Friday, December 28, 2007

His Joy

I have two questions for you:

1. Do you ever get grumpy when you're sick?

2. Ever been sick at Christmas?

I spent this Christmas sick with a cold. Ick. You know, headaches, sneezing, coughing. Everyone in the house runs for cover. They eye you like you're "typhoid Mary" when you dare to expel germs from your body. And you think about things like this: every reaction to a cold ---coughing and sneezing and blowing your nose are all ways of EXPELLING germs from your body! Far from your body. Good grief! Not a good way to make friends.

But you know what? I spent a very joyous Christmas, even though I wasn't feeling well. I'm the type to get grumpy (off and on) when I'm sick. But this year, I kept my thoughts reigned in. I got into the Word of God often, sitting quietly in my room during downtimes so I could absorb a nugget to chew on while we spent family time together.

And I had joy.

Jesus was (and is) the Man of Joy. A local author, Sherwood Wirt, wrote a book called Jesus, Man of Joy. It's a great read and one Bruce Marchiano used in his portrayal of Jesus in Visual Bible's Matthew series. Here's the verse which confirms Jesus' joy:

"You love righteousness and hate wickedness; Therefore God, Your God, has anointed You with the oil of gladness more than Your companions." (Psalm 45:7, NKJV)

The New Testament verse in Hebrews
1:9 echoes that truth:

"You have loved righteousness and hated lawlessness; Therefore God, Your God, has anointed You with the oil of gladness more than Your companions." (Hebrews 1:9, NKJV)

This oil of gladness, what a beautiful concept. Jesus walked in joy. Yes, the Bible also calls Him the Suffering Servant (see Isaiah 53) and the Man of sorrows. But since the Bible says he's anointed with the oil of gladness, we must not overlook His joy. I believe the Isaiah 53 verses were specifically focused on His suffering. He bore all of humanity's sins and of course sorrows. From Gethsemane to the cross, I believe Jesus lived the verses of Isaiah 53:1-10 as the Man of Sorrows.

For the most part, I believe He walked in joy!

“looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Heb 12:2, NKJV)

Joy motivated Him through the cross. You are His joy:

"The LORD your God in your midst, The Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing." (Zephaniah 3:17, NKJV)

It may be difficult for us to choose joy in our lives, but if we keep a tight reign on our thoughts and look to Jesus, He will give us joy. It's a joyous thing to watch Him work in your life. I love how He used the Word while we were away for Christmas to speak directly to me.

His example is joy. To be conformed to His image is to walk in joy.

Back Home

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas holiday. We spent ours out of state with family and enjoyed ourselves a lot! We're used to 40s and rainy. We had 65 and sunnnnnny. Yum!

Now, piles of laundry and mail greet me and await my full attention, at least for a while. Then, a manuscript to edit. But first, a bit of blogging now that I'm back on line. It's good to be back.

Annette (and no, this is not a picture of our house. -very big grin-)

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Merry Christmas!


Have a wonderful Christmas, everyone. I have a Christmas wish for you: Be well, be thankful (so you can hang onto joy--our next topic when I return to blogging on our topic of being conformed to His image), be blessed and behold Him.

All the best,
Annette

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Humility

Jesus---King of kings, Lord of All and Creator of the Universe left heaven.

We could stop right there. He was glorified and recognized as God in heaven, with no one to abuse Him or misunderstand His mission or scoff. He was worshipped freely and enjoyed the amazing communion of the Godhead. He was enthroned. But he left heaven. It was all part of a deal He and the Father had worked out. A plan to bring salvation—to extend mercy to the masses and grace to whosoever would come. (John 3:16-18)

He humbled Himself to come to earth. That doesn’t mean he started out prideful, but rather He moved from a lofty place to a lowly one---heaven’s throne to one of earth’s stables. Perhaps his throne is made of pure gold in heaven. His bed on earth for that first night? A stack of hay in a feeding trough. He left majesty for the mundane, all so He could rescue the miserable.

I’m convinced human beings cannot manufacture genuine humility by trying. Somewhere there would be pride in the motivation. Jesus walked in pure humility. He knew Who He was. He knew His name would be exalted above all names and that at His name every knee would bow. Yet, he walked in perfect humility. He communed with the Father, brought healing to the hurting and taught in the synagogues. He was a leader, discipling many (beyond the twelve. See Luke 8:1-3). He didn’t walk in pride, though He knew everything. (God is omniscient.)

Jesus is God and He walked in “lowliness.” Amazing. I’ve discovered something. It’s only when we know who we are in God through Christ, discovering whom our Creator made us to be, that we can rest in the truth about our identity. Resting in our identity doesn’t require any airs. We can relax when others are comparing themselves and judging others and being critical. We don’t have to embrace pride as a defense mechanism.

I’m also convinced the only way to be consistently humble, is for the Holy Spirit to work this in us. Our role? Desire to be like Christ. Cooperate as the Lord shows us what in our lives could be keeping us from walking in true humility. We’ll learn what false humility is—a fa├žade meant to impress. We’ll get free from past thought patterns which embraced pride. I’m after God’s embrace, but if I’m gripping pride, God will resist me. I never want to be one whom God resists.

Being conformed to the image of Christ includes humility. During this Christmas season, as we ponder what it meant for Jesus to come to earth as a tiny baby, subjecting himself to poverty, let’s consider what it means for this One who receives worship to do so with pure humility. Let’s behold Him. We’re about to find more than ever: He’s beautiful.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Conformed

This past Sunday as our pastor was preaching about living in victory, he described Jesus’s example of obedience to the Father, of His example of suffering because He really wasn’t a part of this world (in the sense of agreeing with the pervasive sinfulness around Him—around everyone since the fall). As believers we are being conformed to His image.

“For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.” (Romans 8:29, NKJV)

We are being conformed to the image of this One who suffered as He obeyed God. This One who communed without interruption in His heart with God. This One who walked in humility and dignity, with compassion and mercy, in meekness and strength. He didn’t have to prove who He was. He simply lived and worked as He saw the Father moving.

How comfortable are you with this idea of being conformed to His image? Does the idea make you squirm, because you envision suffering and a life that is pleasure-less? Do you esteem your priorities higher than God’s for your life? Do you esteem yourself higher than the humble Christ who gave Himself on behalf of the world? I wrestled with some of these questions as I sat in church on Sunday.

I’m going to do a series on this concept of being conformed, but not in the way you might think. Instead of focusing on what we’ll have to do to change, how we’ll have to fight our nature and let God mold us, I’m going to use the principle of “beholding is becoming.” When we behold something we become like it. If, for example, we were to focus on fashion magazines. Soon, we’d be dressing like the models we’ve seen and changing hairstyles and accessories to match new fads.

When we behold Jesus, in the many facets that make up His character, we will become like Him. The more we behold Him (through the Word, through prayer, through communion with Him) the more we will become like Him. We will be conformed to His image.

So, let’s cooperate on that Potter’s wheel and entrust ourselves to God’s hands, just like Jesus did.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Christmas Spirit


I'm sooo in the Christmas spirit! I'm always humming a Christmas tune. I want Christmas music playing wherever I'm working. I even downloaded a new background to my cell phone. You have to understand, in seven years of having a cell, this is only the second time. So, what's up?

The snow helped a few days ago. Getting our tree up and the rest of the house decorated made a big difference, too. I want to be surrounded by reminders of the season.

I've been working through one of Beth Moore's studies. (I respect her as a woman of God and as an insightful teacher.) She mentioned that Jesus may very well have been born on December 25th. Stay with me here. To deliver in December, you have to conceive in late March or early April. That would put Mary's conception around Passover. We have a definite biblical account that Jesus died at Passover. Wouldn't it make sense for God the Father to begin this Lamb's life at Passover almost 34 years earlier? Something to think about.

Yes, I'm gearing up to celebrate Jesus. But I'm celebrating along the way. We don't have to wait for a specific day. We celebrate our friends and family on their birthdays, but it's not the only time all year we share a special moment with them. It's not the only time we tell them we love them. As I sang a spontaneous song to Jesus today, I was celebrating Him. He's the greatest gift. He's the best reason to sing.

So, all the practical things--finishing the shopping, planning, mailing gifts. Those things will happen in time. For now, don't mind me. I'm just celebrating my Savior. As I go.

Have a wonderful Christmas season.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Looking for Freebies

It’s snowing. I grew up in Michigan and snow was as normal as sunshine there. Every year, oftentimes blanketing the landscape higher than my head. We made forts; we sledded down hill. It doesn’t snow much here. But today it’s like a winter wonderland. And for the snow to accumulate in Seattle is even rarer. Yet, it layers on the ground outside our windows and makes us want to run out there and be in the center of it all. A great way to start December.

I took my toddler out to watch the flakes fall. The joy and puzzlement on her face. The wonder. Later, she ran from room to room, telling all of us that it was "snowman!" I convinced her it was "snowing." Another priceless gift of the season.

This year, I’m looking for the freebies---not on sales racks, but with my family. Moments I can treasure, when our family is together gearing up to watch a Christmas movie or decorate the tree (which we did last weekend). Little things, priceless moments. Cherished gifts from God.

Have a joyous season.