For the past couple of years I’ve been keeping busy crocheting lapghans as therapy, plus it serves as a ministry. Somehow the process of crocheting seems to keep me from totally focusing on my pain. I have several patterns—some from actual patterns and some I make up as I go along—but they all have one thing in common: they are quick and easy to work up.
So here are my latest projects, displayed in a collage for your viewing enjoyment.
The following is from John Piper’s e-devotional book, Good News of Great Joy: Daily Readings for Advent, December 2-25, 2012. Since the road to Calvary began in a lowly stable in Bethlehem, I thought it fitting to share this with you today as we contemplate the way Jesus willingly died for OUR sins. [Photo and text emphasis are mine.]
No Detour from Calvary
“And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.” —Luke 2:6–7
Now you would think that if God so rules the world as to use an empire-wide census to bring Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem, he surely could have seen to it that a room was available in the inn.
Yes, he could have. And Jesus could have been born into a wealthy family. He could have turned stone into bread in the wilderness. He could have called 10,000 angels to his aid in Gethsemane. He could have come down from the cross and saved himself. The question is not what God could do, but what he willed to do.
God’s will was that though Christ was rich, yet for your sake he became poor. The “No Vacancy” signs over all the motels in Bethlehem were for your sake. “For your sake he became poor” (2 Corinthians 8:9).
God rules all things—even motel capacities—for the sake of his children. The Calvary road begins with a “No Vacancy” sign in Bethlehem and ends with the spitting and scoffing of the cross in Jerusalem.
And we must not forget that he said, “He who would come after me must deny himself and take up his cross” (Matthew 16:24).
We join him on the Calvary road and hear him say, “Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you” (John 15:20).
To the one who calls out enthusiastically, “I will follow you wherever you go!” (Matthew 8:19). Jesus responds, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head” (Matthew 8:20).
Yes, God could have seen to it that Jesus have a room at his birth. But that would have been a detour off the Calvary road.
Good News of Great Joy. © 2012 Desiring God, Minneapolis, MN 55402. www.desiringGod.org
Therefore do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. —2 Corinthians 4:16
“Coffee Break: Recharge Your Brain” read an Internet headline awhile back and could I ever relate to that! I am definitely a coffee drinker and very thankful that its pick-me-up properties help ease me into my day. I awaken foggy brained most days but after an hour or two of java sipping I usually feel better able to face whatever the day holds.
After reading that headline, it occurred to me that if coffee can boost our energy levels, how much more we could be recharged by diving into the Word of God!
In this particular Scripture passage, Paul is urging us to not dwell on our present circumstances and trials, but instead focus on God’s grace in our lives. I am always impressed by how often Paul—who continually praised God in the midst of the many trials, persecutions and imprisonments he endured —encourages us to look outward to God rather than inwardly focusing on our daily concerns.
What an example Paul is! He never lost heart over his dire circumstances. In fact, he urged his followers to use these situations to draw closer to God in order to be spiritually and emotionally renewed. Paul’s close relationship with the Lord gave him the confidence to rely on the Holy Spirit’s strength when things were toughest for him.
And so can we do the same thing, Beloved. During those times when we feel we absolutely cannot go on, let’s not let fatigue or pain keep us from drawing closer to God and renewing ourselves with His refreshing spiritual nourishment.
Back in 2006, a few of my devotionals were published in an anthology titled Anytime Prayers for Everyday People. This is one of those devotionals.
When I want to thank God for His grace . . .
From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. The law indeed was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. —John 1:16-17, NRSV
Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace. —2 Corinthians 4:16, MSG
The amazing grace of the Master, Jesus Christ, the extravagant love of God, the intimate friendship of the Holy Spirit, be with all of you. —2 Corinthians 13:15, MSG
If your life honors the name of Jesus, he will honor you. Grace is behind and through all of this, our God giving himself freely, the Master, Jesus Christ, giving himself freely. —2 Thessalonians 1:12, MSG
. . . I will pray.
Most Compassionate God,
Where would I be without Your grace—full and free and wonderful? It picks up in the very spot where I leave off, tucker out, and finishes the job for me. When I’m too frail to do the right thing, Your grace gives me the boost I need to finish in the winner’s circle. When I find it impossible to forgive, to believe, to go on, Your grace shows me a way where there is no way. Your grace is more than amazing—it’s astonishing!
Lord, I want to thank You for Your grace. I heard somewhere that it stands for God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense. I’ll never understand it, giving me so much when I’m so completely undeserving. I guess it’s pretty hard to explain.
Help me, Father, to find ways to pass along the message of Your grace to my friends and family. Some of them don’t know how much You love them. They’ve never experienced Your grace—even though it has always been there, poured out for them just as it was for me. Don’t let me miss even one opportunity, Lord, to pass on to others Your riches, purchased by Your precious Son.
Grace comes into the soul, as the morning son into the world; first a dawning, then a light; and at last the sun in his full and excellent brightness. —Thomas Adams
[From Anytime Prayers for Everyday People. Copyright © 2006 Bordon-Winters LLC]
I know this looks like a Thanksgiving image and it is nowhere near Thanksgiving but I am so thankful for God’s forever kind of love. And since this is another Thankful Thursday, what better way to celebrate God’s eternal, enduring love?
Beloved, have you ever thought about how the ocean is like God? For one thing, when we look toward the horizon, the ocean seems to go on forever. The rising and crashing of the waves keep occurring in a constant and mighty display of God’s power. This is not very surprising, considering the fact that He is the One Who created the oceans in the first place.
Consider some of God’s attributes:
unchangeable … infinite … eternal … omnipresent …
and several names we associate with Him:
everlasting … living … mighty … eternal …
Some of these designations could describe the ocean’s characteristics, but all of them depict a God Who is unchanging and always there for us, no matter what is going on in our lives. All of us have times when we feel like the world is crashing in around us. There are days when we are convinced that no one understands our situation and what we’re going through.
That’s exactly when we need to lean on God and remember that not only does He completely and intimately understand everything we’re going through, but in spite of our failings and limitations, “His love endures forever.”
This should make us all immeasurably thankful!