Thursday, November 21, 2019

The First Christmas


Hymnal Excerpt of 
"O Holy Night"

When I think about Christmas, one of my favorite memories is singing Christmas hymns in church. So I pulled out my old hymnal and started looking for Christmas songs. I flipped to "O Holy Night" and found a beautiful excerpt from Ruth Bell Graham's children's book titled "Our Christmas Story" 1959. Ruth was the wife of well known evangelist Billy Graham. She was an integral part of his ministry for many years and also the author of 14 books.


The excerpt reads:

The First Christmas

There she was. The young woman with the radiant smile. She was leaning against on of the stalls, and the eyes in the happy face were closed. The man was at her side. And behind them, in the manger where the cows came for their food, was the Baby.

He was a tiny thing, wrapped tightly in a long linen band and sleeping as soundly as any newborn baby. Sleeping as though the world had not waited thousands of years for this moment. As soundly as though your life and my life and the life of everyone on earth were not wrapped up in His birth. As though from this moment on all the sin and sorrow of the world were not His problem.

Should you speak to His mother resting so quietly there? Should you ask her if you might touch the Baby - not to wake Him, but just to touch His hand?

What a moment that would have been! To have reached out your own hand and touched the Son of God!

Ruth Bell Graham
From Our Christmas Story
by Mrs. Billy Graham


I love how she wrote that piece. We have heard the Christmas Story so many times, we all know how it goes. But to try and put yourself in that moment, to actually be there, what would you think? What would you do? Could you even move at all? Would you fall to your knees? I'm pretty sure I'd be frozen in amazement and then fall to my knees worshiping this tiny baby. What an overwhelmingly amazing moment that would have been to be there! Wow!

  

I chose to decorate this page in a simple and classic way. I softened the edges with blue watercolor first. Then randomly stamped pine branches and pinecones from the set Christmas Pine (listed below). I then created some wordfetti from the set called Christmas Wordfetti, cut them out, dusted the edged with some distress oxide, and glued them down. I glued a few pieces of gold confetti and dabbed a few dots of white paint around the edges, and done! A sweet yet simple classic page to enhance a classic Christmas hymn!


xoxo,
Stephanie Gammon


Christmas Wordfetti

Christmas Pine







Tuesday, November 19, 2019

The Gospel According to David

Link to my Youtube Channel with the full process video, HERE.


Hello, sweet and loving friends!

Deeds here, with another post featuring the November release from Sweet n Sassy Stamps!
I think we as the creative team more or less geeked out about the gorgeously-made stamps set, "Folk Art Snowflakes!"  Now in our crafting space, these stamps have taken on many forms and uses, helping to inspire others to creatively think outside the box.  It's a joy to see how YOU have been creating with these, and what a pleasure to know that you've found them to be useful in your creative worship as well as card-making!  Additionally, I'm working with the "Art Deco Alpha" stamp set which has been a joy and thrill in its own ways! Click on icons below to visit the store! I have a full process video on Youtube for this page, so be sure to check it out!




Psalm 51... Wow.
Y'all... I have to be super honest and frank about it.  I struggled with this Psalm a lot.  Well, I struggled with this blog  I've written about it a lot.
Have you read Psalm 51?  Have you read it recently?  Have you read it with fresh eyes?  Did you collect insight this time, that you never had before?
Is not the Word of God living and active?
ABSOLUTELY I've been so blessed by this Psalm even new and afresh today!  I read it about a couple weeks ago and couldn't take my eyes off of it; I didn't want to miss a single thing.  For that reason, this blog may be a bit longer than my usual blogs, but please hang tight with me.  What I'm blogging about today is serious and beautiful; enrapturing and captivating: the Gospel according to David.
I hope I do it justice, and may the Lord speak to you as He spoke to me through his word... Amen.

The general background of this Psalm is laid out in the header: "A Psalm of David, when Nathan came to him after he'd gone to Bathsheba."
More specifically, this is post-adultery, post-covetousness, post-fornication, post-deception, post-murder.  The list of transgressions is fairly serious and all done by one man.
I've often wondered how David, "the man after God's heart," could do all of the above.  Then I remember, David: a human.  A purebred sinner.  Ensnared by the inherent sin nature at birth, just like you and me. 
What had he done that I have not? 
What tendencies toward sin and rebelliousness did he have that I too, have not experienced?
What sin had entangled him that has not - at some point - bound my feet?
Wait, what?  Deeds, you're a murderer?  An adulterer?  A liar?

Let's look at something as an example very quickly, so you see what I mean.  After all, Jesus, who walked and talked the fullness of the law of God, taught, "You have heard that it was said to our ancestors, 'do not murder,' and whoever murders will be subject to judgment.  But I tell you, whoever is angry with his brother or sister will be subject to judgment."  (Matthew 5:21)
The implications of Jesus' statement are huge! 
I'VE been sinfully angry before!  What in the world do we do with anger wrongly channeled?  How can I possibly stand up in His judgments against the murderer??

Enter Psalm 51.
From the beginning, it's easy to see the different pieces of this broken mess of a man.  I'm picturing snot and tears, wailing and groaning.  I see his pinched facial expressions as the result of a remembrance of inward rebellion turned outward.  I see a man, once confident, strong, and bold, in a gooey heap on the floor, face in hands, heart in shambles.
Penitence.  Sorrow. 
I've often wondered how David, harp player, worship leader, army slayer, could even "show" his face to the Almighty after being the cause of such harm, devastation and havoc! 
Then I remember: God. 

The short of it is grace, but oh, how we can relate to David well!  In fact, just as an extra bit of inspiration from the heart of God, the header to Psalm 51 also includes this: "for the choir director."
This doesn't mean that the conductor of the choir secretly suffered from an adulterous past, a murderous heart, or covetous eyes.  Simply, this means David sang his own infamy and humiliation for the betterment of others.  He wrote it for others to relate to.  He composed all lyrics - probably on the famous lyre - so others (e.g. you and me) may see what sin in the face of God looks like, and the over-powering, towering grace of the Lord over sin for those who are contrite.  Broken.  Snot and tears, broken.

Whereas, once I looked at this Psalm as a plead for mercy and "cleaning up" after the sin onslaught, today and ever more, I see the Gospel.  I see the salvation of God to all "who confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead..." (Romans 10:9)
Try to sink yourself into each section of verses, identifying each step of the walk toward the salvation of God; each broken piece, coming together under the purifying work of the Holy Spirit; each proclamation of truth of the Gospel, the power with which it will break and heal, and the glory with which it can wash and transform.

The Gospel of Awakening & Grace.
Verses 1-5 contain evidence of what we know - of which David was also fully aware - of an active rebellious heart.  In the beginning stage of salvation, we appeal to the undeserved favor of God as our "sin is ever before" us.  One who is on the edge of sin's cliff, can fall headfirst into mercy's ravine.  David instructs the travesty that is "human nature," guiding us into a full and hearty confessional to seek His tender mercies and embrace His faithful love.  Words like "completely wash away my guilt," helps us to see that David did not just want a superficial cleansing: rather he wanted it ALL.  All his heart.  All his soul.  All his being.  Cleaned, washed, renewed.  God can and God WILL do a mighty work in us to rid us of underlying corruption.
To be sure, David is not telling God to look past his sin, to tolerate his sin, to erase his sinful past, or to ignore His sense of justice.  In fact, the psalmist acknowledges God as the right and just Judge when he says, "So You are right when you pass sentence; You are blameless when You judge." (v. 4)  But in the same way that God cannot forget who He is in His justice, He cannot forget who He is in His grace which is the very character trait for which David cries out.
"To an awakened conscience," Charles Spurgeon writes, "pain on account of sin is not transient and occasional, but intense and permanent, and this is no sign of divine wrath, but rather a sure preface of abounding favour." (His commentary on Psalm 51)  Praise the Lord for awakening us to our sin and His grace!

The Gospel of Repentance & Joy.
The next section of verses (6-13) details the admission of guilt and the joy that comes from healing and restoration following being "crushed" by the LORD.  Let's not be confused by words like "joy," "rejoice," or "be glad," in this section.  Being crushed by Yahweh, the Almighty, the Sovereign, the Creator, the Righteous, the Judge, is no mere thing.  It's chastening.  It's difficult discipline.  It takes time.  It takes re-shaping.  It's refining, and refining through fire.  It's purifying, and purifying through dying to self.  The Great I AM digs deeply into each of His children, pulls, wrenches, chisels, and prunes the fibers of our sin nature away; when the Lord Almighty chastens, the effectual work of the Holy Spirit will be a heart more lovely, more worshipful, more desire-full, more like Jesus.
There IS a joy in this scripture passage of the hope of complete healing and purifying.  David understands his utter transgression against God, but he also recognizes God as THE One and THE only God who can push underneath the grime of our hearts, uproot the junk and gunk of our humanity, and perfectly wash and restore!
Though he pleads with Yahweh, "do not take Your Spirit from me," he is not suggesting that God will un-promise what He has promised, or undo what He has done.  Rather, he's making a true turn to face the God in His rightful place as Head and Lead.  And, David understands his position - in stark contrast- is lowly in nature, un-sustained without the Lord, but ready for refreshed hope and joy!

The Gospel of Mercy & Restoration.
Then comes the final few verses in which the sinner, on his knees, offers himself to the Lordship of his God, that "by the mercies of God" he may present himself a "living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God," which would be his (and our) spiritual worship.  The Gospel is not just about a sin debt being paid and guilt being removed.  That is a huge "Hallelujah!" in my book for sure.  I love the lyric of the old hymn, "my sin not in part, but the whole" (It Is Well with My Soul).  Additionally, the Gospel refreshes, restores, and re-positions us to testify further of God's grace, compassion, steadfast love, and endless mercies.
"The Jesus Bible" says this, which I love and wanted to share with you:
"David knew he deserved punishment and judgment for his wrongdoings, recognizing that his sin was against God and God alone, yet he also knew that God is a God of forgiveness, mercy and compassion. 
"Even though David, a man after God's own heart, fell into sin, God didn't give up on him.  God took David's sin and and used it to display his goodness and his glory.  Solomon, son of David and Bathsheba, grew up to be the wisest man on earth (1 Kings 4:30-31).  And about a thousand years later, Jesus would come from that same lineage.  The Savior of the world was born into a lineage tainted by sin."  (pg. 847)
The life of a follower of God, pleases God in this: that he/she lives unto God, doing that which glorifies and makes much of His Holy name.  Jesus does not turn down the lowly and contrite.  His heart is for the poor women with only 2 coins and giving her all.  He leans ever-graciously toward the full outpouring of our heart, at His feet.  When we fall, He picks us back up to move forward in His name.  After our "cleansing" by His shed blood on the cross, we are set on a new path (Gal. 2:20), given a new name (Isaiah 56:5), and a new heart (Ezek. 36:26), all for our good and His glory!

And David knew it.
He didn't live to see his perfect, righteous Heir to the throne.  But you can be sure, this broken man was made alive in the Gospel of Jesus.
Again, Spurgeon had this to say on the topic:
"Nothing but the blood can take away my blood stains, nothing but the strongest purification can avail to cleanse me... Let Him who was appointed to atone, execute his sacred office on me; for none can need it more than I." (on his commentary for verse 7)
The Gospel is so full and unfettered, ready to wholly embrace the one who understands that "by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not as a result of  works, so that no one can boast." (Ephesians 2:8-9)  It brings the adulterer, the liar, the thief, the covetous, the murderer - yes, the angry person - a cleansing so rich and so free, so complete and so life-giving.  We need but turn to Jesus, the God-man who took all of the Father's wrath and judgment on Himself in death on the cross.  This Savior of the world was buried and raised in newness of life, being the first of many who would do the same.  Our hope is in this.  Our lives are dependent on this.  Our future hinges here - the Gospel - that our lives may be full and our eternity with the Father, set.

Do you know Jesus, friend?
Do you know you're cleansed by His blood as a believer?
Do you know the all-sufficient grace that covers the sin debt you owed pre-salvation?
Do you understand that the Gospel message is for you?
Jesus alone saves.
Jesus alone cleans.
Jesus alone purifies.
Jesus alone sanctifies.
Jesus alone.

Thank God for the the "Good news" which shall be unto all people, a Savior who is Christ the Lord!

Much love,
Deeds


Monday, November 18, 2019

Just Listen

"Ok, but seriously, can you not just LISTEN?!"

That's what I felt like saying to the Israelites when I was reading through Jeremiah this past week. They repeatedly sought Jeremiah's advice and counsel, and repeatedly ignored it - with devastating consequences. 


Jeremiah 44:5

Jeremiah chapters 42 through 44 paint the scene for us:

After the downfall of Jerusalem and inner turmoil, assassinations, and infighting, the remaining people of Judah gathered together and approached Jeremiah and said to him, "Let our plea for mercy come before you, and pray to the Lord your God for us, for all this remnant - because we are left with but a few, as your eyes see us - that the Lord your God may show us the way we should go, and the thing that we should do." Jeremiah agreed to pray to the Lord for His guidance and report back whatever the Lord said. The people then promised to do whatever the Lord commanded, whether it was good or bad, they would obey the voice of the Lord. 

At the end of 10 days, Jeremiah relayed the message from the Lord back to the people. God told them to stay in their land and He would protect them and bless them. But, He said, if they leave the land and settle in Egypt, famine, disaster, and destruction would follow them and they would all perish. 


“Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, to whom you sent me to present your plea for mercy before him: If you will remain in this land, then I will build you up and not pull you down; I will plant you, and not pluck you up; for I relent of the disaster that I did to you. Do not fear the king of Babylon, of whom you are afraid. Do not fear him, declares the Lord, for I am with you, to save you and to deliver you from his hand. I will grant you mercy, that he may have mercy on you and let you remain in your own land. But if you say, ‘We will not remain in this land,’ disobeying the voice of the Lord your God and saying, ‘No, we will go to the land of Egypt, where we shall not see war or hear the sound of the trumpet or be hungry for bread, and we will dwell there,’ then hear the word of the Lord, O remnant of Judah. Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: If you set your faces to enter Egypt and go to live there, then the sword that you fear shall overtake you there in the land of Egypt, and the famine of which you are afraid shall follow close after you to Egypt, and there you shall die. All the men who set their faces to go to Egypt to live there shall die by the sword, by famine, and by pestilence. They shall have no remnant or survivor from the disaster that I will bring upon them."
Jeremiah 42:9-17

The people heard all Jeremiah had to say and when he had stopped speaking, the arrogant leaders exploded with anger. "Liar!! Liar!! God didn't tell you to say, 'don't go to Egypt'. You are just trying to set us up so we can be killed or captured and exiled to Babylon!!" 

(Wait, what? You asked Jeremiah to give you advice and promised him you would listen and obey no matter what, and then you call him a liar when he gives you the direct word from the Lord, which just so happens to be something you didn't want to hear? I read this passage in complete astonishment.)



The people ignore Jeremiah's warning and move to Egypt, and Jeremiah 44 tells of God's judgement. Perhaps the saddest passage is Jeremiah 44 when God says, "Yet I persistently sent to you all my servants the prophets, saying, 'Oh, do not do this abomination that I hate!' But they did not listen or incline their ear..."

Of course, we know what happens after that -- Egypt falls to Babylon and the Jewish people living in Egypt were destroyed. In fact, Matthew Henry says this about the Israelites living in Egypt at that time: 
The sacred history records not the accomplishment of this prophecy, but its silence is sufficient; we hear no more of these Jews in Egypt, and therefore conclude them, according to this prediction, lost there; for no word of God shall fall to the ground.

What a sad, sad end to a people who would just not listen. 

It's easy to judge the Israelites and their poor decision making. I mean, they had the direct word of the Lord and they did the complete opposite time and time again! Oh, but my friend, aren't we so often like the Israelites? We have the entire word of God (the Bible), we have direct access to God's heavenly throne room through our Lord Jesus Christ, and yet we do the complete opposite of what we know we should do time and time and time again! I was so convicted reading this passage. It's not enough to read and know God's word, you have to also listen and obey. This is an area I know I need to work on and, with the Lord's help, will strive to be a better listener to His Word in my life. Will you pray with me to be a better listener this week?

Much love in Christ, 

Janelle
@journalingjoy



This page is what I call a "beautiful mess". 😍 I followed my friend Colleen's instruction video on creating a page using stamps, Distress Oxides, acyrlic paint, stencils and texture paste. If you haven't see it yet, you can find it on YouTube here. What a blast!! I used the new Art Deco Alpha stamp set along with the Mini Grunge Alpha, Faith Wordfetti, Texture Tiles 1, and Typewriter Text Background stamp sets from Sweet 'n Sassy Stamps. They are celebrating their 12th birthday through the month of November and you can receive 12% off your entire order!! 📣🙌


  

 



Thursday, November 14, 2019

How did you do that?

Hey friends today I am sharing a process video with you all. The first half is a walk through using  Distress Oxides, I explain how to use them. Why I use gesso with them. Then I use my pallet knife for adding paint and layers. I finish the page in fast speed  and at the end talk through the finishing process. I hope this helps you see a little bit of what goes on behind the scenes. . If you have any questions let me know!


https://youtu.be/Vyz0ub1Zd7c


Enjoy!
Colleen

Monday, November 11, 2019

Love & Truth

And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more 
in real knowledge and all discernment. Philippians 1:9

Hi Friends!

In honor of Veteran's Day, to all those who have served, and to those who continue to serve...thank you! Even more than the gratitude we owe you, we owe you our freedom.

Today, I want to talk about love and truth. In today's world, love is equated with acceptance of all behaviors, whether those behaviors are appropriate or sinful. The world often tells us if we don't agree with a certain behavior or lifestyle, then we are haters. But that simply isn't true.

What does the Bible tell us? My pastor has been teaching on Revelation. Here's my take away from his message on Sunday. Paul wrote in Philippians 1:9 that he prayed the church's love would be abundant in knowledge and discernment. Jesus commended the church of Ephesus in Revelation 2 for holding fast to His truth but reprimanded them for losing their first love. He also commended the church of Thyatira in the same chapter for their strong love but reprimanded them for not adhering to His truth. So, the to be effective for God, the church can't be all truth and no love. But, it also can't be all love and no truth. It has to be both. The church is called to love, and it is also called to speak truth. And for some reason, humans seem to have difficulty in merging those two things. We do one of two things:

  1. We embrace the truth but judge others when they don't follow God's truth. I really think the church misses the mark on this. We get so wrapped up in what people should be doing or not doing and whether this lifestyle is right or wrong, that we forget to love them. People we are trying to draw to Jesus are not going to hear His message if we put them on the defensive. First, we need to have a relationship with them. We need to love them. When they feel loved and genuinely cared for, then and only then will they be open to hear about Jesus and the way He wants us to live.
  2. We love others and compromise God's truth because of that love. When this happens, we begin to accept things that the Bible tells us are sinful. We compromise. We lose sight of how Jesus wants us to live. Without God's truth, love gets warped into something God never intended. Eventually, everything gets warped. And isn't our world looking pretty warped now?
So, we must love. But we also must stay rooted in God's truth. And we must speak that truth in love. May we love abundantly, and may that love be full of knowledge and discernment, just as Paul prayed.
Page Details: I used the following Sweet 'n Sassy Stamps sets: Art Deco Alpha and Fall in Love with Jesus. I also used watercolor crayons, a Micron pen, and a pencil. Yes, a pencil! Rebecca Rios shared that she uses a pencil to shadow. And I think this is an awesome tip! So, the letters are shadowed with a pencil. Whenever I try to use a gray pen, it ends up leaving a dark dot where I lift the pen up. I hate that. With the pencil- no dots! And, you can erase if you mess up. Win, win!! This month is Sweet 'n Sassy's 12th birthday! Celebrate with us by getting a 12% discount all month long!
 Have a blessed week! Andrea

Saturday, November 9, 2019

Fear + Delight = Happiness..?

Hi friends,


There is a lot of focus on happiness in our world today. Many, many products and programmes are offered as sources of happiness (in fact, much of the advertising industry is driven by the desire for happiness). Often, we associate happiness with having our desires fulfilled and our dreams coming true. But what does the Bible say about happiness?


The word 'happiness' in some of our English translations is translated 'blessed' in others - they come from the same Hebrew word. I highly recommend doing a word study of happy/blessed in Scripture to see what the whole counsel of God's Word says about this topic. In Psalm 112 the psalmist writes 'Happy is the person who fears the Lord, taking great delight in his commands.'


The concept of fearing the Lord is such a foreign one in today's world. It is even more foreign to associate fear of the Lord with happiness, but that is exactly what this Psalm does. Fear in this case, when directed toward the Lord, is not terror but reverence and awe. When we stand in awe of God and take delight in his commands to us (which is a natural response when we reverence the source of those commands) we are blessed. This may not result in instant and continuous happiness (as we imagine happiness to be), but there is a state of contentment, peace and joy that we can live in when we fix our eyes on the Lord in reverence and delight.


I love the beautiful poinsettia image from the November Stamp of the Month called Poinsettia Greetings. I stamped the image on watercolour card and embossed with white embossing powder then watercoloured. I cut the image out, then cut it in half so that I could use each half in a different place on the page. This page in my Illustrating Bible had lots of space to play with, so I created a honeycomb background using acrylic paints and a stencil, then stamped the verse over the top using Classy Script Alpha, Bitty Minnie Alpha and Chunky Alpha.



Next time we feel like we are lacking happiness in our lives, it might be a good idea to examine our fear of the Lord and our delight in his commands. This isn't a formula, but it is a guide to show us what true happiness looks like. I don't know about you, but I need to grow in experiencing this kind of happiness.

Be blessed...

x Amy x






Thursday, November 7, 2019

White as Snow...


Isaiah 1:18
"Come let us settle this,"
Says the Lord.
"Though your sins are scarlet,
they will be as white as snow;
though they are crimson red,
they will be like wool."

In these verses of the chapter of Isaiah, the Lord is talking to the people of Jerusalem. They are the holy city, his holy people but they were turning from their once righteous ways. In Isaiah 1:21 it says, "The faithful town, what an adulterous she has become! She was once full of justice. Righteousness once dwelt in her, but now murders!"

The Lord is telling the people of Jerusalem that he can bring them back from that sin. He can forgive the things they have done, the mistakes they have made. He has the power to wash away their blood stained, scarlet colored sins and forgive them. They will be washed clean, white as snow.

Some of us.... well... all of us are guilty of sin. Every... single... day we sin in one for or another. We are not perfect, and God didn't create us to be perfect. No one can be perfect. But, he is telling us that though we may fall short of perfection, we will sin, he will forgive us of it all. That doesn't mean go do what you want to do and all will be forgiven. If we live our best lives, doing our best to live our lives according to God's word, he will forgive us when we fall short. 



We all have our pasts. Some more soaked in crimson red stains than others. But, we are all guilty in one form or another. The Lord is the only one who can fully forgive us of our sins, our mistakes, the things we may hold deep inside and that maybe no one else even knows. What a wonderful heavenly father we have that can forgive us of those mistakes!! Thank you Lord! Thank you for forgiving us of our worst mistakes and washing us white as snow! Praise God! 


xoxo,
Stephanie Gammon


Folk Art Snowflakes


Script Outline Alpha