Tuesday With Teri

Devotions from lessons I'm learning from God

We are Loved – Check December 24, 2012

Filed under: devotionals — tlmiller82 @ 3:35 pm

Tonight we continue our advent celebration.  It is a wonderful time to focus on the reason for all the wonderful merriment of Christmas.  Tonight we celebrate His LOVE for us.

          “Starbucks – Check”, “Target –  Check”….my hubby was sending short text updates to me while on his recent adventure,  shopping with our daughter this Christmas Eve.  I was enjoying a quiet morning at the house and each text brought a smile to my face.  I loved that the first task involved Starbucks for themselves.   I marveled at how efficiently they seemed to be getting tasks done.  But the best text was his final proclamation…”bonding with baby girl-check”.   Our kids are grown up now and life is spinning exponentially fast it seems.  We have to plan our time together more these days.  I like knowing that in the midst of an errand filled morning, he recognized the value of the time spent with our 23 yr old baby girl.   I know it is because she is his, and he loves her.  I think God is just like that with us.

          I can’t help but think what God’s Christmas Eve check list would look like.  “Son born in dusty stable – check”,  “Shepherds notified of birth – check”, “salvation for all  people – check”…Would His final text be, “bonding with all who believe – check”?   We are His and He loves us

          They say it is better to give than receive….But let us not be too quick to devalue the “getting” of gifts.  I do not think my family would approve of us leaving any of the pretty packages under our tree wrapped until next year.  No doubt ALL of them will be opened and enjoyed by noon Christmas day.  We will tear through paper and ribbons, dig into stockings for treats and eagerly meet at the table to enjoy great food and fellowship.  We will thoroughly enjoy our gifts and the gift of time spent with loved ones. 

It is possible to leave one gift unopened.

           When God sent Jesus to us, a baby in the manger, that night long ago, He was giving us the gift that would keep on giving.  Jesus would live to show us how to live, die to conquer death for us, and rise again to provide a way for us to be forgiven of our sin and no longer be separated from God.  This is the love we celebrate at Christmas…..the love that God pours out for us because we are His.  We don’t have to earn it or deserve it.  We only have to receive it.

I pray this Christmas you know how much God loves you.  I pray you open the gift of forgiveness and a relationship with God through Jesus Christ. 

Remembering God loves me – check

 

 

Beyond the Sponge Cake December 20, 2012

Filed under: devotionals — tlmiller82 @ 10:48 am
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          I miss Twinkies. My current age and diet tend to make them a seldom enjoyed teat these days.  The mere sight of one brings back sweet memories of lunch boxes and sticky fingers.   I am sure there are some strange people who enjoy eating Twinkies one bite at a time, but REAL aficionados recognize the best part is in the middle.  As a kid, I would stick my finger in and scoop the yummy cream filling out before consuming the rest of the cake.  Perhaps this is a good life lesson…sometimes it is best to dig in and focus on what is in the middle.  I think PEACE is like that.  We often mistakenly think it is best found in circumstances around us, much like the spongy cake of a Twinkie, when in reality PEACE is found deep in the middle and that is the BEST part of all.

          I used to equate peace with quiet and stillness.  I mean, still and quiet kids certainly can be a peaceful thing right?  Nothing quite says “peaceful” like a sleeping child curled up under warm covers or snuggled next to a favorite toy.  I think we all can agree that there is a definite amount of “parental peace” when the kids sit quiet and still in a church service or at a time of reverence. 

          I used to equate peace with “happily ever after”.  I figured if everything was okay, then there was peace.  I would try to have a “peace” about the fate of a loved one struggling with illness or loss by trying to explain or understand it.  I would struggle to make sense of situations. I worked hard to ensure everyone was happy.   I thought peace was the result of everything being okay and everyone being happy. 

          I used to equate peace with a lack of conflict.  When countries stopped fighting we called it peace.  I have seen countless videos of wars pausing, soldiers laying down their weapons, strangers holding hands, sharing a meal or a Coca-Cola… all to the tune of the song “Peace on Earth.”  Peace was wherever conflict was not.

But that was all sponge cake….

          Today there are too many homes that will sit still and quiet because their little ones are in the arms of our God.  As a nation we grieve the loss of these precious lives.  I know I am not alone in being reminded of the value and sweetness found in a loud and rambunctious child.  Many hugged their own children tighter and welcomed the chaos of a child filled day.  ….I no longer equate stillness and quiet with peace.

          Today I know that life does not always bring a “happily ever after” kind of happiness.  Cancer does sometimes win.  Pain cannot always be avoided.  Disease still impacts families. Bad things happen. I cannot make everyone happy.  There times when things are not oaky at all.  While I know God gives us answers to things in this life, I also know He cannot always answer me when I ask Him WHY.  He knows I cannot comprehend His ways.  I am sure it breaks His heart to hear me cry out to Him in my confusion, frustration and hurt…”Lord, why did you let this happen?”  I no longer equate peace with “happily ever after.”

          Today I know that conflicts are a part of the nature of man.  I realize others have bravely fought to keep conflict from my door step.  I know that nations fight mightily for what they value.  I know that without conflict there could not be resolution.  As difficult as striving against one another may be, it is often a path to merging many ideas into one space or understanding.  I no longer equate peace with lack of conflict.

Peace is found beyond the sponge cake….

Peace…

 It is a calmness in our hearts when chaos fills the world. 

It is a restfulness in our soul when others search for answers.

It is knowing deep inside yourself Who holds your future and trusting in Him even when things around you rage in conflict. 

God’s peace is what is inside us, even in un-peaceful times.

For Jesus said “…Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives, do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful”  John 14:27

 

What is in the Food? December 12, 2012

Filed under: devotionals — tlmiller82 @ 4:51 pm
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Each week, four prior to Christmas, we gather to light a candle and consider the coming of our savior, the birth of Jesus.  It is a good time to focus on the real reason for merriment.  This week we celebrate Joy.

          I was listening to a sermon last Sunday and as soon as the pastor uttered the following line I did not hear another word.  He was talking about the scenario we often envision when we think of the night of Jesus’s birth, you know….shepherds, Mary, Joseph, donkey, baby, hay filled manager…he said imagine the animals’ surprise when they looked in their food trough and saw a baby, surely they wondered “what’s this in our food?” and at those words my mind began to tumble with all sorts of images.  I pictured Jesus as the prize in a box of cracker jacks, or a new “special marshmallow surprise” in Lucky Charms cereal.  I know, I know…this was not what he meant, but I could not help myself. 

          I am thankful that those animals had such a special food additive that night.  I could not help wondering if my life were a manger, what would they have found there?

          I was moved to think of the times I have replaced Jesus with other things…..I suddenly had images of this running in my head.  Picture a hay filled manger…you peer over its edge expecting a sweet baby wrapped in swaddling clothes…and instead there is a television, books and food all piled in there.  Admittedly, these are just a few of the things that have had my attention more than Jesus some days. 

         Perhaps the most disturbing image that filled my head, as the pastor continued the sermon I was no longer listening to, was of this same manger scene, only now nestled in the hay filled trough you’d find ME.  Trust me, it was NOT a pretty image.  Sometimes I replace Jesus with myself.  I know that sounds horrible, and it is, but I do not think I am alone.  It is easy to try and live life under our own power.  We want things to go a certain way, we want situations to make sense to us, we want to please others, or we want to be better…trusting ourselves and not our savior.

          As I shook the unwelcome and mind scaring image from my head, I began to pray, Lord, help me to honor You with my life.  Jesus, forgive me for setting anything above You or replacing You with my worthless efforts.  Lord, it is in You I find grace, and through You I know peace, love and joy.   Lord, I KNOW that it is only because YOU were in that manger, that I do not have to bear the burden of my sin.”

 

          You see, THAT is what the angels declared that night to the shepherds,

“…for behold, I bring you good news of a GREAT JOY which shall be for all people; ” Luke 2:10… 

The good news is that we do not have to be in the manger…in our place Jesus Christ was born, lived, died and rose again so that we can come before a Holy God seeking forgiveness and finding love and grace.

 

 

Mom and the Apostle Paul December 3, 2012

Filed under: devotionals — tlmiller82 @ 12:52 pm

           This week begin our Advent celebration.  Each week, four prior to Christmas Eve, we gather to light a candle and consider the coming of our savior, the birth of Jesus.  It is a time to focus on the real reason for the merriment of the season.  This week we celebrate Hope.

I listened to a sermon the other day in which the pastor made reference to a practice of prisoner guardianship.  In Acts 28:16 we find the apostle Paul once again being detained while the government tried to figure out what to make of this Roman who spoke of Christianity and the hope of salvation through Jesus Christ.  Paul was under a type of house arrest.  He would be chained to soldiers, but allowed to be in their home.  Paul could receive visitors and had even entertained large groups who would come seeking a better understanding what he preached. 

          Paul was indeed a prisoner still, not able to travel or go and do as he pleased.  He was restricted and under the watchful eye of a Roman soldier 24/7.  Some say the soldiers probably relieved one another in shifts every 12 hrs. This is what caught my attention…can you imagine being chained to Paul????  I mean the guy NEVER stopped talking about JESUS! 

          I can almost hear the wife of the soldier who had to have Paul in his home….

“Honey, the good news is I get to come home tonight, the bad news is I have to bring some work home with me…his name is Paul.” 

“What? You’re bringing a prisoner here??? Again?” 

“Look, honey, this one is not so bad, he’s just a talkative troublemaker.”  

          Yep, Acts 28 chronicles 2 years of such confinement.  During that time soldier after soldier would be exposed to the gospel of Jesus Christ.  They would no doubt witness conversations and relationships Paul had with those who would visit.  They would see and hear the message of HOPE Paul adamantly preached and lived.

          Day in and day out Paul would take any opportunity to speak…”for this reason therefore, I request to speak with you, for I am wearing this chain for the sake of the HOPE of Israel….explaining to them(Jews) by solemnly testifying about the kingdom of God, and trying to persuade them concerning Jesus….from morning until evening.” Acts 28:20-23

          Hmmmmm….there was Paul, certainly NOT wear he wanted to be, but also sure that he was where God had wanted him.  I thought instantly of my mom.

          Last month I found myself at the hospital bedside of my mother.  One week she was a busy lady, teaching Sunday school, visiting friends and caring for our family, the next week she was sidelined by lung surgery.   It was a quick turn of events, but we are praising God that a “small spot” that was actually an early stage cancer, was successfully removed!  Unfortunately, this entailed removing a portion of her lung and at almost 75 years of age this meant a difficult recovery.

          We were blessed to be able to stay in her room at all times and took shifts each night and day.   Looking back I now see how mom was much like Paul.  Mom’s hospital staff rotated throughout her stay.  Each new shift of nurses and technicians would expose more people to mom’s faith in her God.  Yep, even in the midst of difficult days, pain, frustration and exhaustion she would let them know about her God.  She made certain they knew she was prayed for by faithful friends, and gave God all the glory for each aspect of her recovery.  Those hospital workers had no chance to escape her…they were chained to her like Paul’s guards.  Tasked with keeping a watchful eye on her, they would no doubt be exposed to her God, the reason for her hope.

          This week of advent, as we celebrate HOPE, I am challenged to be mindful of who God has “chained” to me.  Who has God placed in my life, and how can I share the HOPE I have in my savior?  Do I live my life the way I feel in my heart?  Does my faith show?  Do I consistently place my HOPE in God, or do I tend to rely on myself or other circumstances?  If someone were literally chained to me night and day what kind of testimony would they experience?  

           Lord, help us to be ever mindful that Christmas is a celebration of the birth of our HOPE, that through the life of Jesus Christ, His death and His resurrection, we can know forgiveness and eternal life with God.

“But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us, not on the basis of our deeds,….but according to His mercy….justified by His grace…made heirs according to the HOPE of eternal life.” Titus 3:4-7