Posted by Lisa Lewis Koster - - 1 comments

I was recently asked, "What was the best and the worst thing that has happened to you this year?" The first thing that came into my mind as the best thing that happened was when God "blessed my socks off" (see Aug 30 posting.) It was so unexpected and so above and beyond my imagination; it was so God!

God tells us in Scripture that we are to remember all the things He has done for us, probably because we're so prone to forget. At the end of Joshua 3, Israel was called to cross the Jordan river, which happened to be at flood stage at the time. When the priests leading the procession took a step of faith (literally) into the deep waters, the water was held back before and behind them so they could cross on dry ground.

"When the whole nation had finished crossing the Jordan, the LORD said to Joshua, "Choose twelve men from among the people, one from each tribe, and tell them to take up twelve stones from the middle of the Jordan from right where the priests stood and to carry them over with you and put them down at the place where you stay tonight" serve as a sign among you. In the future, when your children ask you, `What do these stones mean?' tell them that the flow of the Jordan was cut off before the ark of the covenant of the LORD. When it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever." ~ Joshua 4:1-3, 6-7

What was the best thing that has happened to you this year? What kind of reminder can you give yourself so that you don't forget and can tell others what God has done for you? I write things down. In fact, I write all the "cool God stuff" in my journal in a different color ink so that when I need encouragement those blessings just jump out at me. Not a writer? Perhaps you could have a photo or small item to remind you of an event. Then, when someone looks at it, you can say, "Let me tell you the God story behind that..."

I really haven't come up with an answer to the question, "What is the worst thing that happened?" I think that is a good thing because it means:
A) Nothing tremendously negative has happened, and
B) I'm becoming more focused on the positive than on the negative.

In Philippians 3, Paul shared his desire to live a life totally focused on Christ. Though he continued to fall short, he kept persuing it. "Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." ~ Philippians 3:12-14.

New Year's is traditionally a time of looking back and looking ahead. I think it's a good idea to stop every now and then and examine our lives. Scripture tells us in Ecclesiastes 3:15 that "God will call the past to account." Yes, it's good (and necessary) to look back and assess our shortcomings so that we can ask for forgiveness and make the necessary changes in our lives, but once we've done that we need to follow Paul's example by leaving our past in the past and focusing on what is ahead.

Where is God calling you to take a step of faith this year? What are you going to do to become more like Christ? Write it down, look at it often, and celebrate what God is doing in your life!

Lord, yesterday You called Bob and I to take a step of faith; to commit to something that, practically speaking, doesn't look like something we can do. Today something happened to make it seem even more impossible. Father, help us to be obedient regardless of how things look to us. Help us to take that step of faith so that we can look back and be amazed at your provision! Thank you for always equipping us for what you've called us to do. With all my love and devotion, Lisa.
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Posted by Lisa Lewis Koster - - 0 comments

“I’m sure he must have been surprised at where this road had taken him
Cause never in a million lives would he have dreamed of Bethlehem
And standing at the manger he saw with his own eyes
The message from the angel come to life

And Joseph said:
Why me, I’m just a simple man of trade?
Why Him with all the rulers in the world?
Why here inside this stable filled with hay?
Why her, she’s just an ordinary girl?
Now I’m not one to second guess what angels have to say, but this is such a strange way to save the World.”

“A Strange Way to Save the World” by 4Him is one of my favorite Christmas songs. Maybe it’s because I can relate to Joseph and his confusion so much. Let’s face it; God does a lot of things that just don’t make sense to us.

He Himself said as much in Isaiah chapter 55:8-9:
"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the LORD. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

Joseph had to be puzzled by what was going on and the part he played in it, but he is an example to us because of his obedience despite his lack of understanding. Most of the time, God doesn’t ask us to understand; He asks us to obey.

“Now what I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach. It is not up in heaven, so that you have to ask, "Who will ascend into heaven to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?" Nor is it beyond the sea, so that you have to ask, "Who will cross the sea to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?" No, the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it.” ~ Deuteronomy 30:11-14

It’s easy to use our perceived lack of qualifications as an excuse to ignore God’s call. I’m sure Joseph and Mary both felt totally unqualified to be raising God’s Son. I know I feel totally unqualified to do most of the things God calls me to do. Honestly, that’s because I am unqualified to do most of the things God calls me to, at least in my eyes and in the eyes of the world. But perhaps God calls me to do these things because I look unqualified. That way there’s no mistaking Who is making it happen and Who should get the credit.

Today I read this from Oswald Chambers: “We talk as if living a sanctified life were the most uncertain and insecure thing we could do. Yet is the most secure thing possible, because it has Almighty God in and behind it. The most dangerous and unsure thing is to try to live without God.”

As usual, we have it backwards. We’re afraid to go to the unfamiliar where God is calling us and feel perfectly safe trying to figure things out for ourselves. Yet the only true safety comes from our obedience.

Father, I thank you for all the examples you give us of the blessings that come from obedience and the consequences that stem from disobedience. Most of all, I thank you for the gift of your Son Jesus, who not only led an exemplary life for us to follow, but gave us something we could never achieve on our own: salvation and an eternity with you. Help me to step out in faith, follow Jesus’ example and be more like Him. Happy Birthday Jesus! Love, Lisa

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Sometimes it takes seeing what we have through someone else’s eyes to really appreciate it. Take snow, for example. I don’t hate it, but I can’t say I love it either; it’s just there when it’s cold (which is perhaps why I don’t love it.)

Born and raised in Michigan, it’s hard for me to imagine what it would be like to have never experienced snow, but today we had the privilege of being with someone seeing snow for the first time.

It’s not often I’ve prayed for snow, except perhaps as a child hoping for a day off school, but I did pray that we would have snow for Naftaly. He is here from Kenya for just a couple days, and I knew that snow was something he wanted to experience firsthand.

When we stepped outside and saw everything covered in a fresh blanket of snow, he didn’t comment on the cold as much as the beauty. Even the trees that “looked dead” without their leaves now looked beautiful.

As a Christian, Naftaly thought of the snow in Scripture:

“Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.” Psalms 51:7

"Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow;” ~ Isaiah 1:18

Really, what can you think of that is whiter than snow? Personally, I can’t think of anything. Imagine seeing a blanket of snow that is whiter than anything you’ve ever seen before. This is how pure we are when God has forgiven our sins. Thank you, Naftaly, for reminding us of this truth!

Thank you, Lord, for allowing me to live in a place where I can experience the beautiful seasons of Your creation. Thank you for reminding me that in Christ we have a clean slate, and thank you that after every cold winter comes the new beginning of spring. Love, Lisa
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While listing items on eBay in the evening (which is another story entirely), out of habit I often have the television on in the background. Last night I listened to a sitcom that I’d never watched before (and probably won’t again). It featured the dysfunctional family typically found on television these days, with one exception: this family attended church. The mother has been a part of the church choir for seventeen years, and for seventeen years the same woman had sung the lead in the Christmas Eve service. This year the woman was unable to sing, giving the mother a chance at the part she’s always wanted. The dilemma was she couldn’t put the extra time into choir practice when there were so many preparations to be made for Christmas.

Enter the typical, inept father. Not working for the holidays, he offered to take care of ALL the Christmas preparations so his wife could focus on her singing. Of course, every time he completed a task, she would say, “I can’t believe you did that without me! That was my favorite part!” Each time, this was followed by a flashback of her begrudgingly doing the task and complaining about her family’s lack of participation. Oh, how our minds like to improve on the past! I wonder if that’s what Lot’s wife did. She was told to leave Sodom and begrudgingly did, but she “looked back, and she became a pillar of salt.” (Genesis 19:26) Rather than focusing on the blessings of that moment, she looked back to mourn what she had left behind. I’m sure her memories, too, were far better than the reality they represented.

The show concluded at the Christmas Eve service. The choir stood in the front of the church, dressed in their choir robes, and the mother kept shooing people out of the front row seats that she was saving for her family. Back at home, the father had just woken up after dozing in front of the TV and was frantically trying to get the family into the car so they could get to church. They arrived just as the mother was starting her solo. She was singing the words to the Christmas song while simultaneously shooting daggers at her disheveled family as they attempted to sneak into the back row.

Again, rather than focusing on the blessings of that moment they were lost because her focus was elsewhere. This mother had waited seventeen years for this solo, and yet she did not enjoy it because she was instead focused on what wasn’t going her way. How often do we do that? We physically go through the motions while our heart is elsewhere.

"And now, O Israel, what does the LORD your God ask of you but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to observe the LORD's commands and decrees that I am giving you today for your own good?" (Deuteronomy 10:12-13)

God doesn't want us just going through the motions, He wants us to serve Him with all our heart.

Father, during this busy Christmas season, help me to keep my focus where it should be - on You and on the precious gift of Your Son. I want to have an undivided heart so that I may serve You fully and in a way pleasing to You. Your Daughter, Lisa
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