Easter is the greatest CELEBRATION on our Christian calendars! Jesus has risen! He has overcome death! The tomb is empty and because He lives we will live forever with Him!
PRAISE THE LORD!
SHOUT FOR JOY!
But what about two days later? How are you celebrating now? Are you still reeling from the festivities? Are you staggering or swaying as you clean up the aftermath? Has an emotional, mental or physical “SHOCK” set in as you come down from the “HIGH?”
It can almost feel like we are “jet-lagged” from all the emotion, festivities and CHOCOLATE! Have you hit the proverbial “let-down” that easily comes after a grand party?
If you have, then it is time to pick yourself back up! Plant your feet firmly on the ground and stand strong.
The Tomb is still empty! Our Savior Jesus Christ is still alive! And best of all, all of us who call upon His name are saved and will live forever with Him!
For “Everyone who calls on the Name of The Lord will be saved.” Romans 10:13
EVERY DAY WITH JESUS IS A CELEBRATION!
Every day with Jesus is a CELEBRATION friend! It is a celebration of life over death!
It is a celebration of light over darkness! It is a celebration of the gift that we have in Jesus every day we walk with Him!
Do you shout out when you adore something? Does the world know how you feel about what it is you adore, or are you keeping it private between just you and maybe one or two others?
If I threw out the name of a team or two would you react with a “WHOOP WHOOP,” or simply jump up and down on the inside where no one else could see it?
If someone you adore walked across the stage at graduation would you stand up and hoot and holler or would you remain seated and give a soft “golf clap?” If you were attending a concert of a musical group you adore, would you stand to your feet and clap to the beat, or would you hum along to yourself in a dignified fashion? Would you stand to your feet when a song is raised in worship about your Savior, or would you sing to Him quietly as you sit?
All of these acts of celebration are good and right, but the celebration I am talking about calls for a HOSANNA! An all out expression of adoration, praise and exuberant joy!
A celebration that pulls us out of our preferences and brings us to surrender and abandonment of all that holds us back. An act of adoring love that comes out of our bodies as much as it flows from our mouths! When we think about it, read about it or hear about it HOSANNA flows out of every part of our being!
This is what happened to the crowd as they saw Jesus riding in on a donkey.
“The disciples went and did as Jesus instructed them. They brought the donkey and placed their cloaks on it for Jesus to sit on.” Matthew 21:6-7
The disciples obeyed the instructions of Jesus and as soon as the people saw Jesus the adoration began!
“A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds went ahead of Him and those that followed shouted,
HOSANNA to the son of David! Blessed is He who comes in the name of The Lord!” Matthew 21:8-9a
But they did not stop there! They felt such joy in their spirits that their celebration continued in the highest praise they could articulate…
“HOSANNA in the highest heaven.” Matthew 21:9b
The crowd was shouting “HOSANNA, HOSANNA, HOSANNA in the highest.”
They recognized Jesus as the Messiah, the Son of David, the Anointed One and the King of Israel! They were acknowledging Him as the rightful heir to David’s throne!
As we reflect on that incredible day over 2000 years ago, I have to ask myself, would I celebrate Jesus with a HOSANNA? Would I be waving a “palm branch” of sorts today and shouting at the top of my lungs in front of my city, “Here comes JESUS! He is the King of Kings and The Lord of Lords! He is worthy to be praised!” Or would my celebration be less of a HOSANNA to my King and more of a head nod or polite golf clap?
Is He Lord of all to you?
Do you rest in Him as the Coming King?
Do you believe He will return again as He said He would?
Do you believe He will bring a reign of peace?
If He is our reigning King then let us praise Him!
If He is our Prince of Peace then let us trust Him!
If He is our provider and protector then let us give Him the glory!
If He is Jesus, Son of God who willingly entered Jerusalem on a donkey, went to the cross and died for our sins, then let us raise a bold and strong HOSANNA and give Him all of our adoration, praise and joy! He is so deserving!
WHEN WE RAISE A HOSANNA TO JESUS OUR MESSIAH WE PROCLAIM HIM AS KING!
Growing up there was a song my sisters and I used to love to sing. We would begin to dance around and shout the words at the top of our lungs the minute we heard this song come on. We still play it and sing it at family celebrations. The minute it begins, our spirits are lifted and the celebration begins!
“There’s a party goin’ on right here
A CELEBRATION to last throughout the years
So bring your good times and your laughter too
We gonna celebrate your party with you.”
It is a song by Kool and the Gang and the lyrics are fun to sing. You cannot help but feel the smile spread across your face as the words come out of your mouth.
Your feet begin to tap to the beat and your legs want to get into rhythm!
But today as I sing this song and the words play over and over in my head, I cannot help but see the irony between a party celebration this song is about and the Sunday celebration we have when we come together as believers in Christ!
The chorus goes like this:
Celebrate good times, come on!
Celebrate good times, come on!
Did you catch that phrase…“Come on!”
It’s calling us to CELEBRATE!
There is ABSOLUTELY nothing better to CELEBRATE than the life we share as believers in Christ Jesus our Lord!
“It’s time to come together
It’s up to you, what’s your pleasure?
Everyone around the world, come on!”
The most significant CELEBRATION that we will ever have, this side of Heaven of course, is the weekly coming together of God’s children! That’s church people!
When we go to church we are celebrating the common bond that we have in Jesus.
We are celebrating the gift of the Holy Spirit that we have because of Jesus! And we are celebrating the life that we share in Jesus!
“All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals and the Lord’s supper, (AKA communion), and to prayer.” Acts 2:42
When the Holy Spirit came upon them, the believers in Acts 2, they formed a community, a church, a place to gather together as believers in Jesus and CELEBRATE!
When the New Covenant came through Jesus Christ it was accompanied by the giving of the Holy Spirit.
The same gift of the Holy Spirit that was given to the believers in Acts 2 is given to us and all believers in Jesus today which is cause for celebration!
I think it’s time we started celebrating like the New Testament believers did!
I do not want to miss this party, not even one day of it! I do not want my invitation getting “lost in the mail!” I do not want to have an excuse for why I can’t make it. I just want to be there, side by side with fellow believers every Sunday as we celebrate the only one truly worthy of being celebrated!
We’ve been sharing about CELEBRATIONS on the Blog. I cannot think of a greater CELEBRATION than the one in heaven when the angels gather together rejoicing over a sinner who comes HOME!
“In the same way, there is joy in the presence of God’s angels when one sinner repents.” Luke 15:10
HOME, what a word that is. It holds so many different meanings and emotions.
The primary definition for HOME in the dictionary is: “a house, apartment, or other shelter that is the usual residence of a person, family or household.”
This definition seems to hold little more than the explanation of construction materials put together to provide shelter. While shelter is important and necessary, this definition is not what pops into my head when I hear the word HOME!
No, what pops into my head and goes straight to my heart is the definition that reads…
“The place in which one’s affections are centered. A place of residence or refuge.”
It is a place that strikes deep in your heart. It reminds you of togetherness, warmth, comfort, significance and refuge. A place where you are safe and familiar. A place where you are accepted and wanted.
A place to call HOME is nothing to take for granted. Many people long for a HOME.
I want to make something very clear here, I am not talking about ownership. I am referring to a shelter where we feel welcomed, safe and secure. A place where we are loved and desired. A place where we are not judged, criticized or condemned for any wrong that we have done.
Some of us are privileged to have grown up in a HOME like that. If you are one who did, thank God for that incredible blessing! Some of us are blessed to have a HOME to retreat to like that. If you are one of those, do not take for granted what a gift that is! Some of us have a HOME we live in now that provides a safe refuge from the onslaught of the world we live in. If you are one who does, rejoice in that circumstance!
Today is a bittersweet day in my life. I am rejoicing over the quick and lucrative sale of my Mom’s home, but I am also mourning the loss of it. I am rejoicing because the money from it will provide for her care. I am mourning it because it closes the chapter of my childhood and having a “HOME” to go to. My heart hurts today at the closing of one chapter, yet it longs for another to open.
Regardless of the HOME we grew up in, run to for respete, or live in now, there is a longing for a HOME free of walls, free of circumstances, free of rot, mildew and all other sources of decay.
When we understand the type of CELEBRATION we are talking about today. When all the angels rejoice over one person, you and me, who turns away from this world and toward God, you have a longing for HEAVEN! HEAVEN is our eternal HOME! The promise of God that you will be received, rejoiced over, loved and CELEBRATED over. THAT’S WHEN THE ANGELS REJOICE!
YOUR TRUE HOME IS IN HEAVEN AND IT WAITS FOR YOU!
Whatever circumstances you find yourself in today or any day, I pray you know that Heaven CELEBRATES you and is throwing a party on your behalf. You have an eternal HOME that outshines anything this world offers!
Have you ever walked through one of the most difficult weeks and felt like your heart was broken into little pieces and you may never regain your joy? Only to find that JOY was waiting for you just around the corner and it would make you strong again!
“The Joy of The Lord is my strength,” has always been one of my favorite verses! Yet, I must admit, it is one of the most difficult to explain and to understand. Joy is not a given! It is not something that just comes to us through osmosis. It is not simply dropped on your head and all of a sudden you become joyful regardless of your circumstances. Rather, it is believed in and practiced. And when belief is put into practice it can create great joy and produce amazing strength!
“This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” Nehemiah 8:10b
Case in point…Last week was one of celebrating my mom’s birthday while experiencing grief, but celebrate we did!
And while there were tears of grief that celebrating my mom was not and would not be the same ever again, we celebrated her through the grief.
Then we moved forward believing that God was blessing her and would continue to be faithful. Putting that belief into practice means not sitting too long in our grief. Oh, it is tempting. Not that any of us would choose grief over joy of course, but when we find ourselves grieving it can sometimes be easier to stay in the grief until we find ourselves stuck in it. Then like any good mud puddle or quicksand it can find us stuck firm and going down slowly. Instead of sitting in the mud and making mud patties, we must pull ourselves out and put our belief into practice!
The easiest way I know how to do this is to look for Joy! You will find it when you do! It may be in the sunrise at the break of day. It may be in a friend who gives you an unexpected call or visit. It may be in the blooms that you see springing forth on the seemingly dead branches of a tree. Or it may be in quality time spent with family.
For me God had pure joy waiting right around the corner! One week after my mother turned 81, my beautiful granddaughter turned 3! Today is Lucy James’ 3rd birthday! She is everything creative, fun, inquisitive, bright, spunky, and pure joy! Celebrating her was an explosion of joy from beginning to end! From her birthday party, “turning three under the sea,” to her traditional birthday breakfast on her, “you are special today,” red plate, to her dressed from head to toe as “Jesse” from Toy Story as she skipped through Disneyland, celebrating her brings strength to my spirit!
I have a greater strength to continue stepping forward in the needed care and process of my sweet mama aging because of the joy I celebrated with my beloved granddaughter!
Joy is waiting around every corner! God has placed beautiful reminders of Himself everywhere throughout his amazing creation! Open your eyes and look! You will find it and when you do it will produce a supernatural strength in you that can only come from God!
Joy from God is waiting around every corner if we look for it!
This title may sound like an oxymoron! After all, the word Celebrate implies excitement, exuberance, happiness, joy and all of the other fun and fuzzy feelings that go along with it! But today I am celebrating even when it hurts.
The definition of the word celebration is;
“A celebration is a special event that people organize because something special has happened or because it is someone’s birthday or anniversary.”
“The celebration of something is giving praise and appreciation to it or for it.”
When I reflect on the first definition given for CELEBRATION, it hurts. Today is my Mom‘s birthday and she was the queen of celebrations! She made every birthday, every holiday, every graduation and every success the best celebration you have ever seen! Everything matched and had a theme! From the napkins and plates on the table, to the flowers and decor, right down to the perfect dish and dessert! No detail was left out! And maybe, the best part of all, was the gift she gave you that was picked perfectly with you in mind! Truly my mom was the queen of celebrations!
In turn , it was a joy to celebrate her! She loved every little detail and unique piece of the celebration you would give her. Her Birthday was always greatly anticipated by my sisters and I! The last most special memory I have is when we all came together at my house and bought matching pajamas for all five of us and had a sleepover! My mom was literally in heaven! And so were we! Her four girls, dressed alike in matching jammies, laughing and singing happy birthday to her as she blew out the candles on her cake. She had only started to forget a few things then. Her mind seemed confused at times but she could still take pretty good care of herself! I was still in denial that anything was going on except that she was aging. That denial turned in to reality and acceptance as my sisters and I had to face the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s. And today it’s her birthday! I still celebrate her but the celebrating hurts! I must look to the second definition of celebration.
Today I am celebrating my Mom and giving thanks and appreciation for her! She is my Mom! She is and always will be the queen of celebrations! My very best memories of her are of the love and generosity she showered over me and everyone she loved with the best celebrations ever! The lesson of learning to celebrate even when it hurts, it’s a profoundly spiritual lesson. I can celebrate the fact that Jesus loves me even when my prayers are not answered the way I want them to be. I can celebrate God‘s love even when someone I love is hurting because God’s love is faithful and true. I can celebrate eternal life even when life on this planet is over. And I can celebrate my Mom’s birthday and thank God for her life!
“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
Life is a gift from God and should be celebrated every day!
My Mom learned how to celebrate from her Mom my Grandma. And I learned how to celebrate from both of them! I have passed it down to my children and now my grandchildren who LOVE a good celebration!
The greatest tradition about celebrating that my Grandma taught me was to wake up every day that we have breath and thank God for the gift of today!
Today I am thanking God for my life and for the life of my Mom! It hurts a little knowing that we can’t celebrate like we used to and although she sees me and knows she loves me and I love her, she doesn’t really know me. But every day that she has breath I will celebrate her! And every day that I have breath I will thank God and celebrate the day!
When you have a terrible day at work or at home, what do you do? When the doctor gives you bad news, what do you do? When loneliness or discouragement seems to linger like a dark cloud, what do you do? When someone you love is hurting, what do you do? When you turn on the T.V. or read the headlines and disaster, gloom and tragedy seem to lurk around every corner, what do you do?
The better question for me to ask may be…Who or what do you run to?
Do you drive through your favorite fast food restaurant, or do you order a cookie from Crumbl and have it delivered to your car? (Maybe I’m getting too personal here!) Do you devor that entire chocolate bar or bag of chips? Do you reach for that glass of wine, bottle of beer or other substance to “calm your nerves?” Do you desperately hit that number in your favorites and call that person whoever “that” person may be?
The trouble is, none of the above ways will bring us lasting peace. None will heal a hurting and wounded heart. None of the above can provide anything but temporary relief at best. There is only one source that can make the IMPOSSIBLE POSSIBLE and that is the FIRST PLACE WE SHOULD ALWAYS GO!
He heals the sick, raises the dead and gives sight to the blind! His compassion never ends and He is never too busy or preoccupied! He never puts you on hold, or sends you a text or email, He always picks up! He does not leave you with extra pounds around your middle or a hangover! He never tells you to calm down, chill out or stop overreacting or being too dramatic. He sees you, knows you, loves you and understands you before you even speak a word.
But He does WAIT! He waits for you to put Him first. For Him to be the one you run to before you make that phone call. For Him to be your source of comfort before you eat that fast food or yummy cookie. For Him to calm your nerves before you take in that substance.
He waits for you to put Him FIRST and make Him your first thought and not an afterthought!
Jesus tells us to come to Him first and when we do He is ready and waiting and will take our burdens and give us peace/rest!
“Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28
WE NEED TO MAKE JESUS OUR FIRST THOUGHT, NOT OUR AFTERTHOUGHT!
Life is tough, it can throw us a curveball at every corner. Just when we think we have fought one battle another seems to rage. One day we wake up and the sun is shining and the songbirds are singing and before that day draws to an end a new battle begins. But Jesus never intended for us to live this life without Him. His desire is not for us to attend church service on Sunday and put Him on a shelf in our lives for the rest of the week!
No! Jesus is to be our first thought, never an afterthought. When we learn the practice of “Putting First Things First,” AKA JESUS, we will experience His power in our lives and we will be at peace and find rest as He makes our burdens light!
When you hear the word refresh I’m not sure what picture comes to your mind? But I could venture a guess that it’s something to do with water! A serene lake, a cold and crisp mountain spring, a calm slow moving babbling brook, or maybe the rolling waves of the ocean crashing on the shore and moving back out again and again and again.
We all need a refresh! We all need to feel our souls being washed over by the only refreshment that truly refreshes…The spirit of God!
A refresh of God is not only needed it is essential. And there is only one way to get it, by spending time with Him!
On this first day of a new month instead of reading too many of my words, spend time reading God’s word!
He truly is the only refreshment that will cleanse you, heal you, and set you free from all doubt, worry, fear, anxiety or grief. Our God is a God that refreshes!
True refreshment only comes from the Spirit of God!
So on this Truth Bomb Tuesday, this girl of many words is going to share very few. Instead I am going to the only source of true refreshment for my soul, God and His Word!
See you back here next week refreshed and ready to tackle a new month ahead!
Have you ever received a “Love Letter?” Maybe it was written on a piece of paper and passed from one of your friends to you. Maybe your “Secret Admirer” wrote their feelings for you on a card and sent it to you. Maybe they were brave enough to write it, sign it, and leave it in your locker at school. Maybe it was even a valentine especially selected just for you, that they dropped in a valentine bag for you at school. While all of those are sweet and fun to receive when we are young, what about the Love Letters we have received after we have grown up. Have you ever received any of those?
I remember that one of my first was from my Dad while I was in college. Many of you have heard my testimony about my Dad. It is a true blessing of hurt, pain, abandonment, forgiveness, healing and restoration. Some of the most difficult years with my Dad were my years in college. I went to college for six years and received two Bachelor’s Degrees along with one Associates Degree. When I left for college my Dad and I were barely speaking. If he did speak to me, it was to yell at me and tell me that I would amount to no good going the direction I was going. My third year of college I transferred to a Christian College and he was even more adment that I would be a failure. His words, not mine!
As my College career was coming to an end and my graduation loomed, I realized I had a choice to make. I could throw my completion of college and success up in his face or I could forgive him for not believing in me and work toward a healed relationship.
With God’s strength, I did forgive him and invited him to my graduation. He came and gave me a “LOVE LETTER” signed, “YOUR LOVING FATHER!” He never said he was sorry, but tucked inside the pages of a Precious Moments Bible, he wrote that he loved me and was proud of me! I began collecting Precious Moments collectables my first year of college. Realizing he knew that also spoke love to me.
Throughout my years of adulthood I received many “LOVE LETTERS” from my Husband, Mom, Grandparents, Sisters and a couple of true friends. As I became a Mom and my children grew I began receiving LOVE LETTERS from them. I am so very blessed that my children are not only great writers but deep thinkers. The LOVE LETTERS on Birthday and Anniversary cards that they write me are among my most cherished possessions! When my children grew into adulthood and were married, I was blessed again with two new children who care enough to write their feelings in “LOVE LETTERS” to me as well. My most recent, and definitely my sweetest LOVE LETTERS have come from my grandchildren! This Valentine’s Day I received individual cards from all three of my grandchildren that can walk, and a scribble from the one who is still rolling around on the floor! I treasure these LOVE LETTERS and keep each and every one!
I read them frequently, especially when I am having a down day. I remind myself of the LOVE that I have in my life from others.
My Dad has been in heaven now for 10 years. Having my LOVE LETTER from him in my curio cabinet is priceless and a reminder of God’s goodness, grace and redemption!
Our final ‘LOVE CHALLENGE’ of this year’s “LOVEUARY” is to wake up for the next 6 days, the final days of LOVEUARY, and tell God that we love Him!
I’m sure you have received “LOVE LETTERS” in your life as well. Maybe they were not intentionally written as a “LOVE LETTER.” But nonetheless, they expressed that person’s love to you.
As precious and priceless as all of my LOVE LETTERS are to me, none holds the power of the GREATEST LOVE LETTER EVER WRITTEN.
This LOVE LETTER can heal the sick, cure the brokenhearted and bring hope to the hopeless! It can forgive, forget and save! It is patient and it is kind. It is never jealous, boastful or proud. It is never rude, and does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice over injustice but rejoices with the truth. It never gives up, never loses faith. It always hopes and endures through every circumstance. IT NEVER RUNS OUT AND IT NEVER FAILS! (Adapted from I Corinthians 13:4-8).
GOD WROTE YOU A LOVE LETTER, THE BIBLE!
God has written you a LOVE LETTER, it is called the Bible! It is True and it is all for you!
God loves you and wants you to know it each and every day! So, pick it up and read it and feel the perfect LOVE of God for you.
“Now these three remain: faith, hope and love. BUT THE GREATEST OF THESE IS LOVE.” I CORINTHIANS 13:13
Am I catching you the day after Valentine’s Day in a chocolate fog? Or possibly are you suffering with an aching stomach today over a delicious dinner that you ate way too much of? Or maybe just maybe you have the addiction I do and you are suffering from what I refer to as; “Pastry Passion Overload!” AKA too many cookies and cupcakes!
All of these “overloads“ can cause us to wish we had not overindulged! But there is one Valentine tradition that we can never get enough of, Love Notes!
When someone cares to send you a note reminding you that you are loved, it can never overindulge!
Because there was a man who lived over 1000 years ago and was committed to sharing the love of Jesus Christ we have what we now know today as, Valentine’s Day!
St. Valentine lived as a Christian priest in Italy in the mid 200s A.D.! The facts that I am about to share about him with you are not a myth or legend they are historically accurate and known. While it is true that there are some facts that are questioned, the fact that I am about to share have been historically proven. While it is also true that Valentine’s Day has morphed into something much different then it’s original intent, it does not change the historical facts!
Valentine lived under Roman law. He was arrested for refusing to pray to a pagan god and for sharing Jesus, AKA, evangelizing pagans. He was put in prison and the judge who held him prisoner was Asterius. Asturias soon became fond of Valentine and curious about his beliefs, but it was not until Asterius’s daughter became blind that he got serious. He spoke to Valentine and said, “If your God is who you say he is then pray to him to heal my daughter.“
Valentine did pray to God to heal the daughter of Asterius. God heard Valentine’s prayers and healed the girl. At this occurrence, Asterius believed in Jesus and was baptized along with every member of his household!
Sound familiar? Read Acts 16!
Asterius was so moved by the love that God had shown him and his family that he released Valentine and all the other imprisoned Christians!
Valentine could not stop sharing God‘s great love! He was arrested a second time after continuing to evangelize. Valentine also was marrying Christian couples even though it was illegal under the Roman law! He believed with all of his heart that God wanted them to be able to share in the love that He had created for them!
It was said that Valentine would cut out heart shapes of parchment and give them to the couples he would marry to remind them of their vows and God‘s love for them. Sounds like the first ever Valentine cards to me!
At Valentine’s second arrest he was put under Claudius II. Valentine could not stop sharing the good news of Jesus! Although Claudius II was fond of Valentine, Valentines attempts to convert him were not met with appreciation. Quite the opposite! Claudius II ordered the execution of Valentine!
On February 14th, 269 AD Valentine was beaten, but when that did not kill him he was thrown outside the gates of the city and beheaded. The church set February 14th as a day to remember him.
Valentine’s Day truly has God’s love at its source!
“This is how we know what love is; Jesus Christ lay down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.” I John 3:16
Valentine lived out this verse to its fullest! He would not stop sharing the love of God with all of his “ Brothers and sisters!“ He shared the love of God with anyone and everyone that he came in contact with! Even to the point of it causing his own death.
Like Valentine, let’s take every opportunity, especially on February 14th, when it is so natural and easy to do, to remind others of God’s love!
LOVE CHALLENGE: WEEK 3
Send someone a “Love Note!” Heart-shaped or non-heart shaped, reminding them that God loves them!
LIKE ST. VALENTINE, LET’S SHARE GOD’S LOVE AND GOSPEL WITH OTHERS AND NOT WORRY ABOUT THE COST!