Sunday, December 25, 2016

my King has come!

Today, I am deliciously savoring the reality that my King reigns eternal.
My King is Most High, most powerful, all-knowing, and in control.
And what news is the sweetest of all?
It is this: My King loves me.
He is my beloved Shepherd and Redeemer.
He is my Faithful Friend and Guiding Light.
My King... My Jesus... has come... and He has come to save!
I am free because He has freed me!
I am new because He has restored and is changing me!
I am loved because He loves me!
I am blessed because He is mine forever!

Glory to God in the Highest!
Glory to the King of kings... MY KING!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all who have come to know THE KING of kings!

XOXO!

~Victoria

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

Saturday, December 24, 2016

what child is this?

At this very moment, an expectant mother has just gone into labor. After long months of waiting for her pregnancy to come to fruition, a woman is about to introduce a new child into the world. Perhaps this child's birth will come easily and without complication. Perhaps it won't. Perhaps this baby will be physically healthy and raised in a comfortable, safe environment filled with love and family. Perhaps it won't. Perhaps it will be raised in poverty and faced with malnutrition, a lack of education, sickness and danger. The speculated debut of every infant causes me to rejoice at God's creation and purpose yet still consider all that is most worrisome about the condition of our sinful race. Lord, will this baby make it?

In only a few years, as you and I continue to grow old, this once tiny infant will grow up and become wise to the saddened state of mankind. They will learn of how wealth and resources are divided unjustly on virtually every continent. They will be faced with real issues such as unstable economies, corrupted leaders, and war between nations. They will involuntarily be joined in responsibility for the choices of mankind. Choices that will impact the freedoms, opportunities, dignity and welfare of every son and daughter... every brother or sister... every man and woman.

This new life, added to the billions of other lives sharing our dying planet, will earn their place in history merely because they are human. They may be famous. They may be renowned. They may be wealthy. They may hold authority. Or they may never show up on the radar. A nobody to the masses. Irrespective of who they become or how easy/difficult their life may prove, this person will one day find himself face-to-face with Jesus, Emmanuel (meaning "God with us"), the Prince of Peace, the Son of God, the Light... the Hope of the world.

Jesus... a person who also was once a random baby born unpretentiously into our tainted world. Jesus... who would later be known as a Teacher, a Prophet, a Healer, a Messiah. What child is this who's birth was both lowly and glorious? A child who's arrival would ultimately be celebrated annually and worldwide. A child who's life would motivate carols of rejoicing and hymns of joy and peace. A child who was, and is, and is to come - the King of all kings. A special baby in whom all others will measure time. A person who could not be ignored. A person who would share a quality of spirit, a depth of insight, a manner of love while inviting others to live as He lives with great compassion, faith, purpose, and ethical integrity. Jesus would show us the highest possibility of godliness and the lowest form of humility. He would petition every heart to follow His Way, His Truth, His Life. A life that focuses on things ahead... things eternal... things holy... things good.

This, this is Christ the King, whom shepherds guard and angels sing! A child who slept in straw and lay in a manger - a trough where cattle would eat. A God who would bring promise, redemption, healing, salvation. Here he would come to live, to die, and to live again to give hope to all babies... to all men born of this hopeless world. What unique child is this that we should celebrate his birth and sing his arrival - an arrival closer in circumstance to the poor than to the more fortunate. An arrival that warranted the choirs of heaven to sing glory and praise to God in the Highest the moment the umbilical cord was cut from His virgin mother. An arrival that invited both the simple and the sage... the worker and the wise... the elegant and the ordinary. All who knew would come and give their blessing to the One who was, and is, and will forever be truly blessed.

Ladies, as the hustle and bustle of the holiday season consumes our time and focus, let us not forget to honor this holy, holy, holy child... this Savior, who came to earth for one goal, one purpose. As Christian women, let us be grateful that our eyes have been opened to follow after His grace. Let us be thankful that our lives hold great worth because He first loved us. Let us share what we know to be true. What we believe, accept, and follow. Yes, let us tell all people about Jesus' one way, one goal, one purpose and how He loves all mankind and wishes to redeem their lives. Let us sing whole-heartedly alongside the angels and eternally rejoice - for peace has come to earth! All praise and glory to our Omnipotent, Almighty God who loved us enough to come. Forever let us worship Jesus Christ... our Savior, who lowered Himself to our level so that we could ultimately be lifted back up to His.

What child is this? This child is my Master and King. This child is my Redeemer and Ruler. This child is my Shepherd and Comforter. This child is my Wonderful Counselor. My Mighty God. My Everlasting Father. My Prince of Peace. The Holy of Holies!!! Let us pause and celebrate His glorious nativity. Let us live with His message, His purpose spilling from our lips. Let us rest in His promise to return again, and anticipate with hope His kingdom come!

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David's throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. (Isaiah 9:6-7)

This, this is Christ MY King... my precious, holy, beautiful, magnificent JESUS!

O Come, let us pause. O Come, let us adore HIM!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

 ~Victoria

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

Friday, December 23, 2016

faith

Now faith is being sure of what we hoped for and certain of what we do not see. (Hebrews 11:1)

Faith gives peace.
Faith gives promise.
Faith gives access to God.
Faith gives grace.
Faith gives hope for the future.

Now, imagine life without faith... no thank you!

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15:13)

WOO HOO! All hope, all faith, is in JESUS CHRIST alone!
This is why we can rejoice and allow His joy and peace to overflow in our lives!
This is why we cannot help celebrate His birth every holiday season!
Jesus is LORD!
Jesus lives!
Jesus came to earth so that we might have peace, promise, access, grace, hope!
Hallelujah!

O come, O come, Emmanuel!  All hope, all faith, is centered upon your glorious, majestic return!  We anxiously await what we hope for.  We joyously, humbly... faithfully worship you, Savior, whom we do not currently see!

Hallelujah for the King has come and will return again!
Hallelujah for Jesus is our Christ!

Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year in His Holy Holy Holy Name!!!

Blessings!

~Victoria

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

Thursday, December 22, 2016

how do you see Him?

Does it depend on how you view Him;
Does it depend on what you see?
Was He just a little baby born of low nativity?
Was He just a humble carpenter, from Nazareth He came?
On the cross of old Golgotha, like the thieves, was He the same?
Could your vision perhaps be clouded;
Through a glass darkly do you see?
Could the scope of His dimension be found in eternity?
Beyond human understanding and yet for all mankind He came.
Highly exalted by His Father with a Name above every name.
For each of us He was humbled; obedient to death He bore our sin.
He was not willing that any should perish; He wanted all to be born again.
So, whether you look on Him as your Savior, a good man, or prophet of yore,
The day will come when every knee shall bow and tongue confess that

JESUS CHRIST IS LORD!

Then how will you view Him;
Then what will you see?
Your choice, yes, your decision will determine your eternity.

by Beverly "Momba" Drong (a.k.a. Victoria's Mother)

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

a kingdom of love

For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son...
To us, a Son is given.

For God so LOVED the world...

Perfect LOVE.

Love that casts out all fear.
Love that is patient.
Love that is kind.
Love that does not envy.
Love that is not rude, or boastful, or proud, or self seeking.
Love that does not destroy.
Love that is not easily angered.
Love that keeps no record of wrongs.
Love that hates injustice.
Love that rejoices when truth prevails.
Love that is always hopeful, always faithful.
Love that is zealous to serve.
Love that feeds and quenches.
Love that honors all persons.
Love that is sincere.
Love that is true, noble, right, pure.
Love that is admirable, excellent, praiseworthy.
Love that is self-controlled and disciplined.
Love that is upright.
Love that is romantic, intimate, holy.
Love that endures.
Love that is good.
Love that is devoted with all heart, soul, mind, strength.

Joy to the world! For God so loved the world!

For God so loved the world that He gave to us His only Son. Light has come into the world! For God did not send his Son to condemn us, but to save the world through Him... through His LOVE!

May His kingdom come!
May His will be done here on earth as it is in heaven!

Dear friends, let us love one another. For love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. (1 John 4:7-12, 16)

The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love. (Galatians 5:6b)

May your days be merry and bright... May your days be filled with LOVE!

For God... let us LOVE!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

~Victoria

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

let the celebration begin! (part 5)

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this. (Isaiah 9:6-7)

Prince of Peace! There can be no peace on earth unless this Prince, this Messiah, is at reign. For His government is not one that will be dictated by the belligerence of men. Man-made government is troubled, corrupt, unsettled, and broken. Why? Because without God, man is broken. However, with God, man can enjoy true love within a government that is complete, holy, full. This is what our Prince of Peace has promised to achieve through His almighty zeal.

To us... He comes with a new kingdom of which we are each invited to enjoy. His courts are secured in justice and righteousness. His kingdom is a holy life of hope! Blessed Messiah! For with You on David's throne, we may know everlasting peace!

Great peace have those who love your law, and nothing can make them stumble. (Psalm 119:165)

But the meek will inherit the land and enjoy peace and prosperity. (Psalm 37:11)

The only peace that can ever be found is with Jesus. He is our peace. His Way is the only path that is proven to free the restless sinner from bondage. With this Wonderful Counselor guiding us, with this Mighty God protecting and overseeing all things in our lives, with this Everlasting Father loving us as His own... this royal Prince comes to us - promising His truth. Promising an abundant life of freedom, contentment, and tranquility. Yes, only when we are close to the Savior, can we relax and enjoy balance and breath. In Christ, we are able to become holy and blameless in the eyes of God. In Christ, we are able to LIVE and be completely fulfilled. This Son of God who is also Son of Man has come and is indeed our peace! Will you follow His kingdom? Will you bow down to His glorious rule? Without Him, there can be no good will toward men. But with Jesus, we can live in the loving presence, interest, intrigue, wonder, splendor, and holiness of the Creator of all we know and do not know. His Way is THE WAY to know real, everlasting, perfect PEACE!

So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him. (2 Peter 3:14)

Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me - put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. (Philippians 4:9)

For he himself is our peace. He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit. (Ephesians 2:14a, 17-18)

To those who have been called, who are loved in God the Father and kept for Jesus Christ: Mercy, peace and love be yours in abundance. To him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy - to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen. (Jude 1:1-2, 24-25)

Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and from Jesus Christ, the Father’s Son, will be with us in truth and love. (2 John 1:3)

As the Lord zealously gives Himself to us, let us unreservedly give ourselves today (and every day)... TO JESUS!

Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come! (Revelation 4:8)

Merry, Merry Christmas and Blessings in Jesus' Holy Name!

~Victoria

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

Monday, December 19, 2016

let the celebration begin! (part 4)

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this. (Isaiah 9:6-7)

Everlasting Father! The guidance of this Wonderful Counselor, the power of this Mighty God... this comes from a loving Father Who knows no limits. He is eternal. He is forever. He is the Ancient of Days who has taken responsibility of His household and will provide and care for His children.

Do you not know?
Have you not heard? 
The LORD is the everlasting God,

The Creator of the ends of the earth. 
He will not grow tired or weary,

And his understanding no one can fathom.

He gives strength to the weary

And increases the power of the weak.

Even youths grow tired and weary,
And young men stumble and fall;
But those who hope in the LORD
Will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
They will run and not grow weary,
They will walk and not be faint.
(Isaiah 40:28-31)

To us... His greatness knows no end. For as we live on earth, surrounded by death in these faulty human shells, He still endures. His love still remains. His commitment holds true to us - even when we stray... even when we fail. For He never fails. Yes, this Everlasting Father is the ultimate leader - the ultimate hero! To us, He comes and offers restoration by the power of His own blood. He gives us Jesus so that we may find our way back home! To us a Son - a Solution - is given! Amen!!!

The Father loves the Son and has placed everything in his hands. (John 3:35)

Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I have come here from God. I have not come on my own; God sent me." (John 8:42)

Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. (John 14:23)

What great comfort to live safely in the care of Christ Jesus - under the reign of the Father who is Most High and Most Worthy! Our Everlasting Father is the One who will always be King! Praise Him for He is indeed generous and good! In Him, we can learn true leadership, integrity, respect, affection, obedience, love. For not only is He our greatest friend, but also our perfect example. As Head of His Household, He will always have His children's best interest at heart and in mind. He will always parent His people to follow His good Way and do what is holy.

Be holy because I, the LORD your God, am holy. (Leviticus 19:2b; 1 Peter 1:16b)

My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. (John 10:27)

He lives righteously, so that we may know how to live right. And through the challenges of this life, He remains patient and willing to spend all His time with us. He enjoys sharing relation, emotion, affection. He is a Father whose ear is inclined to hear and direct us. A Father who is trustworthy and mindful of us. A Father who is the most positive of role models. He is the One who honors, and He is the One who is to be honored above all.

Because he hath inclined his ear unto me, therefore will I call upon him as long as I live. (Psalm 116:2, KJV)

What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him? (Psalm 8:4, KJV)

Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The LORD, the LORD himself, is my strength and my defense; he has become my salvation. (Isaiah 12:2)

If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen. (1 Peter 4:11)

To us, we are given endless encouragement from a parent who will never leave or forsake. From a household that stands strong. From a kingdom that will stand the test of time. For the battle against sin and death is won. Jesus has come to save and restore. Our Everlasting Father has made it possible to overcome death so that we may succeed and live with Him in His glory! Through His sacrifice we are given freedom! In His Name we can accomplish anything. With His good counsel, we can know fullness and completion.

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. (Isaiah 41:10)

I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. (Hebrews 13:5b, KJV)

Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.” (Mark 10:27)

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Colossians 3:17)

Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise - the fruit of lips that openly profess his name. (Hebrews 13:15)

Yes, this child born to us comes to adopt us as His own. We are His family and He favors us. So, we must always fear and love this Lord, this Messiah, this Savior. We must learn to obey His Words. For He instructs His whole household to sow good seeds in order to reap great reward. This Father will discipline so that we may advance. He will allow us to make mistakes so we can we grow. He will not tolerate defiance against His kingdom, but He will challenge His people by offering tests and trials in order to teach us the most important lesson of faith and trust while we glorify His Eternal Name.

Sow righteousness for yourselves, reap the fruit of unfailing love, and break up your unplowed ground; for it is time to seek the LORD, until he comes and showers his righteousness on you. (Hosea 10:12)

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him. (James 1:2-5 & 12)

Now if we are children, then we are heirs - heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. (Romans 8:17)

Come take His hand and allow Him to teach and dazzle you as His beloved princess. In His eternal kingdom, we are special and appreciated beyond imagination. So today, let us celebrate as we showcase His unique gifts and all the blessings that mirror His perfection and grace. He promises us His love and loyalty. He has vowed to lift us up and care for us always. So, let us be encouraged to worship His Throne both individually and communally as brothers and sisters. Let us enjoy His goodness both now and forevermore. Abba, Father, Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in Heaven!

Join me, Ladies. Let us abide with the Most High God. Let us place all our trust on the Rock of Ages, the Everlasting Father... for He is indeed LORD and His household will endure forever and ever and ever!

Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD, the LORD himself, is the Rock eternal. (Isaiah 26:4)

The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. (Matthew 7:25)

If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise. (Galatians 3:29)

The sovereignty, power and greatness of all the kingdoms under heaven will be handed over to the holy people of the Most High. His kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom, and all rulers will worship and obey him. (Daniel 7:27)

Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” (Galatians 4:6)

Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread.

And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.

And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen. (Matthew 6:9-13, KJV)

As the Lord zealously gives Himself to us, let us unreservedly give ourselves today (and every day)... TO JESUS!

Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come! (Revelation 4:8)

Merry, Merry Christmas and Blessings in Jesus' Holy Name!

~Victoria

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

Saturday, December 17, 2016

let the celebration begin! (part 3)

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this. (Isaiah 9:6-7)

Mighty God! A Wonderful Counselor that is also Mighty? YES! This is the King of kings! He is not a man-made "guessing-game" type of god who oversees varying parts of our world and culture. No, He is intimate and real, and His headship rules over our entire universe - all time, space, matter - everything we know and do not know. He has all power over all things at all times and in all ways. He is omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient... the Almighty... the great I AM.

I AM the Bread of Life (John 6:35, 1, 48, 51)
I AM the Light of the World (John 8:12)
I AM the Door of the Sheep (John 10:7,9)
I AM the Good Shepherd (John 10:11, 14)
I AM the Resurrection and the Life (John 11:25)
I AM the Way, the Truth and the Life (John 14:6)
I AM the True Vine (John 15: 1,5)... His might goes on and on!

This Mighty God, Who was, and is, and is to come, humbly gives himself TO US... offering Himself as Savior. To us... He declares Himself Messiah and bids every man, woman and child to receive Him (and ONLY Him) in order to escape the clutches of death. For without Jesus, all life would perish. And He proves His love daily by providing us everything we need for food, clothing and shelter - all from renewable resources sustained by His power as the preserver of man and beast! In fact, scripture tells us in Job 38 that the seas which cover most of the earth, and over which we are powerless, would overwhelm us if God did not proscribe their limits. Read God's Words spoken to Job... read what He rules and oversees each day - FOR US!

“Who is this that obscures my plans with words without knowledge? Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me. Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me, if you understand. Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know! Who stretched a measuring line across it? On what were its footings set, or who laid its cornerstone - while the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy? Who shut up the sea behind doors when it burst forth from the womb, when I made the clouds its garment and wrapped it in thick darkness, when I fixed limits for it and set its doors and bars in place, when I said, ‘This far you may come and no farther; here is where your proud waves halt’? Have you ever given orders to the morning, or shown the dawn its place, that it might take the earth by the edges and shake the wicked out of it? The earth takes shape like clay under a seal; its features stand out like those of a garment. The wicked are denied their light, and their upraised arm is broken. Have you journeyed to the springs of the sea or walked in the recesses of the deep? Have the gates of death been shown to you? Have you seen the gates of the deepest darkness? Have you comprehended the vast expanses of the earth? Tell me, if you know all this. What is the way to the abode of light? And where does darkness reside? Can you take them to their places? Do you know the paths to their dwellings? Surely you know, for you were already born! You have lived so many years! Have you entered the storehouses of the snow or seen the storehouses of the hail, which I reserve for times of trouble, for days of war and battle? What is the way to the place where the lightning is dispersed, or the place where the east winds are scattered over the earth? Who cuts a channel for the torrents of rain, and a path for the thunderstorm, to water a land where no one lives, an uninhabited desert, to satisfy a desolate wasteland and make it sprout with grass? Does the rain have a father? Who fathers the drops of dew? From whose womb comes the ice? Who gives birth to the frost from the heavens when the waters become hard as stone, when the surface of the deep is frozen? Can you bind the chains of the Pleiades? Can you loosen Orion’s belt? Can you bring forth the constellations in their seasons or lead out the Bear with its cubs? Do you know the laws of the heavens? Can you set up God’s dominion over the earth? Can you raise your voice to the clouds and cover yourself with a flood of water? Do you send the lightning bolts on their way? Do they report to you, ‘Here we are’? Who gives the ibis wisdom or gives the rooster understanding? Who has the wisdom to count the clouds? Who can tip over the water jars of the heavens when the dust becomes hard and the clods of earth stick together? Do you hunt the prey for the lioness and satisfy the hunger of the lions when they crouch in their dens or lie in wait in a thicket? Who provides food for the raven when its young cry out to God and wander about for lack of food? Do you know when the mountain goats give birth? Do you watch when the doe bears her fawn? Do you count the months till they bear? Do you know the time they give birth? They crouch down and bring forth their young; their labor pains are ended. Their young thrive and grow strong in the wilds; they leave and do not return. Who let the wild donkey go free? Who untied its ropes? I gave it the wasteland as its home, the salt flats as its habitat. It laughs at the commotion in the town; it does not hear a driver’s shout. It ranges the hills for its pasture and searches for any green thing. Will the wild ox consent to serve you? Will it stay by your manger at night? Can you hold it to the furrow with a harness? Will it till the valleys behind you? Will you rely on it for its great strength? Will you leave your heavy work to it? Can you trust it to haul in your grain and bring it to your threshing floor? The wings of the ostrich flap joyfully, though they cannot compare with the wings and feathers of the stork. She lays her eggs on the ground and lets them warm in the sand, unmindful that a foot may crush them, that some wild animal may trample them. She treats her young harshly, as if they were not hers; she cares not that her labor was in vain, for God did not endow her with wisdom or give her a share of good sense. Yet when she spreads her feathers to run, she laughs at horse and rider. Do you give the horse its strength or clothe its neck with a flowing mane? Do you make it leap like a locust, striking terror with its proud snorting? It paws fiercely, rejoicing in its strength, and charges into the fray. It laughs at fear, afraid of nothing; it does not shy away from the sword. The quiver rattles against its side, along with the flashing spear and lance. In frenzied excitement it eats up the ground; it cannot stand still when the trumpet sounds. At the blast of the trumpet it snorts, ‘Aha!’ It catches the scent of battle from afar, the shout of commanders and the battle cry. Does the hawk take flight by your wisdom and spread its wings toward the south? Does the eagle soar at your command and build its nest on high? It dwells on a cliff and stays there at night; a rocky crag is its stronghold. From there it looks for food; its eyes detect it from afar. Its young ones feast on blood, and where the slain are, there it is.” The LORD said to Job: “Will the one who contends with the Almighty correct him? Let him who accuses God answer him!” Then Job answered the LORD: “I am unworthy - how can I reply to you? I put my hand over my mouth. I spoke once, but I have no answer - twice, but I will say no more.” (Job 38, 39, 40:1-5)

Clearly, nothing is too hard for the Lord, ladies! Clearly nobody is as mighty or holds the power of THIS GOD. Everyday, let us remember to celebrate His authority. Let us rejoice always, acknowledging His sovereign reign! Let us be grateful for His undeserved mercy and grace. We are blessed because He loves us!!! As His people, let us lay aside all distraction of false gods, of all idols, of all Antichrist. Let us live our lives looking upward to His leadership, living as His devoted. Living for the One who brings us LIFE - the true Savior and King, Jesus Christ the Lord! Hallelujah to the King of kings for He is mighty to save and redeem us from our sin! He is very real! He is Yahweh, Jehovah, the living God!

The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. And he is not served by human hands as if He needed anything, because He Himself gives all men life and breath and everything else. Therefore, since we are God’s offspring, we should not think that the Divine Being is like gold or silver or stone – an image made by man’s design and skill. (Acts 17:24-25, 29)

To us... to us, this King has come to earth as a lowly man in order to sacrifice and save... in order to give His people everlasting LIFE! This is JESUS THE MIGHTY CHRIST...

Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death - even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:6-11)

Blessed is the man who makes the Lord his trust, who does not look to the proud, to those who turn aside to false gods. (Psalm 40:4)

As the Lord zealously gives Himself to us, let us unreservedly give ourselves today (and every day)... TO JESUS!

Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come! (Revelation 4:8)

Merry, Merry Christmas and Blessings in Jesus' Holy Name!

~Victoria

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

Friday, December 16, 2016

let the celebration begin! (Part 2)

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this. (Isaiah 9:6-7)

Wonderful Counselor. Mighty God. Everlasting Father. Prince of Peace. Upon further study of these traits, scripture shows us that these names belong to the Judean understanding of kingship. Hallelujah! Isaiah's text is indeed announcing a coming King! But not just any King. This King is to be messianic! For He will reign FOREVER on David's throne! And He will do so with justice and righteousness!

Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David! Hosanna in the highest heaven! (Mark 11:10)

This is the Savior, Jesus the Christ! He is the amazing God with whom we may place all our trust and ask for guidance. This is the child born to us. The Son given to mankind so that we may know righteousness! This is the Messiah who comes to illuminate His Light to all the world so that we may once again enter His kingdom gates with thanksgiving and into His courts with praise.

Really, let the celebration begin TODAY! Rejoice! For our Messiah comes!

This is the day which the LORD hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it. (Psalm 118:24, KJV)

Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth. Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. Know that the LORD is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations. (Psalm 100)

Wonderful Counselor! There are many words that describe "Wonderful". The interesting thing about this description is that the word is not only used as an adjective for the coming King... it is actually His Name: WONDERFUL! Wonderful: meaning great, extraordinary, fine, excellent, marvelous, amazing, terrific, fantastic (to name a few). Another Name he holds is COUNSELOR! Counselor... meaning advisor, advocate, guide, instructor, model, mentor, teacher, helper, confidant, friend, tutor, leader. This King does not need to seek after the counsel of others or the advisement of men. On the contrary. This King is infinitely wise and all knowing. He generously offers His correct and perfect counsel to anyone who seeks Him. This is a King Who GIVES to His people... to us!

Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor? Who has ever given to God, that God should repay them? For from him and through him and for him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen. (Romans 11:33-36)

It should come as no surprise to learn that if we obediently bow down and love this Wonderful Counselor, and if we chose to consistently follow His Way with all our heart... we will be exposed to His everlasting wisdom and grace. As such, we can faithfully share with others WHO is really WONDERFUL! Be mindful - our counsel should not work opposite of His. Life should not be mandated by our own personal feelings or opinions. For no person can measure up in wisdom and knowledge to the living Word. Think about it. Jesus never asked for the opinion of His disciples, or anyone else for that matter. He did not come seeking approval to follow the ways of the world in order to build up His own self esteem or find His path. Rather, this Savior comes to fulfill His Father's will. Jesus comes to redeem and save those who will receive Him exclusively and unapologetically as Lord!

Not everyone who says to me, "Lord, Lord," will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 7:21)

All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. (Matthew 11:27)

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known. (John 1:14&18)
So, let us celebrate and praise Him as we follow the Wonderful Counselor... the Messiah who always knows and never questions His Father's will! This is the Shepherd who orders our every step by way of His comforting rod and staff. What wonderful authority and peace He brings to His flock! What wonderful teaching and advise He offers to those who seek and follow and trust Him through the darkness of this sinful world! So, fear no evil! For in His care, we lack nothing. In His arms we can be still and know that HE IS GOD!

The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. (Psalm 23:1-4)
Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth. (Psalm 46:10)

May we each learn to seek and trust the wonderful counsel of this coming King at every moment and every stage of our lives. Through every trial, test, path, and circumstance, may we always and only seek after Jesus, The Way, and let our light shine the illuminating hope of God's anointed, perfect Son! To us a Son is given for this very purpose!

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." (John 14:6)

Teach me, LORD, the way of your decrees, that I may follow it to the end. Give me understanding, so that I may keep your law and obey it with all my heart. Direct me in the path of your commands, for there I find delight. Turn my heart toward your statutes and not toward selfish gain. Turn my eyes away from worthless things; preserve my life according to your word. Fulfill your promise to your servant, so that you may be feared. Take away the disgrace I dread, for your laws are good. How I long for your precepts! In your righteousness preserve my life. May your unfailing love come to me, LORD, your salvation, according to your promise; then I can answer anyone who taunts me, for I trust in your word. Never take your word of truth from my mouth, for I have put my hope in your laws. I will always obey your law, for ever and ever. I will walk about in freedom, for I have sought out your precepts. I will speak of your statutes before kings and will not be put to shame, for I delight in your commands because I love them. I reach out for your commands, which I love, that I may meditate on your decrees. Your statutes are wonderful; therefore I obey them. The unfolding of your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple. I open my mouth and pant, longing for your commands. Turn to me and have mercy on me, as you always do to those who love your name. Direct my footsteps according to your word; let no sin rule over me. (Psalm 119:33-48; 129-133)

As the Lord zealously gives Himself to us, let us unreservedly give ourselves today (and every day)... TO JESUS!

Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come! (Revelation 4:8)

Merry, Merry Christmas and Blessings in Jesus' Holy Name!

~Victoria

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

Thursday, December 15, 2016

let the celebration begin! (part 1)

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this. (Isaiah 9:6-7)

To us... addressed to you, me, and everyone who ever was, is, and is to come in all earth's history.

To us... a child is born. But not just any child. This is THE child who fulfills ancient prophecy. He is a descendant from the great king David. A child of father Abraham. A son, direct from the lineage of the first man, Adam.

To us... here we read the royal birth announcement of the SAVIOR! The One arriving with all Heaven's approval to be Messiah - our Jewish Mashiach, our Anointed King of kings, our Greek Christos - THE CHRIST given to all mankind! Here we are introduced to the One who will be born of this earth. A human capable of changing all the brokenness and sinfulness that exists within our corrupt race. He alone will restore. He alone will revive.

To us... to us we are given the Word made flesh. He is God among us. He is Israel's promised hope for peace! This all comes from One humble babe, whose mere arrival assures us freedom, justice, peace... LIFE! But what person born of this earth could accomplish such a miracle? What Son of Man is holy enough to lovingly oversee every world power, every leader, every person, every detail, while solving all earthly crises? Who holds such wisdom, power, wealth, strength, and global authority to successfully carry all government upon His shoulders?

To us... my mind fast forwards to times ahead in His glorious, risen presence. Times of eternal laughter and joy as the faithful are seated around the jubilant wedding supper of the Lamb - around the blessed Son of man... around the anointed Son of God. Upon His throne, this King of kings will raise His wine glass and toast His eternal love... TO US! To His people. To His believers. To His beloved bride!

Then the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!” And he added, “These are the true words of God.” (Revelation 19:9)

To us... oh, how precious a LOVE is this! Joy to the world indeed. For the Lord has come to save! So, let the celebration begin this holiday season as we commemorate the birth of our Savior and proclaim our allegiance to the One and only, JESUS! Glory to God in the Highest!

Ladies, let us praise and worship the Wonderful Counselor! Let us rejoice and extend our thankfulness to the Mighty God! Let us sacrifice our whole hearts, souls, minds, and strength to the Everlasting Father! For no One is more worthy than our Prince of Peace! For to us a child is born! To us a son is given!

As the Lord zealously gives Himself to us, let us unreservedly give ourselves today (and every day)... TO JESUS!

Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come! (Revelation 4:8)

Merry, Merry Christmas and Blessings in Jesus' Holy Name!

Victoria

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

Monday, December 12, 2016

repeat the sounding joy


YOU are important.
YOU have purpose.
YOU are loved beyond all human measure.
YOU are beautiful to God Almighty!

So...

Trust Him.
Put all your faith in Him.
Repent every sin to Him and ask His forgiveness.

LOVE HIM with all your heart, soul, mind, strength.

Believe that He is able to save you from the evil of this world.
Believe that He is in full control.
Believe that He is Creator... King... Redeemer.
Believe that He has a better plan than your own and be disciplined to follow His plan with prayer and obedience.
Believe that His Word is wise and unchanging.
Believe His biblical promises will be fulfilled.
Believe He will restore His devoted into eternal holiness.
Accept and receive His family Name through Jesus Christ.
Surrender to His loving, perfect Law and live in freedom.

For our Savior, Christ the Lord...
He is the Wonderful Counselor.
He is the Mighty God.
He is the Everlasting Father.
He is the Prince of Peace.

Believe today and know His wonderful, mighty, everlasting peace!!!
Then, repeat the sounding joy!


Joy to the World, the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare Him room,
And Heaven and nature sing,
And Heaven and nature sing,
And Heaven, and Heaven, and nature sing.

Joy to the World, the Savior reigns!
Let men their songs employ;
While fields and floods, rocks, hills and plains
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat, repeat, the sounding joy.

No more let sins and sorrows grow,
Nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make His blessings flow
Far as the curse is found,
Far as the curse is found,
Far as, far as, the curse is found.

He rules the world with truth and grace,
And makes the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders, wonders, of His love.

Happy Holidays everyone!  Jesus is LORD!
LOVE LOVE LOVE!!!

~ Victoria

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

Friday, December 9, 2016

the reason for Christmas

Few people today take notice to others in need. Basically, people in general keep their noticing to themselves.

You would think (especially around the holidays) that we would willingly be more giving to others who are less fortunate. But alas, many Christians today limit their resources to merely reproduce childhood memories and warm enjoyments for their own families in hopes of sharing a "magical" feeling together... a "Christmas experience", if you will.

For self-serving reasons, the focus of Christmas has shifted to a secular, exclusive, and pretentious style of holiday - where celebrating the Lord's birth has become more a time of putting on airs and catering to the pursuit of saving face amongst gift-giving friends, co-workers, and relatives. But what gifts are we really meant to give?

Sure, we each want to be thought of as generous and God-loving folk, especially with those whom we hold familiar company. But as we sip warm cider around our fake and dying trees, and as we check off the "want list" of items that we have overextended ourselves to purchase for one another, where is Jesus actually glorified? Where is God noticed in our lives? Has our reason for Christmas become as fake and superficial as the ornaments with which we celebrate around? Has the holiday become more about "feeding" ourselves rather than worshipping Him?

Remember the encounter the Savior had in Mark 10 when the rich man asked Christ, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus responded to him, “You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, you shall not defraud, honor your father and mother.’” Many people live in alignment with God's law. Just like this rich man, they too have faced the Savior and truly consider themselves to be upright citizens and "good" people ready for His kingdom. But when it actually comes down to choosing Christ's way over their own, they find themselves at a difficult crossroad. Read with me the conversations that takes place with our Lord in this scriptural account:

Then the rich man said to Jesus, “Teacher,” he declared, “all these I have kept since I was a boy.”

Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth. Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!” The disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said again, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” The disciples were even more amazed, and said to each other, “Who then can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.”

Then Peter spoke up, “We have left everything to follow you!”

“Truly I tell you,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age: homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields - along with persecutions - and in the age to come eternal life.

But many who are first will be last, and the last first.” (Mark 10:20-31)

Whether you believe it or not, the mere fact that you have access to the Internet confirms that you are wealthier than most of the world's population. Furthermore, no matter how difficult the economy may be, I am confident to report that the normal demographic of this blog's readership are living rich, blessed lives equipped with shelter, means of transportation, and food for nourishment. Sure, budgets may be tight, but the majority of us are not thirsting for clean, drinkable water. We are not lacking for basic supplies. We are not suffering from epidemic diseases that threaten the existence of entire communities. Most importantly, we are not living without the presence of the Holy Spirit who is ready and waiting to guide us... waiting for us to intimately know His Word with an obedient heart to follow His healthy call.

Unlike this rich man, many of my readers have stepped up to claim the redeeming grace of Christ. We have publicly proclaimed to leave "self" behind and follow The Good Shepherd wherever He leads. We know that He is indeed the omnipotent God of the universe. Yet, as Christian women who regularly show up online to glorify in union the Messiah's authority.... in our own personal, private lives (both today and maybe more days than we'd like to admit), our hearts may still resemble the heart of this rich man's. For in truth, we are very selfish and cling to worldly wealth and security more than we should.

Tight fisted and unrelenting to share God's love with strangers, we ignore Jesus' way and unwillingly forgo giving to others who we know live in great need. Then on Christmas morn, we joyfully sing to our own, "Merry Christmas! Peace on Earth! Good will toward men!" On New Years day we applaud and toast, "Happy New Year!" All the while, the majority of us know perfectly well that we have made no effort to really love like Jesus by giving to those starving, to those widowed, to those orphaned, to those crippled, and to those who remain lost and/or who will face another year without.

But that is too depressing a subject for this happy season, isn't it? Those are matters only God can really fix anyway... so why go there, right? Rather let's continue to mail out our Christmas newsletters and customized photo cards. Let's focus on a fictional Santa and his elves; on Rudolph and his sleigh; on Frosty and his snow. Rather couple the candy canes and gum drop cookies with stories of the sweet baby Jesus and His miraculous birth while still attempting to "teach" our children (and our children's children) the true reason that surrounds this season.

By January 2nd, our bank accounts will be depleted - not due to sacrifice or following a selfless call to love God with our tithes and offerings, but rather to feed our hungry egos, our ravenous appetites, our need for acceptance, our greediness, and our desire to control. May I ask, is this really the reason for Christmas, ladies? Is this the kind of legacy you first wish to represent in your family's holiday traditions? Didn't Christ come to save? To love? To GIVE? And aren't we to follow His example?

What is the reason for Christmas? The reason is to celebrate the arrival of our loving, selfless, holy God. And whom did our wonderful God come to seek out and save? "The Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost." (Luke 19:10) Furthermore,"religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." (James 1:27)

As we move forward into this holiday season, I encourage you to consider if your life is being polluted by the world's way of celebrating? Ask yourself, what is your reason for Christmas? Is it to humbly give to those who really, really need grace? Or like the rich man, will your face fall as you read this blog and hear Jesus' call? Will you celebrate His birth by humbly praying for opportunities to advance His kingdom? OR instead, will you choose yourself and overlook the giving of much needed funds in order to acquire more computers, more electronics, more new clothes, more gift cards, more jewelry, more fruit baskets, more toys, more stuff to pile on top of other stuff. Is the status of having Christmas "stuff" circulating amongst your family replacing the more important matter of sharing Christ's eternal love to all the world? Oh, I hope not. I pray not.

Friends, let us live every day pure and faultless in God's eyes while humbly glorifying His Name FIRST with all our heart, soul, mind, strength. All things are indeed possible with God - especially His ability to change our selfish struggle to tithe and give. Think about it. What if we lived the hymn, "Take my life and let it be consecrated Lord to thee?" What if each of us gave all our talents and resources to glorify the Master? What possibilities couldn't be accomplished? Nothing is impossible with Jesus! His love demands to be noticed!

Always remember, we are His hands. We are His feet. We are His ambassadors... His people! If we choose not to share and give His heart to others, then I ask you... who will represent the Savior's love? Who will share Christ this Christmas?

Few people today take notice to others in need. But this year, let's obediently start seeking after those whom Jesus Himself came to save. Let's give... and give like Jesus gives. Let's love... and love like Jesus loves. Let's share the joy of His glory this holiday season and make it our first priority to bring the good news of hope to the heavy hearted, the empty-handed, the broken, the sick, the beaten, the widowed, the orphaned, the decrepit, the searching, the scared, the homeless, the helpless, the desperate, the neglected. To all who are in need and to all who have fallen astray - these are whom Jesus seeks to love and give of Himself. So should we, ladies. So should we.

Sure, Christmas is a time for family and friends to gather and celebrate Christ's birth. But let us never become so selfish to overlook the eternal love His birth represents. Let us never forget to share the resources and blessings He has given each of us - gifts that represent His unending, sacrificial love. Everything we have is His and must be used for His glory. Everything.

Jesus alone is the real reason for Christmas.

Questions to Consider:
Have we, God's people, forgotten to take notice of others in need of Christ's love?
Have we made every effort to celebrate our Redeemer's life by sacrificially giving and ministering His way?
Or have we kept our noticing exclusively to ourselves?
WHO is the reason for your Christmas?

When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. Then the King will say to those on his right, "Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me." Then the righteous will answer him, "Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?" The King will reply, "Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me." Then he will say to those on his left, "Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me." They also will answer, "Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?" He will reply, "Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me." Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life. (Matthew 25:31-46)

Happy Holidays!

~Victoria

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

are we too "beautified" to recognize?

So, yesterday after an early appointment at my pain management doctor ($25/insurance copay), I was out-n-about running some errands and doing some Christmas shopping with Momba.  We had several items to check off our to-do list such as upgrading Momba's cell phone at Verizon for a newer model ($150), hitting Bath and Body Works for more plug-in air fresheners to make our home smell more festive for the upcoming holiday ($50), and picking up groceries ($200).  Also, as we were out, we decided to stop and have a quick lunch at Salata ($25).

With salad and soda in front of me, I paused with Momba to give thanks over our lunch.  Immediately after the "Amen" the Holy Spirit gave me a question to chew on in my mind...

"Victoria, how much do you cost?  If you were to tally up everything right now... how much are you worth today?"

Puzzled, I began calculating my outfit in approximate dollar figures.  Ugg loafers ($100), Victoria's Secret underwear and bra ($60), Michael Kors tracksuit ($150), my purse, keychain, rings, watch, earrings, necklace, eyeglasses (almost $2000... seriously, phew?!!).  Then I started to think about the products I use to primp and get ready with everyday...  fancy shampoos, conditioners, make-up products, fragrances... easily another $100 worth of goops, powders, creams, and what-not.

I thought about the prescription I would be dropping off later at our nearby pharmacy.  The breakfast I ate earlier, and the dinner I would eat once I returned home.  The vehicle Momba and I puttered around town in to get to all our to-do list destinations.  I even thought about the dog and cat food I would be dishing out to my happy, healthy pets who were, no doubt, snoozing comfortably while I was away.

Humbly, I responded, "Lord, I would cost a lot of money.... in fact, too much."  On this normal December day, I had casually overlooked such things.  I had forgotten all that was available and affordable for me to garb and groom myself with.  Mind you, I wasn't even remotely fancy or dressed up yesterday... I was in a comfortable, everyday, running-around-town tracksuit armed with a to-do list and car keys!

When I returned home, I opened our mail full of incoming Christmas cards and sentiments from family and friends, and this got me further thinking...  Truly, none of my peeps are lacking.  Sure, we do not consider ourselves wealthy or well-to-do.  Some have heavy college loans.  Some have debt.  Some are in need of employment.  Some are sick and under-the-weather.  But all of us still have a roof over our heads, beds to sleep on, clothes on our backs, food in our tummies.  We all are blessed with adornments, detergents, running water, electricity.  We have computers, phones, televisions, automobiles.  We can afford milk, eggs, bread, flour, fruit, vegetables, cheese, butter... and many appliances to keep such items cold, frozen, toasted and baked to our personal liking.  We have tools in our garages, shoes in our closets, insulation in our attics.  Yes, truly we all have much.  So, sooo much!

I whispered, "We cost a lot, don't we, Lord?  But, sadly, we... I... do not always act like it."

Then the still, small voice gave me another thought...

"Victoria, how much do others cost?  How much are they worth to Me? ...to you?"

Memories of those in less fortunate circumstances came rushing back into my dense noggin.  Folks who may be fortunate enough to own at least one used t-shirt and one torn pair of pants.  Folks who must carry gallons of rotten water back and forth from dirty lakes and/or reservoirs to their tents and/or shelters - all to feed their families.  Folks with illnesses, who live dehydrated and/or without any aid to manage painful conditions.  These folks have no pharmacy.  They have no grocery store with aisles and aisles of options.  They have no excess, no adornment, no education.  Yet, these are whom the Lord says He loves the most.  They are who Jesus came to pay the ultimate price for.  The poor, the needy, the lost, the broken... he came for the sick, the tired, the lonely, the sad.  So, how much do these precious people cost to God?  And do I value their worth as much as He does?  Do I love them as much as He loves?  Or am I too "beautified" to recognize?

Then Jesus said to his disciples: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?  Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you—you of little faith! And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.  Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." (Luke 12:22-34)

Isn't it interesting that when the Lord asked me to consider how much I cost yesterday - how much I would tally up to - I didn't think about my actual value in His eyes or my worth and usefulness in His kingdom.  No, I kept it superficial and selfish.  I immediately looked at the ornaments, belongings, and luxuries in my life.  I looked on the outside, not the inside.  (Forgive me, Father.)

But, what if I had removed my "outer man" from the equation and valued my cost against the price Christ paid for me at Calvary?  What if I had lived yesterday deliberately looking through His spiritual lens - considering what He had already sacrificed and given to me in order that I too might sacrifice and give to others in His Name?  Suddenly, all these worldly bows and ribbons seem worthless, don't they?  Instead, His Way seems soon much more important... even urgent!

Jesus said that those who live their lives showing mercy to the poor, the sick, and the needy are in effect ministering to Him personally and will be rewarded accordingly.  Read with me His Words in Matthew 25...

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.  Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’  Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’  The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’  Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’  They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’  He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’  Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.” (Matthew 25:31-46)

Folks, Proverbs 14:31 says, "Whoever oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God."  Today... this very day, how kind have we been to the poor and needy?  Does it match how kindly we treat our own selves?  Does it remotely look like God's kindness toward us?  Sadly, I think many of us are too busy with to-do lists and Christmas shopping to notice such things.  I fear we are running through the Walmart's and Targets of the world unaware that we are living in contempt of our Maker.  Clearly, I too am not immune to this sin.  I forget to love and esteem others on any given December day just as much as the next guy.  But just because we are in company together on this, dear readers, does not make it excusable, or holy.   How much do others cost to Jesus?  And, is the cost too high for us to lovingly pay in thankful obedience?

Perhaps this new day is the day to esteem both ourselves and others with the spiritual eyes of our Savior, and follow His example of sacrifice.  As radical as this may sound to some, I challenge you right now to do something a little crazy... take a moment to add up your cost.  Add up the bankroll of this normal day of your life (clothes, food, fuel, products, etc.), and then ask the Lord to show you how much of it you should actually be giving away.  What cost is God asking you to surrender?  What is worthwhile in God's economy and, in response, are you making wise investments that match the truth of His Word?

Today, will you give the hungry something to eat?
Today, will you give the thirsty something to drink?
Today, will you offer shelter, clothing, medicine, and hope?
Today, will you give and love those whom God values the very most... "the least of these"...

Or are you too "beautified" to recognize?

According to the latest statistics, over 840 million people worldwide are chronically undernourished, and each day 26,000 young children die due to poverty, hunger, and preventable diseases.

Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will reward them for what they have done. (Proverbs 19:17)

Lord, please have mercy upon us today, and afford us Your vision so that we may regroup and repeat the sounding joy of Your Kingdom to this world in current need.  Remind us regularly that we are utterly bankrupt without You and completely unworthy of Your eternity.  And yet, you love us and offer us a rich new life in Christ so that we may become worthy in Your magnificent Name!  So today, please teach us to be holy in your sight by covering all that we are with YOU.  Show us where to love and give as You have loved and given to us.

This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person?  Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth. (1 John 3:16-18)

God bless us, every one!

~Victoria

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

25 days...

Well, as of today, we have 25 days until we celebrate Christmas.

Of course, the catalogs in my mailbox have increased in number because the holiday season is officially upon us.

I remember when I was a kid... we wouldn't even think about Christmas until Thanksgiving had come and gone. But now... not so much. Once Halloween is over, every retailer from here to Mars starts advertising for the holidays. They do this with the hope of conditioning society into thinking proactively about shopping. They do this, so that people will think about their holiday gift-giving sooner rather than later. It is impressive and overwhelming to think of how much time and money is invested into the marketing and distribution efforts of holiday retail catalogs, displays, commercials - all for the sake of generating additional sales income during "the most wonderful time of the year".

And this got me thinking...

What if Christians actually adopted the same proactive attitude to promote the gospel message to all the world?
What would happen if we looked at the calendar and thought, "Hmm, 25 days to share Jesus with as many people as possible! Let's give it ALL we got!"
What if we invested our money, our time, our efforts where our hearts should already be focused and stepped outside of our comfortable lives to proactively showcase the Savior's redeeming love?
What if we decided to bring Jesus to every demographic that both salt and light physically reach? 
What would that do, dear Believers?
How would that look?

You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored?... You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hid... Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 5:13-16)

I'm sure that in the weeks to come, many of us will purchase gifts for family, friends, acquaintances... But, how many of us will actually make it a point to share the gospel for the sake of advancing God's Kingdom? Isn't that a tad bit more important a gift to share with others?

Isn't it?

Yes, there are 25 days until Christmas - the day we celebrate our precious Savior's birth.
As we begin to prepare for another joyous holiday season, let's first consider that Jesus came to this earth thinking of us proactively.
He came so that we too could enjoy His perfect gift of redemption and live to see His grace.
Why?
Because we are special to Him.
Because He loves us more!

With this in mind, will you love God more?
Will you love others more in Jesus' Name?
Will you approach this time of celebration proactively and obediently - committing to share the Glory that this holiday season is intended to reveal?
Will you invest your voice, your time, your words, your life so that others can receive the greatest gift of all?
After all, Jesus is the true reason for the season, isn't He?
Really, there is no better gift to share with another!

Can you think of a wiser way to spend your time, money, efforts?
I can't.

25 days...

A lot can happen in 25 days!!!

Christmas Countdown Clock

XOXO!

~Victoria

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

Monday, November 28, 2016

prepare Him room

Let every heart prepare Him room...

I wasn't going to decorate this year.
I went back and forth about it.
But yesterday I realized something...
It is important to actually celebrate Jesus' birth!
Sure, I know that...
But I lazily wasn't thinking about my decorating for this coming Christmas in that way.
In my busyness, I had forgotten the why... the reason for the season... the purpose to actually celebrate outward and fully with sparkles and wreathes!
No, instead it was just another "to do" for me... and frankly, I'm already a bit tired.
Just another chore to complete.
Just another expectation that I must pull out and produce.
Just another humbug holiday...
Another "why bother"...

Wait... why bother?
Why not bother?!!!
Why not lift up Christ's birth center stage and throw twinkling lights and a huge spotlight on His arrival?
Isn't He worth the MOST praise?
Isn't His life worthy of my best and fullest worship?
Isn't my sweet Jesus the reason I am even alive?

Duh, Victoria!  YES!!!
So, why not prepare Him room?
Why not listen to the Holy Spirit's voice and worship as fully and as openly as I am able?
Why not showcase the importance of His Way, His Truth, HIS LIFE(!) and step up to decorate on His behalf?!!!
To celebrate in advent, anticipation, appreciation?!!!
To promote the joyous truth and eternal hope of this wonderfully, blessed season, and the Savior who made it all possible?!!!

Yes, as our home's heart warrior, God helped me realize that it is important that I live my days encouraging my peeps to focus on the eternal gift of God's grace.
To use every opportunity, every gifted moment that He provides, singing and rejoicing in praise and thanksgiving!

So, today is Christmas decorating day here at the Anderson home;
And I am renewed and excited to share enthusiastically what Jesus' birth represents.
I am hopeful for what He has promised His people.
I am preparing Him room, quite literally... decorated, at the ready, blessed!
Sooo soooooo blessed.

Thank you, Lord, for the reminder and lesson!
Joy to the Word, for your Son comes to save!

Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. (Colossians 3:16)

:)

Happy Holidays, y'all!

Victoria

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson


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