Transformation Garden – December 17, 2020

Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me, the Messiah, to preach the good news, the Gospel, to the poor; He has sent Me to announce release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind; to send forth as delivered those who are oppressed, who are downtrodden, bruised, crushed and broken down by calamity. To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, the day when salvation and free favors of God profusely abound.”

Luke 4: 18, 19 – Jesus

Amplified Bible

EXPLORATION

“The Liberator”

“The love of liberty is the love of others; the love of power is the love of our ourselves.”

William Hazlitt

“Liberty” – The state of being free from control or restriction.

INSPIRATION

“Liberty is the only thing you can’t have unless you give it to others.”

William Allen White

We have heard a lot about the word “liberty” in the past few years – and what it means.  Politicians and world leaders may define “liberty” one way.  While those bound with chains may define it another.   Abraham Lincoln, who spent a great deal of time in his lifetime working for “liberty for all” in the United States of America, observed, “The world has never had a good definition of the word liberty.”

While our world may have difficulty defining liberty, in practical terms the Bible does not.  No one was more clear on what His work of liberty was about than Jesus, Himself. When He visited the city where He grew up, Nazareth, the Bible tells us that as His custom was, He went to the synagogue on the Sabbath Day and began to read the words penned by the Old Testament prophet Isaiah.  Words that Jesus applied to Himself.

Liberty to Jesus was not about power; it was about the powerful becoming servants.  Liberty was freedom given to the poor, the marginalized, the oppressed, the bruised and those in society who were stepped on.  Liberty was lifting up, never pushing down.

In the most practical terms, liberty in Jesus’ world meant helping another instead of ourselves.

As I was thinking about Jesus coming to this earth as a liberator of all of us, I found a poem, that I feel perfectly conveys the thought of Jesus’ liberty – thinking of others first.  During the rush of this Christmas season, the message contained in this poem, is one that I know I want to incorporate into my life, everyday of the year – not just at Christmastime.

Merry Christmas from Me to You

“Her name is Shon,

She’s due any day.

She works at McDonald’s

For minimum pay.

She has other children—

One, two, and three.

She’s tired, she’s broke,

She has not time that’s free.

Her kids won’t have Christmas

There’s no money to spare,

She’s too proud to ask

With no family to care.

She’s struggled to learn

How to clean and to cook.

She raised her siblings,

And did what it took

To finish her schooling,

Get her GED,

It’s been a hard life;

She’s barely twenty!

So, I’m caught in a dilemma,

You are my friend.

It’s Christmas, I’m shopping,

With little to spend.

We’ve had a great year,

Good times – you and me,

And there’s much for us both

Under our tree.

I can’t spend the money

To buy you more stuff,

When Shon and her kids

Have it so tough.

I bought you this candle,

And gave her the rest.

I fretted and stewed,

But thought is was best

To do it this way.

I know you won’t mind

Because you are loving,

and thoughtful and kind!

Please light this candle

Each day as you pray,

And think of this girl

Who’s not far away.

She needs more than money.

She needs someone to care,

To know that she matters,

Tough life is unfair.

So I’ve given her you,

Through your gift from me.

And all through this year,

‘Neath her Christmas tree,

She’ll know with her heart

That someone is there,

Holding her up

In spirit-filled prayer.

Merry Christmas, my friend,

I hope this will do

Thanks from Shon and her kids.

Love from me – just for you!”

Mrs. Janet Hitchcock

AFFIRMATION

“We thought we knew where to find you;

We hardly needed a star to guide the way,

Just perseverance and common sense;

Why do you hide yourself away from the powerful

And join the refugees and outcasts, calling us to follow you there?

Wise God, give us wisdom.

We thought we had laid you safe in the manger;

We wrapped you in the thickest sentiment we could find,

And stressed how long ago you came to us;

Why do you break upon us in our daily life

With messages of peace and goodwill,

Demanding that we do something about it?

Just and righteous God, give us justice and righteousness.

So where else would we expect to find you

But in the ordinary place with the faithful people,

Turning the world to your purpose through them.

Bring us to that manger, to that true rejoicing,

Which will make wisdom, justice and righteousness alive in us.”

Stephen Orchard

Your friend,

Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus

Dorothy@TransformationGarden.com

P. S. Thank you so much for the gifts you send to Transformation Garden which continue to assist our ministry here in the United States and in 192 countries around the world.  100% of your donation goes directly to providing for our daily devotionals and gift bookmarks. Transformation Garden is a non-profit organization so your gift is tax-deductible and you will receive a receipt for any gift you send.sefsef

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How Are You Investing in Others? – Senior Living – December 17

How Are You Investing in Others?

Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. – 1 John 4:11

A small church congregation in rural Ohio met one Sunday evening to share prayer requests and praises with one another. Toward the end of their time together, a woman in her early 30s stood up and nervously sauntered forward.

She shared…

“I want to praise God for my grandmother, who died recently. She’s the one who took me to church when I was young and introduced me to Jesus. She was a source of stability in my life when my parents divorced – a port in my storm.

“Had it not been for my godly grandmother, I shudder to think how my life would have turned out. Even though I have often failed, her example to me has been my beacon and I thank God for her. To me, she was the epitome of Jesus in the earth.”

It’s often easy to underestimate the impact our lives may have on others – but they really do, even when we don’t hear about it or receive credit immediately.

So make it a point to invest in others’ lives – especially younger people. Though they may not tell you at the time, you are making a difference!

Prayer Challenge:

Ask God to open your eyes to how you can make a difference in others’ lives.

Questions for Thought:

Think about someone who made a real impact in your life. Did you ever tell them the full extent of the difference they made?

Who is someone in your life today in whom you can invest?

Visit the Senior Living Ministries website

Pearls of Grace – December 17

December 17

Storms of Purpose

“…He disperses the cloud of His lightning. It changes direction, turning around by His guidance, that it may do whatever He commands it on the face of the inhabited earth. Whether for correction, or for His world, or for lovingkindness, He causes it to happen.”

Job 37:11-13

The storm clouds of life can gather without notice, linger with no sign of sun and at the breath of God they can tip the water jars of heaven to flood over our lives with a mighty force. Sunny skies can adorn us overhead by morning and shroud themselves with darkened clouds by end of day. Without warning a storm can roll over us turning our lives upside down leaving a path of destruction behind it. Storms in the hand of God are powerful forces of purpose sent to rain and blow into the areas He has destined them for, and they will not pass over until every desire of His heart is accomplished. They are beautiful in strength and swift to obey the hand of the Master. It is the Master who has summoned them to rise, to build, to howl and turn with the force He has allotted, and the time He has ordained. The storm must bow its knee to the Master for He holds every cloud, every drop of water, every stir of wind, every bolt of thunder, and flash of lightening in the palm of His mighty hands.

It’s not the power of the storm that brings fear, beloved. It’s failure to know the One who is Master of the storm. Each and every storm is God birthed, God driven, God centered and God commissioned. When we sail into waters that are not charted by God He will send a storm to correct our course back to the safe waters that will lead us to His intended destination. When the inhabitants of the earth turn their hearts away from the living God and seek to do evil, He summons the clouds in the distance to gather themselves together that they might roll over the people He loves, and in the passing turn their eyes to look heavenward once more. And there are those times when the soul of man is thirsty, hungry for the outpouring of God upon the land he inhabits, times when the faithful praying heart seeks the blessings of the Master of the storm until He pours forth the holy streams in sweet lovingkindness upon his life.

God causes all these, beloved, every gray cloud that shrouds the light, every rumble of thunder that brings times of uncertainty, every drop that fills the floods pouring out of the heavens into the lives of the people of the earth of God’s creation. Behind every storm is found the heart of the Master, the One Who has purpose in it all. No need to run and hide from the storm. We need only to run and hide in the presence of the Master of the storm. Hear with me the words of David who journeyed through many a storm;“Had it not been the Lord who was on our side…the raging waters would have swept over our soul” (Psalm 124:2, 5).

Do clouds darken your way so that you cannot see the hand of God any longer, diminishing your faith? Have the trials of your circumstances engulfed your soul with fear, robbing you of peace? Has the roar of pain and suffering been so fierce that you can no longer discern the voice of the Father? Have the waters of infliction risen so high that you are sinking in despair? Then quiet thy soul before the storm Master and lay your head upon His mighty breast, and rest there until all you can hear is the beating of His heart. With every beat you will hear one resounding anthem, “I am yours and you are Mine.” Every storm, small or great, must bow the knee before its Master.

Fear not storm-tossed soul, He is above the clouds watching with faithfulness and guiding with love.

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New Life Daily Devotion – December 17

Self-Monitoring

Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you? – 1 Corinthians 2:16Our contemporary culture desires things to happen as quickly and conveniently as possible. Yet when it comes to knowing others, and knowing ourselves, “quick and convenient” breeds superficiality. Our love for expediency is making us strangers to one another, and strangers to ourselves. A wise man long ago said that an unexamined life is not worth living. I would add: an unexamined life is impossible to live faithfully and well. One reason for this is that controlling our desires has everything to do with getting to know ourselves better—that is, understanding what people, situations, and substances give us problems, and what responses are effective in countering them.A good way to begin practicing the examined life is to ask yourself what you’re feeling before you indulge your cravings. Our cravings are often the result of—and a superficial way of dealing with—some negative emotion. . . anger, depression, anxiety, boredom, loneliness, etc.  Once you’ve identified the feeling behind the drive, you can more appropriately express or deal with it, instead of engaging in some appetite you think will make the feeling disappear.When you learn to know yourself and express your feelings appropriately, your appetites can stop being emotional buffers and once again serve the purposes God intended them to serve.“The greatest discovery of my generation is that a human being can alter his life by altering his attitudes of mind.” – William James (1842-1910)