Christmas Countdown 2018 Day 18

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Oh my…the days to the “main event” are winding down, aren’t they my friend?

I am feeling the crunch as projects are dotting our counter tops. 

Dotting. 

I use that poetically.

Our counter tops in the kitchen are completely overflowing with ornaments to paint, address labels half filled in as we await the arrival of cards from Shutterfly, notes of things I need to do, mail half opened, receipts, gift bags to deliver and ones received…not an inch visible that isn’t also covered with crumbs because how can you clean a counter that is edge to edge chaos?

There is a pile of bags dumped on the dining room floor and more spilling out of the closet in a spare bedroom. A spare bedroom who’s twin needs preparation for our two out of state kiddos to be made to feel at home in so soon…so soon. 

And yes.

This too is Christmas. 

The reality of the Christ child coming and the story of His birth has somehow taken on all these other traditions and celebrations and I can lose my focus in a heartbeat. 

But that is not just a December problem for us…would you agree?

Let’s look at our verse for Day 18…

As you sent Me into the world, I have also sent them into the world. 

We heard one of our pastor’s this year speak about that word “sent”…how it is a missional word..

It is the Greek word…apostello – to order one to go to a place appointed.

We who are saved are called to go out to an appointed place for an appointed purpose. 

And it is to the world that we are called. 

To go out.

Into the world. 

For the purpose of pointing the world to Christ. 

We are not saved to have a perfectly wonderful life all safe and tidy and neatly packaged as we wait for His return. 

We are saved to serve and share the Gospel…

to be His hands and feet…

not working for our salvation…

not earning points or striving to be loved…

But out of His finished work on the Cross, we go out into the world and our lives are a testimony of what it means to no longer live for ourselves but it is Christ who lives within us. 

Called out of darkness and into light so that we can be LIGHT in a dark world. 

He was sent into the world to save us and now He sends us into the world to tell others about Him. 

Much to ponder today as we chip away at our tasks…much to cause us to switch our focus back onto the Christ of Christmas <3

Christmas Countdown 2018 Day 17

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Day 17 of our Countdown…

7 days until Christmas eve…

John 17:17….

so many seven’s.

The number of completion. 

We are on the home stretch in our time together in this passage. 

Have you ever run a race?

Whether a 5K up to a full marathon?

Or for me….just around the block would qualify…

There is a point where you have run long enough and yet the finish line is still far enough away that weariness can set in. 

A mental game is played where you talk yourself out of just quitting the whole thing and a battle is waged, and hopefully won, so you can dig in and finish well. 

I often feel this way about this time every year in mid December as  others have been talking and posting and advertising and celebrating the Christmas season since November 1st. 

As someone who works in retail, all the hubbub of the holidays can start to take a toll on the quiet places of remembering during the season of Advent. 

Even the faithful voices who whisper … slow down…don’t over do…remember the reason for the season can begin to all sound like part of the din of excess. 

And so we do what runners do to keep pressing on as we maintain our focus on why we started this thing. 

We continue to draw our hearts back to the humble nature of Christ’s first entrance into our world.

We seek ways to sincerely and genuinely reflect on how we can make room for Him still in the exact setting of our modern world and busy lives. 

And we surrender again our hearts to Him who prayed…

Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. 

John 17:17 NKJV

Make them holy – consecrated – with the truth. Your word is consecrating truth. 

John 17:17 The Message

I still have my dictionary resting on the stack of Bibles near our computer so let’s explore the depth of this by fleshing in the phrase with deeper meaning.

Lord, set these disciples apart to a sacred purpose, purify them and free them from sin with the truth, the fidelity and sincerity and character of Your Word because Your Word is the real deal. It is  factual, actual, constant, and faithful. 

We live in a world where truth is increasingly pawned off as something that cannot be pinned down to any one thing or person or being. 

But Jesus clearly states that there is Truth and that Truth is the Word of God. 

So if you are finding yourself confused today, turn to the Truth found in His Word and believe that He will sanctify…purify your heart and mind and spirit…through His Word <3 

Be consecrated…made holy by and in His Word…and continue on. 

Walk in the light of His truth as He is in the light and find fellowship with others who also walk in His truth.  1 John 1: 7

Be refreshed in the study of His Word today as you are strengthened to journey onward through this season and into the next <3

Christmas Countdown 2018 Day 16

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PC/Betty Lochner  http:// https://www.cornerstone-ct.com/

It is the third Sunday of Advent and I am posting late in the day. 

Our verse is a just a short but sweet follow up to yesterday’s. 

After stating the focus of His prayer is not that His followers be spared the fire of this world…but that God would protect them in the heat of it all…He lines out the new DNA of His disciples based on His own identity. 

The are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.  NKJV

I so very much love how The Message reads…

They are no more defined by the world than I am defined by the world. 

I love it because it puts disciples of Jesus squarely in the same category as Him – through His sanctifying work in us, mind you…

And…

for someone like me who loves words and the meaning of words and the correct use of words. 

How reassuring to hear The Word tell us…

Jesus Christ the Messiah is not defined by the world…

and neither are His followers. 

Defined…

from Latin:   definire   de + finire: to limit, end verb transitive, to fix or mark the limits of…demarcate. Set the property lines. determine or identify essential qualities. 


Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary 1973, G. & C. Merriam Co. 

I write this with tears of humble gratitude that God would allow us to rest on that thought on this Third Sabbath of Advent…

so let me just state the obvious one more time. 

This world does not fix or set or mark the limits of Jesus Christ.

The world does not determine or identify the essential qualities of His disciples. 

In Christ you are defined by Him and by Him alone and He calls you …friend, brother, sister, family. 

In Him there is no condemnation. 

In Him we have a new identity and it is as one who is covered by His blood. 

Who He is….we are as well. 

Rest in that truth, my friend and enjoy a restful and God-defined Sabbath <3 

Christmas Countdown 2018 Day 15

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Hello and welcome to real life on a Saturday that is mid-December 2018. 

Real life.

Because I am needing to leave the house in exactly 48 minutes and I have not showered. I want to send a devotional thought to you because I set my mind and heart to post this countdown … and I needed to quickly place an order for a few snapshots that I will need to finish some Christmas projects.

I scanned through the humongous accumulation of photos from this past year…exported them to my desktop so I could send them to Walgreens and somehow foolishly decided to try and get fancy with my tech skills. 

I put them in a folder and managed to make it impossible to get them uploaded…eighteen photos that I do not have time to now go back through and re-export…

so frustrated. 

And to be honest…in an age with so many time-saving apps and devices to make my life easier…I spend a good deal of my days struggling to get it all done. 

Wherever I am, there are at least three other places I could, should or would like to be..or the people over there think I should be.

I am not an IT person…nor a psychiatrist…nor a politician…nor a lot of other things that somehow I feel the world expects me to be. 

All. The. Time.

I also scratch my head at least a hundred times a day as I observe the world around me and ask…what in the heck is going on here, people? Have we completely lost our minds???

So there are times I read verse 15 of John 17 and kind of wish Jesus would have prayed differently….but He didn’t.

No, He clearly prays a prayer that I would love to edit, but can’t.

“I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one.”

While I am thankful He prays for us to be kept from the evil one…I wish sometimes we could just be removed from the muck and the mess. 

But apparently…this is exactly where He wants us. 

So if the opportunity arises for you to long to be whisked away to a better environment today…perhaps you are right where you are supposed to be and just hunker down…put on that armor that keeps you protected from the evil one…and carry on, my friend…carry on <3

Christmas Countdown 2018 Day 14

In prayer, Jesus says this to His Father…

“I have told them your message. But the people of this world hate them, because they don’t belong to this world, just as I don’t.”  CEV

ouch….

Let’s see it from The Message…

“I gave them your word; the godless world hated them because of it, because they didn’t join in the world’s ways, just as I didn’t join the world’s ways.”

hmmmm….

any brighter perspective in the NKJV?

“I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.”

Wow.

Ok.

So basically this flies in the face of every time we ever assumed that if we can just master the right technique to share the Gospel; both Jesus and we, ourselves, will be wildly popular and deeply cherished by all the folks we encounter on the journey. 

And it flips our modern day approach to evangelism that says we certainly don’t want to offend anyone when we share the Gospel, and if we are not liked by those we share our testimony with, we must be doing it the wrong way. 

Instead, it clearly puts us in the camp of being “hated” by some people just because we have aligned ourselves first and foremost as followers of Christ.

And I wonder how many would commit themselves to Christ based on this recruiting speech…

“Come follow Me and I will make you fishers of men…some of whom will hate you so much they will want to kill you because they hate Me.”

Well yes, sign me and my children up for that, please.

But when you have finally and genuinely and sincerely accepted Christ as the Way and the Truth and the Life…you understand that what others think does not matter. 

You get the fire in your spirit to share even if you aren’t loved.

You find the grace and mercy of the One who rescued you and in that place you can pray for those who hate  you…and love when you are not loved back. 

You weep when you see the hatred for Jesus and you press on.

Because a Saul might just be a Paul…and a Peter who denies Christ might just be the one who spends out his days proclaiming Him to his last breath. 

A woman bound by multiple demons can become one who is so free she can no longer care what others think as she pours out her love for Him in grateful tears. 

Because when you love Jesus…really love Him…what the world thinks of you no longer matters and the passion that drives you is that He…God…so loved the world…that He sent His only Son…that whoever would believe in Him would not perish but would have eternal life…and this is eternal life…that we would KNOW Him…so today would you set aside your concerns of what others think and would you ask God to give you His heart to pray for those who do not yet know His love for them? 

Will you choose to share the Gospel with a world that may hate you because it hates Him?

Be blessed today in your prayers and as you follow hard after the teachings of our Lord and Savior, Jesus the Christ <3