Friday, December 31, 2010

525,600 Minutes

If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised throught Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 4:11 (NIV)

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

Jehovah's Christmas Gift

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16 (NIV)

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.

(c) 2010
E. Bonnie

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Perfect Christmas Picture

Where is he that is born the King of the Jews? For we have seen his star in the east, and have come to worship. Matthew 2:2 (KJV)

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

More to Come

There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots. Isaiah 11:1 (NKJV)

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

Dad's Presence

Your Father knows what you need before you ask Him. Matthew 6:8b (NIV)

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

Gift of Comfort

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in our troubles so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. 2 Cor 1:3 (NIV)

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


Praise the Lord from the heavens, praise him in the heights above. Praise him, all his angels, praise him, all his heavenly hosts. Psalm 148: 1-2 (NIV)

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

Complete the Joy

The angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all people.” Luke 2:10 (NIV)

Many of us seek joy and think we have to “make it happen.” God’s joy is given. We are to receive it and live it. After one accepts the life God offers, life overflows with joy.

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.

Glenna died following a sudden illness. She had previously written her desire for her memorial service to be a celebration when she passed away. Her family followed her instructions. Upon entering the chapel for the service, one could see filled brown sandwich bags placed on the pews. Those who knew Glenna personally had to chuckle. The bags contained a water bottle, pack of nose tissues, and a baggie of sweet treats. No one ever left Glenna’s home without a gift. The tone was set to celebrate her passing into the presence of God.

Joy bubbled from her in all kinds of situations. In her presence, everyone laughed. She chose life with God, loved Him, His creation, His people, and held fast to Him in trials. The Lord was her life. I cannot help but think Glenna is making music right now in His presence. I will greatly miss her on earth, but now her joy is complete.

Dear Lord, Help us not to complicate life and miss the joy You brought to earth long ago. Amen

©2010 Mary Burkey

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Cozy Christmas

So then death worketh in us, but life in you. 2 Corinthians 4:12 (KJV)

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

Check Out Mission

The fool has said in his heart, "There is no God" Psalm 14:1a (KJV)

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

Genealogy and Christmas

The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham. Matthew 1:1 (NKJV)

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 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

Details, Details, Details

But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.” - Luke 10:41-42 (NLT)

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

The Greatest Gift

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16 (NIV)

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

Butterfly Tree

Therefore, if anyone be in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold all things have become new. 2 Corinthians 5:17 RKJV

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 Gifts

They presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh. Matthew 2:11b (KJV)

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

(c) 2010
E. Bonnie Ryan

Friday, December 10, 2010

Songs in the Night

I thought about the former days, the years of long ago; I remembered my songs in the night. My heart mused and my spirit inquired. Psalm 77:5, 6 (NIV)

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

Life is More than Food

Jesus said, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?” Matthew 6:25 (NIV)

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