Category: <span>thoughts by Idelette McVicker</span>


Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel, which means ‘God is with us.’” Matthew 1:23 (NLT)

Advent marks the season of preparation and waiting. In a sense, it is our taking part in the pregnancy of the Christ child, carrying our part of His story. We prepare our hearts to receive Him; for Him to be born into our humble and broken lives.

It struck me today that as we prepare for Christmas, our hearts focused on the birth of our Savior, in a greater sense we are also participating in a kind of Advent season every other day of the year. Whether it’s Christmas season or not, we are preparing for the return of Christ. We are preparing our hearts for Jesus to come again. Our world is pregnant with His return.

Reflect:

Is your heart ready to receive Him at this time in history?

Where are you making room for Christ this season?

Prayer:

Come, Lord Jesus, come … Help me prepare my heart as a welcoming place that receives You today and every day to come.

By Idelette McVicker
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•  Visit our Christmas Section

•  Surviving Christmas: “be still and know that I am God”

•  Salvation Explained


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“Hatred stirs up dissension, but love covers all wrong.” Proverbs 10:12


I am in a season of life when I am confronted daily with the idea that I am, well, not perfect. I am making a lot of mistakes and pray for grace constantly. That’s when I started thinking about my own upbringing and what made the difference. In spite of the humps and bumps of growing up, my mom’s love carried me through. Did she make mistakes? Yes. Was she perfect? No. Did she show me an amazing love, rooted in an unshakable faith? Absolutely.

In Proverbs 10:12 we read, “love covers all wrongs” We find the New Testament version in 1 Peter 4:8: “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” It’s a spiritual principle that gives me a fresh perspective on parenting, relationships and doing life well. The amazing power of Love means that even when I make mistakes, as long as my Love is even greater, I am covered. No wonder Jesus breaks the commandments down to this one action: Love.

Reflection:
How big is your Love?
Where do you need the power of Love to cover your sins and your mistakes?

Prayer:
Dear Lord, thank You for covering my life with Your amazing Love. Grant me the grace to love well, so those in my world will remember my love, rather than my mistakes. Amen.

by Idelette McVicker
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Further Reading

•  God is Thinking about You

•  God WILL take care of you

•  Salvation Explained


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“When a woman who had lived a sinful life in that town learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, she brought an alabaster jar of perfume”  Luke 7:37 (NIV)


Imagine bringing something worth as much as one whole year’s salary and pouring it out on the feet of Jesus. The woman who worshiped Jesus with the alabaster jar of oil brought a gift that was extremely extravagant, by any account. She took everything she had – her very best – and chose to pour it out to Jesus. This was her simple, but oh, so extravagant thank you.

Jesus loved her act of worship; He saw her heart. He knew her story and He understood her worship. She had a heart filled with love for the God who forgave her sins.

What does my worship look like? Does it spring out of a heart of gratitude? What have I brought to God that is most precious to me?

Jesus, thank You for pouring out Your life on my behalf. I want to bring You my very best. Thank You that You know my story and that You see my heart. Amen.

By Idelette McVicker
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Further Reading

•  Stories:  Why  I Chose God

•  Getting Life Back on Track by Marvin Kehler

•  Salvation Explained


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Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.Hebrews 12:1


I love that God has created us to do good works and that He has prepared them in advance for us to do.

(See Ephesians 2:10) Even before we were born, God had a purpose for our lives and there are good works He needs us to do on this earth. On the other hand, there is an Accuser, an enemy of our souls, who does his best to keep us from fulfilling our purpose. I have noticed that it often is the same things that keep coming up to entangle me. Hebrews 12 verse one calls it the sin that so easily entangles us. Is there one sin in your life that keeps creeping up on you, trying to entangle you?

When the Holy Spirit points out our sin, it is to turn our eyes back on to Jesus and to set us free. It’s never about condemnation. God wants to put iron in our souls as we respond to His discipline, because ultimately He wants us to fulfill our purposes and not be held back in a life of sin. How wonderful to know that God calls us to freedom, godliness an great purpose.

Create a clean heart in me, O Lord. I want to live out the purposes You have for me and walk in the good works You have already prepared in advance for me to do. I love You, Lord. Amen.

By Idelette McVicker
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Further Reading

•  He Put a Song in My Heart

•   Heart Fully Committed to Him

•  Salvation Explained


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He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” Revelation 21:4


My best friend’s mom is in the hospital with cancer. She’s been battling the disease for over a year, but she’s come to a place now where they are basically unable to manage the pain. My friend knows they’re saying good-bye.

At night, especially, this brave lady has been struggling with incomprehensible pain levels. It was during one of these “sessions,” while doctors and nurses were trying to comfort her, that Jesus spoke to her:

Yes this process is painful, my dear … Do you remember giving birth? Being in labor? You are now in labor, except you are the one being birthed. Take courage. You are being reborn, with a brand new body. No more pain.”

This is the Jesus I worship, the One who feels our pain and meets us in its midst.

by Idelette McVicker
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Further Reading

•  Pressing the RESET button on our lives 

•   Keeping Yourself in God’s Love – even during painful times in your life

•  Salvation Explained


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Through seasons of suffering and loss, when things seem most dark, remember to praise my God, in spite of the circumstances.


Naked I came from my mother’s womb, naked I’ll return to the womb of the earth. God gives, God takes. God’s name be ever blessed.” Job 1:21 (Msg)

Let’s just say Job is not the most popular name on the baby name sites. We like to name our children after the typical heroes, names that can bless them with a future of power and strength. Job’s name is synonymous with suffering and loss. And yet, Job is someone we can hold up as an example of strength, patience, grace, love, friendship with God and the ultimate comeback.

Several years ago, I attended a weekend retreat in the mountains in Taipei. We were organized in groups and had to choose a person from the Bible to represent our table. Our table chose Job. “What?”  I thought, but trusted that God would show up in this seemingly strange choice. The light came on for me when we created a one-sentence mantra to describe our hero. I still remember it:  “Job, a humble, but wealthy man who praised God, in spite of his circumstances.”

Job holds out a life story that, in the end, is noteworthy. He walked through the pain and came out admirable.

Through seasons of suffering and loss, when things seem most dark, do I remember to praise my God, in spite of my circumstances? Job continues to remind me that everything I have is a gift.

Reflect: What are you thankful for today?

by Idelette McVicker
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Further Reading

Depression Story – There is Hope – Merri Ellen Giesbrecht tells her depression story and her story of hope

 Afraid of Being called a ‘Religious Fanatic” – Norm Brown’s story

•  Salvation Explained


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Because He suffered, we can find comfort in the midst of pain and chaos.


He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.Isaiah 53:3 (NIV)

How human we are.

How broken is our world.

How incomplete are our relationships.

And yet, in that brokenness and pain, we can come to Jesus and see Him bent over, agonizing in the Garden. He’s been there. He understands. And He provides comfort for those who mourn; He binds up the broken-hearted. He proclaims freedom for the captives.

My deepest comfort can be drawn from Jesus, the man familiar with suffering. He laid down everything He was, every ounce of dignity and honor, to be despised and rejected so we don’t have to carry it. He deserved nothing but glory and yet He chose the simple life of a carpenter and allowed a shameful death on a cross in exchange for Life

My deepest comfort can be drawn from Jesus, the man familiar with suffering. He laid down everything He was, every ounce of dignity and honor, to be despised and rejected so we don’t have to carry it. He deserved nothing but glory and yet He chose the simple life of a carpenter and allowed a shameful death on a cross in exchange for Life

I can draw strength from a God who has experienced every broken human emotion. Because He was despised, I can turn to Him for Love. Because He was rejected, we are accepted. Because He suffered, we can find comfort in the midst of pain and chaos. He took it all upon Himself.

Jesus, Jesus, Jesus! You deserve our unending praise. I am so grateful for what You did on the cross … so grateful. Thank You. Amen.

by Idelette McVicker
Used by Permission


If you have never surrendered your life to Christ, and would like to know Him in the way the author does,  you can start today. Simply say this prayer and your journey with Christ will begin:

Prayer

Lord Jesus, I want to trust you from now on. Thank You for dying on the cross for my sins. I open the door of my life and receive You as my Savior and Lord. Thank You for forgiving my sins and giving me eternal life. Take control of my life. Make me be the person You want me to be. Thank you for enabling me to trust you in these uncertain times. Amen.

Another Sample Prayer:

Dear God, today I bring you my life, my hopes, my dreams, my deepest yearnings … You know me intimately. You knew me even before I was formed in the womb. You called me into this world to do good and live the life I was uniquely and specifically created for. I ask for Courage and Wisdom to live this life–the life of my dreams. Show me where to start and help me be open to hearing your Voice today. I ask for a greater consciousness of your Presence, today and every day of my life. Amen.


If you prayed this prayer we would love to hear from you . If you would like to know God deeper we can connect you with an email mentor and/or send you some great links.


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Further Reading

•  At the Foot of the Cross  Powerful Poem

•  I Want to Know Him! Christ and his Resurrection Power

•  Salvation Explained


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“This is my body, given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” Luke 22:19 (NIV)


I remember waking up in a narrow twin bed. I was at a women’s retreat: two nights away from home, with time to spend with God in the company of other women. It was still early. I reached for my Bible and opened it to Luke chapter 22. I heard the women in the hallways, getting ready for the day. There was cheerful chatter and noise that can only happen at a women’s retreat where thirty women have to share bathrooms and hairdryers.

I was still reading when the Spirit stopped me in my tracks:

This is my body, given for you;
This is my body, given for you;
This is my body, given for you!

The words rang in my ears as I heard the sound of the women in the background. Thoughts and emotions collided. This is my body given for you. These were members of our church “the Body of Christ” and they too were given to me. I had always thought only of Christ’s physical body and His offering when taking communion. For the first time, I felt the sacred gift in the presence of my fellow members of the Body. These are the people we share our lives with, our community. A gift to everyone who is willing to partake.

By Idelette McVicker
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Photo Credit – Tom Sens ; https://www.flickr.com/photos/riverofgod/
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Further Reading

•  Easter articles

• The Easter Story

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Jesus’ very act of coming to earth meant exchanging heaven for a human life on earth.


I love that the Son of God didn’t seek out only environments and places to visit worthy of his heavenly identity. After all, his very act of coming meant exchanging heaven for a human life on earth. He deliberately chose simple environments, like a stable, to display the power of the Kingdom of God. For me, his visit to the Pool of Bethesda stands out. It was a place where “a great number of disabled people used to lie, the blind, the lame, the paralyzed.” (John 5:1-3) It struck me that this was probably not the most hygienic place around.

Imagine the smell. Most of these people couldn’t make it to the bathroom on their own. I imagine most regular people didn’t frequent this pool and yet Jesus chose to enter into this humble environment and bring healing.

Who and what do I surround myself with? Which places do I frequent? Is this where Jesus would go? Perhaps it’s time to consider the positions we have created for ourselves and our thoughts about where we belong on this earth, and then, just like Jesus did, let’s lay these down.

Thank You, Jesus, for coming to earth and laying down Your divinity. Today, I lay down any concept of self that excludes me from entering the humble, stinky places where you would hang out. I ask for the grace to walk where You go. Amen.

By Idelette McVicker
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Further Reading

•   A Poem of Hope

•   The Healing – A  poem by Katy Kauffman

•  Salvation Explained


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Our heart can be turned towards many things and even other people.


“Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?” Matthew 19:16 (NIV)

Devotion speaks to the position of the heart: a heart fully turned to the one we love. God longs to be the recipient of our affection and have our heart.

Who or what is your heart turned towards today?

When Jesus responded to the rich young ruler’s question, he wanted to find out where his heart was. Keeping the commandments is part of devotion to God, but it needs to flow out of a heart that is turned towards God. Jesus made it clear that following the rules alone was not enough. It would be an act of service, dutiful and metallic, but devoid of heart. Until he was willing to turn his heart away from money and towards God, he couldn’t truly follow God.

Our heart can be turned towards many things and even other people. Is there anything you are not willing to bring to the altar? – Your house, your career, your position, your husband, your children, your closet, your bank account, a parent? What do you hold most dear? What do you treasure in your heart?

When God has our heart, He truly has our life.

Thank You, Father, that You are interested in my heart and not necessarily my service. You are my treasure and I want You to have every piece of my heart. Today I lay down everything that holds me from following You with all of my heart. Amen.

By Idelette McVicker
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Further Reading

•  How to Fall in Love with Jesus by Sylvia Gunter

•   Keeping Yourself in God’s Love – even during painful times in your life

•  Salvation Explained


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Lord, you are such a faithful Shepherd. Thank you for leading me in “paths of righteousness,” especially when life seems uncertain.


Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff they comfort me.
Psalm 23: 4
(NIV)

I drove home through thick fog tonight. There have been fog patches around our home and in the area these past two weeks. I hardly ever drive through thick mist without thinking about my relationship with God.  It becomes such a tangible representation of our faith journey through life and how dependent we are on our Guide to lead us every step of the way. How easily I could get caught up in Fear, forgetting what a faithful Shepherd we have. He is a loving God who never changes. He guides us through the foggy times and dances with us when the sun shines. Our Lord is, after all, the Light of the world and He is never far away.

Reflect: Where do you find comfort in times of uncertainty?

Prayer:
Lord, you are such a faithful Shepherd. Thank you for leading me in “paths of righteousness,” especially when life seems uncertain.

by Idelette McVicker
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Further Reading

•   Overflowing with Life!

•   Spiritual Oxygen: Are You Getting Enough?

•  Salvation Explained


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My children often show me the very basics of our humanness.


Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” Matthew 19:14 (NIV)

My children often show me the very basics of our humanness. The not-yet-redeemed parts: how we are innately selfish, greedy and impatient. They also show me the heavenly parts: how to play and dream. How to move and make up stories. How to love and come in for a cuddle. Children are not afraid of intimacy and adventure. Their hearts are wide open, ready to love, happy to explore. Children are eager to learn; not yet set in their ways.

While most people love babies, not all people tolerate children. And yet, Jesus said: Let the children come. Children interrupt our ideas of perfection. How often I think of heaven as a perfect place where every duck is in a row. But Jesus said, Let the children come. In a way, I have come to think that He says, Come, let’s invite in the chaos. Let’s fling open the skies and let the noise come in. Let’s learn together and play, like the family I meant for us to be. It’ll be fun.

Prayer:
Lord, help me to come to You, like a child. Help me to learn from You, like a child. Help me to be more open to the chaos and noisiness of Life. Help me to see You in these moments. Amen.

By Idelette McVicker
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Further Reading

What is the Father Saying to You?

Open My Eyes

•  Salvation Explained


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Where is my heart today: focused on the news around me or rested in the Savior of the world?


In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to his own town to register.” Luke 2:1-3

Jesus was born into a world taken up with Caesar Augustus’ census. People were travelling to get to their own towns so they could register. Bethlehem was bustling with activity—all the inns were full—and I’m sure everyone was talking about the census. It shouldn’t surprise me that this is the time God chooses for Jesus to be born into the world. While everyone is focused on the seemingly important events of the day, Jesus, Savior of the world, is born in a manger.

There is so much demanding our attention in the world every day. Elections, climate change, economic fluctuations, war, natural disasters, personal struggles. It is into this atmosphere—this hustle and bustle—that Jesus chooses to be born into again and again. He pierces through our activity and calls us to come and adore Him … to see the wonder of His birth.

Reflect:  How can I invite Jesus into the activities of my day today?

Where is my heart today: focused on the news around me or rested in the Savior of the world?

Jesus, thank You for coming into my very own story and calling me to see You. Today I adore You and I thank You for the wonder of Your birth.

By Idelette McVicker
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Christmas Section
Stories:  Why I Choose God
•  Salvation Explained


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Jesus sees us. Even before anyone sees what we are capable of, He knows us and He sees us.


I saw you under the fig tree before Philip called you.”
John 1: 48

Nathanael didn’t quite believe Philip when he said Jesus of Nazareth was the Messiah. In fact, Nathanael’s response was, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” (John 1:46)

When Nathanael checks Jesus out, ‘instead of confronting Nathanael about his unbelief’ Jesus speaks to him about a part of Nathanael’s life that no human would know. He reveals to Nathanael that He, as the Son of God, knows him. “I saw you under the fig tree before Philip called you,” Jesus tells him. To me it says that even before Nathanael started his ministry work, Jesus saw him. Even when no one else knew what Nathanael was capable of, Jesus saw him.

It’s in this instance that Nathanael believes Jesus truly is who Philip said He is.

In the same way, Jesus sees us. Even before anyone sees what we are capable of, He knows us and He sees us.

Jesus sees you. He has been with you, watching you, walking with you. He has seen the pain, the struggle, the depth of your desire. He also sees you today, where you are working, where you live and where you love. Jesus sees you and He is wanting to draw ever closer as you spend your life in Him.

Reflect:
Jesus, where did You see me?

Prayer:
Thank You for seeing me today, Jesus. You see me. You see me. I am right here. Thank You, Amen.

by Idelette McVicker
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Further Reading

Spiritual Oxygen: Are You Getting Enough?

Learning to Listen – by Max Lucado

•  Salvation Explained


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God knows the depths of our possibility, the depths of our potential. God knows the depths of our capacity and the depths of our destiny.


Your name is no longer Jacob. From now on it is Israel (God-Wrestler); you’ve wrestled with God and you’ve come through.” Genesis 32:28 (Msg)

The story of Jacob speaks to me of someone desperate for a deep, deep blessing from God. Jacob wanted it so much that he was willing to wrestle with God through the night. He wasn’t about to let up and, in fact, said, “I’m not letting you go until you bless me.” Genesis 32:26 (Msg)

Jacob had a deep need to be restored at the core of his person. There are depths in each of us that only God knows. He wants to go there with each of us. He wants to bless us in the deepest place. He wants to meet us at the core of our being.

God knows the depths of our possibility, the depths of our potential. God knows the depths of our capacity and the depths of our destiny. Jacob was more than a dreamer. He was willing to wrestle with (even) God to get his blessing.

Reflect:
– What is your deepest need today?
– What are you willing to wrestle for?

Dear Father, Thank You that Your perfect love means You desire to bless us. You want to meet us in our deepest places and bless us at the core of our being. Meet me there, today, Lord. I need Your blessing. I love You. Amen.

By Idelette McVicker
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Further Reading

•  Hope for the Hopeless

•  A Passion for Helping Others – Business leader, Ken Kolek, talks about putting others first and how this affects his business dealings.

•  Salvation Explained


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