Coffee, tea, and Jesus please

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How do you feel about coffee? I tend toward ardent fan. I’m totally on the bandwagon for the coffee memes that proclaim it’s wonderfulness.

“Come here you big beautiful cup of coffee and lie to me about all we’re going to get done today.”

“All this girl needs today is a little bit of coffee and a whole lot of Jesus.”

“First I drink the coffee, then I do the things.”

Perhaps you are more Captain Picard, and a little less Captain Janeway. Is tea your bag? What gets you going in the morning? What ignites your energy for the day?

What wakes you up?

God tells us that we all need something to wake us up. We all were once sleeping through life, but He had a better plan. A better way.

Metaphorically, the Bible talks about sin as our sleep drug. Look at Proverbs 6:9-11.

How long will you lie there, O sluggard?
    When will you arise from your sleep?
10 A little sleep, a little slumber,
    a little folding of the hands to rest,
11 and poverty will come upon you like a robber,
    and want like an armed man.

Sin makes us sleepy. It closes our eyes to what is right and good. It’s surprisingly cozy and comfortable, lulling us into a complacency that leads to more sin. We love comfort so much that the light around us dims and we don’t even notice until we are standing in utter darkness.

This kind of thing happens when we disrespect our husbands and lash out at our families. We feel better for an instant, but then the darkness comes.

It happens when we skip church or avoid our Bible study group over and over again, for other things that sound fun or for the busyness of life. It feels good for a second to sleep in or not have to chit chat, but then the darkness comes.

It happens when we have a juicy conversation with the girls at work. It feels good to talk about someone else and know that your own shame is not the topic of the meaty conversation. It can’t hurt her if she doesn’t know, right? Then the darkness comes in.

It happens when we roll our eyes at our husband’s attempt at communication. We slam a cabinet and walk out of the room to get his attention. Then the darkness comes in.

Sin doesn’t wear a bright sign that says beware. Instead, it wraps us up slowly like a cozy blanket and then attempts to strangle us at the last minute, when we’re all tucked in.

Ephesians 5:7-14 is one of my favorite passages of Scripture and it’s about being awake. It is practical and bears the truth of the relationship between light, darkness, sleeping and being Awake Children of God –

Therefore do not become partners with them; for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light(for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), 10 and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. 11 Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. 12 For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. 13 But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, 14 for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says,

“Awake, O sleeper,
    and arise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you.”

At one time you were darkness…

Can you hear the grace? We are no longer darkness! We are light in the Lord. That means we are Daytime and Sunlight. We are not third shift, 3am, sluggish and sleepy children of God, trapped in sin.

We are Awake.

How do you wake up in the middle of a gossip session, especially when it feels so good? How do you wake up when the words of disrespect pour out of your mouth?

Do not become partners. (v.7)

Some people were meant to be avoided like the plague. This is not you being hurtful or failing to eat with tax collectors. This is you knowing your own limit. This is caring for others, but knowing when you aren’t at the place to resist the temptation. Don’t make your closest friends those who partner with darkness.

Don’t speak of shameful things. (v.12)

I know it’s the worst when everyone else knows what happened in the royal marriage that was shameful and catastrophic (Sorry royals, I know you have kept the marriages pretty stellar as of late), but if it’s someone else’s shame, it’s not our business to speak of. This goes for the divorce of the couple next door, or the mental illness that befell someone’s child. If it’s not our story, it’s theirs to share.

Let Christ Shine. (v. 14)

Brightness is His name. When we let go of what we want, the light of His glory is so bright that we can’t help but live Awake. Let the Spirit out, my friends! Let Him out. Tea and coffee, even a triple mocha espresso double skinny dark, have nothing on a real and living God inside of us. Pray – Lord shine through me. Let my life shine of only You and always You.

Ephesians 5:16, just a couple verses later leaves us with a good Awake reminder –

…making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.

Our time here is so short. I want to live Awake. I am Awake in Him. Why would I want to go back to that darkness, even for a brief stroll? Gag. No, thank you.

Awake, O sleeper…

Awake, precious Child…

Awake, daughter, brother, friend…

Grab your giant mug, inhale the scent of forgiveness, take a moment in prayer, and let Christ Shine.

Exploration:

What gets you going in the morning? Coffee, tea, exercise, more sleep? 😉

What does your morning routine look like?

What do you do in when gossip or disrespect from your own mouth seems imminent? Do you have a way to tamp it down and let light out instead?

How can you let Christ shine today?

Mama said there’d be days like this – when awake just isn’t working…

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Ever had the day when you’d like to just go back upstairs, put on your pajamas, crawl back into bed, and hide from the world around you? Yes? So this was my day last Tuesday. It took everything I had to leave my clothes on and walk around out where the people live.

These are the kind of days that we are reminded of a hard truth – we are sinners, living in a sinful world. Life isn’t always sunshine and roses, but it certainly is worthwhile. As much as I want to slip on my pajamas and hide under my covers, He calls me out for more.

Israel in the Old Testament had plenty of pajama-and-under-the-covers kind of days. Some were their own fault. They chased other gods, let lust have its way, and set aside the opportunities to worship for whatever seemed good at the moment. Sin creeps into our lives in ways we least expect as well.

We think we’re pretty good people, we go to church, we do alright. The Truth: Not one of us is without sin. We have blunt and obvious sin – hurtful words and anger, ignoring our neighbor, the chitter chatter of gossip, and more. We also have the secret sins – hate in our heart, lust, discontentment, thinking highly of ourselves.

Look at Isaiah 26:16-19

O Lord, in distress they sought you;
    they poured out a whispered prayer
    when your discipline was upon them.
17 Like a pregnant woman
    who writhes and cries out in her pangs
    when she is near to giving birth,
so were we because of you, O Lord;
18     we were pregnant, we writhed,
    but we have given birth to wind.
We have accomplished no deliverance in the earth,
    and the inhabitants of the world have not fallen.
19 Your dead shall live; their bodies shall rise.
    You who dwell in the dust, awake and sing for joy!
For your dew is a dew of light,
    and the earth will give birth to the dead.

As we read, we hear the Israelites proclaim their allegiance to the Lord and the Lord alone. They recognize their sin and the mess they’ve made, while looking around and seeing the sin and mess of the nations around them. They recognize the goodness and necessity of the Lord’s discipline. Consequences happen, but in this instance, instead of sneaking away, they cling tightly to the promise that only the resurrection can offer – life eternal and an eternal life perspective.

Sometimes God not only gives me grace, He also gives me excessively practical advice for these exact situations in my own life. Isn’t it nice when it works out like that? What can we learn for life from Isaiah 26?

They pray:

…they poured out whispered prayer…

He wants to hear our sin. He knows it, why say it? Why confess it aloud?

Hearing it from our lips and poured out from our hearts, gives Him the opportunity to pour in.

He pours into us forgiveness and life. He pours tenderness and healing. Do you have past sins that sit on your heart like a boulder? Do you ever feel like if people found out your real story, they would never look at you the same way again? God says, No. I heal. I restore. This sin, let me use it for my testimony. I have a plan.

“pray without ceasing…” 1 Thessalonians 5:17

Pray unceasingly also means pray about all of it, even the ugly. God invites us to pour out every last sin and temptation to Him.

Pour it out to Him. Let Him pour in.

 

They rise:

(v.19 ) Your dead shall live; their bodies shall rise.
    You who dwell in the dust, awake and sing for joy!

God invites us to confess, not to make us sit in the dust, but to pick us up out of our shame and pour Himself into us.

“…my cup overflows…” Psalm 23:5

This exchange of pouring is part of the overflowing cup – Him filling and filling and filling some more, releasing us from the burden of our own incapabilities and inadequacies. “Let me take that,” He says, “I already carried that cross.”

When faced with our sin, we can look to Jesus, or we can look away. We can crawl back into our jammies and hide under the covers, or we can let Him give us a New Day.

Pour it out to Him. Let Him pour in.

My cup overflows with mercy and grace. I pray you know the truth of this today. Forgiveness and grace, poured on you for every last sin, every last fail, for pajama days and rockstar days and every day in between.

fontcandy-42Exploration:

When was the last time you wanted to crawl back into your pajamas and hide under the covers? How did God tend to your heart?

Read John 17:1-5 Identify the following:

Who is praying?

Why?

What does he identify as eternal life and how does this perspective change each of our days?

 

*background images courtesy of Pexels.com, memes always sharable`

 

 

The Night before Christmas or What’s the proper time to start playing the Christmas tunes?

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So, which one are you? Are you a its-99-days-until-Christmas! kind of person or a wait-until-Thanksgiving-please kind of girl? Do you rock to the Christmas tunes with little abandon in mid July or do you avoid the home and garden section of Walmart and Target in October because instead of fall foliage and ferns, you feel stressed as they push the fake evergreens and strands of twinkly lights out onto the floor? Should we use Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays?

Is there one right way?

I’m not so sure. Let’s remind ourselves of a familiar passage in Isaiah 9:2, 6-7 and hear it in a different context. Today it’s time for an advent devotion –

The people who walked in darkness
    have seen a great light;
those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness,
    on them has light shone.

For to us a child is born,
    to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
    and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of his government and of peace
    there will be no end,
on the throne of David and over his kingdom,
    to establish it and to uphold it
with justice and with righteousness
    from this time forth and forevermore.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.

In these verses, Isaiah is prepping the Israelites to live in 400 years of silence. God is giving them the promise of Christmas, a few hundred years early, so that they can muscle through the dark season to come. I’m not sure we can imagine a time likes this – a time when God stopped speaking through the prophets and hadn’t yet given the Word in its fullness to His people. We do know darkness, but we do not know the darkness of a silent God.

One night, a long time ago in Bethlehem town a child was born to us. The Word made flesh dwelt among us. The temple curtain torn. His canon of the Word completed for us. We no longer live in silence. We have daily Hope in a Living Spirit that chooses us as His dwelling place.

The message of this hope can so easily be lost in the banter of our beliefs about the right and proper time to put out decorations, the correct greeting, the proper placement of the wise men in the nativity, the Facebook opinions that attempt to drown out the other side.

We love to be right, so much so, that we sacrifice the meaning and its message.

The message of Christmas is the message of a God who is awake. There was a night before Christmas.

And then the World awakened to a Baby Boy.

There were a few thousand nights before Christmas when people were waiting and hoping and praying and all along God had a plan. He was awake and listening to the cries of His people. He plotted the proper time. He chose just the right moment. And one morning, Hope was Born.

The angels awakened in the skies…

The wise men awaken from their study, to find sure and solid Truth…

The weary world wakes up Christmas morning to find that everlasting Joy has dawned…

Isaiah doesn’t stop there. Look at Isaiah 9:6 again. Because God is awake and hears our cry, He invites us to –

Awaken to Mighty

Awaken to Wonderful

Awaken to Everlasting

Awaken to Peace

Where do you need God’s mighty help in your life? Where do you need a touch of wonderful counsel and care? Where do you need to know that this is not all, that something is Everlasting? Where do you need some heaven sent Peace?

Christ Jesus, born innocent and precious and tiny, has more power in His itty-bitty right pinky finger than we can imagine, but He deigns to bring hope to me, to my family, to my friends, to my church, to my world.

That night before Christmas was so dark, some seasons in our lives are dark as well. They feel like the night before and we are desperate just to get to the night after, but God is awake through all of it. He hears, child, He hears and never, never will we have to live without Jesus.

So whether it’s December or May, let’s live in the full knowledge and with thankfulness in our hearts, on our lips, that we have a God of Hope, a God who is Awake. Let’s drop the arguments, or at least set them aside for a wee bit and share this message with someone who needs it…

Wonderful Counselor

Mighty God

Everlasting Father

Prince of Peace

Our God is Awake.

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The Night Before Christmas by Brandon Heath

Exploration:

Let’s enter the no judgement zone! Which way do you roll – Christmas early and often, or do you like to hold it off a bit to keep it special?

How do you think the message of a God that is awake can impact the hurting world, the complacent world, or the sin-sick world?

Which title speaks to you in a particular way today – Our God is…a Wonderful Counselor? a Mighty God? an Everlasting Father? or a Prince of Peace? How and why?