Decorating for Christmas

“You shall have a song
As in the night when a holy festival is kept,
And gladness of heart as when one goes with a flute,
To come into the mountain of the Lord,
To the Mighty One of Israel.” Isaiah 30:29

God instructed the Jewish people to have celebrations and festivals throughout the year, each one symbolizing specific things and reminding them of His goodness and love. As Christians we’re not given instructions for celebrations or holidays, we’re to live daily celebrating His goodness and love. But we have added holidays and if we use them to celebrate Him and to proclaim Jesus, I think He enjoys them too.

I love decorating and particularly decorating for Christmas. It takes me days and days to complete, if I ever actually do, because over the years I have collected many decorative items. This year it is especially taking time because we’re in a different house and finding just the right spot for each thing takes a little time. But one thing gets finished first – the Christmas tree. As I decorate, I reflect on the meaning of Christmas and how most of the elements on the tree are symbolic of Christ and the reason for celebration. Some are obvious – there are lights on the tree because Jesus is the Light of the world and we use an evergreen tree because He gives us eternal life. And of course the star that lead the way to the new born King. But there are deeper meanings for me too.

CHRISTMAS TREE – CHRIST’S TREE
The first reminder for me is the tree itself. Jesus died on a tree because Adam sinned and brought spiritual death because he ate fruit from the wrong tree. So Jesus came to die on a tree that we could have eternal life.
“who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed.” (1 Peter 2:24)
The tree itself reminds me that through Jesus’ death on the tree, I have eternal life and that by His stripes I was healed.

GIFTS OF GOLD, FRANKINCENSE AND MYRRH
Gold. There are many gold ornaments on our Christmas tree. The gold reminds me of the gifts the wise men brought to the infant Jesus, the new born king. On earth gold is a precious commodity. Here men fight for it, hoard it. But in heaven, gold is not as precious as it is here, there the streets are paved with gold. The most precious gift by heaven’s standards is the gift God gave to mankind, His own precious Son, Jesus. Jesus is the most precious gift, and that gift gives us the gift of eternal life.

HEARLDING ANGELS – GOD’S MESSENGERS
I have never seen an angel, but because I believe God’s Word, I believe they are here all around us. “Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who will inherit salvation?” (Hebrews 1:14)
An angel announced to Mary she would be the one to bear the Messiah. An angel appeared to Joseph in a dream that Mary’s child was of God would save their people. Then the night Jesus was born, an angel of the Lord announced to the shepherds that Messiah had come and instructed them where to find Him.
“Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people.” (Luke 2:10)
Suddenly then a multitude of heavenly host appeared praising God,
“Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” (Luke 2:14)
When I see the angel decorations, I am reminded that just as the angels announced Jesus, I am called to be a messenger of God’s love, joy and peace through Jesus Christ our Lord.

RED AND WHITE
I put dozens of shiny red ornaments on our tree. For me, the red ornaments are reminders of the blood of Jesus shed on His tree. It is by His blood that my sins, though many, have been paid for and washed away.
“In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace” (Ephesians 1:7)
Isaiah the prophet speaking for God said, “Come now, and let us reason together,” Says the Lord, “Though your sins are like scarlet, They shall be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They shall be as wool.” (Isaiah 1:18)
The white snow on the tree reminds me that even though I once was a sinner, now through the blood of Jesus, I am made pure, I have been given His righteousness.
“For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” (2 Corinthians 5:21)
I love Christmas, everything about it – the music, the food, the decorations, the lights, giving and receiving gifts. I enjoy all of it, but the best part is remembering why I have reason to celebrate and rejoicing in God’s greatest gift, Jesus! He is the reason I have so much to celebrate.

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Peace and blessings in our Lord Jesus Christ,
Dee

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God is Faithful, Always

“O Lord God of hosts, Who is mighty like You, O Lord?   Your faithfulness also surrounds You.”     Psalm 89:8

 

            To say I feel a little overwhelmed would be a major understatement. But not necessarily for the reasons you may think, considering the events of the past week.

First, I’m overwhelmed at the Greatness and Goodness of our God. In the words of King David, who am I Lord that you would be so gracious to me? God took what could have been a tragic event and showed us His love and His protection over Larry’s life. When he fell and shattered the T9 vertebra, it shattered on three sides but the fourth side stayed intact, protecting his spine.

Second thing, the peace. Throughout Larry’s hospital stay, during the surgery and recovery, we both had a sense of peace and we know it was from all the prayers being offered on our behalf. Overwhelming peace.

And third thing, the love.  Not only the love of God covering us, the love of our brothers and sisters in Christ. Phone calls, text messages, hospital visits and gifts, each one reminds us that it is the overwhelming love of Christ through believers that bind us together so we never walk through difficult times alone.

Larry and I still face some uncertainties, decisions that we’ll have to make that will affect our future. When the doctor tells a contractor that he can no longer climb ladders or lift heavy objects, that’s not what he wants to hear. But we know our God is faithful and He has our future in His hands. As our pastor said this morning, it’s not about how big our faith is, but it is about how big our God is.

“I have been young, and now am old; Yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his descendants begging bread.” Psalm 37:25

 

Peace and blessings in our Lord Jesus Christ,

Dee

 

Macy, the Sweet Pittie

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

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In the course of my life I’ve had many dogs, but there were only a few that were truly special. The first one was Herbie, a yellow collie that walked me to the bus stop every morning and met me at the bus every afternoon when I was in first grade. The second one was Cubby, a white border collie mix that I had when I was in high school. I just knew he was the only soul on earth that really understood my teen-age girl angst. The last one was Macy.
Macy was a shelter dog, we adopted her from the Plano Animal Shelter in 2011. She was a Red Nose Pitt Bull mix and one of a group of dogs that had been there too long because no one would adopt a Pitt Bull mix. But when we explained to the girl at the shelter that we needed a dog that would be good with young children as well as other family dogs, she said “I have just the right dog.” It was love at first sight. She looked at us and her eyes seemed to say “I choose you.”
Macy was the right dog for us. Our grandchildren loved her and she loved them. She liked going on walks but she was also content laying on the floor beside me in front of the fireplace. She kept our house safe from squirrel attack and let me know when it was dinner time. When Lucy, our daughter’s dog, would come over, they would play until they were too tired to keep going. When Deuce, our son’s dog, came to live with us he was just a puppy. But Macy accepted him and even when she started getting sick she would still occasionally play chase or tug of war with him. She brought much joy and unconditional love to our entire famimacy_dee-001_sizedly.
I thank God for Macy and for sending us to the Animal Shelter at just the right time to find her. I thank God for all the love He showed us through Macy.
The Bible doesn’t say much about animals in heaven (except Jesus will return riding a white horse!) so I have no proof I will see Herbie, Cubby or Macy again. But in my heart of hearts, I hope that right after I greet all my family and friends who get to heaven before me, that I will be greeted by a bunch of dogs!

Peace and blessings in our Lord Jesus Christ,
Dee

Happy Birthday, USA!

“Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord,
The people He has chosen as His own inheritance.” Psalm 33:12

American Flags

Every year in the small town where I grew up, Richland Springs TX, they celebrate America’s Independence on the 1st Saturday of July. While my parents were alive, we would go visit them over the week-end and be there for the celebration, but I’ve rarely gone since they died. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve felt a tug back to my roots and to the place I came from. So this year I decided I would go.
The day started off with a parade and while it may not have been as big as you would see in a larger town, for a community of 455 residents, it was wonderful. A color-guard on horseback started it off followed by more flags and a float with the local veterans. There were pick-ups pulling trailers, all decorated in red, white and blue and lots of sparkle. There were 4-wheelers, dune-buggies, and motorcycles. There were kids in funny hats and dogs in sunglasses. There were antique tractors and brand new semi-s, and of course the VFD fire trucks. And candy- lots of candy thrown to folks watching the parade. The Richland Springs Coyote high school football team (who won the state 6-man championship for the 7th time last fall) and the high school cheerleaders as well as the middle school football team and cheerleaders had floats. The First Baptist Church had their van in the parade inviting kids to their Vacation Bible School in a couple of weeks. Everyone was there celebrating their freedoms and their victories.
Throughout the day, there were competitions for horseshoes, washers, and this year for the first time, a 2-man pig-sacking completion. There were bounce houses and a water slide for the kids.
The day wrapped up with a fireworks show. The Star Spangled Banner was sung over the loud speaker, then BOOM, the spectacular display of bursting colors began. It was a show that could put many larger towns to shame, lasting over an hour, it was amazing.
As I sat there watching the beautiful display, I could only think about the fact that even as many things we see wrong in our hation, there are still a lot of things that are right. And all those things right with our nation, can be seen right there in my small farm community hometown of Richland Springs, Texas, USA.
Yes, we have people trying to destroy our nation, from the outside and even within our own government, but we still have men and women willing to fight defending her.
Yes, there are too many people just wanting a hand-out and for the government to give them everything free, but there are still hard working men and women, taking pride in their labors, working hard to support and provide for their families.
Yes, we have too many young people with no sense of responsibility or goals beyond pursuit of their own pleasure, but we still have many young people with goals and dreams, who believe in competing to win.
Yes, there are too many people, places and institutions who exclude God and godly beliefs, but there are still more who love God and who are willing to share the love of Jesus Christ with the nation. Let us who do know the Lord continue to pray for this nation, pray for our leaders, and for the upcoming elections that we may continue to live quiet and peaceful lives serving the Lord.
Happy Birthday, USA! And may your next 240 years be even greater!

Peace and blessings in our Lord Jesus Christ,
Dee

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Color-guard

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My Uncle Robert Lewis, 2nd from left, fought in WWII

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God’s Unrelenting Love

“In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins.” 1 John 4:10

The first song I learned as a child was “Jesus loves me this I know because the Bible tells me so.” And the first Bible verse I learned was John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever should believe on Him would not die but have everlasting life.” I had child faith in the truth of those words, but as I grechild-prayer-clipart-royalty-free-praying-clipart-illustration-216150w up I also heard, and believed other words presented as truth. Along the way the messages of the world began to drown out the message of God’s love for me.
Turn on the TV or listen to the radio for even a little while and we can hear that we’re not thin enough so we need this diet or that medical procedure. Our job is inadequate so we need to go to this school or take that training program. Over and over we hear how lacking we are.
Some messages we absorb from the world are subtle and more damaging to our soul. We compare ourselves or our lives to others and feel inadequate. We try to compensate by turning to other people, working harder at our job or even drugs or alcohol. But these are band-aides, incapable of healing deep wounds, and frequently only cause more pain. Meanwhile, God is calling us to Himself, whispering “I am the One who paid a great price for you, I am the One who heals, I am the One who can give your life meaning.” We must go back to that simple child-like faith and believe that Jesus loves us.
When God sent His Son Jesus to the cross because He loved the whole world, it wasn’t just the whole world in general, but it was for every specific individual ever born of a woman. If you’d been the only person who ever lived, He’d have done it for you.
I pray that you can know, can have intimate knowledge of how much God loves you. It’s not about who you are, how you look, where you came from, or even what you’ve done. It’s all about God and His love for you. He has assigned great worth and value to you. His love is unrelenting and it pursues you. He desires you to know Him and find your place and value in Him.
Here is a prayer the Apostle Paul prayed for the church at Ephesus, and it is my prayer for you.
“I pray that according to the wealth of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in the inner person, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, so that, because you have been rooted and grounded in love, you may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and thus to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.” Ephesians 3:16-19 (NET Bible)
Peace and blessings in our Lord Jesus Christ,
Dee

Battle-cry Prayer

“For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God…” 2 Corinthians 10:4-5a (NKJV)replica-weapons-4116NQ

I woke up this morning around 3 a.m. and couldn’t go back to sleep. As I lay there thinking, my mind kept going back to the evening news talking about the decision by a local school district to quietly change their bathroom policy to accommodate transgender students. As I kept thinking about the whole situation, I felt God telling me that these young people are being deceived and used. The true battle is not over who uses which bathroom, but is rather part of a spiritual battle that has been declared over our nation, and our youth and children are in the enemy’s first line of attack.
I struggled trying to figure out how to pray effectively over the situation and all I could do was pray in the spirit because I had no words. After a few minutes, God gave me three specific things to pray and brought verses to my mind to use as a guide.
The first thing to pray for is that the lies of the enemy will be exposed as lies. Jesus said the devil is a liar and has been from the beginning, there is no truth in him. Pray for those bound in Satan’s deception to come to know the truth of Jesus Christ, and that the eyes of their understanding will be opened (Eph. 1:18).
The second thing I heard the Lord say to pray that the evil plots and schemes being made and inspired by wicked spirits would be exposed and thwarted. Psalm 55:9 in the New English Translation says “Confuse them, O Lord! Frustrate their plans! For I see violence and conflict in the city.”
Jesus said in Luke 12:2 & 3 “For there is nothing covered that will not be revealed, nor hidden that will not be known. Therefore whatever you have spoken in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have spoken in the ear in inner rooms will be proclaimed on the housetops.”
The third thing the Lord said to pray for is that even in this Jesus will be glorified. Philippians 2:9-11 says “Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
There is a spiritual war going on over our nation. Those who believe in and proclaim the Name of Jesus have the weapons and the authority to win this war. The only question is will we take up those weapons and will we use the authority given to us to fight?

Father, I pray in the Name of Jesus for all our youth and children who are being used and lied to by the enemy.
Father, I pray for their salvation, that they would come to Jesus as their Lord and Savior, and that they would come to know and understand the love you have for them and that you created them perfectly in your image.
Father expose the lies of the devil, there is no truth in him, he’s been a liar from the beginning. Show him to be the liar that he is.
Father, in the Name of Jesus confuse the plans of evil doers, those who would use our youth and our children for their own wicked purposes. Expose their plans for what they are, that even things whispered in secret will made public.
And Father, above all, exalt the Name of Jesus. Let every knee bow and every tongue confess Jesus is Lord! You wicked agendas – Bow your knee at the Name of Jesus!
Jesus is Lord over these United States!

Peace and blessings in our Lord Jesus Christ,
Dee