Are You Running?

As Christmas quickly approaches us, there are many people who are running around…running all over the place… running here…running there…running to make last minute preparations… and running to pick up last minute Christmas gifts for their spouses, children, families, and friends!

We as a society have become quite good at “running” …not only during this holiday season but also in our daily lives. Our “busyness” has taken over our days…really our lives! Oh and I can certainly attest to this as I reflect on my own life!

We tend to run from one meeting to the next…from one child’s soccer practice to another child’s ballet class…from one appointment to the next appointment…from one thing to the next thing!

And as I too have been “running” around this Christmas season, I have had to remind myself of the true “Reason for this Season” …So I began to read once again the story of Christmas and the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ in Luke 2.

And what was really exciting to me was that I couldn’t help but note something quite significant in this story…

In verse 11, Luke records that the shepherds were living out in the fields when the angel of the Lord appeared to them…and when the glory of the Lord shone around them, the shepherds were terrified. (As I would be too if an angel of the Lord appeared before me!)

But the shepherd’s fear quickly turned to joy as the angels announced the birth of Jesus…the birth of our Messiah…the birth of our Savior! So what did the shepherd’s do? Check this out! So awesome!

“Let’s get over to Bethlehem as fast as we can and see for ourselves what God has revealed to us”. They left, running, and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in the manger. Seeing was believing. Luke 16:17 Message

The shepherds “as fast as [they] can” …“left running”…Did you notice that!

I mean these shepherds were so excited…so full of joy…so full of anticipation…so looking forward to seeing their newborn king Jesus! …So much so that they didn’t waste any time and as fast as they could…left running! …Running to see their Messiah!

As I dug deeper into this record in Luke of the shepherds running, I came across a few commentaries that further highlighted this idea.

The shepherds lost no time, but came with haste to the place. Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary

And they came with haste…. In the night, leaving their flocks, to see their incarnate Lord, as Zacchaeus hastened down from the tree to receive the Saviour. The wonderfulness of the vision, the importance of the thing related, the eagerness of their spirits to see the thing that was told them, put them on making quick dispatch, and hastening to the city with all speed: Gill’s Exposition

Let us go across the country at the nearest, that we may lose no time, that we may speedily see this glorious reconciler of God and man. All delays are dangerous: but he who delays to seek Jesus, when the angels, the messengers of God, bring him glad tidings of salvation, risks his present safety and his eternal happiness. Clark’s Commentary

These shepherds “leaving their flock”…and many of us know that shepherds NEVER ever leave their flock unless one sheep is lost or has gone astray! Then a good shepherd will leave his flock under the guardianship of another and go off hunting for that one sheep that has wandered.

But these shepherds “leaving their flock”… “lost no time”…. “came with haste”…to “speedily see”…“to see their incarnate Lord’… “with eagerness in their spirits!”

Wow!

So how about you?

Are you running to see Jesus today…like the shepherds….with excitement, joy, and anticipation?

Are you running to Him first when you are facing challenges in your life?

Are you running to Him with eagerness looking forward to meeting Him in prayer and in His Word on a daily basis?

I know from my own experience that it’s sometimes easier to run to my spouse or my friend first when I am facing a challenge… Or sometimes it’s easier sleeping in a little longer…or running to check my emails… instead of running to spend time with Him each morning.

Not that it’s bad, of course, to run to your family and close friends…but where does Jesus fall on your list of people that you go to?…And not that every single morning… 365 days out of the year… you wake up so enthusiastic and eager to spend time with the Lord…but how often do you spend time with Jesus?

Are you running to Jesus like the shepherds were running to see Him? Do you run to Him first?

As we celebrate this Christmas and as many of us are running around, let’s run as the shepherds did that night…with eagerness…with enthusiasm…with excitement…with anticipation…

Let’s run to the One who is the very reason for the season…our Lord…our Messiah, our Redeemer…our Savior…Jesus Christ!

Merry Christmas everyone and thank you for blessing me and supporting Sweeter than Honey Blog! I look forward to sharing with you in the New Year!

Reflection Points:

1)      Are you running around with busyness this Christmas season? As much as you are running for yourself or others…are you running to Jesus like the shepherds did that night they heard of Jesus’ birth?

2)      Do you run to Jesus first when face challenges in your life? Or is it just easer to turn to your spouse or a friend?

3)      With all the time you spend running around in the busyness of your daily life, are you finding time to run to Jesus and spend time with Him?

Action Points:

1)      If you are finding that your focus has been on running around and getting things done and your have lost sight of the significance of this season…stop and remind yourself of the real reason for this Christmas season…the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. (Read Luke 2)

2)      When you face challenges in life, before you run to others for guidance or advice, submit your challenges to God first. Pray to Him and ask Him to comfort you, direct you, and encourage you in your challenge.

Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken. Psalm 55:22

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.1Peter 5:7

3)      Are your days so busy that you blink and the hours have gone by without spending any time with Jesus? Make it a priority to run to Jesus each day and spend time with Him. Pray to Him and read His Word. He wants to spend time with you. And what is so amazing is that when you make time for Him you will see that the things you need to get done that day…get done!

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Matthew 6:33

 

 

 

 

 

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Tears in His Bottle

Oh it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…Isn’t it?! A time to celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus! A time for families and friends to gather and rejoice!

As well as…a time of hustle and bustle…crowded shopping malls…crowded parking lots…pumpkin spice lattes…gingerbread cookies…yes it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

But as this Christmas approaches, what is considered to be a joyful season and a celebration of the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus may unfortunately be for some a season of hurt…a season of pain…a season of heartbreak…a season of grief…as memories and reminders surround you of someone or something that is missing.

Memories and reminders of a tragedy…a loss…recently or years passed.

Maybe the loss of a loved one… loss of a spouse…loss of a child…loss of a parent…

Maybe the loss of a relationship…a marriage…with your child…with a friend…

Maybe the loss of a job… the inability to provide for your family…

Maybe the loss of your health…a terminal illness…an unbearable physical pain…

Maybe you or someone you know is struggling this Christmas season…

Maybe you have shed many tears and still do in your pain…

Maybe these tears are shed for others or with others as sorrow or remembrance of a loss or tragedy…

Maybe these tears are shed in private…behind closed doors… because no one seems to understand the pain you are suffering or how much you hurting…

How can you find comfort and healing in a season that is supposed to be full of joy…full of happiness…full of hope?

My desire is to shed a new light on your shed tears…to all those hurting this holiday season…God sees and knows all the tears you have shed! Yes! Our truly amazing God of comfort…God of hope…God of love…He knows and understands…especially when no one else does!

Not only are your tears precious to God but He collects them and places them in a bottle. Each and every tear you have shed has been recorded in His book. I know so because He says so! Check out David’s prayer in Psalm 56:8…

You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book. NLT

Record my misery; list my tears on your scroll — are they not in your record? NIV

You have taken account of my wanderings; Put my tears in your bottle. Are they not in your book? NASB

Write down my poem of sadness. List my tears on your scroll. Aren’t you making a record of them? NIRV

It sure is hard to comprehend God collecting every single tear, but he does! He notices and records each tear and each lament and places them in His bottle.

Actually “tear bottles” were commonly used during Ancient Roman times, with mourners filling glass bottles with their tears, and placing them in tombs as a symbol of their respect for the deceased. It was also used to show remorse, guilt, love and grief.

Women cried during the procession, and the more tears collected in tear bottles meant the deceased was more important. The bottles used during the Roman era were lavishly decorated and measured up to four inches in height. Tear bottles were designed with special seals, which allowed the tears to evaporate. By the time that the tears were assumed to have evaporated, the mourning period was considered over.

So it makes me wonder…Is it just one big bottle with all our tears mingled together?

The Psalm does refer to God’s “bottle” in the singular. This is so cool to me! If He has collected every tear in that bottle, then I would venture to say that mingled with our own tears are the tears of Jesus!

We know from the passage in John 11 that “Jesus wept.” John 11:35 NIV

Jesus wept when He learned of the death of Lazarus. When the people saw Him weeping, they said, “See how he loved him!” John 11:36 NIV

But I am not so sure that Jesus was weeping because Lazarus was dead…Why? Because He knew He was going to raise Lazarus from the dead.

Rather, I think Jesus wept because of the compassion He felt for his people so much so that He wept with them in their sorrow. It is us that He loved so much that it brought Him to tears.

His empathy shows how much He loves and cares for humanity as we weep over our own tragedies and losses.

This certainly brings comfort to me…especially in this Christmas season as I remember the  loss of my very dear mother 4 years ago… wishing to spend just one more Christmas with her…one more day with her… knowing however that she is rejoicing in heaven today.

If you weep today…if you are shedding some tears this Christmas… remember that God is collecting your tears in His bottle, and mixing them with the tears of our dear Savior.

He is our ultimate healer and comforter! Trust Him today because He understands and will give you peace this Christmas…peace that surpasses all understanding! God doesn’t just give us hope…He is our hope…cling closely to Him my dear friend…He will not disappoint.

He heals the broken hearts and binds up their sorrows. Psalm 147:3 AB

Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:7 NLT

Reflection Points:

1)      Is this Christmas season a season of hurt…a season of pain…a season of heartbreak…a season of grief?

2)      Are you shedding tears because of a tragedy or loss?

3)      How can you find comfort and healing in a season that is supposed to be full of joy…full of happiness…full of hope?

Action Points:

1)      Your tears have not gone unnoticed. God sees and knows all the tears you have shed! He notices and records each tear and each lament and places them in His bottle.

2)      Find comfort and healing in the knowledge that God understands and will give you peace and strength to get through your loss.

 

 

 

Who is Getting the Glory?

In October of 2012, my husband Billy and I and our 2 little boys had an amazing opportunity to attend the Baseball World Series in San Francisco. Because Billy is a minor league hitting coach for the San Francisco Giants organization, we were given tickets to attend the first 2 games of the Series between the Giants and the Detroit Tigers who were both playing for the title and glory of the 2012 MLB World Series Champions.

We had an awesome time!…and what added to our excitement was watching game 3 and 4  on television back home in AZ and seeing the Giants beat the Tigers in 4 straight games to clench the World Series Champions title!…the fame and glory that all professional baseball players seek to achieve in their playing careers.

What was pretty crazy…crazy meaning “amazing”…was that Billy received a World Series ring as an employee of the organization. I remember the day it finally arrived and opening up the light green Tiffany box …Wow it was stunning! Talk about bling!

However, as brilliant and stunning this ring was, Billy and I have discussed on occasion how he personally did nothing to earn it himself. I mean he didn’t coach in any of the games or play in any of the games but that it was a generous gift…a very generous gift…for being part of the organization.

It is this World Series ring and the monetary bonuses along with all the fame and glory that is the very goal of all professional baseball players. Yes winning games is great…but to win the games of all games…the World Series…is the ultimate goal of every ballplayer’s career.

Many of these athletes glorify winning the World Series and this ring as an accomplishment they achieved on their own…or they give themselves the glory attributing their achievements to their ability and hard work.

So how about you?

What do you glorify in your life? Is it your career…your job or position…your accomplishments or achievements…your material possessions…maybe even yourself?

The dictionary defines glory as “something that secures praise or renown; great beauty and splendor; magnificence.”

Just like these professional athletes, we too can fall into the “I” and “me” mentality if we aren’t careful. We may think things like…I did this with my own ability and strength…I accomplished this with my hard work…I achieved this success with my perseverance…I received this award because I put in the time and energy…I deserve it.

You…and me…We…would not do, accomplish, achieve, receive…this, that, or anything… without God…period.

Apart from me you can do nothing. John 15:5 NIV

Is He getting the glory? What exactly does it mean to give God the glory?

In addition to the definitions above…the dictionary also defines glory as “worshipful praise, honor, and thanksgiving.”

In the Old Testament, the Hebrew word for  is “glory” is kabod which means “heavy in weight.”

When you glorify someone or something, you recognize its importance, or the “weight” of some uniqueness it possesses.

This may include  biblical examples such as a person’s wealth (ie.Solomon), or great strength (ie. Samson) or authority and power (ie.Nebuchadnezzar). The glory of someone or something is what sets it apart in a special way.

In the New Testament, the Greek word for “glory” is doxazo which means “a sense of brilliance or radiance.” It is commonly used to describe the brilliance of those who share or participate in the heavenly glory.

This may include biblical examples such as Jesus with Moses and Elijah as they appear in the glory on the Mount of Transfiguration (Matthew 17:1-2) or in the nativity…the birth of Christ…where an angel appears before the shepherds and “the glory of the Lord shone all around them.” (Luke 2:9)

But one example that I would like to share with you is the example of an individual…Herod Agrippa I…who did not give glory to God. So what happened? Check this out!

There are four generations of the Herod family mentioned in the Bible. In the book of Acts, Luke describes one of these Herods…Herod Agrippa I…who is one of Paul’s judges.

During a visit to Caesarea, the people called Herod a god…So what did he do? …He accepted their praise. Like his grandfather and uncle before him, and his son after him, Herod Agrippa I came close to the truth…but missed it. Because religion was important only as an aspect of politics, Herod demonstrated no hesitation in taking the glory that really only God should have received. And as a result, God struck him down with a disease…and not just any disease…he was eaten by worms! Uuugh! …And he died within a week.

Immediately an angel of the Lord struck him down, because he did not give God the glory, and he was eaten by worms and breathed his last. Acts 12:23 NLT ESV

Unfortunately, Herod’s mistake is a common one. Whenever we give ourselves the glory, become proud of our own abilities and accomplishments, not recognizing them as gifts, we repeat Herod’s sin.

This example of Herod being struck down is not a scare tactic by any means, but an important reminder of how quickly and easily we can give ourselves the glory that truly belongs to God.

Achievements, accomplishments, awards and using your God given talents and abilities to achieve successes aren’t necessarily bad things…but whom or what is getting the glory?

God created each of us with unique gifts and talents to be used…just like these professional baseball players who have been given their athletic gifts… And so when fame comes…when awards come…when glory comes…it is God who deserves all the glory!

You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.” Revelation 4:11 NIV

So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. 1 Corinthians 10:31 ESV

God is the ultimate source of all glory and no person or thing can receive it apart from Him.

“To give glory to God” means to live and speak sincerely and from the heart about His amazing nature and deeds…in such a way that we seek to do justice to the reality of who He is!

He deserves the glory in all things….at all times!

Reflection Points:

1)      When you achieve an accomplishment or receive an award, who gets the glory?

2)      What do you glorify in your life?

3)      Are you quick to give God the praise and glory or do you keep some of it for yourself?

Action Points:

1)      Remind yourself of the scripture John 15:5. Without God…apart from Him…we can do nothing!

2)      Remind yourself that God is the one who has given you all your talents and abilities as a gift… to be used to glorify Him…not yourself. You may have worked hard but you wouldn’t be able to “work hard” if God didn’t put it inside of you to “work hard!”