"My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness..." 2 Corinthians 12:9b

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Hope

Long ago
In a stable dark,
A little babe was born,
And hope came to
This darkened world
That blessed Christmas morn.
From Adam's time
The curse came down,
And all creation groaned.
A God-shaped void
In all men's hearts
And for his soul__ no home.
Through Adam's choice,
God ordained a time
That Satan's wiles would rule...
To allow for man
Himself, to see
Satan's scheme as dark and cruel.
Through sin, man's heart
Was altered,
He could not see his pain
As coming from
His own wrong choice...
On God, he placed the blame.
God promised,
The day He gave the curse
That He someday would redeem...
His word proclaimed
His creation to save
Through the birth of His Son__ the King.
Down through the ages
Man went his way
Though God's word was strong and clear...
His grace extended
To all who chose
In His power and name to fear.
Then one night in a stable,
Dark and dirty
As heart's full of sin...
A tiny child
Was born to a world
That offered no more room than the inn.
The angels sang...
The shepherds kneeled...
The wisemen traveled far...
All to see a child
Whose destiny
Was a Cross of pain and scars.
And today,
Men still are puzzled...
"Why would I a Savior need?"
Their hearts are dark...
Their minds are dim...
They were weaned on Satan's creed.
In the quiet
Of a thoughtful moment
When, unwilling,
We admit our need__
We know the relationship's broken,
His offer
We know we must heed.
His return is quickly approaching__
Long prophesied
More than His birth__
The Hope of the Ages__
To a world forlorn__
He is God__ His judgment is sure.
The Savior,
To know all our trials,
As a baby, chose to be born...
So come on your knees to the stable__
To the hope
Of that first Christmas morn!

Copyright by Norma Gail Thurston-Holtman & 2MefromHim Ministries, 2011. All rights reserved. Do not use without permission of author.

Monday, December 19, 2011

The Greatest Christmas Story of All

Before time began God created everything that exists from nothing. Jesus, the Son of God, is the image of the invisible God who came to earth in human form. The Bible says that nothing was made without Him.
After creating the earth and all its creatures, the God of the universe knelt and formed man from the dust of the earth, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life. That is how man became a living being. God said His creation was very good.
All of the other creatures God created had mates, but man had none. So God caused him to fall into a deep sleep and took a rib from his side. With just as much love and care as He used when He created man, God formed the rib into a woman. Adam was delighted to now have a companion. He called his wife, Eve.
When God placed man in the Garden of Eden, He gave him only one commandment, he was not to eat from the tree in the middle of the garden. All of the other trees in the garden could be eaten from whenever he liked, but if he ate from that one particular tree he would surely die.
Now Satan, an angel who had rebelled against God and was cast out of heaven, appeared to the woman in the garden in the form of a serpent. The serpent was the craftiest of all the creatures God had created. He convinced Eve that she would not die if she ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, but instead would become as wise as God. Since the fruit was pretty to look at and could make her wise, she ate of it and she took some to Adam, who ate as well.
That one act of disobedience brought sin into the entire human race. When Adam and Eve ate of the fruit, they realized that they were naked, and became ashamed. They sewed fig leaves together to make clothing and hid themselves when they heard God walking in the garden. Up until this point they had no shame and therefore did not need any clothing.
As a result of that one act of disobedience, God placed a curse on the serpent, telling him that he would be cursed above all living things on the earth. Part of God’s curse on the serpent, Satan, was that one day a woman would bear a son who would crush his head, while Satan would be powerless to do anything to Him beyond bruising His heel. This man would be the Savior of the world, called the Messiah, or Christ.
Because God is just, Adam and Eve had to suffer a punishment also. Adam’s work, which had been a joy, would become difficult. Eve would suffer great pain in having children, and though she would love her husband, she would desire to rule over him. She would not be granted that desire, for man would be the head of the family.
Because man could then distinguish between good and evil, God, in His mercy, did not want to allow these people He loved to continue to live in the garden where they might eat of the Tree of Life. He did not want them to live forever in a sinful state, separated from Him eternally. They were banished from the garden and had to work very hard to live. God killed an animal to make them clothing, shedding its blood that they might have a covering for their now sinful bodies.

Many years passed and man became more and more sinful, though God always had a few people who would listen to and obey Him. He sent many prophets who told of a Savior who would one day save them from their sins. The perfect fellowship which had existed between man and God in the garden was long gone. Some men forgot or doubted it had ever existed. Many even began to doubt the existence of God. Always, though, there were people who were faithful to God, believing and hoping in His promise to redeem them so they could once again live in harmony with Him.
Finally, God decided the time was right to fulfill His promise. This is how it happened:

God’s messenger angel, Gabriel, was sent to the town of Nazareth in Israel, to a young Jewish girl named Mary. He said, “Don’t be afraid. You have pleased God and He has chosen you to be the mother of His Son.”
“But I am not married,” Mary answered. “How can this be?”
Gabriel answered, “The Spirit will come over you like a shining cloud and you will give birth to a Son. You are to call Him Jesus. He will be holy, pure and sinless and will be called the Son of God.”
Mary was promised to be married to a kind and honorable man, named Joseph. When he found out that she was to have a child he decided to break their engagement. In those days an engagement was as legal as a marriage, so he decided to divorce her quietly to prevent her from being cruelly judged by people. Before he could do this, however, the angel Gabriel appeared to him in a dream.
Gabriel said to him, “Joseph, God doesn’t want you to be afraid to take Mary as your wife. She is to be the mother of His Son, conceived by the Holy Spirit. His name will be Jesus, for He will save His people from their sin. Go and make Mary your wife.”
Joseph did as he was told and he had no union with Mary until after Jesus was born.
Now Israel was ruled by the Roman Empire and Caesar Augustus decided to register all of the people so they could be taxed. Each man was to go to the town where his family originated to be counted. Joseph, as a descendant of King David of Israel, had to go to Bethlehem. It was almost time for Mary to give birth, but she went with her husband. This fulfilled the prophecy that the Savior would come from Bethlehem.
While they were there the time came for Mary to have the baby. They were very poor and could not find any place to stay but a cave used as the stable.  There was no room at the inn. So Mary gave birth to the Son of God in a stable and she wrapped Him in warm, snug cloths, and laid him in a manger used for the animal feed.
There were shepherds watching sheep in the hills around Bethlehem. Many of the flocks from that area were used in the temple in Jerusalem as sacrifices to God. In those days God required that animals be killed and their blood placed on the altar as a payment for man’s sins. According to God’s law, there is no forgiveness of sin without the shedding of blood. There must be punishment for sin to satisfy God’s just law and all people born after Adam inherited the sin nature which came into being when Adam and Eve sinned.
Suddenly the sky around the fields where the shepherds were watching their sheep was filled with angels and the radiance which comes from the presence of God appeared all around them. They were terrified, but an angel of the Lord said, “Don’t be afraid. I bring you good news that will be for people all over the world. Tonight, in Bethlehem, a baby has been born. He is the Messiah, Christ the Lord, and He will save His people from their sins. You will find a baby wrapped and lying in a manger.”
A huge army of angels began to praise God and say, “Glory to God in the highest. Peace on earth to everyone with whom God is well-pleased.”
The excited shepherds hurried to Bethlehem and found Mary, Joseph and the baby. After they had worshipped Him they went back to their fields, telling everyone they saw the good news and giving glory to God.
Some time before this night, three wise men from the east, called Magi saw an especially bright star in the east and set out following it to find the king whose birth it foretold. They traveled a very long way and when they reached Jerusalem they asked the very cruel king named Herod, if he knew about the baby. He did not, but because he was very afraid of a new king who might take his place, he told them to return to him after they found the child.
When they found the baby Jesus they knelt down and worshipped Him, giving Him expensive gifts of gold and frankincense and myrrh. But they were warned in a dream to return home another way without telling Herod, and they obeyed.
Herod was so angry that an angel told Joseph to take Mary and Jesus to Egypt for a while. When Herod died they returned to Nazareth with Jesus. He grew in wisdom and in stature, or physical size, and was blessed and favored by both God and men. All this time Mary thought about all of the things which had happened and which she knew the Scriptures said about the Christ.
Jesus became a man, working as a carpenter as Joseph had taught him until the time came when He knew God wanted Him to begin His ministry. When that time came, he began traveling around the countryside healing people and talking to them about God. The Jewish religious leaders were very angry because many people were following Him. When Jesus healed a man with a shriveled hand one Sabbath, the Pharisees began to plot how to kill Him.
After that, Jesus began explaining to His disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer at the hands of the chief priests and teachers of the law, be killed and raised to life on the third day. They went up to Jerusalem for the Passover and Feast of Unleavened Bread and one of His twelve disciples, Judas, went to the Jewish leaders and offered to betray Him for 30 pieces of silver—the price of a slave.
While Jesus was praying in a place called Gethsemane, Judas came with a crowd of soldiers armed with swords and clubs, sent by the Jewish leaders. Judas identified Jesus by kissing him and they arrested Him. The soldiers mocked and spit on Him, placing a crown of thorns on His head and a purple robe on His shoulders. Pilate even had Him flogged or whipped, hoping it would cause the Jews to let Jesus go because he did not think Jesus had done anything wrong. But they still shouted, “Crucify him!”
The Roman soldiers took Jesus to the Place of the Skull (also called Golgotha or Calvary) and crucified Him there. The God who killed an animal to cover man after he sinned was stripped and hung exposed in His human flesh as He died for the sins He did not commit. As it began to grow close to the hour that the Passover lambs were sacrificed in the Temple, Jesus cried out, “It is finished!” and gave up His spirit and died.
At dawn, the day after the Sabbath, some of the women went to the tomb where He had been laid, taking spices to finish the embalming. But an angel of the Lord rolled back the stone from the tomb and told the women not to be afraid, for Jesus, who was crucified, was not here, for He had risen from the dead.

In Jesus, we have a high priest who was tempted just as we are, yet was without sin, yet He understands what life is like for us.
Scripture makes it clear that all men have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. The penalty for this sin is death, but the free gift of God to all who place their trust in Him is eternal life. When the Babe born at Bethlehem died on the Cross He took upon Himself all of our sins in His sinless body. He loved us so much that the only Son of God, perfect and sinless, was willing to take our punishment so we might be forgiven, made as if we had never sinned, and live for Him. The innocent Son of God bore our punishment on the cross, yet at the time He was considered to have done something wrong by the religious leaders. But by His wounds on our behalf, we are cleansed from our sins so that we are acceptable to God.
The baby whose birth we celebrate at Christmas gave His life that we might have eternal life in Him forevermore, without the penalty we deserve. He was born into this world to live and die for you and me. He says that for those who confess their sins He is faithful and just to do as He promised. He will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. He wants us to be in heaven with Him when we die and He wants us to have life abundantly, full, free of the penalty of sin while we are still alive.
Jesus came into the world and though the world was made through Him it did not recognize Him. But to those who will believe and receive Him, He gives the right to become children of God. He said, “Greater love has no man than this that he lay down his life for his friends. You are My friends if you do what I command.” Doing what He commands means choosing to live in complete obedience to Him, with Him as Lord over every aspect of your life.
Jesus is the one God promised to send to crush the head of the serpent, Satan. One day He will return and take all believers still living on earth to be with Him in heaven, along with the believers from the time the world began. All who believed and accepted Him will live forever with Him. Those who do not will be eternally punished with Satan and all his angels. The relationship Adam and Eve had with God in the garden will be ours forever.
God wants you today. Will you make the decision, this Christmas, to accept Him as your Savior and Lord and receive His forgiveness that you might live eternally with Him, and go through this life with the knowledge that you are forgiven and loved by God? It will be the greatest Christmas gift of your life.

This story was paraphrased by Norma Gail Thurston Holtman. December 13, 2011.

The New International Version 1984, The New Living Translation and The Amplified Bible were used in the writing of this story.

Genesis 1-3
John 1:1-3
Colossians 1:15-17
Romans 5:12HHHhhhh
Matthew 1-2
Hebrews 9:22
1 Corinthians 15:22
Matthew 12
Matthew 16
Luke 1-3
1 John 1:7
Mark 14
John 12, 18, 19
Romans 3:23 & 6:23
1 Peter 2:4
Isaiah 53:4, 5
Hebrews 4:15
John 1 5:13, 14
1 John 1:9
John 10:10
Matthew 24

Copyright by Norma Gail Thurston-Holtman & 2MefromHim Ministries, 2011. All rights reserved. Do not use without permission of author.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Watch for a special Christmas story to share with your family and friends coming on December 19th,
Merry Christmas! Our Savior is born!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Deck Your Heart with Boughs of Holly - Part Three

“…because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins.”
Matthew 1:20b, 21

There are so many things left to do and so little time. Shopping, baking, presents to wrap, perfect outfits for all the parties and the menu for Christmas Day. There just isn’t time to get everything done. “Fast away the old year passes” isn’t just a line in a song; it’s what we’re faced with each day as we set our priorities. The true message gets lost in the rush.
          I make the commitment every year to be more organized, to begin earlier, not to wait until the last moment to get important things done so that I can relax and enjoy the season with my family. I still can’t say I’ve accomplished that. Most years we have my husband’s family over on Christmas Eve and my own on Christmas Day. That’s almost 40 people through the house, eating, opening gifts and enjoying time together in two days, plus all of the preparation and cleaning up. Though I love doing it, I’m not always singing “fa la la la la.”
          One thing which helps me keep my perspective as I iron tablecloths and plan how everything will work is making certain I begin and end each day with God’s word. Throughout the Christmas season I read not only the story of Christ’s birth from Matthew and Luke, but also many of the prophecies from the Old Testament foretelling His coming.
          I want to end the old year doing the right thing, making Jesus my priority. As I realize the time to “hail the new” is rapidly approaching, I also want to make certain I begin with the right thing. It’s great to “sing we joyous, all together…heedless of the wind and weather,” but it’s also important to do what God wants me to straight through without losing stride.
          We make a nativity scene the center of our decorations and Santa a passing notion. I made the commitment a long time ago that no Christmas card would leave our home without some aspect of the gospel of Jesus going with it, and no one would leave our house without knowing we make Jesus the center of our celebration.
          The message of Christmas is that the baby born in Bethlehem would “save His people from their sins.” Consider how you can take that message to everyone you come into contact with during this Christmas season.

Copyright by Norma Gail Thurston-Holtman & 2MefromHim Ministries, 2011. All rights reserved. Do not use without permission of author.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Deck Your Hearts with Boughs of Holly - Part Two

And the angel said unto them, ‘Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy,
which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.’” Luke 2:10-11

Often the luminarias on the church behind our house would burn all night long. For 14 years we had the gift of a beautiful Christmas display right outside our windows. Some of my favorite memories are of those years when our children were small, looking out at the beautiful sight as we read our children about the real “Yuletide treasure,” the Christmas story from the Bible, and tucked them into bed.
          Once we were alone my husband and I could finish our preparations and sit down with a cup of tea to relax. There with “the blazing yule before us” we enjoyed the softly glowing lights of a New Mexico tradition which symbolize lighting the way of the Christ Child just outside. What a beautiful reminder!
          Our Christmas Eve’s are usually filled with opportunities to “strike the harp and join the chorus” with fellow believers at church before heading out to look at lights and walk through Old Town. While driving around I invite everyone to “follow me in merry measure” as I sing the along with every Christmas song that comes on.
          What “yuletide treasure” do you share with your family and friends as Christmas approaches? Is it the fun of The Night Before Christmas, or the moving story of the birth of Jesus Christ? Don’t get me wrong, we did our share of  reading the story of the “jolly old elf,” but our kids always knew that Jesus was real and the rest just a story.
          Last year a friend lay dying all through the Christmas season. This year it is a friend of my son’s, twenty-five years old and facing imminent death. It brings everything into clearer focus as we realize that the birth of Jesus Christ is not something to only think about at Christmas, with a tree and nativity scene for decorations. It’s the whole point. Nothing else matters if you don’t get the real Christmas story right all year.
          If you knew this was your last Christmas season, what would you need to know? What would you want made clear to your family and friends?
          Chose to make the “Yuletide treasure” of the story of Jesus a gift to everyone you know—a gift which doesn’t end with the season but lasts a lifetime. Let your treasure be “the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger” who was to give His life on a cross at Easter that our sins might be forgiven.

Copyright by Norma Gail Thurston-Holtman & 2MefromHim Ministries, 2011. All rights reserved. Do not use without permission of author.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Deck Your Hearts with Boughs of Holly - Verse One

“The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel
(which means “God with us”). Matthew 1:23

          I was 24 days old on my first Christmas. My favorite picture shows me seated on my dad’s knee, a decorated tree in the background. His note on the back says he was explaining to me all about Christmas.
          Every year the department stores seem to begin their push to get us to buy the perfect gift earlier. It’s no longer unusual to see Christmas decorations right across the aisle from Halloween stuff—something that never ceases to strike me as paradoxical. The struggle to keep Christmas focused on the birth of Jesus is harder all the time.
          “Deck the halls with boughs of holly…” the song proclaims. We decorate our homes inside and out, bringing in beauty and greenery to brighten the stark winter season, but what about our hearts? Are we as deliberate to prepare our hearts for Christmas as we are our homes?
          Several years ago a friend of mine gave me a devotional book with 25 readings for morning and evening. It has become a precious ritual of mine to begin on the first of December to prepare my heart for the coming of Christ by filling it twice a day with reminders from scripture.
          The Christmas rush of department stores can destroy “the season to be jolly” rather quickly. A heart rightly prepared for the coming of the Christ Child can be filled with joy anywhere, any time, even if your life circumstances keep the holidays from being one of your favorite times.
          As you “don” your “gay apparel” spend some time listening to the words of the age-old Yuletide carols about the birth of Jesus Christ.
          This year concentrate more on preparing your heart than your home. Spend time telling about the real meaning of  Christmas—the coming of Immanuel—God with us.

Copyright by Norma Gail Thurston-Holtman & 2MefromHim Ministries, 2011. All rights reserved. Do not use without permission of author.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Giving Thanks

Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess his name.” Hebrews 13:15

It was less than two months since my dad’s death. Shortly before that my father-in-law had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Thanksgiving was a difficult time. Our families gathered in the usual fashion, but there was a damper on the usually boisterous groups. Pain, loss and questions filled our hearts and minds.
Looking back sixteen years, I remember feeling as if I was in a fog for months, sort of operating on auto-pilot. The only thing I can clearly recall is a painful recognition that nothing would ever be the same again and a desperate longing for the way things used to be, but we could be thankful for those two precious men and God’s presence.
The two most famous proclamations of thanksgiving in our country were not made during times of great joy and celebration, but following times of great hardship and suffering marked by the recognition that God is good even when circumstances are not.
William Bradford, Governor of Plymouth Colony, issued his proclamation of thanksgiving in the autumn of 1621. Almost a year following their landing at Plymouth Rock, only 44 remained of the Pilgrims’ original number of 102, due to malnutrition, scurvy and other illnesses. They had survived partly due to the kindness of the Native Americans of the area, in particular, Squanto and Massasoit.
When Abraham Lincoln gave his Proclamation creating the national day of Thanksgiving in 1863, the celebration took place only one week after his dedication of the cemetery at Gettysburg, “In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity.”
We can identify far more easily with the loss of the Pilgrims and our predecessors of Lincoln’s time than with the perfect families in television commercials and Hallmark movies. The writer of Hebrews says we are to offer thanks as a sacrifice. At the cost of our own personal feelings, our thanks should be based in the person of our Lord and Savior who gave His life that we might have forgiveness of sins and eternal life. Our thanks is not based in outward circumstances or the bounty of good things we possess, but the person of Jesus Christ.
This year, look at the things God says we should be thanking Him for. Take time to go around the table and comment on what God has done for you in spite of the difficulties of life. Rejoice in Him.

(Quotation from Lincoln’s “Thanksgiving Day Proclamation”)

Copyright by Norma Gail Thurston-Holtman & 2MefromHim Ministries, 2011. All rights reserved. Do not use without permission of author.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Special Christmas Series Coming Soon!

Be watching for the special devotional series for the month of December.
Deck Your Heart with Boughs of Holly is a three part series encouraging us to pay more attention to the preparation of our hearts for Christmas than we do on decorating our homes, buying the perfect gift, and preparing the best-ever Christmas dinner.

Look forward to a special Christmas week poem which you can share with friends who don't know Jesus Christ.

Have a blessed Holy-day season!

Monday, November 14, 2011

When Opportunity Knocks

“Be very careful then, how you live—not as unwise, but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.” Ephesians 5:15-17
The thought nagged at me for days, but I kept shoving it to the back of my mind. I was busy with little kids with ear infections and housework, avoiding the unpleasant complaining I knew the phone call would bring to my unwilling ears. The urge to make call my friend wouldn’t go away, but I stubbornly ignored it for two whole weeks.
          The phone ringing as we were getting ready for bed was odd. It startled both my husband and I. We sat down on the edge of the bed in disbelief, the tragedy in the life of our friends’ unreal and shocking. Then I remembered that irritating nudge to pick up the phone. Was there anything I could have said which would have changed things? Would my phone call have made a difference?
          Thirty years later, I still remember. I have no trouble believing God was behind the incessant urging. I still doubt the ability of my words to change a situation which had been growing for years—yet how can I know that even my willingness to be a listening ear might have turned the tide somehow.
          I have no way of knowing how God intends to use me in the lives of the people around me. I don’t know what will happen in the next days, weeks or even years that might cause something I said to make a difference in what someone else chooses to do. I have no idea what impact God could make through my obedience to that recurring thought that just won’t go away—what might happen if I obeyed instead of ignored. I think I learned the lesson of obedience though.
          Paul urged the Ephesians to live carefully, to live wisely. I can never get back that opportunity to act in obedience to Him. We live in evil days when Christians are tempted by so many things.
          Proverbs says that fearing the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Do you pray for wisdom when you feel the urging of the Holy Spirit? Have you ever failed to do what you were being urged to for selfish reasons? 
Be careful about how you react to the inner voice of the Holy Spirit. Make the most of the opportunities God gives you and act in obedience rather than selfish indifference. Be alert to when God’s opportunities knock. Your choice might make all the difference for someone else.

Copyright by Norma Gail Thurston-Holtman & 2MefromHim Ministries, 2011. All rights reserved. Do not use without permission of author.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Frolicking with God

“There the ships go to and fro,
   and Leviathan, which you formed to frolic there.”
Psalm 104:26

          I saw a story on the news of a kayaker out in the ocean getting up close enough to swim in the water beside a great Blue whale. I’ve been fascinated by Blue whales since an elementary school science book showed a drawing of one with a school bus, dinosaur, house and a tiny person next to. The description of its heart being the size of a car never ceases to overwhelm me.
          The phrase “which you formed to frolic there” fills me with a sense of awe at a God who would create such an amazing animal for the pure joy of it. What a wonderful God who takes delight in His creatures frolicking. We do not think as often as we should about our God delighting in us, enjoying us and wanting us to have fun.
Rather than being some hard taskmaster who cracks the whip and demands our obedience to rules and regulations, this verse is a terrific reminder that God wants me to know Him. A pod of gigantic, rarely seen animals appearing where large numbers of tourists can be thrilled by them seems to be God reaching out to man to show us who He is. He constantly sends reminders of His existence and causes us to stand in awe of His incredible creativity, diversity, imagination and love.
It is so important to remember Genesis, where God kneels in the dust and forms man with His own hands, then gently breathes the breath of life into his nostrils. We need to read from time to time that all God created He called good. He created us to love and to be loved by us.
No matter where you find yourself in relationship to God, take time to ponder on these words. Realize that the Creator of the universe sees you as someone special. He created you to take delight in you and He wants to be known by you.
If you’re not close to God, perhaps these whales can change your perception of Him.
 Take time today to open up His word. Be reminded of His tender love and then, spend some time frolicking with God, enjoying Him so that He can enjoy you.

Copyright by Norma Gail Thurston-Holtman & 2MefromHim Ministries, 2011. All rights reserved. Do not use without permission of author.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Waterfalls and Waves

“My soul is downcast within me…Deep calls to deep in the roar of your
waterfalls; all your waves and breakers have swept over me.”
Psalm 42:6-7

One day I lay in bed and cried all day long. Nothing my husband could say made me feel better and I couldn’t explain what was going on inside of me. It hurts and takes some aligning of your heart and mind when it becomes obvious that God’s answer to your cherished prayer is, “No.”
As the day wore on it became clear that I had a choice to remain sad and angry or to accept God’s will and move on, trusting Him.
He is God, by the very virtue of His name, the Creator and Ruler of the universe, the Name at the sound of which “every knee shall bow and every tongue confess.” Only He knows why some things must be and why some things will never be. The reasons may have to wait for heaven—a lifetime of not understanding—of accepting and moving forward.
Verse 7 reveals the all-powerful, sovereign God, the One who is above all other powers, the Name above all names, the One who controls the immense and raging might of a waterfall.
We stood, one time, at a look-out point atop the Lower Falls of the Yellowstone River. It was awesome, beautiful and terrifying at the same time. We held tight to the hands of our children, unless fascinated, they should lean over the railing too far and be swept away.
If we are to live our lives victoriously, we must reach that point where we submit ourselves to the will of God. We must accept that what He has allowed, even if His reasons are not revealed until eternity, will be best.
Notice when the writer says the waves and breakers swept over him, Who controls and owns them. The master of the mighty waves that threaten to sweep us away and fill us with fear and dread, is none other than the sovereign God who inspires awe by His mastery of the waterfall’s power.
What waves threaten to overcome you today? What seems to be sweeping everything away, leaving you no hope?
Look to the One who controls all things. Remember His everlasting love. Do not fear the events which swirl out of your ability to check and contain. He is in control.

Copyright by Norma Gail Thurston-Holtman & 2MefromHim Ministries, 2011. All rights reserved. Do not use without permission of author.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Jesus Has Overcome

“For every child of God defeats this evil world,
 and we achieve this victory through our faith.”
1 John 5:4 NLT

A dear friend is experiencing the devastating effects of an illness which makes it impossible to live life normally. Another is undergoing treatment for cancer and has limited ability to withstand the treatments available. I have suffered the effects of a life-altering and debilitating condition for many years.
          We live in a time where the numbers of those without jobs seems to escalate by the day. To simply have a job, in this day and time, is to be blessed. Friends are making decisions about retirement based on the financial prospects of the future and benefits that are necessary to maintain a comfortable way of life.
          Jesus spoke of many things the night before His death, things we need to know in order to live in the power of His promised Holy Spirit. He knew that there are no certainties in human life. He told His disciples that they would face troubles of many kinds, but to take heart in the fact that He had overcome the world.
          Many of us live each day fighting to overcome an enemy which threatens to overcome us. Sometimes we give in to fear, fatigue and fatalism. If you are a believer it is not necessary to allow the world and the circumstances of your life to overcome you. Your spirit cannot be held prisoner.
Jesus is not captive to any earthly circumstance. Bank accounts, wheelchairs and the ability to communicate or function as a productive member of society are not boundaries to Him. He is at work somehow, even if others cannot see Him, even if you cannot see Him right now.
          Your trial may be for the benefit of others, rather than yourself. We are not privy to the workings of the Holy Spirit, but when we face life with the knowledge that His will is perfect, we will be overcomers. It is His promise. Therefore it is reality.
          What threatens you? What holds you captive? What appears to render you ineffective?
          Make the choice today to trust that the promises of God are unfailing. No matter what encumbers you, chose to look for the ways Jesus is enabling you to be an overcomer.

Copyright by Norma Gail Thurston-Holtman & 2MefromHim Ministries, 2011. All rights reserved. Do not use without permission of author.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Be Ready

 “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare.” 2 Peter 3:9, 10

I sat on the gurney in the emergency room hooked up to a heart monitor. My husband sat nervously by my side as the doctor explained there was a slight abnormality in my EKG. They would be keeping me overnight in the observation unit to do more tests in the morning and determine if I might have had a heart attack.
          At 56 years old this is not something I expected to be doing. As I lay there and prayed for the doctors to make the right diagnosis, a deep calm descended on me. I answered questions and went along with what they tried to do to relieve the tightness in my chest and the shortness of breath. I had no fear.
          The testing showed no heart attack. We rejoiced and went home, knowing I had to undergo more testing, but the worst thing that could have happened, had not. God is good!
          One day it will be your turn. The end of life comes to us all. We don’t always know it is coming. It can happen in an instant.
          I have faced cancer twice. Once it was, once it was not. I have been blessed to have 8 years free of cancer, and now am blessed to have not experienced heart attack. I know many others who have not been so fortunate.
          I could not have had such calm if I was not in His word on a daily basis, learning to know the God of the universe who died for my sins so that when the times of testing come I can say with Him, “Not my will, but yours.”
          Paul says it is not God’s will that any should perish. God wants each and every one of us in heaven with Him for all eternity. He wants you. He loves you. He died for you.
          Determine today to get on your knees and either thank God for His grace and goodness, or to confess your sins and accept the forgiveness only Jesus Christ can offer. Be ready and then you can be at peace.

Copyright by Norma Gail Thurston-Holtman & 2MefromHim Ministries, 2011. All rights reserved. Do not use without permission of author.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Are There Squirrels in Your House?

“Do not move an ancient boundary stone set up by your forefathers.”
Proverbs 22:28

It could have been a catastrophic mistake. I did what I consistently tell others not to do.
          I failed to close the screen door of our mountain home. When my husband came in several hours later he saw the door open and a big squirrel sitting on the door step.
          Of course I have been teased mercilessly. I’m constantly telling people to close the doors or we’ll have squirrels in the house. Fortunately the curious little fellow did not come in and neither did any of his friends.
          I’ve heard stories of the terrible way squirrels wreak havoc in people’s homes. They’re very wily and difficult to catch. They chew things and steal things and make a mess of everything.
          Screen doors serve as boundaries to protect us from a lot of pests and varmints. Without them we couldn’t enjoy the fresh breeze bringing in the wonderful scents of our mountain surroundings, free from the worry of unwanted visitors. In the same way, God’s word places boundaries in our lives, providing us with the protection we need from things that have the power to destroy our lives, robbing us of the blessings of obedience.
          Just as I warn my family of the dangers of squirrels in the house, God’s word reminds us of the dangers of allowing things like unclean thoughts, wrong attitudes, bad habits and temptations of the enemy into our lives.
The enemy sneaks in when we remove God’s boundaries and whispers things like, “Just this once won’t hurt,” and “If you’re careful no one will find out.” Those little lapses become habits and one day someone discovers the havoc in our private life and everything we have worked for is in jeopardy.
          It is necessary for me to hide the word of God in my heart on a daily basis so sins don’t creep in and destroy all I’ve been blessed with. I hear His voice warning me to keep the boundaries where He set them. I don’t want those bad habits creeping in any more than I want squirrels in my house.
          Vow today to close any doors in your life that allow bad habits to enter in. When you keep the boundaries where God set them you will see His blessings.

Copyright by Norma Gail Thurston-Holtman & 2MefromHim Ministries, 2011. All rights reserved. Do not use without permission of author.