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Psalm 73:25 on My Mind

NewOMM“Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you.” –Psalm 73:25, NIV

I don’t know about you, but I can remember some pretty greedy Christmas moments from my childhood. I remember one in particular. I must have been four, maybe five. I’d asked Santa for a baby doll that year. But not just any baby doll. I wanted a very particular baby doll. And when that very particular baby doll did not show up under my family’s Christmas tree on Christmas morning, I was pretty angry with Santa for letting me down. In fact, while holding the new baby doll I’d received that wasn’t the particular baby doll I’d wanted, I pouted all the way to Grandma’s house and all through the first few hours of our extended-family Christmas celebration.

Imagine my surprise to learn, as we started the gift-opening portion of the day, that Santa had indeed brought that doll for me. As my grandma explained it, she’d wanted to see me receive it, and so, had asked Santa to bring it to her house instead of mine.

In hindsight, I think I should have caught on to the Santa scam that day. Instead, I felt sorry for being so angry with Santa for not bringing the baby doll I’d wanted when, in fact, he’d brought the one I’d wanted plus one more. I learned to be more patient in future years.

Such can be the drama of Christmas morning. Thankfully, I’ve outgrown those days. At least, I hope I have! I’m sure that you have, too. Now the joy of Christmas morning comes as we watch others open gifts we’ve carefully chosen for them: some they have requested, others meant to surprise and delight.

Why is it that brings us joy?

Because, in Christ, we have everything we need. His Presence fills every longing and promises so much more! For eternity! We celebrate this fullness by letting it flow over into others, generously, as God leads.

The tangible gifts are just a symbol of this, of course. The real celebration is the coming of Christ Who permanently meets the needs and desires of all the world. As we give and receive gifts this Christmas, let’s remember this verse—and be thankful indeed.

Jesus, thank You! You are the reason we celebrate, the reason we look forward to Heaven someday. Earth has nothing for us compared to the joy of being loved by You. Amen.

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Colossians 2:6-7 on My Mind

NewOMM“As you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so continue to live in him. Keep your roots deep in him and have your lives built on him. Be strong in the faith, just as you were taught, and always be thankful.” –Colossians 2:6-7, NCV

I love these two verses from Colossians because they so simply and clearly state what matters most in a Christian’s life: being rooted and growing in Christ. They also tell us how:

Continue to live in him. Paul, the author of Colossians, wants his readers to know that being saved (by receiving Christ) is only the beginning. Rather than check the block and wait for eternal life to begin “in Heaven someday,” we are blessed to be able to live that life right now. As soon as we receive Christ into our hearts, we can begin to live in Him.

Keep your roots deep in him. We live in Christ by growing in Him. Henri Nouwen said, “Think of yourself as a little seed planted in rich soil.”* In Christ, the conditions for growth are perfect. We do our part by resting comfortably in His Presence, allowing Him to nurture us, talking with Him about everything that’s on our minds, studying His Word and His world to learn more about Him each day, and by meeting regularly with others who are doing the same.

Have your lives built on him. We do this by remembering that Jesus Christ is our foundation. When everything we do is for the good of His growing Kingdom and the honor of His name, we are faithfully building on Him. Remembering this, that Christ is our foundation, will help us make wise choices about how to spend our time each day.

Be strong in the faith. As our roots grow deep and we build our lives on Christ, our faith will grow proportionately. We’ll see God’s work in and through us which will give us an ever-greater understanding of and confidence in what He is able and willing to do.

Always be thankful. Once we have Christ, we have everything we need for all eternity. Anything else He blesses us with is just gravy on the potatoes of life. Therefore, as we draw closer to Jesus, we always have something to be thankful for. Notice His faithful work and His generous gifts and express your gratitude.

Father, please help us to get these words of Yours firmly stuck on our minds through meditation and memory. May Your Spirit use them often to remind us of the one priority that matters most to our lives: living and growing in Christ. Thank You, Lord. Amen.

*In Joyful Hope, Meditations for Advent, p. 24

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Luke 2:7 on My Mind

NewOMM“She gave birth to her first child, a son. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no lodging available for them.” –Luke 2:7, NLT

Yesterday morning, we sang a hymn in church that I haven’t heard in so long it was almost new to me. My husband and I both struggled to follow the words while singing the right notes. More amazing, it’s a Christmas carol! I guess it’s one that’s sliding into obscurity, but I enjoyed the visit yesterday.

The name of the carol is Thou Didst Leave Thy Throne. The words ponder how it was possible that God’s own Son, King of Kings and Lord of Lords Himself, could have left the splendor of Heaven where He was celebrated by angels only to find no room on earth: no room in the inn, no place to lay His head, no acceptance by His own people, only their scorn and a crown of thorns.

In the words of the chorus, the grieving lyricist does her part to set things right with this invitation: O come to my heart, Lord Jesus; There is room in my heart for Thee. Then, after the final verse, she looks to her future in Heaven: My heart shall rejoice, Lord Jesus, When Thou comest and callest for me.

So many aspects of Christianity have a past, present, future element to them. The first Sunday of Advent, celebrated yesterday, is one beautiful example of this. It’s a day of anticipation and expectation: we remember how God’s people were waiting for the first coming of their Messiah, our Lord, Jesus Christ. We celebrate that historical coming as we thank Jesus for it through this present season. Yet we also look forward with hope to the expected and much anticipated second coming of Christ to occur on some future day. (Or maybe even today!)

We see the same in Luke 2:7 combined with the words from this almost forgotten hymn. We remember there was no room available for Jesus when He first came—and we grieve the tragedy of that. We thank Him for preparing a place in Heaven for us someday, for making it possible for us to find room with Him. Finally, we examine our own hearts to be sure that right now in this moment, nothing is trying to push Him out of His rightful place. If we’ve invited Jesus to live in our hearts, to be Lord of our lives, we don’t want Him to have to compete with any other person, place, or thing.

Jesus, I’m sorry there was no lodging available when You came to earth as a baby so long ago. Thank You for not holding that against us, though. Thank You for completing Your mission, for fulfilling Your purpose, that You could offer us the promise of eternity in Your home. Please search our hearts now and point out anything You find there that may be crowding You. That space is Yours, Lord Jesus. Our hearts are Yours. Amen.

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Hebrews 12:28 on My Mind

NewOMM“Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe.” –Hebrews 12:28

This week, this whole month, I’ve been seeing so many Thanksgiving lists posted all over the place. Thanks to Thanksgiving, we’re all taking time to stop and reflect on what God’s given us, on what He means to us, on what He’s done for us, on all the big and little things we most appreciate.

It’s a beautiful thing: everyone offering hearts full of gratitude and praise to God. Let’s keep it up! Let’s try to keep it up all year.

I say try, though, because sometimes it’s hard. As life ebbs and flows, we sometimes find ourselves in dark places where it’s hard to find much to be thankful for. At these times, I’m so thankful we have ultimate gifts to be thankful for. Thanks to Jesus, we are receiving a Kingdom that cannot be shaken. God is preparing us for that Kingdom and that Kingdom for us right now. We’re growing together as Jesus gets ready to return. In Him, we have great hope!

No matter what’s going on in our lives, God’s eternal Kingdom will stand firm—and, if we’ve received Christ as our Savior, we’re a part of it. So let’s be sure to add our reflections on that to our Thanksgiving lists this week. Then God will be faithful to bring these thoughts back to our minds when we most need them.

I’m thankful for that, too!

Father, thank You for the ultimate gifts: salvation, life in Your Presence now, life in Your eternal Kingdom forever, hope in all circumstances, Your faithful love and care. I thank You now as I celebrate Thanksgiving. Help me thank You always. Amen.

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Revelation 22:17 on My Mind

NewOMM“The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come!’ And let the one who hears say, ‘Come!’ Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life.” –Revelation 22:17

I think this must be one of the happiest verses in the Bible. Can’t you feel the excitement? The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” It’s a party invitation. And this party includes free water of life for all who are thirsty. Life. Joy. Everything we need.

A key part of this verse, though, can be found in the first few words. Look who’s doing the inviting: the Spirit and the bride. The Spirit, of course, is God’s Holy Spirit, the One Who draws people to Christ, the Source of the free gift of water in this verse. (See John 4:10-13.) The bride, though, is us! If we’ve received this living water and are on our way to the party (eternal life in Heaven with our Lord), we’re not to be silent about it. We’re to yell, “Come!” As we travel, we tell everyone we meet where we’re going and that they’re invited, too. Just picture yourself walking, or maybe even running, toward the great feast in God’s Kingdom that you’ve been invited to. As you go, you reach out toward everyone you see along the way, eagerly taking their hands, looking in their eyes, and urging them to come with you.

“Come!” you say.

“Come!” the Spirit says.

Those who recognize what they are thirsty for will be happy to go with you.

I’ve written this verse on an index card and placed it where I’ll see it often this week. I invite you to do the same. As we meditate on these words, perhaps even coming to memorize them, let’s remember where we’re going and ask God to help us invite thirsty people to come along. In our prayer time, our thoughts on this verse will help us remember to pray that God will cause all people to recognize their thirst and to realize the truth: Jesus is the living water Who can satisfy their needs for all eternity.

Father, thank You for these joyous words. Help us to think of them often this week. Remind us, as we face whatever comes our way, that we’re on our way to eternity with You. Show us how and when to invite other people to come along. We’re looking forward to that future, happy day. We love You, Lord. Amen.