Raise Your Hand if You’re So Excited

“Raise your hand if you’re so excited about Christmas!”

That was my five-year-old son on repeat in the weeks before Christmas day.  He asked us often and he expected a response every time.  Everyone in the vicinity had to raise a hand quickly and high enough to  be seen. Either that, or the offending non-responder would be quizzed stringently.

Aren’t you excited for Christmas?  Why didn’t you raise hand?  Are you not really excited?

During our Christmas Eve service,  he started to fall asleep a bit ( so much excitement can wear a fellow out), so I picked him up and cradled him in my lap during the pastor’s message.  We made it almost to the end when my son sat straight up, no longer tired, and said in not quite a whisper: “Raise your hand if you’re so excited about Christmas!”

Every one of us in the pew raised our hands just a teeny bit, not high enough for anyone else in the church to see, but enough so he wouldn’t launch into the full-scale interrogation.

After Christmas, he kept the excitement going.  He enjoyed every bit of Christmas break.  Then I explained our New Year’s Eve plans and how our family usually has family game night, eats special snacks and watches funny videos on TV.

The first thing he asked as he rubbed sleep out of his eyes at 7:30 a.m. on December 31st was  if it was time yet for the game playing and  the snack eating and the funny video watching.

He was ready. Ready all day.  He quizzed me at 10  a.m. and again at noon and then afternoon right up until we (finally) started celebrating.

During the Christmas season, I felt a continual nudging as I read each part of the story: am I living with expectation?

The wise men were searching the night sky.  They were actively looking, digging deep into ancient Scriptures,  studying promises,  watching for their fulfillment.  Then, at the first sign of God on the move, they chose active obedience and pursuit.  They left behind the familiar, they traveled far from  home, because they wanted to see what God was doing.

Simeon and Anna both knew the Messiah was coming.  They had been promised  and assured of  his imminence.  With profound expectation, they lingered in the temple courts, hoping for the day they would  see the Savior with their own eyes.  And they did.  God did what He said He would do.

Am I this excited?  Am I expectant?

I’m not really. Not as excited as my son, and not as expectant as the wise men, or Simeon, or Anna.  I’m not watchful or hopeful of seeing the goodness God is doing.

Maybe you’ve started this new year with just that high level of expectation and excitement.  Or, maybe you’re more like me, limping in slowly, timidly, a little worn out from the hard season you’ve just walked through–hoping (but not certain) that the most difficult steps are finally in the past.

Maybe you’ve been waiting and there’s more waiting to be done.

I read this today:

Now the people were waiting expectantly, and all of them were questioning in their hearts whether John might be the Messiah  (Luke 3:6 CSB).

Can we all be expectant?

It wasn’t just the Christmas characters who lived with anticipation of the Messiah; it was a general buzz of anticipation.  Crowds lined the riverfront to see John the Baptist because they “were waiting expectantly,” on the lookout for a Savior.

And one day, they stood along that riverbank  and watched as Jesus Himself stepped out of the crowd and into the water to be baptized.

They were seeking and because they were seeking, they found the Lord Himself.

So,  what am I seeking?

I’m not seeking answers or direction.  I’m not seeking next steps or a Promised Land or a bright future.

This is what Scripture says:

You will seek me and find me when you search for me with all your heart (Jeremiah 29:13)

and

 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you (Matthew 6:33).

I can raise my hand because I’m so excited to see Jesus. Even the worn-out me who is tempted to hide away can instead be stirred up with eager expectation because I want to see the Lord and to see God’s kingdom at work in the here and now.  I’m so excited to catch glimpses of His glory this year,  knowing that He is present and He is powerful.

He is a Good God.  And He is doing Good things.

 

 

Bible Verses about Endings and Finishing Well

  • Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 NASB

    There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heave

    A time to give birth and a time to die;
    A time to plant and a time to uproot what is planted.
    A time to kill and a time to heal;
    A time to tear down and a time to build up.
    A time to weep and a time to laugh;
    A time to mourn and a time to dance.
    A time to throw stones and a time to gather stones;
    A time to embrace and a time to shun embracing.
    A time to search and a time to give up as lost;
    A time to keep and a time to throw away.
    A time to tear apart and a time to sew together;
    A time to be silent and a time to speak.
    A time to love and a time to hate;
    A time for war and a time for peace.

  • Ecclesiastes 7:8 NASB
    The end of a matter is better than its beginning;
    Patience of spirit is better than haughtiness of spirit.
  • Isaiah 41:4 NASB
    “Who has performed and accomplished it,
    Calling forth the generations from the beginning?
    ‘I, the Lord, am the first, and with the last. I am He.’”
  • Isaiah 46:10 NASB
    Declaring the end from the beginning,
    And from ancient times things which have not been done,
    Saying, ‘My purpose will be established,
    And I will accomplish all My good pleasure
  • Isaiah 65:17 NASB
    “For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth;
    And the former things will not be remembered or come to mind.
  • Acts 20:24 NASB
    But I do not consider my life of any account as dear to myself, so that I may finish my course and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify solemnly of the gospel of the grace of God.
  • Galatians 6:9 NASB
     Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.
  • Philippians 1:6 NASB
    For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.
  • 1 Corinthians 9:24 NASB
    Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win.
  • 2 Timothy 4:7 NASB
    I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith
  • Revelation 21:6 NASB
    Then He said to me, “t is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give to the one who thirsts from the spring of the water of life without cost.

Rejoicing and resting in the new year – I’m sharing over at Our Daily Bread

Those first few days of a new year can be some hard days for me.  I can get all tangled and knotted up in worry over all the unknown cares and unforeseen events that will fill up that still-blank calendar.

I can easily feel crushed with the weight of TRYING—trying to do more, read more, exercise more, pray more, reach out more,  clean more.   It can be a week into a new year, and I already feel behind.

But I’ve been sharing over on the Our Daily Bread Facebook page about how we can rejoice and rest in a new year.

Yes, rejoice!

Yes, rest!

Scripture tells us:

“Rejoice always” (1 Thessalonians 5:16) and “Rejoice in the Lᴏʀᴅ and be glad, you righteous; sing, all you who are upright in heart!” (Psalm 32:11).

I’d love it and I’d be so honored if you’d hop on over to the Our Daily Bread Facebook page and read my note of encouragement and the reminder that :

“We rejoice, not because of what happens around us or within us, but we rejoice in God Himself. We rejoice in who He is, in His faithful, never-changing, always-trustworthy character. We rejoice in His presence right there with us in the middle of everything we face now and anything and everything we’ll encounter in the new year.”

If you’re a Facebook user, you can click here to read the full post and, if you’d like, you can comment and share.  That’d be a blessing to me!

I’m looking forward to more opportunities to share on the Our Daily Bread Facebook page in the coming year.  If you like their page, hopefully you won’t miss any of the articles!

Please join me over at (in)courage today!

WILL YOU JOIN ME?

Today I’m posting in an amazing community for women called ‘(in)courage’  to remind us of this:

Here at the start of a new year, may our prayers be simple and true: “Your will this year, not mine, Lord. Your will, not mine.”

Then, we open our hands to God, allowing Him to exchange His best plans for our faulty ones. We hold lightly to our own hopes, goals, plans, resolutions, and dreams for the year, and we hold tightly to the God who loves us so much He chose the cross.

I’m thrilled and honored to be sharing this message with the (in)courage community and I hope you’ll take a few minutes to click this link and join me over there today.  It would be a true joy to ‘see some familiar faces!’

You can click here to read the whole post over on the (in)courage page.  I’d be truly blessed if you’d leave me a comment on their site!  I’ll be popping in throughout the day to reply.

If you love the (in)courage site as much as I do, you can also sign up here to receive free daily encouragement from the writers of (in)courage, right in your inbox!

While I’d love for you to visit me over at (in)courage today, I ask for your prayers above all. May God be glorified and His people be encouraged by this message of hope in His faithfulness!

Thanks so much for the prayers and the help in sharing this message with others!

This is why we don’t have to be afraid

My son listened this year as I told the Christmas story to  a gathering of prechoolers and he reviewed it for me over the next few days.

He told me about Mary and about Joseph and about the angels.  He told me how Jesus was God but a baby and how Christmas was Jesus’ birthday.

Then, he told me how Jesus ate a lot of food, got bigger and didn’t stay a baby anymore.

Got it.

But he also says this:  “The angels kept saying, “Don’t be afraid!”

They kept saying that.  Over and over.  Those angels had this resounding message of  joy and they prefaced it with the command to “fear not.”

As we finish one year, as we prepare for the next, as we look to the unknown and the new and the yet-to-come, how do we let this message change us and change our perspective?

How do we renew hope?   How do  we quiet fears ?

 

after all,  THE GOSPEL MESSAGE IS ALL ABOUT HOPE FOR THE HOPELESS, LIGHT IN THE DARKNESS, JOY IN SORROW AND PEACE IN TURMOIL.

It’s for those hopeless enough to feel like one more day alive is too much to bear.

It’s for those of us watching the clock at night, too worried about bills and our kids, our marriages, conflicts with family, or problems at work to sleep in peace.

It’s even for a worrier like me, anxious over the little things like birthday parties and church programs and a fresh calendar awaiting the activities of a new year.

It’s for the daily troubles that we turn into crises and for the life-and-death struggles we sometimes face.

IT’S THE REMINDER THAT GOD CAME HERE TO BE WITH US SO WE WOULDN’T BE ALONE, AND HE WILL NOT LEAVE OUR SIDE.

That’s the hope we have.  Not us alone in a crazy, mixed-up, broken world.  Not us alone facing bills and divorce, depression or stress.

Not us alone against any road-bumps ahead in the days to come.

Emmanuel.  God with us.

As it says in Isaiah:

“Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10).

Fear not.

That’s the loudest message from the Christmas story.  The one grand announcement over and over: “Do not be afraid.”  That’s what my son reminds me.

That wasn’t just God’s plan for our past.  It’s been His passion from the beginning of Creation—to be with us.  It was His driving desire all those years of patiently planning for our salvation through Christ’s coming, His death, His resurrection.

It’s the great passion of God’s heart even now.  In the book of Revelation, we’re told that when the battle is over and Christ establishes His forever kingdom, God will say:

“Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” (Revelation 21:3-4).

We close another Christmas season.  We stop playing the carols.  We pack up the decorations.

We make resolutions and plans for the new year.

But this is what we carry with us; this is the hope we have every single day:

HE CHOSE TO BE WITH US SO WE COULD CHOOSE TO BE WITH HIM.

So we do not need to be afraid of facing anything in this life alone.

God is with us.

Originally published December 28, 2015

Bible Verses and a Prayer for a New Year

verses-for-a-new-year

  • Psalm 33:3 NIV
    Sing to him a new song;
        play skillfully, and shout for joy.
  • Psalm 40:3 NIV
    He put a new song in my mouth,
        a hymn of praise to our God.
    Many will see and fear the Lord
        and put their trust in him.
  • Psalm 65:11 NIV
    You crown the year with your bounty,
        and your carts overflow with abundance.
  • Psalm 96:1 NIV
    Sing to the Lord a new song;
        sing to the Lord, all the earth.
  • Psalm 98:1 NIV
    Sing to the Lord a new song,
        for he has done marvelous things;
    his right hand and his holy arm
        have worked salvation for him.
  • Psalm 144:9 NIV
    I will sing a new song to you, my God;
        on the ten-stringed lyre I will make music to you,
  • Psalm 149:1 NIV
    Praise the Lord. Sing to the Lord a new song, his praise in the assembly of his faithful people.
  • Ecclesiastes 3:1 NIV
    There is a time for everything,
        and a season for every activity under the heavens:
  • Ecclesiastes 3:11 NIV
     He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.
  • Isaiah 42:9 NIV
    See, the former things have taken place,
        and new things I declare;
    before they spring into being
        I announce them to you.”
  • Isaiah 43:18-19 NIV
    “Forget the former things;
        do not dwell on the past.
    19 See, I am doing a new thing!
        Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
    I am making a way in the wilderness
        and streams in the wasteland.
  • Jeremiah 29:11 NIV
    For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
  • Lamentations 3:22-23 NIV
    Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
        for his compassions never fail.
    23 They are new every morning;
        great is your faithfulness.
  • Ezekiel 11:19 NIV
    I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh.
  • Zephaniah 3:5 NIV
    The Lord within her is righteous;
        he does no wrong.
    Morning by morning he dispenses his justice,
        and every new day he does not fail,
        yet the unrighteous know no shame.
  • 2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV
    Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!
  • Ephesians 4:22-24 NIV
    You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires;  to be made new in the attitude of your minds;  and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.
  • Philippians 3:13-14 NIV
    Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead,  I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
  • Colossians 3:9-10 NIV
    Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.
  • 1 Peter 1:3 NIV
    Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
  • Revelation 21:5 NIV
    He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”

prayer-for-the-new-year

Bible Verses and a Prayer for the New Year

 

  • versesnewyear
    Psalm 33:3 NIV

    Sing to him a new song;
        play skillfully, and shout for joy.
  • Psalm 40:3 NIV
    He put a new song in my mouth,
        a hymn of praise to our God.
    Many will see and fear the Lord
        and put their trust in him.
  • Psalm 65:11 NIV
    You crown the year with your bounty,
        and your carts overflow with abundance.
  • Psalm 96:1 NIV
    Sing to the Lord a new song;
        sing to the Lord, all the earth.
  • Psalm 98:1 NIV
    Sing to the Lord a new song,
        for he has done marvelous things;
    his right hand and his holy arm
        have worked salvation for him.
  • Psalm 144:9 NIV
    I will sing a new song to you, my God;
        on the ten-stringed lyre I will make music to you,
  • Psalm 149:1 NIV
    Praise the Lord. Sing to the Lord a new song, his praise in the assembly of his faithful people.
  • Ecclesiastes 3:1 NIV
    There is a time for everything,
        and a season for every activity under the heavens:
  • Ecclesiastes 3:11 NIV
     He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.
  • Isaiah 42:9 NIV
    See, the former things have taken place,
        and new things I declare;
    before they spring into being
        I announce them to you.”
  • Isaiah 43:18-19 NIV
    “Forget the former things;
        do not dwell on the past.
    19 See, I am doing a new thing!
        Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
    I am making a way in the wilderness
        and streams in the wasteland.

  • Jeremiah 29:11 NIV
    For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
  • Lamentations 3:22-23 NIV
    Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
        for his compassions never fail.
    23 They are new every morning;
        great is your faithfulness.
  • Ezekiel 11:19 NIV
    I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh.
  • Zephaniah 3:5 NIV
    The Lord within her is righteous;
        he does no wrong.
    Morning by morning he dispenses his justice,
        and every new day he does not fail,
        yet the unrighteous know no shame.
  • 2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV
    Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!
  • Ephesians 4:22-24 NIV
    You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires;  to be made new in the attitude of your minds;  and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.
  • Philippians 3:13-14 NIV
    Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead,  I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
  • Colossians 3:9-10 NIV
    Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices  and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.
  • 1 Peter 1:3 NIV
    Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
  • Revelation 21:5 NIV
    He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”

prayer-for-the-new-year

Why you don’t have to be afraid

christmas

I remember thinking that I would have done the same thing.

At the National Holocaust Museum in Washington, DC, I picked up a tiny booklet with a name and a story inside.

My booklet told the story of a survivor.

My friend’s, however, did not.  Hers was a mom with a young daughter.  When the death train stopped outside the concentration camp, guards tried to push the crowd into two separate lines: Those who could work and those who could not.

The women could work.

But the kids were considered a burden without benefit, so they were immediately sent to the gas chambers.

This woman, though, refused to be separated from her daughter.  She must have clung insistently, desperately, stubbornly to that little hand.  I imagine her words, “Don’t be afraid.  Mommy’s with you,” even as they walked into death together.

I hope I would have done the same thing.  I’d want to be there with my kids for every frightening, fearful, terrifying thing they might face.

I’ve watched in the school parking lot on those scary days when a school shooting hits the news.  Moms pull the minivans right over, climb out and take a moment to squeeze their children.

We all fear.  I do it, too.  After the news headlines, I want so much to retreat with my kids to a secluded cabin in the woods, my pitiful attempt to protect them from the madness of sin in this world.

Yet, that’s the truth of it all: we live on a sin-scarred planet and while there are hints of beauty here, and there is mercy and grace, there is also pain and sorrow.

So, what hope do we have?

How can we wake day after day, not in defeat, resignation or anxiety, but with the joy of the Lord and the peace of salvation?

The gospel message is all about hope for the hopeless, light in the darkness, joy in sorrow and peace in turmoil.

It’s for those hopeless enough to feel like one more day alive is too much to bear.

It’s for those of us watching the clock at night, too worried about bills and our kids, our marriages, conflicts with family, or problems at work to sleep in peace.

It’s even for a worrier like me, anxious over the little things like birthday parties and church program.

It’s for the daily troubles that we turn into crises and for the life-and-death struggles we sometimes face.

It’s the reminder that God came here to be with us so we wouldn’t be alone, and He will not leave our side.

That’s the hope we have.  Not us alone in a crazy, mixed-up, broken world.  Not us alone facing bills and divorce, depression or stress.

Not us alone against any road-bumps ahead in the new year.

Emmanuel.  God with us.

As it says in Isaiah:

“Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10).

Fear not.

That’s the loudest message from the Christmas story.  The one grand announcement over and over: “Do not be afraid.”

That wasn’t just God’s plan for our past.  It’s been His passion from the beginning of Creation—to be with us.  It was His driving desire all those years of patiently planning for our salvation through Christ’s coming, His death, His resurrection.

It’s the great passion of God’s heart even now.  In the book of Revelation, we’re told that when the battle is over and Christ establishes His forever kingdom, God will say:

“Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” (Revelation 21:3-4).

We close another Christmas season.  We stop playing the carols.  We pack up the decorations.

We make resolutions and plans for the new year.

But this is what we carry with us; this is the hope we have every single day:

He chose to be with us so we could choose to be with Him.

So we do not need to be afraid of facing anything in this life alone.

God is with us.

Nobody wants to drink lukewarm water in this house: One Word 2015

My daughter tells me her water is “soggy.”

And my other girl chimes in: “I don’t want this old water.  I need fresh water.”

Then she bops her head up and down for emphasis: “Really.  It needs to be FRESH.”

I pick up the cups of water I poured just two hours before and dump them into my plants.  At least foliage appreciates lukewarm refreshment.

Or, perhaps I’m feeling particularly savvy that day, and I pop in an ice cube before handing these daughters the same cups of water.

Either way, my youngest girl guzzles it down and lets out a satisfied “ahhhh” in gratitude.

It’s fresh water she wants.  Cold.  Newly poured.

Even if the water she has isn’t stagnant or stench-ridden, hot or unhealthy, it sat just a little too long in that Tinkerbell cup and now she needs new.

Normally, as a mom I protest a little.  Two hours is not enough time to de-freshen water, I tell her.  It’s not ice-cold, but it isn’t ‘soggy,’ or undrinkable.

It still prevents dehydration.jeremiah 31

But my soul takes this in because surely she’s discovered what I’m longing for.

For “Fresh.”

My Christian walk isn’t stagnant or rancid, but still I long for ‘new’ and ‘more.’  I don’t to walk out of 2015 the same way that I walked in.

Each year, I choose this One Word and a Scripture to meditate on all year long to focus my heart, mind, and life.

The first year, I chose “Breathe” (Psalm 62:2 MSG).

Then last year, I spent 12 months meditating on “Presence” (Exodus 33:14 NIV).

These were spiritually life-changing for me, not just a random New Year’s task that seems so important on January 1st but loses all meaning by January 31st and not just a cute catchphrase that is temporarily inspiring but ultimately meaningless.

So I prayed over this year’s focus and searched Scripture until I read it:

A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed (Proverbs 11:25 NIV)

Re-fresh.

Already, I relax into the grace of this.

So often, New Year’s is a time of heaping burdens on our backs.

Resolutions.  Reading plans.  Prayer plans.  Devotional plans. Health plans.  Schedule plans. Clutter plans.  Relational plans.  Educational and job plans.

This is what we want to do, do, do this year.

Piled on top of that are the bricks we haul around of recrimination, regret and self-condemnation because of all the plans that failed last year and the year before that.

There are the projects we didn’t finish and the resolutions we let fall by the wayside.  There are the 15 pounds we were supposed to lose.  There is the study we started and never completed.

So, we carry “Failure” from one year onto the next and chain the new year before it’s even begun.

What if we started Fresh?

What if we let the past go and we eased into the new year with devotion and relationship with God instead of any agenda or program?

What if we take this in?

he leads me beside quiet waters,
   he refreshes my soul (Psalm 23:2-3 NIV).

He does the work.  He leads; we follow.  He offers us the cool water to drink and we guzzle it down and let it drench our parched soul.

The beauty in this promise is that as we pour out encouragement, blessing and generous helpings of grace to others, He will refresh us.

Proverbs 11:25 tells us that God looks after the generous.  He refreshes those who refresh others.

Not with leftovers or scraps or day-old water, either, but with the deeply satisfying draft of the Living Water only He can give.

I can try to fill up from the tap of the world or the tap of self-accomplishment or the tap of taking care of me, me, me.

But it will be ‘soggy’ and old, tepid and bitter.

It’s Jesus I need.  And not the Spiritual experiences I had ten years ago or five years ago or yesterday.

I need Jesus—Fresh—-now—-newly poured into my life day after solid day.

This year, I am praying that God will do this work:

Refresh me with His Word: (Psalm 19:7).

Refresh me with rest in His presence: (Psalm 23:2-3).

Refresh me through service: (Proverbs 11:25).

Refresh me through a pure heart (Acts 3:19).

Refresh me with His people (1 Corinthians 16:18).

It’s strength we need for the weary days and revival we need for the dead and broken within.  It’s a filling up so Christ is splashing over the tops of our lives so that we can pour out to others with generosity and grace.  It’s rest in His presence rather than perpetual motion, and it’s new, cold, Living Water we need from it’s only true Source.

Refresh us, Lord, we pray.

prayerrefreshing

 

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  Her book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, is available now!  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2014 Heather King

First Things First

A new year means excitement, fireworks and confetti, predictions and optimistic resolutions.  It’s people declaring, “It’s going to be a great year” and others just hoping that “2012 is better than 2011.”

If there’s anyone out there who is a little like me and perhaps just a little honest, maybe a new year also brings pangs of fear.

Just a bit.

I’m not generally comfortable with the unknown so when you survey a fresh calendar with 12 pages left to go and when you start penciling in dates and activities and you consider how many squares will be filled in later, it can be a little overwhelming.

What if something goes wrong?  What if 2012 isn’t so great?

On New Year’s Day, I picked up my Bible and read these words:

“First this: God created the Heavens and the Earth—all you see, all you don’t see.  Earth was a soup of nothingness, a bottomless emptiness, an inky blackness. God’s Spirit brooded like a bird above the watery abyss” (Genesis 1:1-2 MSG).

“First this.”  For years, I’ve read this verse in other translations and they all begin this way: “In the beginning.”

So, right here at the start of our year, let’s pause and consider what’s first.  What is God doing in our beginning?

Like a blank calendar, the world began “formless and empty” and that’s where fear can reside: in the inky blackness of uncertainty.  It’s not so much in “all you see,” but lurking much more definitely in “all you don’t see.”

But God saw.  He wasn’t surprised by the light, the waters, the land, the creatures or Adam and Eve.  He is the God who designs, plans, forms and creates “all you see, all you don’t see.”  When He said, “Let there be light,” surely He expected light!

Indeed, “the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters” (Genesis 1:1, NIV).  In the past, I considered this mystical perhaps, a hazy and heavy apparition hovering like a fog just above the unformed mass of earth.

But The Message says “God’s Spirit brooded like a bird above the watery abyss” and this is much more the picture here.

John Snyder wrote: “the Hebrew writer portrayed the Spirit of God as ‘hovering over’ the unformed and unruly mass, much like a mother bird fluttering over her brood.  The picture here is the very careful and loving attention God gives to His creation–protecting, shaping, and guiding its development.  In other words, there’s no room for chance or randomness.  Everything is under His control.”

God is in charge.  That’s the reminder here in the very first words of the Bible.  And He’s not an arbitrary ruler or a mysterious mystical force.  He’s loving and attentive.  He brings order out of chaos and light forth from darkness.

That’s what we can look forward to in 2012.  In all of the hectic chaos of our lives, in the disorder of our finances or relationships or jobs, in the shaky ground of ministry or health, in the shadowy uncertainty of all that lies ahead—God is in control, designing a plan for us that isn’t just okay or acceptable.

It’s good.

When God finished off His week of creating, “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good” (Genesis 1:31, NIV).

We should expect nothing less from a Good God who is present and active in our lives, just as He was from the first moments of our world.  Rest in that and dare to enjoy a new year.

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2011 Heather King