Walking With A Limp

The following is hard for me to completely understand at times, however, it is very heartening. I hope the following encourages you, also.

Your friend,

Tiffany

Your weaknesses and vulnerabilities do not stop God using you. In fact, God often uses our weaknesses more than our strengths. God did not remove Paul’s thorn in the flesh. Rather he said, ‘my power is made perfect in weakness’ (v.8).

Perhaps you feel you have a ‘thorn in the flesh’ or you seem to be ‘walking with a limp’: you have some vulnerability or apparent handicap. Jackie Pullinger says she never trusts anyone who doesn’t walk with a limp!

~Excerpt from Devotion Day 16, Bible In One Year 2020 with Nicky Gumble

My January Tree (Part 2)

My goldendoodle and youngest son must have wanted me to redo my January tree. Both kept pulling off ornaments and the faux pearls nonstop. I finally removed the pearls and replaced with some mesh ribbon. It turned out okay, but I do wonder how long the decorations will last this time. 😂

I have totally enjoyed having the tree up despite my boys keeping me on my toes with the decorations. It rains so much where we live and the bright warmth from the tree is very uplifting. I love writing there, near the tree and just thinking while I stare at it. It’s almost like watching a fire- the way it’s mesmerizing and relaxing. I often find myself replaying memories and great conversations in my mind while I’m looking at it.

As strange as a year round tree might seem to some, I’m very glad that I left it up! I’ve already started gathering ideas for the Valentine Tree next month.

Hope your day is full of light and warmth! Blessings.

Your friend,

Tiffany

Personality, Purpose, and “More”

I love studying personality types. I know there are a variety of personality typing systems- MBTI, DISC, Enneagram- but my favorite is probably MBTI. I know this topic is soooo boring to some, but I find it truly fascinating especially because I have legitimately seen my personality type shift over the years. I was always an ISFJ (Introverted, Sensing, Feeling, Judge)…like every time I took the test. (I know, I know some of you may be thinking why in the world would you take tests like that, but I enjoy understanding humans- myself and others- what can I say?) So autism enters my life and my “J” quickly became a “P.” My “S” became more “N.” I will always be an Introvert (think 90%) and a Feeler (about 85%)…but my personality type is INFP now. My point in saying all this is to say life circumstances really can change you. I don’t stress now if plans change! 😂 I almost expect them to.

I totally planned to post recently but with things being a little chaotic at home lately, I haven’t had the chance. Unfortunately I succumbed to the stomach virus which lasted several days. 🥴🥴🥴 If I have learned anything in this life, especially since my son with autism has been in our lives it is the following

~Go with the flow

When things change, I just adapt and go with it. I don’t stress about the change. I just ride the waves of life now. Enter “perceiver” component of my personality and goodbye “judger/planner/organizer.”

~Take one day at a time. 

Now I rarely plan beyond a day or two. I mean I might tentatively plan things, but I am fully aware of the very real possibility of a long term plan changing so I’m ready for it! I’m totally ready for plans to change in a moment! 😂

~Have faith in the future and what I can’t see. 

I guess before autism entered my world I relied more on myself and life was honestly pretty perfect or I guess I should say pretty perfect in the “normal” sense. But when something enters your life that you have no power to change, to control, sometimes to even understand, you have to rely on what you can’t see. You have to trust that an unseen God is truly omniscient (all knowing) omnipotent (all powerful) omnipresent (present everywhere) and has a plan and purpose for the difficult circumstances that enter our life. I have to believe and dream and just know there is purpose in everything I face. I totally believe in this universe and beyond in the future in all that isn’t seen in the here in now, there is a much larger plan at work! So enter “Intuitive” or N into my personality type. 😊

I read the following today, and I wanted to share it with you. It’s an excerpt from Brian Houston’s “There is More.”

Today’s Scripture (Ephesians 3:14-21) is the same as on Day 1 because the promise that is embedded within this passage is so important in daily causing us to lift our eyes higher and dream bigger and go deeper into the unending capacity of the one who saved us and set us free.

No matter what you have experienced or are experiencing, I want to declare to you…

On the other side of this triumph, there is more.

On the other side of that failure, there is more.

On the other side of this sickness, there is more.

On the other side of your mountain, there is more.

On the other side of this heartache, there is more.

On the other side of this earth, there is so much more. 

Nothing gets lost. If you feel unsure or unsteady, lost or overlooked, or you simply need to be reminded again, let me be the one to do that. He sees you. He knows you—better than you could know yourself—and He waits with open arms, available with anything you need. Today, let me assure you that you are adopted into the family of God and an heir to an unending throne and an inheritance that will outlast space and time. Your portion is exceedingly, abundantly above anything you can think, ask, or imagine. 

So here’s the challenge. Live with expectancy. Steep yourself in His promises and travel the road of obedience to Christ with your eyes wide open to every facet of His faithfulness. Make more room for others, make more space for God, and watch Him make more of your dreams—the ones you dared to pray and the ones you never have—come to life.

Thank you for the privilege of speaking into your life these past five days. I pray that as you go on from here you will feel encouraged and victorious. That you will be more aware of God’s deep love for you and the adventure that is life with Christ. There is immeasurable potential within—plans and purposes beyond your wildest dreams. There is more.

Today, how are you going to make room for God’s more in your life?

Obviously one personality type is not better than the other. We all have strengths, weaknesses, and always grow and change. Hopefully we grow and change for the better. Be gentle with yourself as you grow. Remember God totally understands that we are human and imperfect and that we live in a very imperfect world full of viruses and even disabilities. However never lose sight of the fact that there is a much bigger plan at work. We are just a tiny part of the gigantic puzzle that will all make sense one day. If we go missing even as a seemingly tiny insignificant piece, the puzzle won’t be complete. 

In this sometimes crazy world you are needed and seen…whatever your personality type, no matter your life’s circumstance. There is more. Blessings today and every day.

Your friend,

Tiffany

43 Nuggets Of Truth

Tomorrow is my birthday. 43 years. Seems like such a big number, although as a kid I thought 30 was old. 😂 Here are 43 nuggets of truth that came to mind today as I was thinking about what 43 years have taught me. What nuggets of truth have your years taught you? 

Your friend,

Tiffany

  1. Laugh.
  2. Ask questions.
  3. Don’t worry about what others think.
  4. Trust my gut feeling.
  5. Get lost in the music.
  6. Worship-get lost in God.
  7. Play board games often with the kids.
  8. Read…a lot.
  9. Let go of perfection.
  10. Smile anyway.
  11. Cry sometimes too.
  12. Enjoy hugs.
  13. Understand that others are life long learners too.
  14. Forgive others, but don’t let them take advantage of my kindness.
  15. Always look for the good, but admit when it’s hard.
  16. Sing on long drives.
  17. Pray too.
  18. Accept those magical little moments in life as God blowing me a kiss, not write them off as just coincidences.
  19. Let the puppy lick my entire face.
  20. Let the dirty dishes pile up sometimes.
  21. Let the laundry pile up, too 😂
  22. Sleep in…if I’m able to.
  23. Snuggle in a soft bed filled with pillows under piles of blankets.
  24. Take regular walks and turn my face up towards the sky and sun.
  25. Appreciate who I am and how far I’ve come.
  26. Hold my kids a little tighter for a little longer.
  27. Encourage others when the opportunity arises.
  28. Keep being sincere.
  29. Read the Bible more.
  30. Don’t worry about what the mirror says about my age. 😂
  31. Pray that my heart shines in my eyes.
  32. Love people more, even the hard people.
  33. Go on more cruises.
  34. Visit the beach as often as possible and get in the water.
  35. Build the sandcastles.
  36. Destroy the sandcastles.
  37. Jump in the leaves.
  38. Take the picture.
  39. Let them take the picture of you.
  40. Give more.
  41. Ask for help.
  42. Have less expectations.
  43. Never stop believing even when it seems impossible.

Inspirational Quotes

I ran across the following this morning from Inspiring Quotes and it really spoke to me. Then I backtracked and found some other cool quotes. 😊 Hope you enjoy! Blessings.

Your friend,

Tiffany

An often overlooked English poet of the mid-19th century, Sarah Williams is best known for her poem “The Old Astronomer,” in which a dying astronomer offers his last words to his student. Grappling with mortality is a prominent theme in Williams’ writing, and in particular this poem, which she wrote while battling cancer not long before her own death. In this line from the poem, she urges us to value the bright spots in our lives, and to make peace — however we each can — with the impermanent nature of living.

A Healthy, Realistic Balance

A patient man is better than one strong; and he that can rule himself, has more worth than he that winneth a city.

Proverbs 16:32

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

Galatians 5:22-23

 But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,”

Hebrews 3:13

Have you ever been around a person who was completely negative? I don’t mean they had a bad day or were going through something hard and venting about it. I mean an Eeyore type of person. (Eeyore, was the fictional character, a donkey, in Winnie-the-Pooh.) These type of people can never find anything good to talk about in life, and are constantly moping or complaining. I’ll be honest, sometimes I’m drawn to these types. I want to be a friend to them, to encourage them. While I can be a friend to them, encourage and help them, etc., it’s ultimately up to the person, with God’s help, to become a healthy, balanced person.

(Note: I am not referring to someone who may be struggling with depression, anxiety, or other mental health issues. These are very real health issues and should ALWAYS be addressed with compassion, love, and by  those who are trained in this area. I hope to write some on mental health and Christians at some point in the future. It is an issue I feel strongly about).

So, being an Eeyore type is one end of the spectrum, but what about the other end? The people who are sickeningly sweet. The ones who you can’t talk to without getting a three point sermon on why your life is awesome. These types almost sing a musical for you every time you encounter them! This well-meaning type tends to lecture you, all in a positive way of course, about all the wonderful aspects of life. This seems good, but the problem is this type can never ever mention anything that is not positive! For example, if you called this type to say you were sick with Covid and couldn’t make it to dinner, they would reply “How wonderful! I just know you’ll be fine and it’s actually good that you have Covid to naturally boost your immunities!” 

Their favorite phrases are probably “HOW WONDERFUL!!!!!!!!!!” and “AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!”

This type can never acknowledge a negative occurrence in life. They can never admit “well this stinks.” While this person sounds “positive”, the problem with this is in refusing to acknowledge the negative circumstance, they can never really empathize or even sympathize with others. They are out of touch with the reality that negatives happen and need to be acknowledged.

Of course I will not name names, but I have actually encountered both of these kinds of people in life- the Eeyores,  and the Mary Poppins of the world. If each of these types would move more toward the middle of the continuum, they would be so much more palatable! They would honestly be effective, loving and lovable friends. But unless they get a grip on their attitude, they will remain completely detached from reality! The reality that life is filled with positives and negatives. (For those that are Christians- I know that in the end, in Heaven, life will be free from ALL negatives, but if we can’t be in touch with the reality of the present and the problems/blessings others experience right here and now how can we expect to be an effective friend or example?)

I love those in life who are just real, you know? They experience the full range of emotions as situations in life occur and they share it- the good and the bad- and remain strong, humble, resilient, far from perfect, beautiful souls! I hope to be that way. I want to be that way- relatable- on the good and bad days. I hope to be able to understand what others are going through (in the hard times), yet be a source of encouragement and positivity. Realistic and never fake. In the middle of the continuum. Always. Like the Velveteen Rabbit. (Except maybe not with my eyes dropping out and getting too loose in the joints. 😊)

Real isn’t how you are made,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.’

‘Does it hurt?’ asked the Rabbit. 

‘Sometimes,’ said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. ‘When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.’ 

‘Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,’ he asked, ‘or bit by bit?’ 

‘It doesn’t happen all at once,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.

Margery Williams Bianco, The Velveteen Rabbit

Blessings today and every day.

Your friend,

Tiffany

My January Tree

I posted a few days ago about ”The Year-Round Christmas Club” and just wanted to share my “January” tree. We have had a number of viruses spread through our house since November. That combined with seemingly unending ”gray days” along with the reminder to be a light for Jesus, nudged me into keeping my tree up all year! 😊 In February I’ll post my Valentine tree ❤️❤️❤️🥰.

Your friend,

Tiffany

Talk As You Walk

The following is an excerpt taken from Bible In One Year 2020, Nicky Gumble, You  Version Bible App. It resonated with me because so often I forget communing with God is easy and enjoyable. Sometimes I forget that He loves me, imperfections and all. Just as we long to be around those we love, God simply longs to be with us. Many times in the past, I’ve experienced a feeling of condemnation or that I was never living up to all God expected of me.  I pray you experience God’s true love minus any condemnation/negativity you may have felt in the past from religious experiences or other sources. You are totally loved just as you are!

Your friend,

Tiffany

Talk As You Walk

I love walking. Apparently, it is one of the best forms of physical exercise. Of course, walking is also a means, and for some people their only means, of transport.

Walking for whatever reason is more enjoyable with someone else. Walking and talking is a great way to communicate with family, friends and also with God.

The point is that we are doing two things at the same time. We are not just taking exercise or travelling. As we walk together we are in communion with one another. Both Enoch and Noah ‘walked with God’ (Genesis 5:24; 6:9). They didn’t just sit, kneel or stand with God (the kind of actions we would often associate with spending time with God), but they were also in communion with God when doing something else. While you are doing other things – working, eating, exercising or relaxing – you can be in communion with God at the same time.

Psalm 3:1-8

Walk with your head held high

Matthew 2:19-3:17

Walk in step with the Holy Spirit

  • The Holy Spirit will come like a refining fire to bring power and purity in your life.
  • Be filled with peace
  • The Holy Spirit himself testifies with your spirit that you are a child of God (see Romans 8:15–16)
  • Know that you are loved by God
    The voice from heaven said ‘… whom I love…’ (Matthew 3:17).
  • Feel His pleasure. 
    The voice from heaven says, ‘with him I am well pleased’ (Matthew 3:17). Again, it was supremely true of Jesus but as you walk in step with the Spirit, you too can experience this sense of God’s delight and pleasure. I love the moment in the film Chariots of Fire when the Olympic runner Eric Liddell says, ‘When I run I feel his pleasure.’ 

Walk in relationship with God

Genesis 4:17-6:22

-Human beings are the pinnacle of God’s creation. God created us to walk in relationship with him.

An Encouraging Thought

I originally posted the following blog a little over two years ago. Lately, I’ve been thinking a good bit about purpose…probably because of the new year, discussions about resolutions, etc. There have been times when I struggled with purpose and understanding the “whys“ of life. The thought came to mind more than once lately of how much I’m encouraged and even inspired by those who share their stories, struggles, and how they’ve made it through hard circumstances with God’s help. I’ve been blown away at times by others sharing how something I’ve shared has encouraged them! It’s totally God’s hand at work-nothing I’ve accomplished alone.

Today I want to encourage you, yes you, to continue to share your story- in writing or otherwise. While you are doing so, look for the little ways God reveals He is at work in your life. You may be shocked at just how real and ever present He is. Don’t worry if you are in a season like Frodo where he ”wished the Ring had never come to him.” We don’t always get to choose the situations that come to us in this life, but God promises to use the hardest of circumstances for His glory, if we will allow Him to! I hope you enjoy the following and pray you experience God’s presence continually no matter the circumstance. Blessings!

Frodo: I wish the Ring had never come to me. I wish none of this had happened.

Gandalf: So do all who live to see such times; but that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us. There are other forces at work in this world, Frodo, besides the will of evil. Bilbo was meant to find the Ring. In which case, you were also meant to have it. And that is an encouraging thought.

J.R.R. Tolkien

The Fellowship of the Ring (The Lord of the Rings, #1)

My husband and two older kids were watching Lord of the Rings recently, and this quote caught my attention, again. I remember it making an impression on me the first time I watched The Fellowship of the Ring, and this time I stopped again when I heard it and reflected on the meaning. We don’t get to choose what circumstances life throws at us at times. It reminds me of a cross stitched quote my mother had hanging in her bedroom years ago. “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” If you’re like me, just thinking of that makes you nervous! How will we know what to accept and what to change? The answer is in trust.

We often don’t get to decide what cards we are dealt in life. Sometimes the game of life seems to deal us good cards, and sometimes it feels like we get only the bad. We want to fix everything, to make everything right, but that is not always possible. Some things cannot be changed no matter what we do. If we’ve prayed about it, and are following God’s leading, really all we can do is trust God and keep moving forward.  We don’t have to worry about deciding what will and won’t happen in our lives, we can leave it up to God! Let Him decide that, let Him allow the things He wants to happen in your life. All we have to do is use the time, talents, and treasures He has given us. Is it easy? No! Do we always understand? No! Did God allow the circumstances that are happening in your life right now? Yes! All things work together for good to those who love God and are called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28).

Time. Sometimes it feels like it’s dragging and flying at the same time. It’s what our lives are made of. We only have a limited amount- say 100 years if we’re lucky. Not to sound all gloom and doom, but life goes by faster than we think and we really don’t know how much time we have here.

All we have to do is decide what to do with the time that is given to us”.

That makes me not want to waste time doing unimportant things. It makes me want to be kinder, to love and give more. To not worry as much. To make sure I’m fulfilling God’s purpose in my life.

I love the way Sam, Frodo’s friend, stays with Frodo throughout his journey with the ring. Whether Frodo fully realizes Sam’s devotion or not, it is obvious to the viewer that Sam is a true and loyal friend. I think Sam is a reminder that God sends encouragement when we need it and He makes sure we know we aren’t ever alone.

The situation we find ourselves in that we have no control over was meant to happen. Remembering that brings us peace. It will all make sense eventually, if not in this life, in the one to come!

There is hope and joy in simply knowing you are living out your purpose. It was hard for Frodo to see the hope and joy in his situation when he was carrying the heavy burden of the ring. We all have a burden of some sort. Think about what burden you “wish had never come to you”.

All the human emotions you feel are normal. But remember, there are other forces at work besides the bad ones, there is good at work, too! God is in control of our lives if we’ve put our trust in Him. Our “burden” didn’t catch Him off guard or take him by surprise. He’s working when we can’t even see it and “that is an encouraging thought”.  

Proverbs 12:25

Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs it down, But a good word makes it glad.

Matthew 11:28-30

“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” 

Your friend,

Tiffany

Tomorrow Is A New Day With No Mistakes…

Isn’t it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet?

L. M. Montgomery 

We are the sum total of our experiences. Those experiences – be they positive or negative – make us the person we are, at any given point in our lives. And, like a flowing river, those same experiences, and those yet to come, continue to influence and reshape the person we are, and the person we become. None of us are the same as we were yesterday, nor will be tomorrow.

B.J. Neblett

If today is not your day, 

then be happy 

for this day shall never return. 

And if today is your day, 

then be happy now 

for this day shall never return.

Kamand Kojouri

The Woman had told her that Tomorrow never comes, but Elizabeth knows better. It will come sometime. Some beautiful morning she will just wake up and find it is Tomorrow. Not Today but Tomorrow. And then things will happen…wonderful things.

L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Windy Poplars (Anne of Green Gables, #4)

The sun’ll come out tomorrow, so you gotta hang on till tomorrow.

-Little Orphan Annie


Happy New Year! As we begin a new year, I am reminded that each day is new, and each tomorrow is fresh. Even if I make many mistakes or fall short in some way today, the first day, tomorrow, is ALWAYS a new day!!

Today, I wanted to share another devotion from Bible In One Year 2020 (Nicky Gumble). As I was reading, the words, ”every day is an opportunity for a new beginning,” jumped out to me.

So many of us start new year’s resolutions that we quickly ditch, but when I think about the fact that EVERY day is new, fresh, with no mistakes in it, I’m motivated to focus on the now…just today and maybe tomorrow. I’m reminded not to get bogged down in looking at the whole year, not to get frustrated if a bad day comes my way, and not worry if I don’t meet certain goals on one particular day. Each tomorrow is a new beginning!

The following devotion is lengthy, but has some really awesome, encouraging points.

I’m praying for you today, as you start the new year. I pray you are encouraged and optimistic about the fresh start of each day of 2022!

Your friend,

Tiffany

New Year’s Resolutions

I belong to a squash club, which is also a gym. Each year on 1 January they bring in extra gym equipment. The place is packed out. By about 7 January, they move out all the extra equipment, as most people have given up their New Year’s resolution, and the club returns to normal!

  • Get fit
  • Lose weight
  • Reduce drinking
  • Stop smoking
  • Get out of debt

There is nothing wrong with making these common New Year’s resolutions. Of course, all of us make resolutions that we fail to keep.

The good news is that each year is an opportunity for a fresh start. But then so is each week. Every Sunday is the first day of the week – a new beginning. Actually, every day is an opportunity for a new beginning.

The first three words in the Bible are, ‘In the beginning…’ (Genesis 1:1). Each of the passages for today tells us something about new beginnings and new opportunities, and suggests some possible New Year’s resolutions.

Psalm 1:1-6

‘Delight’ in the Bible

If you are beginning the challenge to read the Bible in One Year, this psalm has encouraging words for you.

The promise is that if you ‘delight’ in God’s Word and ‘meditate’ on Scripture ‘day and night’ (v.2, MSG), your life will be blessed. Happiness comes from what happens to you. Blessing is what happens to you through knowing God and meditating on his words.

God promises you fruitfulness (‘which yields its fruit in season’, v.3b), vitality (‘whose leaves do not wither’, v.3c) and prosperity (‘whatever they do prospers’, v.3d), though not necessarily material prosperity!

This message is backed up by a glance across at the ultimate fate of ‘the wicked’. The psalmist does not try to pretend that the wicked don’t sometimes prosper. He simply reminds us of the transitory nature of their prosperity – ‘they are like chaff that the wind blows away… [they] will perish’ (vv.4,6).

The key to lasting – and ultimately eternal – fruitfulness and vitality lies in your relationship with God. As you seek to follow ‘the way of the righteous’, you are assured that the Lord himself will watch over you (v.6).

Lord, thank you for your wonderful promises as I resolve to make a regular habit of delighting in your word and meditating on it.

Matthew 1:1-25

Focus on Jesus

Resolve to focus your life on Jesus. The Bible is all about Jesus. The New Testament opens with his family tree.

As we read the list of Jesus’ ancestors, it is encouraging to see that they include Tamar (the adulteress), Rahab (the prostitute), Ruth (the non-Jewish Moabite), Solomon (who was conceived after King David’s adulterous affair with Bathsheba), as well as many others. Thankfully, God uses sinful human beings and, therefore, can use us. Whatever your past, however broken your life may seem right now, God can use you to do something great with your life.

The very name ‘Jesus’ means, ‘he will save his people from their sins’ (v.21). Every time we use the name Jesus it reminds us that our greatest need is not for happiness or contentment (although these may both be by-products). Our greatest need, as with Jesus’ ancestors, is for forgiveness. Therefore, we need a Saviour.

The beginning of Matthew shows us that Jesus is the completion of all that is recorded in the Old Testament:

  • Jesus is the climax of history
    Matthew opens his Gospel by summarising the Old Testament story in terms of Jesus’ ancestry (vv.1–17). The Old Testament tells the story that Jesus completes. Matthew sets out the history of the people of God in terms of three equal periods: fourteen generations from Abraham to David, fourteen from David to the exile and fourteen from the exile to Christ (v.17).

    In the genealogy, biological generations are skipped over (as was quite common in Old Testament family trees). Matthew was pointing out that Old Testament history falls into three approximately equal spans of time between crucial events. Jesus is the end of the line as far as the Old Testament story goes – the climax has been reached.
  • In Jesus, all the promises of God are fulfilled
    Jesus is not only the completion of the Old Testament story at a historical level, he is also the fulfilment of the Old Testament prophecies and all of God’s promises.

    Matthew concludes each of five scenes from the conception, birth and early childhood of Jesus by quoting the Hebrew Scriptures that have been ‘fulfilled’ by the events described (Matthew 1:22–23; 2:5–6,17,23; 4:14–16).

    The first one is the fulfilment in the conception of Jesus: ‘All this took place to fulfil what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”)’ (1:22–23).

All of history, prophesy and promise, is completed in Jesus. Your whole life is completed in Jesus. Every part of your life: your work, family, relationships, friends, memories and dreams are completed in Jesus.

Lord, thank you for this promise for the new year – that, in Jesus, you are with me. Help me to focus my life on you in the year ahead.

Genesis 1:1-2:17

Enjoy God’s creation

You are not here by chance. This universe is God’s creation. You are made in his image.

Genesis gives an account of the beginning of the universe. It goes way beyond the scientific theories of ‘how?’ and ‘when?’ It answers the questions of ‘who’ and ‘why?’ Scientific theories do not prove or disprove this explanation. Rather, they are complementary.

Reading this passage through the lens of the New Testament we see the whole Trinity involved in creation. The Hebrew noun for God (Elohim) is a plural noun. The Holy Spirit was involved in creation (1:2). It was through Jesus that creation came into being: ‘And God said…’ (v.3a). Jesus is God’s Word and through him the universe was created (see John 1:1–3).

In the midst of this account of the creation, there is an amazing throwaway line showing the immense power of God: ‘He also made the stars’ (Genesis 1:16). We now know there are probably between 100 and 400 billion stars in our galaxy alone, and our galaxy is but one of around 100 billion galaxies. He made them all, just like that!

The pinnacle of his creation was human beings. You are made in the image of God (v.27). If we want to know what God is like, it is men and women together (‘male and female’, v.27b) who reflect his image.

Every human being is created in his image and should be treated with dignity, respect and love. Your ability to communicate with God is a reflection of the fact that you are made in his image.

God approves of all that he created. He said, ‘It is good’. Many people feel worthless, insecure and of no value. But God did not create rubbish. God created you. He loves you and approves of you. He may not approve of everything you do, but he loves you unconditionally, wholeheartedly and continually.

We see in this passage that work is a blessing: ‘The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it’ (2:15). Work is part of God’s good creation – not a result of the fall. This passage also reminds us that taking care of the environment is right at the heart of God’s plan for human beings.

Rest is not an optional extra. It is what God did (‘he rested’, v.2). These days of rest (days off, holidays) are days of special blessing: ‘God blessed the seventh day and made it holy’ (v.3). Holidays are holy days. They point to the fact that life is primarily about being rather than doing. Don’t feel guilty about taking time off. Holidays are good in themselves. They are also a time to recharge spiritually.

Don’t work too hard. God took time to rest and enjoy what he had made. You are not supposed to work constantly. You are created with a need for relaxation and rest – taking the time to enjoy your work and the fruit of your work.

In Genesis 2:16–17 we see that God gave Adam and Eve far-reaching permission (‘you are free to eat from any tree in the garden’, v.16), with one prohibition – ‘but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil’ (v.17a). He warned them of the penalty if they disobeyed (‘when you eat of it you will surely die’, v.17b). You do not need to know and experience evil. God wanted you to know only good.

Lord, thank you for this universe that you have made. Help me to keep well away from evil and to enjoy all the good things you have given us to enjoy.

Pippa Adds

Matthew 1:18–19

How difficult this must have been for Mary, her parents and Joseph. They must have felt embarrassed and ashamed. We see why Joseph was chosen to be Mary’s husband – he was very impressive. The girl he was about to marry was pregnant; he would have been justified in being furious. Yet, he didn’t want to humiliate her – he planned to ‘divorce her quietly’. We see how he acts after an angel appeared in a dream and told him to marry Mary (v.24). It must have taken faith to put aside what people thought and raise a child that was not his own.
 

Verse of the Day

‘The Lord watches over you’ (Psalm 1:6).