Genesis 1:16

And God made the two great lights—the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night—and the stars. (Genesis 1:16, ESV)

And the stars?????????

The NIV translates that part of the verse as,

He also made the stars.

I’ve heard it said before that the stars, from God’s perspective, seem to be . . afterthoughts.

They are not the focus of His creation.  In fact, they hardly get honorable mention. A little like if I pulled out an extra gift at a birthday party and said, Oh yes, and this too.

And God made the two great lights—the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night—and the stars. (Genesis 1:16, ESV)
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Sun photograph by Michaelk, profile on http://www.flickr.com/people/michaelk/
Moon photograph by Michael Kirwan, profile on http://www.flickr.com/people/dingbat2005/
Stars/galaxy photograph by Jon Connell, profile on http://www.flickr.com/people/ciamabue/
Photographs are under Creative Commons License.
See Copyright Page for Bible translation information.

Genesis 1:14b-15

And let them be for signs and for seasons, and for days and years, and let them be lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light upon the earth.” And it was so. (Genesis 1:14b-15, ESV)

I can buy a watch and a Daytimer for someone, but God, the ultimate Giver, creates the sun, moon, and stars and sets them in motion in such a way that they will serve as the first calendar and timepiece humanity ever had.

Why did God give us time markers?  And why, since then, has humanity been keeping track of time?

Time has always been a marker for age.  Before death entered the picture, time would have been nothing but delightful.  It wouldn’t have mattered if Adam had been 77 or 377, other than to know for fun.  But once death entered, age became a countdown to death.

When I was 8, I wasn’t aware of that.  But at 28, I sure am.  And if God spares me to be 98, I’ll know it that much more.

But the markers God put in the sky didn’t only mark death.  As time went by, it began to mark . . calamities . . battles . . weddings . . festivals . . kings . . dynasties . . inventions . . the footprints of humanity.  And the whole time that time was marking, there was an underground current, a whispering hope, a mysterious prophesy, that sin could one day be reversed.

That current, that hope, that prophesy was called birth.

Right after the fall, Eve had been promised something extraordinary by God.  A promise passed down from generation to generation to generation, over thousands of years . . . a promise that had come through a curse God had given the serpent:

I will put enmity between you and the woman,

and between your offspring and her offspring;

he shall bruise your head,

and you shall bruise his heel.” (Genesis 3:15, ESV)

And so . . marking time became more than just logging deaths.

Marking time became all about genealogies.

Because one day, a supernatural descendent of Eve would come to reverse the curse of death . . . so that time could once again be . . . the delightful chapters of eternity with God.

And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night.  And let them be for signs and for seasons, and for days and years, and let them be lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light upon the earth.” And it was so. (Genesis 1:14b-15, ESV)

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Photograph by Mendhak, profile on http://www.flickr.com/people/mendhak/

Photograph is under Creative Commons License.

See Copyright Page for Bible translation information.

On Following Jesus, my story for 2011, my goal for 2012

I am a minute miser.  I did not use to be so, but I am now.

I feel like (no, actually, I know) I wasted so many years of my life (and, since they were my teenage and early twenties, I often feel the best years), that I must now devote myself wholeheartedly, 24/7 to God.

This is something I want to do.  If I could go back, I would have started this way as an 8-year-old and never stopped.  But it’s not what happened.  And so I’m left with these years in a vacuum that I look back on as a dry, bombed-out gulch . . and a resolve to do much, much better in the present and with any future God gives me on this earth.

I sometimes get caught up in, well, legalism about the things I want to do for God.  I put minimum “factory requirements” on myself for how many blogs I will produce, for example.  I want to plan out each minute of the day.  I want to dissect seconds to make sure they are ministry minded.

The problem with this is, I sometimes get, well, a little out of whack about it.  I’ve been on winter vacation, and I wanted about, oh, I don’t know, 300 blogs to transpire over the break.

Counting this blog, I think I’ve only fallen about 294 blogs short or so.

I wanted to deeply minister to about, oh, I guess maybe 12 people.

I am way short of 12 people.

I would have really liked to have brought at least one person to meet Jesus.

And that did not happen.

It’s discouraging.  I failed myself.  And, while I am sure there are people already sitting back with arms folded pronouncing legalism upon me, I hope you’ll hear me out.

I’m not trying to get to Heaven on my good works–well, there are moments, I’ll confess, when I get out of whack about that, too, and I think I do have to contribute a tiny bit here and there–but for the most part, that’s not why I want to pour every second of my life out for God.  What really drives me is the love of Christ.

It frustrates me that there are billions of people around the world who have no idea that they could be loved like no one has ever loved them, that they could find peace like they have never found peace, that they could even be released from the guilt of everything they have ever regretted.

I know what’s coming.  Someone in their mind right now–and very validly–is thinking, “Like you?”

I mean, haven’t I just explained, rather elaborately, that I am still, in many ways, a mess?  That I get out of sync with God’s will and get wrapped up in perfunctory duties rather than following the grace of Christ?

But don’t you see?  Don’t you see?  This is why I have such a fire in my soul to tell others about Jesus!  If Jesus can love me, even though I have always fallen short of giving Him the hundred percent devotion I long to give Him . . . even though my mind gets all crackers sometimes when I try to express my love for Him, because the love I feel for Him is bigger than the breadth of my entire being . . . and even though I do get caught up in sins that Satan is so fond of offering me, such as legalism . . . Jesus is for everyone.

And I see that so clearly sometimes that I can hardly stand that everyone doesn’t know it.  I want to scream it from the rooftops.  I want to fly (with an experienced pilot beside me) a plane through the sky trailing a huge banner of John 3:16.  I want to dance through the streets singing of His love (with someone else’s singing voice so as not to scare people away–and maybe somebody else dancing, now that I think about it).  I want to tell everyone, everywhere that Jesus is alive and He’s here to save.

But I don’t always show that Message in the way I follow.  Not nearly always.  Way, way away from always and I hate it.

I fail in my quota and in my quality control.  I don’t always remember that Christ has given me everlasting peace or that I’ve been freed from the guilt of that valley of nothingness and sin that used to be my life (and that I sometimes still visit).

I worry about my vulnerability, that it will drive people away from God, that they will look me and be disgusted rather than see that God must really be a God of mercy to have invited me in, too.

I wish, wish, wish I could do everything I want to do to thank Jesus.

But I am not everything I want to be     .     .     .     .     .

And so here I am, right here, Jesus.  I’m struggling, I’m bungling, I’m disappointing my own self, and I’m full of imperfections that drive me batty.  But here am I, loving You.  And You tell me that is enough.

Wow.

You tell me that is enough.

Every standard, every requirement, every quota, and all quality control, has been met and answered in Your walk on earth and Your death on the cross, because You are not like me.

And that is why You came. 

I love You.

Help me to give You my every second.

And my goal for 2012?  I don’t right now have the faith to believe I can be the 100-fold servant in Mark 4:20, with as much of my life as I wasted before I loved Jesus and with the ridiculous mess-up I know myself to be.  So I want to be the 60-fold servant.  I want to be that 60-fold servant desperately.  I want to be planting seed.  I want to show how happy I am to be on God’s farm and in His family.

. . . But I can’t do that by placing quota on myself.  And I won’t be able to manage even my own quality control.  It’d be something like that scene from I Love Lucy where Lucy and Ethel try to work in a candy factory.

Instead, my goal is to cling to 2 Corinthians 5:17, my verse for 2012.

I believe You, Jesus.  I’m ready to close down the 2011 factory of my me-centered efforts . . . to join You on the fields of 2012.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! (2 Corinthians 5:17, NIV)

Mom’s thought

What if science is an attempt to explain the miraculous?

Can I capture the identity of snowflakes in a text book?  Or the beauty in a single autumn leaf?  Or the unbelievable migration of a tiny bird across miles of ocean?  Or the mysterious creature hiding deep within the ocean?

Can I explain how the eyes of a chameleon came to be so marvelous?  Or the neck of an owl?  Or the stride of a horse?  Or the taste of chocolate (and the wonders of the tongue)?  Or the metamorphoses of a butterfly?  Or wonders of the human brain?

Science can try to explain the miraculous . . . but can never reach the end of the story on even the most simple created thing.  That is why we still wonder.  And that is how we see the artistry of God.

Miraculous.

But then, there is the greatest miracle of all:

“He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. (Matthew 28:6, AKJV)

and because of this, a second wonder:

Whoever is a believer in Christ is a new creation. The old way of living has disappeared. A new way of living has come into existence. (2 Corinthians 5:17, GW)

Photograph by Puuikibeach, profile on http://www.flickr.com/people/puuikibeach/

Photograph is under Creative Commons License.

See Copyright Page for Bible translation information.

Published in: on December 31, 2011 at 9:46 am  Leave a Comment  
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Tiny Tim

“Somehow he gets thoughtful sitting by himself so much, and thinks the strangest things you ever heard. He told me, coming home, that he hoped the people saw him in the church, because he was a cripple, and it might be pleasant to them to remember upon Christmas Day, who made lame beggars walk and blind men see.”

–Bob Cratchit, A Christmas Carol

Jesus made the lame walk and the blind see.

As the sun went down that evening, people throughout the village brought sick family members to Jesus.  No matter what their diseases were, the touch of his hand healed every one. (Luke 4:40, NLT)

There is something unsaid in Tiny Tim’s statement, something we are left to wonder.  Why isn’t Tiny Tim healed?

Tiny Tim has no doubt that Jesus can heal.  And from the story, we can guess that he loves Jesus very much.  Yet Tiny Tim is not healed.  At no point in the story does he receive a miraculous touch from Jesus and go running through the streets, shouting his good news.  As a matter of fact, according to Dickens’ story, Tim recovers because a transformed Ebenezer Scrooge pours money into doctors and he improves little by little over time.

I thought it was very interesting to see a Christian adaptation of the Christmas Carol that had Tiny Tim’s family praying for Tim’s healing instead of Scrooge intervening.  Tim’s father then says that he is sure God has answered their prayers and will heal Tim.  In the next scene, Tim is able to take off his crutch and walk and run.

Why was this adaptation made?  Clearly to give God more honor, to give God credit for Tim’s healing instead of Scrooge.

But is this what actually happened?

To answer this, I have to go back to the difference between who I might want God to be and who He is and why, when I try to mislead people into believing my story about God instead of the true story, however much I mean to do good by it, what I actually shield is the love of God I am trying so hard to manufacture.  The love of God does not need to be manufactured.  It does not need to be altered.  It does not need to be added upon.

For the entire approximate two-year span after my father’s diagnosis with Lou Gehrig’s Disease, our church prayed for him.  And not just our church.  His boss, a deeply godly man, fasted one day every week to spend in prayer for my father’s healing.  If it’s a matter of needing faith, my father had it from all appearances I could see.  He was sure God would heal him.

But my dad died in 2004.

Now, this is an easy story compared to others.  What about the preschooler who dies of cancer, or the baby born with AIDS?  What about the kindergartener with cerebral palsy or the teenager without limbs?  Why doesn’t God heal them?  Surely it is not because He’s waiting for the right prayer to “unlock” His mercy.  God doesn’t play “Mother May I?” with us.  There is no formula of words or concoction of “good works” that gets our prayers answered.

So why doesn’t God heal all the Tiny Tims of the world?  Well, when we ask that, why not ask why anyone gets sick in the first place?  And when it comes to it, why does anyone die?  Why doesn’t God just sustain us forever on this earth?

Well, first of all, would I want to be sustained forever here?  Even if God did not allow anyone to ever be sick or die, what about all the violence?  People could go to war and repeatedly shoot and stab each other, never to die.  People could beat each other without ever killing them.  Is that a world I want to live in?  Certainly not.

The heart of the problem isn’t disability or disease or even death.  The heart of the problem is sin.  As long as we sin, we’re doomed.  And God has put in place natural consequences for our sin–an imperfect world–and unnatural consequences–death.  God can do that because He’s God, of course, but beyond that, He is perfectly right to allow us to live in the life we have chosen.  And He can in absolute justice curse us with death for our disobedience to Him.

But God’s will goes way beyond that.

For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.

“There is no judgment against anyone who believes in him. But anyone who does not believe in him has already been judged for not believing in God’s one and only Son. (John 3:16-18, NLT)

God uses even disease, disability, and death to draw people to Him so that they may be saved.  I believe that with all my heart.  How does He know who to choose for what circumstances?  God knows every possible outcome of every possible circumstance.  And I believe He allows disease and disability and takes us in death in the full brilliance of His plan.  I believe that plan is for as many people as possible to come to salvation through Jesus Christ.  Here is what I know for sure:

For God has imprisoned everyone in disobedience so he could have mercy on everyone.

Oh, how great are God’s riches and wisdom and knowledge! How impossible it is for us to understand his decisions and his ways!

For who can know the Lord’s thoughts?

Who knows enough to give him advice?

And who has given him so much

that he needs to pay it back?

For everything comes from him and exists by his power and is intended for his glory. All glory to him forever! Amen. (Romans 11:32-36, NLT)

Charles Dickens’ Christmas Carol is pretend.  But does it insult God by laying Tim’s recovering health on Scrooge rather than on God?

Well, wait a minute.  Why does Scrooge want to help Tiny Tim, anyway?

The story is pretend, but if it was real, the only way Scrooge could have been transformed that Christmas Eve would be through Jesus Christ, no question.  Jesus is the only true change that can happen in our lives.  So if Scrooge was saved by the love of Christ that night, and then he poured a little of that love out on Tim so he could see good doctors . . . who would really get credit for Tim’s recovery?

I don’t believe Christ would get any less credit for working through Scrooge than if He had instantly healed Tim with the touch of His hand.

And Christ doesn’t get any less credit if He doesn’t heal our bodies, either.

“He told me, coming home, that he hoped the people saw him in the church, because he was a cripple, and it might be pleasant to them to remember upon Christmas Day, who made lame beggars walk and blind men see.”

Tim didn’t say this because he felt sorry for himself, or because he was bitter with Jesus.  He said this because he loved the God who, by the touch of His hand, healed the sick . . . the same God who, by the piercing of His hand, took upon Himself our eternal sickness . . so that our souls could be healed forever in Him.

He was despised and rejected by people. He was a man of sorrows, familiar with suffering. He was despised like one from whom people turn their faces, and we didn’t consider him to be worth anything.

He certainly has taken upon himself our suffering and carried our sorrows, but we thought that God had wounded him, beat him, and punished him.

He was wounded for our rebellious acts. He was crushed for our sins. He was punished so that we could have peace, and we received healing from his wounds. (Isaiah 53:3-5, GWT)

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See Copyright Page for Bible translation information.

Keeping in touch

We have more ways to keep in touch than ever . . .

texting (I was late on that bandwagon) . . . emails (I still remember Orion) . . . and what is now called “snail mail” (the ponies of the express would be indignant, I bet).  There’s facebooking.  (I have 534 friends.  My grandmother, whom I recall introducing to facebook, has 1,042.  But I’m not bitter.)

There’s tweeting (I don’t know how to tweet.  Maybe my grandmother will teach me how someday.)  There’s voice mail.  I even remember the old answering machines, with their screechy sound when you rewound or fast-forwarded through messages.  There’s even talking on the phone . . . at just about every coordinate on earth, it seems.  The effervescent light of the cell phone has become familiar in so many places . . . such as dark movie theaters when you are trying to watch a movie.

I guess people think because they are texting and there’s only this big ol’ blast of green light that hits you in the face, it will be all right for them to pull their cell out every 5 minutes.  I watched an opera once in which the entire first half of the performance, the teenagers in front of me were spotlighting my face as they maybe texted everybody they knew on facebook, probably almost as many people as my grandmother knows.  (Why only the first half?  An usher had a conversation with them.)

Then there’s skyping.  I’ve never skyped.  And webcamming.  (Is that a word?)  I actually have a webcam built into my computer.  I felt very cool when I got it.

I haven’t used it once.

I need to give this computer to my grandmother.  She could start youtubing her webcams to all her facebook friends, and there’s another way of communication.  I’ve never youtubed, but I did watch a video of a snoring puppy on there one time.

Anyway, we have so many ways to communicate, I’m probably forgetting something cool.  And then there’s one way I seem to remember hearing about one time . . . what was that?  Oh, yes, conversation.  That’s old school, though.

You can communicate with just about anyone in an instant.  Nearly everyone (but not my mom) is on facebook.  Most people text nowadays.  I can even text.  I text old school, though.  I found one of those old phones that has a QWERTY keyboard with actual, real, truly buttons you can press.  My mom has one of those new phones that has phony, innauthenic, pixilized buttons you are supposed to touch. I thought my fingers were skinny until I tried texting on her phone.

And her phone has that handy dandy autocorrect so that when you mean to say, “Sweetie, would you like me to pick up anything for dinner?” and because your fingers aren’t the size of a stylus, you accidentally type *a few* wrong letters, it autocorrects to something like,

“Santa, would you like me to pick up antlers for Dancer?  He lost them on the last chimney.”

(It adds extra sentences like that, to make it make more sense like.  Ok, no it doesn’t, but it would be really funny if it did.)

With all this communication going on, wouldn’t you think we’d be the most at-peace society since the time of Eden?  Don’t I remember self-expression being a way to healing and tranquility advertised on TV and self-help books?  We’ve sure got self-expression now.  You can find out that your uncle had chicken pot pie for dinner on facebook.  Didn’t you always want to know what your uncle had for dinner?

. . But . . we’re not at peace.  In fact, we’re a restless society (unless we’re watching TV).  And not only are we restless, we’re well, not very happy overall, I’d say.  I haven’t seen any drop in divorce rates because of cell phones.  I haven’t heard of better friendships thanks to texting.  Now that doesn’t mean these new ways of communication are bad . . .

Oh, yes.  I knew I’d forget at least one, and I did.  But I didn’t think I’d forget one, well, obvious: blogging.

. . . That doesn’t mean these new ways of communication are bad (especially not blogging) . . but it means they simply aren’t working at getting us closer to each other than we were before.  That’s because, when it comes down to it, I love someone because of what they communicate to me, not because they used the newest high-tech device.  I can text “AZOSDIFMA3SFD” and I’m not going to make new friends, unless C3PO and R2D2 have cell phones somewhere.

The message is what matters.  But, sometimes, I lose track of that.  I pick up my Bible, but I really want God to text me or Youtube me instead.  But something I remember about God: He’s not trendy; He’s timeless.  God is from age to age.  God is from before the age of stone tablets to after the age of computers.  God has no limitations on his language.  He can communicate in any way He likes, at any time.  God can communicate as easily on cave walls as He can a typewriter as He can the world wide web.  So why did He choose to give His Words to people living thousands of years ago, to write scrolls?  Why did He choose that one way?

The Bible is clear: the Bible is complete.  There will be no revelations, devotions, sermons, or any other communication that will take place on this earth until the time the Lord returns that will be anything like the Bible.  Nothing–no music, no texts, no conversations, no videos, no calls, and no blogs will ever be on par with what we find in God’s Word.

The Bible is finished because everything we need to know to receive salvation and follow God is already there.

God chose the perfect time, the perfect transcribers, and the perfect technology.  Scrolls were just right.  From those scrolls, every word of the Bible is now available in books across the globe, every word on audio files in many languages for free listening on websites, and every word uploaded on a nearly countless number of sites.  There are even apps for phones to read the entire Bible, CD’s, and even DVD’s in which speakers have read books of the Bible word for word.  Bible verses are tweeted and posted as status updates on facebook, and the Gospel is even carried through YouTube.

God is not silent to us.

The question is, am I so busy checking facebook to see how many people have “liked” my status and browsing email shopping offers and watching videos of cute baby animals that I miss the one Message that matters?

I love my friends, but I don’t want to miss the Son of God.

I listed different ways of communication earlier, but I didn’t list the greatest.

The Bible tells us that Jesus is the Word.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. (John 1:1-5, ESV)

The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John bore witness about him, and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.’”) And from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known. (John 1:9-18, ESV)

Peace

Jesus connects all the dots.

. . the wisdom we speak of is the mystery of God—his plan that was previously hidden, even though he made it for our ultimate glory before the world began. But the rulers of this world have not understood it; if they had, they would not have crucified our glorious Lord. That is what the Scriptures mean when they say,

“No eye has seen, no ear has heard,

and no mind has imagined

what God has prepared

for those who love him.”

Photograph by HelloSputnik, profile on http://www.flickr.com/people/hellosputnik/

Photograph is under Creative Commons License.

See Copyright Page for Bible translation information.

Presents

Jesus,

Thank you for giving me your Presence.

Thanks be to God for His unspeakably precious gift! (2 Corinthians 9:15, Weymouth NT)

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Photograph by Andrew Kraker, profile on http://www.flickr.com/people/andrewk100/

Photograph is under Creative Commons License.

Christmas Countdown: Christmas Day

  1. joy
  2. love
  3. grace
  4. peace
  5. fellowship
  6. sacrifice
  7. charity
  8. hope
  9. warmth
  10. meekness
  11. energy
  12. reverence
  13. forgiveness
  14. purity
  15. faith
  16. reconciliation
  17. growth
  18. realization of freedom
  19. determination
  20. trust
  21. strength
  22. worship
  23. loyalty
  24. obedience

As I look back over this list, I see 24 gifts You have given me and do give me, every single day.

But the greatest Gift of all is who we have named today after, but who cannot be contained to any one day . . . One who holds eternity in His hands, but cares about this present moment:

You.

I don’t know what day your birthday really is.  It could be December 25.  It could be another day, too.  But since this is the day we remember Your birthday around the world, I want to sing Happy Birthday to You today.

Happy birthday to You

Happy birthday to You

Happy birthday, dear Jesus

Happy birthday to You!

But Your birthdays on this earth weren’t about happiness for You.  They were about happiness for us.  Now You are back in the eternal realm, but Your birthday will never, ever be forgotten.  I cannot wait to sit at a table as long as the world is around, a sea of redeemed people in party hats, a sonic boom as everyone blows their noisemakers, to remember Your birthday.  We can’t have a surprise party, of course.  You will know.  Everyone will sit in awe of You, clapping as You take Your seat at the head of the table, bowing down before You.

But no one will give You presents.

Because You are the Giver.  You give out love, eternal life, forgiveness, laughter, peace, holiness . . . everything, everything good has always come from Your hand, and that won’t change ever in all of forever.

We’ll have an epic birthday cake, and each year You can blow out one more candle, every year, forever and ever and ever.

And how we’ll love You, Lord.  How we’ll love You.

How we love You now.

Happy birthday, Jesus.

My prayer today is that Your gift of everlasting life, reconciliation to God, and the pursuit of the only meaning to life (You) is given to every person who lives on this earth right now and has the privilege of another Christmas to turn from their sin, that they would cry out to receive Your free gift of love.

You have more to give than can ever be imagined in the mortal mind.  I pray that everyone reading this, and everyone not reading this–the whole world of people living right now–reach out to take Your gift and do not get tricked by Satan to turn away the one, the only gift that could give them all they will ever need and all they will ever want.

Next Christmas, I want to have another countdown of more ways I can be like You.

In Your Name, Jesus,

Amen.

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23, NIV)

Published in: on December 25, 2011 at 10:38 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Christmas Countdown: Day 24

Dear Lord,

Tomorrow is Christmas, and I’ve had 23 prayers leading up to the big day.

Now I pray for obedience to demonstrate the 23 traits I’ve asked for in the 23 prayers.  I pray for more and more obedience every day, so that next December the 25th, if You have kept me on earth for another year, I will see that I have become more and more like You, Jesus, and less and less like the person I used to be.

Obedience has been disregarded as an ugly word in our culture, but I am not ashamed to use it.  You proved Yourself worth every speck of obedience I can give when You lay in a manger, some two thousand years ago, so You could free us from our sins.

It is so easy to come up with qualities I want to have . . feel good about thinking about them . . and then go back to the same destructive habits and bad choices and disabling thinking patterns that I had before.

If my prayers are just that You would instantly give me all the qualities I need in my Christian walk, I’ve failed You.  You have placed me on earth to live in fellowship with You; sin sent me far from You; now You lead me on a journey back to Your Kingdom, a journey bought before I would ever take a single step, bought by the blood of Jesus Christ.

If You choose to deepen the character traits within me through the experiences of this life as I walk with You, so be it.  I know You know best, and that instant is not always best.

And so, rather than pray only for You to instantly give me the traits I need as I follow You, I pray that I would follow You in obedience anyway, realizing that every step towards You takes me one step closer to everything I want to be.

I pray for obedience to follow even when I don’t understand Your plan, even when I don’t feel like it, even when I think I’ll be missing out on what I want.  I pray for obedience that follows whether I’m rich or poor, sick or healthy, hungry or full, exhaustedly tired or super wide awake.  I pray for obedience that follows, obedience that commits, and most of all, obedience motivated by love.

In Jesus’ Name,

Amen.

It is better to obey than to sacrifice.  ( 1 Samuel 15:22a, NCV)

Published in: on December 24, 2011 at 11:16 pm  Leave a Comment  
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