Yes, Brenda, There Is a Real Jesus!

by Brenda Poinsett

 The Word became a human being and, full of grace and truth, lived among us.                                                                                                                                                    John 1:14a TEV

When I was around eight years old, a classmate informed me that Santa Claus wasn’t real. There’s probably not an eight-year-old alive now that believes in Santa, but I did back then. My mind began working furiously trying to sort out the truth. Santa Claus? Not real? Dear wonderful Santa had to be real.

I had to admit I had been suspicious. How could Santa get down narrow chimneys with his round belly? How did he get into homes without fireplaces? As I thought about all this, I realized my classmate was right. There was no real Santa Claus.

I was disappointed and angry. I thought, Maybe this means baby Jesus isn’t real either. If one was a made-up person, then the other one probably was, too.

I didn’t want to be caught unaware again, so I began observing adults to see if the baby Jesus story was also a legend. Like Virginia, the famous little girl who wrote to a newspaper to see if there was a Santa Claus, I wanted to know if Jesus was real. I didn’t write to a newspaper, but I watched and listened, especially at church. If Jesus wasn’t real, then surely there would be clues. Some adult would slip with the evidence. As carefully as I listened, I didn’t pick up any clues. Everybody at church talked and acted as if Jesus were real.

Our pastor said, “Jesus forgives sin, and everyone sins.” I recognized that as truth! I knew that I had done some wrong things. The pastor encouraged us to confess our sins to Jesus and proclaim faith in Him. The thought of doing that in front of the church scared me, but eventually I did. I asked for forgiveness and confessed my belief in Jesus.

Then I experienced something that has been the hallmark of my relationship with Jesus ever since. He responded. He forgave my sins. One has to be real to respond!

Jesus continued to respond as our relationship grew and developed through the years. I could count on a good conversation with Him any time. He responded to my concerns with understanding and guidance. Sometimes when I was lonely and thought no one liked me, He assured me that He was my friend. He gave me courage to leave home, strike out on my own, and become an independent adult. He led me to a mate and helped us raise our children. Even at times when I wasn’t as faithful to our relationship as He was, I knew I could call His name and Jesus would answer.

Over and over as He verified His realness, an inner voice bubbled up within me, saying “Yes, Brenda, there is a real Jesus. He is ‘the Word of life’ (1 John 1:1 TEV). That’s why I exclaim with the apostle John, “We have heard it, and we have seen it with our eyes; yes, we have seen it, and our hands have touched it. When this life became visible, we saw it; so we speak of it” (1 John 1:1-2 TEV).

I may not see Jesus in the literal flesh the way John did, but I see Him operate in my life and in the lives of others. I hear His voice; I feel His touch; I sense His realness. That’s why, like John, I have to say, “What we have seen and heard we announce to you also” (1 John 1:3 TEV). I announce to you this Christmas season that Jesus is real! I write this as a reminder so “that our joy may be complete” (1 John 1:4 TEV).

TWEETABLE
Yes, Brenda, There Is a Real Jesus! – encouragement from Brenda Poinsett on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

brenda poinsett (2)About the author: Brenda Poinsett works with women who want a new lease on life and with adults who want to know Jesus better. She does this through writing, speaking and teaching. She’s the author of more than 20 books.

The Christmas season can often be a time of great stress and pressure for women feeling the weight of expectation for a “perfect” holiday. This can overshadow the spiritual joy that can be found at the feet of Jesus. The 25 reflections in Can Martha Have a Mary Christmas will help the “Martha” in each of us realize that she is entitled to the “Mary” time with Jesus that He desires. Focusing on Christmas themes in a lively and amusing manner, this book ministers to any Martha’s emotional and spiritual needs.

Join the conversation: How do you know Jesus is real?

 

Grace with No Reservations

by Kathy Howard @KathyHHoward

I’ve experienced it several times and you may have too – the miracle in the Starbucks’ drive-thru line. That thrilling experience when you order your drink, pull around to the window, and the barista announces that the person in front of you paid for your coffee.

My first reaction is always “Wow! How nice! That’s awesome!” Then almost as quickly I think, “Man, I should have ordered a venti!” (That means “extra large” in Starbuckese!)

My gratitude initially fosters a desire to buy the coffee for the person behind me. But before I pull out my wallet, I sneak a peek at the vehicle behind me to make sure it’s not a 12-passenger van carrying a high school basketball team. I mean, I want to pass along the blessing, but there are limits.

Sometimes I feel that way about sharing God’s grace. I want to actively love others and submit to them out of reverence for Christ. But some people don’t deserve it. And others can’t do anything for me. Then the Holy Spirit gently reminds me, that’s the point of grace.

By definition, “grace” means being kind to those who don’t deserve it. To give and do without any expectation that the other person will reciprocate. To show kindness to those who have hurt us and meet the needs of those who will never be able to help us in return.

Yet sometimes I still feel stingy or choosy with the kindness God has freely given me. As believers, we have an abundant supply of His grace. I love Paul’s description in Ephesians 1:7-8:

“In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses according to the riches of His grace, which He lavished on upon us, in all wisdom and understanding” (NASB).

God doesn’t just give us enough grace. He has lavished it on us with great abundance. Yet sometimes we hoard it, withholding it from those who desperately need it.

We may withhold kind words or actions from someone who has hurt us. Or we may take a meal to a sick friend hoping they will do the same for us in our time of need. While that expectation of reciprocation may not be our primary motivation, it is often still there, lurking in the back of our minds. We allow our sinful nature to qualify our grace.

Jesus constantly extended grace to those who could give Him nothing in return – the orphan, the prisoner, the widow, the homeless, the invalid, the dying, the sinner. He healed, He touched, He gave. The One “who came from the Father full of grace and truth” (John 1:14) extended grace with no expectations. And Jesus calls us, His followers, to do the same.

Who are the “needy” people right around you – neighbors, friends, family members, church members? In what ways are you extending grace with no expectation of return?

TWEETABLE
Grace with No Reservations – wisdom from @KathyHHoward on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Kathy HowardAbout the author: This post is adapted from Kathy Howard’s new Bible study Lavish Grace: Poured Out, Poured Through, and Overflowing. Lavish Grace is a 9-week journey with the apostle PaulLavish Grace: Poured Out, Poured Through, and Overflowing by [Howard, Kathy] that helps readers discover God’s abundant grace for their daily lives and relationships. You can find out more about Kathy, her speaking and writing, and find free resources at www.KathyHoward.org.

Join the conversation: When was the last time you experienced grace from someone else?

Our Words Matter

by Edie Melson

Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body.                                                                                                                            Proverbs 16:24 ESV

 I love words. I take joy in reading a book where the author transports me to another place. I love movies and plays where the dialogue pierces my heart with healing truth. Most of all, I love it when my words bring comfort and joy to someone else.

God loves words too. In Genesis 1:1 we see how He speaks the world into being. In John 1:14 Jesus is referred to as “The Word became flesh…”. Throughout the Bible we see the power in words, and the warnings of the power—good and bad—they contain.

While I’m careful with the words I write and the words I speak to others, I discovered something else.

I’m not as careful when I choose the words I say to myself. I’m guilty of saying things to me that I wouldn’t allow someone to say to the worst person on earth. And all that negative self-talk can have a huge impact on me. With those cutting words comes a willingness to believe what’s being said. Believing the lies I spoke to myself was destroying me.

Maybe you do the same thing.

“I’m so stupid.”

“I should just quit, I’ll never amount to anything.”

“I’m ugly.”

“I don’t know why anyone would want to hang out with me.”

“I can’t do anything right.”

These lies are not from God, for His view of me is very different. When self-condemning thoughts like these cross my mind, the best anecdote is to speak God’s truth over the lie. I am fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14). God has uniquely gifted me with an ability to serve Him and build up His Church (1 Corinthians 12:7). He delights in me (Psalm 149:4).

Statistics tell us that when we speak negative things to someone close to us, it takes anywhere from eight to sixteen positive things to outweigh one negative remark. We apply that statistic to our kids, our husbands, even our friends—but we ignore the fact that it also holds true when we’re speaking to ourselves.

The truth is, each of us is unique and precious to God. He paid the ultimate price to bring us back to Him. How can we despise what God esteems? Think about how different your outlook might be if you spoke respectfully to yourself?

Edie-MelsonAbout the author: Find your voice, live your story…is the foundation of Edie Melson’s message, whether she’s addressing parents, military families, readers of fiction or writers. As an author, blogger, and speaker, she’s encouraged and challenged audiences across the country and around the world. Her latest book, While My Child is Away; Prayers for While Were Apart is available at local retailers and online. Connect with her further at www.EdieMelson.comand on Facebook and Twitter.

Join the conversation: What negative thoughts plague you? What truth from God can help you combat those condemnations?