Expectations. We all have them. Often they rule and reign in our lives creating stress, frustration and discontent. They can ruin relationships. They can sour our attitudes. But we all have them. So what’s a girl to do? I’ve been mulling this idea over quite a bit in the last year. It’s not necessarily the expectations that are the problem, but rather “expectality”. Don’t bother looking it up. It’s a made up word. When I find myself stressed, frustrated and discontent because my expectations have been thwarted, dashed or unmet, this is the state known as “expectality”. It’s when my expectations collide with my reality. For me (and perhaps you), it’s really a control issue. I want to control situations and outcomes. I want to be comfortable, happy and content. I want my way. But…that’s not life. Jesus said it perfectly before He left earth, “…in the world you WILL have trouble…”. It’s a truth none of us will argue with, to be sure! The answer to dealing with “expectality” in life lies in the “BUT” statement that follows in this verse. I think we often overlook and forget this……continue reading
Archives for December 2013
Christmas Day with all of its excited and anticipation is behind us for the year. A New Year is just around the corner! This is usually a time when we are reflecting on our past year and making plans and looking forward to the newness of the coming year. What will the New Year hold? What joys, sorrows, blessings and disappointments are in store? None of us know. But there is something exciting about new beginnings—we make resolutions, we clean out the clutter and we set new goals. But if you are like most of us, we are often into the next year just a short time, when our perseverance begins to give out and we tend to give up. We give up on many of those plans we made and goals we set. Our passage this week speaks to this very idea of anticipation and perseverance. Remember, Christmas is not just about one day or season a year, but is a mindset and spirit that should guide our thoughts and actions all throughout the year.
Read: Matthew 2:1-13
What do we learn about who the Wise Men or Magi are from this passage?
- Wise men from the east (not necessarily three—we are not given a number)
- Seeking the king of the Jews
- Saw His star in the east
- Came to worship the King
- Found Jesus, worshiped Him, and presented Him with gifts
- Warned in a dream not to return to Herod with news of Jesus’ whereabouts
What do the Wise Men/Magi SEE?
A star that leads them to Jesus.
How do the Wise Men/Magi RESPOND?
- The Magi seek — They leave the east following a star, seeking the King of the Jews.
- The Magi rejoice — Once they reach their final destination, they rejoice exceedingly.
- The Magi worship — They enter the house, bow down in worship, and present Jesus with gifts.
What can we learn from the Wise Men/Magi’s PERSPECTIVE? …continue reading
Read Matthew 1:1-25
What do we learn about Joseph from this passage?
- He is a descendent of Abraham, from the line of David
- Engaged to Mary
- Righteous/just man
- Heard his fiancee, Mary, is pregnant
- Does not want to disgrace Mary
- Angel appears to him in a dream
- Earthly father of Jesus
What does Joseph SEE?
After learning Mary is pregnant by the Holy Spirit, an angel of the Lord appears to Joseph and instructs him to not fear to take Mary as his wife but to continue with his plans to marry her. He informs him the child she is carrying is the long-awaited Messiah, who will save his people from their sins. He is instructed to name the baby Jesus. This must have been outlandish and unbelievable news for Joseph!…continue reading
Have you ever had one of those days when you just wake up in a “mood”? You know, a foul, stinky mood and for no apparent reason. That’s how my day started on Friday. Before my feet even hit the floor, I could feel it coming on. It reminded me of when my children were toddlers and would wake up from a nap whiny, crying and unconsolable with no clue as to the problem. That was me! I laid in bed for a moment running through my day and week trying to ascertain why I was in such a state. Nothing. So I asked the Lord to just go before me that day. As I dressed for my day, every little thing got on my very.last.nerve. This was not getting better. I snapped at my husband. I ranted at drivers as I drove to work. And I realized that I didn’t really want to do anything to improve my mood. I just wanted to be in a bad mood. Crazy! But there deep down somewhere was that nagging (irritating) voice telling me I could NOT go through my day with this attitude. Then the Lord brought to mind what I’d been learning, writing about and teaching to other women lately —having a rejoicing attitude…DESPITE circumstances or feelings (or foul moods). Ugh! I really didn’t want this to apply to me today. And I just couldn’t seem to shake it and didn’t really have the energy to put much effort into it either. But I knew that something needed to be done. This attitude was just selfish and not honoring to Jesus at all! So I went through the list of what I normally do when I’m in a mood or feeling depressed. Mind you, I didn’t “feel” like doing any of this. But part of rejoicing always is determining with your will even when your feelings aren’t following suit.
I put on the praise music. I was driving at the time and I keep an NGU Joyful Sound CD in my car at all times. Having three children who attended North Greenville University and two who were part of the praise ensemble there, I knew their music always lifted my spirit and focused my eyes on things above. It was beginning to work. Then I began rehearsing Scripture in my mind and praying for the Lord to infuse it into every fiber of my being. I mean the Word IS living and active! (Hebrews 4:12). By the time I reached work, I wasn’t feeling quite as much like punching something or someone. (I told you, it was a foul mood!). At lunch I had scheduled a work out session with my husband and our trainer. Lunch approached and I considered bailing on it. But reluctantly I pulled on my workout clothes and sneakers and headed to the gym. Cardio, weights, stretching…I was beginning to feel better. My mood was lifting. By the time my day ended I had won the battle with those crazy, female hormones that had been wreaking havoc all day!…continue reading
When reading this part of the Christmas story, I have to tell you, I can’t help but see the Charlie Brown Christmas special in my mind. I love that Charlie Brown quotes this passage of Scripture almost verbatim. What a great childhood memory for me! And one we shared with our children as they were growing up. And…I still watch it every year! Back to our passage…
What do we learn about the shepherds from this passage?
- in the same country as Mary & Joseph at the birth of Jesus
- abiding in the field
- keeping watch over their flock by night
- an angel of the Lord appears to them
- given news of Jesus birth
- go to Bethlehem to see the baby Jesus
- told others about their experience
What do the shepherds SEE?
An angel of the Lord appears to them while they are in the fields tending sheep giving them news of Jesus’ birth.
Christmas us upon us! Many of us have already been preparing our homes for Christmas, scheduling our holiday calendar of activities and have probably even done some Christmas shopping. Perhaps you’ve set out at Nativity in your home or yard.
Have you ever wondered what those present during the first Christmas were thinking? In this one moment, this one encounter—when the Word became flesh and dwelt among us—each of their lives were forever changed. Each of them had different encounters, at different times and from different perspectives.
What can we learn from their response to Jesus’ arrival? Just as their lives were changed by this glorious encounter, Jesus’ presence in our lives should change us and our perspectives. It should change the way we think, believe and act in our daily lives.
It is my prayer these lessons from the Nativity story will help you prepare your hearts this Advent season. You might consider using these each week for family devotions, as a tool to prepare your hearts and to read through the Christmas story, learning more about those who first encountered the Christ child who would change the world forever. Each week will contain questions and family activities for children of all ages, most of which I’ve used through the years with our own children during the Advent season.
Do You See What I See? Christmas from Mary’s Perspective
Read: Luke 1:26-55
What do we learn about who Mary is from this passage?
- from the city of Nazareth in Galilee
- a virgin, betrothed to Joseph from the house of David
- favored one of the Lord
- a relative of Elizabeth and Zechariah, parents of John the Baptist
- a humble servant, blessed
- mother of Jesus
What does Mary SEE?
The angel of the Lord appears and tells her the Lord is with her and she has found favor with God. She will conceive a child, bear a son, name him Jesus and he will be called Son of the Most High. He will reign over the house of Jacob and of his kingdom there will be no end. Quite a proclamation!
“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18
Give thanks in this verse is the word eucharisteo in the original language of Scripture. It means to be thankful; to express one’s gratitude; give thanks.
Give thanks in this verse is a word in the present tense, imperative mood and active voice, which means a continuous, repeated action, a command that the subject accomplishes. In other words: Do it ! Over and over and over again.
Some of the other words for giving thanks and thanksgiving in the New Testament are:
thanksgiving —eucharistia—gratitude; active, grateful language; thanks to God as an act of worship
be thankful —eucharistos—(used only in Colossians 3:15) — thankful, mindful of favors, grateful
In the midst of each of these words is the Greek word charis which means grace……continue reading