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Archive for the ‘Devotional Life’ Category

Another name used to describe Jesus – our Mediator. It’s a legal term mentioned in Hebrews 12:24 – Jesus as the mediator of a new covenant.

A mediator is a go-between, the person who interposes between parties in order to bring reconciliation. One way to reconcile is to restore a friendship. What a wonderful perspective of Jesus and what He did for us. He is the One who bridges the gap between heaven and earth, between a Holy God and those of us who are unclean with sin. Instead of temporary animal sacrifices, Jesus gave the ultimate sacrifice – Himself – once and for all. He has reconciled the broken relationship and restored us back to God.

Hebrews 12:24

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One of Jesus’ more well known names was first revealed in Mark chapter 3 when “Son of God!” was shouted by unclean spirits as He cast them out of people. My takeaway? Even the demons recognize the power & authority of Jesus, why do we even question?

As we prepare our hearts in this Lenten season, contemplate the power available to you through the mighty name of Jesus.

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Other years I’ve blogged through the days of Lent. This year it’s time for something different. Though I love writing, I also enjoy taking photographs, so this year, I’ll be posting pictures of my interpretation of the many names of Jesus

Christ, from Christos, meaning “Anointed One”

Ash Wednesday is a Christian holy day of prayer and fasting. Some choose to abstain from food, some decide to stop a certain behavior or habit. One year I have fasted coffee. It was ugly.

But Lent isn’t about food, or fasting, or ashes. It’s all about preparing our hearts for the ultimate sacrifice – Jesus. The Christ. The Anointed One.

Matthew 16:16 – You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.

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Short post today. It’s Christmas Eve, after all, and I have a lot to do. Cleaning, cooking, baking, candlelight service, checking my list again (just like Santa)…but most importantly, preparing for Christmas Day.

I hate when I allow my schedule to dictate my joy level. So I’m intentionally choosing rest (I took a 15 minute nap on the couch last night about 7:30), and peace and the love of Jesus. Tonight we’ll have the slow-cooker filled with soup and keep the light on for anyone who stops by…for a few minutes or longer. Because I want to make sure there’s always room in my inn.

As a pastor’s family, we didn’t have a lot of annual traditions. Things always depended on weather and where Christmas fell during the week. We spent A LOT of Christmas Days on the road between our two extended families in northern and southern Illinois. Do you know that most places are closed on Christmas Day? (sarcasm) Ate a few cold truck stop sandwiches through the years. Drove through heavy snowstorms and over black ice a time or two – all because we wanted to see our families over the holidays.

So this is what I’ve learned (you know I’d get to it, right?) – be flexible. Don’t set your schedule in stone tablets, never to change no matter the circumstances. Don’t expect your adult children to always adhere to your annual traditions. Remember the most important thing isn’t the actual day you celebrate – it’s the reason you celebrate. The family you hold dear are no less precious on December 26th. or January 5th. or March 29th. Allow your family to celebrate the best way they can and maybe that means getting together later or earlier or next weekend. Or celebrating more than once. (yay!!)

Since my boys are now married, we’ve learned to adjust to what works best for all of them. Don and I are so thankful our own schedules allow us to accommodate what works best for everyone. We’ve “taken turns” on holiday get-togethers. We’ve opened gifts a few days early so our kids can be out of town on Christmas Day. We all communicate our expectations so when we do gather together, there is less stress and more joy. I’m blessed with amazing extended families, in-laws, and now “joined by marriage” families. We are thankful for the love they show year round, not just at Christmas time.

May your family find that happy balance of tradition and flexibility that brings light and life to all your celebrations.

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Picture courtesy of incourage.me – blog post December 24, 2020

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A portion of the many Bible we have in our home. Seen here are my dad’s (Senior’s Devotional), Don’s dad’s (small black Holy Bible), my brother’s (from late teen years), my mom’s (burgundy), and one of my son’s first Bibles. Many translations, many versions, all God’s Word.

The Bible is full of amazing stories. One in particular stands out to me as I’m writing this blog about the wisdom I’ve gained in my six decades of life. There was once a wealthy and honorable man who loved God. The Lord allowed Satan to destroy this man’s flocks, his possessions, his children, and his health – and yet, after all that, the man refuses to give up his trust in God. He doesn’t understand why these things are happening to him, but he trusts God through it all, even when his wife turns away, and his friends accuse him of sin. The man’s name was Job and he has a whole book of the Bible telling his amazing story.

In Job, chapter 1, we hear of a day in heaven when the angels present themselves before God, and Satan (called “The Accuser”) comes with the other angels. You can read the story yourself, but in a nutshell, the Lord presents Job as the finest man in the whole earth. Satan says, “Sure, because You have blessed him with everything he could ever want. But just let him lose everything, and he’ll curse You.” So God allows Satan to take everything from Job, except his life. The rest of the book details the results of these actions by Satan. By the end, when God finally answers Job’s questions, we realize, along with Job and his friends, that God is in control of this world, and only He understands why the good are allowed to suffer.

Job’s story is only one instance out of many when God speaks directly to a man (or many). From Genesis to Revelation, God speaks…to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden,  to Noah about building the ark, to Abraham about a trip He’d like Abe to take (Where? I’ll let you know when you get there.), to Jacob (they actually had a bit of an all-night wrestling match), to Joseph (through dreams and visions), to Moses from a burning bush, and the list goes on and on. And He continues to speak to men and women today.

God speaks to me every day through the Bible. Scriptures are full of verses showing God cares for me, He has a plan for me (and you), He won’t leave me alone, and He’s looking forward to spending eternity with me. But I would never know any of this if I didn’t read it. The Bible is my instruction manual for how to live my life, how to treat other people, how to believe and act out that belief.

img_4243As the book I hold most dear, I’ve read through the Bible many times in my almost 60 years of life. But I didn’t always realize the richness held within its pages. I didn’t always believe it truly was the living Word of God. I used to think it was just a great collection of amazing stories that may or may not be true. But…over time…through the good and bad times of life…I’ve come to realize and believe that every word written in that Book is life-changing, is living, is active in my life. It has the power to challenge me, shape me, mold me into the woman of God He desires and created me to be. Of this, I have no doubt.

Job – a man who loved God through devastating trials and tribulations – trusted Him. Me – a woman who loves God through ups and downs (though, so thankful not as low as Job went) – trust God because I know I can hold tight to God’s promises. He loves me, He has a plan for me, and He will never leave me.

The Bible tells me so.

 

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I love baseball and often use the game and its many strategies to help explain my take on life. For instance, a successful hitter in professional baseball hits .300. Any person who plays ball would love to be a 300-hitter. But that means they failed to hit the ball 70% of the time. When looking at success from the perspective of baseball, 30% is great!

I’ve found that perspective changes much of what I determine as a success or failure. There were many, many days I felt I was a failure as a wife, parent, friend, employee, leader…basically, anything I tried, any role I fulfilled. But, looking back, I think I succeeded more than I imagined at the time (not trying to get high-fives here) and I know I learned a great deal from my failures and shortcomings.

  • I learned to get back up. Falling short isn’t permanent, unless I want it to be.
  • I learned to take a step back. My perceived failure may be God’s way of helping me adjust my expectations.
  • I learned that my failure can be a learning tool to help me to my next success.

When I was a high school senior, my American History teacher gave me a failing grade on an essay assignment. I was devastated. I had never received a C, let alone an F, on any assignment in high school. Thankfully, he explained his reasoning and talked me out of a meltdown. He said, for this particular assignment, my writing was not up to par with my usual efforts. It seemed stale, boring, and without any credible research to back up my thesis. Furthermore, he said, I needed to step up my writing game if I wanted to be successful in my college classes…and he gave me another chance to do better. Which, I guess I did, since I got an A the second time around.

That particular failure (along with a wise teacher) served me well in college and in life. I learned not every failure is devastating, and most can be, and should be, tools to help me learn and grow and get better.

So I’ve learned to celebrate my failures – taking some time to evaluate, gain some perspective, and get back up to try again, or let it go.

I’m not perfect. Big surprise, huh? You’re not perfect either. Still not surprised? How about this – no one is or ever has been or ever will be perfect (except Jesus, ok?). Failure, falling short, is a natural part of life. Something everyone goes through more times than we’d like or care to admit. I may not be perfect, but I am forgiven. Jesus isn’t looking to use perfect people, just willing ones. And if He’s willing to love and use a failure like me, I need to cut myself some slack. It’s called grace. Give yourself some.

2 Corinthians 12:9-10

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

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Shameless blog post today. I just returned home from church where I heard another great sermon…a sermon that encouraged me and left me with practical steps I can use in my every day life. I’m blessed to be able to hear these great sermons every week…and soon you will be able to watch and listen also. Soon these sermons will be online and available to anyone with an internet connection. Many of you know that my favorite preacher is my own husband, Don McGarvey, pastor at Troy Mills Christian Church.

Don’s finished up a three-part sermon series on Being the Church. Just as a little tease for what is to come I’m going to offer some of my notes from the outline of today’s sermon: Being Built Up.

Living_Stones“Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious, you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” 1 Peter 2:4-5

Jesus Christ is the foundation, the Chief Cornerstone of the Church. Each one of us are “living stones,” designed to build up the Church wherever we are. We are all a part of the Body of Christ. No one person is more important than another. With Jesus Christ as the head of the Church, each member is free to be who God has purposed for us to be. I won’t include every aspect of the sermon but Don included a list of what we, as believers, should bring to the church each week:

(1) Love

We are called to love each other, not judge, not gossip. Love.

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(2) Encourage

Building up someone is one of the most important tasks any one of us can do for another believer.

 “but exhort one another daily, while it is called “Today,” lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.” Hebrews 3:13

(3) “Spur”

We could use the word “prod” or “incite.”

“And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works,” Hebrews 10:24

(4) Serve

SOF_Galatians-5-13No longer do we care only about ourselves, but as members of God’s Church, we need to serve one another selflessly.

“For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.” Galatians 5:13

(5) Honor 

Putting someone above yourself – give deference to others.

“Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another;” Romans 12:10

(6) Instruct

We can all learn from one another. What has God been speaking to you about from His Word? Sharing the insights of the Word with each other grows the Body of Christ!

“Now I myself am confident concerning you, my brethren, that you also are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, able also to admonish one another.” Romans 15:14

(7) Kind and compassionate – Ephesians 5:32

Ephesians_5_32And do all this with kindness and compassion. Our world needs to see the love, kindness and compassion of the Body of Christ. Not judgment or self-righteousness.

Can’t wait until you have opportunity to see these sermons for yourself. If you are a believer in Jesus, you are a member of the Church…let’s build it up!

 

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