What’s Needed?

Sorry for the longer-than-normal delay since my last post.  I’ve been in a season about which I will share soon, but writing hasn’t been my focus.  As I’ve spent more than the normal time resting recently, I’ve kept my Christmas music going in the background, and realize an overall sense of joy and peace has resulted from those words and music resonating in my spirit.

Since we are only 1 ½ weeks from Christmas Day, most people are probably heading into frantic mode with gatherings, shopping, wrapping, cooking, etc.  It is my prayer that this song will minister that same sense of joy and peace to you as you listen, and maybe even sing along.  After all, what we really need, always, is to focus on Emmanuel, Christ with us.  Let’s Ring the Bells!

All in the Heart

As I prepared for a 10-day journey to Israel, to take place the first two weeks of the official Christmas season, I grumbled a bit inside.  After all, why was this trip at this time?  It’s stressful enough to try to get everything extra done in December, without “losing” 10 days (plus the days it takes to get over jet lag!)  I made up my mind that I’d not do another trip at this time of year.  That was before . . .

Before I set foot on the land.

Jezreel Valley (Valley of Armageddon)

Before I saw the Jezreel Valley (also known as the Valley of Armageddon).

Before I experienced the Father’s heartbeat for His beloved Jews as they weep before the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem.

Wailing Wall – Jerusalem
Capernaum at Sea of Galilee

Before I wandered near the edge of the Sea of Galilee in Capernaum, right where Jesus was.

Before I saw the rock on which it is believed He sat as He blessed the 5 loaves and 2 fish before the miraculous multiplication took place.  Before I walked the very road Jesus traveled as He headed to Jerusalem with the crowds shouting, “Hosanna!”  Before I knelt on the floor of the dungeon in which my Jesus was kept overnight at Caiaphas’ house before His crucifixion.

Before I sat on the steps of the temple – the very ones where Jesus would have sat and taught.

steps leading into temple

Before . . . I saw that empty garden tomb!

My mind has been turned upside down because of this trip.  Now I can think of nothing better for this time of year than to be in the land of Israel, interacting with the people, Messianic and non-believer.  Now I can complete the important things of this season – truly, not everything we do is really that important – in the fullness of Christ and His peace.  Truly, Christmas is all in the heart.

The Great Equalizer

It occurred to me on the way home from church yesterday, as I observed the beauty of the snow all around, that snow is the great equalizer.  It covers unsightly land, making one place as pretty as every other.  It can even cover a huge landfill of garbage and makes it look like a beautiful, unblemished hill.  With the snow, even the uneven places are leveled, so that the rough places become smooth.  Sure, we know that the ground underneath is still rough, uneven, and in some places unsightly.  For the moment, however, when it’s covered with snow we see it as beautiful.

Isaiah 42:16 I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth.

Isaiah 40:4-5 4 Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain.  5 And the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all mankind together will see it.  For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

How like God to make Himself known to those who will see – right in the midst of a weather phenomenon!  He washed us with the perfect and precious blood of His only begotten Son Jesus Christ, and we became whiter than snow.  Our sins have been forever covered.  While snow is the great equalizer of the landscape, Jesus’ blood is the great equalizer of men!

Psalm 51:7 Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.

Covered by His blood, He sees every one of us as whiter and brighter than the pristine snow-covered landscape on a sunny morning with crystal-clear blue skies.  God knows the sins were there before, but now and for all eternity He knows and sees only the righteousness of Christ.  All those imperfect places in us are made plain and smooth – perfected in Christ.  All those things that make us unequal in the natural and even less than human in some cultures, are of no consequence in God’s eyes – because we are in Christ.

Galatians 3:28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

It is for this purpose that Christ came – that we might be in Him, cleansed from our sins for all time.  Let’s celebrate this Christmas by receiving the fullness of His gift to us.  Let’s look at ourselves and others as He does – whiter than snow – all because of His blood.  Jesus’ blood – the great equalizer!

The Birthday Gift

There is a present under our Christmas tree this year that has been there for many years.  We store it with all the other decorations, but it is not an ornament.  We open it each Christmas morning, before opening any of our other gifts, and then we put it back, but not before we pray and add something else to it that wasn’t there before.  I don’t remember just how or when this tradition began, but I’m so thankful that it did.  You see, this gift is for Jesus’ birthday.

I know many people make a birthday cake for Jesus, making the effort to remember He is the reason for all the celebration, but the Lord put it on my heart many years ago to give Jesus a gift.  When you think about it, that’s pretty amazing.  After all, what could I possibly give to Jesus as a gift?  However, each year He has made it clear just what He wanted from each of us.  We write those things down privately on separate pieces of paper, then come together to pray as we offer these gifts to the Lord, putting them in the box and returning it to its place under the tree.

What kind of gifts have I given my Jesus?  I have “given” him family members when He’s shown me that I am holding onto them, trying to be the Holy Spirit and force them to be who I think He created them to be.  One year, He spoke to my heart that I was to give Him my sadness.  I wasn’t even aware it was there until He spoke that to my spirit, and then I saw, with spiritual eyes, a low level of sadness in everything I thought and did – even in the happy times.  There have been gifts to Him of all my regrets, my busy-ness of mind, my prayer life and the expectation of what it “should” be, etc.  There have been years He has asked me to give Him something I had previously given, but apparently had taken back or not totally released to Him; but He is always so gentle when He asks.  One year, He told me to give Him anything I wanted to.  Wow!  I don’t know what I’m giving Jesus this year, but there is excitement in me as I begin to wait on Him to direct me in this.

Jesus wants so much more for me than I currently experience, and He knows that as I give more and more of me to Him, I am able to experience so much more of Him!  It’s as if He always gives me something wonderful in place of what He has asked me to give Him.  For instance, when I give Him my loved ones, I am released, as well.  I no longer try to carry the weight of responsibility for someone else’s actions, and instead take on His easy yoke and light burden.  When I gave Him my sadness, the lightness I received in return was wonderful!  I was able to walk in His joy and peace even in the midst of sad times, without the shackle of sadness that had been attached (illegally!) to me for so long.  When I gave Him my regrets over a particular season in my life, I was able to see the whole picture and realize those places I failed were only a minor part of the whole story.  From that point on, I could think about those times differently, and realize how the Lord had never turned away from me, always urging me on in His grace and mercy!  Condemnation no longer had a hold, all glory to God!  I truly cannot out-give God!

Jesus Christ is absolutely the best Gift we could ever ask for or receive!  Our heavenly Father prepared Him to be a perfect fit, color, and match for our every need!  We will continue discovering more aspects of this most precious Gift for the rest of our lives, as we continue abiding in Him.  So, on this special day of the year, let’s be sure to give Him a gift from our hearts in response to what He has given us.  Happy birthday, Jesus!