Above All Else

Suzanne Phillips
March, 05 2019
Since it’s Holy Week, a post honoring Jesus Christ is in order. He’s known by many names and titles that describe his purposes and roles. Here are 50 of them. I pray you’ll read the list slowly, perhaps with your children, and think about who He is for you. I pray, mostly, that He is your Savior and Lord. That you have trusted Him to save you and to be your source of all joy and peace. I had thought of asking you to choose your favorite names or to ask your children to do this. But then I tried. It’s impossible! Because Easter is approaching, I’m drawn to Resurrection and the Life. Then Savior. Deliverer. Immanuel. Our Hope. Sacrifice. Truth. Wonderful Counselor. Every name matters because of how much Jesus matters. If Jesus isn’t your Savior and Lord, or if you’re not sure, I get that. I was once lost, too. Please take a few minutes to read “What is the Gospel?” by my friends at EvanTell. Be blessed as you get to know Jesus better through these 50 names: Advocate – “My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father–Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.” 1 John 2:1 Almighty One – “…who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.” Revelation 1:8 Alpha and Omega – “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.” Revelation 22:13 Author and Perfecter of Our Faith – “Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:2 Authority – “Jesus said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” Matthew 28:18 Beloved Son of God – “And behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” Matthew 3:17 Bread of Life – “Then Jesus declared, ‘I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.’” John 6:35 Bridegroom – “And Jesus said to them, “Can the wedding guests mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast.” Matthew 9:15 Chief Cornerstone – “The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief corner stone.” Psalm 118:22 Deliverer – “And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.” 1 Thessalonians 1:10 The Door – “I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture.” John 10:9 Faithful and True – “I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and wages war.” Revelation 19:11 Good Shepherd – “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” John 10:11 Great High Priest – “Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession.” Hebrews 4:14 Head of the Church – “And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church.” Ephesians 1:22 Holy Servant – “…and grant that Your bond-servants may speak Your word with all confidence, while You extend Your hand to heal, and signs and wonders take place through the name of Your holy servant Jesus.” Acts 4:29-30 I Am – “Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.” John 8:58 Immanuel – “…She will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel, which means ‘God with us.’” Isaiah 7:14 Indescribable Gift – “Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift.” 2 Corinthians 9:15 Judge – “…he is the one whom God appointed as judge of the living and the dead.” Acts 10:42 King of Kings – “These will wage war against the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them, because He is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those who are with Him are the called and chosen and faithful.” Revelation 17:14 Lamb of God – “The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” John 1:29 Light of the World – “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12 Lion of the Tribe of Judah – “Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.” Revelation 5:5 Lord of All – “For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Philippians 2:9-11 Mediator – “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” 1 Timothy 2:5 Messiah – “We have found the Messiah” (that is, the Christ).” John 1:41 Mighty One – “Then you will know that I, the Lord, am your Savior, your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob.” Isaiah 60:16 One Who Sets Free – “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” John 8:36 Our Hope – “…Christ Jesus our hope.” 1 Timothy 1:1 Peace – “For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility,” Ephesians 2:14 Prophet – “And Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor, except in his hometown and among his relatives and in his own household.” Mark 6:4 Redeemer – “And as for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last He will take His stand on the earth.” Job 19:25 Resurrection and the Life – “Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die.” John 11:25 Risen Lord – “…that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.” 1 Corinthians 15:3-4 Rock – “For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ.” 1 Corinthians 10:4 Sacrifice for Our Sins – “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” 1 John 4:10 Savior – “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” Luke 2:11 Son of Man – “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” Luke 19:10 Son of the Most High – “He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David.” Luke 1:32 Supreme Creator Over All – “By Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities– all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.…” 1 Corinthians 1:16-17 True Vine – “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser.” John 15:1 Truth – “And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:32 Victorious One – “To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat down with my Father on his throne.” Revelation 3:21 The Way – “Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6 Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace – “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.” Isaiah 9:6 The Word – “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” John 1:1

Holidays…..so many thoughts.  As a mom the word “holiday” sets the wheels in motion doesn’t it?  All kinds of wheels!  The wheels of your car, the wheels on your stroller and most certainly the wheels in your mind. Frankly, the only wheels that seem to be missing as the holidays crank up are the wheels on the roller-skates that we feel we need in order to “get it all done.”   Now, I’ve mentioned I am a word girl so, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that a little word study occupied a bit of my quiet time this morning.  Because this word “holiday” throws so many for such a loop a little research was in order.  Check this out!

The word HOLIDAY comes from the root haligdaeg  or “holy day, consecrated (set apart), Sabbath” meaning both “religious festival” and, get this, “day of exemption from labor and recreation.”  Can you believe it?  Mamas, holidays originally meant a day of REST.  I’m pretty sure that means that Christmas, most especially Christmas, is not a season designed for roller-skates in the kitchen and your own personal meals on wheels but instead a time to rest and remember the gift of Christ and the holy day that ushered holiness into the presence of mankind.

Proverbs 4:23 is the central verse for Hearts at Home 2.0, Above ALL else guard your heart, for EVERYTHING you do flows from it.  Christmas is, perhaps, the most telling time to lean into these words and take a peek inside our heart.

The word guard, in this verse, means to watch over, guard from danger, observe, and be a blockade. In other words, the Lord wants us to not only look closely at our own heart but to be a blockade from those things that provoke our heart to be in danger or dangerous. ( I’m guessing you all have a picture of yourself being dangerous? I do.)

One of the ways I “observe” my own heart is to watch what flows from it.  What is coming out of me? Am I encouraging and joyful or frustrated and short–tempered? These are indications of what is rattling around in my heart.  It is so easy to think  “the holidays make me so stressed.”  But here is what I have learned, if a holiday was the actual cause of stress, in other words stress always came with the holidays, then all people would be stressed during a holiday.  Do you see where this is going?  Holidays themselves don’t make people stressed, stress resides in some hearts and when the pressure of the holidays is applied that stress rises up and bubbles out like a fountain.  For others the holidays cause joy or fun.  For some sadness and loneliness.  Think of a bottle of water without a cap.  When you apply pressure what bubbles out?  Water.  Why?  Because that is what is inside the bottle.  An external circumstance always reveals an internal reality.

So, if you are bubbling up joy and cheer in this holiday season perhaps you could offer a few tips to a friend who struggles with organization and is overwhelmed with her calendar.  Maybe you are bubbling up with loneliness and you haven’t shared your need with anyone.  Would you be willing to reach out and tell someone you feel alone?  Do you feel frustration and control nipping at your heels?  If so, would you choose to set aside a little time to look at all you are attempting to accomplish and have the courage to say “no” to a couple of good things for the sake of really enjoying the best things?

Above ALL else, above EVERYTHING else in our life, more than our families, friends, talents, property and possessions, guard your HEART because EVERYTHING else, life itself, flows from this place. The one who whispered this unchanging key to life, the one who came to bring us the very life that is available to flow from our heart is the Holy One we celebrate this season.  He didn’t “busy” Himself getting ready to see us and He doesn’t ask or need us to “busy” ourselves in order to rest and remember Him.  He simply followed the plan His Father had for HIM and in doing so those He loved were blessed!

Festivities and family traditions have been a part of “holy days” since the beginning of time and they are wonderful!  Jesus Himself celebrated “holy days.”  Enjoy!!!!!!  However, if and when the joy begins to slip away and drown in the “doing” beware.

Let’s actually choose to allow what flows from our heart be an indicator between peace and striving, rest and stress, joy and obligation and calm and chaos. And, when the latter rises up let’s choose to let Jesus take the wheel!  When we hand the wheel over to Jesus He just might say take off your skates, park the car, unload the stroller and don’t over think it sweet one.  Curl up with a blanket, build a fire, flip on the Christmas lights and let Him share His vision for you and your family with you.  After all He came to give life and life abundant.

When we delight ourselves in Him, He will give us the desires of our heart because He knows our heart even better than we do.  He has the perfect holiday designed for YOU and for YOUR family.  Man, the battle to not over – do is real!!  But how often do we over – do and then wish we had a do over?  Big blessings await as we guard our heart and let the those blessings flow from the One we love above all else.

Father, thank you for the opportunity to come to you and be still.  Thank you for the good plans that you have for me and for my family.  Thank you for sending your son, our gift, the King of Kings and the Prince of Peace.  Father, help me to sit at the feet of Jesus and receive His peace as I hear Him say this is the way walk in it. And, Father help me to have the courage to follow YOUR plans and to realize they are specifically designed for my personal good.  Thank you for loving me so well and for the abundant life you invite me to receive each day.    Amen