sunrise3As 2013 comes to a close, it’s a perfect time for reflection on the past year and also a time to look forward with anticipation to the New Year.

I think one of the reasons we all love a new year is because it’s a chance for new beginnings, a chance do-overs and fresh starts. I love that we have a God that gives us many second chances and many new beginnings, yet we can always count on Him to remain the same (Hebrews 13:8). Now that’s comforting!

We all usually come to a place where we see changes that could be made, mistakes we’ve made,  disappointments/ failures or struggles we’ve experienced along the way, whether it be our health, spiritual walk with the Lord, financial/educational or other personal goals. The New Year presents a perfect time to set many of those plans into action.

In reflecting on the past year, I was challenged to pray for a word from the Lord concerning the year and the word that the Lord gave me was “expectant.” The verse that went along with that was Psalms 5:3, which reads “In the morning, LORD, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly.”

One of my goals last year was to continue giving the Lord the first part of my day for disciplined bible reading and prayer time and then to watch expectantly for what God was doing and where I could see Him working and fulfilling the different promises from his Word. I think in watching and waiting in expectancy, the Lord birthed many new dreams into my heart and I saw him do many amazing things. But I also realized that with birthing also comes difficulty and pain, and through some difficult seasons I had to learn to fully rely on God and his promises and most importantly to trust Him and not to forget to breathe.

Let me tell you, in many ways it was a very blessed and fruitful year, but in other ways it was also a very difficult and challenging year. One thing I know for certain is that it was a year of growth in many areas. I think that’s one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned through it all, is just how big and amazing our great God is and how he continues to show his great love, faithfulness, and mercy to me as I stagger along in this journey called life.

It’s through the difficulties and relying on Him that God continues to grow me and to show me more and more facets of his amazing character and for that I am so grateful. I’m having to learn to embrace change because sometimes it’s only through change and by walking in faith that God can change our hearts and transform and mold us into more of what he wants us to be.

When things in life get difficult God wants us to press into Him, like a child burying his face in parent, fully relying on and trusting in him. That is the kind of God we serve, he doesn’t change like the shifting shadows and when we press on into him he bursts forth like the rising sun and shows us that he is always with us and that he is there to help us in the struggle.

So that brings me to my new word and verse for this new year. As you can see from my picture, I’m a sun seeker and not only that, I am a true “Son” seeker.  I’m kinda drawn to watch a beautiful sunrise and see the gorgeous evening sunsets and I think this is a place where God shows me his Glory and I can sit in awe of Him as our creator and the amazing creator of it all!

So the word God has impressed upon me for 2014 is ‘RISE’ and the verse being Isaiah 60:1 which reads, “Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD rises upon you.” It reminds me that God’s presence is always with us, from sun up to sun down and through the watches of the night. It it also reminds me of His faithfulness, day by day as we keep our eyes fixed on Him. He is looking to shine his light upon us and in us and he wants us to rise up for Him and shine that He may be glorified on the earth.

Thank you Lord Jesus for what an amazing God you are. Thank you for your love and faithfulness and that you are always with us. I thank you for the many blessings and look forward with anticipation for how you will work in this new year! To you be the Glory both now and forever! AMEN

The Perfect Gift

giftTis’ the season for giving gifts.  I love receiving gifts (doesn’t everybody)? Recently I’ve been blessed with several gifts and I’ll share a few with you. A few weeks back I took my eldest daughter out to lunch, and the owner paid for our lunch. I was like wow, what a blessing.  Then the other day at work, someone anomalously left me a Starbucks coffee mug with discount certificates inside (how fun and exciting is that? I love coffee). Another example is one of our amazing neighbors just delivered us a gift basket for Christmas filled with, cheeses, salami, beverages, popcorn, crackers, snacks and chocolates galore! (What’s not to LOVE about that, we have the BEST neighbors!)

For some, Christmas is ALL about the gifts. But do we ever take the time to ponder why we give gifts in the first place? What is the true meaning behind the reason we celebrate Christmas?  It’s certainly not the big man in the red suit who goes around passing out presents, but rather it’s all about the man who created you for a relationship with him, Jesus Christ and his incredible free gift to you. Because of one man’s trespass (Adam), we were all made sinners, BUT because of God sending Jesus (who was born to die for our sin), we are given a free gift.

Romans 5:15-17 describes God’s incredible gift to us. God’s perfect gift.  It reads as follows: But there is a great difference between Adam’s sin and God’s gracious gift. For the sin of this one man, Adam, brought death to many. But even greater is God’s wonderful grace and his gift of forgiveness to many through this other man, Jesus Christ. And the result of God’s gracious gift is very different from the result of that one man’s sin. For Adam’s sin led to condemnation, but God’s free gift leads to our being made right with God, even though we are guilty of many sins. For the sin of this one man, Adam, caused death to rule over many. But even greater is God’s wonderful grace and his gift of righteousness, for all who receive it will live in triumph over sin and death through this one man, Jesus Christ.

God’s perfect righteousness cannot tolerate sin and yet God tells us to “be ye perfect”(Matthew 5:48). That’s a pretty tall order for someone like me who sins daily. So how do we ever attain to that? We can’t, we are all sinners, deserving of death and eternal separation from God. God put on skin and humbled himself to become a man, a baby, born in a stable, who was sent to live and die for us, and to show us the way to be made right with him (which is nothing that we can do for ourselves). Romans 3:10 says, “that there is none righteous, no not one,” meaning we have nothing good in and of ourselves to offer God (Isaiah 64:6), our goodness comes from God alone.

When Christ died for us and we accept his free Gift of salvation from our sins, we are given His righteousness. God’s righteousness meaning we are made right with God. When Jesus died for us on Calvary’s cross, our sin was imputed to him and he died for our sin so that we don’t have to and not only that, his act of perfect love gave to us God’s perfect righteousness. Meaning God sees us as perfect and we can now stand before a holy and perfect God because of his perfect sacrifice (His free gift to us). What an amazing gift!!! Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift (2 Corinthians 9:15).

Father God, I thank you for sending your son Jesus, the Perfect Gift. Thank you for loving us enough to pay the price so that we didn’t have to. As we exchange gifts this Christmas season as an act of love for what you did for us, help us to remember the exchange you made on our behalf. Help us not to make our focus the presents, but rather the presence of your son Jesus! Thank you God for Jesus, the best gift ever!

Holding Tightly

rootsI feel so blessed to be able to live so close to the ocean.  When time allows, I love sitting and viewing its expansive beauty. It’s one of my favorite pastimes. God’s wonderful creation always points me to Christ and as I sit and meditate on its stunning beauty, I am often reminded and feel the presence of the amazing creator of it all.

There is this one place in particular that I really love going to.  It’s a small paved road just big enough for a car to drive down. It takes you from the top of the bluff right down to a spot where you are eye level with the ocean. Sometimes from this spot when the waves crash up over the rocks, you can see their enormity and feel the intensity of their power. It’s quite spectacular!

On the path going down to this particular spot, there is this small pine tree growing on top of a mound of earth alongside of the bluff. Every time I go down that road, this particular tree always seems to grab for my attention. Half of the tree’s roots are exposed, and a good part of the ground once surrounding the tree been eroded away by time and the surrounding elements. Quite frankly, I’m always amazed that this little tree is still standing, because from the looks of it, it appears to barely be hanging on.

The tree is all mis-shaped due to the harsh conditions to which it has endured and is not shaped quite like your typical pine tree. (To me it sort of resembles a Japanese Bunsai which is really quite unique). But year after year this small tree continues to withstand the wind and storms that come directly off the ocean and it seems to remain solidly rooted and still flourishing.

There have been many times through out my life that I have felt like this tree, hanging out on the edge of a cliff, wondering if the next storm might take just me out. Often times hardships in life can do this to us. They can wear us down, often leaving us feeling weak or exposed. Kinda like this tree which on the outside seems to barely be hanging on, but underneath the ground, it’s obviously has good roots.

When we take a deeper look at a trees structure, we see it’s the deep root system that keeps them alive and upright. Most trees have a tap-root which grows deep into the soil to provide nutrients and water. Actually the life of most trees begins with a tap root which then grows and provides what is necessary for the trees life and growth. The truth is, when we have Christ as our hope, he is our root system that anchors us into the solid ground of himself.

I think this particular tree reminds me of the passage in Colossians 2:7 which reads . . . Let your roots go down deep into Christ, and let your lives be built on him. I love how in the bible God sometimes God refers to his people as trees. He uses these metaphors to paint a picture for us of deeper spiritual truths.

Just like a tree’s tap-root feeds and sustains life in the tree, so God helps sustain and feed us through His Word. God sparks his life in the believer, and then in order to grow and flourish, we must tap into his life-giving power. We do this by reading his word and getting to know him better and growing in our relationship with him. The bible says that God gives us everything we need for life and Godliness (2 Peter 1:3). He is ALL that is needed and through him we are given the power of the Holy Spirit as our helper and constant companion (John 14:16-17).

When the storms of life come, and they do come, we can stay rooted “In Christ,” and remain standing firm in him because our root system is rooted in His life-sustaining power. When difficulties like broken dreams, unemployment, sickness, or relational difficulties arise, we can choose to either be uprooted by the storm or we can use it as a chance to grow and sink our roots deeper in Christ.

With God, nothing is ever wasted. He can use every difficulty in your life to make you stronger. We can trust him because his word says so (Proverbs 3:5). Growing in Christ is an art of  holding tightly to Christ as we learn to let go of everything else. It’s sinking our tap roots deep in Him so that we remain immovable through the storms. Though often things might not look like what we think they should or turn out like the way we think they would, as we learn to trust God, we can know that he is working all things for our good. We can know that he is working things out according to his perfect plan for us, because he loves us. God wants to prosper us and not to cause harm and to give us hope for our eternal future with Him (Jeremiah 29:11). That is a hope rooted in him, unshakable and firmly planted in His good soil that will stand is ground through the fiercest of storms.

Thank you Jesus for your Goodness to us. Help us sink our roots deeply into you and drink from your life giving water. Thank you that you are our life giver and sustainer. Help us to trust you more fully today by being rooted and established in you. We praise for who you are and all you do. To you be the Glory both now and forever. AMEN