Saturday, December 31, 2011

Endings & Beginnings

Can you imagine trying to read a book (or a sentence, for that matter) without punctuation marks?
For many, the year 2011 simply ends with a period and quietly segues into 2012, but for others the year ends with a question mark or exclamation point.
Perhaps you've had "one of those years" where you just don't understand what in the world is going on and you wrap up 2011 with a big fat question mark. Or you sit and shake your head in wonder that the year is already over, having flown by and you still haven't reached certain goals you've set for yourself.
Still others may be more than ready to grab a permanent marker - one of those gigantic poster-making kinds - and with great gusto, put an end to a year of difficulty, frustration, or heartache with a great big exclamation point.
Whichever punctuation we choose to end 2011, we all get to begin 2012 the same way, with a beautiful, hope-filled capital letter...a new beginning...a fresh start.
And if we choose to do so, we can start our year with the same capital letter - A - as in Alpha, the first letter of the Greek alphabet. Jesus said, "It is done. I am the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End..." (Revelation 21:6).
We've all heard the acrostic, JOY, as an example of how we should live our lives - Jesus first, Others second, Yourself last. But shouldn't it really be Jesus, Jesus & Others, Jesus & Yourself? He's not just the Alpha, He's not just the Omega, He's all and everything!
What if we choose to end 2011 by focusing on all Jesus is and did for, in, and through us, with a heart full of thankfulness, instead of focusing on all the enemy attempted to steal from, kill in, and destroy though us? What if we choose to begin 2012 by focusing on all Jesus will do for, in, and through us, instead of focusing on all the enemy wants to steal from, kill in, and destroy through us?
Greater is HE Who is in us...He Who is the ALPHA, the OMEGA, and EVERYTHING else in-between.
So whatever punctuation mark you end 2011 with, I encourage you to begin 2012 with Jesus and all the hope He gives. 

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Have a Strong & Valiant Festival of The Anointed One!

I know it's been awhile since I've posted anything, but at last I am on Christmas vacation and have a few moments to spare.
As I was writing our family advent devotionals the other day, God led me to the song God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen. I must confess I've never given its lyrics much thought and simply passed them off as outdated, singing them by rote, as yet another holiday tradition. What I discovered was a rich treasure, which was anything but outdated.
First of all, did you know that in the old English, the word merry didn't mean happy?  Me neither! It meant strong or valiant. So we don't know if Robin Hood's men were happy or not, but we do know they were described as strong or valiant. So, if sung in more familiar terms to us, the lyrics would be, "God rest you, strong & valiant gentlemen...". But wait, there's more!
What about the word rest? Interestingly, this word didn't mean rest as we think of it - personally a nap on the couch sounds pretty good to me! But this word meant to make. God make you strong & valiant, gentlemen. Let nothing you dismay (There's no need to worry). Remember...
Christ (The Anointed One) was born on Christmas Day. The suffix mas means festival or feast day.
So Jesus Christ, The Anointed One, The Messiah makes us strong if we rest in Him. His yoke is easy, His burden light. Greater is He Who is in us than He Who is in the world. He has overcome the world. In our weakness, He is strong. We can do all things through Christ Who strengthens us.
So when we wish one another a Merry Christmas, we are really blessing one another with the heavenly strength of the Anointed One, Jesus Christ. Sounds like a wonderful Christmas gift to give someone, doesn't it? 
And a wonderful way to love The One and love the one...