesus is enough for all of us. Are you seeking Christ this Christmas? Simply let go and believe.

He’s already here. Jesus. Savior. Emmanuel.

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Happy Christmas,

Megs

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“What Does It Mean” Week One: Noel.

Noel

 1. A Christmas carol. 2. (capitalized) Christmas. (Merriam-Webster)

Another name for Christmas. French Noël (“Christmas season”), may come from the Old French nael. This, in turn, is derived from the Latin natalis, meaning “birth.” Wikipedia

Noel is a word meant to remind us of our place …our heritage …our hope. Replace antagonism with the familiar embrace of faith.
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1. Look at the time.

” Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.” Luke 2:11

My neighbor gave me a Christmas Cactus last year, which she told me only blooms at Christmas-time.  I wanted to see if I could keep it alive until it was time for it to bloom again. So, I forgot to water it most of the winter, re-potted it in the spring, and continued to forget to water it the rest of the year.

noel-image-1Beyond my ability to care for it, it survived. The first week of the Advent (Christmas) season, it began to flower. It’s in a pot …on my desk …in Ohio …and it’s a cactus. But God said, “it’s time.”

Time: an appointed, fixed, or customary moment or hour for something to happen, begin, or end. (Merriam-Webster, 3B)

Behind every human being is a baby in a womb that God’s hand began to the tune, “it’s time.” We can trust the Author of Life, and the proof is Jesus. That day in the town of David, God said, “it’s time,” and born was the Savior of the world, a vulnerable baby boy who needed to be held and nurtured and loved. Born to hold, nurture, and love us for all time. Noel …a birthday.

2. Sing Noel.

He came into the very world he created, but the world didn’t recognize him.  He came to his own people, and even they rejected him.  But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. They are reborn—not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God.” John 1:10-13

My first visit to a new optometrist revealed a change in my vision.  He prescribed a pair of glasses to combat the glare of the computer screen and the sunshine. Each morning, I faithfully clean and prepare them for the day with special cloth and spray. Its  worth it to me. I appreciate the view. Guess what? They’re shatterproof, too. My new vision is as
protected as it could possibly be.

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When Zechariah lost his ability to see God clearly, he lost his speech along with it. He doubted the vision he saw. He questioned the message. At his son’s birth, his speech was restored. Jesus restored our hope with His. Might something we were previously unaware of be blocking Him from our vision?

The b-side of birth lies beyond God’s creation of our physicality. He built the possibility of hope into our DNA. A gift of grace allowed by the sacrifice of that baby boy born in the town of David. The opportunity to break free and follow Him home. The power of purpose as our feet tread the dirt of this Earth. When Christ is our personal Savior, the silence is lifted from our souls and our vision realigned …like getting new glasses. In a fresh hug of friendship defined, we are born …again.

Believe. See…

“Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel …born is the King of Israel.”

“Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel …born is the King of Israel.”

-The First Noel Christmas Carol

Sing in celebration that Jesus was born to save us. It’s not just any birthday celebration. Christmas is the love of the Father and peace of the Son that transcends the encapsulation of time.

birth:  the emergence of a new individual from the body of its parent (Merriam-Webster.)

God said, “it’s time,” and like the wind blows when He says and the seas calm at His hand, Heaven came to earth embodied in His Son. And we not only get to partake in this love story …we are the center of it. Can you see it?

Noel. Emerge. It’s time.

Happy Christmas!

Megs

#yulesee

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