What Do You See Outside YOUR Open Window Today?

What Do You See Outside YOUR Open Window Today?
Remember: "When God closes a door, He always opens a window!" You never know what might be out there waiting for you!

Monday, December 31, 2018

Sermon Notes: "Keep Going"

What do you want more than anything else in the all the world?

Read along with me the writings of the Apostle Paul:

Philippians 3:3-14

"3.  For we are the circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, 
and have no confidence in the flesh,
4.  though I also might have confidence in the flesh, I more so:
5.  circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, 
A Hebrew of the Hebrews;
concerning the law, a Pharisee;
6.  concerning zeal, persecuting the church;
concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.
7.  But what things were gain to me, 
these I have counted loss for Christ.
8.  Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the 
excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, 
for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, 
and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ
9.  And be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, 
but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith;
10.  That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, 
and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death,
11.  if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.
12.  Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; 
but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me.
13.  Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended, but one thing I do, 
forgetting those things which are behind 
and reaching forward to t hose things which are ahead,
14.  I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus."

Do you want to know more about Christ and His suffering?

We tend to focus on the things we do to keep up with the world, neighbors, friends, etc.
Paul, a pure-bred Hebrew...Paul had authority...and expensive commodity of the day...
and one day Jesus appeared to Paul on the road to Damascus  (see Acts 9)...and Paul's entire purpose and direction was changed.  He had to let go of all the things that had slowed him down...and he counted them as rubbish, that he might gain Christ...

  • What do we consider rubbish...the things that we need to let go of...get rid of...so we can know Christ and be like Him?
  • As we prepare for the New Year...is this the best time to assess our life's identity?  
  • What is it you love above all else?
Paul's focus became heavenward...where he found peace, love, joy, confidence...once he was touched by Jesus..regardless of the hardships that he had to face...

Christ Jesus is there to carry us through whatever our hardships may be.
How much pain and suffering do we have because we drag along our pain and sorrows and refuse to let them go? 
What is it we are holding on to?

Look at verse 8: Paul was counting all things as loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus his Lord...for Whom he suffered the loss of all things...and counted them as rubbish...so that he might gain Christ.

Paul was willing to give up himself...all for Christ..."for whose sake I have lost all things"...through faithfulness of Christ...Christ's faithfulness is what saves us...See verse 9:

"And be found in Him, not having MY OWN righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith..."   

In verse 12, Paul says "I press on"
Verse 13: Paul says "one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead..."
Verse 14: "I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus."

  • How many would be willing to give up ALL that we had to be able to have this journey alongside Christ...to see life resurrected from the dead...
  • As we continue the journey, into a "Happy New Year"...with Christ working in us...
  • Letting God recharge our batteries and renew and restore us...
  • God is bringing you on that journey with Christ...Christ is there with us wherever we go...
  • May we make a stronger commitment to follow Christ in this New Year...

  • Back to the original questions:  
  • "What do you want more than anything else in all the world?"
  • "Do you (I) want to know more of Christ and His suffering? 
  •  What is the rubbish that I can let go of so that I can know Christ and be like Him?
I know I need to work on this.  As much as I try to live for Christ, I know there are many things that get in the way of me fully letting go and letting Him be all that I need.  I know in my heart and mind that I have to let go of these "things", but sometimes I find it very difficult and I forget all that Christ as already done for me...and that I can fully rely on Him to continue to meet ALL my needs. I can say it, I can even write it, teach it, and "preach it"...but when it comes right down to living it, I often fall short. I am praying that God will help me to let go of the rubbish and fully press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.  This is a wonderful way to begin the New Year...Thank You, Lord, for walking with me on this journey of life.  Amen.

Sermon Notes: FUMC, Interlachen, FL, Pastor A.C. Myers, 12/30/2018

Please Note : I want to repeat this disclaimer here...the notes, outline, and content included here are based upon my own personal understanding of the message that was being given. I am not attempting to completely quote or reproduce this message or any other message I've shared previously. Just as each person reading these notes may glean insights and thoughts that seem to directly apply to one's own situation and interpretation, my own delivery of these messages is skewed by my hearing and translation of what is being said. Some may read my notes here and wonder if they were hearing the same message as I...and I say, God speaks to each of us as He wills...there are things He is trying to get across to each individual that may be entirely different than what the person sitting next to you in the pew is needing to hear... That is how the Holy Spirit works! He knows what we need to hear and how to apply it to our hearts. So it is with that understanding that I present these sermon notes to you.

Friday, December 28, 2018

Friday Foto Friends-After Christmas Winding Down and Gearing Up for 2019

Hello My Friday Foto Friends.  Is anyone else feeling the "in between Christmas and New Year's slump"...?  Kind of like in a fog and trying to figure out what day it is and what should I be doing now that Christmas is over? I know I am kind of in "la la land"...from lack of sleep, adrenaline rush let down...whatever you want to call it...it's real. I saw others mentioning similar feelings on Facebook. (so it must be true! )
Internet photo
But we had a great Christmas...and we are expecting another big gathering this weekend, when my sister and her family come, along with some other special friends, and we have a pot-luck-finger food lunch and our annual "White Elephant Gift Exchange" party.  Always a good time full of laughter and fun.  I'd better get my act together before they arrive!  Meanwhile, here are some random photos from the week:

We took a ride and saw a huge  bear alongside the road, and I just had to take its picture:
Got a partial selfie in the process...do you see the bear? He's a quite a giant teddy bear, don't you think?  Actually he's made out of round hay bales...and I thought this was pretty clever!!

Also, I watched someone taking a bath this morning and thought you'd enjoy peeping along with me:

This is a Brown Thrasher, and he was enjoying his morning bath in the old frying pan of water that  we keep outside the kitchen window on the ground for the local critters to get a drink or a bath, whatever is needed.  Some birds prefer to stay low to the ground, like this Thrasher.  They rarely ever visit the other bird baths that are on a pedestal, so this is a good alternative for him after he "thrashes" about in the sand.
 He is definitely "thrashing about" in the water here...
 He looks up to see if anyone noticed...
Then he fans out his tail feathers to get them good and clean.  That was a refreshing little break from the monotony, wasn't it?

Did you have any particular favorite or fun gift that you received for Christmas?  I received several wonderful things, but just wanted to share one or two with you for now:

I love pretty calendars, and this year I treated myself to this gift: (actually, the whole family will enjoy this all year long...so it wasn't just for me)

My dream has always been to have a cabin someday on a little lake...and as we continue to dream and look for our next home (if and whenever our current house ever sells) it would be my fondest desire to have a place like that. I doubt that it will be a "cabin" as there really aren't many such houses here in this area of Florida, but there are plenty of little lakes...if you can find a place that is affordable that isn't already over-crowded by all the other dreamers of living on a little lake some day. So, this calendar with pictures of "Cabin View" living may be as close as I get...but a girl can dream, can't she?

It's interesting that one of the month's pictures above in the calendar was of a group of swans. My hubby surprised me with these two beautiful cut glass swans. I think they are so lovely, don't you? He gave them to me, he said, for two reasons: One, The swans mate for life and this was significant for him to give to me, which was definitely not unappreciated by me...and the other was that the swan is a part of his mother's family crest. Her maiden name is Martin, and apparently there is a swan in the Martin family crest.  This was something that was very significant to her, and this year being the year that she has left earth for heaven, it was a special way to remember her.

Here are a couple of other special gifts.  Our youngest son loves to make things out of foil candy wrappers.  Every year (and every occasion) he creates things for people...and this year was no exception.  This is an "angel" that he made for me, but he apologized for the face.  The red hearts were on the wrappers, but he says he's not happy for the way the face turned out. But the angel is special to me.

 It goes along with the pink and gold angel he made for me a couple of years ago that is up on the shelf above.  I've learned one thing in life...when your child, no matter what age they are, (he's an adult) makes you a gift...you treasure it. This particular son has kept his guardian angel very busy throughout his life (and even this very week, but that's another story)...and to me these little treasures are very significant.

This creation was made for my hubby...and it is a Detroit Redwings Hockey Player from the past, Steve Yzerman, who was one of my hubby's favorite players:
 Again, our son created him using foil candy wrappers...and he captured every detail right down to the skates...

Now, switching gears,  this is another "gift"...again, something that I purchased with the intention of sharing it with someone else, but I am going to read it first...(I know, I should have bought TWO! but I'm cheap...or broke...)

Here is a quote from Ann Voskamp's introduction as she is explaining to her children about how stars are created from "explosions and collisions of elements. Stars are made from a breaking at their center..."  Ann goes on to think about this further:

"Breaking--then blazing.
This is the abundant way of the universe.
Brokenness multiplies into abundance...This seems impossible...unlikely.
And this is the unfailing way of God.  Multiplication happens out of brokenness.
And the sum is abundant life..."
"Weak is the real strong.
Brokenness is the real abundance.
Breaking--then blazing.
Dying...then rising.
Trust the abundant ways of the universe, the ways of Almighty God."

(Ann Voskamp, The Way of Abundance..A 60-Day Journey Into a Deeply Meaningful Life)

This may be a new theme for me for 2019.  I am thinking about my "One Word" for the new year...and haven't really settled on anything yet...however this is speaking to me and may develop into something...but we will have to wait and see in the New Year when I make my final decision.  This usually comes after much prayer and soul-searching to see where the Lord leads me.  This past year my word was "renew", and that has taken me on quite a path to spiritual renewal and revival in my heart...and preparation for a new life in a new place hopefully in the new year.  It will be interesting to see how the Lord leads again in this search for His Word for me in 2019.

Okay, friends.  I think this is whetting my whistle for some great new adventures in the New Year...how about you? What are your hopes and dreams and goals for 2019?  Maybe we will all be sharing those adventures with one another throughout the year here in our Friday Foto Friends!  I look forward to going along with you on your adventures!!  Have a blessed weekend and a Happy New Year!!!

Let us journey over to Deb's place at Breathing in Grace and visit with each other!!  I know I am behind in reading what you all have been doing this past week.  Hopefully we can get caught up eventually!!

Monday, December 24, 2018

An Advent Message: "A Baby Does Change Everything" Updated

A Baby Changes Everything updated from 2015...nothing to change about this message.  That precious Baby in the Manger truly did change EVERYTHING for this old world, and for each of us, if we will pay attention to the message He brings...and claim it for our own.

Merry Christmas dear friends!

Do you remember what it felt like when you first learned you were going to have a baby?  Depending upon your circumstances, it was either great joy and elation, or it was possibly great fear and concern. If you were unmarried, not only fear, but shame, anxiety over how you would be able to take care of the child, what would your parents say...what would your boyfriend say? Would he stand by you, or run away? Would he demand you have an abortion, or force you to give the baby away? Would he love you enough to marry you and give the child a home?

Even if you were married, there were a lot of questions and concerns. Will the child be healthy? Would your husband be a good father? Will you be a good mother? Will you be able to properly provide for your child? Will it be a boy, or a girl? What shall you name him or her?

Regardless of your situation and how long you've waited for a child or whether or not you were prepared for this event at all...one thing is for certain:  "A Baby Does Change Everything!"

Now think about Mary, the mother of Jesus...single, yet betrothed to a man named Joseph. Young, pure, a virgin, and faithful to her fiance' Joseph.  Can you imagine what it must have been like for her? First of all, there was the Angel Gabriel...making such a strange announcement...and the fear and wonder over how that could even be possible.  (Luke 1;26-38).  "A baby? Me?  But I haven't even known a man that way!"  But the Angel told her "For with God nothing will be impossible..."

And then there was Joseph, a carpenter...hard working, honest, a good and noble man. And his beautiful young fiance' is pregnant...and he knows it can't be his child.  And another Angel...this time in a dream...but a very real dream  (see Matthew 1:18-25) comes to Joseph and tells him not to be afraid to take Mary as his wife...because the Child she is carrying is conceived by the Holy Spirit...and His name will be called Jesus..."for He will save His people from their sins."  Can you imagine how Joseph must have felt?  Talk about shock and awe!  But what an amazing young man he was!  He did just as the angel told him, and not only took Mary to be his wife, but he did not "know her till she had brought forth her firstborn Son."    He did not claim his rights as a husband until the Child was born.  And he called His name Jesus.

Yes, a baby certainly does change everything!    In this case, this Baby changed the world!  This Baby changed my life from being lost and without hope to being found and full of hope and assured of a heavenly home forever. How?  Because this Baby didn't just come to live and be a good man, a carpenter's son...but this Baby came to die.  He came to die so that we might have everlasting life. This Baby was not just any baby.  This Baby was the very Word of God:

"In the beginning was the Word,
and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
He was in the beginning with God.
All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.
In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.
And the light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness did not comprehend it."
John 1:1-5

"And the Word became flesh
and dwelt among us,
and we beheld His glory,
the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,
full of grace and truth."
John 1:14

Yes, a baby does change everything!  Especially this Baby,  
who came to save His people from their sins.

I woke up this morning singing a song...and then when I got into my car to go to work, that very song was already playing on the radio..."A Baby Changes Everything", by Faith Hill.  So I knew I was supposed to tell you about it...click on the picture to enjoy this beautiful message in song.  I hope you know this "Baby"...and that He has already changed everything for you.  If not, I pray that before this Advent /Christmas season is over, you will come to know and love Him...like He already knows and loves you...yes, you!  Why not let Him change everything for you? That would be the very best Christmas present ever!

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Fourth Sunday of Advent: Let's Go! (Updated)

Update: Today is the 4th Sunday of Advent.  I will not be posting any "Sermon Notes" for today as we are having our Christmas Cantata in place of the sermon. I've already shared about that with you HERE.  So for today, let's light the candle, and prepare our hearts for the coming of Emmanuel, God With Us...

(In this picture above from our home Advent service, we have already lit all five candles. But if you have a Christmas Eve service, that is when the tall white candle in the middle should be lit. I have kind of combined all of that in this post today).

Today  is the fourth Sunday of Advent...the Sunday prior to Christmas Day. As we light the fourth candle, the question is asked:  "Why do we light this candle?"

And the response is:

"Today we add the Shepherd's Candle.  It reminds us of our responsibility to share what we have seen and heard.  The Galilean Shepherds, who received the first announcement of the Savior's Birth, left their task and went with haste to see the Christ child, and then returned to tell others about the earthshaking event.  Sharing the Good News required no special talent, simply telling others what they had seen and heard with the conviction of personal experience."

Then we read Luke 2:17-20

"Now when they (the Shepherds) had seen Him (the baby Jesus),
they made widely known the saying which was told them 
concerning this Child.
And all those who heard it marveled at those things which
were told them by the shepherds.
But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart.
Then the shepherds returned,
glorifying and praising God
for all the things that they 
had heard and seen, as it was told them."
Luke 2:17-20

We are reminded that, like the Shepherds, we too should go out from this Holy place and spread the good news.  What IS the good news?  That little Baby that was born in the manger came to save us all from our sins.  He came to change the world....Click Here for "Mary Did You Know?" by Pentatonix

May the Good News of this little Baby fill your heart with joy and peace and the strength to carry on in the New Year, no matter what may come your way.  I am so thankful that I know this little Baby, Who grew up to save us ALL.  I hope that you know Him too.  No better time than now. And if you DO know Him, let us join with the Shepherds and spread the Good News throughout the world. This Little Baby Jesus, Who grew up to die and save us from our sins, didn't stay in the tomb.  After three days He arose from the grave, and conquered death once and for all. As He ascended into heaven, we were promised that He would return for us someday...

"And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up,
behold, two men stood by them in white apparel,
who also said,
'Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven?
This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven,
will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.'"
Acts 1:10-11

Jesus told His disciples in John 14:18-19 ~ 

"I will not leave you orphans;
I will come to you.
A little while longer and the world will see Me no more,
but you will Me. 
Because I live,
you will live also."

Just before Christ ascended into heaven, He gave His disciples (and us) this "Great Commission"...

"Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations,
baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you,
and lo, 
I AM with you always,
even to the end of the age.
Matthew 28:19-20

And that, my friend, is truly GOOD NEWS!   EMMANUEL, "God WITH Us", will be with us until the end of the age...and then He will come again and take us home to heaven to be with Him forever.  What better message could we share with the world than this?

Let us go and do as the Shepherds did.

Let's Go!

Friday, December 21, 2018

Friday Foto Friends...Christmas is Coming!!

The Friday before Christmas, and all through the house, 
a lot of creatures are stirring, perhaps even a mouse! 
The stockings are not hung yet by the chimney with care, 
in hopes that St. Nicholaus will give me a moment to spare...
Presents to wrap, cookies to bake, family to visit, food to partake...
Still so much to do,
my mind's in a stew...
Jesus, help me remember
It's all about YOU!!!

It's Friday Foto Friends...and that was my humble attempt at poetry...definitely not my strong suit, but it is what I am feeling...still so much to do...and it is so easy to forget Who Christmas is really all about! Lord, help me stay focused on YOU, and You alone, and we will get through this together!

Pictures...Well, let me see, what have I been doing this week? If you have followed me on Facebook you have seen a few pictures here and there, but let me pick out a few of the highlights:

How about last night's sunset as we traveled to our dress rehearsal for our Christmas cantata?  It was actually raining, but the sun was shining with all its glory, and it helped us to know that God was with us, and that He would be with us as we prepared our music and sang it for His honor and glory:

Here's a few pictures from the rehearsal:

This is my hubby, me, and our son Benton, who was one of the narrators for the program

Here we are all singing:

Here's our son narrating...

Here are some excerpts from the program, with voices singing, but not our choir. This was the demo:

The program is "God Came Near", by Max Lucado and Tom Fettke.   We will be performing Sunday morning, so please say a prayer for us.

Speaking of our son, here is a picture I took earlier this week of him and his sweet wife Rose and their two doggies, Sugar and Spice. It was early evening, and we wanted to see their lights:

Aren't they precious? All four of them!! We are blessed.

Today I am very late in posting this because we had things to do and I just couldn't spare the time to sit here and write. My hubby had to keep reminding me of what was most important this morning...and he was right, of course. (Don't tell HIM I said that!)  Anyway, we had a wonderful day today. We visited the nursing home where my mother in law had lived the last year and 1/2 of her life before going to be with the Lord this past August.  We had not been back there since she passed, but we wanted to go and visit with the dear residents and staff there and wish them a Merry Christmas. So, my brother in law, sister in law and their two children met us there this morning, and we took little bags of Christmas candy and cookies to them and had a wonderful time wishing each one a very Merry Christmas. There are still quite a few there who knew "Nanny", and remembered us. It was a very special time and well worth the extra effort it took to make that trip.  It was kind of bittersweet for us since the last time we were there was "Nanny's"  last day here on earth. But we know where she is...she's celebrating Christmas in heaven with Jesus and all the angels and saints of old. Couldn't be anything better than that!!   here's a picture of Nanny from a few years ago, possibly one her last Christmases here in our home before going to the "Lodge" to live.  She loved Christmas...

I will conclude with these series of pictures taken earlier this week in and around our neighborhood. The first two are of a couple of my "Louis Philippe" Rose bush that likes to bloom in the cooler weather. It's been rather cool and wet this week, and I've enjoyed seeing their beauty from my back door.

Many of you saw this picture on my Facebook page a couple of mornings ago. It was about 36 degrees here in the morning, and the mist rising up off of the little pond in our neighborhood in the early sunlight was just too beautiful to ignore. So here are a few more pictures that I took that morning:

I hope you enjoy God's beauty in His world as much as I do.  Here are some of the verses I read this morning in our time of devotions:

Zephaniah 3:17

"The Lord your God in your midst,
The Mighty One, will save;
He will rejoice over you with gladness,
He will quiet you with His love,
He will rejoice over you with singing."

If you are feeling a bit overwhelmed with all of the "must do's" of this Christmas season,
take a few moments sit quietly, perhaps in a peaceful setting wherever you may find one, and allow the Lord your God to "quiet you with His love" and then listen as you may actually hear Him rejoicing over you with gladness and with singing.  
What a beautiful sound...
just listen...
it may be the birds singing (or so we think)...
or the trees sighing in the wind (again...that's what we think we hear)
But very likely it is the Lord rejoicing over you and singing love songs to you of peace and joy and much gladness.  
I feel better already just thinking about this, don't you?

Have a very Merry Christmas dear friends...
Remember Who it is all about!!

Okay, so I am late to the Friday Foto Friends gathering over at Deb's place at Breathing in Grace.  Why don't you take a few moments out of your busy schedule and go visit with some wonderful people? That's where I'm headed right now!!

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Third Sunday of Advent & Sermon Notes "Joseph's Dreams"

Our Home Advent Wreath for the Third Sunday of Advent

Click HERE for "The Angels Were Talking" from our home advent service.

This morning in our church worship service we were blessed to have the children from "Children's Church" sing for us.  This was my view from behind them in the choir loft as they were singing...
And this was the view of them after they were finished singing and headed to Children's Church for their own service...

Aren't they wonderful?  It is always such a blessing to see the children in church and to hear them sing. We are so blessed to have so many sweet and wonderful children...and the willing workers who do so much to teach them from God's Word.  Thank you, Lord, for these blessings!!!

Then we settled back down and began our regular service with the lighting of the Advent Candle. This week's candle was reflective of Christ as our Light and the source of our JOY.

We read responsively:

"In the season of Advent, we celebrate with Joyful hearts.
Christ is our light and the source of our joy.
We count our blessings, and give thanks for God's goodness and grace.
Christ is our light and the source of our joy.
We strive to search for the good in neighbors near and far.
Christ is our light and the source of our joy.
We remember that God has promised us full and joyful lives.
Christ is our light and the source of our joy."

As the third Advent Candle was lit, the Pastor prayed:

"Gracious God, as we continue our Advent journey, we ask that you open our eyes to the beauty and goodness around us, and fill our hearts with grateful joy.  Remind us that Christ is our light and the source of all joy, and that we are here to serve You and to spread that joy to others. Amen."

Following the sermon and during our Communion service, I was blessed to sing the following song in a quartet.  What a beautiful message about our Savior, Who is the very "Breath of Heaven".

Our message today was about "Joseph's Dreams", which came from portions of Matthew 1:18-25, Matthew 2:13, Matthew 2:19, and Matthew 2:22.  I commend these scripture portions to your reading while I share the interesting points from therein.

I wonder how many of us realized just how often God actually communicated with Joseph, Mary's espoused husband, regarding not just the birth of Christ, but also regarding His safety and protection to preserve His young life.  I think we are all aware of that first encounter that Joseph had with the Lord in a dream (Matthew 1:18-25), when Joseph was thinking about having Mary "put away secretly" because she was "found with child of the Holy Spirit" before they had come together as man and wife.  Joseph was obviously concerned and afraid of what people would think when they found out his betrothed was already pregnant.  He knew that he was not the father of her child...so what was he to do?

But "an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream," (vs. 20), telling him not to be afraid to take Mary as his wife, "for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit." The angel goes on to explain to Joseph that her Son will be called "Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins." The Angel further explains that this Child, who is to be born of a virgin, shall be called "Immanuel", which is translated, "God with us."   

Joseph awoke from his sleep, and did exactly as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took to him his wife...and did not know her (as his wife in a physical sense) until she had "brought forth her first-born Son.  And he called His name Jesus."

  • Joseph obeyed God in spite of the stigma, the possible ridicule from others, and probably loss of respect for both of them.  He did not hesitate to do exactly as the angel had commanded him.
Then we go to Matthew 2 and see the story of the Wise Men who came from the east in search of the King of the Jews.  This was most likely about two years or more after the birth of Christ. They had seen the star in the sky back at the time of the birth of Christ, but they traveled many, many miles in search of this King.   When they finally reached Jerusalem, they asked King Herod where they might find this "King of the Jews."  Herod was rather troubled by this news, but nonetheless, he told them that according to prophecy, (Micah 5:2), the "Ruler Who will shepherd My people Israel" would come out of Bethlehem. When the Magi went on their way, the star reappeared and led them to the Christ Child Jesus, they were warned in a dream not to return to Herod, and then went on their way.  

Joseph was once again warned in another dream by an angel of the Lord (Matthew 2:13) to
"Arise, take the young Child and His mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I bring you word; for Herod will seek the young Child to destroy Him."
  • Joseph arose, "he took the young Child and His mother by night and departed for Egypt."
  • He obeyed the word of the angel again explicitly...and saved the life of the young Jesus.
You can read for yourself in verses 16-18 what King Herod did to all of the male children who were in Bethlehem and in all its districts from two years old and under.  Had Joseph not obeyed the angel of the Lord, Jesus would have been killed.

But the story doesn't stop there.  In Matthew 2:19, after news came to Joseph that Herod had died, an angel of the Lord appeared again to Joseph while they were still living in Egypt.  In verse 20 he said to Joseph, "Arise, take the young Child and His mother, and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the young Child's life are dead."

  • Joseph again obeyed and arose, "took the young Child and His mother, and came into the land of Israel."
  • Verse 22:  "But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judea instead of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. "And being warned by God in a dream, he turned aside into the region of Galilee.
  • Verse 23:  "And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, "He shall be called a Nazarene."
The thing that stands out in all of these events between Joseph and the messages from angel of the Lord is that Joseph never questioned the angel of the Lord once.  Instead, Joseph awakened from his sleep, got up, and obeyed the word of the Lord.  He did not object or argue or  question.  He obeyed. He said "yes" to God.  God said it, and Joseph obeyed.

What did Joseph get out of this whole experience?  We really don't hear a lot about Joseph from this point on in Jesus' life, but we do know that Jesus later was known as "The carpenter"...(see Mark 6:1-6), so he apparently had taught Jesus his trade as a carpenter.  And in Luke 2:41-52, when Jesus  was twelve years old and the family had gone to Jerusalem for the Feast of the Passover, Jesus stayed behind in the Temple...and Joseph and Mary were very concerned when they could not find him...and it says in Luke 2:51-52 "Then He (Jesus) went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was subject to them...", "and Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men."  Joseph had the opportunity to give appropriate training, discipline and guidance to the young boy Jesus.  Joseph was a major player in the story of Jesus' life, all because he obeyed God even in the face of possible ridicule, danger, and fear for their own lives.

What does this story have to do with us?  Well, in what ways has God asked us to obey Him? We may not have such an important role in life as Joseph did...but then again, maybe we do. When we choose to obey God, we get to see God restore broken lives, relationships...and we are rewarded with the joy of living a life of peace with God.  We are given the opportunity for eternal life when we choose to obey the Lord...and we may be instruments for leading others into a personal relationship with Christ...when we obey the Lord.

We are invited to adopt this attitude of obedience as a part of our Christmas time of worship and celebration.  In what ways is God asking me to obey Him today? What about you?

Sermon Notes: FUMC, Interlachen, FL., Pastor A.C. Myers, 12/16/2018

Please Note : I want to repeat this disclaimer here...the notes, outline, and content included here are based upon my own personal understanding of the message that was being given. I am not attempting to completely quote or reproduce this message or any other message I've shared previously. Just as each person reading these notes may glean insights and thoughts that seem to directly apply to one's own situation and interpretation, my own delivery of these messages is skewed by my hearing and translation of what is being said. Some may read my notes here and wonder if they were hearing the same message as I...and I say, God speaks to each of us as He wills...there are things He is trying to get across to each individual that may be entirely different than what the person sitting next to you in the pew is needing to hear... That is how the Holy Spirit works! He knows what we need to hear and how to apply it to our hearts. So it is with that understanding that I present these sermon notes to you.

Friday, December 14, 2018

Friday Foto Friends - A Case for Closed Doors, Open Windows

Good Morning Friday Foto Friends!  If you are a Facebook friend, you've already seen this Christmas mug full of my morning tea. I love to sit at my computer in the morning, checking up on "friends" here in blogland, Facebook and email, and sip a cup of tea. Usually the tea gets cold because I forget to sip as I visit with friends...but it's still a great way to start the day. Once I finish this cup of tea we have our morning devotions/Bible reading, and then usually take a walk before breakfast.

This week has been a bit chilly in the mornings, as you can tell by the steam on the windows...this is where that tea mug usually sits... (Not always on top of that box of Christmas Tea, but that was what I was drinking...wouldn't you like to have a cup of Christmas Tea with me? I'd love to have you join me!)

but because it was the inspiration for this sign above our kitchen sink/windows. Our son the sign-maker (a.k.a. Ben's Wood Signs) made this sign for me a few years ago at my special request...it is one of my favorite things in this kitchen. I love looking out these windows as I wash dishes and prepare meals, and ponder how heaven and nature must be singing...

Back to the morning routine...even on chilly/frosty mornings we still take our walk. Here my hubby is strolling down our road...

He doesn't often need to wear this wool plaid, quilt lined jacket, but this week it has felt good. This jacket is very special to him. It is the one thing he requested from our middle son's personal belongings following his passing from cancer over four years ago. When we would visit our son and his family in Maine, he would always let his daddy wear this jacket when we went out in the cold weather up there.  My hubby was very pleased when our daughter-in-law presented him with this jacket. He now wears it with much pride and love.

Sorry, didn't mean to wander into sad thoughts. Actually, the jacket makes my hubby feel close to our son for a little while.  And that's a happy feeling. I kind of like it too.

Okay, moving along...I discovered something blooming in the Secret Garden today!!!
 This is a very pretty ruffled white camellia!  This particular plant was a gift from our "flower and plant lady" last year, and this is the first time it has blossomed since then!   So pretty! Thank you, Karen!

And...I also noticed these azalea buds starting to open!! These are also plants (that I got from my plant lady!)  that were planted in the Secret Garden last year, and this is the first time they've blossomed since then! I know, they are kind of early, but I believe these are the kind that blossom at different times throughout the year.
 Does anyone else see a little dog face in that blossom above? See the two ears, eye, nose, mouth? I just noticed that! How cool is that?

Again...another of the azaleas blooming in the Secret Garden!!!  There seems to be some kind of face on this one too...the one that is opened up more...am I crazy or can you see it too?   Not sure what kind of creature this one is, but it is cute and is wearing a little flowery hat.  (I am writing this late at night when I should be in bed...that might have something to do with seeing these faces in the flowers...LOL)

Now, if you look really closely just to the left of the porch post right in front of you in the middle of the picture, look out in the weeds across the road and you will see a little black blur. That was one of two bears running into the woods this afternoon (Thursday).  Hubby called me to the window and said there was a bear walking down the road. I grabbed my camera just in time to see not one, but TWO bears run into the woods as a truck was coming down the road and they were getting out of the way. One of the bears was kind of small, so it may have been a mother and cub.  We haven't seen many bears lately, so this was another surprise!

Okay, these next few pictures will be different.  As most of you are aware, we have been talking a lot about moving sometime in the near future, if and when we can sell our current home.    We had been looking at a house for a month or so in the area where we are planning to move, hoping that no one else would buy it before we could have a chance to put a contract on it.  We have taken several rides up to look at this house and property, just to see if it really would be a place where we would like to live. I kind of had my heart set on it, and was imagining how I would place the furniture in the house and what improvements we could make in the yard, etc., when we discovered to our dismay last night that the house now has a contract pending on it. SO...back to the drawing board. But these next few pictures were some that I took in the yard of that house last week. This is a moss carpet on the ground, with some tiny mushrooms here and there. It was such a pretty green, and so velvety, I couldn't resist taking these pictures...

Another view of the moss carpet...

And this toadstool was pretty cool...

It was growing alongside this old tree stump that is covered in lichen and moss.  Yes, this house had a woodsy, shady yard and lots of interesting old flowers and plants. It needed some work around the yard to be sure, but I like a natural woodsy yard.  However...we now know that this is not the place God has planned for us to live, so we will continue our search as we wait for our house to sell. It helps me to have something to look forward to so I can make mental plans for what needs to go with us and what needs to go elsewhere.  God knows what is best for us, and we will rely on Him to guide us to the "perfect" home for us.

I think you could call this week's "adventure" a case for "Closed Doors, Open Windows"....When God closes a door...He opens a window...so I can't wait to see what "window" of opportunity He will be opening for us, hopefully soon!

Now let us go through the looking glass and travel down the rabbit hole to see what other adventures our Friday Foto Friends have been experiencing this week!!  The gathering place is over at Deb's place, "Breathing in Grace", and you will meet the nicest people there!!!  Have a blessed and beautiful day...I'll be out there somewhere letting "Heaven and Nature Sing"....