Looking Forward

As 2011 draws to an end and 2012 is peeking its nose in the door, I take time to reflect on the year that has for me, flown by. I look at the calendar and remember all the activities I participated in, the vacations I went on, the music I danced to, and the friends that came and went in my life.

Despite numerous undefined health issues, looking back, it was a great year. Loved ones found the Lord, healing took place, and goals were accomplished. I realized some things and I changed some thought patterns and habits. It was a year of growth for sure.

What will 2012 bring? Many wonder if the Mayan calendar is correct and the end of the world is near. Wars in the middle east, wars in families, economic failures and weather crises are on the news at every turn. Yet, what will my outlook be?

I choose to look forward to the New Year with all the gifts of Christmas in my heart: hope, peace, joy and love. I am expecting 2012 to be the best year yet in my life and in the lives of those I love. I am expecting good things to happen. “Call those things that be not as though they were” (Romans 4:17). I will speak positively and expect positive results and I will believe and trust in God, most of all.

What are you expecting in 2012? Will you look forward with anticipation and expectation? Will you step out in faith? Until next time, remember that the power of life and death is in the tongue (Prov. 18:21) and that God works all things for the good of those that love Him (Romans 8:28). Happy New Year and keep looking up!

The Greatest Gift of All

Think back for a moment on the greatest gift you have ever received. How did it feel when you saw it? Did you want to run and tell everyone you knew? Did it make you want to jump for joy? Did you feel like someone loved you a whole lot?

Yes, that’s how a great gift makes you feel – like you want to share it with the world.

Now imagine the manger scene and the announcement of the birth of the Messiah. Picture the awe of the shepherds as they watched the angels singing in the skies proclaiming the good news. Feel the anticipation of the wise men who traveled such a great distance to bring their gifts not knowing who they would find.

The gift of Jesus was the greatest expression of love God could ever give us. As the shepherds and the wisemen stopped what they were doing to behold the miracle before them, so too, let us pause and reflect the miracle of Christ’s birth and what it means to us today.

If I am feeling alone, Jesus promises he will never leave me nor forsake me. If I am hurting, he will heal my wounds and if I am afraid of what the future holds, I can rest in the knowledge that he is in control and he will deliver me. This Christmas will you accept the greatest gift of all and may you have the power to understand how wide, how long, how wide and how deep is the love of God for you (Eph 3:18).

Joy to the World

This is the third week of Advent and the focus is on the gift of Joy. Most people want to feel joyful this time of year, don’t you think? But sometimes, joy is elusive. The pressures of the season, the job, the economy, relationship struggles, can all contribute to losing our joy. But let me tell you what I have discovered…

It all depends on where my focus lies. Am I focused on external circumstances? Other people or things that are out of my control? Or am I focused on who dwells within me? That, dear friends, is the key: who dwells within me.

One of the names for God is Emmanuel which means “God with us”. If we remember this magnificent promise, we can maintain a joyful heart and attitude. God is with us and He is particularly close to those who are broken-hearted and crushed in spirit. (Psalm 34:18).

What is your focus on this week, dear one? Is it the cares of this world or the Light of the world? If you want more joy in your life, I encourage you to ponder in your heart, as Mary did so long ago, the wonder and majesty of the precious gift God gave us and welcome Him into your heart this season. Until next time, keep looking up and be of good cheer!

The Second Gift of Christmas – Peace

Amidst the hustle and bustle of the season, how can we find the true gifts of Christmas? This is the second week of Advent and the focus is on the gift of Peace.

Peace can be elusive at times, can’t it? Scripture exhorts us to “Seek peace and pursue it.” In other words, it is not something that happens by itself. We have to take ACTION to achieve peace.

I have resolved to have peace during the stressful times of the holiday season and end of the year. For me, that means cutting back on activities, gift buying, wrapping and giving, downsizing my decorating and spending more time at home and with God. It is all too easy to get caught up in the frenzy of the world so I need to make a conscious decision to pull away.

Are you feeling stressed, overwhelmed, and pressured by it all? If so, what kinds of actions can you do today, dear one, to bring more peace into your life? An easy thing to do is to sit down, take a deep breath, and behold the gift of Peace. Envision the shepherds on the hill so many years ago gazing at the star in the sky. Or reflect on the manger scene with the Christ child.

Peace is within us if we stop to observe. Until next time, may the peace of God guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus as you surrender to Him this season.

The First Gift of Christmas

This past sunday began the season of Advent. Advent means “coming” or “arrival”. It is a time of expectation, anticipation, and yes, hope. In Christian circles, Advent is a time to focus on the true gifts of Christmas – hope, peace, joy and love.

This week the focus is on the gift of hope. What do you place your hope in, dear one? Your job, your significant other, your children, or yourself possibly? Sadly, as we all know, each of these can and will disappoint us.

But there is one person who will never disappoint, and his name is Jesus. Yes, Jesus – the Messiah, the Christ child. Jesus is the reason for the season. It is not the shopping, the decorating, the food preparation, or even the giving of gifts. It is Jesus who brings us the true gifts that will last forever.

Have you lost hope in something or someone? Did some event not materialize the way you wanted it to? Or perhaps some person or situation failed you? I encourage you, dear one, to look to Jesus. He, like Coca-Cola, is the real thing. He is the only source of hope we can cling to in this world. When all else fades, Jesus is still there to light our way. “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12)

Be filled with hope, dear one, and until next time, keep looking up!