Wednesday, December 16, 2015

The Truth about Christmas

The holiday season is supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year, filled with laughter and joy. So why can’t I get into the Christmas spirit this year?!? The weather in Georgia could have something to do with it… any other time of year, the beautiful, sun-shiny, seventy degree weather would be ideal, but it just feels wrong to be hanging up my Christmas wreath while wearing jeans & a t-shirt. It’s not “Christmassy" at all! 

Another contributing factor might be that we’re a week out from Christmas and I haven’t gotten very much of my Christmas gift shopping done. The more I think about having to go out in that mess with the holiday traffic, the searching for a parking spot, and the crowds of people at the mall; the more I just want to skip the Christmas Holiday, shout "Happy New Year!", and get this busy, stressful, hectic holiday season over with!

But, then as I’m watching my two year old play with his Fisher Price nativity scene, I’m reminded that none of those things listed above are truly “Christmassy”. Christmas isn't pretty decorations, or fancy gifts. It isn't packing our schedules so full that we can't enjoy the people we're with, because we are stopping in to say hello at one party so that we can rush to the next one. The madness has to STOP! The Truth about Christmas, is found away in a manger, no crib for a bed. Jesus is the real reason we celebrate Christmas, and not just because of his birth, but because of the man He grew up to be. So, while I’ve gone the minimalist rout on decorating this year (one Christmas wreath hanging on the front door, our stockings dangling on the mantle, and a plastic nativity scene), because I just wasn’t in the mood to decorate, I’m finding that it’s a lot easier to stay focused on the true meaning of Christmas when I don’t have all those other things blocking my view of the joy I have in knowing that Jesus came to earth as a baby, so that He could grow up to be the Savior of the world.

The Birth of Jesus as told in Luke 2:1-14

In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. And everyone went to their own town to register.

So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room available for them.

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.

Saturday, November 21, 2015


With the upcoming holiday, I've been reflecting on the word Thanksgiving. According to the Webster's dictionary, "Thanksgiving - a legal holiday celebrated in the U.S. for people to be thankful for what they have." I think it's much more than that, when we recognize who provided all those things in the first place.

Thanksgiving isn't something we should celebrate once a year on the fourth Thursday of November, but on a daily basis we should live a life of gratitude to the Creator of the world, just for being who He is. "Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever." Psalm 118:1 (NIV)

So, how do we live a life of Thanksgiving in a world that seems so dark & gloomy, a world where mass shootings and terrorist attacks become more common every day. A world that is so focused on how this situation affects me, instead of looking at the bigger picture and asking what can I do for others, that will bring glory to God? The answer is we can't, not on our own at least, but through the power of Jesus Christ.

"Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians‬ ‭5:18 (NIV)

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians‬ ‭4:6-7‬ ‭(NIV‬‬)

In other words, "turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face. The things if earth will grow strangle dim, in the light of His glory & grace." We're not promised that when we look to Jesus, everything will be rainbows & butterflies. I'm not saying that when we look to Jesus that all the bad stuff in the world goes away. We live in a fallen world. But when we turn to Jesus, He will give us a peace that passes all understanding.

Sometimes in life we walk through valleys, and other times we get to hang out on a mountain top. I'm thankful for my valleys, because I got to witness first hand that God will never leave me or forsake me. Through the hard times, and my lowest points, I got to learn how to lean on Jesus. "But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint." Isaiah 40:31

So, thank You Lord for being who You are. You are good, and your love never fails. Thank you for being strong when I'm weak. Thank you for the life you have given me! Thank you for being faithful to keep Your promises. Thank You for loving me at my worst, and for sending Your Son Jesus, to prove on the cross how much You love me. Today, I won't ask for anything, I just want to say thank you!

Friday, November 6, 2015

Please wait...

It has been said that God answers prayer in three different ways; yes, no, and wait. The first two are a little easier for me to hear, but if I’m being honest, hearing the word wait, not so easy. We live in a world where everything moves so fast, we’re so wrapped up in ourselves, that when we have to wait on someone or something it becomes an inconvenience. Dr. Charles Stanley said it perfectly in his study The Grace to Wait, 

“Waiting on somebody or anything implies that we’re not in control.” Oh boy, how we hate to be out of control. I’m put on hold for fifteen minutes with the credit card company. I’m delayed by road construction, and now I have to sit in traffic. I have to pause the movie I’m trying to watch because my husband wants to get a snack and doesn’t want to miss anything. I’m held up at the doctor’s office because, well I don’t know why, visits to the doctor just always take forever. None of us like to wait and that’s normal, but God…

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11

Did you know the original Hebrew root of be still doesn't mean "Be quiet"? It actually means "let go”. We can worry about the details and wear ourselves out emotionally, or we can learn to let go of our plans and give them to God.

I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” Psalm 27:13-14.

When God asks us to wait, it’s for a good reason. Only He can see the full picture, and His timing is perfect! He is never late. When we put our trust in the Lord, He gives us the strength we need to wait. I leave you with a few verses that have encouraged me. My prayer is that they will give you strength and peace as well.

Be still and know that I am God.
Psalm 46:10

"My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever."
Psalm 73:26
Truly my soul finds rest in God; my salvation comes from Him.  Truly He is my rock and my salvation; He is my fortress, I will never be shaken.
Psalm 62:1-2

Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him; do not fret when people succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes. Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret—it leads only to evil. For those who are evil will be destroyed, but those who hope in the Lord will inherit the land.
Psalm 37:7-9

You are my refuge and my shield; I have put my hope in your word.
Psalm 119:114

He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.
Isaiah 40:29-31

Friday, October 23, 2015

"Write a blog"

When the Spirit speaks, you learn to listen and obey, because when we walk through life in the will of God we get to know true peace and joy! So, what is the Lord telling me today?

Holy Spirit: "Jessica, I want you to start a blog and use it to share how I'm working in your life."

Jessica: "Me? I'm terrible with words, are you sure you want ME to write a blog?"

Holy Spirit through His Word: "Moses said to the Lord, “Pardon your servant, Lord. I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue.” The Lord said to him, "Who gave human beings their mouths? Who makes them deaf or mute? Who gives them sight or makes them blind? Is it not I, the Lord? Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.”"Exodus 4:10-12

Jessica: "Yes, Lord. Where You lead, I will go."

So, here is it. Giving God the glory.
(Full story of Moses can be found in the book of Exodus)


Sometimes God is subtle, He whispers truth, and sends a gentle wind to guide me. Sometimes I hear Him, but other times I let the hustle and bustle of life keep me from hearing His still small voice. Lately though, He's been speaking to me LOUD and CLEAR! I keep hearing the word forgive.
"Then Peter came to Him and asked, "Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?" "No, not seven times," Jesus replied, "but seventy times seven!" ~ Matthew 18:21-22

"The number seven often has a highly significant meaning in Scripture. In the book of Hebrews, the number seven is shevah, which comes from the root savah, which means "to be full, to be satisfied." The number seven often, therefore, speaks of a complete work (but not always). In this passage Christ is telling Peter, "Down here, the need to forgive never ends. You must forgive again and again and again." ~ The Storm Inside by Sheila Walsh

How do you forgive? Let's start by learning what unforgiveness is.

"Unforgiveness - Holding a debt over someone else. Not allowing for mistakes, carelessness, or weakness. Making someone pay for something Jesus already paid for." ~ Rebekah Royal WOW!!! Hard truth right there!

In Ephesians 4:32 we're told to forgive because we have been forgiven. "Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you."

We are already forgiven, it's when we confess those sins that we can rejoice and be free in that forgiveness!

So how do we forgive others? "It feels really good when a friend forgives us after we have done something bad. We can be friends again and have fun together. When your friend asked you to forgive him (or even if they don't ask), remember how it feels to be forgiven, and forgive your friend. Jesus is our best Friend, and He ALWAYS forgives us when we do something wrong. Forgive friends and you will be more like Jesus." ~ Bedtime Devotions with Jesus by Johnny Hunt

Look back and remember all the things Jesus has forgiven you for, if you are like me, there is a lot!! Remember what it feels like to be forgiven. Remember that nothing and nobody (except Jesus) on earth is perfect. We have to allow room for imperfection in others, just as we would like to have others allow room for our imperfections. ~ Judy Reamer

In my flesh, I'm a bit of a grudge holder. I let small things pile up until I finally explode with frustration on the person who seems to be pushing my buttons. What the Lord has been teaching/reminding me, is that I am no longer to live in my flesh, but “in Christ as His new creation” (2 Corinthians 5:17). When Christ died on the cross, He didn't just die for my sins, He died for everyone else's sins too (including that button pressing person. Say what?!!) I've been reminded that our debt is paid. So when someone says or does something that hurts my feelings, I can "let it go, let it go" and give my hurt to God, remembering that he/she doesn't owe anything for that debt because Christ's blood already paid for it. Remembering that, makes it a lot easier not to hold onto the hurt and to be forgiving.