Monday, December 28, 2015

The Reasons Why I Cherish This Season

I was the typical American child. Treasures found under the tree on Christmas morning were the focal point of my holiday season. I have fond memories of our little family - Dad, Mom, and I - going to purchase a real tree in preparation. Then came the fun of decorating it with our treasured ornaments and tinsel placed one strand at a time. (I hated that part! Why couldn't I just put it on one handful at a time?! Patience was never my virtue.) We also decorated each other and our dog, the black poodle that ran around us like a maniac as she sensed our excitement.

I remember getting up in the early  morning hours and being mesmerized by the gifts under the tree. Being an only child meant that things did not need to be wrapped or labeled. If they were suitable for a child they obviously were for me. There was always the latest baby doll and her accessories there. After a few years I had quite a large family of children in my downstairs playhouse and I dutifully and lovingly cared for each one while playing. (Hmm. Talk about foreshadowing!)

An only child, her treasured spouse, and two generations of doll babies

I knew as a young child about the Christ-child coming as a baby. And I loved Him. I just didn't have a firm grasp of how everything fit together. Still, the scriptural seeds were planted and watered. One Christmas season they bore fruit.

When I was 14 years old my pastor took us to a retreat at Tennessee Temple University. It was there on the night of December 28th I trusted the baby born in Bethlehem as my Savior. (Oh, look! Today is my spiritual birthday!!!!!)

I saw the real treasure of Christmas was the truce offered to me by the Eternal Father! I laid down my arms. The battle was over. That is the image I see whenever I read Luke 2:14.

". . . peace, good will toward men."

The treasure offered is peace. Oh, how I needed it! Spiritual turmoil had been mine for several years. "Good will toward men." Toward me. The God of glory offered me His good will and I took Him at His Word. 

I'm so happy that God came in the flesh! From that night forward I have treasured the gift of the Son that came as a baby, lived a sinless life, died for me, and was resurrected three days later as the payment for my sins so I could experience eternal peace with the Father.

A few years passed. . .

I found myself in another Baptist college, this time as a student. It was there that I met the young man that was to be my husband. We began dating in mid-October and during that Christmas season in 1977 he told me that he loved me and hoped that we could be married sometime in the next year. If you paid any attention at all to the Yule Moon phenomenon last week you know that its last occurrence was in 1977. Now you know why Pastor Dad confessed his love for me when he did: He was moonstruck.  :)

Like all great marriages, ours has had its ups and downs, its joys (example: see picture above) and its heartaches, but since it is built upon a firm foundation of faith it has endured all hardships and celebrated all happy events with eternity in mind. I treasure the gift God gave me when he gave me my husband.

Thank you, God, for making me part of your family that Christmas season when I was 14 years old. Thank you, Pastor Dad, for promising to make me part of your family when I was 18 years old. As much as I loved Christmas when I was a child, these treasured relationships are why I cherish the season even more now. 

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Journal Through the Bible: Week 106 Wednesday

Psalms 11 and 12

Psalm 11

Does God issue any commands?

  • No.

Does God make any promises?

  • Upon the wicked God will rain snares, fire and brimstone, and a horrible tempest. He promises that this shall be the portion of their cup.

Does this psalm teach anything about Jesus?

  • The LORD is in His holy temple in heaven beholding the children of men. (Jesus is at His right hand.)

Does this psalm teach anything about yet-future events?

  • God will behold the countenance of the upright. And conversely the upright shall behold His countenance, too.

Psalm 12

Does God issue any commands?

  • No.

Does God make any promises?

  • The LORD will cut off those with flattering lips and tongues that speak proud things.
  • The LORD promises to arise for the oppression of the poor and for the sighing of the needy.
  • The LORD will set the oppressed in a safe place.
  • The LORD will preserve His words.

Does this psalm teach anything about Jesus?

  • The LORD will preserve his words. Jesus is the eternal word of God. 

Does this psalm teach anything about yet-future events?

  • God watches and waits in patience but the day will come when He will arise and rescue His oppressed.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Journal Through the Bible: Week 106 Tuesday

Psalm 10

Have you ever wondered why God does not immediately act when the wicked terrify the righteous? So did the psalmist. The answer to the psalmist's question comes in verses 16-18.

Does God make any commands?

  • No

Does God issue any promises?

  • God promises to hear and answer the prayers of His people. 

Does this psalm teach anything about Jesus?

  • Jesus is the King forever and ever. The heathen will ultimately answer to Him.
  • Jesus is the judge.

Does this psalm teach anything about yet-future events?

  • Chaos seems to be in control now but this psalm says that while the wicked think God is not watching He actually is and will one day answer the prayers of those whom the wicked afflict.

2016 Bible Reading Schedule Now Available

It's December already folks! That means January and the New Year are right around the corner. Plan now to read the Bible each day in 2016. I've got a plan that I developed several years ago to accommodate my own history-driven learning style. Scriptures are not read sequentially but in a more chronological order. I share this each year for those who might want to read along.

The pdf version of the 2016 is now available for download. Copy it onto legal size paper and then fold it to keep it in your Bible.

(The complete schedule will also appear in the link at the top as we get closer to January. Thanks for reading!)

(Click photo to access file )
Permission: As always, you have my permission to copy and distribute the schedule as long as no changes are made. The instructions, credits, and blog information should also remain intact.