Friday, December 31, 2010
New Years Eve is a traditional time to look back on the past year and forward to the year ahead. In doing so, it helps me to gain spiritual perspective by asking myself a few questions.
First, "How has the Lord moved in my life this year?" It is humbling to ponder how my King has dealt with me. Until I take time to reflect, I often fail to notice the sweet, quiet, yet powerful way He orders my life and answers my prayers. Most recently, two people whom I love put their homes up for sale. We prayed for quick results. In a stagnant real estate market, both properties sold in less than two weeks. Thank you Lord.
My second question is, "What was accomplished for my Lord this year?" I always fall short when attempting to answer honestly. Success only comes when I draw close to His will just as surely as prayer before writing yields the best results.
My heart asks, "How can I better serve the Lord in the New Year?" Perhaps I will work more diligently to get the book published that the Lord urged me to write. Perhaps I will yield more completely in my prayer life.
There are approximately 525,600 minutes in a year. The most important question is, "How many of those precious moments that God has alloted me will be used to serve Him?"
Dear Lord, thank You for all that You have done for me in the past year. Help me to serve you every moment that I can in the coming year.
Christy Struben (c) 2010
Thursday, December 30, 2010
We celebrate the birth of a child
Who was born to a mother so meek and so mild.
She bent to the will of the Father that day
and praised His Name as she knelt to pray.
God gave us a gift so precious and good,
Who stood in the place where no other man could.
A place of ridicule and sorrow,
so mankind could have a better tomorrow.
His gift so long ago that day
was the life of His Son Who showed us the way
to live in harmony, truth and love,
and guide us to heavenly places above.
No gift that we could give in return
could help us eternal life to earn.
No blood that we shed, no oath we declare
will assure us of a heavenly place up there.
The only gift acceptable above
is the act of repentance and a heart full of love.
So, why can't we all, this holiday season,
accept in our hearts that Christ is the reason?
We may yet live in peace with each other
and call all men "friend" and accept them as "brother."
So let us give thanks to Jehovah above
for the Gift of His Son and His unfailing love.
Father, may all mankind praise and thank You for the Gift of Your Son, Jesus. Amen.
Wednesday, December 29, 2010
I have spent the last several weeks trying to capture that perfect picture of what Christmas is all about. I went to the Festival of Trees with my family and took pictures of the trees all decked out. I even snapped shot of the decorations on the trees. Along with those pictures are many scenes around town. But that perfect photo of the sentiment I was seeking eludes me.
Then it hits me. I am going about this the wrong way. The perfect picture of Christmas cannot be taken. Unless, I am able to go back into time of the day Jesus was born. I cannot get the perfect Christmas picture.
Like the wise men who sought the child in the manger I needed to look in the Bible and read the Gospels to even get a small glimpse of the picture I sought. Upon reading the story of Jesus' birth, I start to see the true meaning of this season. How much I would have loved to been there to witness Christmas in the making, but I can still see the results today in the glowing face of a new believer.
The perfect picture of Christmas is Jesus Christ Himself. All other activities and decorations dim to the light of our Savior.
Thank You God for giving each of us your Son. Help me to always see the pictures that brings me back to the real meaning of Christmas.
© 2010 Dawn M Sexton
Tuesday, December 28, 2010
As we headed down the road, the driver of an oncoming car flashed his headlights several times. We didn’t know what the warning was, but knew we needed to be careful about something up ahead. At the top of an icy, slippery curve, we saw a car turned sideways, hanging over the guardrail. Its unharmed driver stood next to the car, when providentially, a patrol car came from the other direction. Help had arrived.
“That’s just like Christmas,” I thought. It’s a flashy warning that Jesus has come into a world that needs His help. Glittering ornaments on Christmas trees, greenery and red bows attached to street lights, twinkling lights outlining rooftops—they all declare that the day of celebration is near.
At Christmas, we often think of Jesus the child and baby, but the Lord promised that He would send a Savior wearing belts of righteousness and faithfulness, that we would have wisdom, understanding, counsel, might and knowledge. Isaiah’s prophecy is a two-for-one. We remember Christmas while looking forward to the rest of the prophecy, the time when the Lord’s presence ensures that everywhere we look wolves will dwell with lambs, cows and bears will graze together, and nursing children will play beside the cobra’s nest because enemies will no longer be enemies.
We celebrate Christmas joyously because it reminds us there’s more to come. God who faithfully keeps his promises is still leading us forward to Christ’s second coming.
Prayer: Thank you Lord, for loving us so much that you sent a Savior to show us the way.
© V. Colclasure
Monday, December 27, 2010
When I was about eight years old, my father was in a terrible accident. He and a few of his co-workers were involved in an explosion, in which one man died. Dad was in very serious condition. It happened right before Christmas, so my mom, brother and I were sad that Dad would be in the hospital instead of home with us.
We were also short of money that year, so Mom bought used bicycles for my brother and me. She painted mine green, and my brother’s red.
On Christmas Day we had a wonderful surprise; Dad was able to come home for a few hours. He was in a wheelchair, but he was with us. And my brother and I were thrilled with our “new” bikes. I rode mine until I left home for college.
Because our family was facing a difficult time, my mother knew it would be important to make this a special Christmas. She went out of her way to show how much she loved us. The most wonderful gift of all was Dad’s presence.
God also understands what we need before we ask Him. He provides simple blessings every day: food, shelter, clothes and bikes for Christmas. But He adds special blessings, too. He blessed our family by sparing my father’s life and making it possible for him to join us for Christmas. Best of all, He blessed us with a Savior, whose birth we celebrate on Christmas Day.
Dear Father, thank You for knowing what we need before we ask, and for loving us so much that You sent Your Son as Your gift to us. In Jesus Name, Amen.
© 2010 Diane E. Hussey
Sunday, December 26, 2010
A few days after Christmas, I found a cheerfully wrapped package on my porch. It contained a journal. The night before, I had used up the last page of mine. Wondering who had such perfect timing, I hurried to read the card. It was from Barbara, a woman in my Bible study group. On the card, she wrote, “This is a gift of thanks for supporting me over the past year. If it had not been for you, I may not have come back.”
A year earlier, Barbara had joined our Bible study. Barbara was gregarious and enjoyed the group. I am very talkative, but had been consciously working to listen instead of talking. One morning I noticed Barbara had not spoken. “Is something wrong?” I asked. She fought back tears and shook her head. “Call me,” she whispered. When I called, she told me she had been diagnosed with cancer. Later she was able to share her sorrow with our group and we found ways to support her as she was treated and healed.
I am usually centered on sharing my thoughts and my feelings, but that day I was sensitive to the needs of another. As a result, I was able to reach out to someone else with the comfort that I myself had received from the group.
Comforting Father, thank You for using me to comfort Barbara with Your Love. Amen.
©2010 Stephanie Snead
Saturday, December 25, 2010
It was the night before Jesus and all through the earth,
Not a soul could be heard praying, for our Savior's birth.
But God in His wisdom was not surprised.
By a soft voice singing, a sweet lullaby.
As the singer was singing, hosts of Angels joined in.
Until it crescendo'ed into—a beautiful hymn.
What a wonderful song for this sweet little babe.
Who had such a mission, this world He would save.
So won't you lift up your eyes, stand up and sing.
With your mouth full of praise, raise your hands to the king.
"Thank You dear Jesus, for the Love You have shown.
Never again will we be alone."
Lord, You are no longer a babe in a manger, You are a King on the throne. You are the ruler of heaven and earth. I celebrate Your birth with reverence and praise.
© Marcella Panowicz 12-11-98
Friday, December 24, 2010
I received word that a dear friend passed away. Glenna loved others in all stations of life. She had a very large family with many issues, an ill husband, many trials, yet she had great joy. People, and playing the organ for worship, increased her joy.
Thursday, December 23, 2010
Christmas is my favorite time of year. In fact, my housemates and I threw a “Christmas in July” birthday party for one of the girls in our dorm. My husband, on the other hand, hated Christmas when I met him. Bad memories kept him from enjoying the season. He went so far as to force a roommate to take down his little Christmas tree, threatening to throw it in the street.
You can imagine my chagrin when our first Christmas together rolled around and we didn’t celebrate. I longed to snuggle on the couch and watch the lights on the tree with a hot cup of tea and holiday music in the background. But “Cozy Christmas” was not to be—that year, at least. Resigned, I let it go. We didn’t have a Christmas tree for three years.
Since that time, my husband has changed dramatically. He now loves Christmas as much as I do. He lays out ornaments, then patiently holds miles of lights while I weave them through the branches.
Why this change, I wondered? I tried not to be pushy about wanting to celebrate, but I couldn’t help missing it. Then God revealed to me that through the sacrifice of something I loved came the healing that my husband needed. It was a lesson I’ll never forget. We cannot force people to change; but when we die to ourselves, God is able to bring life to others. And isn’t that what Christmas is really all about?
Thank You, Lord, for Your gentleness in our struggles and heartaches. May we glorify You this Christmas with hearts of praise for Your Son—born to die so that we could live.
© 2010 Katherine A. Fuller
Wednesday, December 22, 2010
While in the check-out line at the grocery store, the customer in front of me said, "Merry Christmas" to the cashier.
When it was my turn, the cashier said to me, "Why do people wish me a Merry Christmas? What makes her think I care? Why do people assume I'm Christian?"
"Are you Jewish?" I asked, surprised at her unexpected question.
"No. I'm not Jewish," she answered.
"What is your faith?" I said.
"I've no faith in anything," She said while scanning my items.
"Do you know where you'll go when you die?"
She became irritated as she abruptly said, "I'm not into all that."
I said, "I believe in Jesus Christ, that He died for my sins, and because of His sacrifice, I will go to heaven."
"That sounds ridiculous. What do you think about reincarnation?" she challenged.
"I believe we are all going somewhere. You just have to decide where you want to go." With that reply I left with my groceries.
I prayed silently for her. I wish we had more time to talk.
Prayer: Dear Lord, I pray your children are prepared to share the hope that is within You; some sow, others water, but You reap the harvest. I pray the lost will be saved. Amen.
© Lois Gosley 2010
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
My sister received an unusual early Christmas gift straight from the Lord. "Let me tell you what happened," she said. "I was standing at the library's copy machine and the lady behind me said, 'Orville's buried in Sidney, not Woodlawn.' She was collecting data for Find-a-Grave.com and knew the exact spot." Only God could have arranged that.
The next day, just twelve minutes away from her home, my sister located the gravesite of our great-great grandfather. The marker was in good shape; the script quite legible. The two of us were excited to discover the forgotten past. It gave us an emotional sense of belonging -- an identification and a new kind of self-understanding. Somehow, the structure and detail of the way we fit into God's plan changed from being abstract to being concrete.
In the same way, the very dull topic of who's dad is who's dad, the begats of the Christmas story, provides continuity and emotional grounding for Christians. Since the records trace the Savior's connections back to David, Abraham, Noah, and Adam, Jesus' credibility as Savior and Messiah is verified. Knowing the facts allows followers to enjoy a peaceful sense of acceptance and belonging to Christ. As proved in the genealogy, God's faithfulness and commitment to mankind is sure. Anyone who chooses to follow the One who can and does keep His promises attains a life-long security. When He claims us, we have a place to be, forever confident that He is trustworthy.
Lord, Thank you for verification that your Son is your Son, the fulfillment of your plan. Thank you for the emotional assurance which comes with your love. Amen.
© V. Colclasure 2010
Monday, December 20, 2010
In the days leading up to Christmas, I can get worried about everything that has to be done. What’s the perfect present? Did I get everything I need at the grocery store for that new recipe? Is the house clean enough for guests who will be visiting? Can I lose ten pounds before that dress-up affair? And where will I get the money to pay for all of the extras?
Just like Martha, I can be worried and upset over all of the details, details, and more details. There are plenty of them all year round, but it seems like there are even more at Christmas time.
Maybe this year I should do more pausing and reflecting. I could buy some Christmas cookies at the bakery to serve when friends come. This will allow me to concentrate on talking with them instead of worrying about what to serve. Even if I can’t buy the best presents because of budget restraints, I can spend time with friends giving and receiving the gift of fellowship.
Most of all, I can re-read the story of the birth of Jesus in the Bible and be grateful that He came. This, after all, is worth being concerned about.
Dear Father, Please help me to keep Your Son at the center of my Christmas festivities. Amen.
© Jenni Hurst 2010
Sunday, December 19, 2010
When I was young, my mother went out of her way to get my sister and me so excited about Christmas that we had a hard time going to sleep. Christmas morning found us up at dawn pacing the floor outside Mom and Dad's bedroom, listening for any sound of movement. Trying to wake them up, I would cough, sneeze and clear my throat. I did not realize they had spent all night getting everything ready for us.
One particular year, when they finally woke up, we all went downstairs. Dad went first to prepare the camera to capture our expressions when we saw our gifts. Bicycles! We raced to our bikes, hopped on, and tried to ride them in the house. Mom stopped us saying, "Look, there are other gifts under the tree, too." I could have cared less about those other gifts—I had a bike, and that was good enough for me.
As I grew up, I learned that getting gifts is nice, but giving feels the best. Now that I have raised my own children, I wish I had a picture of the look on my parents' faces when we got those bicycles. How much more excited must God be when we receive His gift of salvation.
The Christmas season is a time to remember the meek entrance of our Savior into this world. The baby Jesus born in a manger with Joseph and Mary looking upon their innocent child, the greatest gift this world will ever know.
Father, thank You for the greatest gift of all. Amen.
© Marcella Panowicz 2010
Saturday, December 18, 2010
While attending a nature seminar I listened to an expert talk about his love for butterflies. He raises these winged jewels and sells them for special occasions such as weddings, funerals and other memorable events. Some of his butterflies have even appeared in movies.
I was especially struck with his story about how he decorated his Christmas tree one year. He told of how he refrigerated a large number of chrysalides to slow down the process of metamorphosis. As he decorated his tree with them he lowered the thermostat in the room. Rising before his family in the wee hours of Christmas morning, he raised the thermostat to just the right temperature required to have the butterflies hatch at a precise time. When his family came downstairs the tree was alive with brilliantly colored butterflies gently fanning their wings to dry. What a gorgeous sight to behold!
Like the butterfly that must leave behind the ugly cocoon to soar on its beautiful wings, when we receive the Lord's gift of salvation, we exchange our old self with its burden of sin and gladly put on the new self that is beautifully clothed in His righteousness.
As I reflected on the poignancy of the moment when I became a new creature in Christ, leaving behind my old self while reveling in the freedom I found through His forgiveness, I thanked the Lord for the wonderful gift of His Son, Jesus.
Dearest Father, thank You for providing the way for us to leave our old self behind and be made new in You. Amen.
(c) Bonnie M. Evans 2010
Friday, December 17, 2010
Christmas was almost here. Money was tight, so my mother worried about providing gifts for her three girls. However, she would not be defeated. The week before Christmas she went to Highlandtown to window shop. Everything she wanted was too expensive. Eventually Mother found the perfect gifts, took them home and wrapped them.
We were so excited on Christmas morning. Our gifts were so big! Mother handed each of us a box. Paper flew. My older sister, Gene, got a large washtub with a miniature washboard. My younger sister, Barbara, got a cute little highchair for her dolls. I received a metal ironing board with a real-looking iron. I was elated! At nine years old I could iron my dolly clothes.
It is amazing how prophetic those gifts were. Years later, Gene did tons of laundry for her six children. Barbara used a real highchair for her children, grandchildren and great-grandchild as they came along. I had plenty of ironing to do with three kids and a husband in the Army whose fatigues and dress uniforms had to look perfect.
Just as our gifts prepared us for our future, the gifts of the three wise men represented future events in Christ's life. Gold represented His deity. Frankincense was an aromatic resin representing Christ's sacrifice, and myrrh was sweet oil normally used in preparing a body for burial. God knew what was in store for His Son. The gifts to Jesus revealed who He was and what would happen in His life. Let us pay attention to the significance of God's gifts to us.
Prayer: Thank You, Father, for our favorite Christmas gift, Your Son, Jesus. Amen
E. Bonnie Ryan
Friday, December 10, 2010
When my oldest son was a baby, we moved to the suburbs west of Chicago. Late at night, Moody radio broadcast a unique program called “Songs in the Night.” Soft-spoken Bob Pierce was the host. God touched my young maternal heart through inspirational music, timely scripture and encouraging words. My spirit was lifted and I was motivated to draw closer to my Savior. I have never forgotten those nightly reminders of God’s presence. Years later I heard that the name of this special program was retired when Mr. Pierce went home to be with the Lord.
In the passage cited, the psalmist was in distress and his “soul refused to be comforted” (Psalm 77:2c). Then he remembered how God spoke to him when he cried out for help, and recalled God’s miracles of long ago. He was comforted by memories of God’s presence, and rested in the assurance that the Lord would again hear his prayers and come to him quietly with songs in the night.
As we recall God’s faithfulness through the years, we can be assured that He will comfort and be present with us when we are “too troubled to speak” (Psalm 77:4b). Our memories of the ways God has used friends, speakers, books and music to touch our hearts and speak to us remind us of how much He cares for us.
Thank You, Father, for the reminders of Your love through the beauty of Your songs in the night. In Jesus name, Amen.
© 2010 Diane E. Hussey
Friday, December 3, 2010
It’s no secret that eating too much leads to obesity and related health problems. Sugar cravings can plague me until I succumb to temptation. At times, it’s like an addiction. I am consumed by it. I’ve read that an intense desire for carbohydrates may be a physical response to the need for serotonin, which helps the brain function effectively. It may also signal an unmet psychological need. When I gain weight, I beat myself up for failing to eat right, which seems only to make matters worse. It’s an ugly cycle. Jesus makes it clear that I should not worry but, instead seek the more important things in life.
The Apostle Paul said it this way: Do not conform to the patterns of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. When I am engaged in God’s purpose for my life, I am spiritually nourished and worldly cravings disappear. My hunger has not been for food, but for a deep involvement in the things of God. Breaking out of the pattern of self-centeredness to reach with love to others causes my worries to also diminish.
Heavenly Father, help me to remain focused on seeking my fill of You rather than seeking fulfillment in the things of this world. Instead of indulging myself with food, clothes or other things of the world, Lord, let me indulge in You. In Jesus name, I pray. Amen.
© 2010 Stephanie L. Snead
Thursday, November 25, 2010
On hearing from Timothy the conditions in Thessalonica, Paul writes a letter from Corinth. He writes to encourage and teach the Thessalonians more about Christianity. He knew from first-hand experience the trials and strong oppositions they were suffering. Yet he told them to “give thanks in all circumstances.”
Today we hear Paul and try to give thanks in whatever circumstance we face because we too have the same hope that Paul writes about. It has become increasingly difficult to openly express our Christian view among the opposition that we face daily. The perception that it is illegal to pray openly in the schools, sport events or workplaces is rampant. But Paul tells us to “pray continually.” We are to give thanks in all things and be “joyful always.”
We are thankful when we realize that we still live in a free country. There is still the freedom to go to church, Bible studies and Christian events without fear of being arrested. We can go to our neighbor's homes and share the “Good News” about our Savior.
So take heart my dear friends and be thankful that we have a Savior who loves us dearly. He will triumphantly see us through whatever circumstances we face. Continue to pray with a joyful heart and the knowledge that Jesus is Lord of all.
Thank You Father for each and every circumstance you place in my path. Help me to see that this is just another way to see Your will for my life. Keep me always steadfast in Your love.
© 2010 Dawn M Sexton
Friday, November 19, 2010
The soil at our house is mostly clay, sand and stone. To enrich the soil, all of my table scraps are "planted" all year long. We also rotate the crops every season.
Last year was a good year for the beans. We canned one hundred and thirty nine pints. However, the soil is too rocky for potatoes.
Remembering a "hint" I read in one of my gardening books, I found four large pails and asked my husband to drill holes on the bottom and around the sides. I mixed top soil and dried sphagnum moss and filled the pails half full. I dropped three potatoes with "eyes" into each one, and covered them with four inches of soil. Placing them in full sun, I watered them and waited. In two weeks dark green foliage came up. As the vines grew, I put more soil around them until they grew over the rims.
Early that fall the vines died. I dumped the pails into the garden. It was exciting, spreading the soil and picking up the brown treasures. I collected about eight pounds of potatoes.
Jesus said that seed falls to the ground and dies so that when it grows, it produces many seeds. (John 12:24 NIV) The potato eyes grew into roots and vines because the original potato died. We grow spiritually when we die to our sins and live in the love of Christ.
Lord, let us not be afraid to try new things. May the garden of our hearts be nourished continuously with Your love. Amen
E. Bonnie Ryan
Friday, November 12, 2010
so my soul pants for You, O, God. (Psalm 42:1) NIV
There they were on the side of my yard, their little trio. In the quietness of daybreak, mother deer munched away at the bulging buds of my daylilies. I had waited expectantly, anticipating them bursting forth, revealing beautiful pink-spangled petals. Now, watching the hope of that small pleasure disappear into the mouth of this gentle doe, it seemed unimportant.
The dry, hot summer had reduced the forest stream to a trickle. As the mother deer consumed my daylilies, the young fawns nursed. I wondered if she had enough milk to satisfy her thirsty babies.
Just as God gave her the instinct to forage for the lilies, in us He placed a longing that can only be satisfied by daily communion with Him. Seldom do we miss a meal or go a day without something to drink.
Our spirits need nourishment as well. As we bow before our Father in Heaven, praising Him, thanking Him, confessing to Him and pouring out our hearts to Him, He refreshes and renews us, filling us with His grace to meet each new day. In His presence we find all that we need.
Dear Jesus, We praise Your holy and precious name. In You we find hope and strength sufficient for the day. Thank You that You alone are the living water that quenches the thirst of our souls. Amen.
(c) 2010 Bonnie M. Evans
Friday, November 5, 2010
Being able to redirect attention and regain order is a valuable skill for anyone working with children. As the mother of four and the grandmother of nine, my mother was a master at this technique. She would intervene if my sisters and I were fussing with each other or engaged in inappropriate behavior. Mom could always come up with something interesting to turn our attention away to bring peace and safety.
“Oh, look,” she would say in a voice full of excitement. “Is that hawk after that little sparrow?” Or, she might say, “Listen, what’s that noise?” Often, there was no hawk, no sparrow, and no noise. However, our thoughts would always be redirected as we were caught up in looking and listening elsewhere.
My mother used this technique in a positive way to restore order. We Christians need to know that our soul's enemy uses the same tactic to distract us from our walk with God. The world, the flesh and the devil can easily divert our thoughts to something that seems exciting, interesting, or even relaxing. But in that diversion, we can lose a blessing or a calling meant for us.
Occasionally the lure may seem inconsequential such as golfing or fishing. Other times, it is a clear call to our sinful nature. In truth, anything that draws us away from God and His plan for our days is to be avoided.
Prayer: Dear Lord, help us to keep our minds stayed on You so that we are alert to Your voice alone. Give us wisdom to know when the world is tempting us away from Your purpose with counterfeit calls on our lives.
Christy Struben © 2010
Friday, October 29, 2010
One morning, my daughter found me laying unconscious on the floor. She called an ambulance, and they took me to the hospital. After many tests and a night’s stay, the doctors still could not figure out what had caused me to pass out or why I was having dizzy spells. When I came home I was miserable. Crying, I called another daughter. I told her I did not know what was wrong. After praying for me she said, “Read the Word.”
When I hung up the phone, I pulled out my study Bible to look up scriptures on healing. As I started reading, a voice from within told me to write them down—slowly, and in my neatest handwriting. That is exactly what I did, and it was not long before I was excited, feeling renewed and refreshed.
His Word heals. Pills may be good for some things; however, when it comes to spiritual temptation I go to His Word and start writing. Scriptures on love, salvation, blessings, forgiveness, hope and faith are written in my booklet, and most importantly, on the tablet of my heart.
Now whenever studying, I write scriptures down and let the Word heal me in other areas: spirit, soul and body.
Father, thank You for giving me the Word to cleanse me and help me heal in times of trouble.
© 2010 Marcella Panowicz
Friday, October 22, 2010
I have a small chihuahua who needs to be carried whenever he has to go outside. He fell down the steps when we first moved into our house two years ago. Now he fears them. But, hesitating at each one, he will climb up four steps as if measuring the distance. When I take him outside, I pick him up and carry him, and set him gently in the grass. He is very still in my arms, putting complete trust in me.
Recently, as I took him down the steps, a picture of Jesus came into my mind. He carried a lamb while its mother followed, looking up at Him. It was a display of Jesus' tender compassion for the young lamb. Jesus is still the Good Shepherd looking after His sheep. Because we are members of His flock, He looks after us, carrying us over rough spots in our lives. When I grow weary of everyday problems, all I have to do is look up and pray to Him, trusting that He will carry my cares for me, making them lighter to bear. I live each day knowing that I have a good relationship with Jesus. When I say my prayers before going to sleep, I have confidence that Jesus remains the stabilizer of my day and all of my tomorrows.
Father, thank You for carrying us when the road of daily life gets too rough. Guard and guide us so that our actions might be pleasing to You. Amen
E. Bonnie Ryan
Friday, October 15, 2010
Friday, October 8, 2010
So many true crime stories on television display greed as a motive for murder. It is an age-old vice driven by envy, jealousy, and even hate. In past centuries, kings were assassinated by their own children. Still today, spouses kill their partners to inherit money; others kill in insurance schemes. On the streets, lives often end for much less.
Human nature is to take; divine nature, to give. In that vein, God took the first step and offered up His only heir, Jesus, so that sinners could become adopted sons and partake of Christ’s inheritance. Not just any inheritance—but one incorruptible and undefiled, which does not fade away and is kept in Heaven for us (I Peter 1:4).
We had no way to earn the gift of His grace. When I read Luke 20:14 recently, I was struck by the irony. They wanted to kill the heir so the inheritance could be theirs, but Jesus died so that it could be. Yet no man took His life—He willingly laid it down to make us all heirs together with Him. No wonder Paul said, “I pray...that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe” (Ephesians 1:18-19a NIV).
Thank You, Lord for the precious gifts You have given us. Help us to live to the fullest, reveling in the knowledge of how much we have been—and always will be—loved.
© 2010 Katherine A. Fuller
Friday, October 1, 2010
Babylon, mentioned in both the Old and New Testaments, brings to mind thoughts of corruption and evil. Prophets use the name Babylon as a symbol of a spirit of false worship and a corrupt political and economic system. Some claim that the godless religious systems of Babylon are the main source of today’s pagan worship. A study of the etymology of the name Babel reveals that in the Hebrew language it means “confused.”
We live in a time when weapons of mass destruction remind us of toxic mushroom clouds hanging over our heads. An age of innocence in sexual behavior seems to be lost in open nudity and acceptance of what the Bible terms sexual sin. Bernie Madoff types steal money without a whisper of a conscience.
Confusion seems to reign. Are we living in Babylon revisited? Will Jesus soon come triumphantly to conquer Babylon in all its configurations?
I do not know the answer to these questions. I do know some things that the Bible tells us.
Christians are to be aware of signs and times. Jesus said, "But if He comes suddenly, don't let Him find you asleep. I tell everyone just what I have told you. Be alert!" (Mark 13:36 CEV) The apostle Paul suffered much, yet gave us this advice, "Don't worry about anything, but pray about everything. With thankful hearts offer up your prayers and request to God.” (Philippians 4:6 CEV)
Dear Lord, whatever the times, help us to remember to come before you in praise and supplication. Give us peace in our spirits in spite of the confusion that swirls around us in this world.
© Christy Struben 2010
Friday, September 24, 2010
Christians today are sometimes like the modern car; they look great on the outside, but they cannot withstand a long haul of difficult times. Accidents total these types of cars. In the same way, when Christians face difficult times without fortification, they collapse just like the car body.
It is the framework that holds a car together. God is the framework of every Christian. He creates an impenetrable frame around us, holding all the parts of our life together as long as we stand steadfast in His love.
Obstacles are part of everyone’s life. Some are just there; others are stumbling blocks thrown in our way by Satan. When we stay within God's framework, He fortifies us. If we crash into life's barriers, the unnecessary and cumbersome parts fall away from lives, but we stand firm in His grace. He safely carries us to our destination.
It is never too late to examine our lives---to check out our frameworks' condition. If they are lightweight---failing the stress test---trade them in. Let the old frameworks pass away. God's new, solid frame will provide divine strength on life's road.
Thank you Lord for seeing me through the difficult times and the good times. Even when much of my life is crumbling around me I am surrounded by Your framework that helps me to move forward.
© 2010 Dawn M Sexton
Saturday, September 18, 2010
Have you ever been accused of something unjustly—even just a little something? I have. It is so frustrating. But what if I were at fault? What if I were guilty?
Satan lays blame on us every day of our lives. He accuses us before God and before others; however, I believe he does his finest work when he accuses us to ourselves. He throws accusations like, “you did this...you’re a hypocrite,” or “God could never use you because of that.”
How many times I have believed His lies! Yes, I am guilty. Yes, I do have an old sin nature, and my heart is deceitful and desperately wicked. But do you know what? God knows my frame. He created me and knows every single thing in my heart—and His judgment is “no condemnation.” I am a new creature in Christ. The old things are passed away, and all things are new (2 Corinthians 5:17).
Satan tries to make us think naturally about ourselves rather than thinking with God. He succeeds repeatedly because we are natural creatures. But we have been seated above, in heavenly places (Ephesians 2:6), and have supernatural resources from our loving Father to overcome the old way of thinking. Let’s remember what He thinks about us!
Oh, Father, how I long for the day when the accuser of the brethren is cast down; but until then, help me to derive my strength, my hope, and my thoughts from You alone.
© 2010 Katherine A. Fuller
Friday, September 10, 2010
Most of us have faced betrayal and deception by people in our lives. My former husband betrayed me and our marriage covenant by being unfaithful and then divorcing me. Some people are deceived by a parent or a trusted friend. For others, the treachery comes from a respected employer or co-worker. Sometimes gossip in church hurts a member of the body. Cruel actions can cause so much pain in our lives that we feel bitter or resentful. But be assured and comforted. God has an answer.
In the Old Testament, David knew betrayal firsthand. In Psalm 55, he said that he could endure an enemy’s insults, but the treachery that affected him most was by a companion, a close friend, “with whom I once enjoyed sweet fellowship.” David’s friend even walked with him at the house of God, much like a friend at church. In verses 20-21, David details the violation of their friendship: “His speech is smooth as butter, yet war is in his heart; his words are more soothing than oil, yet they are drawn swords.”
How did David respond to deception and abuse from his close friend? He cried out to God in his anguish, and was reassured that God heard his voice. David reaffirmed God’s assurance when he said, “cast your cares on the Lord and He will sustain you.” He believed this with his whole heart. Whatever pain and distress he endured, he always ended by calling out to God: “But as for me, I trust in You.”
Dear Father, even in the pain of betrayal, thank You for hearing our cries and sustaining us. Amen
© 2010 Diane E. Hussey
Friday, September 3, 2010
let your requests be known to God.” (Philippians 4:6 NKJV)
I raced through the airport, weaving around heavy foot traffic. Major road construction caused me to arrive later than planned. While rushing down the concourse, my mind raced: Did I turn off the iron? Did I remember to lock the back door? Did I cancel the mail? Did I leave my cell phone number with my neighbor?
I checked the Concourse and Gate numbers of my departure. Just great! It was on the other side of the airport. I hurried through security, faulting myself for not wearing flip-flops to hasten the check. While I was race-walking, I read the overhead signs to confirm my gate number had not changed and that I was still headed in the right direction.
As I re-read the signs, I saw TERMINAL BAGGAGE. I did a double take. I thought, that is what I am: Terminal Baggage. I remembered my favorite scripture verse: “Peace I leave with you. My Peace I give to you, not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” John 14:27 NKJV.
My pace slowed and I took a deep breath. Remembering His promise of peace put me in a new frame of mind. I gave God thanks that everything would be alright. He had not failed me or forsaken me yet. I smiled as I took my place in line.
Thank you Lord for Your Peace beyond understanding. Forgive me for falling short by not trusting in your plans for me. In Jesus’ Name I pray. Amen
Friday, August 27, 2010
I love walking around our property, looking at all of God's creations. I marvel at the tiniest flower growing on the end of a delicate stalk beside a slender blade of grass. I think that God loves the tiny insects, worms and birds. He makes flowers in just "their size". Taking these nature walks, I have increased my knowledge first hand of what not to touch, making me a little smarter than I was the day before.
One morning I discovered a two-leafed plant, shaped like perfect hearts facing one another. Not knowing what type of plant it was, I marked the spot with a twig and watched its daily growth. Finally, I recognized it. An alarm went off inside my head. POISON IVY! The leaves were like shiny fingers sticking out in three directions. I had often come in contact with similar plants in my youth. Its oily surface causes an unbearable itch and a red, angry rash culminating in watery blisters, which, when broken, causes more rash and itching.
The heart-shaped plant seemed to convey warmth and beauty. It was really a harmful plant waiting to become the antagonist. As Christians, we need to be alert to the fact that what one sees is not always what one gets. We must remain on guard to the dangers of the flesh as well as the spirit. One never knows when the ferocious "wolf" in sheep's attire will jump out and try to devour us spiritually.
Father, help us take hold of Your wisdom so that we may avoid the temptations that come in disguise from the world, the flesh and the devil. Amen
E. Bonnie Ryan
Saturday, August 21, 2010
The local public school system employed Vileena as a reading teacher in a phone interview just four days before school opened. Two days later, she arrived in Baltimore from her home on the island of Antigua. The school assigned Vileena along with eight other new teachers as my mentees.
She needed somewhere to live until she had a paycheck. Alone in a large house, I offered Vileena temporary shelter. I thought this would be a great opportunity to witness.
We drove to school together on the first day. Sure of myself, I said, “You know, I usually pray on the way to work.”
She looked at me excitedly. “So do I.”
“I pray out loud,” I said.
“Me too,” she said.
I looked at her sideways. “Sometimes I sing,” I said.
“Me too. Do you know His 'Name Is Wonderful?'" she said.
I shook my head yes and she began to sing in a rich soprano voice with a lovely island accent. I joined in with my reedy delivery. Thus began our year together.
I taught Vileena about the expectations of the school system. She taught me about exciting moves of God on her island home. I taught her some tricks of teaching reading. She taught me about herbs, natural remedies and healthy Antigua cooking. We prayed, worshiped, and witnessed together.
Alone at the time, with new jobs, we both needed Godly support and our Heavenly Father provided it. We were both surprised by God's provision.
Dear Lord, thank you for the surprises you send us and for the wonder that comes with the sweet fellowship of believers.
Christena Struben © 2010
Friday, August 13, 2010
Recently my husband and I moved in with a family. Many would call them tree-huggers, and at least one is proud to bear the name. It was strange at first: rules about what to throw away and what to recycle; cleaning without store-bought chemical cleaners; conserving energy and water in ways I had never thought about before. Around the house we jokingly refer to “environmental police” and the “Secretary of ‘What’s that Doing in the Trash?’”
We work a one-acre, organically grown garden—no chemical fertilizers, no pesticides. I now know one of life’s great joys: eradicating squash bugs by hand! It is grueling. Sometimes I long to purchase my own pesticides and apply them in secret.
In the environmental realm, sin can be subtle. But some age-old issues remain: waste, laziness, greed. Enter the serpent’s voice: God said you were to subdue the earth. It is easy to throw everything away instead of recycling, to use pesticides for bug control, or even to litter instead of finding a trashcan. It is easy to do the convenient thing. And for the sake of convenience, we subdue the earth at the earth’s expense.
This may seem an unusual subject for devotion. Though I do not consider myself a tree hugger, I do believe that this is our Father’s world. He created it, glories in it, and gave us dominion over it. We have a responsibility to honor our Creator by being good stewards of the resources He has provided.
Father, thank You for entrusting us with this magnificent world You have made. Help us to manifest Your heart as we live, caring for what You care about, too.
© 2010 Katherine A. Fuller
Friday, August 6, 2010
Recently, my twin grandchildren celebrated their fourth birthdays. What a party! Mom set up a small fish pond and a water balloon station in the back yard. The water balloons were a big hit with all the kids. Dad grilled burgers and hot dogs for the guests. We sang “Happy Birthday” as the twins blew out the candles on a brightly decorated cake. The grandmothers took pictures as they opened their gifts. We celebrated the lives of these special little ones.
Just as we celebrate our birthdays here on earth, the angels rejoice over every new believer who surrenders his life to the Lord. There is joy in heaven each time a person decides to follow Jesus. Paul tells us that anyone in Christ is a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17). Jesus told Nicodemus, “No one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again” (John 3:3). Our new life in Christ is like a new birthday.
In the book of Revelation we read about heavenly celebrations around God’s throne. The angels are singing and rejoicing because God has provided salvation through His Son: “with Your blood You purchased men for God…To Him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory” (Revelation 5:9,13). A glorious celebration for believers in Christ will be the wedding supper of the Lamb (Revelation 19:7-9), a special meal we will share with our Lord.
Dear Father, Thank You for celebrations with our families. And thank You for new life in Jesus. How wonderful to be in Your presence someday. Amen.
© 2010 Diane E. Hussey
Saturday, July 31, 2010
This passage is talking about unbelievers. If the Spirit of Christ is in a person then a demon cannot also live there, however, I think the concept can be applied to believers too. Demons irritate Christians to make them fearful.
A fear of human opinion prevents me from letting my light shine but God prepared good works for me to accomplish. I need to work diligently toward the completion of His work, but I listen to those fears far too often: “You can’t do anything worthwhile,” “You’re not good enough,” and “God cannot use you.”
I recite God’s Word and the demons go away. All Scripture is inspired by God and it teaches me the truth. God uses His Word to equip His people to do good works. It also tells me that I can do all things through Christ, He strengthens me, and I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
The Word of God puts my mind in order but if I don’t continue to remind myself of these truths, the demons can return. I need to speak Scripture to sweep the area and keep that space filled with the Word so that when those demons return they’ll find a “No Vacancy” sign.
Lord, help me to fill up my mind with Your Word so I can be prompted by the Spirit to do Your good works. Amen.
© 2010 Jenni Hurst
Thursday, July 22, 2010
A couple of weeks ago the story of Peter walking on the water was read four times in church. With the first three readings, we were told to reflect on the Word. The final reading was to let the Word wash over us.
I was in Peter's shoes four years ago. I remembered how the Lord restored and changed my life. Peter cried out to Jesus to save him, and the Lord reached out His hand to catch him.
Sickness had overtaken me. I was lying in bed depressed and afraid. Where would I be if I died today, heaven or hell? In my bed, I was sinking quickly. I cried out for the Lord to forgive me for running away from Him. In a backsliding condition, He was there for me. Immediately, I felt His love and comfort. I never stopped loving God. I had wandered away, trying to live life on my terms. That did not work. Without God's Word in my life I was caught in a storm and going down with the ship.
I still have health issues. Without Jesus by my side, I do not know where I would be or what I would be doing. Since that day, I have found myself leaning on the Word and moving forward. Yes, there are times when I fall, yet Jesus is always there, reaching out to pull me up. Just like Peter.
Father, thank you for always being there when I start to sink.
© 2010 Marcella Panowicz
Friday, July 16, 2010
I have a friend who answers all my questions about constellations, geography, flowers, trees, birds, and insects. We were talking one afternoon, basking in the sun’s warmth, and I told her that the sun astonishes me. It is 93 million miles away, yet its light reaches Earth in eight minutes. “I often look at nature and think of how amazing God is,” I said.
She just looked at me and replied, “I just think of how amazing nature is.”
I wasn’t sure how to respond. All I could think was that she missed so much by not acknowledging her Creator; not knowing what an intimate friend He is.
Eternity. Time. Universes. Solar systems. Planets. Earth. Oceans. Continents. Countries. Communities. And us. How can we not stand in awe that He knows our names? How can we comprehend why our Creator is mindful of us? Why He knows the number of hairs on our heads, cares about our struggles, heartaches, questions, and joys? Why He hears our prayers, answers them, and why He wants to be in our lives? Why did He place us in His amazing world?
I can’t explain it. But He created us for a purpose: to be His Bride. What a joy it will be to finally know Him, even as He knows us.
Lord, thank You for Your love, and for placing honor on our lives. Help us to show Your heart to those who don’t know You, because You love and hear them, too.
© 2010 Katherine A. Fuller
Friday, July 9, 2010
It was a down day when I read these words. With the disciples I asked Jesus “When have I ever given you a cup of water?” I remembered the road to Calvary when someone gave Him a drink and when His lips touched vinegar. Nothing in my life seemed worthy of Him who died for me. I tucked the question into the back of my mind and lived on.
A year or so later, a work crew cleared brush across from our house. A young woman, dripping sweat, held the “slow/stop” sign. Head and neck exposed to the sun, she would soon be in pain. Immediately I knew my job was to give her a bottle of water from the refrigerator. Surprised, she took it.
“Not enough” the Spirit told me. “Get the Safari hat.” I knew He meant the one left over from a Vacation Bible School program.
“I don’t know where it is,” I said, but walked straight to the cranny where it was stored and carried it outside.
Even more surprised, the hat's new owner said,“It wasn’t hot this morning.”
Looking back, I know Jesus wanted to underline His message that He will reveal others' needs. He will tell us where the hats are stored so we can get them without thinking. We don’t need to wonder about our service. He leads us daily.
Prayer: Lord Help us be on the alert for when you want us to help friends, relatives, acquaintances or strangers. Amen.
© 2010 V. Colclasure
Friday, July 2, 2010
We have come to expect spectacular fireworks as we celebrate Independence Day. However, I chose not to attend the fireworks sponsored by my town last year. I was amazed to find that many of my neighbors also stayed at home to celebrate in unique ways.
A sweet surprise began as a plethora of fireflies rose from the ground, crickets chirping in concert. The boom of rifles, shotguns, and ground works echoed. A bright white ball whistled into the sky and exploded into a shower of lights, tinkling like a rain shower on a roof. Another light squealed skyward and burst into a giant ball of smaller lights quickly falling towards earth in waterfall formation.
Surrounded by booming noises and fireworks my senses roamed following the lights and sounds. Possibly, because it came as a surprise, I enjoyed this neighborhood show more than the extravaganza in town.
I was touched by the thought that my neighbors, knowingly or not, presented an earthly celebration across the backdrop of God’s sky, following the gentle sounds of God’s creatures of light and night music.
People celebrate Independence Day, the day our country declared itself to be a sovereign nation, free from the tyranny of another.
How like my loving God to bring gently to my mind the fact that He offers a freedom infinitely sweeter and more profound than freedom from earthly tyranny.
My Dear Lord, I thank You for the grace and blessings You have bestowed on America. Thank you for reminding me that You offer independence from sin and an eternity of joy with You.
© Christy Struben 2010
Friday, June 25, 2010
A school bus is a wonderful place to learn. One spring morning, I wanted to tell the children what a wonderful Creator we have, so I pointed out the beautiful flowering pink and white trees that lined the streets. I explained that trees are the only creations God made that grow as long as they live. I gave them an example of the tallest, oldest trees in the world, the mighty Sequoias in California.
Suddenly, a fifth grade boy sitting in the back of the bus raised his hand and stood up. "Miss Evelyn," he said, "we're not supposed to talk about God or say His name on the bus or in school."
"I know you think that, but actually, it's not true," I replied. "Don't you say 'God bless you' when someone sneezes?"
He paused and his eyes lit up in acknowledgement. "Oh...yeah." he responded with a smile. Then he sat down in a perfectly quiet bus that held fifty-five listening children.
Children absorb everything around them. Impressions and fallacies about God seep into their brains and are interpreted as fact. It is wise, therefore, to always speak truth to them.
Father, may Your children never be ashamed to speak Your Name and profess love for You and Your Son, Jesus. May they also think of You every spring when the trees bloom with color. Amen
E. Bonnie Ryan
Friday, June 18, 2010
Why do words hold so much power? They capture our imaginations, inspire, encourage, bring laughter, and strengthen our spirits. But their power does not stop there. Words also hurt, discourage, divide, tear down, and destroy.
Nathaniel Hawthorne described them well: “Words—so innocent and powerless as they are, as standing in a dictionary, how potent for good and evil they become in the hands of one who knows how to combine them.”
As a writer it is easy for me to take words for granted, focused on finding just the right ones; but I need to remember that guarding my pen is equivalent to guarding my tongue. It is easy to write “truth” in the name of “righteousness,” but if I do not temper that truth with love, I could be misrepresenting the heart of God, inadvertently lying about His character to the reader, isolating them from even wanting to know God. Satan can take it from there, whispering his words that sow bitterness and hate.
Jesus spoke powerful words as He hung dying so that we could live. He said, “Father, forgive them.” There was no hate, no “getting them back,” no guile—He spoke the truth in love. They didn’t know what they were doing. Those few words have impacted eternity in millions of hearts.
Now it is my turn—to build up and edify, love the brethren, and turn the other cheek when necessary. It is time for me to speak and write the truth in love.
Thank You, Father, for Your amazing Word: that we can still read it today, and that it will stand forever. Help us to guard our tongues and pens, heeding Your instruction to communicate with love.
© 2010 Katherine A. Fuller
Friday, June 11, 2010
Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path. (Psalm 119:105 NIV)
As a first grade teacher, I realized that little hands cover sneezes, and little fingers wind up in noses and other unsanitary places. Germs can easily pass to classroom surfaces and eventually to other children. In an effort to improve hygiene, I presented lessons on how sickness can spread. I stressed the importance of proper hand washing. Every few weeks, I would have the students wipe there desktops with sanitizer and a paper towel.
During one of our desk cleaning times, six-year-old Michael came to me and said, “I can’t get the pencil marks off my desk.”
“Well,” I said, “I guess you could try using a little more elbow grease.”
He nodded his head and went back to work.
A few minutes later, I noticed Michael with his head down on the desk crying. “Michael,” I said, “what’s the matter?”
“I can’t find the elbow grease,” he answered.
I comforted him, explaining about figurative language, and told him elbow grease could be found in his own elbow.
Michael needed to use “elbow grease” to complete the job. In the same way, when our gracious God gives us assignments to complete for His Kingdom, He expects us to use some of our own “elbow grease.” We are also blessed with directions from God’s word, the Bible, and the power of the Holy Spirit providing the abilities and gifts to accomplish God’s desire in our lives.
Dear Lord, help us to learn Your Word and hide it in our hearts and minds, so that when You call on us, we are equipped, with the help of your Holy Spirit, to carry out Your will.
© Christy Struben 2010
Friday, June 4, 2010
I was married for 34 years to a man I loved very much. We raised three sons together and lived in lovely homes in many different states. We shared ministry opportunities in Alaska and Kazakhstan. For many years, it appeared to others that we had a wonderful life. My world came crashing down when he divorced me. My dream of a Christian marriage that would last a lifetime shattered.
In Genesis we read about Joseph’s shattered dreams. His brothers sold him into slavery and lied to their father. He ended up in prison because Potifer’s wife falsely accused him.
God had different plans for Joseph’s life and for mine. Joseph reconciled with his brothers many years later, and reassured them saying, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” (Genesis 50:20b NIV). Just as Joseph reunited with his family, I reunited with my sons, grandchildren and daughter-in-law. I help in a divorce ministry to comfort others and to repair broken lives. God is healing my broken heart.
God can bring good out of the tragic circumstances in our lives. He knows the plans He has for our lives and He knows what is best for us. He sometimes replaces our old dreams with new hopes for a better future.
Dear Father, I know You love me, and I can trust You for the future. Thank You for new hopes and dreams. In Jesus Name, Amen.
© 2010 Diane E. Hussey
Friday, May 28, 2010
Sue’s life was permeated by half-truth until she became a Christian. She grew up in a loving family but questioned if she belonged to that family. Every time she asked questions, a half-truth was given. Further questioning resulted in silence. Many things did not ring true.
Sue had an unmarried aunt living five blocks from her house. Aunt Mary showed extra kindness to her. Much more goodwill came to Sue than to the two brothers.
As a grown woman, Sue accepted Christ as her Lord and Savior and wanted to share with Aunt Mary. While Sue talked, the aunt fell to the floor on her knees with bowed head. Upon asking if she were all right, the aunt replied with a smile.
Sue asked her if she were a believer and the response was, “Yes.”
“Why do you not attend church?” Sue asked.
Her reply, “I do not like the way church handles Mother’s Day.” She was implying that she felt left out.
Sue responded, “Aunts can be mothers also.” Aunt Mary smiled.
Many use half-truth to protect themselves. God knows truth. Cover-ups keep us from letting God work truth within. When using half-truth, one is harming others and really harming oneself. God will help us work through our issues and bring us into His truth and real life.
Sue still questions who her birth parents are, but she knows she was knitted in her mother’s womb by God and can say, “Abba, I belong to You.”
Dear Lord, Thank you for Your unfailing love.
©Mary Burkey 2010
Thursday, May 20, 2010
My family can give me inspiration into God's Word. The other day I was talking with my son, and I told him the trials I am going through right now. He told me I needed to take God's Word and "sow, sow, sow." We will reap what we sow. I knew he was right.
Many years ago, I spent a lot of time making my own clothes and sewing for the children. I amazed myself when homemade clothing looked store bought. People asked me where I purchased the outfits. They were surprised when I told them I made them myself. Some of my friends would examine the garment closely to check to see if I was fooling with them. Others brought their items to my house for repair.
As a seamstress, I knew using the good material and thread would make the outfits appear expensive. I made sure I studied the pattern took my time and gave all the seams a finishing touch to complete an exclusive look. This got me thinking. We reap what we sow.
I need to study the Word of God. That way I can sew my life into a pleasing garment of praise before my King. I can also sow salvation, healing and peace into the lives of others.
I want to put on that beautiful garment of praise and dance before my King!
Father, teach me how to sow Your Word. Help me to sow a field of harvest that will please you. In Jesus name.
© 2010 Marcella Panowicz
Friday, May 14, 2010
The weather report called for snow but I was not worried. My husband and I decided to get a bite to eat before meeting with friends for a night out. I was pregnant with my second child. While waiting for the food I felt a pain in my stomach. The pain persisted so my husband took me home. He left to inform our friends that we would not be meeting them.
It started to snow. Before long it turned into a blizzard. The contractions were five minutes apart, and I called on a neighbor to take me to the hospital. With visability about a foot in front of the car, a normal five-minute trip turned into a nerve racking twenty-minute nightmare. Within an hour my daughter was born. I will never forget this second birth.
The day I became a Christian is another second birth that I will never forget. I had left my husband and become a single parent lost in a blizzard of hopelessness. Life had gone so wrong that fear consumed me. Just as I had called on a friend to help me with my second child, I now called on Jesus to rescue me from this storm. I gave my life over to Jesus and was reborn.
As I look back on those second births I realize that there is nothing that happens to me without Jesus. When I am in the storms of life I have a friend Who picks me up and calm the storms.
Thank you Jesus for giving me peace during the storms of life.
© 2010 Dawn M Sexton
Friday, May 7, 2010
Last winter, back-to-back storms dumped unbelievable amounts of snow in our area. When I went to get my five year old grandson from school, I had to walk in the streets. On the way home, he showed me the path he and Daddy had taken the day before. When we came upon a large mound of snow, he quickly scampered over it. Starting up the small hill, I soon realized I might fall if I stepped down in the middle of this unstable icy pile. My grandson turned around, “What’s wrong, grandma?” I told him I was afraid of falling and I needed something to hold onto. He reached his little hand out to mine and gave me courage to take the next step.
God does that for us, too. At certain points in life, we may feel unsure of what to do, but He is always available to guide us with His hand. Sometimes we feel shaky when facing problems in life. When we cry out to God in the pain of a runaway teenager or a husband who says the marriage is over, He is here to hold us in His loving arms. Just as my grandson’s hand gave me courage to move on, God gives us strength to take the next step.
Dear Father, Thank You for the special people You place in our lives, and for the promise that Your hand will always guide us.
© 2010 Diane E. Hussey
Thursday, April 29, 2010
Prov. 3:5 (NJKV)
My husband, and I, with another couple, spent the weekend at their hunting cabin deep in the Pennsylvania hills. During our stay we went hiking and came upon a fire tower. Our footsteps clanked loudly echoing through the hills as we noisily climbed, going around and around, until we reached the top.
We emerged high above the trees to witness a spectacular view. Certainly, the Fire Guard could spot suspicious smoke from here.
Upon descending, the others hurried ahead, but I wanted to take one more photo. After all, it’s not often you can see three states from one place: Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Maryland.
Starting down, I froze. I could see through the metal steps down to the ground. Terror gripped my heart. A call for help stuck in my throat. The others were far ahead, and their noisy exit drowned out my pitiful squeak for help.
Finally, Pat returned and saw my predicament. She advised, “Sit on this step. Look at me. Now scoot down the next step. Keep looking at me. Do not look down.” She continued coaching until I could manage.
Jesus called Peter to walk on water. Taking his eyes off Jesus, he sank. (Matt. 14:28-30). No matter what challenges come our way, the situation always looks worse when we focus on the problem and not on Jesus. As I needed to keep my eyes on Pat, we would do well to keep our eyes on Jesus and not the problem.
Dear Lord, Thank you for being our Savior and always available. Your mercy and love is greater than any problem. Forgive us when we fall short. Amen
© 2010 Lois Gosley
Saturday, April 24, 2010
A thunderstorm reminded me that even when it looks like we are alone, we are not. God is always near. One season we needed rain desperately, so it was good to see the refreshing drops of rain fall to the earth. It smelled wonderful. The booming thunder and flashes of lightning frightened my little dogs. It was music to my ears, but sent them into a nervous frenzy.
Inside, the dogs followed my every step. While doing housework, I talked to them, trying to calm them but it was no use. Finally, I sat down and held the two tiny Chihuahuas. The larger Border Collie panted nervously while touching my side. God created these loving, frightened animals for us to care for and love. I thought of their similarity to frightened children.
Many times when frightened, such as my first job interview, wedding jitters, and the uncertainty of moving to Germany, I needed comfort too. Also, being alone, except for my thirteen month old baby boy, and boarding a plane for the first time was very unnerving. Those are the times when I turn to my "Comforter" God to talk with Him and ask His presence. He never lets me down. He always lifts me up, never leaving me comfortless in the terror of the unknown. Prayer changes everything.
Father God, help me to remember that You are always just a thought and a prayer away. Comfort Your children when they step out into the unknown. Guide them to safety and give them the assurance that You are always near. Amen.
© 2010 E. Bonnie Ryan
Friday, April 16, 2010
Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus. Philippians 2:5 (KJV)
I hate my life. I hate my life. I hate my life. The increasingly familiar mantra circled, a vortex of anger in my mind. Crossing my arms, I hunkered down in my seat, as far from the pulpit as I could get, and determined not to listen. Nothing he says will help me, anyway.
My normal defense is to gravitate toward the superficial in order to avoid showing my feelings, but today was my breaking point. I had been wronged. My roommates and I no longer spoke, trapped in the prison of my negativity. At some point the reason ceased mattering to me, but the anger grew, unchecked.
Volatility churned inside me until the preacher’s voice intruded. “What’s wrong with being a victim?” he asked. “Jesus was.”
Be a victim, I mused. This was a new concept, point of view being the difference. I had allowed my situation to imprison me. But so what, that I had been wronged? That I was even right?
One moment darkness engulfed me; the next, beautiful light flooded my mind and warmed my heart.
Jesus was wronged, but He did not defend Himself—not because He was God, and was right—but because He was God, and He did not have to. He had nothing to prove, only people to love.
And so did I. The realization nearly catapulted me from my seat. I loved my roommates more deeply at that moment than ever before. Love threw open my prison doors and I walked into the light—victim to victor.
Thank You, Lord, for loving us enough to become our victim, and thank You that we can have Your mind, allowing us to live victoriously.
© 2010 Katherine A. Fuller
Friday, April 9, 2010
My sisters and I always had an Easter Sunday egg hunt. Our parents hid the eggs before breakfast; later we took turns hiding and finding them again. As a parent, I passed the custom on to my children. Surprisingly, another tradition popped up. It didn’t matter how hard my sisters and I searched, somehow we always missed one or two. We knew the “good” spots – window ledges, beside books, below the sofa, and on top of the clock. We checked everywhere, but while cleaning the house sometime during the next month, we would find a left over.
Often it was more fun to share the news about the last one than finding the first one on Easter morning. My kids were just as excited. They’d yell, run around and show everyone that lost egg’s hidden nook. Its spot joined the list of “great” hiding places.
Of course an Easter egg hunt is not the same as Jesus, the shepherd, searching for lost souls, but finding that last egg always reminds me that our job as followers is to keep on seeking the lost. They hide in schools, work sites, or shopping and recreational centers. They’re tucked under life’s weeds of ignorance, busyness, despair, intellectual pride, or cultural excuses. And when the newly found join the Shepherd’s flock, we again celebrate His love and the joys of Easter. We have fun rejoicing with Him.
Father, Thank you for giving us your love and for granting us the special joy of finding the lost. Amen.
© 2010 Virginia Colclasure
Friday, April 2, 2010
1st Corinthians 15:57 (KJV)
The Lamb was slain. Glory be to the Lamb. The Lamb has risen. Glory be to God.
Jesus was nailed to the cross to die for our sins. Three days later He defeated death. I cannot begin to imagine what went through the minds of those who got to see and speak with Jesus that day. They witnessed a historic event. Yet, most had little idea of the significance of this event which would change the way the world views Jesus.
Through Jesus' act of obedience and sacrifice we are able to claim victory over the power of sin and death. We no longer have to be under their control. Death can no longer defeat us. Because Jesus is alive, we too shall live.
Growing older, I realize that I am getting closer to death's door. Even though spring is around the corner, I know that I am no spring chicken. Passing the half century mark, I sometimes find it hard to keep up with the pace of everyday living. But I do not fear death. Why? Because Jesus has already defeated it for me. I am free from death's grasp.
During this Sunday's Easter celebrations, I am reminded of the love that Jesus must have felt for me to so willingly take my place on the cross. I want to live each day as a witness to others of the power that can only come from Jesus. Death has no sting or power over me.
Thank you, Jesus, for giving me the victory over death. Thank you for the life you gave to save me.
© 2010 Dawn M Sexton
Friday, March 26, 2010
The big snow storm of 1996 was a real trial for my husband and I as well as our pets. Disabled for thirty-eight years, Charlie had a hard time walking in the snow. Determined to clear our long driveway and sidewalk, he bought a snow blower. He also wanted to clear a place in the yard for the dogs to walk. We had two Chihuahuas and a Pug. Neither of them was very tall. A snow that big would swallow them.
When it began snowing, the dogs seemed confused. The snow changed the landscape, covering the familiar odors that let them know their potty territories. Upon taking them out in the deepening snow, we realized by trial and error that they were not going to cooperate. Charlie devised another tactic. I heard him outside clearing the road and sidewalk. It surprised me to see him making several paths in our field. He later explained that they were for walking the dogs. As long as they could see and smell the grass and earth, they would be content, making it easier for all of us.
While Charlie was outside with the dogs, the words, 'paths of righteousness' came to my mind. I pictured Jesus walking in front of me on a path strewn with flowers. "Follow me," He seemed to say, and I did. A contentment I could only imagine washed over me. The 'paths of righteousness' seemed to parallel the white paths Charlie made, reminding me that Christ leads me.
Thank You, Father, for leading us to new paths and showing us better ways to work and live. Amen.
E. Bonnie Ryan
Friday, March 19, 2010
The continuing instability of our financial institutions, the high unemployment rate and the corruption of our political leaders, cause many of us to feel anxious about the future of this country. Some families have suffered financial setbacks and lost their homes to foreclosure.
Although we suffer and have problems in this life, we can still choose to trust God and find joy in the midst of pain. The prophet Habakkuk watched calamity come upon the nation of Israel as crops failed and there was no food, but he chose to step out in faith and be joyful in the Lord. In verse 19, Habakkuk declares, “The Sovereign Lord is my strength.” God may not end our problems immediately or improve our financial situation. He will be with us and strengthen us to endure what is happening. As we learn to rejoice in the midst of trials, we grow in our relationship with our Lord. He works to build His character in us. As we allow God to heal and change us, relationships with family and friends improve. We begin to realize the true riches in this life are replacing the worldly wealth we rely on. We can move forward with confidence that God’s grace is sufficient for us because His “power is made perfect in weakness.” (paraphrase of 2 Cor.12:9 NIV).
Dear Father: I need Your strength when I face problems in life. I choose to rejoice in the midst of trials knowing I can trust You to change me so I become more like Jesus. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
© 2010 Diane E. Hussey
Thursday, March 11, 2010
Jesus has prepared a room in our Father’s house for each of us. Because He created us uniquely, He knows us intimately. In the same way, I believe our rooms will be tailored for us.
I was experiencing the turmoil of divorce when I first meditated on these verses. I visualized curling up in a cushy pink room in a heavenly honeycomb to take a long nap. Now, that image amuses me because it conveys the comfort of a mother’s womb. At that time, rest and the healing embrace of His Word were what I needed.
Today I envision an outdoor room which resonates with the sound of wildlife, running water and the wind blowing through the trees. The air is scented with pine and flowers. This picture is limited by my human mind but based on His promise to those who thirst after Him.
You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands. Instead of the thornbush will grow the pine tree, and instead of briers the myrtle will grow. (Isaiah 55:12-13a)
God has plans for me and so I wonder: What will my room will look like to me in five years?
Heavenly Father, I trust You prepared a room for me in Heaven. As I live on earth, let me revel in Your presence, inviting all who pass by to join in. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
© 2010 Stephanie L. Snead
Friday, March 5, 2010
In the 1970s, I met an interesting elderly couple at a Christian retreat. They were in their 8th decade and had been married for over sixty years. A retired naval officer, in the early part of the twentieth century, he commanded a four-masted sailing vessel.
Most retreat participants dressed in jeans and t-shirts; but the captain always came to breakfast early dressed in a three-piece suit and tie. While he appeared formal in bearing and speech, his wife was warm and talkative. I had the pleasure of sitting beside her at dinner one evening.
“You and the captain must have led an exciting life together,” I said.
“Oh,” she answered, “not really. I was at home raising our five children. My husband was the one out seeing the world. He was quite a drinker and womanizer before he found the Lord.”
In my mind I imagined the captain falling to his knees and calling out to God during a fierce naval battle during WWI or WWII.
“How long has he been a Christian?” I asked.
“About three years,” she answered.
She had prayed for him for over sixty years. What a patient, loving, and forgiving spirit!
“You amaze me,” I said.
She smiled. “Oh, it wasn’t me,” she said. “The Lord gave me His love and forgiveness or else I couldn’t have persisted in prayer.”
Prayer: Lord, grant us persistence in prayer that we may rest in Your peace and lay hold of Your forgiveness.
© Christy Struben 2010
Friday, February 26, 2010
I got the call Friday morning. My nephew found three orphaned squirrels. Would I take the babies? "Of course," I responded. An hour later my nephew handed me a small box with three sleeping baby squirrels inside.
I hunted all over and finally found the pet nurser bottle. Having no pet formula handy, I mixed some evaporated milk, water, and corn syrup, warming it on the stove. Two of the babies wrapped their paws around the bottle cap and sucked hungrily. The runt was sluggish but he drank a little. I settled them in a box and covered them to keep them warm.
It felt good to care for the babies, but I had disposed of the necessary equipment long ago, that I needed to raise them. They needed more help than I could give. I called Phoenix Wildlife Company and spoke to a long-time friend, Kathy Woods. She was a wildlife rehabilitator and said she would take them.
In the few hours I cared for the baby squirrels, I felt an old, familiar closeness to nature and to God. I was doing God's will, taking care of His creatures. I could imagine His smile of approval. It felt good!
Father, thank You for the opportunity to serve in the same capacity that You instructed Adam, to care for Your creatures. Amen.
© 2010 E. Bonnie Ryan
Saturday, February 20, 2010
I moved 23 times in the 34 years of my married life, so the idea of a permanent home is very appealing to me. Imagine, no more moving! I packed and unpacked household and personal belongings for a family of five so many times that some boxes never got unpacked. They remained sealed waiting for the next move. How I longed to settle down in my own home and never move again. As I learned to trust God for the future, I changed from storing up earthly belongings and began storing up treasures for heaven.
Jesus understands people like me who long for a secure, permanent home. He knows what we need. In John 14 He tells us that in His Father’s house there are many rooms. The NIV note refers to them as “dwelling places,” which hints at a permanent home. Jesus says that He will go to this house and prepare a place for us. Then, He promises to come back and take us to be with Him. He is preparing a special place just for us, and He will return to take us back with Him. Imagine being home in Jesus’ presence! Not only are we with our Lord and Savior, but also we have a forever home. I will be home at last.
Dear Father: Thank You for sending Jesus to be our Savior. I thank You for the promise of a special dwelling place with You forever. In Jesus Name, Amen.
© 2010 Diane E. Hussey