Posted by: trbccoffeebreak | December 15, 2017

Open Hearts … Embracing His

“And He (Jesus) will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6b (NIV)

Brokenhearted over a lost love, young Ebenezer Scrooge allowed bitterness to penetrate deep. A Christmas Carol details Scrooge’s struggle from Christmas Past, Christmas Present and the Christmas Yet To Be. He not only extinguished joy in his own life, but Scrooge was determined to do the same to those around him. As he sees his life unfold, Scrooge realizes that he allowed the loss of one love to rob him of the love of many people.

Wonder if we unpacked our lives if we would find the same? Broken relationships can often close our hearts to loving others. Our disappointments can mount and especially during the holidays, we can find ourselves avoiding another Christmas season.

From the age of six, my son’s holidays were spent being transported from one parent to the other. An empty parking lot was often the meet and drop off spot. While his friends played with their toys, he left his gifts behind and headed to the other parent’s house. I’m sure there were moments when he was greatly disappointed and brokenhearted over his “imperfect family,” yet I never saw his joy escape him. There were no complaints or grumbling, instead he’d give me a hug and say, “Merry Christmas Mom.”

Amazing how resilient we were when our bodies were small and our hearts were large. We didn’t seem to hold grudges as long, and we definitely found it easier to forgive. Instead of letting broken relationships extinguish our joy this holiday season, let’s seize the moment to bless all the people God has brought into our lives.

“Father, You are the keeper of our hearts – help us to love large and extend grace reflecting Your heart to our world.”

For His Glory

Janet Martin
TRBC Women’s Life

 

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Posted by: trbccoffeebreak | December 14, 2017

Jesus’ Gift

“But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid.  I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.” (Luke 2:10)

 

“Christmas comes but once a year, but when it comes it brings good cheer” reveals my google search when digging for descriptors of Christmas.  This 19th century nursery rhyme delighted children, no doubt, who anticipated a candy stick and home-made toy to mark the celebration.  In the same google search, another site identifies that 45% of North Americans who were surveyed dread the holiday season.  Less than two centuries later, as we count down to Christmas, our anxiety increases while our bank balances decrease.  The complexities of the season mask the simple gift presented to the world in Bethlehem.

Angels heralded the arrival of Jesus.  The shepherds gathered to welcome the Lamb of God.  Gifts of one’s heart given.  Word spread to all and all were amazed; including King Herod and the chief priests and teachers of the law.  Theologians speculate the Magi bearing gifts of gold, incense and myrrh did not present themselves to Jesus until he was two years of age.  Gifts given as a symbol of submission from the earth’s royalty to the King of all kings.  And we focus on the tangible gifts.

 

In this world that highlights the bling regardless of cost to the soul, may I focus on submission and not the tangible.  May I be thankful for that which draws my attention to the miraculous in Christmas and decidedly steadfast on the Savior and what He came to bring.  Jesus, the fulfillment of Old Testament law and prophesy, able to save me from my sins, restore my soul from destruction, giving life its purpose and power through the Holy Spirit.  All of these availed through my acceptance of Jesus’ gift; Himself.

 

During this Christmas season, may we come together with those from far and wide and herald Jesus’ arrival.  With the millions of saints that have gone before us, may we, in loud voices declare, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord!  Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” (Luke 19:38). May our evaluation as to whether this was a good Christmas be that at its conclusion there would be more of Jesus evidenced in us and less of the ways of the world.  With this good news, I venture to say that our resulting great joy would leave us anticipating next year’s Christmas.

 

“Jesus, forgive us when our focus at Christmas becomes things rather than You.  Thank you for the gift of abundant life that you’ve given to us.  May we share that gift with others.”

 

For His Glory

 

Kathryn Hayman
TRBC Women’s Life

Posted by: trbccoffeebreak | December 13, 2017

The Significance of Shepherds

“That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, but the angel reassured them. ‘Don’t be afraid!’ he said. ‘I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David!’” Luke 2:8-11 (NLT)

Shepherds. They were minding their own business, tending, feeding, and guarding the sheep in their care. So why, in the account of the birth of the Son of God, the Messiah, the Savior of the world, are shepherds listed as the first (after Mary and Joseph) to hear the good news?

The chosen people endured 400 years of silence from God. They watched for signs of the prophecies and waited for the coming of their King. The birth of Christ could have been announced at the synagogue or in the throne room of the king who reigned over the Jews. Instead, the angel of the Lord along with the armies of heaven announced the news of the birth of the Lord to humble shepherds in a nearby field.

In Genesis 48:15 Jacob blesses Joseph in the name of “the God who has been my shepherd all my life.”

Jesus, during his three years of ministry, says of Himself, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd sacrifices his life for the sheep.” John 10:11 (NLT)

Revelation 7:17 (NLT) again names Jesus as the shepherd: “For the Lamb on the throne will be their Shepherd. He will lead them to springs of life-giving water.”

The good news of the birth of Christ, the good shepherd who sacrificed His life for us, His sheep, was announced to shepherds in a nearby field. As we celebrate this Christmas, may we respond as the shepherds did: “After seeing him, the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child.” Luke 2:17 (NLT) Just as the shepherds did, let’s share the “good news that will bring great joy to all people.”

“Lord, we praise You and thank You for the good news of the birth of Christ. As our hearts are filled with joy, may we share the good news with others this Christmas season.”

 

For His Glory

Tammy Randlett (http://staletoast.com)
TRBC Women’s Life

Posted by: trbccoffeebreak | December 12, 2017

Sustaining Joy

“Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” Nehemiah 8:10 (NIV)

After returning from exile the Israelites, Nehemiah, Ezra, and the Levites assembled with the people to hear Ezra read from the Book of the Law. Overcome with mourning and grief, the people wept as they heard the spoken words from Ezra’s mouth.

Though their weeping was understood by Nehemiah and all the other leaders gathered at the gate, they wanted to give God their best on that day that was supposed to be a time of celebration before Him. Nehemiah promptly instructed his leaders to say to the people, “this day is sacred to the Lord your God. Do not mourn or weep.” He instructed the people to “go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared.” Then he added again, “do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”

Oftentimes, we find ourselves in situations that are bigger than us, over which we have absolutely no control. Our natural tendency is to weep and mourn, crying over something that God can fix in just a blink of an eye. If you are going through a tough time, a situation that you feel impotent to fix, choose today to focus on God and praise Him in spite of your circumstance. As you make the choice to give God the glory in spite of your pain, He will fill your heart with unspeakable joy, the joy that nothing else in the world can give you. And you will forget the mourning and grieving – as a new day dawns, His joy will be your strength.

“Father God, You are our peace. You are our comfort. Lord, You are our joy. Thank You for giving us the assurance that You are right here beside us at ALL times.”

For His Glory

Luska Suzano
TRBC Women’s Life

 

Posted by: trbccoffeebreak | December 11, 2017

When The Broken Are Found

“He (God) reveals mysteries from the darkness and brings the deepest darkness into the light.” Job 12:22 (HCSB)

Red, blue and green sparkled through the branches – it’s the lights that really make a Christmas tree shine.  Until that obvious moment when your eyes glare into that one dark spot.  Yes, it seems to happen almost every year.  No matter how carefully I pack that string of lights, the inevitable occurs. And so begins the careful checking of each tangled strand and bulb until the broken one is found. Nothing more glorious than seeing the light once again dispelling dark.

2017 ushered in lots of hurting, broken ones. Difficult, strained, unwelcomed and uncertain journeys.  Lives navigating uncharted paths. Cancer consuming loved ones as options are narrowed.  Lives shattered by infidelity and sexual addiction flood our newsfeeds.  Relationships ripped apart fallen prey to the enemy’s game seem common place. Division, anger and insensitivity give way to what seems our right of voice. Storms ravaged people’s lives leaving empty.  Comfort, joy and peace so surreal to the one whose heart can barely beat. Silence of the soul appearing to drown out the wonder.  Heartache grown numb so one can simply survive.

To those who know the broken ones  – be faithful, loving and kind.  Let’s do all that we can to help and then do even more down on our knees.  Pray unceasingly (Ephesians 1:16, Colossians 1:9). Choose to   judge not and forgive big.  Release rights and welcome grace.  Extend margin and gather often.  Offer simple indulgences.  Prepare meals.  Text scriptures.  Share our broken places and God’s redeeming work.  Whisper God’s love daily not just in word but in deed.

To those who find themselves the broken one – be encouraged – we’ve all been broken. Our Savior came for ones like us.   He never gives up.  He never walks out.  He stays even in the aftermath of hurtful anger, frustration and woundedness.  God sees, knows and hears.  He completely understands our sorrow and tangled mess. And yet, right in the midst of our darkest places, He longs to birth the most beautiful light (Job 12:22).

Be found dear one – drink deep of His love and choose to believe. There’s nothing more glorious than seeing the light dispelling dark when broken ones are found.

“Father, You search for the one.  You relentlessly pursue the one.  You welcome the broken one to find hope and healing in You alone.”

 

For His Glory

Janet Martin
TRBC Women’s Life

 

Posted by: trbccoffeebreak | December 8, 2017

Christmas Cookies…A Life Shared

“Mary stayed with Elizabeth for about three months and then returned home.”  Luke 1:56 (NIV)

Creamy butter, fresh eggs, sugar crystals, nutmeg, vanilla – the perfect combo for Christmas cookies.  It’s one of my faves. Why?  Well, perhaps because it’s just the right balance of sweetness and melt in your mouth softness.  Maybe it’s because I’ve used it forever and it works every time. Maybe it’s because it’s the easiest dough for cutting out all those stars, Christmas trees, sleighs and Santas.   Maybe it’s because these delicious treats dunk perfectly in a warm mug of hot chocolate, latte or cappuccino.

Dare I share the real reason – it has absolutely nothing to do with the recipe although they taste yummy.  The real reason they’re so special, so treasured is the name etched in the upper right hand corner of that recipe card.  Smothered in sticky cookie goodness you can barely see it, but I can still trace it letter by letter – D▪e▪b▪b▪i▪e.

Ah…for a moment my life transcends time and I’m baking these cookies for the first time while little fingers reach for mine covered in dusty white.  A recipe shared yes, but even more delicious a life shared.  Sprinkled over days of searching and seeking as a young mom, God sent Debbie –who mentored, encouraged and prayed for me.  Her godliness drew me in, and her enthusiasm for God was contagious. We shared our children, swapped recipes, laughed and cried together – all incredible ingredients for two women navigating motherhood.  And yes, I cherish those memories though we now live miles apart.

Every Christmas, I still pull out that faded, crumpled paper and make cookies for friends and family.  Why? Because the sweetness of a friendship can only be tasted if you give it away.

“Father, I am so blessed  –  help me to be a woman who unwraps the gift of friendship with grace and love.”

For His Glory

Janet Martin
TRBC Women’s Life

 

Posted by: trbccoffeebreak | December 7, 2017

Memories By The Tree

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener.  Remain in me, and I will remain in you.  No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine.”  John 15:1&4a (NIV)

Christmas calls memories to mind.  Inescapable ones.  Mine include the year I received a hand-crocheted blanket from someone whose acceptance I sought.  My late brother-in-law napping under the Christmas tree following the afternoon meal.  Placing ornaments on the tree that enclosed the pictures of my newborn sons; I treasure those early days.

Christmas is a time of memories.  There are memories we’d be glad to live over again.  And for some, there are memories that are tucked away and we pray will never re-surface.  Somewhere in the cavities of our souls, they taint the glory of Christmas just a bit.

Most of us would rather have a Christmas tree with much foliage and symmetrical–like that of Rockefeller Center.  A tree born to be great and of purpose.  Healthy branches that point towards a root system capable of sending nutrients to all branches of the tree.  Branches firmly in place and pulling in the goodness from the tree’s base.  Strong enough to sustain the weight of ornaments, flickering lights and perhaps even an angel on top.  Should water and nutrients be denied from the branches, the tree will brown and be unable to sustain its adornments.  It most certainly will fail to resemble that of Christmas card caliber.

If we apply Christmas agriculture to the principle found in John 15 of remaining in the Vine, we must take the time to ensure we are well affixed to the sustenance provided only through Jesus.  Amongst the busyness of the season, this can be quite a challenge indeed.  As we allow His wonderment to light our ceremony, we will experience the mercy, fruit and miraculous for which He came to embody.  And should we allow Him, He will comfort our souls, restore hope and bring forth good news and great joy.

“Father, this is a season rich in gifts and glamor.  May we shine forth Your glory as we drink Your Word and remain close to You for our sustenance, strength and purpose.”

For His Glory,

Kathryn Hayman
TRBC Women’s Life

Posted by: trbccoffeebreak | December 6, 2017

What Really Matters

“And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born. She gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no lodging available for them.” Luke 2:6-7 (NLT)

We investigated options. We researched available amenities at each facility. We took tours before making a final decision. We filled out paperwork. We planned a date for admittance. None of that mattered in the end.

The hospital was beautiful with spacious rooms, kind nurses, and pampering services for new moms. The doctor planned to deliver our baby the next afternoon whether he was ready or not. My bag for the hospital was packed. Our three-year-old was headed for a sleepover at Grammy and Poppy’s house.

… Until our baby decided he was ready to make his appearance six hours early. The beautiful hospital had no rooms available. We grudgingly checked into the hospital we had decided against. The room was stark and cold. The nurses were efficient but not very friendly. The birth did not go at all like we planned. Then we met our second son. The room no longer mattered. We suddenly appreciated how the nurses cared for us but allowed us the privacy to bond with our new bundle of joy. Ultimately, all that mattered was Kaden.

Mary gave birth to the Son of God in a manger—no beautiful room. She was surrounded by animals and hay—no doting nurses. The gospels do not record specifics, but I imagine pampering services were not part of the birthing package.

How did Mary handle the less than ideal circumstances for the birth of the Messiah? “She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger.” The surroundings didn’t matter; the birth is what matters. Looking into the eyes of the Son of the Most High, Mary was holding the One who would be the salvation of all mankind. Before she even met her bundle of joy, she praised the Lord for him: “Oh, how my soul praises the Lord. How my spirit rejoices in God my Savior!” Luke 1:46b-47 (NLT)
As we approach Christmas, may we see what really matters—not the gifts, decorations, or parties. Ultimately, the birth of our Savior is all that matters.

Thank You, Lord, for working in the life of a humble girl to provide the way of salvation. May we not be distracted by our surroundings, but focus on the gift that is Your Son as we celebrate Christmas.

For His Glory

 

Tammy Randlett (http://staletoast.com)
TRBC Women’s Life

Posted by: trbccoffeebreak | December 5, 2017

Comfort & Joy

“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” Psalm 23:4 (ESV)

Don’t you just love the feel of soft fabric brushing against your skin? What about the sound of your favorite music playing, the smell of baked goods, the sound of familiar voices, or the sweet memories you savored with people you love?

Amazing how our hearts warm up to the familiarity of things that brought us joy!!! And how comforting it is! We close our eyes and bring those things back in a matter of seconds. Suddenly our hearts start beating faster and it’s like experiencing those special moments all over again. And we are energized each time we remember!

Imagine how Jesus’ heart felt when He saw a sinner repent and be delivered, or a dead person raised up, or someone’s messed-up-life changed. Imagine how seeing people’s faith in Him to change their circumstances in the snap of a finger, or in a short blessing, or even by a little spit mixed with clay was encouraging to Jesus! Wonder if those memories kept Jesus moving from town to town to help more people? Wonder if while He rested and closed His eyes if Jesus remembered those instances when people’s lives were touched by the power of His Father’s love through Him? Wonder if those memories energized and encouraged Jesus to proceed to the next phase?

What about God? Can you imagine how heartwarming it must have been for Him to watch His son doing His will? And how heartwarming it must be for Him to watch us trusting in Him today?

The journey we are on is a fascinating one and is drawn out especially for us, in every intricate detail. Be encouraged today in the fact that the Father rejoices in our faith in Him.

“Dear Lord, thank You for all that You do to bring us joy, even amidst the storm.”

For His Glory

Luska Natali

TRBC Women’s Life

Posted by: trbccoffeebreak | December 4, 2017

The Real Deal

 “Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!” Luke 1:45 (NIV)

Even upclose it appeared to be real.  The pine needles sprinkled all around the base of my Christmas tree made a convincing attempt at real, but I took it out of the box and  can guarantee you that it is totally fake.  Now don’t get me wrong, I love the perfection and ease of an artificial tree.  It’s exact height, full branches and flawless shape way outshine my previous tree cutting selections.  And did I mention it came conveniently packed in a box that required no trimming, shaping or sap running onto the floor?  Yet despite all its glamour, my tree has been shedding plastic needles every time we touch it.  Guess that’s a sign that 2018 will not be seeing this tree again.

Christmas trees are not the only thing that mimic real.  We don’t have to watch too many commercials to know that promises run out quickly in the small print at the bottom of the screen. We just simply assume the person talking is giving us the exact deal we want and will get.  Note to self:  Become a reader of the fine print.

While lots of things and people won’t deliver on their promises, we can count on God’s word.  From Genesis to Revelation, God’s reputation stands strong, honest and reliable.  We don’t have to second guess or simply hope that what He says is true…we can confidently trust in His every word.

Woven throughout scripture are hundreds of verses proclaiming and promising the birth of the Messiah (Isaiah 9:6, Matthew 1:23).  Beautiful words that acquaint us with His ways before the promises were even voiced to Mary (Luke 1:35). Love the detail God gave us in preparing our hearts with expectation at His Son’s birth.  And that sweet friend was just the beginning of wonderful!  From the moment Jesus entered our world to His death and resurrection, the fulfillment of God’s promises offer us hope, comfort, peace and pure joy (Romans 15:8, 2 Corinthians 1:20).

Looking for the real deal this Christmas?  Searching for a promise keeper?  Tired of “feel good”  tweets and false posts?  Feel like trading fake for real – then welcome Immanuel, God with us, into your heart and life.  Receive the best gift ever – you will never be disappointed.

“Father, Your promises are faithful and true.  Clinging to Your words knowing  without even a shadow of a doubt that what You say will happen.”

For His Glory

Janet Martin
TRBC Women’s Life

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