Have you ever faced a battle that seemed impossible? One you haven't felt equipped or strong enough for? Perhaps you have faced several. I encourage you to reflect upon those times as you read along....
Let me tell you a brief story about Jonathan. He was Saul's son. And in 1 Samuel 14, Jonathan, along with his armor bearer and against great odds, attacked the philistine army. It was an impossibility for the two of them to have victory over this army, but regardless, they left the safety of Saul's camped army and set out on their own. They left the camp, a camp of men who were afraid to go into battle, and set out in faith. Faith that God would guide them and give them victory. Faith that the battle they were headed into could not be too big for God.
And God? Well He proved them right and honored their faith with an amazing victory!
But what if Jonathan had not had this faith? What if, he had stayed in Saul's camp, afraid and unmoving? What if we, ourselves, stay unmoving. What if we stay where we are and do not step out in faith?
Some battles are never won, not because they can't be won, but because we stay in the safe confines of our "camp".
Some battles we don't see victory over because we skirted around them and never really entered into the battle to begin with.
And other battles, well, some we decide to battle ourselves instead of trusting in God and letting Him be the warrior for us.
What battles are before you? Will you stay in the camp, where fear abounds and the battles looms above you? Where your feet retreat or lead their own way or not move at all? Or will you leave the camp of fear and head into battle with faith like Jonathan? Will you move from the camp, allowing God to guide you into the battle with patience, discernment, trust and victory?
What will you choose today?
For those of you who may have missed it or have not signed up to receive free devotionals, I am sharing Day One of this year's (2019) free Christmas email Devotional Study here with you! Read on for some faith encouragement, not only for the holidays, but for every day. To receive future free devotional studies, you can click the below! Read on and I hope it blesses you...
The Passage: Matthew 2:1-3 NIV
After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”
When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him.
Great power does not equal great peace.
Great wealth, kingdoms, and worldly acquisitions do not equal peace either.
Herod was disturbed.
Because Herod was missing something.
Because despite all his power and wealth, Herod didn't have peace.
Being part Jewish, Herod surely knew the prophecy of the Old Testament, and knew about the Messiah. Surely he knew the Jews expected that the Messiah was coming soon (Luke 3:15) and that they expected Him to be a great military leader and political deliverer. The coming of the Messiah, in his worldly knowledge, threatened his kingdom, his power, his wealth. Because no matter how many buildings he built or temples he erected, they couldn't bring him peace. He knew they were not indestructible. That He was not unconquerable. The foundation of his peace was built on the wrong "material". So when the Maji came with their questions, the heart of Herod was easily disturbed and threatened
When - that job, that house, that child, that spouse, that friend, that amount of money, that dress, that vacation - makes us think it will bring us peace?
When the foundation of our security, our dependence, our happiness is on ourselves and/or the world?
Peace will always elude us.
Circumstances will cause us to be anxious, disturbed.
But when our foundation is Christ?
When we are rooted in the assurance that God is in control?
When we have the expectation that God's plan is better than our own?
When we choose to value His love, and his redemptive work in our hearts above all else?
When we have this kind of foundation....then, when we hear the Messiah is coming -we rejoice! We are not threatened by the "what ifs". We run to meet him. Arms outstretched. Heart wide open.
When our foundation is built on solid ground - the Word of God - and constructed with materials that are rooted in who Christ is and who He says we are? When we fully and wholly understand and accept that WE are the temple of the Lord and the Holy Spirit now dwells in us?
Then we stand firm, knowing that the structures of our peace can not be rocked.
Cannot be moved.
That our crown, while it may be knocked crooked at times, cannot be removed.
That, despite the holiday season not turning out as expected, despite missing a loved one, despite all the things on our "to- do" list we feel we need to do....we are not overwhelmed. We are not disturbed. We find a peace amongst the disturbance. A peace that defies our understanding. And therefore, our souls rejoice! For He has come and He will come again.
And if in this holiday season, or in this current season of life, our foundation feels disturbed, our faith seems shaky, our crown has been knocked crooked, and all are hopes are resting in temporary buildings of this world? Search, in prayer and reflection, and begin to build a stronger foundation, perhaps even a new foundation. One not built of stone or wood, but of a baby born in a manager, of a blood stained cross, and of a grave that overcomes even death.
"They are like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built." Luke 6:48
1. Is peace eluding you this holiday season? This season of life your currently in? If so, take an inventory of the foundation of your heart. Is it made with discontentment? Fear? Pride? Insecurity?
2. What temporary "band-aids" from this world are you applying to your life? Are you seeking peace from them? Why do you think that is?
3. Herod not only had the wrong kind of foundation in the life he had built, but he also built pagan temples along with the rebuilding the temple of the Lord. Take a moment to reflect on your own life. Is Jesus truly the most important? Does he come first, or are there other "temples" that you have constructed around you? Temples that you look to more that Jesus for peace, for joy, for contentment? How do you think these affect the way circumstances or trials "disturb" you when they occur?
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To read another post from a past Christmas Devotional Series, click this link...
As we celebrate the birth of our Savior, I feel it is the perfect time to not only share a tasty Gingerbread Hot Chocolate recipe, but also take a moment to remind you and me that there is more to celebrate than just His birth but to also rejoice for He will come again in greater glory! Read on for a short devotional and to get the recipe...
Luke 12:40 NIV
"You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him."
The arrival of a notable person, thing or event. An appearance. An emergence. A birth.
That is how the English dictionary describes the word "Advent".
It is a season that is observed by many Christians. It leads up to the Christmas season and is a time of expectancy, anticipation, and preparation. A waiting period for the celebration of the birth of Jesus.
Advent is a reminder of what God has done and what He will do. A time to remember the longing and waiting that God's people did until finally a baby was born in a manger. Immanuel. God with us. But Advent is also a time to remember that Jesus will come again (Jesus tells us He will). And we will not know the year, the day, the hour.
Our Lord and Savior.
Oh, how we prepare to celebrate!
We put up lights and trees. We buy gifts and wrap them in pretty packages. We watch movies and make cookies. We gather with family and friends. And hopefully we take time to read the Christmas story, to reflect on what Jesus' birth really means, to praise God for sending His son, to fully understand what this celebration means for you, for me, and to spend some time in prayer .
But as the Christmas season leaves, and we take our trees down, put the lights away, finish the last of the cookies and gather for the final time this season...what do we do then?
God prepared His people for Jesus. For the coming of Christ. Sometimes His people actively participated, sometimes not so much. He is preparing us too. Preparing us for the second coming of Christ. The fulfillment of this promise. Sometimes we actively participate. Sometimes not so much.
Celebrations are wonderful and important and beautiful, but our preparing should not stop when the Christmas season is over. Let Advent, let Christmas, be a reminder to each of us to continually prepare our hearts. To spiritually prepare every day for the moment when Jesus returns. Because Jesus will arrive again, He will appear. He will emerge. And we will not know the year, the day, the hour. Will our hearts be focused on Him in the anticipation of that moment when it comes? Will we be prepared?
Let's have an advent heart, not just this season, but every single day.
Gingerbread Hot Chocolate
6 cups of milk (your choice of 1%, 2% or whole)
8 ounces chocolate chips (more if desired)
1/4 cup cocoa powder (I like hershey's but any kind will do)
1/4-1/2 cup sugar (to your liking)
2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tbsp molasses
3 tsp ground ginger
1/4-1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp allspice
Whipped Cream (optional)
Candy Cane (optional)
Gingerbread Cookies (optional)
1. Mix the milk, powder, spices, molasses and sugar in a medium sauce pan over medium heat.
2. Stir until all ingredients are dissolved. Do not let the milk boil!
3. Mix in chocolate chips, whisk until smooth
4. Top with either whip cream or marshmallows if desired.
5. Add a candy cane if desired and serve with gingerbread cookies if you have them.
6. Sip and enjoy!
I am so glad you stopped by! Your can find more "Mornings With Jesus" and other hot chocolate recipes by clicking the link below.
Mornings with Jesus are back! A little later than usual this season, but better late than never!
Recently, I walked through some difficult seasons of wrestling, and in one of those seasons, the following verse and passage really spoke to my heart. I hope it does the same to you. And well, who doesn't love some Cinnamon Caramel Hot Chocolate? Check out the recipe below!
So go make your favorite hot chocolate, grab a blanket, curl up in your favorite spot, and keep reading for a little faith encouragement this morning.
The Passage: Hebrews 12:11
"No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it."
Our prayers move the heart of God.
Did you know that?
Sometimes those prayers come after a difficult season, not before. Some of those prayers are born out of poor decisions we have made, out of trials we are suffering, out of circumstances that bring us back to the Lord or circumstances that shed light on sin. Prayers that bloom out of important lessons. Training that brings us strength. Training that grows peace in the very depths of our soul. Training that builds faith that could not be built quite the same under other circumstances.
These prayers not only move the heart of God. They change us.
And there is not one of us that cannot be changed.
Yes, discipline, training, trials, they are painful, oftentimes VERY painful. But what happens when we turn to a Mighty God out of our own stubborness and willfulness, or out of a painful is situation, is change. A change that glorifies our Father, our Creator, our Teacher.
Let's look at Manessah, in 2 Chronicles 33, who became king when he was 12 and did evil in the eyes of the Lord. I think it is probably safe to say that our list of transgressions aren't quite like his....
- he erected altars to the pagan idol Baal
- he bowed down and worshiped the starry hosts and actually built temples to them in the Lord's temple
- he rebuilt the high places that his father had demolished
- he sacrificed his own children in the fire
- he practiced divination and witchcraft
- he led the people of Judah astray...so much so, that they ended up doing more evil than the nations that went up against the Israelites - you know, the nations God destroyed.
Now, we might not be sacrificing our children or practicing witchcraft, but we certainly do sin at times, often we can have our own "idols", and sometimes we can be like Manasseh in this regard:
When God spoke to Manasseh and the people of Judah, they didn't listen.
Sometimes we don't listen either.
So, what did God do? He brought up Assyria against them. The commanders took Mannessah prisoner. They put a hook in his nose. They shackled him. They took him to Babylon.
And there in his captivity and his distress, Manasseh sought God's favor. The Bible tells us Manasseh humbled himself before God and prayed.
And his prayers moved the heart of God.
Manasseh's prayers, a man who murdered his own children, who openly and defiantly brought idols into the Lord's temple, who led God's people to become worse and worse...those prayers moved the heart of God.
And Manasseh changed.
He was eventually brought back to Jerusalem. He then got rid of all the foreign gods, removed the idols from the temple, rebuilt the wall, restored the altar of the Lord, began offering fellowship and thank offerings, and told Judah to serve the Lord.
Trials, suffering, discipline, they all lead Manasseh to seek God, humble himself, and pray. They do the same for us. And in those seasons, those times, our prayers - though sometimes we may feel they go unheard- DO move the heart of God. Those prayers, prayed through humility, start to change US. And we then begin to take down our own idols, we restore fellowship with Jesus, we start to rebuild our faith, we become thankful, and we start to serve the Lord with our whole hearts.
Yes, no discipline seems pleasant at the time, but it does produce a harvest. A harvest that brings righteousness and peace for those who allow themselves to be trained by it.
Whatever season your in, whatever trials you are facing, whatever suffering is knocking at your door, whether it is discipline or something that has just happened to you, there is a lesson that can be born out of it all. Will you allow the training to begin? Will you allow it to humble you? Will you fall to your knees in prayer?
Today, let's take a moment to reflect and move the heart of God with our prayers.
Check out the recipe below!
Cinnamon Caramel Hot Chocolate
- your favorite cup of hot chocolate
- ground cinnamon
- caramel sauce
-chocolate chips (milk or dark chocolate), if desired
-marshmallows, if desired
1. Make your cup of hot chocolate the way you that you usually do.
2. Add a pinch of ground cinnamon, a spoonful (or two) of caramel sauce, and 1/8 cup of milk chocolate (or dark chocolate) chips if you want a richer chocolate taste.
3. Mix well and heat if not already hot
4. Add a cinnamon stick.
5. Top with marshmallows and a sprinkle of ground cinnamon if desired.
6. Sip and enjoy!
Your can find more Mornings With Jesus here:
Wife. Mother. Writer. Photographer. Child of God. Encouraging others in faith through a lens of grace and seeing beauty in the ashes.
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