The Spigot

As my husband, Gary,  watched from a distance the way I served others, he often described it this way: “You get to help people, who’s cups are depleted or empty, place themselves under the spigot of God and His Word so that He can fill them, restore them, guide them and use them.” 

Through these bi-weekly posts, move your cup under the spigot of God to receive encouragement in life and truth from God’s Word to live the full life offered by Jesus (John 10:10).

Beg

I love when God gets my attention by sending me a message through multiple channels.

The other day a friend suggested I listen to an app called Pray As You Go. The simple 13 minutes of reflection focused on the story from Mark 9:14-29 when a young boy’s father cried out to Jesus for compassion and help on behalf of his disturbed son. Jesus freed and healed the lad, teaching His disciples the imperative practice of prayer.

The following day when substitute teaching fourth grade, I read and reflected with my students on John 4:43-54 during the Bible lesson. In this passage a royal official approached Jesus and begged Him to heal his near dead son. The desperate father pleaded with Jesus and graciously, the boy’s health was restored by the word of Jesus which resulted in belief throughout the royal household.

I noticed how these two separate accounts intersected with my soul. Parents crying out to Jesus for their children. Family begging God on behalf of those they love. The children in these two scenarios did not know how to pray, but the parents did and they went to Jesus. God moves significantly when we come to Him with our concerns for others.

Jesus responds to begging. To beg is to ask earnestly or humbly for something. Perhaps to beg is not the negative word I have assumed it to be. Is it time to change our understanding of the word “beg”?

This caused me to think of our dog, Joy. After she’s eaten dinner she enters the kitchen and stands by the oven. You see, above the oven is a cupboard that stores her Dasuquin, a tasty treat with ingredients which help her aging joints not ache. Joy silently stands and waits. Often I walk around her, but I see her and know she is waiting for me to respond to her “pleading.” What would it look like for us to just be in God’s presence with our requests? To stand and wait, lifting our prayer to Him?

Other times, when Gary and I eat dinner, Joy stands right beside the chair to be with us while we eat. Occasionally, she rests her head on our leg, but she just waits. She doesn’t bark or whine, but she remains close by reminding us of her presence. In a sense, she “begs” for our attention. Do you beg for God’s attention to the rumblings of your soul? What does it look like to remind God of your prayers?

Jesus responded to the begging of others with grace. People moved toward Jesus with earnest requests. Recognizing their own inadequacy, men and women approached Jesus with humility asking for His intervention (Mark 10:46-52, Matthew 15:22, Matthew 17:15, and Luke 18:13). These Scriptures resonated with my soul, reminding me of the power and great impact of prayer.

Do you admit your insufficiency to meet the cries of your heart? What keeps you from bringing your petitions to God?

Historically, prayer comprises one of the three components surrounding Lent (prayer, fasting, giving). Lent is a time for moving deeper with God in prayer. He invites us to bring our requests to Him (Matthew 6:5-13). Prayer isn’t convincing God to do something on our behalf, it is declaring our dependence upon Him and trusting His faithful response.

Will you humbly go to God with the pleading of your soul and trust Him with your heart? For what are you begging God this Lenten season?

  • A renewed commitment to obey Jesus teachings?
  • Release from a job?
  • Reconciliation of a broken relationship?
  • Healing from physical, emotional and spiritual wounds?
  • Financial provision?
  • Freedom from addiction?
  • Expanded impact?
  • Receptive hearts?
  • Depth in community and friendships?
  • Deliverance from anger, bitterness, envy, a critical spirit?
  • Vibrant Bible study and prayer time?
  • Hope for the orphan and widow?

Jesus tells a parable in Luke 18 to teach his disciples that they should pray and not give up. The persistent widow of whom Jesus speaks instructs us to not waver in going to God with the pleas of our heart.

Notice when similar messages cross your path. God may be trying to get your attention to remind you of His truth and encourage your journey with Him.

What do you want God to do for you this season? Ask Him. God welcomes our authentic begging.

 

Drips from the Word: Muse about these Bible verses. Let these truths impact your living.


John 4:46-53
And there was a certain royal official whose son lay sick at Capernaum. When this man heard that Jesus had arrived in Galilee from Judea, he went to him and begged him to come and heal his son, who was close to death. “Unless you people see signs and wonders,” Jesus told him, “you will never believe.” The royal official said, “Sir, come down before my child dies.” “Go,” Jesus replied, “your son will live.” The man took Jesus at his word and departed. While he was still on the way, his servants met him with the news that his boy was living. When he inquired as to the time when his son got better, they said to him, “Yesterday, at one in the afternoon, the fever left him.” Then the father realized that this was the exact time at which Jesus had said to him, “Your son will live.” So he and his whole household believed.

Luke 18:1-8
Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared what people thought. And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’ “For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care what people think, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually come and attack me!’” And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”

Splashes from the Spigot: Drink from deep wells. Check out these suggested readings.

Jenni Hoag. 2019 Lent Calendar.

Andrew Murray. With Christ in the School of Prayer. Overland Park, KS. 2019.

Weight

One of the pleasures of traveling to different countries is the joy of learning new words and expectations. While in Australia, I learned a few words that I like quite a bit. Instead of garbage, our Aussie mates say “rubbish.” Say rubbish aloud five times – it is a fun word. When going for a walk, they say it’s time for a “wander” and when rest is required, the Aussies say they need a “doze.” I enjoyed learning new phrases and refreshing words to add to my vocabulary.

There happens to be one word, though, that became quite a bother. Weight!

While the meaning of weight is the same in both the U.S. and Australia, its restrictions at the airport are not. When flying from the U.S. luggage can weigh up to 70 lbs, but when flying within Australia, luggage must weigh no more than 23 kg or 50 lbs, and one’s carry on luggage cannot pass 7 kg or 15 lbs. Because Gary and I bought many books to distribute to the various groups we spoke for, our luggage weighed far more than the Australian guidelines.

Upon arriving at the Sydney airport and preparing to fly to Adelaide, the flight check-in attendant’s first inquiry attended to the weight of our bags. In order to abide by the airline regulations, we needed to get rid of all unnecessary burdens as well as distribute the weight of our bags evenly. Have your bags ever been overweight? It’s an awful feeling. Unfortunately, despite our best efforts, the bags tipped the scale into the red, so an extra fee was added.

What weighs you down? Are you carrying extra weight?

Jesus invites His followers to give any extra “weight” to Him (see Matthew 11:28). Many trappings encumber us as we journey with Jesus. Perhaps the need to possess the latest fashion, gadget, or belongings burden you, or the narratives of modern culture confuse and distract you from godly living. Whatever pressures you experience, the King of the universe offers freedom and levity when we jettison all unnecessary loads at His feet.

Consider the areas that add weight for us to carry through life. Work, family, friendship, ministry, hobbies, expectations, cultural messages, attitudes, health, finances, etc. Are there any weights that you need to unload?

New Testament writers such as Paul, James, and Peter each exhorted followers of Christ to rid themselves of things such as bitterness, anger, slander, malice, filthy language, deceit, envy and hypocrisy (see Ephesians 4:31, Colossians 3:8, James 1:21, and 1 Peter 2:10). These attitudes surely add weight to the spiritual journey.

Which attitudes or actions in your life do you need to remove, with the help of the Holy Spirit?

Soak in this Scripture. Read slowly and notice if anything bubbles to the surface regarding life’s hinderances. Welcome the Holy Spirit’s attention to your soul.

Hebrews 12:1
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.

Read it again and wonder about the ways this Scripture connects with your soul.

Receive God’s grace to you as you read the verses a third time. Purposefully strip off any unnecessary weight that might slow you down or trip you up, so that you can “run with endurance” the race God has for you. Thank God for His presence with you.

While the Holy Spirit reveals things we must “throw off” in order pursue Him wholeheartedly; not all weights need to be thrown off. The clothes we are instructed to carry in our proverbial suitcase are kindness, compassion, and forgiveness (see Ephesians 4:32).

Elsewhere we learn that we must put on the armor of God and follow Jesus’ sacrificial model (Ephesians 6:13 and Romans 13:14). Humility, gentleness and patience are the “luggage” of our lives. Ironically, this kind of “baggage” is not actually heavy. The Spirit nurtures these godly traits within us which are not burdensome but gifts of grace to enjoy and share with others.

Take a look at your baggage and get rid of what weighs you down and let the Holy Spirit fill you with godly thoughts, desires, and actions for His glory. And perhaps weigh your bags before your next trip Down Under :–)

Lent 2019 commences on March 6, with the celebration of Easter on April 21. With the focus of prayer, fasting and giving, what weight might God invite you to release so as to take hold more deeply in Christ?

Download the Lent Calendar I’ve created to encourage your journey through Lent. Just as Advent leads to Christmas, Lent leads to Easter.

Intentionally prepare your heart for the greatest story ever when the weight of sin was dealt with for eternity by the resurrection power of God.

Drips from the Word: Muse about these Bible verses. Let these truths impact your living.

1 Peter 2:1
Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind.

Ephesians 6:13
Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.

Colossians 3:12-14
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

Splashes from the Spigot: Drink from deep wells. Check out these suggested readings.

Jenni Hoag. 2019 Lent Calendar.

Kenneth B. Wingate. Run with Endurance: The Triumph of Faith. Dallas, GA. 2014.

Pounce

Though thick clouds still hung in the sky, the falling snow had subsided. Joy (our 10.5 year old GSP) and Hope (Sammy’s 1.5 year old GSP) eagerly anticipated their afternoon walk. Both dogs love romping through the snow. It was almost as if they knew adventure awaited them.

After gearing up in snow clothes, Gary, Joy, Hope and I began our arctic trek to the park across the street. Leaving our neighborhood, we discovered a bright yellow tennis ball. Gary snatched it up knowing how much Hope loved to play fetch.

Upon entering the path through the park, Gary threw the ball into the adjacent field laden with several inches of snow. Hope energetically chased the ball which disappeared into white fluff. Upon reaching the buried ball, Hope pounced with all of her enthusiasm, looking for the hidden treasure. She then quickly dug with her paws flinging snow into the air, bringing the ball to the surface. With her nose covered in snow, Hope then flung the ball into the air and awaited its descent with anticipation. Lunging forward, Hope then pounced upon the ball again and again.

Sometimes, this lively pup just submerged her face into the snow, as if reveling in the delightful surprise buried below the surface. Hope repeated this exciting activity multiple times pouncing repeatedly.

Gary and I watched with delight. Smiles spread across our faces as we watched Hope bound with energy searching for the ball, digging to uncover the hidden object. Hope exhibited such pleasure in her activity. As much as we enjoyed watching Hope’s exuberance, so too did Hope revel in her search.

While reflecting on our walk, I wondered what God thinks of His children. Does He smile when we pounce into His Word, digging, discovering the treasures He has hidden for us there? The Bible reveals on numerous occasions that God delights in those committed to Him (see Deut. 30:9, 2 Samuel 22:20, Psalm 16:3, Zephaniah 3:17 and many more). One of my favorite verses is; “The LORD delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love” (see Psalm 147:11).

When we spend time with Jesus in the Bible, we grow, putting our hope in His unfailing love. We honor and respect God, giving Him primacy in our lives. God becomes known more deeply as we spend time with Him.

When was the last time you pounced into the Word of God? Do you approach the Bible with eager anticipation?

Imagine yourself “pouncing” into the Bible, discovering eternal riches.

Picture God delighting in you as you discover His treasures in the Word. I believe God loves watching His people engage with His inspired Scriptures.

As Gary, and I continued the snowy walk, I noticed that Joy took great pleasure in the outdoor excursion, yet, gave little attention to the bright yellow treasure buried beneath the snow. She missed it all together. Do you miss the blessings and hidden goodness in God’s Word? Have you become bored with the Bible?

Don’t let cultural narratives and the enemy of God sabotage your excited approach to the Scriptures. God gave the Bible to us so that we would know Him more deeply and be formed by Him through the Truths buried within.

He delights in us as we delight in His Word.

If you find yourself stuck when approaching the Bible, perhaps it’s time pounce in a fresh way. While there is a time for Bible study and scholarship with the Word, there is also a time to pounce upon, dig in, and linger with the Word. Just as Hope pounced repeatedly, we too, can “pounce” into and read Scripture passages multiple times, allowing the Truths to sink into our being.

There are many ways to pounce into Scripture. Maybe enjoy one of these three fresh approaches to your time with Jesus and discover valuable treasures beneath the surface in His Word.

Pounce into Scripture by reading a passage more than once. First read the section slowly, listening to God’s Word. Read it a second time, reflecting. Listen for a word or phrase that sticks out to you. Sit with that word or phrase for a moment. Read the same passage a third time receiving from God. Wonder and pray about how that word or phrase connects deeply with your soul. Read through the text one last time. Listen again, resting in God’s presence and then responding with gratitude. Thank God for His companionship and what He has shown you through His Word. Enjoy being in the presence of God. Read, Reflect, Receive and Respond.

Pounce by allowing your five senses to help you enter into the Scripture passage. As you read, notice what you hear and see. What can you touch, taste and smell? Pounce again. Listen to the voices, notice the people, and take in the setting. Let God’s Word come alive. As Martin Luther said,“If I read with all of my senses, if I creep into the text, I will emerge from the text transformed. I have encountered the figure of Jesus and this now shapes my figure” (Jesus: the Image of Humanity, pg. 14).

Lastly, pounce into God’s Word by imagining yourself in the scene. Who would you be? Why are you there? How do others in the scene respond to Jesus? Read the passage a few times imagining yourself as the different persons mentioned. What is Jesus speaking to you? What does God reveal to you about Himself, yourself and creation through the text? Allow God’s Word to come alive. M. Robert Mulholland explains this well; “… seek to allow the text to begin to become that intrusion of the Word of God into your life, to address you, to encounter you at deeper levels of your being” (Shaped by the Word, pg 56).

Treasures await when we pounce, dig in and linger with the Bible. Ask God to bring Scripture alive and meet deeply with your soul as you bury your face in His living Word. Delight yourself in the Lord by pouncing into His Word in a fresh way and imagine God delighting in your energetic approach to Him.

Drips from the Word: Muse about these Bible verses. Let these truths impact your living.

Psalm 119:16
I delight in your decrees; I will not neglect your word. – Read all of Psalm 119, noticing the number of times “delight” occurs.

Psalm 149:4
The LORD takes delight in his people…

Splashes from the Spigot: Drink from deep wells. Check out these suggested readings.

M. Robert Mulholland Jr. Shaped by the Word: The Power of Scripture in Spiritual Formation. Nashville, TN. 2001.

Chris Webb. The Fire of the Word: Meeting God on Holy Ground. Downer’s Grove, IL. 2011.

Puddles for Prayer: Thank you for praying for upcoming travel and speaking engagements.

February 9-24 – Sydney, Adelaide, and Perth, Australia
Traveling with Gary and speaking to various groups and organizations on Soul Care for Boards, Pastoral Staff and Senior Leaders.

Goober

Have you ever awakened and noticed a bit of gunk on the inside part of your eye? Perhaps you have a name for this crust that appears in the crook of your eyes when you sleep? When Sammy and Sophie were young, we called it “sleepy dust.” Maybe you call it something else. Our dog, Joy, gets this a lot, but her “crust” is a bit different. It’s more of a goopy glob, so we call it “goober.” Joy often wakes up with “goober” in her eyes.

Joy is a 10 1/2 year old dog, which means she gets to sleep a lot. It also means a lot of goober forms around her eyes. Since she was a young pup, we have had the privilege of gently clearing the goober from her eyes multiple times a day. If left unchecked, the goober prevents Joy from seeing clearly; her vision would undoubtedly be blurry or foggy.

I wonder about the “goober” in our own eyes? What blurs our focus on Christ?

The Bible says a lot about our eyes. In Matthew, Jesus describes the eyes as the “lamp of the body” (see Matthew 6:22). Wherever the eye focuses, indicates to what or whom the body is aligned. The Psalmist reveals that the eyes reflect our sorrows and hardship (see Psalm 6:7). Verses like Psalm 16:8 and 19:8 add that God gives light to the eyes and helps us see the way we should go.

God created humankind with eyes to see, yet what happens when our vision becomes obscured? In the Gospels, Jesus restored sight to the blind. He offered clarity, hope, and sight.

So, what’s the goober in your eyes?

What keeps you from seeing clearly? Without careful attention, our eyes can become as Isaiah described: “‘You will be ever hearing but never understanding; “You will be ever seeing but never perceiving. For this people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them’” (see Matthew 13:14-16). Our sight becomes fuzzy when our hearts fail to listen to and follow the Lord.

Many things distract us from following God. For example, the pursuit of health, happiness, wealth, comfort, harmony, power, relationships, and recognition. Goober also takes the form of misplaced dreams of retirement, the façade of security in bank accounts, the fickle nature of people, unmet expectations, the pretense in relationships, fear of failure, bitterness from wounding words, emptiness from accumulation, insatiable appetites, fabricated ideals of control, misunderstandings, isolation and loneliness. Our focus becomes the cultural narratives, goals, entitlements, and ideas which direct our attention to this world and away from living with God and for God.

We all face different distractions. What distracts you for focusing on Jesus?

2 Corinthians 4:18 describes why we must make Jesus our focal point: “we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” Do you allow the momentary to draw you away from the eternal?

Set the timer for three minutes: name those circumstances, people, and passions that cloud your vision. Allow the Spirit to reveal the goober in your eyes.

The writer of Hebrews exhorts followers of Christ to “throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith” (see Hebrews 12:1-2).

How can we throw off what hinders and entangles us and fix our eyes on Jesus?

  • Gaze into God’s Word, the Bible. Instead of reading the Bible for information or for a daily assignment, let God form you with His Word by allowing Scripture to infiltrate your thoughts, emotions, and desires. Digest Scripture slowly.
  • Sit with Jesus, asking Him to fill you with His heart and His ways. Simply be alone with God.
  • Consider Jesus who bought salvation for each of us with His sinless sacrifice. He is the standard of maturity and our standard for living.
  • Repent of sin as the Holy Spirit reveals it to you. Stop rationalizing and turn to Jesus. Confess and receive His cleansing.

Look away from all else and look toward Jesus. As we spend time with the One who matures and grows us, the Holy Spirit removes the goober from our eyes. He helps us see more clearly.

Just like I gently remove the goober from Joy’s eyes each day, reflect with God and invite the grace-filled goober removing presence of the Holy Spirit to reveal your distractions and declutter your gaze so your focus is clear upon Jesus for daily living.

Drips from the Word: Muse about these Bible verses. Let these truths impact your living.

Psalm 16:8
I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.

Psalm 19:8
The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart.The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes.

Splashes from the Spigot: Drink from deep wells. Check out these suggested readings.

Anne Ortlund. Fix Your Eyes on Jesus. Nashville, TN. 1994.

Charles Spurgeon. Morning and Evening. Wheaton, IL. 2003.

Puddles for Prayer: Thank you for praying for upcoming travel and speaking engagements.

February 9-24 – Sydney, Adelaide, and Perth, Australia
Traveling with Gary and speaking to various groups and organizations on Soul Care for Boards, Pastoral Staff and Senior Leaders.

Chalking

As a young girl I loved using chalk. The powdery substance decorated our driveway, sidewalks, and even my pretend classroom. I made colorful designs or sketched out hopscotch games and the cleanup was easy! While dry erase makers have almost totally replaced chalk, this earthy substance is making a comeback with the invention of “no dust” chalk and chalk markers.

A custom known as “chalking the door” exists in many parts of the world. This practice, which dates back to the mid-1800’s, finds biblical roots in the Exodus account: when the Israelites marked their doors as instructed by God for deliverance from the angel of death who passed over every home in Egypt (see Exodus 12). Today, the occasion of marking the doors accompanies the celebration of Epiphany, which takes place 12 days after Christmas and ushers in the new year in the church calendar.

Traditionally, this custom commemorates the arrival of the Magi with their gifts to baby Jesus and invokes God’s blessing. Chalk markings adorn the main entrance to the home and represent prayer for God to bless those who live, work, and visit the dwelling in the year. This practice acknowledges God’s presence and welcomes God’s grace for a fresh year of life, growth, and community.

While not commonly observed in the States, the motivation behind chalking the door floods most everyone’s mind in January as a new year begins. Some people adopt resolutions. These might include exercise programs, financial budgeting, simplifying lifestyles, balanced schedules, character development, travel, etc. Improved patterns for living explode and new ideas infiltrate daily rhythms.

In more recent years, the idea of choosing a specific word or a few words for the upcoming year has increased in popularity. Some of my family members and friends have chosen words like health, balance, joy, moxie, and kindness to characterize their hopes for growth and change in 2019.

What about you? How do you commence the new year?

Let me offer a suggestion to increase the effectiveness of whatever you aim to do at the outset of 2019. Reflection must precede movement forward into anything new, challenging and hopeful. If you haven’t already, take 10-15 minutes to remember 2018.

  • Notice the joys, sorrows, hardships, and growth.
  • Recognize changes in relationships, hobbies, passions, and character.
  • Come clean before God by confessing sin, failures, and struggles.
  • Receive cleansing, healing, grace, and hope.
  • Release the past and lean into the present.

Now, having reflected, look toward the year 2019. While a resolution to change or a word to guide provide a beginning, approaching the new year expands beyond these confines. How does the Holy Spirit integrate what you learned into your 2019 considerations? Plans void of the Lord may last for a season, but will fail to endure. Invite God into the stirrings within your soul for the new year.

  • Focusing on health? With the Holy Spirit, give attention on the care of your soul in addition to your physical well-being.
  • Simplifying your home and living? Let God show you ways to simplify your heart’s desires for single-minded living.
  • Balancing work and family? Ask God for discernment to set healthy boundaries and to know when to say yes or no.
  • Drinking more water and eating healthy? Study the Bible, partaking of living water that satisfies and the Word that nourishes your soul.
  • Practicing a slower pace of living? Engage in rhythms of solitude and silence.
  • Desiring purity in thoughts and actions? Memorize Scripture to help you take every thought captive.
  • Looking for ways to volunteer your time and talent? Allow the love of God to flood your heart and recognize the needs around you.
  • Wanting to act more decisively? Focus on the Fruit of the Spirit and join God as He develops His character within you.
  • Distributing God’s gifts of abundance? Reflect on the generosity of God recognizing all you have has been given to you by God to make Him known.

What if we all approached the new year like Moses? God asked Moses to lead His people into a new season and into a new land, yet Moses understood the futility of moving forward without the blessing of God.

“Then Moses said to Him, “If Your presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here. How will anyone know that You are pleased with me and with Your people unless You go with us? What else will distinguish me and Your people from all the other people on the face of the earth?” (see Exodus 33:15-16)

Moses asked God to bless him and all of Israel. As the leader of God’s people, Moses knew God’s presence and blessing would distinguish them from all other people on the earth. Do others know you belong to God? Is there a distinguishable difference between you and those who do not follow Jesus? Have you reflected on where you have been and asked God to bless your new year?

Whether you choose to chalk your door, start new rhythms, or select descriptive words, begin the new year by reflecting on the past year, asking for God’s blessing, and dedicating your path to Him. Dedicate your dreams, work, family, service, longings, friendships, and ministry to God. Like Moses don’t move forward without the blessing of God.

May God’s response to Moses move within your soul; “And the Lord said to Moses, “I will do the very thing you have asked, because I am pleased with you and I know you by name.” (see Exodus 33:17)

May God be pleased with you. May He lead you into 2019 with hope, joy and peace (see Romans 15:13). May you follow His path and walk in His ways so you hear Him call your name.

If you have some chalk :–), you might even enjoy placing a simple cross above the threshold to your residence, asking God to bless all those who live, work and visit your home in 2019.

Dedicate yourself to God’s ways and receive His blessing. Welcome 2019!

Drips from the Word: Muse about these Bible verses. Let these truths impact your living.

Numbers 6:23-27
The Lord said to Moses, “Tell Aaron and his sons, ‘This is how you are to bless the Israelites. Say to them: “‘“The Lord bless you and keep you: the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.”’ “So they will put my name on the Israelites, and I will bless them.”

2 Corinthians 9:8
And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.

Splashes from the Spigot: Drink from deep wells. Check out these suggested readings.

Charles F. Stanley. Finding God’s Blessings in Brokenness: How Pain Reveals His Deepest Love. Grand Rapids, MI. 2017.

Patricia Raybon. The One Year God’s Great Blessings Devotional. Grand Rapids, MI. 2011.

Gifts

During my childhood, my family set up a nativity scene during Advent, the four weeks leading up to Christmas. It included a stable, cows, a donkey, sheep, shepherds, the angel Gabriel, Mary, Joseph, baby Jesus, and three wise men with their camels.

While the figurines look different today, I have more than one of these sacred displays in my home. Likely you too have at least one nativity scene set up in your home, business, and/or church to remind you of the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ.

It wasn’t until my mid-twenties that I realized the biblical account does not say there were three wise men or magi, though I love the song, We Three Kings. Also, while the text does say that the magi brought three gifts, they probably arrived much later than the time of Jesus’ birth (see Matthew 2:9-11). Yet, the reason for the gift-giving we experience during this season reflects the gift of God by sending His Son, Jesus Christ, as well as the gifts of the wise men.

According to the liturgical church calendar, the wise men and their gifts come into focus twelve days after Christmas on January 6. This date in church history is known as Epiphany, which means revelation. Jesus was revealed to the world through the visit of the wise men and their gifts. Because of the significance of these gifts and in anticipation of Epiphany, let’s reflect today on the presents presented to Jesus.

The Bible says that Jesus, Mary and Joseph received three gifts from the wise men: gold, frankincense, and myrrh (see Matthew 2:11). Although these gifts quite possibly provided provision from God for Joseph and Mary to escape to Egypt with young Jesus (see Matthew 2: 13-15), each one symbolized something back then and still retains meaning for us today.

Gold – A yellow precious metal of high monetary value.

Presenting Jesus with gold foreshadowed the kingship of Jesus Christ over all. During his earthly ministry, Jesus spoke 60 times of the kingdom of God: a reign on earth within the hearts of those who follow Him, as well as a kingdom yet to be experienced when He will return to rule over all creation. Jesus is referred to as “King” in numerous texts (see John 12:12-13; 19:19). A king is one who is regarded as the finest or most important in his sphere as evidenced by the behavior of his subjects. Make Jesus your King.

Today, ask yourself: To whom do I pledge allegiance? Is Jesus truly King of my life? How does my life reflect that I follow Jesus?

Frankincense – An costly aromatic resin which seeps from trees in northern India and Arabia.

This gift honored Jesus as Priest. It is highly fragrant and was burned by the Israelites as a component of their offering during worship. Frankincense symbolized the holiness and righteousness of Jesus who ministered to people for three and one-half years and ultimately gave Himself up as an offering for the world (see Mark 10:45).

This perfume-like oil has incredible healing properties. Frankincense combats bacteria, viruses, cancers, and prevents illnesses. This reminds us of the healing Jesus brought to the world, reconciling people to God, dealing with the ultimate cancer: sin. Have you received the healing of God, freeing you from the cancer of sin? How can you point others to the ultimate healing Jesus provides? Another benefit of this gift is its ability to reduce stress, anxiety, and depression. In Scripture, Isaiah proclaimed, He “will be called…the Prince of Peace” (see Isaiah 9:6). Jesus is your Prince of Peace.

Ponder this question as you approach the new year: To whom or what will you turn when life gets nutty, when the unexpected and unexplainable occur? How does your life reveal thanksgiving for Jesus and His indescribable gifts as our Priest and Prince of Peace?

Myrrh – A sap-like substance that flows from small thorny trees and like Frankincense is native to North Africa and the Middle East.

Among the gifts given to Jesus, Myrrh seemed the most unusual baby gift. Nevertheless, this spice honored Jesus as Prophet. In antiquity, when mixed with oil, myrrh was used to anoint prophets appointed for divine service. Jesus came to the nation of Israel, as a prophet, fulfilling the prophecy of Moses (see Deuteronomy 18:15 and Matthew 13:57).

Used for medicinal purposes as well as for embalming the dead, myrrh foreshadowed that Jesus would suffer and give His life upon the cross so that mankind might live (see John 10:10 and 19:39). Myrrh was used to purify the dead, disinfect, and deodorize. Similarly, Jesus purifies us, disinfects us, from our sin when we come to Him in repentance. What change is Christ asking of you as you enter a new year? Through the death of Jesus, we receive grace, the opportunity to live forever with God. To whom can you share the grace of God?

Consider Jesus sacrifice. He died and rose again, so that we might experience everlasting life with Him. What needs to die within you so that you know within your soul the cleansing and healing of Jesus? Pride, anxiety, control, appearances, criticalness, avarice, envy, hopelessness, fear, etc. Jesus came so that we might live the abundant life; a life that flourishes with Him.

Three special gifts were presented to Jesus and His parents. The gold, frankincense, and myrrh point to specific aspects of His life and mission. Think about that as we approach January 6 and celebrate Epiphany, God’s revelation to humankind. Consider how Jesus reveals Himself to you and wants to make Himself known through your life?

Today, these extravagant gifts provoke thoughtful consideration in each of us. Before rushing to your next activity, pause and ponder these presents to experience deeper communion with Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. In so doing you realize that Jesus is the Gift that keeps on giving as our Prophet, Priest, and King.

Drips from the Word: Muse about these Bible verses. Let these truths impact your living.

Matthew 2:9-11
After they [the Magi] had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.
Matthew 2:13-15
When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up,” he said, “take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.” So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt, where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: “Out of Egypt I called my son.”

Splashes from the Spigot: Drink from deep wells. Check out these suggested readings.

Travis Anglim. Prophet, Priest and King. Bloomington, IN. 2016

Bobby Gross. Living the Christian Year: Time to Inhabit the Story of God. Downers Grove, IL. 2009.