My Favorite Tree
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Each year my husband and I set up several different Christmas trees around our house. One of my favorites is our white tree with red balls. It’s beautiful, but it’s symbolism is even more beautiful. As I look at it, I’m reminded of Christ’s blood which was shed for us, making our sins as white as snow. Blood may seem like a gory thing to think about, but the blood of Christ is actually beautiful.
When my son-in-law was in medical school he told me that there were always a few students who would fall over, out cold, when they observed their first surgery as a student. He also showed me the glasses he had to wear in surgery to ensure that spurting blood didn’t splatter into his eyes. Now can you imagine what it must have been like for the Israelites there at the bottom of Mount Sinai, standing there and having the blood sprinkled on their faces? Why do you think God instructed the priest to sprinkle the blood on the people? The symbolism points to Christ. It’s interesting to look at the times when the word sprinkle is used in the Bible. In Isaiah 52 we see it used in a prophecy about Jesus:

See, my servant will act wisely;
he will be raised and lifted up and highly exalted.
Just as there were many who were appalled at him—
his appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any human being
and his form marred beyond human likeness—
so he will sprinkle many nations,
and kings will shut their mouths because of him.
For what they were not told, they will see,
and what they have not heard, they will understand
(Isaiah 52:13-15).

Do you see the blessing of the sprinkle? “He will sprinkle many nations.” The atoning blood sprinkled for the sins of the people would extend beyond just the Israelites. In the New Testament, Hebrews refers to sprinkling as well:
The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean. How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!
For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance—now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant (Hebrews 9:13-15).

The beautiful weaving of the scarlet thread through the Old Testament is embodied in the New Testament in the person of Jesus Christ. Physically speaking, our blood is essential to our lives. When we eat, food is eventually absorbed into our bloodstream and delivered to cells via our blood for growth and nourishment. When we breathe, oxygen is absorbed into the bloodstream and carried to cells. The blood is the delivery system to our entire bodies. If part of our bodies is deprived of blood, it will die. Blood is our very lifeline! Our blood stream also washes away the toxins in our bodies. The blood coursing through our veins brings nourishment, oxygen, and cleansing.
Just as blood brings both life and cleansing to our physical bodies, so Christ’s blood brings life and cleansing to us spiritually. The Bible tells us that we were separated from God because of our sins. When Adam and Eve sinned in the garden, all creation fell. Our spirits were dead, but the good news is that our spirits have been made alive through Christ. As believers in Christ, His blood paid the penalty for our sins (1 John 2:1) and it continues to purify us (1 John 1:7). The life is in the blood! There is power in the blood! Thank you Jesus for shedding your blood, so that we could be cleansed and purified from all unrighteousness. Thank you Jesus for your life-giving blood shed on the cross for us. Scarlet is truly a beautiful color, isn’t it?

This is an excerpt from my new book Becoming a Woman of the Word.

Why Do We Give Gifts?
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God is a giver of good and precious gifts. When we live generously and give from our heart, we are reflecting our Father. What can we give? Forgiveness, love, kindness, hope, a smile, an encouraging word, a listening ear – to name a few. Allow His generous spirit of love to pour through you as you live a giving life, especially during this time of the year.

I’ve listed a few of the wonderful gifts God has given us as believers in Christ. I encourage you to read one of these scriptures each day during the month of December and reflect on your giving Heavenly Father.

He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all,
how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?
Romans 8:32

 Jesus – 2 Corinthians 9:15
 His Spirit- 1 John 4:13
 Grace – Ephesians 2:8
 Hope –- Romans 15:13
 Adoption – Romans 8:15
 Forgiveness – Psalm 103:3
 Healing – Psalm 103:3
 Redemption – Ephesians 1:7
 Peace – John 14:27
 Love – I John 3:1
 Joy – Galatians 5:22
 Wisdom- James 1:5
 Salvation – John 3:16
 Kindness – Luke 6:35
 Power – 2 Corinthians 4:7
 Refuge – Psalm 62:8
 Provision – Philippians 4:19
 Life – Genesis 2:7
 Eternal Life – I John 5:11
 Strength – Isaiah 40:29
 Listening Ear – Psalm 34:15
 Comfort – 2 Corinthians 1:3-5

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights.
James 1:17

Reasons to Be Thankful
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As we celebrate this Thanksgiving, I thought I would point to a wonderful and powerful word in the Bible that reminds us and points us to reason to be thankful. The word gospel is a New Testament term repeated in over a hundred verses. The Greek word, euangelion (the root from which we get the word evangelical), means the “good news” of the kingdom of God. In the Gospel of Mark, we read, “Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel’” (Mark 1:14-15 ESV). Jesus proclaimed the good news of the kingdom of God.
So what is the “good news”? The good news is wrapped up in the person of Jesus Christ. The good news is that God loves us and reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ. The good news is that we are justified through faith in Him, not by our own righteousness but by His. The good news is that He has given us His Holy Spirit, to regenerate us, sanctify us, and empower us to live with strength and victory. The good news is that God will never leave us or forsake us. The good news is that we have the promise of eternal life through Jesus. The good news is that God is our Abba (daddy) Father and we are His children, heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ. The good news is that God is continually at work in our lives; He began a good work in us and will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. We are no longer slaves to sin, for we have been rescued from the dominion of darkness and brought into the kingdom of the Son who God the Father loves—that’s good news! Recently I heard it put this way: “The gospel is not good advice on how we can work our way to heaven—rather it is good news that God offered His Son, so that all who believe may be saved by His grace.”
I’m reminded of what Harry Foster wrote: “The gospel is the gospel of a happy God, because he now has an ever-growing family of those who by faith share the perfect life of his perfect son.” As Christians we have received great and precious promises. Funny thing, when the word gospel has been translated into different languages the translators have used phrases such as “information that causes one joy” or “words that bring smiles” or “news that makes one happy.” Remember what the angels declared to the shepherds on the night of Jesus’ birth? They said they were bringing,” good tidings of great joy.” They were announcing the gospel! When we recognize all that God has done for us and continues to do through us, we can’t help but be filled with joy. May the joy of the gospel overflow in our lives as we live each day for His kingdom. Let us be bearers of good news!

This blog contains excerpts from her newest book, Becoming a Woman of the Word. For more encouragement visit her website at www.PositiveLifePrinciples.com

Preparing for Thanksgiving
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“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6,7

The apostle Paul, while being held prisoner for preaching the gospel, gave the early Christians a charge which powerfully applies to our lives today. Don’t be anxious, but instead pray about everything. Then did you notice he added “with thanksgiving?” Now hold on! I can easily be filled with thanksgiving when I’m praying for those I love and when I’m experiencing less stress in my life. But Paul is saying in the midst of anxiety, give your cares to God, and while you are at it – thank Him! What can we thank Him for in the middle of our stress? We can begin by thanking Him for His love for us and His presence in our lives. We can continue to thank Him for His Son Jesus. We can thank Him for His help and comfort in time of need. We can thank Him for His power to redeem and bring something good out of any situation.

Let’s practice what Paul preaches this week. As we prepare for a festive week of Thanksgiving, worry and anxiety may try to creep in at times. Questions swirl in our heads. How will I keep the kids occupied? How will I get all the shopping and baking done? How will I be kind and loving to everyone? How will I get the house clean? Let’s take each of our personal worries to the Lord and then let’s go the extra mile and thank Him.

Paul tells us that a peace that transcends all understanding will guard our hearts and our minds in Christ Jesus. It’s amazing when we take our minds off of our worries and turn our focus on that which we can be thankful, a peace fills our heart. Paul went on to say, “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”

Each morning as you wake up this week, lay there in bed for just a moment (if you can) and give your cares to God, thanking Him for His help and blessings. Then each night as you tuck the kids in bed, pray with your kids and help them learn this daily practice of thanking God as you give Him your worries. May you overflow this week with the thoughts of thankfulness as you recognize God’s care in your life.

And as you celebrate, here’s one of our favorite Ladd recipes:
Corn Spoon Bread
1 stick butter (or margarine)
1 pkg Jiffy Cornbread
1 egg
8 oz. sour cream
1 16 oz can kernel corn, drained.
Melt butter. Combine all ingredients into a bowl and mix well. Pour into 8 by 8 baking dish. Bake at 350 30 – 40 minutes until set and lightly browned on top.

Your Divine Purpose
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Ever look at someone else and think, Why do they have it all together? What’s the matter with me? The first lie we tell ourselves is that others’ have it all together. No one has it completely together (whatever it is). God did not create us to live in the dark dungeon of comparisons, anger, jealousy, envy and discontentment. No, each and every one of us was created for a divine purpose. He has given us a unique assignment that only we can carry out. Augustine wrote, “Thou hast formed us for Thyself, and our hearts are restless till they find rest in Thee.”

Often we become restless with comparisons and rivalry when we lose sight of the fact that God has a beautiful plan that He wants to play out in our lives and no one else’s life. His unique plan includes both triumphs and challenges.

Charles Spurgeon said, “The cure for envy lies in living under a constant sense of the divine presence, worshiping God and communing with him all the day long, however long the day may seem.” Let us worship God in the midst of our heart aches and longings and watch Him work in mysterious and glorious ways.
The only time we should be looking at others is when we are looking in compassion not comparisons.

You have unique gifts, talents and abilities to offer this world. God has equipped you with a plan designed just for you to carry out in your life. Let us delight in what God has purposed for each one of our lives, because ultimately it fits into His divine plan for this world. We can take joy in what He is doing in other women’s lives, because we know there is a bigger picture. Whenever you feel that temptation to compare with others, and begin to feel discouraged or afraid, turn your eyes to the God who sees all and knows all. He has a beautiful design just for you. Wait patiently for Him. Your story is not finished.

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