Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Simplicity of Christmas - Dinner #38

     Every December, I see parents rushing through WALMART, children having temper-tantrums in store aisles, and moms listing off the many parties and recitals they “have to” attend before the holiday season is over.  Do we ever stop to reflect upon the SIMPLICITY of Christmas? It does not have to be a difficult and complex holiday! It really doesn’t even matter if you’re able to put a tree up each year or not! The Bible teaches that the real elements of Christmas are so much deeper and more meaningful than many of us take the time to realize.   
     Christmas is about FAMILY.  When we look at Matthew 1:1-17, we find Christ’s place in the lineage of King David.  Christmas is about remembering where we came from.  It’s about special traditions.  It isn’t meant to be a season where every single minute is spent either shopping or baking!  It is a time for BEING WITH those you love!
     Christmas is about having a WILLINGNESS to do whatever it is God asks you to do!  Matthew 1:24 “Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife.”  Luke 1:38 “And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word . . .” If the Lord asks us to make some sacrifice this holiday season, will we be willing to obey?  If He lays it on our heart to meet the needs of someone else around us, will we be willing to listen to His voice?
     Christmas is about WORSHIP.  It is about praising the Name of Jesus and remembering that He came! The wise men sought to worship Christ.  Matthew 2:2 “Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.” Mary praised God.  Luke 1:46-47 “And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord, And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.” The angels in heaven glorified God.  Luke 2:13-14 “And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” The shepherds worshiped the Lord.  Luke 2:20 “And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.”  Funny holiday songs may be very well and fine, but do we take the time to sing UNTO THE LORD, during the Christmas season? Do we take our children to church cantatas and song services, where they will hear the praises of God?
     Christmas is about GIFTS, not so much for each other, as for the King of Kings!  Matthew 2:11 “And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.” What gifts will you give to CHRIST, this year? Will you give financially to His work on the foreign mission field? Will you give to the Lord of your time and your service? Will you give to Him your heart?
     Christmas is about WITNESSING.  Once they had seen the Christ Child, the shepherds had to tell everyone around them the good news! Luke 2:17 “And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.”  There is no other month of the year when the hearts of sinners are more softened to the Gospel.  People who will not visit church at any other time, are often willing to attend a service with family or with friends in December, “because it is Christmas”. What a wonderful time of year for sharing the truth of God’s love with unbelievers!
     Christmas is about FORGIVENESS, and making sure we don’t have anything between us and others.  Matthew 1:21 “And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.”  How can we share the forgiveness found in Christ, if we aren’t willing to be right with other people, this Christmas?!
     The truth of the matter is, this holiday is about MIRACLES.  Sometimes God chooses to do amazing things during the Christmas season – He brings souls to salvation, He unifies families, He heals hurting hearts . . . In Luke 1:37, the angel Gabriel declares, “For with God nothing shall be impossible.”
     Lastly, Christmas is a special time for REFLECTION.  Just like Christ’s mother, Mary, we have the opportunity to think about the birth of God’s Son and the wonder of salvation.  Luke 2:19 “But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.” If we’re too busy attending parties and participating in festivities and programs every single day of December, we will miss out on remembering the real “Reason For The Season”!
    In this upcoming month, may we let go of so much of the stress surrounding Christmas!  May we realize that it will not be the end of the world if the tree has fewer lights than last year, or if the cookies come out a shade darker than normal.  May we understand that Christmas is a time for LOVE – for loving each other and for sharing Christ’s love with others!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

The Devil's Desire - Dinner #37

      Both my husband and I were blessed to be raised in Christian homes.  Our parents read God’s Word to us, taught us Bible songs, took us to church, and set our feet on a good path.  God worked in our hearts even as very young children, bringing each of us to a saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus before we were 10 years old.  But things do not stop with US having that complete peace that we will one day be in heaven with our Savior.  We now have a CHILD who needs to be saved! Psalm 145:4 “One generation shall praise thy works to another, and shall declare thy mighty acts.” It is up to us, as parents, to share the Lord with our baby girl.
     But isn’t she way too young to understand? This past week, I saw my 5-month old smile back at a smiling commercial, and cry during a movie scene where two adults were yelling angrily at each other.  Do children pick up on emotions, even as babies? Yes, they do! They can tell if you are happy or annoyed about going to church.  They can see you nodding your head in agreement, or ignoring the preacher.  They notice if you’re using your hymnal or not even singing the songs. What are you conveying to your children about God?  In Deuteronomy 6:6-7, God tells His people, “And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.” All day long, we have the opportunity to share Jesus with our little ones!
     As Christians, we must understand how important it is to influence a child for the Lord while they are very young. In Deuteronomy 31:12-13, the Israelites are told to “Gather the people together, men, and women, and children, and thy stranger that is within thy gates, that they may hear, and that they may learn, and fear the LORD your God, and observe to do all the words of this law: And that their children, which have not known any thing, may hear, and learn to fear the LORD your God . . .” The book of the law was being read to instruct even young children in the fear of God.  In the Lord’s eyes, they could not be “too young” to hear the reading of the Scriptures.  They were so little that they “have not known any thing”, but yet it was clear that they needed to hear God’s Word! 
     If we do not tell our children about Jesus, then the devil will step in and tell them about himself.  I Peter 5:8 “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.”  Why should our children be present during movies with screaming and scary images? Why should they be taken through a “haunted house”? Satan wants to win the victory!  Will your babies and young ones hear Bible songs in your home? Will they listen to Bible stories? Or will they grow up gravitating to the creepy and Satanic? Will they enjoy the evil and the bizarre? Isaiah 54:13 declares, “And all thy children shall be taught of the LORD; and great shall be the peace of thy children.” Are your children being “taught of the Lord”?  Will they grow up having the peace of God?
     These thoughts have very much been on my heart, this past week. A Sunday night sermon on “The Christian Home”, drove it even deeper.  My smiling baby girl has not yet given her heart to God.  Shouldn’t her daddy and I strive to lead her to Him? Shouldn’t that be our highest goal in raising her? Then may the words of God lead our home.  May beautiful Christian music fill our home.  May Christian love surround our home.  And may each of our little ones learn to “love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.”

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Looking Back - Dinner #36

- Thanksgiving 2011 -

     Ever since I was a teenager, I have enjoyed creating a yearly “Thankfulness List” when November rolls around. It always utterly amazes me to look back and see all of the many things I have to praise the Lord for in a year! This year, as I reflect on what God has done for our little family, I want to share these blessings with all of you! Psalm 34:3 “O magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt his name together.”


·        * Providing EVERY SINGLE item and piece of furniture that our Little One would need when she arrived.

Matthew 6:32 “ . . . for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.”

·        *  Giving us enough financial stability for me to end my job at the daycare, and become a stay-at-home mommy.

Philippians 4:19 “But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”

·        * Allowing us to have insurance for our baby’s delivery, just in time.  We didn’t end up having to pay a single cent for our time in the hospital!

Isaiah 40:11 “He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young.”

·        * Giving Brandon the opportunity to complete his undergraduate in missiology.  Even though he had to end his master’s studies, mid-semester, this fall, we pray he’ll be able to resume in 2012.

Proverbs 16:16 “How much better is it to get wisdom than gold! and to get understanding rather to be chosen than silver!”

·        *  Blessing us with the most precious baby girl we could have ever hoped for.  We celebrated our 1-year anniversary on June 19th, and Baby Brooklyn Elizabeth arrived on June 20th! She weighed 6 lbs. 4 oz. and was 21 inches long. We praise the Lord for a very smooth delivery, and are also grateful that all the grandparents were able to see her within the first two weeks of her life.

Psalm 139:13-14 “For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvelous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.”

·        *  Supplying for our needs as our family grew this year, sometimes sending us help in amazingly unexpected ways.

Psalm 34:9-10 “O fear the LORD, ye his saints: for there is no want to them that fear him. The young lions do lack, and suffer hunger: but they that seek the LORD shall not want any good thing.”

·        * Bringing Brandon and I closer than ever before as we entered our second year of marriage. We feel more and more blessed to be together, with every passing day.

Song of Solomon 5:16 “His mouth is most sweet: yea, he is altogether lovely. This is my beloved, and this is my friend . . .”

·        * Giving Brandon favor at his work and allowing him to be promoted to assistant manager, shortly after the baby was born. 

Psalm 90:17 “And let the beauty of the LORD our God be upon us: and establish thou the work of our hands upon us; yea, the work of our hands establish thou it.”

·        * Answering so many prayers regarding Brooklyn’s weight, and giving her Mommy and Daddy wisdom one step at a time concerning her health needs.  After two months of struggling with weight loss and allergic reactions, after she was first born, she is now officially our “Chunky Little Monkey”, weighing over 13 pounds. SMILE! 

Psalm 46:10 “Be still, and know that I am God . . .”

·        * Allowing me to start a blog for the “Dinner’s In The Oven” ladies’ devotionals, as well as a children’s book review blog entitled “Pika’s Preschool”.  God gave me an open door to advertise both websites at our public library, this fall, and has already led internet users from Russia, Germany, France, Italy, and the United Kingdom, to explore these pages!

Hebrews 3:13 “But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day . . .”

     Even now, as I review this list, my heart says, “Praise the Lord!”  We are also thankful for each one of YOU! You encourage our hearts, show us your love, and pray for us continually, and we do not take that for granted! May God bless you and your precious families! HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Waiting For Real Love - Dinner #35

     I’ve been around plenty of teenage girls through the years, enough to know that their emotions and passions often run high.  They tend to sigh and drool over the “hottest” guy on TV.  They know he’s the “love of their life” . . . until the next week, when a new movie comes out. . . What each girl may not realize is that they need to be praying for God to bring them a REAL man for REAL life!  
    If you’re single and on the lookout for a “George Clooney” or a “Tom Cruise”, you probably aren’t looking for a man who knows what true love is.  Whether or not he’s the kind of guy who wears designer clothes and works out five times a week won’t matter when you’re one day diagnosed with breast cancer. Whether or not he has gorgeous tan skin and blue eyes won’t matter when you’re told you’ve just suffered a miscarriage.  Is he FAITHFUL?  Will he STAND BY YOU when your world is crumbling down?  Real love is SO much more beautiful than in the movies! Real love sees you through real day-to-day life – the good times and the bad. 
     In I Corinthians 13, we find such a wonderful description of true love.  “Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up . . .” (13:4) A man who understands true love is a patient man.  He doesn’t envy other men their positions or their jobs.  He isn’t a conceited man who constantly listens to himself and talks about himself. Love “Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil . . .” (13:5)  A loving man is not embarrassingly inappropriate or flirtatious.  He isn’t selfish.  He isn’t known for getting easily angry or holding grudges.  “Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things . . .” (13:6-7) Does he enjoy doing wrong and watching others do wrong? Does he try to get you to do “just a little bit more” than your conscience permits? Or is he a man who will hope and dream with you? Will he endure whatever trials affect your marriage? “Charity never faileth . . .” (13:8) If a man loves you with true love, than he will not be the kind of man who will leave you.  His love will not fail!
     Elsewhere in Scripture, we see other qualifications for a good husband.  Is he a Christian? II Corinthians 6:14 “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers . . .” One of the best quotes I ever heard in Bible college was, “Do not give your heart to anyone who has not first given his or her heart to God.”  Ecclesiastes 4:9+10 tells us that, “Two are better than one . . . For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow . . .” A good husband is a man who will encourage his wife.  He isn’t bent on constantly criticizing! When she falls, he helps to lift her up again!  Ephesians 5:25 “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it.” Is this a man who is willing to make sacrifices for you? Would he protect you, or even lay down his life for you?
     But what about attraction?  Don’t good looks have anything to do with love at all? Genesis 2:24 declares, “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.” Your heart and soul need to be one with your husband, as well as your body! God GIVES you an attraction for the one who is to be your soulmate! In Hebrews 13:4, the author tells us that when you marry someone, you share a kind of intimacy with them that you share with no other human being on earth. Never, ever throw that away! “Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.” Can you completely and lovingly give yourself to this person? “The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife.” (I Corinthians 7:4) In Song of Solomon, the bride of the king of Israel says, “His mouth is most sweet: yea, he is altogether lovely.  This is my beloved, and this is my friend, O daughters of Jerusalem.” A godly man is handsome on the outside BECAUSE he has a clean, pure heart on the inside! He is ALTOGETHER LOVELY – through and through. This verse also teaches us that our husband should be our FRIEND. He needs to be someone we can share with – our lives, our memories, the secrets of our heart - everything!
    I think we would all have to admit that the majority of the “cute guys” on television do not fit the description of the loving and godly man found in the Bible.  Most of the time, the man at the cash register with the adorable dimples doesn’t either.  While I was visiting my folks, this past week, I found myself surrounded by two sisters and some dear friends who are all still single.  People tease and pester them about getting married, but the truth of the matter is, they’re each waiting for God to bring the RIGHT man into their lives!  Dear single Sisters in Christ, do not give your heart or your body to a man who is not right for you! Be on your guard! Yes, BE PICKY!  Not picky about eye color and muscle tone, but about the things that God says really matter! Wait for a man who knows what REAL love is! Do such men exist? Yes, they do! I know, because I’m blessed to be married to one!