Thirsty Thursdays – One day

God has given us four gospel accounts, each emphasizing different aspects of Jesus life and ministry.

Matthew opens his gospel with the genealogy of Jesus beginning with Abraham to prove His right to sit on the throne of David and then swiftly moves into a short version of the birth of Jesus Christ. He begins matter-of-factly with Mary betrothed to Joseph and being found with child. Joseph, a good man did not want to publicly humiliate her but was going to secretly “put her away” (divorce her).  Then an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, tells him about Jesus being the Messiah, and then Joseph was okay about it. Matthew then describes what was going on after Jesus was born in Bethlehem in the days of Herod. He tells us of a troubled king who sent wise men to find Jesus so he could worship Him, too. (not really, he was just jealous). The wise men were warned in a dream not to report back to King Herod so then went back to their country another way. Then Joseph had another dream where the angel of the Lord told them to flee to Egypt because Herod was seeking out Jesus to destroy Him. It was a rough time because Herod decreed that all male children two years old and under were to be put to death. When Herod died, Joseph has another divine dream to go to Israel. Then another dream to take a detour for safety’s sake to Galilee instead to dwell in a city called Nazareth.  Then by Matthew’s account, the next thing we know about Jesus is his baptism by John the Baptist.

Mark doesn’t tell us anything about the birth of Jesus. He begins with His baptism by John the Baptist and then moves into the account of Satan tempting Jesus.

John (not the baptizer) lets us know that the Word was in the beginning and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.  John then tells of John the Baptist’s witness of the Holy Spirit upon Jesus and then goes on to tell of Jesus’ gathering His disciples. He doesn’t say anything about the birth of Jesus, either.

Oh but Luke.  Obviously a detailed man. He traces Jesus’ lineage all the way back to Adam to show us that we all have the right to claim Jesus as our own. The beloved physician. He cares for people, wanting us to know about the humanity of Christ.  Thank the Lord for Luke.  Without his version we wouldn’t know the story of John the Baptizer who was filled with the Holy Spirit even from the womb.  Luke describes John’s parents and the miracle of his birth, since his mother Elizabeth was beyond child-bearing years. He describes the prophecy of John’s ministry  to prepare the way of the Lord, in a message from an angel of the Lord.  This angel was named Gabriel.  Gabriel then told Mary, who was Elizabeth’s relative that she would bring forth the Savior of the world.  He also told her about Elizabeth bearing a son. Mary visits Elizabeth. John leaps in the womb when Mary arrives and the Holy Spirit enlightens them with the things of the Lord.  John the Baptist is born and the Holy Spirit fills his father Zacharias who then prophesies.  Luke gives a detailed version of the journey, Christ’s birth, shepherds and angels and witnesses to the Redeemer. Then in chapter 2 verse 40 Luke states “And the Child grew and became strong in spirit, filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him” and the next thing you know in verse 41, Jesus is twelve years old.

I don’t think I realized until now just how grateful I am for the details in Luke’s version. The back stories leading up to Jesus birth. Of Elizabeth, Zacharias, and John and how I can appreciate the faithfulness of a young girl named Mary and man named Joseph, both of whom must have been scared but chose to believe. Each gospel gives us different insights into the life of Jesus. The more I read, the more I want to know.   One day I will.

‘Tis the Season to Be Stress-Free By LifeWay Women

Lifeway women blog continued. Here is the link for the full article.

Reflect on What Matters Most
Christmas is about the greatest gift you and I could ever receive — the gift of a Savior whom God sent to this earth to be a perfect example to us of living faith, to die for our sins and be the perfect sacrifice God required for our justification, and to rise again to conquer death and offer us life eternal. Because there is nothing we could ever do to deserve that gift, we accept it humbly and, out of our love for God and His perfect gift to us, we seek to emulate that love and give to others.
I often tell my daughter, “Christmas is all about what God gave us, so we need to focus on what we can now give to others.” But, giving to others doesn’t have to be monetarily or materialistic. Maybe you give someone your time, your heart, a much-needed smile, a helping hand, a watchful eye, a listening ear. Ask God how you can give — in His way — to each person who means the world to you, and to others who might not mean anything to anyone. As you do, you will be giving God the greatest gift He could receive, your desire to be more like His Son.

Article from HomeLife Magazine.

Cindi McMenamin is a wife, mom, speaker, and author of more than a dozen books, including Letting God Meet Your Emotional Needs, Women on the Edge, When You’re Running on Empty, When a Woman Inspires Her Husband, and When Couples Walk Together, co-authored with her husband, Hugh. For resources to strengthen your soul and marriage, follow Cindi at StrengthForTheSoul.com.

Prayer Monday

PSALM 41:13

13 Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel,
from everlasting to everlasting.
Amen and Amen.

Psalm 41:13 means “a believing hope of our preservation through grace to glory is enough to fill our hearts with joy and our mouths with everlasting praise.” Matthew Henry

My prayer for you this Christmas season is for you to find joy in your heart!  You may have lost someone dear this year, you may have lost your job, you may have gotten a divorce, you may be in great debt, you may have a unsaved spouse, you may be anticipating a big change… But we have a Heavenly Father who is greater than all these issues!! I pray that through prayer and dedication that you will find joy in your heart and mouth as the Psalm states.  I pray you know of the grace that is greater than all your worries and heartache!! I pray your Christmas is full of Christ and His love and mercy!!!

Please pray for Deanna and Rachel as they write and record the lessons for our WLF January Study!!

Have a Blessed Week!!!

‘Tis the Season to Be Stress-Free By LifeWay Women

Lifeway women blog continued. Here is the link for the full article.

Remember Your Priority Relationships
When we remember what’s most important in life, it can keep us from running on empty. We were made to love God and enjoy Him forever. Jesus said the greatest commandment was to love God with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength, and to love others as ourselves (Matthew 22:37-39). That means all you think you have to do, and all the money you feel you have to spend, pale in comparison to the people right in front of you. As you start to stress, ask yourself this question: “What is more important, the project or the person I’m neglecting in order to get it done? A perfectly decorated house or my children who want me to play with them? The amount of money I spend on someone, or the time I’m willing to spend with them?” In your busyness this Christmas, don’t neglect the One this season is all about. Don’t neglect the loved ones He has given you to share your life with. As you prioritize people over productivity, you’ll find it’s easier to let some things go. Tell yourself: If I say no to more things, that’s more time I have with those I love.

Article from HomeLife Magazine.

Cindi McMenamin is a wife, mom, speaker, and author of more than a dozen books, including Letting God Meet Your Emotional Needs, Women on the Edge, When You’re Running on Empty, When a Woman Inspires Her Husband, and When Couples Walk Together, co-authored with her husband, Hugh. For resources to strengthen your soul and marriage, follow Cindi at StrengthForTheSoul.com.

Thirsty Thursdays – Silence

Silent night, Holy night.  A favorite Christmas hymn about the night our dear Savior was born.  I suppose the silence was supposed to be reverent but sometimes silence can be deafening.

Malachi, the last prophet of the  Old Testament, points out how the people had started doubting God’s love, had stopped caring about a relationship with God, how their offerings were impure, how priests had become corrupt, how marriages vows had been broken, and how the people were robbing God. He praises a remnant of people devoted to God and ends his book with a warning of a coming day of judgment where there will be deliverance of the righteous and a destruction of the wicked. He foretells of the coming of the next prophet John the Baptist, who “prepared the way for the Lord”. Then there are 400 years of silence from God.  God did not speak to his people. Said nothing. Not a thing. Silence. 400 years.

During that time some prophecies were fulfilled. There was a major shift in power in the world with the rise of the Roman Empire, Alexander the Great (who was tutored by Aristotle) came to power, Julius Caesar ruled and was assassinated, there was Hippocrates, Socrates, Sophocles (wrote Oedipus Rex), Antony and Cleopatra and more. All part of history during these 400 years.  A lot was happening but God was silent.

Malachi ends with a repent “or else” and Matthew begins with the genealogy of Jesus Christ announcing the long-awaited king.  Mark begins with John the Baptist preparing the way for Christ the suffering servant. Luke is our most detailed book about the birth of Christ, focusing on his humanity, and the gospel of John focuses mostly of the life of Christ and His deity.

As I contemplate this season of celebrating the birth of our Christ, I can’t help but think how often we have our own times of silence away from God.  We spend a lot of time decorating and buying gifts and eating at Christmas, celebrating Jesus’ birth, but what about after?  How much do we celebrate after?  His birth is certainly a time for celebration but more importantly we should celebrate His life and resurrection. Every day.  Oh, we can’t be decorating or buying gifts or eating as a celebration all year long but we certainly don’t have to be silent.  God wants to hear from us.  I cannot imagine God’s silence. What anguish that would be.  Imagine His anguish at our silence.

SO LET’S NOT BE SILENT!  All year long let’s shout Joy to the World, the Lord is Come and let all know that He Rules the World with Truth and Grace.  Christ the Savior is not only born, he is our long-awaited King. Let’s sing like the angels did – Hark the Herald Angels Sing, Glory to the Newborn King and just like on that Silent Night, Holy Night join with the heavenly hosts singing
Alleluia to our King!
Christ the Savior is here,
Jesus the Savior is here

‘Tis the Season to Be Stress-Free By LifeWay Women

Lifeway women blog continued. Here is the link for the full article.

Refocus on Rest
Rather than thinking of all you have to do this season, can you consciously slow down long enough to remember why (if there is a reason) everything needs to get done? Christmas was never meant to be a time of busyness, stress, long lines, packed to-do lists, and running around like crazy trying to get it all done. Rather, it is a time to slow down and reflect on the greatest gift that we have received — the gift of a Savior.
The Bible instructs us to “Be still, and know I am God” (Psalm 46:10, NIV). That verse, in context, was a reminder to God’s people that in the true knowledge of God and His deliverance, there is peace, in contrast to the troubled nations that didn’t know God or His deliverance. If you and I know God, and His deliverance through His Son, Jesus, we can know peace in a way that the rest of the world can’t imagine. In the New American Standard Bible, that verse reads “Cease striving and know that I am God.” Can you and I “cease striving” to do all we think we must do and remember that simply knowing God (and the fact that He has delivered us from the punishment of our sin) amounts to peace and rest? And that peace is not just in eternal matters. If you and I can trust God with our eternal life, certainly we can trust Him with our everyday life. To rest is to trust Him in all things. And to trust Him in all things is to rest.

Article from HomeLife Magazine.

Cindi McMenamin is a wife, mom, speaker, and author of more than a dozen books, including Letting God Meet Your Emotional Needs, Women on the Edge, When You’re Running on Empty, When a Woman Inspires Her Husband, and When Couples Walk Together, co-authored with her husband, Hugh. For resources to strengthen your soul and marriage, follow Cindi at StrengthForTheSoul.com.

‘Tis the Season to Be Stress-Free By LifeWay Women

Lifeway women blog continued. Here is the link for the full article.

Refresh Yourself in God’s Word
I am convinced that if I don’t go to God’s Word first in the morning, I won’t get anything done. I also realize if I don’t spend at least some time in God’s Word each day, I am a mess. What I have found, especially at this time of the year, is that Scripture can be a spiritual source of energy for me, to get me through the day. Second Timothy 3:16 says, “All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness.” Another way of saying Scripture is “inspired by God” is to say it is God-breathed (NIV). That means reading
Scripture is like getting a breath of fresh air from the Living God — a second wind to get you through your day! Try it. Start in the Psalms. Read of the songwriters’ depression, or anguish, or complacency. See how they work through it by recalling Who God is and how He is worthy of praise. While many of the songwriters start a song flat on their faces in pity, they end on their feet in praise. Their focus on God gave them the energy to get up off the floor and onto their feet. It can do the same for you and me if we struggle with even getting out of bed! Fuel yourself by getting into God’s Word — even if it’s just reading a Psalm a day — and see if God doesn’t breathe His life and rest into your day that calms your heart and soul.

Article from HomeLife Magazine.
Cindi McMenamin is a wife, mom, speaker, and author of more than a dozen books, including Letting God Meet Your Emotional Needs, Women on the Edge, When You’re Running on Empty, When a Woman Inspires Her Husband, and When Couples Walk Together, co-authored with her husband, Hugh. For resources to strengthen your soul and marriage, follow Cindi at StrengthForTheSoul.com.

‘Tis the Season to Be Stress-Free by LifeWay Women

We loved this blog post on lifeway women and wanted to share with you. Stay tuned for excerpts throughout the week!

View the article in its entirety here: http://blog.lifeway.com/womenallaccess/2014/12/01/tis-the-season-to-be-stress-free/#.VIXIJmTF9K8

“Admit it. What songwriters call “the most wonderful time of the year” can also be “the most stressful time of the year.” And when tension runs high in the home and mom is stressed, everyone is stressed.

If you’re like me, you tend to dread the coming holidays because of all there is to do. Or all you have to buy. Or all there is to eat. And when we focus on our finances (Do we really have to spend that much this year?), or our full schedules (Do we really have to be in that many places?), or that inevitable weight gain that happens this time of year (Do I really weigh that much, after only one glass of punch?), we set the tone in our home for a not-so-blessed time of year.

But, stress and anxiety don’t have to invade your heart and home like unwanted guests this Christmas. In fact, we can push stress out of our hearts and minds altogether so that we’ll anticipate the holidays with a quiet heart and get through them feeling refreshed, refueled, and rejuvenated. That’s what I want. And I think you do, too. Here are five things I’ve learned through the years that help me experience a stress-free, peace-filled Christmas.

Rely on God for Your Emotional Support

With so much to do to prepare for the holidays, it’s natural for us to rely on people around us to notice when we’re overwhelmed and offer a helping hand, or just lend some encouragement and support.

In my home it looks like this: I realize the house needs to be decorated so the tree and Christmas decor can stay up for at least a month before I have to take it down. That puts pressure on me. Then, cards need to be filled out, addressed, and mailed. Baking and freezing is next on the list, and so on. I don’t expect my husband to help with these things since he’s working outside the home, but I would like for him to notice the full plate of obligations I have in front of me, comment on some of the holiday touches around the home, offer to stay up later one night and help me complete something, and encourage my child to “help Mom because of all she’s been doing for us.” I’d even like him to plan at least one evening of sitting by the freshly decorated tree with me to share a romantic moment as we listen to Christmas music, look at the pretty lights, and sip hot cocoa. Okay, that may be a little unrealistic, and it might even sound high maintenance, but it’s still a desire that easily transitions into an expectation. And expectations like those can often be met with disappointment.

The reality of you and I expecting others to appreciate us or come to our emotional aid at this time of year is that everyone else around us is as busy as we are. During these times, I’ve learned that God has the best listening ear. Scripture says God understands our thoughts while they’re still far away (Psalm 139:2); He is a refuge for us when we need to pour out our hearts to Him (Psalm 62:8); and there is nowhere we can go — physically or emotionally — where He is not right there with us (Psalm 139:7-12). When we look to others to understand what we’re going through, we are often disappointed.

When we depend on others for emotional support, or a kind word to keep us going, we tend to feel let down. We tend to put a burden on them that they often can’t meet. But God, your Maker and Sustainer, knows and understands what you’re feeling. Go to Him in prayer throughout the day. Talk to Him about how you feel. Rely on Him for what you need. And be refreshed knowing He hears, He cares, and He understands.”

Article from HomeLife Magazine.

Cindi McMenamin is a wife, mom, speaker, and author of more than a dozen books, including Letting God Meet Your Emotional Needs, Women on the Edge, When You’re Running on Empty, When a Woman Inspires Her Husband, and When Couples Walk Together, co-authored with her husband, Hugh. For resources to strengthen your soul and marriage, follow Cindi at StrengthForTheSoul.com.

Prayer Monday

Pray for Jeff Bartlett as he teaches tonight at our link event! Pray for the men attending tonight!  Pray each man and woman be encouraged through this special time!  Pray for lives to be changed! Pray for hearts to be uplifted!! Pray for Arlene and the link event team.  Pray for God to be glorified through the efforts of this ministry tonight as Women’s Life Fellowship invites the men!!!  Ephesians 6:18 “Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching (be alert) thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;” Keep Praying !! image

What’s Your Plan?