God’s Heart for Me and You

For when the time was right, the Anointed One came and died to demonstrate His love for sinners who were entirely helpless, weak, and powerless to save themselves. Now who of us would dare to die for the sake of a wicked person? We can all understand if someone was willing to die for a truly noble person. But Christ proved God’s passionate love for us by dying in our place while we were still lost and ungodly! And there is still much to more to say of unfailing love for us!

-Romans 5: 6-9 Passion Translation

There is a song from Bethel called “Reckless Love”, I have had on replay for days!  The chorus says,

“Oh the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God. Oh, it chases me down, me down, fights ‘til I’m found, leaves the ninety-nine, I couldn’t earn it, I don’t deserve it Still You give yourself away. The next part  says There’s no mountain You won’t climb up, coming after me, There’s no wall You won’t kick down, No lie You won’t tear down, coming after me.”

The word “love” in the book of Romans in the Greek is “agape” it means divine love; what God prefers, or to take pleasure in.

God loves you! He prefers you and takes pleasure in you. He demonstrated this FIRST by sending His Son to earth, and now He just keeps chasing after us until we are found!

The end of verse 9 of Romans 5 says we now receive reconciliation. One of the definitions of this word means to return to favor. Jesus has bought us, a return to live in favor with God.

Many of us think we have to earn love. We have to be nice enough, good enough, pretty enough, smart enough to be truly loved.

I’m telling you today God loves you! He is head over heels in love with you! He is chasing you down to love you, to bless you to favor you! He has a passionate desire to show us love.

This month as we are focusing on LOVE, think about this, God loves you so much! Put Reckless love on replay until it gets way down deep and you start dancing because you finally understand! GOD LOVES ME THIS I KNOW!

 

Courage Tastes Like Mustard

It’s impossible to please God apart from faith. And why? Because anyone who wants to approach God must believe both that he exists and that he cares enough to respond to those who seek him.

— Hebrews 11:6 (MSG)


I’ve been thinking about the word “courage” lately and what it means to have it. I’ve been thinking about the song “Take Courage” that sings, “He’s in the waiting,” and soaking in Psalm 31:24 (ESV) that says, “Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the LORD!”

What I feel the Lord is speaking through these things is that undivided trust and steadfast faith are required in order to live from courage in our day to day. Courage is built upon a foundation of faith.

Faith that you hear Him speak.

Faith that you are held and surrounded, hemmed in, by Him on all sides.

Faith that He is faithful.

Faith that He hears your prayers and knows what your heart desires.

Faith that when you seek His beauty, everything else will become beautiful.

With this kind of faith you can boldly go in courage to share His love, to step out when He tells you to or to wait upon Him for provision, protection, breakthrough.

…All you need to remember is that God will never let you down; he’ll never let you be pushed past your limit; he’ll always be there to help you come through it.

— 1 Corinthians 10:13b (MSG)

Waiting takes courage, courage takes faith.

I recently witnessed a testimony of living with courage by keeping faith in what the Lord has spoken. Someone dear to me needed financial breakthrough in order to go on a mission she felt God clearly calling her to. It came down to the deadline with no possibility of the necessary funding in sight. The deadline passed with nothing changing until somehow God made a way and she was not removed from the trip. The deadline was extended and someone unexpectedly donated the remaining balance at the last minute. When she courageously released her fear to Him according to what He had spoken in the waiting, breakthrough came!

So whether you are in a season of waiting, a season of being told to move forward, a season of change or one of digging deep into the soil of your present battle, have faith. Tell your heart that He is worthy of your faith. He’s proved it over and over again. Every time. It’s who He is. Faithfulness is His very nature and cannot be separated from Him.

Allow this to give your heart permission to take courage. Faithfully put your heart in His hands, the safest place to live courageously.

Faith the size of a mustard seed will move mountains if we are bold and courageous enough to believe it and open our mouths. He is in the waiting. Have faith. Take courage.

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

— Matthew 6:33 (MSG)

 

Advent Week 3: JOY

The Advent Season is about preparing our hearts to remember and celebrate the coming of the Christ Child.  Each week we will focus and meditate on one word.

This third week of Advent we will focus on the word JOY!

  • The 3rd Sunday of Adventsymbolizes Joy with the “Shepherd’s Candle” reminding us of the Joy the world experienced at the coming birth of Jesus.[1]

The third candle, is usually pink, and represents the great joy that the shepherds felt at the angelic proclamation regarding the coming Savior. Joy came at the announcement of our Saviors birth.  This week as we focus on JOY, we must remember that the announcement of our Jesus’ birth by the angles came at a time when things were not so joyful.  Let it be a reminder that JOY can come about even in the midst of a season of sorrow, loss, longing, repentance, and seriousness.

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

Luke 2:8-20 (NIV)

Can you even imagine what it must have been like to be standing in the field with the shepherds that night? Think about it.  You are doing your work, settling in for the night, and then suddenly the sky is illuminated and filled with a chorus of angels?

Still having a difficult time putting yourself in the shepherd’s sandals?

Can you remember a time, when you were told someone was expecting a child? And feeling great joy and excitement of what was to come?

Or maybe you have watched videos on social media of individuals being told in unique ways that a baby is coming?  With screams and shouts of pure joy and happiness.

Now, can you image how the shepherd’s must have felt?

What a magnificent sight it must have been.  A miracle to be sure. And God chose ordinary men to receive the announcement of his son’s birth first, before anyone else. These common, ordinary men, may have been filled with fear and awe at first, but then they quickly jumped into action and went in search of the baby.  They found Jesus, just as they had been told they.

 

 

Other week THREE Advent Scriptures to meditate on:

  • Luke 1:46-55
  • Isaiah 61:1-3
  • Luke 4:16-21
  • Nehemiah 8:10
  • Psalms 66:1

 

May God fill your heart with exceedingly great JOY this week.  May you be filled to overflowing with it, that you share it with everyone you meet. May you rejoice at the wonderful things God wants to do in your life as you have Great Expectations.

Blessings,

Pastor Debbie Kitterman

 

 

[1] https://www.catholiccompany.com/getfed/the-advent-wreath-tradition-meaning/

Advent Week Two: FAITH

This second week of Advent as we turn our hearts towards celebrating the coming Christmas Season, we will focus on the word FAITH!

The Advent Season is about remembering and preparing our hearts for the coming of the Christ Child.  Each week we will focus and meditate on one word.

  • The 2nd Sunday of Advent symbolizes Faith with the “Bethlehem Candle” reminding us of Mary and Joseph’s journey to Bethlehem.[1]

Faith is :

  • complete trust or confidence in someone or something.[2]
  • strong belief in God or in the doctrines of a religion, based on spiritual apprehension rather than proof.[3]

Biblical Faith is:

Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see (Hebrews 11:1 NLT).

This second week, we will focus on FAITH.  There are many acts of faith spread through out the Christmas Story, but for this week, we will focus on how Mary and Joseph had the faith to believe in the promises God spoke to them.  They each trusted the message they received from the Angel.  By Faith, they responded “YES” to God without fully understanding or knowing how it would work out.  They trusted God, even when their journey took them Nazareth to Bethlehem, ad beyond.

In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. 

This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. 

And all went to be registered, each to his own town. 

And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, 

to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child

Luke 2 :1-5

 

This week, look at your life and ask yourself these questions:

  • Do I have the faith to believe in the promises of God?
  • What are the promises God has spoken to me?
  • Do I have faith that God will accomplish them?
  • Am I able to trust God and relinquish control to His plans and His timing for my life?

 

Other week two Advent Scriptures to meditate on:

  • Luke 1:26- 38
  • Matt 1:18-23
  • Luke 2:1-7
  • Galatians 3:9
  • Hebrews 11

 

May God fill your heart with the Faith to believe and may you have Great Expectations for the wonderful things He wants to do in your life.

Blessings,

Pastor Debbie Kitterman

 

 

[1] https://www.catholiccompany.com/getfed/the-advent-wreath-tradition-meaning/

[2] dictionary.com

[3] dictionary.com

Advent Week One: HOPE

If you missed yesterday’s post:

What is Advent? Please, click the picture below.

This first week as we turn our hearts towards celebrating the coming Christmas Season, we will focus on the word HOPE!

The Advent Season is about  remembering and preparing our hearts for the coming of the Christ Child.

  • The 1st Sunday of Adventsymbolizes Hope with the “Prophet’s Candle” reminding us that Jesus is coming.[1]

 

For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope (Romans 15:4 NIV).

 

This first week, we will focus on HOPE and the long years of waiting.  The prophets, inspired by God, kept reminding the people to look forward to the coming of Messiah, the Son of God, who was to redeem the people from their sins.  The Hebrew word for Jesus means ‘Salvation’. Before Jesus left this earth to return to His home in heaven, He told us to watch and wait for His return.[2]

 

Isaiah 9:2, 6-7 (NIV)

The people walking in darkness
    have seen a great light;

on those living in the land of deep darkness
    a light has dawned.


For to us a child is born,
    to us a son is given,
    and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
    Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.


Of the greatness of his government and peace
    there will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne
    and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it
    with justice and righteousness
    from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the Lord Almighty
    will accomplish this.

 

Other week One Advent Scriptures to meditate on:

  • Titus 2:13
  • Isaiah 25:9
  • Genesis 49:18
  • Psalm 33:20-22
  • Isaiah 26:8
  • Isaiah 33:2

May God fill your heart with Hope and a Great Expectancy this week.

Blessings,

Pastor Debbie Kitterman

 

[1] https://www.catholiccompany.com/getfed/the-advent-wreath-tradition-meaning/

[2] Celebrating the Christian Year, Martha Zimmerman ©1993 Bethany House Publishers

Your Grace Abounds to Me

I’m kind of a funny person. There are some hang-ups that I have about songs that I sing…

First, I want a song that when I sing it, I can mean the words. I do not want to lie in my singing. If I sing, “I Surrender All,” I want to be able to surrender all. Secondly, they must make sense. Songs in church, whether they are hymns or choruses, need to be more than “Kumbaya, My Lord Kumbaya.” Thirdly, the song must be able to be sung and understood by most of the congregation. If a song is so fast that only the instrumentalist can follow the melody, then it is too fast for a good part of the congregation. On the other side of this, if it is so slow that it makes you think of a funeral, a good part of the crowd will be moaning for some life. Fourth, and most importantly, they need to be scriptural. Perhaps that is why I really like some of the older hymns. Those that survived throughout the years are based in scripture and tell of someone’s journey with God. There are many examples of this, but I do not want to bore you.

One Sunday in church, a song I had heard and had even been trying to figure out the words to, was being sung. I hurried and got my journal out, so I could write the words down. I do not know the title, but it went like this:

Lord You’re beautiful,

Your face is all I seek;

for when Your eyes are on this child,

Your grace abounds to me.

It was a very simple chorus. The words were not difficult. The melody was captivating. I really liked it! Then my cynical mind started asking the questions. Can I sing this and mean it? Does it make sense? Is it easy to sing? Is it scriptural? All the next week I was asking myself, do I mean it when I sing “Your face is all I seek?” Then I remembered what the Word says: You have said, ‘Seek my face.’ My heart says to you, ‘Your face, LORD, do I seek,’” Psalm 27:8 (ESV) and,11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. 12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you,” Jeremiah 29:11-12 (ESV).

That took me up short. Am I in constant communication with my Savior so that I am seeking His face constantly? I must say I am not. There are lots of things I tend to seek. Reading, playing computer games, and just life in general are some of the things that interfere with seeking Him and His face. However, I really do mean it when I am singing the chorus and I want it to be my first thought. Therefore, I come into His presence with my heart open to Him and His word for me. I seek Him with all my heart. This is true all week long, not just on Sundays.

The second part of the chorus is, “for when your eyes are on this child, your grace abounds to me.” When I first heard it and began to think about it, my mind said, “Is it only when I have sought His face that His grace abounds to me? That is works, and I know that my salvation and Christian life depend on grace alone. How could it be that only when His eyes were on me (because I had sought His face) was His grace flowing in abundance to me? That did not make sense to me. It could not be- His grace is available 24/7 whether I was seeking Him or not.

It took me a long time, a week or two, before I could come to grips with this little puzzle. Now I know that you have figured it out all ready; that just goes to show you how human I am.

18 And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age,’”

-Matthew 28:18-20 (ESV).

God showed me that His commission was to be empowered by His presence. Jesus is with me all the time! His face is available anytime I want to look. His grace is poured out on me all the time.

Then there is the ministry of the Holy Spirit in my life. The Holy Spirit is my “Paraclete” the One who has been given to us to remind us of Jesus every day.

My life today is lived in grace. I know the major definition of grace is this- God’s unmerited favor towards us. We think of that as regarding sin, as well we should. However, the definition of grace is so much deeper and wider and higher than that. It goes beyond saying His grace is much greater than our sin and need of forgiveness.

When His grace is on this child, it is full of graciousness. Our God is not a harsh, cruel God. Rather He is a God of compassion and love, and His gaze is full of His plans for us (see Jeremiah 29:11). His love for us is great, 8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8 (ESV). God looks on us as a loving father looks on his children.

The next time you hear or sing this chorus, remember it is true and can apply to you. As you read these words, sing them and allow their beauty and graciousness to flow over you.

 

Lord you’re beautiful,

Your face is all I seek;

For when Your eyes are on this child,

Your grace abounds to me.

 

(Original song by Keith Green, “Oh, Lord You’re Beautiful”)