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I just received word tonight that someone dear to my heart, a friend from church for whom I’ve spent much time in prayer, is losing her battle with cancer.  Heaven awaits. 

Upon receiving this news I broke down in tears.  I had no words, just tears. 

Then came the questions.  There were many, but they all came back to, “Why, God?” 

God did not answer that question, but He did direct my thoughts back to one word – ‘heaven’.  My friend is being called to heaven.  What a glorious thing!   I’m no expert on the subject, but I do remember how wonderful heaven sounds from the way it’s described in the Bible, mostly in the Book of Revelation.  (See Revelation 21:10 – 22:6 in your Bible or go to www.biblegateway.com and enter those passages.)

The Bible tells us of the magnificent grandeur and beauty of heaven – also called the new Jerusalem.  It will be a place where there is no darkness -no sin, evil, or suffering.  In heaven we will be made new.  There will be peace.  And the most wonderful part of being in heaven is that the Bible tells us that there will be no sun or moon because they won’t be needed.  Heaven will be lit by the radiant presence of the Lord.  Can you imagine being so close to the presence of the Lord that everything around you will be illuminated by His Spirit?   Oh, how warm and golden that lumination must be. 

That golden, glorious place awaits my friend. 

It grieves me that it wasn’t God’s will to heal my friend, but it has been His will to reveal Himself to her, her family, and those who have been rallying around her in amazing ways.  It is also His will to lead her on to the magificence and glory of heaven. 

Of course I still hope that an unexpected miracle is in store for my friend, and wouldn’t that be something to praise about?!  But if that is not to be so, I’ll still be able to praise my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, for coming down to this earth, offering salvation to all who believe in Him, that those who believe will have everlasting life with Him in heaven – especially knowing that my friend will be called by Him to live in such a wonderful place as heaven. 

He who is the faithful witness to all these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon!” 

Amen!  Come, Lord Jesus! 

The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you all. 

– Revelation 22:20-21

Happy are those who hear the joyful call to worship,  for they will walk in the light your presence, Lord.   – Psalm 89:15

What comes to mind when you think of the word ‘worship’? 

I used to think that ‘worship’ was a noun (people, place or thing) in the sense that it was an event I attended on Sunday mornings at church.  We’d go to worship – to an event where I’d hope to hear good music and be able to understand the sermon, not be too bored.  Worship for me was something I went to, not something I felt in my heart.

Now that I’ve come to love the Lord and truly recognize Him as the one who gave His life to cover my sins, worship is so much more.  Worship is still a noun for me, but in a much different way.  It’s a feeling in my heart for God, Jesus, and the power of the Holy Spirit.  Worship is no longer an event that I attend where I hope to be entertained in a religious way. 

Worship is also a verb.  It’s what I do!  I look forward all week to Sunday morning when I can go to church and worship my Father and my Savior.  I go to worship service so I can give praise and thanks, so  I can receive instruction from the Word.  Sometimes I receive correction from the Word.  Always I’m fed and inspired by the Word, the Living Word of the Holy Bible.

Webster’s defines worship as: (noun) 1. reverence or devotion for a deity; religious homage or veneration b) a church service or other rite showing this 2 extreme devotion or intense love or admiration of any kind; … (verb) 1 to show religious devotion or reverence for; adore or venerate as a deity 2 have intense love or admiration for; adore or idolize – vi. to engage in worship, or perform an act of religious devotion; specif., to offer prayers, attend church services, etc.

Unfortunately, the word worship is used more in society today in relation to professional athletes than it is in religious terms.  Although people might attend church, they’re often just going through the motions – like I used to do – and not coming before the Lord with a heart that seeks to honor and praise Him. 

Worship doesn’t just have to be done in church. I worship God at home when I take time to pray and seek His presence during my day.  I also worship when I’m listening to Christian music and lifting my heart in praise; and I’m worshiping Him when I’m in Bible study – in fellowship with others as we, too, offer our prayers and commit our time, hearts, and minds to going deeper into the teaching of His Word. 

Again, I ask, “What comes to mind when you hear the word ‘worship’? 

As we proceed through the advent season and celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, think about the Wise Men who traveled  two years to kneel before the King of Kings and present Him with the finest gifts they had to offer.  They came with more than just frankincense, gold, and myrrh.  They came with the most important gifts of all, hearts of worship for Christ, the newborn King.   

Dear Friends,

For inspirational Christmas devotions, please visit Proverbs 31’s site at www.Proverbs31.org.  

And don’t go away.  I’ll be updating my site asap!

CHRISTmas blessings,

Renee 

“Whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses.”          – Mark 11:25

In Stormie O’Martian’s “Power of a Praying Woman”, she addresses forgiveness in the 3rd chapter.  Forgiveness is a timely subject for me personally, for our church as we work through a difficult situation, and for this holiday season as we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. 

Stormie’s insights prompted a few of my own.  I realized that there are people I need to forgive so that I can move past hurts and insults they’ve caused.  I thought I was doing the right thing by overlooking those things and showing them grace.  I’ve prayed for those people and found my heart softened by my prayers, but it never occured to me to forgive them.  I must have been waiting for them to ask for forgiveness. That probably wouldn’t happen, though, because I don’t think they realize how their words and actions affected me – or if they do, they don’t care.  Either way, a request for forgiveness is not likely to come from them, so I must take the initiative and forgive them for my own sake and sanity. 

Stormie points out that forgiveness does not excuse or condone wrongful actions.  For me, forgiveness releases resentment and hurt from our hearts so that we can host more positive thoughts and feelings and be more receptive and responsive to God.  Harboring ill will toward others, even if covered by attempts of love and grace, will eat away at us and lead us to negative and sometimes destructive thoughts and behaviors. 

I was surprised to discover there are people I need to forgive.  Although these people offended me and, I never thought to myself that I should forgive them.  This realization only came to me when God spoke through the words I was reading.  God will speak to us in prayer, too.  Stormie suggests asking God in prayer to reveal to you those whom you need to forgive. 

The Bible’s greatest command for us is to love others and love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength.  This love will be compromised if hindered by unforgiveness.  Therefore, our efforts to be pleasing to God will be compromised, too. 

Forgiveness isn’t always an easy thing to do.  It can mean allowing God to peel away layers that have built up over time, thus exposing tender parts that have been guarded and maybe even buried.  But it’s ok.  Those layers can be oppressive and burdensome.  It is freeing to let them go! 

We need to offer forgiveness to all who have offended us or angered us, even if we do not agree with them or condone what they say or stand for.   Forgiving others doesn’t mean you are excusing the behaviors or words that upset you.  It means you’ll let the hurt and anger go and not hold grudges against your offenders.  Our former pastor used to say to let go of grudges because they’re not doing anything to the other person, but they’re killing those who hold onto them. 

Stormie reminds us that forgiveness is a constant choice we have to make.  It is something we have to choose to do and often we must forgive the same person many times, and we must choose to forgive whether we like it or not.   She suggests beginning with those closest to us, beginning with our parents. 

How about your spouse?  Has he or she said or done anything that needs your forgiveness?  Are you holding onto irritations or resentments with other family members?   Church family?  Friends?  Co-workers?  Neighbors? 

Stormie quotes this scripture from Matthew 18:32-35:  “So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his own heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses”.  It reminds me of the Lord’s Prayer, “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”

We enter into the Christmas season to celebrate the birth of Jesus.  The night and events of his birth are truly to be celebrated, but it’s His death that make them so meaningful.  You see, He lived to forgive.  He died so that you could be forgiven of ALL your sins.  How pathetic of us not to forgive others in return. 

I wrote a poem one Christmas Eve titled, “He Lived to Forgive”.  It was published in last year’s December issue of P31 Woman magazine.  I’d like to share it with you now. 

‘Tis the day before Christmas as my mind drifts to ponder.

I retreat from my busyness and reflect on the wonder

Of the gift that God gave us when He sent us His Son

To offer forgiveness and God’s grace to everyone

Who believes Christ is Savior who took all our sins,

And still lives today; through our hearts He enters in.

He brought us salvation from our own sinful ways

And all that He asks of us today,

Is that we pay it forward, sharing Christ’s love with all,

Including those who have wronged us or caused us to fall.

He lived to forgive, so shouldn’t we do the same?

Love and forgive others.  Let go of past blame.

Then we will receive the peace and joy Jesus gives

And the world will be better when through us He lives!

Please let me exclaim through these words that I write,

Merry CHRISTmas to ALL and through Him a blessed life.

                                                  – Renee Myers    Christmas Eve 2005

 CHRISTmas blessings to all,

Renee

I don’t know where to begin to express all that’s in my heart at this moment.  Quite possibly I can’t fully describe in words how God has filled me with joy and awe by answering prayers. 

Our church was in great turmoil last week because of internal problems.  Despite the inner turmoil, anguish, and frustration I felt by all that was happening and being said around me, I was ok.  I never got mad or upset.  A sense of calm, not of my nature, controlled my reactions.  I was in almost continual prayer over this situation and lost hours of sleep on several nights.  I was confused, upset, and worried, but I still remained calm and ‘ok’.  Every time I wanted to give in to my human tendencies, God would tell me, “Trust in the Lord and stay strong in the church.”  The only time I faltered and caused myself extra grief was when I turned away from that command, but God quickly convicted me and brought be back to where I needed to be – by HIS side and in His graces. 

Yes, I prayed continually and knew God was with me, but I’ve come to learn that others were praying for me, too.  The Holy Spirit put me on their hearts to lift me in prayer, and I can’t put into words the way that touches my heart!   I’m so appreciative of those people and so awed by God when He does things like that. 

I have more to say…but must close for now.  Come back later to hear more wonderful things that God has done!

Praise the Lord!

Renee

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