{re}fresh

Month: December, 2012

God Knew

by Dawn Aldrich

Today, we’re pleased to introduce you to Cara Simmons, Christian YA author, member of Wellspring Writers’ Group, homeschool mother and wife to Joe Simmons.

“I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending…” Revelation 1:8

  “I keep trying to think about God always being there and it is so hard! I can’t think that far!” my puzzled, youngest daughter said.

 The concept that God has no beginning and will never end is something none of our earthly brains fully comprehend. Yet, it’s who God is.

 God knew what lay ahead in the future even as He lovingly formed the earth with His hands and created man out of the dust. God knew man would take advantage of his freewill and willingly choose to disobey the one and only God-given command in the garden. And yet, He formed us anyway, because He knew the plan.

 His precious Son would leave heaven’s glorious realm – set aside the crown of an eternal Prince and live a simple, mortal, carpenter’s life –for us. He watched Jesus leave heaven, listened to Mary’s painful cries as she birthed His Son and smiled when those piercing, newborn wails broke the silence. He knew those same piercing cries would set man free in the future.

But it wasn’t in Jesus’ life we gained life – no that wasn’t the whole plan – God knew the ugly cost for our foolish choices. It meant His Son’s death on the cross – the only bridge between God and man – and He sent Jesus into this world, anyway.

 God holds time in His hands – past, present, and future. He knows our past, our present, and our future. He is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end.

This Christmas season, won’t you rest in the calm peace that God’s in control and has a plan for your life?

Dear Heavenly Father,

I thank You for loving me so much that You allowed Your Son to leave His throne and come to the earth so I could be free. During this Christmas season, help me not forget what You did for me. Let me be a light to those around who do not have the hope of salvation. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

To learn more about Cara and her Christian YA book series, please visit her at www.CaraSimmons.com

CaraSimmons

A Christmas Gift for God

by Dawn Aldrich

Today {re}fresh is please to present a post composed by Dawn Speer, member of the Wellspring Writers’ Group,  longtime member of Wellspring Church, and a woman after God’s heart.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

John 3:16

My favorite Christmas gift, a teddy bear figurine, sits poised upright on my shelf all year. His eyes focus on his open book which reads, “Christmas is in my heart all year.”

Christmas is a wonderful time of celebrating and remembering Jesus birth.  Now, with Christmas upon us, we’re easily caught up in holiday preparations like shopping, baking, and decorating that we often lose focus on the Christ-mas in our hearts.  So, how do we keep Christmas in our hearts at Christmas and throughout the year?

Build intimacy with Jesus.

* Spend time alone with Him. He desires us and delights in us.  Spend at least 10 minutes a day sitting still in His presence gradually increasing your time.

*Listen to praise and worship music.  Starting your quiet time with Jesus accompanied with song changes the atmosphere and allows your mind and heart to focus on God.

*Listen for God’s voice. In every relationship good communication involves talking and listening.  Ask Him, “Lord what do you want to tell me today”.  Take a few minutes to be quiet and listen to the Lord.  Believe what you hear. The first thing you may hear is how much he loves you.  You are in his heart all year long too!

*Meditate on scripture. This helps us to learn God’s character, who He is.  His Word gives us direction and inspires us to grow in relationship with Him and with those around us. 

*Read other Christian writers’ words.  God still inspires the words of His people and uses them to inspire us.

When I glance at my Christmas teddy bear statue it reminds me of two things: First, God first loved me and sent His only son that I might have eternal, abundant life.  God’s greatest desire is an intimate relationship with us – His created ones. Abundant life flows from this relationship.  From Adam and until Jesus returns, we are on God’s heart. Second, spending time with Jesus every day of the year creates less pressure to make Christmas, well, CHRISTMAS.

Will you offer God a gift this Christmas? Will you offer Him yourself, your time, your all?

God, our Father, we love you. Thank you for the amazing gift, Jesus! Help us make room in our hearts for Him this season.  Thank you that as we draw close to Jesus, You draw near.  Help us this New Year to keep Christmas in our hearts all year!

Jesus Our Hope

by Julie

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peaceas you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13

I’ve always loved Christmas. It’s such an exciting time of year! As a child, I remember the weeks before Christmas ushered in so much promise. All of the decorations and parties that filled my childhood home created such a fun atmosphere. Presents started pouring out from under the tree and happy music about reindeer and snow echoed throughout our home all day long.

But, the night before Christmas was the hardest. As my siblings and I experienced a sugar crash from unhealthy amounts of christmas cookies and hot cocoa, we fought sleep in anticipation of Christmas morning.

I chuckle looking back at those special memories with a thankful heart; thankful for those memories and looking forward to creating special times with my own family. I am most thankful though, that there is so much more to Christmas than what I experienced as a child.

We celebrate Christmas to remember the day that hope came alive. We rejoice because as promised, Jesus, the savior of the world, was born and hope filled the Earth!  Today, we still recognize God’s hope through Christ’s birth 2000 years ago, but we also live out this hope in our every day, ordinary and extraordinary days.

I can’t help but relate the true meaning of Christmas to my childhood view. I am thankful for the atmosphere that we can live hope-filled, joy-filled, peace-filled lives – even now – because of Jesus.

Immanuel: The Core of God’s Hope

by Mike McKinniss

Among the celebrated texts of the Christmas story comes from Matthew’s account of the nativity.  After Joseph dreams of an angel advising him to remain with Mary despite her unusual pregnancy, Matthew quotes the prophet Isaiah as a source for foreseeing Jesus’ birth:

“Behold, the virgin will conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us) (Mt 1:23, ESV; compare Isa 7:14).

This remarkable statement has attracted the attention of Christians for centuries, though not always for the same reasons.  Quite often, our jaws drop at the possibility of a virgin conceiving a child.  Indeed, it should.  But the truly jaw-dropping idea in this passage resides at the end of the verse.  Immanuel: God with us.

Every other blessing with associate with Christmas is tied up in this one thought.  Peace, joy, salvation – from the perspective of Scripture, they all come from God’s influence on the earth.  All the hopes we carry have always been meant to be secured in the Lord’s presence on the earth.

Throughout Israel’s history, as they faced threats from various nations, their hope for rescue and survival came from the notion that their God, the Creator, would fight on their behalf, that Yahweh was present with the people (See 2 Chr 20:15, for example).  The prophets, such as Elijah and his successor Elisha, performed their miraculous works and spoke the words of God by the Spirit of God which rested upon them (1 Sam 10:6; Joel 2:28).  Indeed, the great hope of Israel from start (Exo 25:8) to finish (Mal 3:1) has been the prospect of the Creator living in their midst.

The birth of Jesus represents the beginning of the fulfillment of that very hope.  Here is one who speaks the mind of God, who performs the acts of the Creator, who provides, heals, and raises the dead.  There in Palestine for a handful of years, the people of God must have asked themselves as they witnessed Jesus, “Have we just seen God among us?”

Fortunately, the hope does not end in the time of Christ.  No, the hope that the Lord will dwell among the people of the earth remains the central hope of believers today.  The hope of Christmas is reiterated on the final pages of our New Testaments for us to recite with eager longing:

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more.  And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.  And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man.  He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.  He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away” (Rev 21:1-4, ESV).

The hope of Christmas remains our hope to this day.  The peace, the happiness, the health, the joy, the abundant life we all desire rests in the hope, both ours and God’s, that the Creator will live among His people.

Merry Christmas!

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