As the Christmas season beckoned at my door, I could not help but reminisce about the memories of Christmas past. A lot of my flashbacks revolve around running to abuse shelters from my stepfather who was physically abusive. Even when things seemed calm on my home front, I could always count on the never-ending drama within my family to spice up the holiday season. Holiday drama and my family seem to go together like macaroni and cheese. While the majority of my early memories could put anyone in therapy, I did think about one Christmas that still puts a smile on my face even to this day.
It was the Christmas that my aunt, uncle, and cousins drove 12 plus hours in the sleet and snow to be with us during the holidays. I was in sixth grade and I still remember the smell of burning wood in the fireplace and the amazing meals my mom prepared. But, the best part of that Christmas was a present I received. To the outward eye it appeared that my aunt gave me a game, “Stop Thief” by Parker Brothers, but it was much more than that.
You see, that evening my family gathered around the dining room table and played until the wee hours in the morning. The entire room was filled with laughter as we chased the fictitious thief all over the game board. As an abused child who later nearly took her life at the age of 15, I held onto the laughter of that night during some of the hardest times in my life. The memory of that Christmas is still with me today. I am not sure when it happened or which state I lived in at the time, but I lost my most prized game, “Stop Thief.”
Now in my thirties, I decided it was time to replace my favorite game. My research uncovered that Parker Brothers no longer makes the game, and to my dismay, “Stop Thief “ is now considered a vintage game! My husband suggested that I attempt to locate the vintage game on E-Bay. I held my breath as I typed in the words “Stop Thief” on the E-Bay website, and there it appeared before my eyes, not only one, but several “Stop Thief” games were being sold that very day. I placed my highest bid, and to my surprise, won the game. I eagerly anticipated its arrival, and just three days later it was placed at my front door in Atlanta, Georgia. I opened the package, pulled out the game and saw my very own handwriting on the front cover that stated, “I love Michael Jackson” in red ink. The memory of using my brand new ink pen with multiple ink colors flooded my mind and I remembered choosing red because Michael Jackson wore a red leather coat in his Thriller video. Tears filled my eyes as I realized that I had not just received any “Stop Thief” game, but my original game from my childhood.
It was a miracle and I knew who had done it for me- my sweet Jesus. I had known of His love for me, but the fact that He found my original game that I had lost a long time ago is beyond amazing. God led a stranger in Illinois to end up with my game, sell it years later on E-Bay, and then have it delivered several states away to my front door. That shows me the restoration power of God! Joel 2:21-26 talks about how God will restore the years the locusts have eaten. I don’t know what you may have lost over the years; maybe the locusts of life have stolen from you as well. I encourage you to ask God to restore unto you things that you have lost. God is able to not only restore former things, but He always brings things back with increase beyond its original state. Jesus truly is the restorer of all things lost. After all, we once were lost, but now we are found.
Lord, I declare that the enemy must give back everything he has stolen from me! I proclaim that 2007 will be a year filled with the restoration power of God. I ask that you restore my body, my mind, my spirit, my relationships, my family, my reputation, my finances and anything else needing the restoration power of God. I love you Jesus and it because of your love that I believe 2007 will be the best year of my life.” Amen.
TUESDAY’S WITH TRACY
“You (Mary) will become pregnant and give birth to a son and call his name Jesus…” “Mary said to the angel, ‘But how? I’ve never slept with a man.’ The angel answered, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, the power of the Highest hover over you; Therefore, the child you bring to birth will be called Holy, Son of God. And did you know that your cousin Elizabeth conceived a son, old as she is? Everyone called her barren, and here she is six months pregnant! Nothing, you see, is impossible with God.’ And Mary said, ‘Yes, I see it all now: I’m the Lord’s maid, ready to serve. Let it be with me just as you say.’ Then the angel left her.”
– Luke 1:31, 34-38, Message Translation
One can only imagine what Mary was thinking when Gabriel stated that she would become pregnant with child. Her response was, “But how? I’ve never slept with a man.” Although this reaction is a logical one, the angel began to share how the Holy Spirit would hover over her and that the child she would give birth to shall be called Holy.
This revelation given by Gabriel to Mary is still true for us today: It is the Holy Spirit who births the impossible. We are simply to be willing vessels like Mary ready to serve God here on earth. My question for you today is, what is your “but how? I’ve never” excuse to God for not fulfilling what He is has called you to do? Perhaps you would say “but how? I’ve never . . . gotten a degree, gone to toast master’s, been mentored, gone to seminary, or seen worthy by others.” The great news is that the dilemma of “but how? I’ve never” is totally cancelled when the Holy Spirit is brought into the situation. NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE WITH GOD!
Lord, please forgive me for all my excuses. I want to be like Mary, a willing vessel ready to say, “yes” to your plans. I realize that I cannot do anything on my own, but only through the power of Your Spirit. Therefore I ask you Holy Spirit, to do the impossible and help me to fulfill my destiny here on earth. I celebrate the gift of Jesus this day and declare that all things are possible this Christmas season! Help those around me to know the real meaning of Christmas: the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.” Amen.
Merry Christmas and remember to celebrate the real gift – Jesus! I love you! – Tracy Hurst
“Upon entering, Gabriel greeted her (Mary): ‘Good morning! You’re beautiful with God’s beauty, Beautiful inside and out! God be with you.’ She was thoroughly shaken, wondering what was behind a greeting like that. But the angel assured her, ‘Mary you have nothing to fear. God has a surprise for you: You will become pregnant and give birth to a son and call his name Jesus.” −Luke 1:28-31, Message Translation
Greetings woman of God: You are beautiful with God’s beauty! You are beautiful inside and out. God be with you this day! How does it feel to be spoken to like that? Some of you may quickly receive this encouraging word, but others of you are like Mary and question the intent behind such a glorious greeting. I cannot imagine how Mary felt to have an angel address her with such a message of love. Just the fact that God wanted Mary to know of her beauty and favor before Him is awesome. But it doesn’t stop there; Gabriel goes on to tell her how God will save the world through her womb. Can you even fathom what she must have been thinking and feeling? We are going to look further next week at the verses to follow concerning Mary that day. But I believe at this moment God wants you to know how beautiful and highly favored you are in His sight. Perhaps you’re not pregnant with child like Mary, but you are pregnant with the purposes of God. He longs to bring salvation and healing to the world through your life. So receive God’s message today and say out loud, “I am beautiful with God’s beauty. I am beautiful inside and out because God is with me this day.”
“Lord, I love you and long to believe this message today. Change any mindsets that would hinder me from receiving your love. I come out of agreement with any words spoken over me that do not line up with this truth. Forgive me for believing the lies of the enemy rather than what Your Word says about me. I am loved and highly favored by God. I am the apple of His eye. God loves me so much that He sent His only Son to die on the cross that I may live. Thank you Lord for the gift of Jesus.” Amen.
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“For the Lord is good; His mercy and loving-kindness are everlasting, His faithfulness and truth endure to all generations.” Psalm 100:5 Amplified Bible
Everyone warned Mike and me that everything was going to change with the birth of our daughter. We did not fully understand these words until she was born. Since becoming radically saved at the age of 16, I have experienced life in the supernatural. I have witnessed God transform lives (including mine) and observed people being healed through miracles, signs and wonders. I have been blessed and have tasted the goodness of the Lord since my salvation. God has always given me supernatural favor with everything in my life – from my counseling practice, to my speaking engagements, and freelance writing – blessings beyond belief have chased me. My pregnancy was even supernatural. One afternoon I was sitting on a park bench praying when I heard the Holy Spirit say, “It’s time.” I knew within my spirit exactly what that meant. Mike and I immediately stopped my birth control and we were pregnant within 8 weeks!
I am however on a new venture with God – worshipping Him through the natural. Yes, through changing diapers, cleaning spit-up and early morning feedings. I have learned to read the Word while working out, praying while feeding, and reading a current book while rocking Alyssa to sleep. Alyssa is truly shaping our souls.
Maybe God is not using a newborn to shape your soul, but I’m sure He is using something or someone. It could be your job, spouse, friend, relative or simply His Word, but God is continually working in our lives all the time. He is a God we can trust, lean on and be confident in no matter what you may be going through. Learning to worship Him at all times is the key to enjoying our life each and every day.
As everyone stated, Mike and I have changed since the arrival of Alyssa Lyn, but for the better. We now love more and judge less. We thank God for the little things and let the petty things go. We are being transformed. Life with Alyssa is God’s plan to perfect us as His servants.
“Lord, thank you for using people and situations in my life to draw me closer to you. It may not feel good at the time, but I trust You to use it all for my good in the end. I bless those who have cursed me and I ask that Your goodness and mercy follow me all the days of my life. Thank you for never giving up on me. I choose to worship You as I embrace what you place before me this day.” Amen.