Turning Home Into A Temple

LoveGodGreatly-The Road to ChristmasThese verses really get me. I am in awe of Anna. I want her to be my mentor, but since I don’t have a time travel machine just yet, I will have to settle for her life speaking to me via these verses. There isn’t much similar between me and Anna. She was advanced in years, a widow, and had copious amounts of free time to spend fasting and praying in the temple. I, on the other hand, am nearing middle age, still have my husband, a mama to 6, living in Uganda. I have very little free time, and quiet moments are scarce to non-existent. 

So it’s here that I’m tempted to send sweet Anna on her merry way and assume that her life has nothing to do with mine. BUT. She is a woman caught up in the Grand Story of the Redemption. She couldn’t get enough. It flowed out of her life. She spoke of it to all. And this is beautiful to me. I find this irresistible. Oh, how I want this to be true of me!

What if I took her situation, her devotion, her commitment to giving thanks and talking about redemption and translated it into my everyday? What would it look like?

What if I make my home a temple and spend my days worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day? 

Can I take my moments, the ones filled with laundry and trying to convince a teenage boy of the benefits of showers, and turn these mundane moments into acts of worship? Can I? Can I turn my words to thankfulness to God and speak of His redemption to all?

What would this look like? Here are some thoughts on how to start:

  • Turn my eyes upon Jesus. Bask in His redemption. Gaze at His glory.There is no substitute and no checklist. The Gospel is where it starts and ends.
  • Turn down the noise and to be quiet. {Getting up early, afternoon quiet time for the whole house, turning down TV watching in the evening, turning off the Internet}
  • Turn from my idols. Rinse, Repent, Repeat. Daily, hourly, minutely {!}, I find myself running to idols in my heart. Things that tempt me away from gazing. I have to continually return to the Lord and repent and ask the Holy Spirit to help me turn from these things. {Internet, appearance, pride, reputation, to name just a few.}
  • Turn up the message I need to hear. {Turning on the worship music, turning my eyes to Scripture, turning to those people in my life that challenge my heart to follow the Lord}
  • Turn each mundane moment into an act of worship, no matter how small, from cooking to cleaning, showering to scrubbing.
  • Turn my words into words of praise and thankfulness, declaring the redemption to all. 

Let’s take these moments, in our days leading up to Christmas, to turn our homes into temples. Thank you, Anna, for leading us on the road. The Road to Jesus. The Road to Christmas. 

All for Jesus,

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{The Road to Christmas} Forever Faithful

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As we come to this passage today, will you bow your head with me and quiet your heart as we slow and savor the Word of God in the midst of this busy season?

Lord, we bring to you our nothing, our weariness, our busyness. Quiet our hearts as we come before Your Word today, that we might hear from You. Amen.

Let’s dig in:

“And may your house be like the house of Perez, whom Tamar bore to Judah, because of the offspring that the Lord will give you by this young woman.” (Ruth 4:12)

What is this verse saying? What is important about Tamar and thereby Ruth? And what do they have in common?

Tamar was a bit of an unsavory character, with lying and pretending to be a prostitute as part of her resume. And while Ruth was an upstanding woman, she was nonetheless a despised foreigner, an outsider among God’s chosen.

Matthew tells us about Jesus’ ancestry in his Gospel. The angel told Joseph, “You shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:21)

Jesus came to rescue sinners, people like his own ancestors, people like Tamar and Ruth, people like you and me.

Ruth is a lovely character. We love to hear the story of her faithfulness to her mother-in-law Naomi {Ruth 1:14-18}, how she chose to stick by her side no matter what. Ruth is held up to us as a symbol of a faithful woman, one to be emulated and her characteristics sought after.

Ruth’s love and faithfulness to Naomi is beautiful. She left her home, her people, and risked her reputation in order to remain faithful. But this isn’t only a story of Ruth’s faithfulness, it is a story of God’s faithfulness. It is a story of God’s covenant faithfulness (hesed) to Naomi and Ruth, to Israel, and ultimately His faithfulness to us, His people. 

The love of Jesus is far greater than the love of Ruth for Naomi. He left his place in heaven, not just the security of the homeland of Moab. He didn’t merely risk his reputation for us, he became a man of no reputation, despised and rejected by men. 

God in His love and sovereignty, gave Ruth the redeemer she needed, and at the same time, prepared the way for the ultimate Redeemer!  Blessed is the Lord who has not left you without a redeemer today, and may His name become famous in Israel. Ruth 4:14

What He began with Tamar, and then Ruth, he completed in Jesus. That His name might become famous. 

Take a moment today and sing the song, O Come All Ye Faithful, and as you do, remember that it is because of HIS faithfulness that we can be counted with Ruth as faithful. 

O Come Let Us Adore Him, Christ the Lord!! He is forever faithful!

 

Adoring Him,

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{The Road to Christmas} Week 3: Spectacularly Un-Spectacular

Love God Greatly

 

This week I was awakened at two a.m. by the sweet and melodious sound of a child throwing up, washed many soiled sheets from said throw up, settled countless sibling squabbles {in fact I’m needing to settle one right now….}, cooked meals, been the target of  Nerf bullets, patched up several skinned knees, chased a naughty dog out of the house {ad nauseum}, watched Youtube videos with my teen that he finds extremely funny {Rhett and Link and MisterEpicMann}. I even managed to make some Christmas cookies, which means now I smell like drool and vanilla, and let me tell you that’s not a scent coming to Bath and Body Works anytime soon.

My mundane moments, small and faithful though they are, can feel a bit, well, un-spectacular. This is why as we begin this week along the path with two beautiful women, Ruth and Anna, I breathe a sigh of relief. Their lives speak loudly, God uses them mightily, and yet they were also spectacularly un-spectacular. 

The beauty of their stories is their faithfulness. In the midst. In the mundane. And look what came from their beauty. 

So, let’s all take a hearty exhale as we look at the “un-spectacular” lives of two godly women, that point so clearly to the SPECTACULAR God we serve. Let’s revel in how He is using us….in the midst of the un-spectacular.  

{Weekly Challenge}

 This week, as you go about your life, remind yourself that everything you do brings glory to God – even dealing with countless loads of laundry. We are called to be faithful, even in the mundane, unspectacular moments of our lives! Seek out another woman who may be struggling with the “unspectacular” aspects of her life, and encourage her. Remind her that who she is and what she does IS important!

W3 Challenge

Week 3 Memory Verse
Love God Greatly

Week 3 Reading Plan

Love God GreatlyLet’s Talk: How is God using YOU in the midst of the mundane this week? How do the lives of Ruth and Anna encourage you today?

All for Jesus,

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{The Road to Christmas} Week 2~ Because it’s not too late to change…

Love God Greatly

If God can recognize somebody with Rahab’s background and still make her useful, He can still turn you around and make you useful for the kingdom of God and for the advancement of what God is doing in history.- Tony Evans

 Rahab was a pagan, a Canaanite, a prostitute…a woman with a past.

I’d venture to say, she is the most unlikely woman to be included in Jesus’s genealogy listed in Matthew 1.

Friends, are you seeing this pattern… again and again? God is showing us through our Lord, Jesus Christ’s genealogy, that He uses broken women.

Women who are not perfect.

Women who don’t have it all together.

Women who are stained with shame.

Women who have reputations.

He chose them to be a part of His lineage just like He chooses you to be a part of this amazing story He is writing through our lives…for His glory!

I’m so excited that God, in His amazing mercy, included Rahab in Jesus’s genealogy. Why? Because we need this story…we need her story. As women who fall short of His glory daily, we need to be reminded God can do an amazing work through each and everyone of us if we allow Him to.

We need to be reminded that God can do an amazing work through OUR lives.

Rahab was a woman who made very poor decisions in her past.

Rahab was an outcast.

Yet, Rahab became a woman who had an amazing amount of faith and she put her faith into action! She placed God above her devotion to her people, her country and even her life!

Before the men lay down, she came up to them on the roof and said to the men, “I know that the LORD has given you the land, and that the fear of you has fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land melt away before you. For we have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red Sea before you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan, to Sihon and Og, whom you devoted to destruction. And as soon as we heard it, our hearts melted, and there was no spirit left in any man because of you, for the LORD your God, he is God in the heavens above and on the earth beneath. Now then, please swear to me by the LORD that, as I have dealt kindly with you, you also will deal kindly with my father’s house, and give me a sure sign that you will save alive my father and mother, my brothers and sisters, and all who belong to them, and deliver our lives from death.” And the men said to her, “Our life for yours even to death! If you do not tell this business of ours, then when the LORD gives us the land we will deal kindly and faithfully with you.” Then she let them down by a rope through the window, for her house was built into the city wall, so that she lived in the wall. And she said to them, “Go into the hills, or the pursuers will encounter you, and hide there three days until the pursuers have returned. Then afterward you may go your way.”- Joshua 2:8-16

Through her faith in God, Rahab didn’t let her past define who she could become in her future.

With God, our past becomes an amazing opportunity to show how He redeems those who turn to Him. Because of our pasts, we can bring glory to the amazing reality of the power of God and His ability to change lives.

Rahab was a woman with a past, but with God’s help, she became a woman with an unimaginable fairy tale ending.

Remember the two spies Rahab hid? Well she ends up marrying one of them…Salmon and together they have Boaz.

“As the result of her marriage to Salmon, one of the two spies whom she had saved, who “paid back the life he owed her by a love that was honorable and true,” Rahab became an ancestress in the royal line from which Jesus came as the Savior of lost souls. “Poor Rahab, the muddy, the defiled, became the fountainhead of the River of the Water of Life which flowed out of the throne of God and of the Lamb.” Her name became sanctified and ennobled, and is worthy of inclusion among many saints.”- Bible Gateway- All the Women of the Bible- Rahab- Chapter 2

If God can change the life of Rahab the prostitute…He can change your life too.

{The Road to Christmas} this road of grace…God paved the way using men and women’s lives we can relate to so we see no one is out of His reach…we all need this amazing road of grace that leads to that tiny baby in a manger, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Let’s Talk:

What are some steps you can take to help you embrace who you are in Christ and move beyond the label of your past? Write down 2 Corinthians 5:17, you are a new creation in Christ. The old is gone, the new has come. Take time to embrace who you are now in Christ Jesus and move forward in your faith. Today I invite you to share your stories of how God has changed you and help give hope to those who may be struggling today.

 

Love God Greatly!

Angela- Love God Greatly

 

 

 

 

PS: Just so you know….we are crazy thankful for you!!!

{The Road to Christmas} The Journey from Shame to Glory

Love God Greatly

Oh, she wanted a baby. You know, more than anything in life, she wanted a child of her own to love and hold. A child to kiss, cuddle and invest her life into.

No matter how hard she prayed though, her prayers went unanswered.

Why did God deny her prayers? Why was her body broken? Her womb closed?

The stigma and shame that followed her was almost too much to bare at times. Children were considered a blessing and for a woman not to have children, well… she felt the shame with each new birth in her small community.

She was a faithful woman, loved the Lord… yet she suffered for years.

But see this: God did not bring disgrace or shame upon her, her own people did. Her community did. The culture in which she lived viewed a childless woman with shame. Not God.

Yet, despite her heartbreak, her brokenness over prayers that went unanswered, Elizabeth’s faith in God was strong.

What touches me the most about this amazing woman is her response when she finds out she is pregnant. “The Lord has done this for me.” Do you hear how tender that is? She was close to God. She had a loving, personal relationship with Him. She had waited a long time, years to be exact, and God came through.

She had prayed and waited, God had heard and worked.

In the years of waiting, tears and prayers…God was always working and molding her into His image.

Maybe that’s why Mary went to her… Elizabeth understood how it felt when people talked even when you are innocent. She was compassionate and loving, grace filled and not judgmental. Because she went before Mary and had felt the sting of shame from those who did not understand, she could comfort Mary as the rumors began circulating. Elizabeth, in some ways, was like her son John the Baptist… she helped prepare the way.

“Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. For nothing is impossible with God.” Luke 1:36-37

Did you see that? The Angel Gabriel used Elizabeth as an example of what God can do! The phrase “Nothing is impossible with God” was spoken inference to what God had done in Elizabeth’s life!

Our lives are for His glory.

Some of us will be called to unjustly bare shame, but take heart… God is working in the midst of the injustice.

Our lives, our stories, are all for His glory!

And what a story God wrote through Elizabeth’s life. Just think of what Elizabeth would have missed out on if God had answered her prayers immediately? No, the waiting was an important part of the story because He had something better in store…

Maybe it’s a health or physical issue that brings you shame. Maybe you’re like Elizabeth, praying years for the blessing of a child only to be stuck in the waiting.

For me, it is my learning disability. I understand the feeling of being broken, damaged, labeled…unusable for God. But though the world may label us, God can use it for good if we let Him. With those labels: barren, damaged, unwed… we have the opportunity to show God’s glory in our lives. The amazing work of His hands.

Whether the shame you feel is due to your own choices or a result of circumstances out of your control, God can use the heartache, brokenness and pain for a greater good. (Romans 8:28) I saw that this week in the beautiful stories you all shared on Monday and Wednesday. God is writing some amazingly, beautiful stories of His love and redemption through YOU. Stories that help us to see God working in the midst of our messy, broken lives… we are reminded that He is with us.

So let’s be like Elizabeth.

Let’s take the hurt, shame, struggles and allow them to form us into women who are loving and compassionate. Let’s allow God to turn the heartbreak into tears of joy! (Psalm 126:5)

Let’s glorify him with the lives we’ve been blessed with and maybe, just maybe, when people look at our lives they will see the amazing work God has done and say, “Nothing is impossible with God.”

 

Let’s Talk: Have you ever had an “Elizabeth” in your life? How did God use her to encourage you in your time of need?

 

Love God Greatly!

Angela- Love God Greatly

 

 

 

 

 

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