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Archive for November, 2013

Whether you love it or hate it, Black Friday is here. If you are a fan, you may have already waited outside in the frigid temps this morning to secure a deal. You likely wiggled your way through throngs of eager customers for planned purchases at your favorite stores. You may even have had a few strained conversations with edgy shoppers over empty shelves or lengthy checkout lines. But, all in all, you made great effort to ensure you snatched that purchase whose cost was minimal compared to its value.

Foes of Black Friday might beg to differ. I know I have never been willing to sacrifice my sleep, my time, or the comforts of my roaring fire to stake claim on a great bargain. I love deals, but if they take excessive effort on my part, I’m out. Hardcore bargain hunters would likely argue that my apathy is far from admirable. I might even be told, “You’re missing out!”

When I think about my relationship with Jesus, I look back at moments where perhaps I allowed my apathy or, would I dare say, laziness, to prevent me from experiencing all that this relationship could offer. There were years where my study of His Word was at a bare minimum, and my prayer life could still use a radical overhaul. There were mental battles over whether I really wanted to make the effort to be in His house on a Sunday morning, and sometimes fellowshipping with fellow believers meant missing out on time I thought I “really needed” to accomplish tasks at home.

When I look back at these moments, I realize that when I made the choice to show the Lord I valued our relationship, when I made the decision to give Him my time, He blessed me and reinforced His love for me in profound ways. When I allowed the pulls of the world and the comforts of this life to pull me away, I missed out. Life with Jesus is full, inviting, and abundant in joy, and when I am not abiding in Him, there is a distance that I create that prevents me from experiencing the intimacy that He so desires.

Jesus tells us in John 10:10, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” Life with Jesus is the abundant life and doing life in relationship with Him is priceless. I echo the words of the Apostle Paul to those in Colossae, “My goal is that [you] may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that [you] may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that [you] may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in who are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Colossians 2:2-3). Don’t miss out on the riches you will experience as a daughter of the King! The cost is minimal compared to the value of life with Him!

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“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

~ I Thessalonians 5:18

As a child, my perspective on Thanksgiving was quite different from the one I hold today. Perhaps it was my distaste for green bean casserole and my fear of what was actually in the stuffing that prevented me from loving the November holiday. I enjoyed the time with my cousins and the comic banter at the family dinner table, but I still had trouble understanding why one would use pumpkin and sweet potatoes as the filling for a dessert. If I were to be brutally honest, there were moments I was only thinking of the gifts that might soon be slipped under the Christmas tree. Moving past all this to understanding what it meant to be truly thankful was beyond my selfish motivations.

I am grateful that, in the passing years, my perspective on Thanksgiving has been dramatically altered. No, I still don’t like green bean casserole, but I have grown to love this holiday. In fact, it is my favorite day of the year. Yes, I now love pumpkin pie and sweet potato casserole; and frankly, turkey, stuffing, and creamy mashed potatoes lathered in gravy take the cake. My taste for these Thanksgiving staples, however, has been far surpassed by my craving for a thankful heart.

The battle to complain when life doesn’t quite go my way is never ceasing for this child of God, and I don’t faithfully follow His command to “give thanks in ALL circumstances” as I should. I have the verse in Thessalonians memorized, but there are two simple words I skim over: for you. Why is giving thanks God’s will for me? Perhaps it is because when I give thanks, He gives me more joy than I can comprehend. Perhaps it is because when I give thanks, I see that the blessings He has poured into my life are far more than I can count…blessings for me. Perhaps it is because when I give thanks, I look at the life He has given me and I am humbled by His grace. Perhaps it is because when I give thanks, God renews my spirit and reminds me that His goodness is everywhere.

Maybe this Thanksgiving, my craving for a thankful heart will be filled to overflowing. But, I pray that this thankfulness will fill me daily; because, when I am thankful, I show the Lord, my family, and everyone I meet that the life God has given me is worth more than I can possibly fathom. Maybe today and everyday, I can join the Psalmist in declaring, “I will give thanks to You, Lord, with ALL my heart” (Psalm 9:1a).

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“Praise the Lord. Praise the Lord, my soul. I will praise the Lord all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.”

~ Psalm 146:1-2

My husband is a gift-giver. Sometimes it is something I never saw coming; other times, it could be an extravagant birthday treasure that far exceeds the price I think he should have spent. I would be insane to suggest I don’t enjoy his gifts…I truly do! What girl doesn’t love a bouquet of roses? Okay, so maybe not EVERY girl is a fan of flowers. But, the one thing that means a great deal to me actually costs him nothing. When he praises me for who I am, I feel valued and cherished. His words affirm his love for me, and I find myself looking forward to a word of praise from his lips.

The Lord, too, delights in our praise. When we praise Him for who He is, we honor Him. Our worship reveals our humanity and His holiness. Praise offered to the Lord recognizes His glory and goodness and stirs within us a humble awareness of who we are and who He is. His Word offers us guidance in praise and leads us to acknowledge His character.

  • “Praise Him for His acts of power…” (Psalm 150:2a)

  • “…praise Him for His surpassing greatness.” (Psalm 150:2b)

  • “Praise the Lord, for the Lord is good; sing praise to His name, for that is pleasant.” (Psalm 135:3)

  • “I will bow down toward Your holy temple and will praise Your name for Your unfailing love and Your faithfulness…” (Psalm 138:2a)

  • “I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” (Psalm 139:14)

  • “I will praise You, Lord, among the nations; I will sing of You among the peoples. For great is Your love, higher than the heavens; Your faithfulness reaches to the skies.” (Psalm 108:3-4)

The Bible is packed full of praise for the One who created us, loved us, and gave His life for us. When we lift our praise to Him, whether in song, in prayer, in conversation with others, we affirm our love for Him. Today, may we lift our hearts and our voices in praise to the Lord. May we offer Him a plentiful package of praise!

“Through Jesus, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise — the fruit of lips that openly profess His name.”

~ Hebrews 13:15

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I can’t recall the purpose of our visit, but the emotions I experienced I won’t soon forget. We were walking the halls of the hospital where I had delivered all of my children and where my husband’s sisters worked as nurses. When we met up with one of his sisters in the hallway, she was mingling with her co-workers. She briefly introduced my husband to her peers, as I stood by his side, but the introductions stopped there. My name was not mentioned, my relation to the family completely bypassed, and I stood there bewildered by the interaction. Questions began to quickly formulate in my mind: Why was I ignored? Does she not feel I am worthy of an introduction? Does she not value our relationship? Was her lack of introduction planned or simply an oversight?

The hurt I felt in those moments ran deep, but as I look back at the experience, I am struck by the countless times I have failed to introduce those I meet to my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. I know the Son of God in a personal way, all because of His sacrifice for me on the Cross of Calvary, and yet, when was the last time I introduced Him to another? If I truly value my relationship with the King of Kings, why don’t I make certain others know what He means to me? After all, we are family.

In the first chapter of the Gospel of John, we read the story of Andrew who introduces his brother, Simon Peter, to Jesus (John 1:40-42). We don’t know exactly how long Andrew knew Jesus before he sought after his brother and brought him to meet the Messiah. We do know, however, that bringing them together was a priority for Andrew. The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, ‘We have found the Messiah’ (that is, the Christ),” we read in verse 41.

When I ponder Andrew’s story, I see that he valued not only his newly found relationship with Christ, but also the relationship with his brother, Simon Peter. Both were valuable to him, and he made certain that they met. Who do you value or hold dear in your life? Have you introduced them to the One that Simon Peter met that day? The Savior is worthy of your introduction and He longs to know your friends, your family, your neighbors, and your co-workers. His love for them surpasses your own and He waits eagerly for you to introduce Him. What are you waiting for?

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hot soup: $4

cold medicine: $11

tissues: $1

blanket: $24

making it all better: priceless

Ten years after launching its initial “Priceless” ad campaign, Mastercard continued its sentimental parodies in 2007 with a commercial highlighting a sneezing zookeeper and the extraordinary efforts of an elephant who comes to his rescue to make it all better. The ads through the years struck a chord with many, as did their concluding line: “There are some things in life money can’t buy. For everything else, there’s Mastercard.”

Mastercard’s commercials, while promoting their product, certainly caused their target audience to consider what they valued in life. Viewers were left to wonder perhaps what they viewed as priceless. If something is priceless, it is presumed to be invaluable and precious. Its value exceeds any price.

As believers, we have a relationship with Jesus Christ. This relationship is priceless, but it did not come without a cost. In fact, the Apostle Paul makes note of this in chapters 6 and 7 of his first letter to the Corinthians that we “were bought at a price” (I Corinthians 6:20, 7:23). Jesus paid the price for our sin with His very life on Calvary over 2000 years ago. And while we recognize the cost involved, we often fail to show Jesus how very much His sacrifice means to us by the way we engage in relationship with Him. If our relationship with Christ is as precious as we say it is, are we showing this to Him and to others? How can we show Christ we value our relationship with Him?

This week, please join me as we look at how we can give the Lord the gift of value…how we can show the Savior, whose love for us was so great that He paid for our lives with His very own, how very much He means to us. Ultimately, while most of us know our relationship with the Lord is priceless, it is my hope and prayer that we move beyond knowledge to love in action…Isn’t He worth it?

“This is how God showed His love among us: He sent His one and only Son into the world that we might live through Him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.”

~ I John 4:9-10

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“And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.”

~ 2 Corinthians 9:8

The above verse is of great comfort and encouragement to me as we conclude this 6 week journey Forward. And may we be encouraged to continue moving Forward, refusing to stand still, willingly stepping forward in good deeds that make a real and lasting difference in this world.

Motivated by our growing love for God and for others, we want to exercise bold faith and make big sacrifices so that God will use us to help others find life in Jesus.  

As we take that goal with us in to the holiday season that is upon us, Given the Time will be looking at some of the “Gifts We Can Give” to the Lord and to others around us. We will focus on the priceless gifts of Value, Acceptance, Peace, Service, Love, and Joy in the coming weeks and we hope you will join us in this conversation!

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