Open this present early – Merry Christmas

Hope.

I tried not to focus on the pain I was feeling emotionally as I broke the news to my children that day this past October that the birthmother that we had been matched with was not pregnant.  Feeling emotions that I didn’t expect to feel in the process of adoption seemed to engulf me the weeks leading up to confirming that our birthmother that was carrying the twins we were to adopt at the beginning of 2014 was a scammer. Through an unrest in my spirit, which was brought on by the Lord, I was the one who uncovered the lies of this woman and finally caught her red-handed. There we sat, just a few weeks later staring at my children’s faces who were ecstatic about the idea of welcoming two other little lives into our home.  My children, who in an instant would be kind to anyone and if they knew of a hurting heart, would help it, now stared at be blankly as the evil of this world had stung them.  We sat in silence as the information was processed by my two little treasures.  In as mild a manner as possible Eddie and I explained what had happened. Their eyes dropped as they realized the finality and reality of the situation.  As their mother, I wanted to shoulder the disappointment that they were feeling, I wanted to be the one that felt the pain in their place. But there I sat, after waiting almost a year for the news to be matched, we were in an unpredictable situation.

My mind has wrestled with how to manage such a grievance against humanity.  How can an individual feel it okay to play deviously with the emotions of a family that desperately wants to love their child. This particular woman wasn’t pregnant at all and had lied to all parties included to a point of even producing fake documents. Through this battle against injustice God in His amazing way gave me the gift of a word.  On days that the pain seared, He seemed to drop a this word in my spirit to encourage my heart. This word cannot be stolen.  It cannot become illegal.  It is the greatest of gifts that our God has given us through His Son, Jesus.  The word is hope.

Hope.  The word alone baffles the soul that has been abused by the world, and yet it remains. This past month hope has been the theme of my thoughts. Hope is the prerequisite to faith.  If you can hope you can have faith and if faith is present so is belief. You literally cannot have faith without first daring to hope that something is possible.  In our world filled with Miley Syrus’s who dance simulating sex with a Santa Claus and the attack on freedom of speech brought on by the circumstances with Phil Robertson and Duck Dynasty it is comforting to know that NO ONE can steal my hope.  My hope in my future is secure because of my Jesus being born in the most destitute of circumstances to be slain on a cross for me.  It is concrete. In the fleeting  circumstances that attempt to act as a thief and steal our hope, they cannot if we do not let them.

 

  1. Hope against Hope – Abraham when considering the age of himself and Sara hoped anyway.  Why?  Because He had a solemn promise from God Himself. His body or his age couldn’t dictate what God had already governed.  Romans 4:18a, In hope against hope he believed.  He knew (Rom. 4:17) God gives life to the dead and calls into being that which does not exist.  Abraham didn’t hope in his circumstances or he would have been completely depressed not seeing any possibility of a child, rather he hoped in God the Author of impossibility.
  2. Hope does not disappoint – Romans 5:5 And hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.  We cannot be disappointed when we utilize the overwhelming strength and love of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit guides, it instructs, it strengthens and encourages.  Because of the gift of the Holy Spirit we have hope and help. When relying on His prompting and His guidance through things God has asked us to do we are ensured of a favorable end.  If God has asked us to do something, the Spirit will enable us clear direction on how to do it.  Hope will never disappoint when we are sensitive to the Spirit of God.
  3. Faith is hope when it is believed – Hebrews 11:1, Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for the conviction of things not seen. If we dare to hope, then we can dare to believe. Faith can start the moment we develop hope.  Many people stop at hope and faith never develop because of hard circumstances or disappointments. Faith springs up when hope is challenged and unaltered. No one can take it from you, it’s a choice to believe.

This year, My family was desperately needing the whimsical lightheartedness this season brings.  I have found every excuse possible to watch a Christmas movie or drink some hot chocolate. Knowing that my God loved me so much to send His Son through Mary to give me eternal hope this season has encouraged me richly.

Hope is the gift that He has given you as well.  Drink of the blessing of it today and understand that it is concrete in its nature and no one can remove it from you.

Merry Christmas.  I pray God enriches your idea of hope.

Isaiah 9:6

For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called WONDERFUL COUNSELOR, MIGHTY GOD, ETERNAL FATHER, PRINCE OF PEACE.

Be thankful or be turned into a beast

Yesterday, I stepped out of my car in Indiana and held my breath as the freezing cold air hit me like a right hook.  I walked as fast as I could with my sister to the grocery store door that stood there waiting for us to enter the warm air.  We were headed to the store again to buy cans of pumpkin for pumpkin bread that would undoubtably fill my entire parents home with an intoxicating smell. I shook as I entered the grocery store to try regain body heat.  Rushing to the aisle of pumpkin with my mom and sister could only mean one thing, “Carey cry fest 2013” was just around the corner. This family tradition will live on far past the lives of my family that partake in it now, because of the culture that we are instilling in the generation after us.  I have to give tradition credit to my mom who forced us to start it when I was a young girl.  “Carey cry fest” is defined by its name.  We begin each year after Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner whichever holiday has drawn my entire family and spend time verbalizing what we are thankful for in each person from the entire previous year. Almost before we begin speaking we begin crying, hence the name.  Some years are more emotional than others.  The year my dad successfully came through quadruple bypass surgery was extra emotional and the year I launched The Blush Network was intense. The cry fest is set aside because we choose to take a couple hours to pause each year as a unit and talk about what God has done in each of our lives.  Every year He champions the impossible. God is the star of the show and we worship Him.

There is no doubt in my mind where my blessings this Thanksgiving have originated.  I am not under any illusion that I created the blessings for myself, but twenty years ago my thought process was very different.  I never used to enjoy the “Carey cry fest.” I felt it was a waste of time.  I participated of course, but what my mouth said was very different then what I believed.  I was blind to all that God had done for me and in some way believed that I had just been lucky or that I had something to do with it.

I didn’t think King Nebuchadnezzar and I had anything in common, but it turns out we do. He stuck out to me as I was studying thanksgiving a short while back.  We don’t think of him as a likely man to partake in thanksgiving to our God, but he did.

Because of Nebuchadnezzar’s pride God warned him through a dream that was interpreted by Daniel that if he didn’t change his mind would be taken from him and he would begin to act like one of the cattle.  He literally would live with the cattle and eat with them. Daniel warned Neb to change his ways so the dream wouldn’t come true, but Neb didn’t listen. Twelve months later he was walking on his roof on the palace of Babylon and said this:

Dan. 4:30b

Is this not Babylon the great, which I myself have build as a royal residence by the might of my power and for the glory of my majesty.

Neb’s comments showed his heart, it was prideful and full of himself.  The bible says that immediately he was driven away from man and hung out with the cattle for seven years. He ate grass, his hair grew out crazy and his nails grew as long as birds claws.

Dan. 4:34

But at the end of that period, I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven and my reason returned to me, and I blessed the most high and praised and honored Him who lives forever; For His dominion is an everlasting dominion, and His kingdom endures from generation to generation. All the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, But He does according to His will in the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of earth; and NO ONE CAN WARD OFF HIS HAND or say to Him, “What have you done?”

When Nebuchadnezzar came out of those seven years of trial he immediately thanked the Lord. He understood how much He has to be thankful for and he placed God in His heart as his King.

Seven years of severe trial in my life did the same thing.  I will never be the same.  It was then began to call on the Lord for help.  It was then that I began to understand His love.  It was then that my heart changed and now and forever, I will praise and thank God alone for His mercy, blessing and grace in my life. It is when God brings us through a trial that we find our opinion toward Him has changed and the trial make sense.  Authentic love and thanksgiving for our God is developed in the desert land of trial. It is when we face the impossible task of our circumstances that we recognize our valiant Warrior who fights on our behalf. I wonder this year what have you been through? This thanksgiving take some time to have your own “cry fest.” King Nebuchadnezzar had one and I have one each year.

Daniel 4:37

Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise, exalt and honor the King of heaven, for all His works are true and His ways just, and He is able to humble those who walk in pride.

I couldn’t end this blog without saying that I am so thankful for you.  I have no words to tell you what each of you mean to me.  Your support over the years for The Blush Network and myself amazes me.  Thank you. This thanksgiving you will be mentioned in “Carey cry fest” because God has used each of you in my life. Please know your encouragement over the years has fueled the flame to keep at it!  I adore you, I have prayed for you and I am challenged because of you!

Autumn Miles

Does it look like you are alone?

There is not such a time in history that is as important as the present. Things that have happened cannot be changed, they are complete. The present begs with possibility, and we have the privilege of living in the now. I wonder today, what are you doing with your present. Are you wishing it away for your future? Are you wasting it obsessed with your past? Your present offers you an amazing future if stewarded well. Each decision that you make today no matter how little or how large has an effect of the future. I am of the mind that God would not be intimately acquainted with all of our ways unless He wanted to be involved in each of our ways intimately. Nothing is chance, every crossroads that is offered to us is an opportunity from the most High to achieve ALL that He has for you. I wonder if you grasp the possibility that lies in you. Just you have the ability to change the world. Yes, teams are amazing, but today I want to speak to the individual. You. A dream crafted in your mind to achieve change for the world is probable is ever decision is submitted and shifted to God’s responsibility. It is God’s responsibility to champion His call on your life. He will make things happen for you, your job it to position yourself with faith. I want to enlighten you to passage that I feasted on this morning. One that is familiar, but intense in it’s reality. When I was praying for The Blush Network I was only one human, but I was surrounded by millions of beings to help. Why has Blush taken off so quickly? Because it’s not just us that are working for The Blush Network.

2 Kings 6:16, So he answered, “Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.”

17, Then Elisha prayed and said, “O Lord, I pray, open his eyes that he may see.” And the Lord opened the servants eyes and he saw; and behold, the mouton was full of horses and chariots of FIRE all around Elisha.”

The servant thought there was only him and Elisha to fight an entire army, but in fact the host of heaven surrounded them and Elisha and his servant with the help of the host were successful.

There have been times when Satan has tempted me to believe that I was alone.  In the midst of severe testing when faith is required, Satan bombards my mind with thoughts that I am alone, however, I am not and neither are you. The bible tells us to set our mind on the things that are unseen rather than the things that are seen.  When we look around we may see a few standing with us, or maybe it’s just us, but let me challenge you today to understand that the host of heaven is standing with you when you step out in faith.  Acting on God’s leading in the Christian life engages the host of heaven who works with you on orders from the King Himself.

Understand, sweet friend, your team includes the host that is unseen.

Staring at hope

I sat across the table from my friend; it was my turn to catch her up on my life. The last few months have been months that I wouldn’t change for anything because my God has been refining me. I said with ease, “These last few months have been interesting.”  She replied with, “I know.”  She then said two words that brought me to tears because those two words were the two that the Lord had been laying on my heart.  I quickly asked her, “How did you know?  Did you read something or hear me speak?”  She said, “No, I’ve been praying for you.”  We sat silent and I marveled at the moment.

 

There is nothing like an honest, life-giving conversation with someone that you respect and trust.  One conversation that has intrigued me for weeks in the resurrection story is the story about the two men that encounter Jesus on the road to Emmaus. I have been puzzled, angry, and encouraged by it all at the same time.

 

The story is found in Luke 24:13-35. I’m gonna sum it up for you and I’m gonna preach, so hang with me!

 

Two disciples of Jesus were traveling on the road leading to the city of Emmaus on the day of the resurrection.  We know that their journey was about seven miles, which may have taken them about two hours.  While they were walking, they were talking really intensely about their dear Leader, Jesus, and His crucifixion.  Luke tells us that Jesus appeared to them and prevented them from recognizing Him, then asked them what they were talking about.  In my study, I discovered that Scripture tells us that one of these men was actually Joseph’s (the earthly father of Jesus) brother and he was married to one of the Marys.  The two men were shocked that Jesus (who they didn’t recognize) asked them about the events that they were talking about.  Surely, they thought everyone knew in the area what had happened to Jesus of Nazareth.

As they told Jesus about the crucifixion, Luke says that their demeanor was sad. (Note that Jesus was talking to His earthly uncle).

 

Take a look at the dialogue:

Luke 24:19-21

19 And He said to them, “What things?” And they said to Him, “The things about Jesus the Nazarene, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word in the sight of God and all the people, 20 and how the chief priests and our rulers delivered Him to the sentence of death, and crucified Him. 21 But we were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel. Indeed, besides all this, it is the third day since these things happened.

They continued telling Jesus that some women went to the tomb and Jesus’s body was not there.

This is the part that is frustrating to me.  These two men had eyewitnessed EXACTLY what Jesus had told them was going to happen. They saw the crucifixion and the empty tomb. Yet, they sadly thought all hope was lost.  Even though they walked with Jesus, they didn’t believe that He would do exactly what He said He was going to do.

Jesus response was priceless.

Luke 24:25-26 says that Jesus said, “O foolish men and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken!  Was it not necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and to enter into His glory?”

The prophets Jesus was referring to may have been Moses in Deuteronomy 18:15:  “The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your countrymen, you shall listen to Him.”  Or, Jesus may have been referencing the great Isaiah and the chapter about the suffering Servant in Isaiah 53.

The line that gets me about this passage in Luke is 24:21, “But we were hoping that this was He Who was going to redeem Israel.”  I shudder just reading that.  There they were talking to the risen KING OF KINGS and their weak faith said, “but we were hoping.”

I shudder because I’m convicted and challenged.  Sweet readers, OUR GOD ALWAYS DOES WHAT HE SAYS HE WILL DO.  I have heard people say things like, “I prayed about it, but God doesn’t answer my prayers.” Or, “The Bible is irrelevant.”  Some people have just given up hope that God even cares about their situation. I know I am writing to someone today who feels just like these men.  You believed that something would happen and hoped it would and then it appears all hope is lost!  You may be in despair wondering where God is in your situation.  You may be so destitute in spirit to the point you can’t pray. My challenge to you today is that our God always stands in VICTORY. He is not weak or defeated.  He is the Warrior Who fights on your behalf continually. He is just as available to you as these men. Don’t miss Him.  One of Jesus’s last words on the cross was to His mother in John 19:26-27.  He said, “Woman, behold your son,” then looked at John and said, “Behold your mother.”  Even in death, He cared for His mother. He also cares for you.  Your pain.  Your wait.  Your anger.  Your frustration. Your hurt. He is waiting for you, and get this, HE IS ALIVE.

Let me pray for you today.

Lord, Almighty, Father, God.  I come before you today on behalf of my sisters and brothers that are facing insurmountable odds.  I ask you in the name of Jesus to give them a season of rejoicing.  I ask you to show them that you are the Risen King and are knocking at the door of their heart with a specific message for them.  Refresh them this weekend with the remembrance of your Son’s sacrifice and glorious resurrection.  Lord, we need you.  We are a needy people with needy lives.  Please move in the readers of this blog today and refresh them with your power. In the Name of Jesus I pray, Amen.