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SMC Women's Ministry

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Posts tagged joy
Can You Feel It?

Can you feel it? You know…that feeling when you were six years old and it’s Christmas Eve? The evening is turning to night, and as darkness falls you know the time is drawing near – the excitement palpable, chest thumping in anticipation, and maybe a few noticeable butterflies. And why so excited on Christmas Eve when we were six? Because of the impending visit from the jolly old elf and his team of reindeer! Willing yourself to sleep, in spite of the anticipation on the cusp of something great! Your wildest dreams come true…your heart’s desire will soon be delivered to your very house! Red Rider BB gun anyone?

In this last week of Advent, I believe that’s exactly how God intended for us to feel…on the edge of receiving the greatest, most wonderful of all gifts. It had been foretold: “Therefore, the Lord will give you a sign. The young woman is pregnant and is about to give birth to a son, and she will name him Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14 CEB). I have to imagine the Israelites experienced some of this Christmas magic too, as they waited and anticipated God’s fulfillment of prophecy. “The Lord says, ‘Shout and rejoice, O beautiful Jerusalem, for I am coming to live among you. Many nations will join themselves to the Lord that day, and they, too, will be my people. I will live among you, and you will know that the Lord of Heaven’s Armies sent me to you.” (Zechariah 2:10-11 NLT). Surely they sensed the answer to their longing drawing near. And if they didn’t sense it, they did wait in hope for it. Come thou long-expected Jesus…and in these waning days of Advent we know He is on His way!

In the hustle of last minute preparations, I encourage you to see this season through the eyes of 6-year-old you…wide, expectant, wonder-filled, awe-struck, hopeful. Here’s to breathless anticipation! Here’s to receiving the very best gift EVER! When 84-year-old Anna met that baby Jesus just a short time after He was born, she had that 6-year-old Christmas Eve feeling, prophesying and praising. “…Anna came in and praised God [at the Temple]. She spoke about the child Jesus to everyone who hoped for Jerusalem to be set free” (Luke 2:38 CEVD).

He is coming. He is coming for you and me! He’s almost here and He outshines the star over Bethlehem that night so long ago. He outshines that #1 thing on your list to Santa when you were six…THE GREATEST GIFT OF ALL TIME is almost here, and He’s ready to greet you with tidings of great joy! Open arms, open heart where your name is lovingly etched for all time. Peace and Joy be yours this Christmas and always, friends. You are dearly loved.

Jessica

When Life Piles Up

My last blog post on The Names of God, Jehovah Rapha (God Healer) was posted only six days before my father’s death. Thursday after it posted, I gave it to him to read after arriving at my parent’s home in South Carolina to be there for his surgery the next morning.

“Well done, daughter,” I can still hear him say.

God has such a beautiful way of letting this “life thing” play out. I’ve never been one to believe in coincidences. Nope. In my opinion, “coincidences” are just God at work in all aspects of our lives.

In March of this year, I dreamed God’s hands swooped down from the clouds to catch my husband and I as we were falling in midair down a cliff. He gently set us into terribly murky water but it was okay because I viscerally KNEW all would be well. He would carry us through.

In recent days, remembering that dream and the peace it brought once I awoke has sometimes been one of the few things that has gotten me through.

See, true to His mystery, God seems to fully understand the power of the “pile on.” Often, our challenges occur in clusters – at least that’s been my experience. So. Many. Difficult. Things. At. Once.

Because of this, I can’t say I was surprised that while at the funeral home deciding on my father’s funeral ceremony, caskets, and the like, my husband received a call to inform him of yet another hugely stressful challenge upcoming. As soon as we left, I quickly, dove into my phone’s Bible app to start a new plan. I found Battles and Front Lines by Rita Springer. This is what I read:

Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So, let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing. James 1:2-4 (NIV)

Wow, God. I should be ecstatic!! Thank you??

Ever notice how good Satan is at his job? He can really stir up some emotions that can rattle you to your bones. Fear is one he’s really good at manifesting in us. And doubt. Doubt can do a number on me too – when I let it. Both of these emotions can come out in full force during the pile-on – extending it exponentially.

This pile-on effect truly makes me take notice of you, God and forces me to keep You close like never before. So often these days, my greatest solace is found in the Word.

The Bible shows us there is still more advice for us to be joyful in trials. In 1 Peter 1:6-7 we read: So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold – though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.

Throughout this year, I’ve witnessed how beautiful our struggles can be – if you’re intentional about noticing ALL of the pieces to the puzzle. These experiences have made it possible for me to keep and grow my faith.

I saw it so many times in the hospital in the kind words or gestures of people around whether they be staff or not. The nurse who had watched my mom, brother and I standing outside of my Dad’s room waiting for them to prep him to go into his second surgery. She watched how Mom wouldn’t take her eyes off Dad and finally asked my mom, “do you want to go with him up to the operating room?” In Mike, the man who insisted on purchasing our coffee as he was visiting his wife who had cancer surgery. In Mary, the woman in the waiting room who prayed for us right after Dad died.

We love each other because He loved us first. 1 John 4:19 (NIV)

I’ve also realized that although there is so much pain and so many angry people in the world, kindness is predominant. Most people genuinely want to help others. Phone calls, notes, texts, and hugs from family, friends and almost strangers made and still make, the hard days bearable. Like when Gail, whom I’ve met twice, hears my story and asks if she can send me an email. Reading this article through my tears, I recognized that my perspective was changing in ways I never imagined.

If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. Ecclesiastes 4:10 (NIV)

With the current conflicts in our country, it’s easy to buy into the lie that we are doomed. Anytime we keep our focus on the negative (the divide), it will be impossible to create a positive change of unity. Let’s look around and keep our eyes searching to catch others being kind. Let’s make it our mission to always search for the silver linings. We must change our focus for positive change to happen.

Think about this, sisters, what would the world look like if we all were intent on finding and doing good? Who will stand for Jesus? Who will take that step and remind others how quickly our brothers and sisters stepped up to assist victims of the hurricanes or other recent tragedies? How many people step in to provide comfort and love in our daily challenges? I have seen first-hand that it is people’s first instinct to be kind.

We seem to be in a time in life where we must endure the challenge of the pile-on so we might become as humanly complete as we possibly can. For God’s plans are far greater and more beautiful than our own. Things are not hopeless, we just need to dig deeper and love harder. There is always a storm before a rainbow.

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them. Romans 8:28 (NIV)

Angela

A Prayer For My Son

As we celebrated baptism this past Sunday, and all that it means to us as individuals, as well as a body of believers here on this little patch of God’s creation, I thought a good bit about the legacy we are leaving for the next generation…some of whom stepped into those warm waters with some of the most awesome and awe-inspiring people I know. If there is anything I could impart to my boys, it’s that they are loved by a great, big God, who is good and loving and who sees them as precious gifts. He sees them…and hears them…and knows them. He wants to commune with them. And I harkened back to several years ago when we participated in a family Bible study at SMC. The final night, parents presented their children with a scriptural blessing. When I watched my son go down into that water and come back up with the biggest smile on his face, I couldn’t help but think about those words I wrote to and prayed over him.

So I say to you, my son, let the Holy Spirit guide your life. Then you won’t give in to sin. Sin will want you to do wrong, and that’s the opposite of what God wants and what I want for you. Sin and the Holy Spirit are constantly fighting each other, within you (within us all) and outside of you.

Sometimes that will keep you from carrying out your good intentions.

Don’t give up. Ever.

Don’t get discouraged.

When you follow the desires of sin, the results are immorality, impurity, lust, idolatry, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, anger, selfishness, dissention, division, drunkenness, envy, and these things are not who you are.

They do not define you.

These things will keep you from God, and from joy and from peace.

The Holy Spirit, God’s Love, and God’s Grace, produce the kind of fruit in our lives that I wish for you each and every moment of every day: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

I see these things in you each day.

Hold onto them, and constantly seek them out.

Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to His cross and crucified them there.

Each day presents a new opportunity to do so.

Since we are living by the Spirit (always remember your baptism in the lake), let us follow the Holy Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives. It won’t always be easy, but it will be worth it.

Let us not become conceited, or provoke one another, or be jealous of one another.

Go forth in love, my son.

Know that you are loved beyond measure.

And willfully and willingly love others in that way also.

Love God. Love people.

Make good choices and all else will fall into place, in His time and in His way. Amen.

(Galatians 5: 16-26)

--Love, Moma

…and Amen. He loves us (you and me and all those who will follow behind in our footsteps, generation after generation). When we openly declare our allegiance to God, we are furthering the cause of Christ and sending forth His message of unending, unstoppable love. There is nothing better I could ask for from my child that what I witnessed on Sunday by his own choosing. I am so thankful, and so grateful, and my heart is filled to the brim.

My prayer for you today, friend, is that you know you are blessed. You know you are chosen. You know you are loved.

Jessica