Spiritual Anorexia

 Is your Bible woven intricately into every area of your life? Does it consume you? Do you understand the thoughts of the Psalmist saying ‘As the deer pants for the water so my soul longs after you’?

That phrase used to confuse me. I’d think to myself, “I’m not desperate for my quiet time with God like a thirsty deer hunting for a stream.’ I figured the Bible teachers I’d heard mention it must be faking that feeling….

At that same time the thought confused me I was starving for help and life was getting to be way more than I could handle. I hadn’t realized yet where my nourishment came from and I was bordering on spiritual anorexia.

As my hubby says, if you’re not going to eat your spiritual food don’t complain about your hunger pains!

When was the last time you devoured your Bible? Not a Bible study book…. not a commentary… not a Christian living or devotional book… but the tried and true Word of God all on its own? … for more than 5 or 10 minutes???

We are pretty big on getting people into Scripture in these parts because many of us have experienced the awesome consequences time after time in our own lives, and we are so excited to pass on the simple advice that will change other’s lives, too!

We’ve watched as prison walls have been torn down in lives over and over. We’ve also had to watch the consequences of many who don’t love on their Bibles, too… and it ain’t pretty. Hard to witness such things, but praise God for the many who He teaches to ‘pant for the living water’ and those that are washed by the Word daily!

As you pick up your Bible today, and every day, think of these words I found in my bible study notes from a couple of years ago (I preach to myself CONSTANTLY 😅) because maybe you need this reminder, too?

Always be willing to revisit the word of God. He is constantly revealing more of himself to the christian through it. Always ask Scripture good hard questions, it can handle it. Whether you will bear it or not may be a different story. Ask God to help you handle it.

Prepare yourself to be cut and maimed and destroyed every time you open the Word. God uses it to cut away every bit of self government and reason humanly speaking, and works to bring you under the subjection of the One who holds the sword, no matter what He may say.

Always be humble enough to hear other men’s views on what those inspired pages say but wise enough to honestly sift them through the whole of Scripture to see if they are in keeping with the Word – not necessarily in keeping with what you have always understood the Word to say.

Jump into your Bible today! Expect BIG THINGS!

Haven’t heard about the Bible Challenge? Here it is in a nutshell… It’s an awesome addiction.

~Shannon

What’s New (with links)

Here at Watch the Sky things are SO DIFFERENT. Oh my. And there’s no end in site for more changes to come. Gotta fasten my seatbelt a little bit more.

These past months have been just one big change after another and this momma is about ready for some sweet normal… whatever normal is.

This past fall things started to feel crazy when my oldest told us about his plan to move west and follow some dreams. Enter prayer warrior mom status…. and all who have had kids leave the nest know how hard this was. He moved right after christmas along with a young family, his good friends, and started in on his adventure. I don’t think I’ll ever get over not having him home each night after work. I cried all Christmas Day knowing he would be gone soon. Sympathy please??

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For a Mother’s Day surprise he drove in and shocked us all! He had come back with his friend to move the rest of their stuff west and didn’t tell us he was coming. So we all got to sit and chat and hug that boy! Best Mother’s Day present ever!

My boy isn’t the only one moving and grooving. The rest of us have moved out of the rental we were in (not your usual rental! It was big and beautiful and God set it right in our laps 4 years ago). It was wonderful and God used it in many ways. So thankful for our time there. But now is an even cooler turn of events. My family is moving into my childhood home and taking over The Homeplace!

No complaints here. But it’s surreal to watch your parents pack up their belongings and prepare to leave the home that has been theirs for 43 years. Not sure I’ll ever get over that either.  Because of the way life worked we had to move in before they moved out. This has made things a little crazy. But they are super patient and gracious. So we have two houses worth of stuff in one along with 8 people. Always an adventure.

While we sift through all the things piled around the Homeplace I’ve been making notes of all the cool things that I want to tell you about in case they are encouragements to you. I’ll have to split up the links and share some another time.

  • CLEANING: Before moving I had just found Clean Mama and fell in love. I printed off a bunch of printables and started a home binder and it changed how my days rolled. Shocking how a simple list and straightforward calendar in front of me all day every day can make such a big impact. With moving and life with piles around us make it difficult to continue my Clean Mama regime but I can’t wait to get back into the flow this website was teaching me to embrace. Life for the Elson’s is very busy and full and it is really difficult to maintain order and cleanliness when there is always something going on, people coming or going, and lots of relationships to be involved in. ( My mom can’t believe the amount of dishes that get washed dried and put away in the run of a day with my kids!) Clean Mama was the fresh boost I needed. My mom joined in on her website, too! You’ll love all the printables!
  • BINDER CHANGE: I am in the midst of changing up my planner. GASP!! I have used the Franklin Covey classic binder for the past number of years. I LOVE IT. But, it is hard to find all the accessories and papers that I want for it at the prices I want. While standing over the multitude of options in the Michael’s store here the manager of the store showed me her Happy Planner that she has been using for years. She took the time to walk me through all the different sizes, accessories, and options within this amazing planner. Also some money saving lessons she’s learned along the way. She was SO helpful. So I walked away with my own Happy Planner and have been transferring all my info into it from my old binder and thoroughly enjoying myself.
  • SOME AWESOME ENCOURAGEMENT for moms right here! Charmin sent Mothering the Mind by Rebekah Merkle to all of us sisters and told us to listen immediately ALL IN CAPS!!!! LOL. It’s an excellent listen. Excellent.
  • SOME MORE AWESOME ENCOURAGEMENT was sent to me from Jenn. Antifragile Mothering by Rachel Jankovic . So good. Take a listen!! We all need to be told this stuff!

 

  • AFRICA FOR NIKKI: Many of you know and love my cousin, Nikki. She is headed to Africa! She’s pumped to be headed to go help her good missionary friend this summer. God has just continued to do amazing things in her life and we all just praise God for all the things He keeps doing through her and her testimony. Leave some encouragement for her here! Let her know you’ll be praying for her! If you haven’t heard her story from the beginning you can listen to Nikki’s testimony on the blog.

That’s all for now. Keep on keeping on y’all!

~Shannon

But then Jesus…

Thought I’d share some encouragement from my Bible Challenge notes a few weeks ago.

Do you know despair? Do you know shame? Do you know regret? Do you know what it’s like to say, “God, I did what you asked! I begged you for help! Why didn’t you show up?!! It all could have been so different!!”

If you are in that place right now, this is for you. Keep on keeping on.

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The stench of the death of your hopes and dreams dying away is not a forever aroma. Don’t keep facing what you thought were your perfect ideas, struggling to breathe in the midst of the smoke of what God asks you to leave on the altar smoldering as an offering to him. Turn away and face Jesus again. There’s going to be more to your story. Trust him with the grave of all you hold dear. He is worthy… and He is still at work.

You already know this story, but read it again before I tell you how it hit me.

John 11:37-46

“And some of them said, Could not this man, which opened the eyes of the blind, have caused that even this man should not have died? Jesus therefore again groaning in himself cometh to the grave. It was a cave, and a stone lay upon it. Jesus said, Take ye away the stone. Martha, the sister of him that was dead, saith unto him, Lord, by this time he stinketh: for he hath been dead four days. Jesus saith unto her, Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God? Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead was laid. And Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me. And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me. And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth. And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with grave cloths: and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go. Then many of the Jews which came to Mary, and had seen the things which Jesus did, believed on him. ”

Think about that. All the people there along with Mary and Martha were believers in the fact that Jesus was a miracle worker. Of course He could maintain things and keep things going that were already good. No one disputed that Lazarus wouldn’t have died had Jesus come. Healing would have been certain if Jesus had been there. But surely even he could do nothing after a body has been buried and decomposing for a couple of days. All that could be done now is to give up and wait for that final promise and rest in that…. but as for now, things could ever be good again. Never.

I’ve felt that way so many times. I’m sure you have too. Many of you feeling it at a far deeper level than I have had to so far. When it would seem that all is lost and nothing is left but death and despair. Nothing but pain and heartache. Messy, fetal position on the bathroom floor, kind of pain.

But then Jesus

Jesus reminds Mary, Martha, and all those present that he holds the key to resurrection. No restraints. Nothing  is out of his capabilities… Never give up, just refocus. Not only can the situation still change even after all is lost according to all human reasoning, but if Jesus chooses to call life out it will be bigger, better, and more powerful than before.

Lazarus came out with all the evidence still attached of his previous circumstance. He didn’t walk out all cleaned up and in a new suit. He walked out of that tomb with evidence of the mess he was just in. Everyone knew what his state had been… then the focus was on the amazing thing Jesus did with his mess… not how Lazarus pulled up his bootstraps and got his act together and cleaned up the grave and got himself out of there looking better than before without anyone realizing how bad it really was. And Lazarus wasn’t the only one benefiting from how Jesus worked.  All eyes were on the proceedings and many were changed from the one life Jesus allowed to be taken and buried. What a glorious witness of what Jesus is capable of! When all human hope is gone, never give up hope!

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Many times things are just hard and life gets messy and stinky. We bury all the hard things and call them done deals. It’s over. There’s nothing anyone can do with decomposition and stench and lack of oxygen and blood for 4 days! And usually they stay buried and decomposing. But God gave us just enough examples of miracles throughout Scripture that He chose to perform that it makes me say, “Yeah, this looks super hopeless… but what about Lazarus? What if I wait patiently for God to show up and He calls life back into this tomorrow?! What if my situation is the next ‘lazarus’?” ……. It kind of makes me want to charge hell with a squirt gun!

Bring. It. On.

So you’re in a mess right now? Sin and stench, brokenness and strife is all your story right now??? What if God is just waiting 4 days before amazing everyone? If there is any hope given to the broken hearted and ungodly in Scripture, it is Lazarus’ resurrection. Somebody say THANK YOU JESUS!!!

We can ask in the midst of the hardship, how can this possibly bring glory to God? How can grave clothes and embalming, tombs and weeping possibly be the best choice to bring God glory??? But doesn’t Lazarus’ grave clothes and stink from death make the end result so much more glorious?! Can there be any doubt that this was a far more powerful story than the simple healing of a sick man?!

Wait patiently, friend…. God is still at work. All hope is not lost. He is good. He is worthy.

~Shannon

Learning Quietness

“He that dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty”

Psalm 91 – I’ve memorized this chapter to help with my word for 2019. It was medicinal. It reminds me how much power I really have. Go read Psalm 91!! 🙌🏻🙌🏻🙌🏻

It has helped me as I have had my involvement taken away in a number of situations lately . When I can’t do what I’ve always done I am forced to learn to be quiet and trust the God that I read about in Scripture and live like I believe he is omniscient and omnipotent. I say I believe it. Now I have to live it.

It helps me remember my rightful place is being quiet and watching God work. I’m hiding under that wing, in a little nook while I watch through the feathers as God takes care of the situation. No input or help from me. He is God, He can handle it!

“He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust.” Psalm 91:4

I am being forced to learn to be quiet and trust that the same God that works in me and has tethered me to himself, can tether those I’m concerned about to himself as well. None of it is dependant on me.

“ A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at they right hand. But it shall not come nigh thee.” (Verse 7)

That’s a big deal that verse is proclaiming! That is a huge attribute of God being spoken of right there. We are nothing. God does it all. My job is to choose wisely where to hide and whose strength, wisdom, and ability to trust in. I watch ‘inactively’ and see what God does. No input from me. No action from me.

God calls his people to action. We are to obey… but sometimes we get thinking he’s accomplishing so much because of how good we are doing. We all have circumstances that God brings into our lives to show us where He is not looked to as sovereign God.

Every hard circumstance, every anxious feeling, every terrifying thought is a place to give God the preeminence there.

Colossians 1:18 “and he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent.”

He already is preeminent. That’s not up for discussion. He just takes time here and there to bring us back to that reality.

Where there is a struggle to allow God to work on his own, without any interference from me, He most certainly does not have the preeminence yet.

Feelings of fear or anxiousness are not the issue. Those feelings may not go away after our humbling and submission for the simple reason that God is not safe. He may allow the hardest and lowest of circumstances. Have you read the Bible?! The possibility of horrible things happening is not promised away by submitting ourselves, therefore the sweat is still abundant. But the attempted control over which way it will go has been released.

Being troubled over what God calls you to is something that even Christ himself went through.

Matt 26:37 “And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death;…”

That word ‘troubled’ is the strongest of 3 forms of depressed, anguished, and distressed, used in the Greek language. Jesus was heavily troubled and prayed to be delivered from his circumstance. He sweat blood. It was bad.

My point is that you are able to be distressed, even unto death, and not be in sin…. If you are not attempting to be in control of the hardship.

Jesus handled his troubling time exactly as he instructed his disciples in the gospels and the further direction we get from 1 Peter.

Matthew 11:28-30 “Come to me, all who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

1 Peter 5:6-11 “Humble yourselves therefore, under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: Casting all your care (anxieties) upon him, for he careth for you.”

‘Humble yourselves’ means to give God preeminence. Let him do whatever he wants and trust him with it. 

I notice a big difference in how anxiety and fear are handled by Jesus than other issues with us humans. Even if you want to call it a sin (which is only a sin if you are trying to control it from what I’ve seen and understood so far), Jesus clearly gives different instructions for being troubled or depressed. It’s not a ‘stop sinning!’ command he gives, but a comforting reminder to bring our fears to Him and trust Him with the results.

Christ took it to the Father and he knew he still needed to die. The stress of all he was going to endure didn’t disappear because he gained a godly perspective. All the difficulty was still there waiting for him. It was just a humbling moment where it was modelled for us how we will wrestle with God’s will vs. my will.

You know the humbling has taken place when you lay all your tools down and let God call the shots.

Think about this thought taken from Exodus when the Ten Commandments had just been given along with instructions from God how he wants sacrifices to take place…

Exodus 20:23-25 “And the Lord said…An altar of earth you shall make for me and sacrifice on it your burnt offerings and your peace offerings, your sheep and your oxen. In every place where I cause my name to be remembered I will come to you and bless you. If you make me an altar of stone, you shall not build it of hewn stones, for if you wield your tool on it you profane it.

Every place of my humbling is a place God ‘causes his name to be remembered. It’s a place you lay yourself down as the sacrifice on the altar and the only one that walks away is God. Your tools stay on the ground and the stones of that sacrifice stay raw with God’s perfect beauty. I don’t get to chisel the altar and make the stones fit like I want anymore. When I’m okay with how God’s going to have this end up looking I am done wrestling with God. I may still be piling the stones for that place of remembrance and preparing myself to climb on the altar so my will dies, but the chisels are profane to me. They call for MY control and MY glory – sickening to a truly repentant heart, arrogant to a humble soul disgusting to a willing servant.

Humbling. Sacrifice. Repentance. He shall be preeminent!

~Shannon

(Photos snatched from my daughter’s phone 😉)

Cinnamon Rolls: A recipe for their hearts

I was asked for our cinnamon roll recipe and I thought I’d share it here on the blog. But first, some food for thought from a lady who doesn’t enjoy cooking/baking.

Even if I dislike chopping, stirring, and mixing… even if I hate creating messes in what was once my tidy kitchen… even if moms throughout the world see the endless needy tummies as a source of never-ending tiredness, our attitude toward it all does a flip when we understand the significance of our labour.

Anne’s (my sister) Valentine’s Day Cinnamon Buns

Food.

It’s our chance to show care and offer comfort without using any words. Food creates an environment that lends itself to communication. When there is food ready in the kitchen there will be bodies relaxing and getting filled up. There will be smiles, laughing, and confidence built up in those people you’re raising.

If we keep our ministry of motherhood first and foremost in our minds we can use treats and comfort food to put our families at ease and find their souls relaxing too. Sure, I could open a pack of cheetos and throw it on the counter and call it a day. But I dare you to go all out make something (cheaper!!!) like muffins, put them in a basket while they’re warm and stick them on the counter or table with a butter dish beside it, and napkins. Your house will evolve into the best of hygge, and your kids will love life. When they ask if they can have 2 or 3, let them. Do it and take note of what happens.

Anne’s Cozy Tablescape

I’ve discovered it’s amazing the roll a plate of bacon, or a cheese tray, or a simple cinnamon bun can have in a day. I’ve been pondering it awhile now… and pondering it more as I prepare to share a little bit about it at our next homeschool monthly meeting. There is so much more to this idea! God is teaching me lots.

On that note, here is my mother’s awesome cinnamon roll recipe that has filled my and my sister’s tummies, and now our families, for many years.

Mrs.D’s Cinnamon Rolls

Mix 1 tsp Sugar in 1/2 Cup warm Water.
Add 1 Tbsp Yeast.
Let rise 10 minutes.

Meanwhile scald 1 1/2 Cups Milk
Add the following to milk and let butter melt:
1/2 Cup Sugar
2 tsp Salt
2 Eggs
1/2 Cup Butter

Add yeast mixture.
Add 5-7 Cups Flour, kneading after each addition.
Let Rise 1 hour.
Divide dough in half. Roll each half into a rectangle 1/4 inch thick.
Butter dough all over and sprinkle generously with brown sugar.
Sprinkle cinnamon over brown sugar.
Roll up and slice 1/2-3/4 inch slices.
Let rise 1 hour
Bake at 350 for 20 minutes.
When cool pour glaze over.

Glaze:
2 Cups Icing Sugar
1 tsp Vanilla
Mix in enough milk to make runny icing.
(I like to add 1/4 Cup softened butter to icing and make it thick to spread on!)

Enjoy!

~Shannon

Some Favourites & My 2019 Word

So my Word for 2019 is Quiet.

I told my husband not to get too excited. Not the kind of quiet that keeps me from sharing my opinion, asking questions, or generally talking up a storm. That would take a super miraculous, end of times, kind of act of God 😅.

No, the ‘quiet’ I’m talking about is what Psalm 91 talks about. Be quiet and trust God to take care of things…. he is able. I need this word to be active and full force right now. So I’m working at memorizing this amazingly comforting chapter.

In December I had been thinking about how I wanted to jump out of the boat like Peter did and learn by doing. He headed into the crazy-hard, life threatening experience with just Jesus to look to and learned how capable God is of handling his storms and bringing quiet to a troubled soul…. then Nikki surprised me with the AMAZING piece of art by one of my favourite painters in the world!!! Gasp!

I now have a constant beautiful reminder of Gods sovereignty in my troubled waters, right here in my living room. I sneak a peek at it often each day. Glory.

I do not have Facebook but here is Holly’s Art page for you to check out. Let me know if the link doesn’t work! I’ll have to console myself if you buy all my favourites. 😉

What’s your word for 2019? Leave it in the comments!

Another new year kind of habit you can start is to become a bookworm. So often I meet up with a lady who says she’s not much of a reader. It makes me sad…. and frustrated for them. If you aren’t reading you are missing out! Be a reader! Be teachable! There are so many ideas to mull over and stretch your brain!

Fit To Burst is my latest read. FANTASTIC! My sister gave it to me for Christmas and it is a must read! 🙌🏻 Praise hands all around🙌🏻! You could finish it in an afternoon. Not a big book, but it is PACKED with goodness.

To help you on your way to become a lover of books here’s a link Charmin sent me just this morning that my husband and I are going to give a try.

2019 BOOK CHALLENGE

I’m following the directions and beginning with the light list and see how far I can get. 2018 was a challenging year for me and I only got through 13 books. 😔😔😔 But maybe this year will be different.

And last but not least. Please check out this AWESOME SERMON . I laughed out loud, wanted to wave some hankies, and contend for the faith a lot more by the time all 28 min of this message were complete!

Hopefully I’ll be able to share some favourite things like in this post every couple of weeks. So if you enjoy these links make sure you ‘follow’ this site to know when more are posted!

~Shannon

Fav’s: A Sermon & A Recipe

I have an all-time favourite, life changing kind of sermon to share with you. Skip ahead to the 2 minute mark if you don’t care about the very long introduction to the speaker. 😉

Sermon: The Magnificent Defeat

You can listen to that while you are making the recipe I’m sharing! 😉

Charmin found an awesome white bread recipe years ago and I tweaked it for my stand mixer and what worked for me. It’s so Good! So easy! So cheap!!!!

People think that making bread is a big ordeal but it’s so desperately easy and takes hardly any of your time! Give it a try and your family will love you. Seriously, if I can do it anyone can.

White Bread

1/4 Cup Lard

1/4 Cup Sugar

3tsp Salt

2 1/3 Cup Hot Water

Mix this until lard melts.

Dump in 4 cups Flour with 1 1/2 Tbsp Quick Rise Yeast and mix well. Add 2 Cups Flour and knead … continuing kneading in flour until bread is ALMOST too sticky to handle. It may take between 3-4 cups of flour.

Knead into a ball and set in oiled pan, roll dough to cover with oil. Cover with syran wrap and a towel and set in warm

Place to raise for 30 min – 1 hour.

Divide dough into 3 even sections. Knead into 3 loaf shapes and set in greased bread pan. Set aside to raise for 30 min-1 hour.

Bake at 400 for 20-25 min. Just until nicely browned.

Brush with butter immediately.

(This recipe freezes well, too! Yummy goodness is not lost upon thawing.)

~ Shannon

A Reading Log

Remember that BOOK CHALLENGE I mentioned in the last blog post? I’m working on it and looking forward to all the goodness I’ll discover this year as a bookworm.

If you and your children are readers, or hoping to be, you might want to print a reading log for each to keep track of each of your achievements. I’ve been keeping a log since 2015 when Cheryl shared the idea with me and I love it. It’s encouraging to track all my progress.

I looked up some freebie printables on Pinterest (one of my favourite things!) and found this simple download. Enjoy this Reading Log! 😉

~Shannon

A New Year Hello

A quick video of important stuff 😉…

If you missed it you can enjoy a new refreshing look at New Year’s Resolutions here – A Word for 2019

Please listen to John MacArthur’s awesome How To Study the Bible sermon if you haven’t already. It’s one that changed my life!

Check out the original Bible Addiction video info here – Shannon 2018 Challenge Video. But this poster is it in a nutshell. 😉

Tackle your year in a Bible devouring way. You’ll be ready for whatever the Lord has in store!

~Shannon

Christmas Hope, by Mrs.Dorey

(I asked my mom if I could encourage you all with a devotional she shared a number of years ago. Everyone LOVED her sessions at the conference and I wanted to pass on some more of the goodness from our very own Lois Dorey!)

IMG_5869                                                                (My sister Elaine & I)

December 25, 1995 was my sister Elaine’s first Christmas in heaven.  And I know it was the first time she was satisfied with the Christmas Season.  Unlike most of us, Elaine didn’t really like Christmas.  Not even after she had trusted Christ as her Saviour in her 50th year! She did not look forward to December.  Because Christmas brought pressure – choosing gifts for people, budgeting to buy those gifts, Christmas decorating and Christmas cooking to be worked into days already filled with everyday living and responsibilities, the pressure of other people’s expectations – real or imagined. And perhaps it had something to do with the guilt of not enjoying a time that the world AND the Church alike tell us is the “happiest time of the year”.

Most of us can relate to one degree or another with the pressures that my sister felt at Christmas. To most of us, yes, there are pressures, but they are tempered with great expectations of a warm, enjoyable, satisfying happy Christmas.

 We get that “Christmas feeling” and :
*Go Shopping!
*Decorate our mantles and Christmas tree
*Drape our garden shrubs with pretty lights
*Play our christmas CD’s
*We tell everyone “Jesus is the Reason for the Season”
*We look forward to a moving Candle light Service on Christmas Eve
*Enjoying the togetherness of family and friends
… Everything we need for a perfect Christmas.

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We are expected – and we want to – “emote” (my new word this year) – feel emotion at Christmas! And we know we’ll have the perfect Christmas when:
*We give just the right gift
*Get just the right gift
*Have that group hug feeling.
*And then crawl into bed Christmas night with our tummies full, and say Christmas was everything and more than we expected.  I am totally satisfied!!!
Really?  Is that True?

I had a light bulb moment this Fall. I have always followed what the world tells us Christmas should be and how it can satisfy us.  Do it right and you will be satisfied.  Like the commercial says – send or receive the right Hallmark card and you will make Christmas complete. I have found that is not true. And I suspect most people would agree.  Why is that not true!  Why do people look forward to and enjoy Christmas festivites each year expecting to be satisfied  and yet come away, not quite full.
Perhaps we search for and find that which we search for – namely satisfaction – has eluded us yet again because – Jesus – did  – not – come – to – SATISFY – US!  Jesus came to satisfy a holy, righteous, omnipotent God.

I was talking to a friend just last week who had recently returned from an Open Doors conference in Thailand.  While there she and her husband had an opportunity to spend a few hours with some Christians who were in hiding.  If they were discovered they would be executed.  If these men believed that Jesus had come to satisfy them– to give them contentment, safety,  festive times with family and friends, prosperity or at least a roof over their heads and decent food on the table, they would be most miserable Christians.  Because they have none of those things and cannot look forward to having them.

They, like thousands of Christians in many parts of the world,  have suffered intense persecution, been imprisoned for years, tortured and now live in hiding , unable to be at home, ever, with wives and children and family. They will not gather around a bright Christmas tree with family and friends.  They won’t exchange gifts or sit down to a sumptuous turkey dinner served on fine China. They won’t experience that vague feeling of dissatisfaction with the Season. Because they don’t expect it in the first place! They know that Jesus didn’t come to earth that first Christmas to give men satisfaction. He came to give men hope.

A holy, righteous God could not and would not allow even 1 man, 1 woman or 1 child to enter heaven because of sin – there is sin in everyone! God’s Word tells us “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” and “The wages of Sin is death…”
Mankind had no hope. The best we could do is:
*Live a few years on this earth
*Try to live a good life and
*Be a good person
*Try to obey the 10 Commandments
*Try our best
and reason that, compared to some others, I’m not that bad!
BUT that’s just not good enough.  Because the standard is not each other. The standard is God – Perfection  –  Of which we all fall short!!!!
Jesus Christ is the only one Who does not fall short.  He is perfect. Because He is God come to earth in the flesh.

When Jesus Christ was born that 1st Christmas He was fully God and fully Man. There was not a warm and fuzzy plan for His life.  The plan had been laid down before the foundation of the world that 33 years after that baby, Jesus Christ – God Himself -, was born He would die,  He would shed His perfect blood, He would sacrifice Himself, to satisfy, not us, but the righteous judgment and holy wrath of Almighty God. And, therefore,  give mankind hope– the divine promise of eternal life in heaven for all who put their faith and trust in the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross.  Our sin had to be paid for – a debt no man could pay, so God paid it Himself. 1Peter 2:24 “Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree…”

Those Christians in Thailand knew that.  They don’t have satisfaction now nor do they expect it.  That’s OK.  They have something better for now.  They have HOPE.  The same hope that you have if you have trusted Jesus Christ as your Saviour and are born again by the Spirit of God.  The same hope that my sister had for the last 7 years of her life here on earth.  Colossians 1:5 “for the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel”.

As my sister’s health deteriorated after having been diagnosed with cancer she became increasingly dissatisfied and disinterested with those things around her that had held her attention for so many years and she became increasingly expectant of the life that awaited her on the other side.  Her HOPE!

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Shortly after her 57th birthday, just weeks before her last Christmas here, we were sitting wrapped up in blankets talking about life, death and what she was looking forward to in heaven. I was reminded of a verse from the Psalms that I had shared with her a short time before. Psalm 17:15 -“As for me, I will behold thy face in righteousness;  I shall be satisfied, when I awake with thy likeness.”

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On January 16, 1995, my sister, Elaine, awoke – completely satisfied. Since then, Elaine has spent these many Christmases with her Saviour, the One who’s birth we are celebrating today!  Years of total satisfaction with an eternity to look forward to!!!  Now that’s a reason to celebrate!!!

So this year as I do all those special things that make the Season merry, it  may be my first Christmas that I will not be even a little disappointed at not being completely satisfied and fulfilled.   I know that’s coming later.

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This year,  more than ever, I will be rejoicing in the Hope that is mine because the baby born in Bethlehem over 2000 years ago was God the Son coming to this earth to pay the price for my sin on the cross of Calvary. I have HOPE!!

I read a haunting poem many years ago that comes to mind when I think of our Christmas celebrations….

What was Mary dreaming
As the infant Jesus lay
Snuggled close beside her
In the warm and fragrant hay
Did she see her Son as Saviour
Pointing all men towards the Light
That would light the path for many
As the star did that dark night.

Could she hear the loud Hosannahs
As they hailed Him on His way
Was her young heart filled with rapture
at her vision Did she pray
As all Mothers will for blessings
On her tiny baby son
While cattle lowed and Joseph
Watched O’er this new born One.

Awe-struck visitors departed
Till the family was alone
Waiting out the night together
Did she see Him on a throne
King of Kings & Lord of Glory
Or did something warn of loss
Did she glimpse amid the shadows
The faint outline of a cross.
(author unknown)

The Manger was Hope’s beginning with a Baby’s cry.
The Cross was Hope’s completion with a Saviour’s cry “It is finished”.
“Thanks be to God for His unspeakable gift” (2 Corin. 9:15)

Have you received the Gift?
Do you have HOPE? – the divine promise of eternal life in Heaven when your life here has ended? The Gift is offered to everyone but not everyone will own it!
Only those men, women, boys and girls who put their faith and trust in the saving power of the shed blood of the crucified Saviour – the Christmas Baby – can receive the gift:  HOPE – an eternity of satisfaction in the presence of the living God!

~ Mrs.Dorey