Tuesday, November 29, 2011

God With Us

"Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel." ~ Isaiah 7:14

Fast forward 700 years:

"'And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.' So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: 'Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,' which is translated, 'God with us.'" ~ Matthew 1:21-23

When the Lord shows me scriptures that overlap, and undergird, and fulfill one another, it absolutely thrills my soul. The Word of God is so intricate, so rich. I just love it!

Have you ever thought about - I mean really thought about - the name Immanuel? Within its framework is the miracle of our salvation. Within its framework is the definition of God's love. Think about it...Immanuel. God with us.

In the Garden of Eden, the earthly paradise that contained no sin, God literally walked with Adam and Eve. He talked with them, He dwelt with them. That, in itself, is amazing. Remember, mankind was created for fellowship with our Creator. He desired our company. But, when sin entered the picture, a Holy God could no longer dwell with mankind. Imagine His emotions: anger, betrayal, sorrow, loneliness. We don't think of God that way, do we? But according to the Scripture, the Lord our God experiences all of these emotions and more.

And so, for thousands of years, the Lord put a plan in motion that would ensure that His children could once again know Him and dwell with Him.

Immanuel. God with us...Jesus.

Colossians 1:15 reads, "He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation." The Greek word used here for image means "an exact revelation and representation." When we meet Jesus, we are meeting God.

Now, I know this is not a major newsflash, but isn't it wonderful to consider this at a deeper level than just head knowledge? Just imagine, the same God who holds the seas in the hollow of His hands and walks on the wings of the wind is the same God who walked this earth in the form of His Son, reconciling His children to Himself. He is the same God who dwelt with Adam and Eve in the Garden. He is the same God that will once again dwell with us when He comes for His Bride and takes us home.

He is the same God whose birth we celebrate this Christmas.

Immanuel. God with us...Jesus.

What are you facing this Christmas? Job loss? Betrayal? Illness? Depression? Please, let this phenomenal truth sink into your weary spirit: You are not alone. Immanuel came to earth that we might know Him, the One True God. He came that He might dwell with us, love us, comfort us.

May the miracle of His birth encourage you and fill you with hope this Christmas.

Immanuel. God with us...Jesus.

Father, You are an amazing God. Thank You for never giving up on us. Thank You for being tenacious with Your pursuit of us. Forgive us for taking this for granted at times. Please forgive us for making the birth of Your Son into a commercial circus. Bring us back to the simplicity of the manger that cradled Him. Bring us back to the birth of our Savior, Immanuel, Jesus Christ. We love You Lord. We sing glory and give You praise!
For the month of December I will not be posting Morning Glory every Tuesday and Thursday. It will be like a Christmas card...you'll never know when you might get one **grin**. I want to focus on my family and my Savior and take a much needed rest. Be blessed this remarkable season of the year. May you be filled to overflowing with His love.
If you received Morning Glory via email, please go to the Morning Glory page to view a powerful music video of Steve Green singing, Immanuel.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Coming Alongside

"All praise to the God and Father of our Master, Jesus the Messiah! Father of all mercy! God of all healing counsel! He comes alongside us when we go through hard times and before you know it, He brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us."
~ 2 Corinthians 1:3,4, The Message

Oh how I love Jesus because He first loved me! This song popped into my mind as I typed the words to the powerful, life-changing verses above. Oh how I love Jesus! Will you give Him praise? Will you come before Him with a thankful heart?

My love for Jesus has carried me through many storms, many trials and heartbreaks. His Presence has comforted me. His wings have sheltered me. And for this I am very thankful.

Thankful. Thanksgiving. That is an interesting term. It carries such noble potential but is trivialized by much commercialization. The name Thanksgiving comes with its own form of pressure: pressure to have the perfect family, pressure to smile when your world is falling apart, pressure to kick it in gear as the holiday bustle begins.

How sad. How commercial. How empty.

Empty, yes, unless we toss the peripheral and turn our eyes on Jesus, the lover of our souls. Church, He has done so much for us. He has come alongside us in our troubles - comforted us, consoled and encouraged us. And for what cause? That we might, in turn, come alongside someone else to comfort and encourage them with the knowledge of God's love.

That amazes me. Elohim, the Creator of the Universe, the Father of ALL comfort has walked beside me in my darkest moments. He has done the same for you. Think about that...He has walked beside me. He has walked beside you. Never alone. Never forsaken. Always loved.

Is it possible for us to center in on this Truth - the realization of Almighty God walking with us and talking with us, being drawn to us like a magnet when we hurt - and finding a place of true thanksgiving and praise? Perhaps we should continue the tradition of Thanksgiving by comforting others with the comfort we have received.

Isaiah 40:1 reads, "'Comfort, yes comfort My people,' says your God." I have come to believe that comforting and encouraging others with the comfort I have received is an expression of highest praise. In my praise of the Father I offer thanks. Thanks for His Presence. Thanks for His comfort. And thanks for His love.

And a very special thanks for coming alongside me during the hard times.

If you have received Morning Glory via email please go to the Morning Glory page to view a goosebump-making video by the Katinas, "Thank You Lord".

Thursday, November 17, 2011

God is Good

"You are my God. Show me what You want me to do, and let Your good and gentle Spirit lead me in the right path." ~ Psalm 143:10, Contemporary English Version

Today's Morning Glory will be just a little bit different, but I think you'll enjoy it. In fact, by the time you get to the end I hope you'll be clapping your hands, maybe stompin' your feet a little, and giving God praise.

Why? Because God is Good. ALL the time.

Now, isn't that an awesome way to start your day? Give Him praise,Church!

Father, we give you praise because You, Lord, are worthy of our praise. We can say of our God, "You are good ALL the time!" And for that we are thankful. We place our trust and our hope in You. Thank You for Your love.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Who Will Love You for You?

"When Jesus looked out over the crowds, His heart broke. So confused and aimless they were, like sheep with no shepherd." ~Matthew 9:36, The Message

Her name was Mary.
Mary lived in a cardboard box beneath the interstate bridge.

I met her at the Hickory soup kitchen. Mary was dirty. Her matted hair hung in strings over her crystal blue eyes that darted back and forth as we talked. Actually, I did all the talking. Mary hung her head in silence.

"Mary," I said. "I think this coat will fit you."

She cocked her head and shifted her gaze towards the jacket. And then she looked back at her feet.

"Here. Let's see how it does. This blue will be so pretty on you."

Slowly, Mary lifted her head and looked at me. I saw emptiness. A blank stare. I saw a woman who desperately needed to be loved - a life which desperately needed restoration.

She allowed me to help her with the jacket. The fit was made in heaven - perfect in a way that only God could make perfect. Mary ran her fingers through her hair. She held her head a little higher.

"Mary, you are so beautiful. May I give you a hug?"

She did not answer with her voice, but with her body Mary leaned into my embrace. I held this woman, broken in many, many pieces. I felt a warm wetness against my cheek - a tear escaping her fortress of shame and loneliness.

"Thank you," she whispered.

"Mary, may I pray with you? God loves you. He weeps over your brokenness. He wants you to know Him, to let Him into your darkness. Please, may I pray with you?"

Mary didn't speak, but she nodded and rubbed a dirty hand against her tear-stained face. She allowed me to pray with her. She wanted to know about this Jesus that holds my life together. She was hungry for the love of God.

When Jesus looked out over the crowds, His heart broke. He was moved with compassion for He knew that the people were like sheep without a shepherd. He spoke to His disciples, "The harvest is great, but the workers are few. So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask Him to send more workers into His fields" (Matthew 9:37, NLT)

Will you answer His call? Will you let His love overflow through you into the lives of others? It's not complicated. Just be available. The Lord will do the rest.

Father, forgive us for sometimes being calloused when it comes to sharing Your love with others. It is usually not because of lack of faith or desire. Lord, many times we just don't feel adequate. Please strengthen us to do Your will, to share with any and all You put in our paths. Pour confidence into us - confidence and understanding that it is not by might, nor by power, but by Your Spirit. We need only to be a vessel from which You pour out Your grace and love and hope. Thank You for teaching us. Thank You for holding our hands as we step out in obedience to Your Word and walk the fields of Your harvest. We love You Lord and we give You praise.
If you have received Morning Glory via email, please go to the Morning Glory page to view an inspiring video by JJ Heller, "What Love Really Means".

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Broken Places

"Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; you are Mine." ~ Isaiah 43:1

A reason to live.
A reason to not give up.

Beloved, many are the struggles of today. Difficulty washes over us like the ebb and flow of a salty tide, always constant, always pulling and pushing us. Many have surrendered to the crushing weight of despair. Many have become numb to the pain.

But the Lord your God says to you, "Fear not, for I have redeemed you, I have called you by your name; you are Mine."

Your brokenness does not go unnoticed by a loving God. He waits to restore you. He yearns to make a way where there seems to be no way. He longs to show Himself mighty on your behalf. But first you must lay the broken pieces of your heart before Him.

His grace is for You.
His love surrounds you.
He IS your God and you must know that nothing is too difficult for Him.


Sweet friend, be encouraged today. You are loved by an awesome God. Run to Him. Place your trust in Him.

When anything that's broken is laid before the Lord, it will not remain unredeemed.

Father, I lift my precious friends to You. I give You their brokenness, their confusion and pain. I ask that You pour out Your grace on them and bring healing. Bring restoration. Restore hope to them. Cause them to laugh as a child free from the cares of the world. We praise You for Your redemption and Your grace. We love You Lord and appreciate You so very much.
If you received Morning Glory via email please visit the Morning Glory page to be blessed by a powerful video by Selah.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Birds On the Wires

"Shout your praises to GOD, everybody! Let loose and sing! Strike up the band! Round up an orchestra to play for GOD, add on a hundred-voice choir. Feature trumpets and big trombones, fill the air with praises to King GOD! Let the sea and its fish give a round of applause, with everything living on earth joining in. Let ocean breakers call out, "Encore!" And mountains harmonize the finale - A tribute to GOD when He comes..." ~ Psalm 98:4-9. The Message

"So you'll go out in joy, you'll be led into a whole and complete life. The mountains and hills will lead the parade, bursting with song. All the trees of the forest will join the procession, exuberant with applause." ~ Isaiah 55:12, The Message

I lay quietly, overcome by exhaustion. My thoughts went to Jesus, but my body just lay there. I wanted to sing praise, offer adoration, but my mind was numb, my spirit weary. I began to think of God's Presence - I pictured His Spirit blanketing me.

And then, the Lord lifted the veil of fatigue from my eyes. I saw the birds on the wire.

Birds on the wire? (I know you're asking that.)

Yes, birds on the wire. About two years ago I came across a youtube video of a flock of blackbirds sitting on a cluster of electrical wires. Someone saw the black images as musical notes and composed a beautiful piece of music. Watching it evokes an immediate jaw-dropping reaction.

Our Father, in His tender, gentle way reminded me that ALL of creation sings His praise! He reminded me that when I can't (or won't) praise Him, the mountains and the hills with burst with song, the trees will clap their hands and the birds of the air will proclaim His glory!

He reminded me that, as His child, I, too, am surrounded by praise...if only I will open my ears to hear the glorious melody of His creation and open my eyes to see His Spirit all about me.

In that knowledge, I find comfort.
In that knowledge, I find rest.

Praise the Lord from Whom all blessings flow!

Praise You Lord God! We love You and join the chorus of all creation as we lift up and glorify Your Name. You alone are worthy of our praise!
If you have received Morning Glory via email, please go to the Morning Glory page to view this jaw-dropping video of the birds giving praise.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

There is Something About That Name

"For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His Name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." ~ Isaiah 9:6

And His name will be called Jesus.

The pain was more than I could bear. Sorrow upon sorrow piled high upon my heart until it bled from the weight of anguish. In less than seven months my family was gone: my brother committed suicide; my daddy died of leukemia. Mom had passed many years earlier from breast cancer leaving a gaping hole and wounded spirit that had never quite healed.

I believed. YES!(I told myself). I believed in a merciful God. I knew His love...His grace. I knew HIM. But now. Now what do I do with all of this pain? I became numb, too afraid to feel anything for fear that I might unleash an out-of-control torrent of wailing. But all the while I was smothering with grief.

And then I remembered that Name.

"Jesus!" I called. "Jesus!"

I didn't have the strength to pray anything more...just Jesus. And my Jesus heard my cry.

"My child, Is your pain so great that I cannot bear it for you? Does your anguish run so deep that I am not deeper still? I AM the Lord. I see your sorrow and your emptiness. Give it to Me. Run to Me. Let Me carry you through this valley and lift you high upon the mountaintop where I reign. You are not alone in your grief. My heart breaks for you. But you must remember, I will never leave you nor forsake you. You are Mine and I am yours. I love you with an everlasting love. I died that you might live. I will carry you through this pain and lead you to joy once again."

And He did. He embraced me with His love, held me when the pain was too great. He brought me joy and taught me how to laugh again. Jesus made me whole again.

He can do the same for you.

Jesus. There's just something about that name.

Thank You Lord that Your love is sure, Your mercy is great. I pray for my sister or brother who needs the touch of Your healing hand. Mend their broken heart, Lord. Give them Your peace, Your joy, Your assurance. Hold them close and let them know Your Presence. In Your Presence is fullness of joy. In Your Presence we find peace and strength to go on. Thank You Lord. We love You so much.
If you received Morning Glory via email, please go to the Morning Glory page to be blessed beyond measure as the Gaither Vocal Band sings "There's Something About That Name."

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Look Into His Eyes

"And Andrew brought Simon to Jesus. Now when Jesus looked at him, He said, 'You are Simon the son of John. You shall be called Cephas' (which is translated, Peter - A rock)." ~ John 1:42

The year was 1972. I was seventeen years old. Tears ran in gullies down my cheeks as my eyes - those hazel eyes that no longer reflected pain and shame - gazed upon my Savior. I felt His Presence. I KNEW His Presence as His love pierced straight through me. In my spirit my eyes met those of Jesus.

This is what happened to Peter.

His brother Andrew brought him to meet Jesus. Peter stood before the Man from Galilee and the Scripture tells us that Jesus LOOKED at Him.

Looked: emblepo (em-blep'- o) to observe fixedly, absolutely, to discern clearly. (Strong's Concordance)

Can you picture it? Perhaps Jesus had built a small fire on the shore. As He sat there warming Himself, Simon walked hesitantly towards Him. Jesus looked up. His eyes met those of Simon straight on. Jesus' eyes rested on Simon, penetrating him...discerning the heart and knowing what manner of man Simon would be.

Jesus said, "You are Simon, son of John. But you will be called Peter - the rock." Jesus KNEW Peter. Jesus KNOWS you and me.

At our moment of salvation, when we knelt at the feet of Jesus, He looked upon us discerning the heart and knowing what manner of woman or man we would be. The transformation began as we inhaled that first Breath of God. Jesus no longer saw what we were. He beheld the new creation, the child called according to God's purposes.

Dear one, you are free. The chains of your past no longer have a hold on you. The stains of sin have been washed away. The failures, the abuse, the rejections no longer define who you are. Jesus has looked upon you and set a new life in motion.

Won't you meet His gaze today? That chill you feel running up your spine is your spirit responding to the searing love of the Lord your God. Walk in the fullness thereof.

Father, Turn our eyes upon You. Blot out the distractions so that we can see only You. In Your Presence is fullness of joy. In Your Presence all fear must flee, all pain must subside. In Your Presence we are made whole. We love You, Lord. Open our eyes to see You clearly.