A Different Kind of Christmas

(This occurred Christmas 2015 or so–Tonja)

I went to the library today. Before I left the house, I picked up a couple of Christian books I’d already read, and a few peppermints, thinking I might have a divine appointment today, so I could bless someone with the love of Jesus—the true Gift, and the real meaning of Christmas.

I was not disappointed.

As I picked up my book, I waited and watched. When I left the library, there was a young couple, probably in their older 20s, and I felt a sadness emanating from them. They wore backpacks as if they were traveling.

“How are you doing?” I asked them, and they conveyed that they were not having the life they wanted.

“It’s Christmas,” I said, “and I brought a book and some candy with me to give away. God in so good. Would you like this great book by Max Lucado called, The Glory of Christmas? I believe you’ll really like it.”

The woman said, “I love to read.”

“Great,” I said, handing her the book and candy, “you’ll like it then.” Then I looked her in the eye. “Do you know the LORD Jesus Christ?”

They both said they knew Jesus as Savior, and I asked if l could pray for them. “We need jobs, and don’t have transportation,” the man said. “I have a couple of felonies, and it’s kinda hard to find a job.”

The compassion of Jesus rose up in me. “We’ve all messed up!” I told them. “If God wasn’t so good, I wouldn’t be here! Let’s pray!”.

So we grabbed hands and bowed our heads, with people going all around us. “Oh Father God,” I prayed, “Your grace is amazing! We ALL have had a criminal record—and only the Blood of Jesus can wash it away! Thank You for Your mercy, and thank You that our sin is never bigger than Your grace!”

I prayed several more things, including open doors for them to get jobs, and for God to restore them. I know they were strengthened and encouraged.

The woman hugged my neck, and all three of us knew that our good Daddy God had caused our paths to cross–so He could give all three of us a gift!

To be a channel of God’s mercy and grace is truly the greatest gift of all, and I praise my Father God for His marvelous Christmas gift to me that day!

Gone Forever!

Isaiah 26:14, (AMPC) says: “They [the former tyrant masters] are dead, they shall not live and reappear; they are powerless ghosts, they shall not rise and come back. Therefore You have visited and made an end of them and caused every memory of them [every trace of their supremacy] to perish.”

And that is what came out of my mouth today, when I was literally burning several pieces of paper–upon which was written many things that had hurt me (since childhood!), that the LORD had revealed to me about 2 a.m. a couple of mornings ago, along with, ” Thank You, LORD, these bad memories, these negative emotions, and all their consequences, are powerless ghosts–GONE FOREVER, AMEN!! In the Name of Jesus, I forgive all these people of all their sins, transgressions, and iniquities against me, and I ask You to forgive me of all I’ve done wrong–or not done that I should have!–because of the hurts caused by enemy through these people! I forgive them, find no fault in them, ask You to heal them of any way I’ve hurt them, and declare Your perfect will over their lives!”

This is how we overcome–by forgiving and praying for those who have hurt us. (satan can never be forgiven; I just mean we forgive those people he has used, who SEEM to be our enemies!)

Clayton and I have been telling the LORD we yield to His Spirit for revelation and cleansing. We want to be free of all contaminants and be vessels He can use for His Glory in these last of the Last Days!

2 Timothy 2:21 (AMPC), “So whoever cleanses himself [from what is ignoble and unclean, who separates himself from contact with contaminating and corrupting influences] will [then himself] be a vessel set apart and useful for honorable and noble purposes, conscrated and  profitable to the Master, fit and ready for any good work.”

(This is a verse the LORD showed me as a 20-something, when I knew I had been born again, but that there was very much wrong in my life! I didn’t know how to fix all of it, but I knew that the Word of God was the answer! So the LORD has helped me persist in reading and meditating and living the Word, and The Word IS my life!)

I had been surprised at how many things I’d written (after hearing a female minister on a local Christian radio station say to write down all the things that make one angry, then act out the anger towards the people who hurt you; i.e., write a letter to them that you NEVER mail; or put their photo on something and throw darts or hit it with a bat……seems a bit radical, and the host was (to me) obviously uncomfortable with her advice.)

But she did, if I remember right, exhort us that we must forgive and that we’re NOT fighting people. The enemy just makes it seem like it.

But, “…we are not wrestling with flesh and blood [contending only with physical opponents], but against the despotisms, against the powers, against [the master spirits who are] the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spirit forces of wickedness in the heavenly (supernatural) sphere. 13 Therefore put on God’s complete armor, that you may be able to resist and stand your ground on the evil day [of danger], and, having done all [the crisis demands], to stand [firmly in your place]. (Eph. 6:12-13, AMPC)

Far greater is JESUS the HEALER in us; El Shaddai, the LORD our Comforter; Dr. Rapha, the LORD Who heals us; Jehovah Nissi, the LORD our Victorious Miracle Banner Who forever fights for us; Jehovah Mekadisshem, the LORD our Sancitifer (Cleanser; Purifier); Jehovah Shalom, the LORD our Peace and Restoration; and Jehovah Tskidenu, the LORD our Righteousness! And these are just some of the many names of our one true God Who is ALL we need, every time, every season of our lives, amen!

So, although I had thought there might be more, that I was not finished with this horrid list, the LORD prompted me to BE DONE WITH IT; to MOVE ON; to GO FORWARD!

So, I joyfully took it to the back porch, held it up to Him (my Father Who loves me forever, beyond what I can fully comprehend!), and proclaimed that these things and their effects are GONE FOREVER! Then I tore the papers to shreds, and took the (red!) lighter that we keep to burn brush, and set them on fire!

Honestly, these shreds of the past were NOT burning fast enough, so I set them on fire in more places to speed up the process! I rejoiced as the past literally went up in smoke! I sang of my freedom and worshiped the LORD. Then, I stomped the ashes to nothing, and so is my past–nothing!

“I’ve got the Revelation; I am a New Creation!” rose up in me; a Spirit Song the LORD gave me years ago. Hallelujah!

I heard a pastor say once that everyone needs to be healed in some way. If something has continued to bother you during the years, there is a hurt there, an offense, that will NOT go away until you fully deal with it and receive your healing and restoration!

Even if you think you have nothing holding you back; no jags; no offenses; no place where the enemy could possibly mess you up, it won’t hurt you to say this prayer. Or, at least pray it for someone you know that could use some help. (Your words are more powerful than you may know!):

Dear Father God, I know You are a Gentleman and You only reveal things to us that are hurtful in ourselves, and that others have done to us, to help us be free of them and their bad consequences. I ask You to show me and (name of the person(s)) any place the enemy has hurt us (for we know we don’t fight people, and almost all the time, when we get hurt, the people are not trying to hurt us!), and help me and them to be free and healed and restored, so we can fully receive all the wonderful things You have for us, LORD! I know You hear me, for I pray in Your will as I John 5:14-15 says, and I receive Your answers! Also, please give us grace and wisdom and encouragement as You reveal yucky stuff to us that needs to be changed. We know You love us and only have our best in mind! In Jesus’ Name, amen!

Forgiven

“So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” John 8:36, ESV

New American Standard Bible 
And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to promise. Galatians 3:29

“Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up,  that everyone who believes in Him may have eternal life. For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that everyone who believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3;14-16, Berean Study Bible

The man driving the semi truck in front of us was sharing the good news, that he was “FORGIVEN”! The fish symbol Ichthys used by Christians throughout the world containing this one huge word says it all: If you have believed on Jesus Christ as the Savior of the world, and that He shed His blood to pay for the sins of every person, and received Him as your personal Savior and LORD, then you also are FORGIVEN–FREED. You don’t have to pay for your sins!

How can it be that simple? Don’t ask me. Just be glad that I’m not God. I am sure I would have made it much more complicated to be free and get to Heaven to live forever in Paradise with God!

But the LORD is good, and His mercy endures forever (Psalm 129:4). He created mankind, then, when man betrayed God and bowed to the devil, He sent Jesus to die and give His life to buy mankind back, forever (Galatians 3:13) .

The Gift of true Life is yours. Choose Christ today, and live! (John 10:10)

Dead or Alive?

Proverbs 18:21 (NASB), says, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, And those who love it will eat its fruit.”

The LORD has been helping me be more aware than ever of what I’m saying, and the power of it. So many things I’ve said wrongly most of my life have come to my attention, and He is helping me correct them.

I have a question: Why do we say, “deadlines” instead of “lifelines”? I have become aware that, even as Christians, we have spoken this. The other day, it occurred to me when I read that word about a Believer having to meet a “deadline” to get a book finished, that we should exchange that word for “lifeline”–which is exactly what a book truly born of the LORD is–a lifeline to the abundant life of Christ (John 10:10)!

On this same subject, especially as a teacher of elementary-age kids for the past 30 years or so; Why do kids play “hangman” instead of “build-a-man?” With a few minutes of free time one day at the end of class, one student asked if they could play that game. I told them that was negative, but they could play “build-a man” (which is really what they are doing anyway; drawing blanks for someone to guess the word, and putting part of a “person” on the board every time the guesser got a letter right.

“...1speaking the truth in love, [g]we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ,” says Ephesians 4:15. Love is the key word here, and the LORD is helping me with that too. I can see so many ways I have not walked in Love in the past–including through wrong words.

But we can do all things through Christ Who strengthens us, praise the LORD. As Gloria Copeland says, (quoted recently by Sarah Pearsons), we just “keep on walking,” and allowing the LORD to speak words of life to us–and through us.

The Christmas Surprise

James 5:16 : Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. (ESV)

I had planned a very quiet Christmas, with just my Beloved and myself, sleeping in, exchanging gifts, and having time to rest and do other things I wanted to do today.

But the enemy had other plans. He loves to try to steal our joy and interrupt our peace. Clayton and I were dreaming deeply last night when there was a loud pounding on our door. My darling daughter had stopped by to tell me my dear mom, a widow less than two years ago, who’d suffered many afflictions, was once again in the hospital. Somehow we’d been unable to hear the phone.

Mom had fallen and fractured her hip and pelvis, even though a caretaker was with her 24/7. Bless her heart! The ambulance had rushed her on Christmas Eve to the hospital, and there she lay. So I was up at different times during the night checking on her.

However, God is never taken by surprise! What the enemy means for evil, the LORD Who knows all things always works for good for us who love Him and are the called according to His Plan.

This morning, I rose and made her some delicious peanut butter balls that she likes, determined to go bring her some cheer on this Christmas Day.  As the LORD often does, I figured He might have other things in mind too, and I knew there were hurting people everywhere at the hospital. So I took a Christian magazine, some Jesus’ Christmas Tree bookmarks (JCT bookmark_TKTaylor ), and an invitation to our church New Year’s Eve service. I asked Him to show me whom to sow them to.

Mom let me pray for her but was hurting too much to read the magazine and even had me take her treats back home till later. I spent some time helping her, then felt led to visit the ICU floor, where my Dad had died less than two years before, and where I’d spent a long month with Mom before that.

As I entered the ICU waiting room, there was one man there, asleep. I quietly left the materials, then went to the bathroom across the hall. The LORD impressed me to ask the man if he needed prayer. He woke and said, ‘Sure!” I told him my husband and I were lay ministers and he said he was a local pastor too, and was there for his mom. He gave me details of her afflictions and he and I prayed together.  I told him at the end that I expect a good report, even if I don’t know about it till Heaven!

Then I handed him theinvitation to our church’s NYE service, which is the 29th this year. Perhaps he and his family will come. Anyway, I know this was the LORD–and it was His surprise gift to me. Later that day, I received some delightful and very thoughtful gifts from my Beloved husband. However, the gift of the LORD directing me to be a vessel through whom the LORD ministered to my dear mom and the pastor and his family was the very best gift of all!

Ask the LORD how you can receive more of the priceless gift of being a vessel through whom He works to bless others this Season that we celebrate the living Christ!

For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”