Awaking Memories

About Memories #3

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We all forget. I’m hopeless when it comes to remembering passwords. I also forget names, birthdays, and appointments. While forgetting usually embarrasses and often inconveniences me, it’s much more critical that I remember those things God specifically tells me to remember.

These are the memories I must awaken—I cannot afford to forget God’s faithful involvement in my life, or His character, greatness and power, or His expectations of me and His plans for me. These memories cannot be permitted to fade. Even though this post is longer than usual, my list is only partial. Join me and awaken these memories in your heart.

  • Remember what God has already done for me and around me.

Remember the wonders he has done, his miracles, and the judgments he pronounced. (Ps. 105:5)

  • Remember my strength, supply, and giftings are from Him.

But remember the Lord your God…it is he who gives you the ability… (Deut. 8:18)

  • Remember to praise to Him—when I understand and when I don’t.

God is exalted in his power. Who is a teacher like him? Who has prescribed his ways for him, or said to him, “You have done wrong”? Remember to extol his work… (Job 36:22-24)

  • Remember God’s power and strength when overwhelmed by what I face.

“Don’t be afraid… Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your homes.” (Neh. 4:14)

  • Remember I need refreshment that is found only in His presence.

Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy… the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy. (Ex. 20:8, 11)

  • Remember that God sees the full picture and His purposes stand fast, even though I don’t understand and can’t see one step ahead.

Remember this, fix it in mind, take it to heart…I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me. I make known the end from the beginning…what is still to come. I say: My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please. (Isa. 46:8-10)

  • Remember to release all I possess for God’s call and purposes.

Remember Lot’s wife! Whoever tries to keep his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it. (Luke 17:32-33)

  • Remember God is forever faithful, even when I suffer.

So my spirit grows faint within me; my heart within me is dismayed. I remember the days of long ago; I meditate on all your works and consider what your hands have done. (Ps. 143:4-5)

  • Remember to give generously to those in need.

Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously… God loves a cheerful giver. (2Cor. 2 9:6-7)

  • Remember to be gracious, hospitable and caring.

Do not forget [Remember]to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it. Remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering. (Heb. 13:2-3)

  • Remember God’s power when I don’t feel His presence but desperately need it.

Has God forgotten to be merciful? Has he…withheld his compassion? … I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago. (Ps. 77:9, 11)

  • Remember His mercy and compassion when I feel forgotten.

I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall… Yet this I call to mind [remember] and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. (Lam. 3:19-23)

  • Remember His strength and power when I am weak and helpless.

Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always. Remember the wonders he has done, his miracles, and the judgments he pronounced. (1 Chron. 16:11-12)

  • Remember His mercy in saving me, taking me in, giving me hope.

Remember… you were separate from Christ… without hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ. (Eph. 2:12-13)

Holy Spirit, You are our Helper and Counselor. Awake memories of Your goodness, mercy, and love.

But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. (John 14:26)

Graphic compliments of aitoff@Pixabay

Aching Memories

About Memories #2

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Why do details of the really good memories we want to savor appear blurry, but bad, sad, aching memories show up in hi-def and vibrant color? The loss, the insult, the injury—though unbidden—display themselves in dazzling detail.

Could it have something to do with how often we rehearse them? (Cringe!)

I zeroed in on a powerful truth last year: I can control what I think about. I used to think I was a victim of my thoughts, that I must entertain them whenever they present themselves. Now I know they are under my control—I can pick and choose. And I must. It’s like changing the channel on the television—the program is still being aired but I don’t have to watch it.

I found several tactics effective for thought replacement therapy:

  • I stop and give thanks for half a dozen things—any things, random things. I simply divert my mind to consider my blessings.
  • I pray a blessing on the offender. Yes, really. It deflates the power of my bad memory and works a change in me. (And who knows what it does in their life.)
  • I consider the blessings that came my way in spite of, in the midst of, or following my great sorrow.

These are channel changers. So are listening to worship music, meditating on a favorite verse, changing my physical position.

Another aspect of my thought replacement therapy for memories is to decide to ignore, stuff or deal. Hint: though often a preference, stuffing is not an option. The key word here is decide. Face the memory and realize that ignoring it invites a future visit. Dealing with it may not stop those visits, but a healthier you will respond to the knock and a stronger you will not invite the memory in.

It’s simplistic, I know, and traumatic memories may need the perspective of a counselor. But for those recurring memories that stir bitterness in your heart, I recommend thought replacement therapy for a happier, freer you.

Making Memories in 2019

About Memories #1

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Christmas and the arrival of a new year comprise one of the most reflective seasons on the calendar. For each of us, inescapable memories enhanced (or marred) our Christmas celebration. Some of those memories came by invitation, others by intrusion. They all arrived with accompanying emotions.

As we close the door on 2018 and its remembrances, we hope to make good memories in 2019. “Making memories” appeals to us. The phrase inspires dreams of happy experiences—celebrations and milestones, trips and vacations, accomplishments and relationships. After all, nobody chooses to make bad memories.

The truth is, however proactive we are in making good plans to create good memories, 2019 will include the making of bad memories—those we don’t plan or want, memories that make us uncomfortable, embarrassed, or sad and may hurt for many Christmases to come.

I am convinced, through years of personal pain and ministry to hurting people, that there is only one antidote for the unwelcome events that create bad memories—grow strong now.

When a crisis arrives, it’s doable—you can survive. You will muster the needed strength and inner resources. But, if you’re already strong spiritually you will ride the churning waves without being sucked under. Spiritual health equips us to win the war over life’s disappointments, much as a healthy lifestyle prepares our bodies to overcome disease.

My new year’s wish is that 2019 brims with wonderful memory-making experiences and that we will end the year well—because we set our hearts to grow strong today. We will overcome 2019’s challenges and our walk through the year will be sweeter.

I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being. Ephesians 3:16

 

We’re All Christmas Travelers

Christmas Travelers

10AllAreTravelers_Julie Rodriguez Jones

I believe each of us can be found in the Christmas story.

  • Some are journeying to an unfamiliar destination, along an uncomfortable road, believing in God’s provision and care—trusting that He has preceded them and is waiting for their arrival. Like Joseph and Mary, your trust will be rewarded.
  • Others are in a good place, fully devoted to God, living for the praise of His glory, worshiping Him without reserve, proclaiming the Good News. Your heart for worship will encourage others—let it show with angelic splendor.
  • Many are seeking to verify truth and find the Bethlehem Savior for themselves. When you do, tell others about your discovery with shepard-like enthusiasm.
  • Some are following an elusive vision, a star if you will, trusting that God is directing them, leading them to His fullness. You will not be disappointed. With hearts like the magi, fall on your knees before the King.

Wherever we are in our story, we’re not traveling alone. The God who has set our hearts to follow Him is with us and will reveal Himself. Press forward, be faithful, enjoy the journey.

God has chosen to make known … the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. Colossians 1:27

Picture by Julie Rodriguez Jones

Magi, Camels & the Ultimate GPS

Christmas Travelers

“We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him.” Matthew 2:2

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Most stars are not visible from my suburban backyard. I can barely discern the constellations, let alone discover a star of rare significance. And follow it? I would likely end up at Newark Airport and watch my star land on the tarmac. Thankfully, this was not the scenario of the three magi—wise men—kings—who followed the celebrated Christmas star.

What kind of people are willing to follow a star? Were the Magi adventure seekers? Wise men with a nagging emptiness? Kings with too much time on their hands?

  • They were magi—astrologers, dreamers of dreams, interpreters of omens—who saw a momentous, significant star and followed it. The God-sent, heavenly GPS led them to the most pivotal, momentous point in history. Oh, that I would live so courageously!
  • They were wise men who recognized a sign when they saw one and willingly followed it, believing their journey would make them wiser still. Oh, that I would pursue wisdom so eagerly!
  • They were kings, men of wealth and power, who bowed before greatness embodied in a child and offered their riches to One whose significance they did not comprehend. Oh, that I would worship so humbly and give so generously!

Lord, I acknowledge that you have put stars in my sky to point me to you. May I follow with the determination, enthusiasm, and humility of the wise… and bow in worship.

The star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was… On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh. Matthew 2:9, 11

Graphic compliments of Angeleses@Pixabay

Shepherds—in the Field, Making Tracks

Christmas Travelers

8shepherdsThere they were, minding their own business (which was sheep) and the most astounding event in their shepherding career burst upon them. Never had they imagined an angel visitation, much less a host of worshiping angels. How astounding was that sight, that sound on an otherwise routine night? What they saw and heard was like nothing they ever experienced or would experience again.

After telling the terrified shepherds to not fear and then sharing the secret of the ages, the angel added this caveat, “You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” He didn’t have to say, “Go.” Of course they would go! Wouldn’t you? Wouldn’t I?

But I wonder if I would go now, today. Would I check my calendar? Would I schedule a visit? Would I go before I bought a gift? Maybe I should pray about it first.

How much do I miss by checking things out, preparing, scheduling, getting ready? The shepherds didn’t pause. They said, “Let’s go…”

So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. (Luke 2:15-18)

They went—actually, they hurried. They found Jesus. They spread the word. And those who heard it were amazed!

Like those simple men on the Judean hills, let’s not complicate our response but hasten to discover truth and spread the word.

We have a thrilling Christmas message—let’s hurry off and amaze some people, today.

Angel Travelers on a Mission

Christmas Travelers

Annunciation to the Shepherds

Did you ever try to imagine what it was like in heaven when Jesus was born on earth? We have no idea how much the angels understood about God’s glorious provision for man’s salvation, but they were heaven-dwellers who lived in Jesus’ company. Even with limited understanding they must have sensed something big was happening—something earth-shattering. At the climax of this world’s history, the angels were sent on their greatest mission yet, as told in Luke two. An angel traveled to earth to deliver the most significant message of all time,

“Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.”

The angel’s astounding, earth-changing news could not wait for Mary to recover, for Joseph to notify family, or for the shepherds to prepare. This good news of incredible joy happened that day—same-day delivery before the days of internet, texts, and tweets. They declared it in the heavens, proclaiming to men the Messiah had come!

Heaven and earth had waited long enough and now “the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman” (Galatians 4:4). The angel traveled to earth to announce the birth of the long-awaited Messiah, and he didn’t come alone.

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.” (Luke 2:13-14)

Lord, fill us today with unrestrained angel-like joy that impels us to declare the Christmas message to the common shepherds in our lives. And let our praise be glorious!

For fascinating reading about what could have been Heaven’s perspective, I highly recommend The Birth by Gene Edwards.

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