Page 1 of chapter 2020 is a new beginning of the story God is writing in my life's journey. It speaks of resolve, an impending knee replacement surgery in February, and some other changes while focusing on God's blessings in my life rather than the losses of 2018 and 2019. It also speaks to examining my life for potholes that need to be fixed. I'll never be perfect this side of heaven. For me, the sanctification process is this broken person's journey on a broken road in a broken world that will ultimately lead me to Him. As I go through life, by His grace and transforming power, I'll fix the fixable and trust Him for the results. I've given Him the broken shards of my life, and I marvel at how He's continually brings healing and transforms my life into a life of abundance; of teaching me to give to others out of my brokenness. Thank You, Lord, for this page in my life. Continue to write Your story in my Book of Days.
For most of us, it all comes down this week. All the festive decorations get packed in boxes until next year. The warm fuzzies fade, and the reality sets in—work, school, appointments and paying the bills. Personally, I don’t like packing away Christmas, and I also don’t like keeping “baby” Jesus a baby or relegating Him to a box.
The simplicity surrounding the birth of Jesus woos us—it feels safe, warm. Who can resist a story about a sweet infant lying peacefully in a manger? Visualizing Him small and helpless makes Him easy to control.
At the beginning of Luke 2 we see Him as the infant in a manger, but He doesn’t want to remain a baby in our lives. By the end of the chapter we see He grew in wisdom, stature and in favor with God and men (Luke 2:52). He was born full of grace and truth (John 1:14). He came to be our Savior, who desires all of us to see His majesty and power, to fall to our knees and worship Him as Savior and Lord. To relegate Jesus to a box of our choosing, (i.e. legalism or humanism) is like thinking we have life under our control. We negate His grace given to us freely—grace upon grace (John 1:16).
Several years ago I started keeping one Christmas decoration out on prominent display for the entire year. It’s a visual reminder not to put Jesus in a box, but to see Him for Who He truly is, our Savior and Lord. This picture is the ornament I'll be keeping out this year.
So as you take down and put away Christmas, reflect on Who it is that came as a baby in the manager. He’s our Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace. Jesus is infinitely more than any box could ever contain—He’s uncontainable, full to overflowing with grace, truth, and a lavish love for all of us.
Lord, Thank You for sending your Son. I don’t ever want to attempt to put You in a box. I pause right now and recognize You as my grown-up Savior and Lord, out of the feed box and on the throne of my heart. Help me to always keep You there. May I continually meditate upon who You are. In Jesus Name, Amen.
Christmas fills us with warm fuzzy thoughts of love and peace on earth. Our sweet little Christmas pageants acted out by children in bathrobes and headpieces; we all smile and giggle as “Mary” kisses her plastic baby Jesus and Joseph standing off from Mary because “he doesn’t like girls or baby dolls.”
Then we read the nativity accounts of Matthew and Luke and see angels singing, shepherds kneeling and a quiet and reflective Mary looks on.
John offers another perspective in the Book of Revelation. As the curtain is drawn back, he sees what happens on earth and in heaven. Here we see the cosmic impact of what was going on behind the scenes at the moment of Jesus’ birth.
Every inch of this planet is claimed by God and counterclaimed by Satan. We normally experience only the visible, everyday effects of this struggle. We feel it, for example, when we make a choice between what we know is wrong and what is right. But, as we are living out our lives on earth, the supernatural universe is simultaneously at war. Revelation draws the contrasts sharply: good versus evil, the Lamb versus the dragon, Jerusalem versus Babylon, the bride versus the prostitute.
Sometimes the “war in heaven” can break out into actual violence on earth, as it did when Jesus came. What a picture verses 5 and 7 paint, Satan himself standing there waiting to catch Jesus as He comes forth from Mary so he can kill him. And we see Michael and his angels waging war in the heavens to prevent it from happening.
He brought peace into the world that night because the battle was won in the heavenliness. Nowhere do we see Joseph or Mary rebuking Satan to bring peace. This was not their battle, it was a cosmic war waged in the heavenlies. Michael and his angels made certain that Jesus would be delivered safely into the arms of His waiting earthly parents.
“A great sign appeared in heaven…and she was with child; and she cried out, being in labor and in pain to give birth…And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she gave birth he might devour her child…And she gave birth to a son, a male child, who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron…and there was war in heaven, Michael and his angels waging war with the dragon. The dragon and his angels waged war, and they were not strong enough, and there was no longer a place found for them in heaven.” Revelation 12:1,2,4,5,7
Oh Almighty, Everlasting God and Father, as I read these verses I tremble. There is so much I don’t see out there. I admire the blue sky by day and the dark velvet, starlit sky by night, but I don’t see the wars being waged in the heavens. Lord, I thank You for your mighty host of angels that protect me day and night. Even more importantly, I’m thankful that the war in the heavenlies the night Christ was born was victorious paving the way for Him to ultimately bring salvation to the world. In the strong name of Jesus, Amen.
Mary did you know?
Bethlehem was a busy place that day. People coming and going, brushing against one another on the crowded streets, they barely had room to breathe. Everyone was caught up in the chaos of finding a place to stay while going through the process of registering for the first census decreed by Caesar Augustus.
Enter weary Joseph and Mary. No vacancy signs everywhere. Mary could barely breathe herself…birth pangs. The only act of compassion was for them to be given shelter in a stable. As Mary laid there, she took in one more breath of air, winced and exhaled to give her final push, and the Breath of Heaven arrived. He came to breathe new life into lives caught in the stranglehold and chaos of sin.
Today, the chaos of daily living leaves us with barely any room to breathe. We’ve got a chronic lung disease that’s slowly robbing us of the ability to take a breath and don’t even realize it. We desperately need the Breath of Heaven to breathe new life into us; to renew us, to restore us, to heal us of the pollutants we’ve inhaled physically, spiritually, emotionally in a week’s time.
Enter the Sabbath. . .a designated time to make room for God. . . to breathe in the exhaled Breath of Heaven.
A time of Sabbath does not necessarily need to be on a Sunday. In actuality, we are in need of times of sabbath rest on a daily basis. Here’s my Sabbath blessing/prayer for each of us as we seek to prepare our hearts and make room for the Breath of Heaven. I paraphrased the song by Amy Grant, “Breath of Heaven.”
Breath of Heaven, hold us together as we struggle under the load we each bear. You are Emmanuel, God with us; we pause and acknowledge You are with us now. We have no need to walk this path alone. Bring light to the dark areas, expose our sins so we may be holy for You are holy. Lord, we are frail, but we offer all that we are to You. Have mercy upon us, strengthen us, help us breathe in You and exhale You in order to bring life into a world that is cold and lifeless. We pause now, Lord. . .breathe new life into our chaotic mess of a life. For the sake of Your Son, Amen.
Are you or someone you know experiencing a December Kind of Grief and finding it hard to breathe?
I'd like to suggest clicking over to my post called, A December Kind of Grief. I would love to pray for you. Please feel free to contact me here. Your request will be sent to me as an email and will not be posted as a comment.
Easter festivities together. Lots of smiles, love, laughter. At least that's the way the camera captured the moment and the way most of us want to remember our lives and the way we'd like others to perceive us; picture perfect. There's nothing wrong with enjoying life and capturing those moments to remind us of the blessings of family and friends. But the truth is, we all carry within us a brokenness that can leave us feeling hollow inside---a yearning, a craving, a sunken, unfilled or unfulfilled space deep inside, wishing our lives were different in someway. Sometimes that broken hollowness is because someone or something excavated something out of us, they robbed us emotionally, physically, maybe even spiritually. We think that if we create this faux appearance that everything is wonderful we can somehow fill that hollow place in our hearts.
Have you ever thought of that broken hollow place as a good thing? Instead of trying to hide it, embrace it as the means to allow our soul craving needs to be met and mended by the power and presence of God. When we invite Him into our brokenness we find that what we've been yearning for all this time is more of Him and less of ourselves. Often when our soul craving need for God is greatest, He is the last place we turn for satisfaction. This is when we fill ourselves with things that cannot satisfy, leading to addictions to all the wrong places and things. An addiction is when we direct what is meant to be our God-hunger to the wrong source of soul satisfaction.
In Psalm 63, we see the Psalmist David hiding in the wilderness. He's weary from being hunted in order to be killed by order of the king. He's tired, lonely, depressed, and yearning God's presence, provision, and protection. I think we can all relate to those feelings from time to time. . . that feeling when life leaves you hollow inside and feeling desperate to having it filled. Let's read the Psalmist's prayer and see how his broken hollowness was filled.
O God, You are my God;
Early will I seek You;
My soul thirsts for You;
My flesh longs for You
In a dry and thirsty land
Where there is no water.
2 So I have looked for You in the sanctuary,
To see Your power and Your glory.
3 Because Your lovingkindness is better than life,
My lips shall praise You.
4 Thus I will bless You while I live;
I will lift up my hands in Your name.
5 My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness,
And my mouth shall praise You with joyful lips.
6 When I remember You on my bed,
I meditate on You in the night watches.
7 Because You have been my help,
Therefore in the shadow of Your wings I will rejoice.
8 My soul follows close behind You;
Your right hand upholds me.
9 But those who seek my life, to destroy it,
Shall go into the lower parts of the earth.
10 They shall fall by the sword;
They shall be a portion for jackals.
11 But the king shall rejoice in God;
Everyone who swears by Him shall glory;
But the mouth of those who speak lies shall be stopped.
Psalm 63 New King James Version
Lord, I bring my unspoken brokens to You. I ask for the broken, hollow places---those places of my soul that are craving to be filled, to be filled with You. May I use those broken places as an opening to pour You out upon others. May my brokenness be seen as a conduit of blessing. In Jesus Name, Amen.
Do you find yourself yearning for something new to burst forth in your life? You’re not alone. We were all created with a yearning deep within to fulfill a purpose, a tiny seed that God planted with our DNA just waiting to sprout new life and be transformed.
But first, we must be broken.
Ouch, God! That hurts! I don’t want to be broken. You spoke the world into existence, can’t you just speak me into transformation so I can fulfill your purpose for my life?
Our salvation was secured through brokenness. Jesus’ body was broken for us. He was crucified. He died and was buried. He laid in the tomb dead, lifeless, bruised, broken, crushed for our iniquities. Then on the third day, that glorious third day, He arose from the dead, setting the captives free and giving us victory over sin and death.
God’s salvation plan involved His Son being broken on our behalf. His transformation plan for us is no different. Sometimes we must go through dormant seasons, then a time of brokenness to strengthen the tiny seed planted within us before it can sprout new life.
Consider the Story of Tiny Seed
It’s there. Trampled underfoot along the path. Dormant, unnoticed and buried under the cold, rocky soil, rotting leaves, and dead branches. During this seemingly dark, lifeless season, God warms the earth with Light rays streaming through tree branches laid bare by Autumn’s frost.
Winter drops temperatures, snow, ice, bringing down more rubble. But the Light continues to stream through.
Buried beneath the soil and rubble Tiny Seed is awakened by the nurturing warmth of hope brought by Light. For months, Tiny Seed laid lifeless. Now it’s hard shell is aroused by Light’s whispers of hope. Tiny Seed wants out of its dark place. With every ounce of strength, Tiny Seed sprouts a stem and pushes upward.
After days of Light’s penetrating rays warming the ground, Tiny Seed is drawn out of the darkness; its bruised head and stem dancing with the wind. Tiny Seed not only feels the hope of Light in the darkness but now sees Light face to face.
The morning dew drips from Tiny Seed’s petals like a face filled with tears of gratitude and great joy. Exhilarated by Light delivering it from darkness, Tiny Seed can contain itself no more. Tiny Seed bursts open its petals in praise, “LOOK WHAT GOD HAS DONE! I’M FREE! I’M FREE!”
In the stillness of the dawn, He patiently waits. Light finds the slit in the curtain and caresses my face. He’s calling me to arise from between the cotton sheets and snuggly blanket to sit with Him between the pages of His Word . . . sacred moments between a daughter and her loving Father.
His Words teach me and guide me on this journey called life. I have more days behind me than ahead of me, and yet each day when He speaks to me through His Word it’s something new, fresh, alive.
The first minutes of my waking day are sacred moments to simply sit, reflect and meditate on a small passage of Scripture.
Some days I may only read 3 or 4 verses.Those are the days I usually choose to work on memorizing a short passage by repeating it over and over, each time emphasizing a different word. It’s amazing how the meaning of the Scriptures begin to pop right through the page. Other days I may decide to sketch or Bible journal something meaningful to me regarding the morning passage. Another discipline is to journal the page, write it out verbatim or I write a summation – a paraphrase. Either way, I’m expressing my thoughts about what I’m learning about Him, His character, a promise, or a command He wants me to obey. And I always pray the passage aloud – always.
What do you do when you meet with the Lord? Are you meeting Him daily?
I’d like to share one of my sacred moments with you dear ones. This is a reflection/prayer based on Psalm 143.
O Lord, hear my prayer! Because of your faithfulness and justice, answer me!
I recall the old days;
I meditate on all You have done, are doing, and going to do;
I muse on the works of Your hands.
I spread my hands out to You in prayer,
My soul longs for You, as a parched land.
Let the morning bring me word of your lovingkindness,
For in You I put all my trust.
Show me the way in which I should walk,
Because I long for You!
Deliver me from anything that takes me from Your side.
I run to You for protection.
Teach me to do what pleases You,
For You are my one and only God.
May Your kind presence, lead me in Your footsteps.
O Lord, for the sake of Your reputation, revive me!
Rescue me from anything that takes my focus off of You
As a demonstration of your loyal love,
Destroy anything in my life that takes me from Your side.
I am here on earth to serve You only!
May Your will be done in my life, on earth as it is in heaven.
I love You my Abba Father, with all my heart, soul, and mind!!
I've been working on a writing and speaking project on prayer. It's something I want to be better at and so I'm trying to pray more, worry less, and get as close as I can to my Abba Father. I've read books, articles, blogs, listened to speakers, and the best advice I've received has come directly from God in His Word.
I finally mustered up the courage to just ask Him straight out.
Lord, are there secrets of prayer that I need to know? I want to climb into the depths of You and learn the power of prayer, so that I am meeting You fully, totally in lovely communion. It's my earnest desire for You to enrich my prayer life with Your Spirit's guidance so that I may be pleasing to you in all things.
When you pray; come to Me with the knowledge that you are standing before Me in complete oneness with Me.
Let your cleansing be complete and your mind be clear of obstacles.
This is a holy experience, and it will expand to include your entire being.
You are not merely reciting prayers, nor are you saying empty words.
When you are intimately sensitive to My closeness, your soul is awakened.
This divinely appointed state of being does not remove you from this world so you can make your home in the clouds - no, rather your entire being is made alive and aware of the world around you. You see its beauties as never before.
You see My face in the affection of your loved ones, and you long to give even more to them to make their lives richer, better.
Prayer is not just a thing you do, because My Spirit prays within you constantly.
My Spirit reveals My presence in all things.
I created you and you are loved by Me,
and in loving Me back you are what you were made to be.
I am the Vine and you are My branch.
In prayer you breathe in My breath, you are alive with My life,
and there is no prayer that will go unanswered.
(Paraphrase created after reading Isaiah 65:24; Matthew 21:22; Hebrews 4:16; Jeremiah 33:3; 1 Thessalonians 5:17; John 14:23; John 15)
My Prayer Response
Thank You, Lord, for what you are teaching me through Your Word.
Prayer Inspiration Video
This video by is by Steelehouse Media Group and is available from Worship House Media. I bought the user license for this to use at events, but I'm sure you can probably find it on YouTube by now. It's several years old, called Prayer Inspiration.
I hope you'll join me on the prayer journey. Sometime over the next couple of days I'll be sharing the first of several prayer challenges in the form of a free download and an invitation to a FB LIVE about the challenge. I hope you'll join me.
When you desire God; when you talk to Him in prayer; when you privately meditate on His Word; when you relate the events of life to Him; when you praise Him for His delights and His discipline—you are abiding in Him.
Anne Sullivan was Helen Keller's beloved teacher and companion for 50 years. Upon Anne's death in 1936, sorrowful Helen, wrote these endearing words about the one who had become her eyes, her ears, and her mouth:
"My teacher is so near to me that I scarcely think of myself apart from her. I feel that her being is inseparable from my own and that the footsteps of my life are in hers. All the best of me belongs to her there is not a talent or an inspiration or a joy in me that has not been awakened by her loving touch."
In many ways, what Anne Sullivan was for Helen Keller, Jesus Christ wants to be for us. He desires to be our eyes, our ears, our mouth. He promises to be our friend who sticks closer than a brother (Proverbs 18:24), but we must be as dependent upon Him as Helen Keller was on Anne Sullivan.
When you abide [dwell, stay, continue] in Christ, you will be seen by others as one who is imitating His character and sharing His perspective.
The opposite of abiding would be consumed with working through life on your own, not really relying on God; attempting to be a Super Woman rather than an Abiding Woman.
Which are you? A Super Woman or an Abiding Woman? Check out my free download chart to help you determine which one you are.
Lord, I'm officially laying down my Super Woman cape! Teach me to be an abiding woman.
I adore this picture. In it I see the look of love that never died, never went adrift, that has grown in intimacy over the years and has kept its focus. For me, this picture captures what it’s like to be deeply in love.
Despite their advanced years, they look into each other’s eyes and still see the allure of the one they grew to love oh so many years ago. They’ve never lost sight of that love and have kept a “til death do us part” mindset.
He lovingly wraps his arms and blanket around his wife to protect and shelter her. Her arms are touching and embracing him back.
They drink from the cup of their love for one another and are truly satisfied. They are as one.
Mike and I have been married since 1974. He’s the only man I have ever known and I the only woman for him. It hasn’t always been easy to love each other. There were times it would have been easier to allow ourselves to drift apart and live separate lives. But we both knew this was not God’s plan, and so we made the choice years ago to focus on seeing each other through God’s love lens.
God's Love Lens
When God looks at us, how does He view us? Does He only see our faults and thereby cringing and withholding His love from us because we don’t measure up to His ideal?
Absolutely not! When He looks at us, He views us through the lens of the cross, (1 John 4:9,10) the ultimate demonstration of love. His view of us is that of a redeeming love. Something He has purchased at great cost.
We tend to view things through the tainted lens filter of our past, how we were raised, our life experience. God’s filter, on the other hand, is pure love because that’s His very essence. “God is love.” I John 4:8b
During those times when Mike and I are at odds, I’m reminded to look through God’s love lens and look for ways to redeem the situation, to demonstrate God’s attribute of love. I’m not to cringe, withdraw or withhold my love because I feel I’ve been wronged in some way, even though, sad to say I have at times done those things.
God's Picture of Love
Two thousand years ago, God saw us through the lens of the cross and then snapped a picture and wrote under it, “This is what love looks like. Study it. Exemplify this kind of love.”
And then He directed the Apostle Paul to write down the words that would describe the picture, much like I tried to describe the picture above. You can find that description in the great love passage, 1 Corinthians 13.
God’s picture of love was demonstrated on the cross. It’s now up to me to live love out daily. Otherwise, life will profit nothing, and my words and actions will sound like a noisy gong or clanging cymbals.
I have a choice in which picture I choose to take when I respond to my husband. I can use words and actions that reflect God’s love, or I can nag and argue and stomp away angry and be like clanging cymbals.
God’s Photo Album of Love
Somewhere in heaven, I’m thinking God has a photo album filled with snapshots of His children demonstrating love to each other. Acts of kindness and love that have shown the world what true Christ-like love looks like in human form. (John 17:23-26) He lovingly turns the pages and points at the pictures, and I’m pretty sure I hear Him say, “Yes, I see the family resemblance!”
What are the pictures my husband is capturing of me? Does my husband see Jesus in me?
My ability to love like He loves needs some work. I want to upload the image of my life into His Photoshop program and allow Him to take away the imperfections that don’t show the family resemblance. It’s the only way my relationships and my marriage will truly have the look of love.
Becoming the woman of grace God's designed me to be. it's all simply grace.
Have each new post to this specific blog page emailed to you, or use your own RSS Feed Reader.
Please Respect the Muser's Work
© Copyright 2007-2018 Marsha Harwood/Marsha's Musings. All Rights Reserved. All posts, images, and downloads are copyright protected.
HOWEVER, you are more than welcome to share any picture, free downloads, and anything I have written here, I ask you kindly leave the watermark, marshasmusings.com on the pictures, and please give credit for any writings. A link back to this website would be a kindness I'd truly appreciate.
Marsha's Musings by Marsha Harwood is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at http://www.marshasmusings.com.