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Climbing Stairs to Nowhere

30 Dec

One of the funniest things I pass on a regular basis is a set of stairs that leads nowhere. It’s near my husband’s office at the seminary where he works. There likely was a door there once, or plans for one, but the stairs just look odd there now. I smile every time I pass them.

thestairstonowhere_lolwithgodAs I approach a new year, I’m thinking back over my life and ministry and trying to figure out what has been the most productive things I’ve accomplished over the past year.

There were some great things, but in at least one case, I was “climbing,” but ending up nowhere. I wasn’t lazy, but there was no “fruit” for my labors in that area—nothing I can point to and say, “That was worth my time.” 

I don’t want that to happen next year.

I’m sitting down to consider where I want to end up so I can make wise strategies to get there.

Ephesians 2:10 says,

“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” 

God not only created me, He gave me new life in Christ; and with that new life He also created work projects for me. It’s my responsibility to pray and listen so I can discover those good works He has prepared for me to accomplish.

Life is too short to miss what God has planned for me to do. 

The older I get, the more I am struck by the brevity of life. The Bible makes this so clear:

“… our days on earth are like a shadow…” (1 Chronicles 29:15).

“…my days are swifter than a runner; they flee away…” (Job 9:25).

I am like “a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes” (James 4:14).

I found myself praying today:

Lord, teach me to consider my days so I can grow in wisdom. Remind me how brief my time on earth will be. Remind me that my days are numbered and fleeting. Help me make the best use of the time You have given me. (Psalm 90:12; 39:4; Ephesians 5:16)

I don’t want to end up on a stairway to nowhere.

Do you?

What are you doing to evaluate your life before you head into a new year?

~ Dawn

Be Like Wise Men, Not ‘Wise Guys’

12 Dec

3GuysFromTheEastSide_LOLwithGodI’m LOL-ing at this child’s version of the Wise Men visiting Jesus:

“When the three wise guys from the east side arrived, they found Jesus in the manager.”

This was probably the same child who said Mary, the mother of Jesus, sang the Magna Carta!

All I know is, I’d rather be a Wise Man from anywhere than a “Wise Guy” when it comes to the story of Christmas.

Some “Wise Guys” today are out and out scoffers; they mock the birth of Christ (as well as His “atoning” death and resurrection).

But other “Wise Guys” are believers who don’t want to be bothered with the Savior.

Both need to pay attention and learn from the biblical Wise Men!

While the “Wise Guys” (the religious “professionals” of Jesus’ day) wouldn’t even travel a few miles to greet their Messiah, the Wise Men traveled “from the east” (some say, several hundred miles!) to see Him. They were eager to get to Bethlehem and prepared to respond when they got there.

The Wise Men’s intention was to follow a strange “star” that caused them to rejoice—some Bible scholars describe this as God’s shekinah light—and to find and worship the newborn king (Matthew 2:2). Perhaps they’d read about Him in prophetic scriptures. These men were not Jews, but somehow they recognized the significance of Jesus’ birth.

The Wise Men prepared and brought gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh (Matthew 2:11). These treasures were practical and sweetly TheThreeWiseMen_pixabaygenerous for the family of a newborn, but biblical scholars today believe they were also highly symbolic.

Gold was a gift sometimes given to a family with a newborn baby to help with expenses. Valuable in biblical days as it is today, it is said to symbolize Jesus’ divinity. Our Savior was born as God in the flesh (John 1:1-4; John 14:9-10; Philippians 2:6-7; and see “Is Jesus God in the Flesh?”)

I wonder if, in offering the gold, the Wise Men were acknowledging Jesus’ right to rule—His sovereignty.

Frankincense, a white resin from Boswellia trees, was used for incense or perfumed oil, and in some cultures as a medicine. Used in worship offerings in ancient times (Exodus 30:34), it is said to symbolize Jesus’ holiness and righteousness. Some scholars believe this incense symbolizes the sacrifice Jesus would offer up to the Father and the blood that would flow to atone for our sins. *

I wonder. In offering frankincense, did the Wise Men point to Jesus’ sinless nature, making Him the only possible Savior?

Myrrh, considered a spice, is also a perfume. It was obtained by making cuts in the bark of a tree from the Arabian Commiphora family.  The cuts allowed a white resin to flow. Myrrh (or “gall”) was sometimes mingled with water to form a comforting drink, similar to what was offered to Jesus  (Mark 15:23; Matthew 27:34). It also used in embalming.  Myrrh is said to symbolize the bitterness and suffering of the cross. *

I wonder if the Wise Men knew Jesus would be “stricken, smitten by God … and afflicted … pierced … crushed” (Isaiah 53:3-5) so that we might be healed?

[Some people believe the Wise Men might have read that passage in Isaiah as well as Isaiah 60:3 and Daniel 9:24-27—where “an anointed one shall be cut off”—and other prophetic verses, giving them insight not only into who the Messiah might be, but that He would be killed. Perhaps this is why they brought the myrrh.]

But my point is this:

The “Wise Guys” (the Jewish leaders schooled in the scriptures), knew where the Messiah would be born (Matthew 2:3-5), but didn’t want to be bothered with checking out for themselves whether this was indeed their Messiah. They just didn’t have time for Jesus.

On the other hand, the Wise Men not only want to check the baby out for themselves, they responded correctly when they encountered Jesus in the manger (Matthew 2:11). They not only had time for the Christ Child, they heartily and reverently worshiped Him, offering their gifts. It’s been said the Wise Men’s gifts were prophetic—fit for a king (gold), a priest (frankincense) and a Savior (myrrh).

Later, understanding that to return to King Herod with their report might endanger the baby, they made the wise choice to disobey Herod (Matthew 2:12). Their decision indicated wisdom, and perhaps faith. The Spirit of God had likely moved in their hearts.

The Wise Men are examples for Christians today too.

And, Christians,  let’s be wise and do all we can to help today’s “Wise Guys” wise up and recognize who that baby in the manger really was! (Daniel 12:3)

Are you “wise” regarding Jesus? If not, here is how you can “wise up.”

References about gold, frankincense and myrrh: http://www.compellingtruth.org/gold-frankincense-myrrh.html; http://www.gotquestions.org/gold-frankincense-myrrh.html

– Dawn

Words Well Spoken

26 Sep

While on maternity leave, Charlotte brought her new bundle of joy to the office to show her off to fellow-employees. She also brought her seven-year-old son, Jack, with her. Everyone SodaMachinesgathered around the baby—ooo-ing and aah-ing—and Jack grew restless.

“Mommy,” he said, “can I have some money to buy some soda?”

“What do you say,” Charlotte asked.

Respectfully, Jack replied, “You are thin and beautiful.”

And Charlotte reached into her purse and gave Jack the money! *

LOL!

Words are powerful, aren’t they? Well-chosen, well-spoken words can make all the difference, not only in what we receive, but also how we encourage others.

Proverbs 18:21 says, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.”

We can destroy or build up people by the words we choose to use.

The Bible speaks of words “fitly spoken” (Proverbs 25:11) as being valuable and beautiful. Words “fitly spoken” are words chosen because they are wise and helpful. For example:

“Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body” (Proverbs 16:24).

Wise words, powerful words, gracious words. These are all words “well spoken” and much needed in our hard, abrasive world today.

Have you received the gift of sweetness from a friend or loved one who spoke “gracious” words to you? Are you pouring sweet words of encouragement into others’ lives?

* Adapted from Cybersalt Digest, 10-23-13

– Dawn

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