Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Yule Log

And all things, whatsoever you shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive. Matthew 21:22 (KJV)

A Yule log is an extremely large log that is burned in a hearth as a traditional Christmas celebration in several European cultures. The Yule log was originally an entire tree that was carefully chosen and brought into the house with great ceremony. Because the Yule log was hard wood, it provided maximum warmth and endurance.

This prayer is traditionally said when lighting the yule log: “May the fire of this log warm the cold; may the hungry be fed; may the weary find rest and may all enjoy heaven's peace.”

While we may not all have fireplaces to burn yule logs, we can offer prayers of hope to those in need of food, homes, jobs or heaven's peace.

A gentleman came into the retail store the other day to pay on a stranger's layaway as a way to share the Christmas spirit. This seems to be a new trend happening at many of the stores this year. What a nice way to help and spread some comfort and cheer to a weary family.

This is the season to reflect on the blessings that Jesus' birth has given us and help those who have less and in need of blessings. If we cannot give material things we can pray the Yule log prayer believing and watch Jesus answers in amazing ways.

Thank you Jesus for giving me peace, warmth and rest in your arms. May I not only pray for the needs of others, but also provide hope throughout this Christmas season.

© 2011 Dawn M Sexton

Friday, December 30, 2011

Between the Manger and the Cross

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Matthew 28:19 (NIV)

With Christmas behind us, and the New Year only days away, it’s easy to put away the baby in the manger along with all of the other Christmas decorations. During the holidays, we might find ourselves trying to put the focus on the reason for the season; but after the last present is unwrapped, and the last needle falls from the tree–what remains?

Just as we try to keep Christ in Christmas, we should also keep Him in our hearts every day. We need to remember exactly why that baby in the manger was born (which, by the way, was to die). Not only do we need to understand that reason, we need to concentrate on the life that He lived between the manger and the cross.

Everything that Jesus did from cradle to grave was to reconcile the creation to the creator–the Father to His children.

In Biblical times it was the duty of the son to carry on the father’s work. We are to go about our Father’s work as well. His work is to make disciples of all nations. He is not willing that any should perish.

As we carry on the family business, we will be following in the footsteps of Christ; spreading the Gospel to all with whom we come in contact. News this great was meant to be shared!

Lord, help me to always remember that nothing I do is more important than telling others about the saving grace of your son Jesus Christ.

© 2011 Kimberly Mattio Halfen

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Blessed Gifts

Behold, children are a gift of the Lord, the fruit of the womb is a reward.
Psalm 127:3 (NASB)
As a child, my mother gave me a doll almost every Christmas. One year I received a Betsy Wetsy, who lived up to her name. One Christmas Mom decided to give me one of her dolls. She was large with a soft kid body. Her legs, arms and head were plaster-of-paris. Another was a tall teenager with moveable elbows and knees. Mom worked late nights before Christmas making their clothes.

They were well-cared for. I spent hours playing with them. They were taken for walks in my yellow doll buggy, and sat quietly when I taught “doll” school. Once I learned to sew, they received pretty gowns of my own design.

In a small way, my time as a “doll mommy” gave me a longing to someday become a real mom. Gazing into the eyes of my first son, my heart swelled with joy and thankfulness for God’s amazing gift. Mom sewed baby clothes and soft blankets for my son just as she had for my dolls.

Although they were special to me as a child, dolls can never compare to the relationships I have with my sons and my grandchildren. Dolls were not real nor could they respond to me. Babies reveal God’s love to our families. As we love and care for our babies and children, we see God’s love reflected in their smiles and in their small hands reaching for ours. Our hearts melt when they say, “I love you.”

Thank you, Lord, for revealing your love through the gift of babies and children. Bless and watch over our families. Amen
© 2011 Diane E. Hussey

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Home for the Holidays?

Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth. Psalm 127: 3-4 (NIV)

Now that my sons are grown and out on their own, gathering for the holidays is no longer a certainty. School and work schedules conspire against maintaining that cheery family unit gathered around the Thanksgiving table or the Christmas tree. My new found freedom was welcome at first. But now I find myself eagerly seeking out those rare opportunities to be together as we were when they were children.

As Christians, we know that Christmas is so much more than generic holiday greetings, exchanging overpriced gifts, and watching Frosty the Snowman on TV. The birth of Jesus is more cause for celebration than just about any other occasion. That is why being with family at this time of year is so meaningful. Taking special time out from our worldly cares and responsibilities to give glory and honor to God; to thank Him for sending his son into the world so that we might be saved and reconciled to Him, that is truly cause for thanksgiving.

So what do we do when we can’t be together for the holidays? We share our love in any and every way possible: through cards, on the phone, via email, even Facebook. The connection is still there, and the joy of knowing that we have Christ and each other.

Heavenly father, thank you for the precious love of family as we celebrate the birth of your son, Jesus Christ.

© 2011 G. Francis Johnson 

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Perfect Gift

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights,. ” James 1:17 (NIV)

Opening gifts on December 25th is the highlight of Christmas Day for many. My mother was the biggest kid in our house at Christmas time. One year, the excitement for an expected gift motivated my mother to insist that her family stay up until one minute after midnight, Christmas morning, to open that present.

To keep us all awake and together, Mom cooked a large feast filled with the savory aroma of candied sweet potatoes, the enticing smell of roasted turkey gravy and the alluring fragrance of bubbling melted cheese in her famous dish, old-fashioned macaroni and cheese.

Belt loosening full were we, when at the stroke of midnight December 24th, Mom quickly gathered us around our Christmas tree. It was decorated with brightly glowing colored lights, and perched on the highest tree limb was our traditional chirping bird ornament. She couldn’t wait to open her highly desired present. She expected a diamond engagement ring, but instead she got diamond earrings. With a smile on her face and disappointment in her eyes, she opened her remaining gifts.

Personal reactions to gifts opened are always unpredictable, no matter how much time, effort and thought the gift buyer puts into it. While we shop for gifts, let us also remember to give the gift of the gospel of Jesus Christ and open the good and perfect gift of Salvation for someone this Christmas.

Father, as we prepare for family gatherings, attend Christmas programs, and shop till we drop, remind us that Christmas can’t be purchased in a store. Help us to remember to share your good and perfect gift, Jesus Christ, this Christmas season.

© 2011 Danielle Martin Moffett

Monday, December 26, 2011

The Christmas Star

He [the Lord] determines the number of the stars, he gives to all of them their names. Psalm 147:3-4 (RSV)

Why did God create shooting stars? People watch them and wonder. Attracted by stellar beauty or personal curiosity, students soon learn that shooting stars are meteors, often originating in the Leonid, Perseid or Geminid constellations. Dedicated astronomers can predict the time, place, intensity and visibility of these divinely inspired events; however, they keep searching for the reasons, the natural purpose for their destruction.

The Psalmist looked beyond the analytic facts of the stars’ existence and used them to praise the Lord for His greatness, abundant power and understanding. Someday, scientists may find a celestial parallel with earth’s annual disintegration of falling leaves. Stars may not fall in as great abundance as leaves, but nothing is wasted either in the Lord’s natural world or in His theological world. Everything has purpose.

When Christ’s followers look to the sky and remember the Christmas Star, they know it had a one-time theological purpose---lead the Magi to Christ. There was no need for it to appear again and again. Those living today never saw that particularly bright star, but through reading the Christmas story, we can imagine it. We don’t need to see it in because we remember our own journey to Christ. Our personal memory of discovering Him combined with the Magi’s story brings a joyous desire to celebrate Christmas—again, and again and again.

Lord, as we celebrate the beauty of the Christmas sky, remember the star, the Magi, and our path to your side, let us, like the Psalmist, praise your greatness, power, and understanding. Amen.

© 2011 V. Colclasure

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Morn

And this shall be a sign unto you, Ye shall find a babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. Luke 2:12 (KJV)

In a field, so lush and green,
a brilliant light could be seen.
Sheep stirred restless in their fright
to see this unfamiliar sight.
Shepherds knelt in instant awe,
when heavenly angels they all saw.
A choir of angels sang so sweet.
God's message to mankind was complete.
"A child is born, a Savior, dear.
In swaddling clothes, the Messiah's here.
In yonder town called 'Bethlehem,'
in a stable small, warm and dim.
Go! See the babe in manger there,
so sweet is He, in Mary's care."
So, off to Bethlehem they fled,
obeying the words the angel said.
A babe in swaddling clothes they found,
in the little Bethlehem town.
In manger small, made for His bed,
there was no pillow for His head.
He did not cry, but lay asleep
as Joseph, guardian, his watch did keep.
Mary, His mother, slept in rest
beside her babe in warm straw nest.
The shepherds knelt in wonder there
to give God 'thanks,' for a miracle shared.
They told of the heralds, the angels words,
they've news of a new-born king assured.
To the lowest of men the message was given
as those humble men gazed up to heaven.
The first to witness Messiah born
to bless us all on Christmas morn.
Two thousand years have passed since then.
Still the message is given each year to men.
"Glory in the Highest" we shout praises still.
And "Peace to men who need good will."

Lord, may we remember the reason you sent your beloved Son as the Christmas season comes once more. Amen.

(c) 2011 E. Bonnie Ryan

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Barnyard Christmas Eve

And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. Luke 2:7 (NAS)

One Christmas Eve, after waving good-bye to our guests, I went to feed and bed down my bunnies for the cold night. Grabbing some apple slices as a treat for them I realized to my dismay, that in all the holiday rush, fresh hay had been forgotten. Immediately my thoughts went to the farm lady nearby. She loved animals too and would understand. Quickly calling her, I apologized for the interruption. She seemed genuinely glad to help. I wrapped a box of homemade cookies and hurried out the door.

From the hill, a stunning sunset showcased her farm. Pausing to take in the brilliant orange and violet swirls, I realized this was a special moment, compliments of the Father. In quiet adoration I took a moment to praise Him for the gift of His Son.

Walking the darkened dirt path to the barnyard, another surprise awaited. Ever so softly, sweet carols drifted on hay and animal-scented air. Cows lowed quietly. A warm glow beckoned from an opened door. In awe I thanked God for a tiny glimpse into the wonder of that Holy night when Jesus was born. Treading silently, tears in my eyes, I stepped into the warm light anticipating a baby in a manger. There was my friend, greeting me with a big smile. "Perfect," she said, "A bale of clover, my Christmas gift to your bunnies!" I smiled, handing her the cookies and treasured the gift I had already received.

Father, thank you for the most perfect gift of Your Son!

(c) 2011 Bonnie Mae Evans 

Friday, December 23, 2011

Gift Exchange

To bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. Isaiah 61:3b (NIV)

I played a game at a Christmas party one year that stirred up a very

un-Christmas-like emotion.

The game started innocently enough. We passed out packages, expressing delight over creative wrapping techniques, then set about tearing through paper and tape. There were no extravagant offerings; only $10-limit surprises. Once all the gifts were revealed, we began.

The rules were simple. If we wanted to keep our own present, we did nothing. But if we wanted someone else’s gift, we could take it and give them ours. Then, time limit set, we began taking turns.

Enter selfishness. Cheap gifts that would never have captured our attention became obsessions. We waited, coveting one special item, plotting how to get it for ourselves. Nothing stood in our way: not kindness, not consideration, and certainly not sacrifice.

How different is Christ. He had all the riches of Heaven, but left them behind to give us life. He gave willingly, wholeheartedly—sacrificially. And we who were poor and destitute, without hope in this world, received blessings and riches beyond compare. Jesus Christ took our rags and gave us robes of righteousness. He took our mourning and gave us joy. He took our anxiety and gave us peace that passes all understanding.

Thankfully, He did have one obsession after all: to win us. This is our Savior, our God—and our friend.

Lord, help us to remember you and to give with your Spirit this Christmas season. Thank you for all the gifts you give, especially for giving yourself—in a manger, on a cross, and in our circumstances.

© 2011 Katherine A. Fuller

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Ballerina Dreams

If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him.
Matthew 7:11 (NASB)

When I was a little girl, I wanted to grow up to be a ballerina. One of my favorite books showed pictures of children doing exercises to become good dancers. I spent hours practicing them and looking at the beautiful gowns worn by ballerinas in their performances. I fell in love with ballet.

One Christmas, my mom surprised me with a lovely pink satin tutu with matching slippers that tied like real ballet shoes. Peeking from under the skirt was an attached royal blue petticoat that made my skirt stand out like a real tutu. I was thrilled! My mother made this special costume for me because she understood my dream, and because she loves me. This memory still brings tears to my eyes.

Special gifts from loved ones remind us of the ways God reveals His love to us. He loves us so much that He sent His only Son to earth to die for our sins. He hopes we will accept the free gift of salvation through Jesus.

As we open our hearts to God’s gift, we are able to share His love with others. He enables us to reach out and forgive those who have hurt us, and to give the gift of time to an elderly woman in a nursing home. We are thankful for the simple pleasures of a meal shared with our families or a long talk with a close friend.

Dear Father, Thank you for the gift of a Mother’s love, and for revealing your love though the gift of your Son. Amen.

© 2011 Diane E. Hussey

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Christmas Travel

For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; . . . And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6 (NKJV)

On the way to Bethlehem perhaps Joseph sang, “Pele Ya’ate, Pele Ya’ate, Wonderful Counselor, Pele Ya’ate.” His song calmed Mary and her unborn baby as she tried to balance between a donkey’s withers and its haunches. Mary needed to hold off the pangs of child birth until their journey was finished.

Today, I imagine this scene as most of us visit friends or go to Grandma’s house. Life is so different. Some people will take cross-country trips via plane or car. True, all basic traveling concerns are the same as Mary’s: pack enough clothes, carry enough food, have enough money and find places to stay. But now we call ahead for hotel reservations; interstates have designated rest stops; and every town has restaurants and fuel stations. The process is much more comfortable and convenient.

Normally, though, trips in the twenty-first century are voluntary, not mandated by government officials. Like Mary, though, travel is difficult because it interrupts normal routine, adds elements of the unknown, and produces cranky people. Kids must be strapped into car seats. Bones and muscles start to ache. Rigid airline agents dislike travelers’ attitudes. Bad weather impedes and changes everyone’s schedules.

What a wonderful change, then, for us to hear someone sing the Christmas songs extolling Jesus, Wonderful Counselor, Prince of Peace, a Son given to us to be King of our hearts and souls. Let us remember the angels’ song, and carry the Lord’s joy no matter where we go, and share it.

Lord, Bless us with thoughts and songs of your joy and peace as we travel this Christmas. Amen.

© 2011 V. Colclasure

Tuesday, December 20, 2011


Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life. Rev. 22:14 (NIV)

One of my favorite childhood memories involves a huge fir tree that graced our living room every year. It went up about two weeks before Christmas and was decorated as a family project with bubble lights, collectible glass balls, and aluminum icicles carefully laid by hand on each branch one at a time.

One year when my sister and I were teenagers, our tree began showing serious signs of dying, a week before Christmas. Each day we vacuumed more brown needles. By Christmas Eve, it was obvious that our tree would not last through Christmas Day, and would absolutely be naked by New Year’s Eve. We purchased another tree—one with green needles. We took down the dead tree, cleaned up the mess, put up the new tree and finished decorating it before Santa put out presents for our little sister.

The custom of decorating a tree as part of the Christmas celebration is a modern invention that at first seems to have nothing to do with our Lord and Savior. Yet a tree is often mentioned in scripture. Adam and Eve suffered dire consequences when they disobeyed God and ate from the tree of good and evil (Gen 3:13-18). The crowd waved branches from a palm tree when Jesus entered the city (John 12:13). Jesus died, hanging on a tree (1Peter 2:24). The Lord promises that those who overcome will have the right to eat from the tree of life (Rev. 2:7).

Scripture reveals that, after all, the Christmas tree is not an empty symbol.

Lord, help me to be reminded of all You have done for me when I see a Christmas tree.

© 2011 Christy Struben

Monday, December 19, 2011


Welcome and receive [to your hearts] one another, then, even as Christ has welcomed and received you, for the glory of God. Romans 15:7 (AMP)

Have you noticed that during the holidays we are more cordial to one another?  A teenager, trick or treating, thought he would be smart. Instead of the usual greeting from children of “Happy Halloween,” he said, “Merry Christmas.” There was my chance. I said, “Do you know why we say, ‘Merry Christmas?’”

“No!” he said.

“That is when we celebrate the birth of Christ,” I replied.

He quickly left my porch. By his response, I could tell he did not know what I was talking about.

While shopping during the Christmas season, we hear sales people say, “Happy Holidays.” They may be saying it to be pleasant, or to be “politically correct,” or they do not know the reason for our celebration. Accepting the greeting with love in our hearts, no matter the reason, is what counts for the glory of God.

One of my favorite greetings was passed on to my husband and me one Christmas evening. All eleven of our guests were arriving the day after Christmas. What would we do on this wonderful day of the year? We decided to have dinner at a Chinese restaurant and go to a movie. The restaurant was filled. People were enjoying one another and conversation was flowing. After a fine meal, the Chinese waiter returned with our credit slip to sign and exclaimed boldly, “Merry Christmas!”

Dear Lord, Help us receive others as you receive them with your love. Amen

© 2011 Mary Burkey

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Don't Forget the Batteries

I am the way, the truth and the light!” Jesus answered. Without me, no one can go to the Father. John 14:6 (CEV)

When one thinks of all the wonderful things of the Christmas season, the birth of our Savior, baking, singing and shopping, what is the one thing we always forget? The batteries! No zooming cars, no talking dolls, no electronics! The children and even some adults are are upset because they are unable to use some of their gifts immediately.

What do we do next? We run to a store in search of batteries. But to our dismay, most of them are closed, the open ones have raised the prices drastically, and they are always sold out of the size we need. What a mess, no batteries, little children (and big) children upset, no toys to play with, no peace, no joy. Is the day ruined? I don't think so. It is exactly in times like these that we need to remember the true meaning of Christmas, the Celebration of Jesus' birth. We give gifts, but he is the gift. Wise men followed the star which is light and ended up finding the Light.

Just like some of our presents won't work without batteries, our lives don't function properly if we are not connected to the right power. Acts 1:8 says “You shall receive power. When the Holy Spirit comes on you.” Sometimes, just like the batteries in our toys need to be replaced or recharged, we need to be mindful of checking our connection with our Power Source

Thank you, Father for sending your son Jesus, the gift, the light and power. When we are connected to your energy force, all is well in our lives.

© 2011 Wanda Currie

Saturday, December 17, 2011

God's Super Glue

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted. Luke 4:18a (KJV)

I have a glass-enclosed cabinet with several glass shelves that hold all of the beautiful, expensive Hummel figurines my husband and daughter have given me. Once a year I open the case and clean them. I clean all the glass and wood on the case and then replace the Hummels. One time doing this chore, I cracked one of the largest, most loved figurines, thereby causing it to lose its charm. I was brokenhearted. Quickly finding the super glue, I put it back together, holding it tightly until the pieces bonded. The break is not visible, but it is no longer perfect. Still, it has value to me.

Are we not like that in the eyes of our Lord? None of us are perfect. We were not born perfect, yet our Lord cares for each of us. He is there for us to lean upon when we are brokenhearted. Imagine our hearts within our chests, literally cracked and broken from some unhappy incident, or perhaps our spirits broken at the loss of a loved one. Imagine too, that Jesus comes to our aid, putting our hearts back together with His super glue of love. We may think about the scars, but Jesus loves us unconditionally. His love makes us whole in His sight. He values us as priceless.

Lord, may Your Holy Spirit rest upon me so that I may do my part in sharing Your healing gospel of love. Amen.

(c) 2011 E. Bonnie Ryan

Friday, December 16, 2011

Christmas Gift Exchange

Every good and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights. James 1:17 NKJV

One Christmas morning from my childhood sticks out in my memory. My father was so excited about the gift that Santa had left for my three year old brother, Dick. My parents directed Dick’s attention to a large decorated box. They gave him instructions to tear off the ribbon and paper. But he was content to sit, suck his thumb, hold his blankie and admire the box. He looked at them as if to say, “Why destroy the pretty box?”

Dick got in the swing of things and started tearing paper, a fun game, although he couldn’t tear paper any other time. Paper flew this way and that, and now and then Mom or Dad would coax off a stubborn piece. Finally, a peddle car was exposed. Dad lifted the car and placed it in the middle of the room. Dick’s face glowed with delight as he pulled over the box, grabbed his blanket and crawled inside. He was content.

“The car is your gift, Dick. Come sit in your new car.” Dad picked Dick up to place him in the car. But Dick screamed and kicked, and finally Dad put him down and he ran back into the box, blankie in hand. Mom and Dad kept saying. “The car is your gift.” Dad was disappointed.

Today, as I look around at all the Christmas decorations, at all the elaborate spending, I want to shout, “People, Jesus is your Gift.” You won’t be disappointed. In Him you have peace, security and love.

Dear Lord, forgive us for our misguided loyalities. Ignite our hearts that Jesus is the Gift. Amen.

© 2011 Lois Gosley

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Ruining the Surprise

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

Some people cannot stand surprises. I have a friend who is forced to hide his wife’s Christmas gifts at other people’s houses. Helping him one year, I recalled a picture my mother took long ago of my father, hunched over in the dark by the tree. He was unwrapping and peeking into his Christmas gifts!

If Mom had not caught him in the act, or had not photographed proof of his guilt, I don’t think we ever would have found out. As it was, it was difficult to believe. Every fold and piece of tape were put back with precision when he finished his investigation.

I have the opposite problem. I never mind waiting for my gift; however, I do find it difficult to not tell others what I have gotten for them. Excitement wells in my heart, not just because of the time and thought that went into the gift, but because I just know it's the perfect gift for them. They'll love it.

I guess it’s true either way—a good gift is hard to keep secret.

Prophets said Christ would come. When he did, a host of angels proclaimed it to the world, singing “Glory to God in the highest!” The secret was out. Through that one perfect and eternal gift, we received acceptance, belonging, redemption, security, love, and so much more. At last—peace with God.

So don’t get upset when someone “ruins the surprise,” or even when you let the secret slip yourself. God did, and look how that turned out!

Lord, thank you for sharing your gift with the world.

© 2011 Katherine A. Fuller

Friday, December 9, 2011

Waiting on the Path

Show me your ways, O Lord, teach me your paths; guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.
Psalm 25:4-5 (NIV)

An old allegory tells the story of a man’s walk along a path. When the man stays on the designated path, his life goes well. When he strays off the walkway, he ends up in terrible trouble. After facing and overcoming perilous dangers, he learns the way to life with God along the original narrow road.

In my Christian walk I have occasionally gone in the wrong direction. The step off God’s path was barely noticeable at first. The people I chose to spend time with negatively influenced my walk in subtle ways. Some shared inspirational ideas that seemed to be about God, but they were not living according to His principles.

What we see in movies, what we read or listen to online, and where we go may lead us astray. Although we may have taken a wrong turn years ago, God always gives us an opportunity to return to Him and walk His way.

God has given His word to teach us His precepts for living. We can learn to be discerning about what we see and hear, and we can choose friends who are going in the same direction with the Lord. In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus told the crowd that the road that leads to destruction is broad, but the road that leads to life is narrow. I want to stay on that narrow road.

I thank you, Father, for waiting for me to return to walk with you. Guide me to stay on your path. Amen

© 2011 Diane E. Hussey

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Christmas Carols

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.” Luke 2:14 (NIV)

What Christmas carol that still sung today dates back to the Middle Ages? The answer: “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel”.

Chapters 1 and 2 of Luke are the basis for many well known Christmas carols. “Away in A Manger”; “Silent Night, Holy Night”; “Joy To The World”; “What Child is This”; and “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” are just a few examples of the songs that originated from the book of Luke.

I just love listening to “What Child is This”. As a mother of three children I can not imagine what Mary had to endure while preparing for the birth of Jesus. “Away in A Manger” makes me feel for the hardship of Mary having to lay Jesus in a manger. “Silent Night, Holy Night” helps me to see what a special moment in history this was. “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” makes me want to sing His praises to the world. My heart is filled with joy when I listen to “Joy To The World”. I could listen to Christmas Carols all year. In fact I do.

“O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” has endured the passing of time. This classic helps us see that Jesus is always with us whether or not it is Christmas . I will always love the carols. Just reread the story of Jesus' birth and try to think up other songs we sing this time of the year.

Thank you Jesus for the time to remember the story of “Your” birth through the songs of Christmas. Help me to always sing with the joy of your presence.

© 2011 Dawn M Sexton

Friday, November 25, 2011

Christian Splotches or Christian Nature?

The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Galatians 5:22-23 (RSV)

During Sunday dinner at a restaurant, my husband stared at my new jacket. Sporting splotches of fall's bright red, orange, yellow and brown colors, it reminded me of harvest time.

"Did I spill something?" I asked.

"Who can tell?" was the reply.

Returning home, I put the jacket away and wondered how often Christian life intersects with that question. "Who can tell?" Are we so busy that one spiritual fruit dropped into the mix just disappears? Hopefully, anyone who comes near sees a whole person living a life dedicated to Christ, not somebody wearing a jacket with superficial splashes of Christianity plopped down here and there.

Following his list, Paul concentrates on the first spiritual fruit, love. It's the one which dominates as he talks about the Lord's teaching, "Love your neighbor as yourself" (Gal 5:14b). Then he ends by stating that those belonging to Christ have crucified their passions and desires of the flesh. He also encourages his readers to walk by the Lord's teachings.

Paul's explanation shows that the fruit of the Spirit is internal, not external. The spiritual fruits serve to identify Christians because they are embedded for eternity. Anyone led by the Spirit will, by nature, exhibit the fruit which arises, like the colors of autumn, from the heart of our Creator.

Lord, may our hearts allow you to lead us to be identified as Christians. Amen

© 2011 V. Colclasure

Friday, November 18, 2011

Memories of Laughter

Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances.
I Thessalonians 5:16, 17a (NIV)

As a child, I looked forward to Thanksgiving because I knew we would spend it at Grandma and Grandpa’s cozy home in Topeka, Kansas. My grandma’s cooking tasted so good to me. She made her own noodles. They were still moist when she cooked them. We loved her chewy noodles.

My uncles loved to play tricks on their wives and sisters. As the women prepared dinner, one of the uncles would quietly tie their apron strings together. Everyone told jokes and shared stories about the silliest things their children had done.

Up to a certain age, the children ate in the kitchen. When we were old enough, we would be allowed to eat at the table in the dining room. I felt special when I was able to share the piano bench with my older cousin at the “grown up” table.

Before the meal, Grandma always made sure we said grace thanking God for the food. Once again, my uncles teased about everything. If someone was too slow passing a dish, they joked about the meal being over before the food got around the table. One uncle told funny stories about working at a mortuary. I remember the fun we had being together laughing, talking and eating.

God blesses us with happy times enjoyed with our families. My grandma and grandpa are no longer here, nor is the cousin who sat on the piano bench with me. I am thankful that I shared those days with the people who loved and cared for me.

Dear Father, I thank you for the precious memories I have of laughter and fun with the family you gave me. In Jesus name, Amen.

© 2011 Diane E. Hussey

Friday, November 11, 2011

Keep in Step

If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another. Galatians 5:25-26 (ESV)

The light turned green, and the car in front of me did not move. After waiting what seemed to be minutes, I beeped the car horn. The car did not move. What is wrong with that lady? I’ll bet she is on her cell phone.

I waited for what seemed like several more minutes and with a huff, honked the horn again. Her car moved and then stopped quickly. A blue pickup truck blew through the intersection running a red light.

I sat stunned. If the lady had moved on my second provoking, she would have been broadsided by the truck. If she had proceeded on my first horn toot, I would have followed her through the green light and I would have been broadsided.

What came to mind was that God protected us. I being pushy and indignant accused the lady of not paying attention to her driving. How many times do I bulldoze through life? Galatians 5 also states, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.” Galatians 5:22-23 (ESV).

Was the driver of the first car obeying the Holy Spirit? I do not know, but I do know that our lives were spared that day. God taught me a lesson about patience, kindness, and self-control. I was not exhibiting the fruit of the Holy Spirit, and He revealed to me why I should listen to Him.

Dear Lord, You use all things to teach us. May we be more obedient, listening when You direct.

© 2011 Mary Burkey

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Fierce Love

This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. Luke 2:34b-35a (NIV)

I recently watched a sobering documentary about exotic pets. Cute and cuddly when little (as all babies are), exotic animals grow into unpredictable, dangerous adults. Many owners are injured or killed by “pets” that have been removed from natural habitats to live among their quarry. Allowing a beast of prey to wander one’s property is not the brightest of ideas.

How easy it is to treat our Savior the same way, viewing Him only as the “little Lord Jesus,” or as the peaceful figure portrayed in stained-glass windows. Dorothy Sayers said it well. “We have very efficiently pared the claws of the Lion of Judah, certified him ‘meek and mild,’ and recommended him as a fitting household pet.”

Jesus, however, will not be tamed. He lived on the edge—His most dangerous act, revealing the hearts of men. He did the unexpected. The Lion of Judah left His realm of glory to dwell as a lamb among self-righteous, wicked, and wounded men. His light tore through the darkness and exposed sin. No wonder they found it necessary to kill Him.

But they could not keep Him down. Our Lion lives! He is the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. The world calls us unlovely. The devil accuses. We even tell ourselves that we are unworthy. But His voice roars above the din that we are loved, that we are forgiven, and that we are accepted in the Beloved. How fierce is His love!

Lord, help us live courageously, as bold as lions, faithfully proclaiming Your love to the world.

© 2011 Katherine A. Fuller

Friday, October 28, 2011

The Odd Puzzle

We know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. Romans 8:28 (NLT)

At one time in my life, I enjoyed putting puzzles together. Sitting for hours at the kitchen table, I would stare at all of the pieces, try to figure out where they belonged and how in the world all these little pieces would end up looking like the picture on the box.

Eventually, with patience, time and perseverance one piece would connect with one piece and two pieces would connect with two pieces and finally the picture on the table would match the picture on the box.

That is the same way God works in our lives. He already knows the end. He fashioned us in our mother’s womb. We just have to have faith to endure the process on allowing His will to be revealed to us one piece at a time. Sometimes it is a word, a song, a person or situation each coming together for His purpose for us.

When we are in the middle of the process like a puzzle, it is sometimes difficult to see how all the pieces will fit together because it takes too long. We don’t see how the different shape and sizes of pieces belongs to this puzzle. At that point instead of submitting to God’s will piece by piece, we sometimes resort to self will, forcing the pieces in places where they don’t belong. We become frustrated and then quit instead of relying on God’s will.

Thank You Father for an odd puzzle to teach me how to wait on your will, all the pieces are working together for the purpose you have for us.

© 2011 Wanda Currie

Friday, October 21, 2011

A Gentle Whisper

Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper . . . then a voice said . . . “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
(I Kings 19:11-12,13c NIV)

God was not in the destructive power of betrayal that tore apart and shattered my marriage. God was not in the earthquake of the divorce that split open a 34-year covenant. And He was not in the fire that burned away my identity as a wife. In the aftermath of the wind, earthquake and fire that changed my life forever, I cried out to God.

In the cacophony of my endless weeping and self-pity, I was unable to hear God’s voice. In the pain of my broken heart, I could not hear God. In the searing sorrow of abandonment, I clung to the past and refused to listen to Him. I was obsessed with a former husband who no longer loved me.

After the noise subsided, I grew quiet before the Lord. He spoke to me in a gentle whisper, “What are you doing here, Diane? You are free now to become the woman I created you to be. Now, go and live your new life.”

Thank you, Father, for waiting patiently for me to listen to your gentle whisper. Please strengthen me to let go of the past and guide me toward to a new future. . In Jesus Name, Amen

© 2011 Diane E. Hussey

Friday, October 14, 2011

Pink Hope

"And now Lord for what do I wait? My hope is in You. Psalm 39:7 NAS  

There is a pink pen in my Bible decorated with ribbons for Breast Cancer Awareness. It has the words; hope, courage, strength, inspiration and cure. The message is clear to those diagnosed and struggling with surviving breast cancer: hang in there; don't give up; be courageous and strong; live life renewed. There is hope—hope for a cure.

Those words so carefully chosen for those in desperate need of hope also describe Jesus. He is the ultimate hope and cure for all our ills, be they emotional, spiritual, or physical. We have hope in all things on this earth and in Heaven through Jesus our Redeemer. We can have courage to face each day without fear when we know Jesus as Savior. He becomes  our strength. His strength is made perfect in our weakness. 2 Corinthians 12:9 

If there is any cure, any healing, it will ultimately come through His hands; whether it is miraculous thus defying explanation, aided by the skill of surgeons, or by the knowledge of researchers studying DNA and developing chemotherapy.. There is nothing out of the realm of His care and providence. His hand is in it and on it—all of the time.

He is our inspiration. He fills us with desire to know more of Him. We are inspired and empowered by the Holy Spirit when we meditate on His word and seek Him in prayer. He fills us to overflowing. He gives strength to the weak, hope to the hopeless, and courage to the fearful.

Precious loving Father, please fill the hearts of the desperate with the hope of You. Amen.

(c) 2011 Bonnie Mae Evans

Friday, October 7, 2011

Crickets and Salvation

no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him—but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit. 1 Corinthians 2: 9-10 (NIV)

Walking out the door of my house preparing to water my garden, I noticed a cricket on its back wiggling in place, apparently struggling to right itself. It is my understanding that insects are unable to survive if they remain upside down. Having nothing against crickets unless they are in my home, I attempted to assist in the salvation of this creature by turning it over with my toe. The wiggling body moved about three inches, but my purpose was not achieved. The insect’s movements became more vigorous. Trying again only pushed Mr. Cricket's entire body partially under a hose reel, where, out of my reach and apparently still upside down, his movements became more violent. However, tipping the hose reel over, I found a happily saved cricket.
As I walked away, the Holy Spirit brought a thought to my mind. There is a person who has been the subject of my prayers and frequent testimony for over thirty years. She has not yet received the Lord Jesus as her Savior. She is well aware of where I stand and “wiggles violently” when too much “God talk” makes its way into our time together. Recently she called me seeking answers to questions she had heard elsewhere.

The door was open for a deep conversation about salvation. My prayer is that she is “under the hose reel” and God is finishing the job.

Dear Lord, reveal yourself to this person and allow the Holy Spirit to woo her into acceptance of your redeeming grace.

Christy Struben © 2011

Friday, September 30, 2011

Christianity 101

You shall love your neighbor as yourself. Matthew 22:39 (RSV)

College. Educational Psychology 214. I really wanted to find an answer to my quintessential question, “What happens in a person’s mind so that learning occurs?”

The text book was not clear; neither was the instructor. I attended every class and listened to the presenter—medium-height, around age 30, sandy-colored hair, glasses, a bony/angular kind of guy. With only two classes left, I asked a question to which he responded explosively. On the board, he drew a super-size “continuum” (the same one from the first class) which did not relate to anything. Disgusted, I gave up on him.

Unknown to me, department faculty had been standing behind one-way mirrors. So, on the next class day, a substitute told us our instructor had a brain tumor. I was shocked! Not at the problem, but at myself. Jesus was asking, “Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye” (Luke 6:41).

Jesus keeps teaching: “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, killing the prophets and stoning those who are sent to you! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under his wings, and you would not!” (Matthew 23:37). Jesus knows the hearts of men and he knew how much I deserved an attitude check.

Ed Psych 214 turned out to be Back-to-the Basics, Christianity 101. I had to relearn “You shall love your neighbor as yourself." The Holy Spirit uses His own teaching/learning methods, brings Jesus’ words to our minds and teaches us right from wrong. The Lord never gives up on anyone–not you, not me.

Lord, thank you for teaching and forgiving us. Amen.

©) 2011 V. Colclasure

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Jesus Prayed

My prayer is not for them alone. I pray for those who will believe in me through this message, that all of them may be one, Father. John 17:20,21a (NIV)

I’m not sure at what age I became a Christian. I was very young. The movie, King of Kings, came out when I was in elementary school. It impacted my life in a powerful, positive manner. It was the first time I saw the story of Jesus and His crucifixion. From then on, my heart belonged to Jesus.

When my older sister, Gene, was fifteen and I was thirteen, I awakened in the wee hours of the morning to her soft sobs. She was on her knees by her bedside, hands clasped in prayer. Tears streamed down her face as she prayed fervently to Jesus. My heart melted with love for her, hurting for her tears. In the moonlight she seemed to glow softly. Gene and I remain close as sisters and friends, not only of the flesh, but of the spirit.

At night I pray for my family, thanking God for the love we share. In the seventeenth chapter of John, Jesus prayed for His earthly family, His disciples. But, what awes me the most is to realize that He prayed for all of us today who believe because of the Good News of the Gospel. Jesus prayed before He died upon the cross, that those crucifying Him may be forgiven. At James 5:16, He left us instructions to pray for each other so that we may be healed. Jesus prayed for me and you. I am grateful.

Dear Lord Jesus, thank You for praying for me before I was, and for all those who will come after me. Amen.

© 2011 E. Bonnie Ryan

Friday, September 16, 2011

Treasure in Jars of Clay

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day . . . For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened . . . (2 Corinthians 4:16, 5:4a NIV)

I remember a line from a song, “life is hard, but God is good.” We all face physical, emotional or mental pain in life. Some suffer from depression, physical disabilities or anxiety. Our aging bodies betray us with the discovery of new aches and pains. Paul reminds us that our frail earthly bodies are wasting away and are temporary. When viewed from God’s eternal perspective, our life on this earth is rather short.

Although our bodies and minds are vulnerable to physical and mental problems, we are not to become discouraged. We have “this treasure in jars of clay”—the good news of salvation hidden inside the fragile human bodies of believers (2 Corinthians 4:7a). My aging body hurts from the ravages of arthritis, but the promise of eternal life with my Savior far outweighs this temporary pain. When I am short of money or feel lonely, I sometimes feel angry or sad. Jesus’ words in John encourage me to “take heart” because He has overcome the world.

In the last book of the Bible God gives His children a beautiful promise: “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain for the old order of things has passed away . . . I am making everything new!” (Revelation 21:4,5b).

Dear Father, Growing old and feeling sad are hard, but I look forward to spending eternity with You. Thank You for sending Jesus and for making everything new. Amen

© 2011 Diane E. Hussey

Friday, September 9, 2011

Love Hurts

“Save Yourself, and come down from the cross!” Mark 15:30 (NKJV)

I sat in church recently as the pastor delivered a message about the crucifixion. I am an “irony girl,” so the Pharisees’ taunting words to our Savior captured my imagination. Jesus could have done it.

He could have come down from the cross, dooming us to a Godless eternity. He could even have cursed us with His dying breath. Instead, the holy Lamb of God endured the pain, shame, and horror of becoming sin for us. His reply was unexpected.

“Father, forgive them.”

Those words alone should have pierced their hearts with conviction, but it didn’t. Jesus meant it, though. What better way could He have chosen to prove He was God’s Son? He is love, and love dictated His response.

The Pharisees missed the point. They told Jesus to save Himself, but Christ came to save them. He fulfilled God’s law and became the only one qualified to save men. Jesus took our sin upon His own body and accepted the wrath of His Father in our stead. God accepted that sacrifice, proved when He raised Christ from the dead. The walls that separated us from our Creator crumbled, giving us access to Him once again.

How ironic! “Save yourself?” “Come down from the cross?” Not a chance. In my mind, I imagine Jesus gritting bloody teeth to smile through the pain. Love hurts.

Thank You, Jesus, for the great love You have for us, and for the lengths You went in order to have fellowship with us once again. We desire to express the same unconditional, self-sacrificing love for one another.

© 2010 Katherine A. Fuller

Friday, September 2, 2011

Raindrops of Love

Be strong and of good courage . . . it is the Lord your God who goes with you; he will not fail you or forsake you. Deuteronomy 31:6 (RSV)

Raindrops always remind me of God’s love. When it rained on my wedding day bringing the song’s “Showers of Blessings,” I first associated rain with God’s love. I did the same on another gray, lonely day. Feeling depressed, I was in front of an open window. My husband and sons were attending a football game because one son was performing in the marching band. When it began to thunder and storm, I thought about the “mercy drops” and asked that they fall on me. I needed evidence of God’s love and presence.

Shortly, God answered. The wind blew more strongly, and raindrops came past a bush in front of the window, even flying through a screen, before hitting my face. Contrarily, I decided if I didn’t want to get wet, I’d better move. However, those few drops were nothing compared to my drenched husband and sons who came rushing home. The game was cancelled and band uniforms were ruined. Weeks later, people still talked about that downpour, but I never confessed.

I don’t wonder why God answered in such a remarkable way. He wants His followers to know He is faithful and loves them. He can be counted on to teach us that if He answers the little prayers, He is able also to answer all prayers – even those which seem impossible.

God is faithful, but sometimes we forget. The concrete evidence of answered prayer reminds us of His work and faithful presence in our lives. Raindrops help me remember.

Lord, thank You for never leaving nor forsaking us. Thank You for Your faithfulness. Amen.

© 2011 Virginia Colclasure

Friday, August 26, 2011

Never Alone

The Lord your God is with you. He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you. He will quiet you with His love. He will rejoice over you with singing. Zephaniah 3:17 (KJV)

There are times when I feel utterly alone. I cannot pray or even think clearly. Taking my Bible, I go outside to sit on the swing. Only the sound of birds singing, bees buzzing and chattering squirrels break the silence.

Peace enfolds me as bits of sunshine hit my face through the thick canopy of leaves overhead. I let the pages of my Bible fall open and read the scripture above. Letting myself dwell on every word, I realize I need not feel alone, that the Father, the Holy Spirit and Jesus are with me, loving me, lifting me from the depths of depression that threaten to destroy me.

Suddenly my spirit feels light, rejuvenated. A favorite hymn rises in my throat and I belt out the words from a James Rowe song, "Love lifted me."

I leap out of the swing, dance around the yard, and hug my Bible close to my heart in the early morning sunshine. Yes! God's love lifted me. What a happy day!

Thank You, Lord, for each day you give me. You delight in me and quiet me with your love. Amen

(c) 2011 E.Bonnie Ryan

Friday, August 19, 2011

Quiet Love

Therefore, accept each other just as Christ has accepted you so that God will be given glory. Romans 15:7 NLT

As my newly wedded husband and I prepared to leave for our honeymoon, my mother-in-law sweetly mentioned her hope that we would find a nice church to attend after we moved. She was a Christian--polar opposite of my claim of being agnostic. I replied that finding a church was not in my plan. She smiled undaunted and hugged me good-bye.

During those tumultuous, early years of our marriage, her love and acceptance remained steadfast. In retrospect, after experiencing both salvation and motherhood, I am amazed at her self-control. Although I knew it was of great concern to her, “Mom” did not nag us about going to church. She was never judgmental. Quite the contrary, she encouraged me, praising my efforts as a new wife. When I mentioned a problem she responded that she would pray and took the opportunity to quietly share how much the Lord loved and cared for me. I felt totally loved and accepted. Whenever we returned home for a visit, I noticed how she sat in her rocker faithfully praying and reading her Bible every evening before going to bed.

When faced with my own mortality following a cancer diagnosis four years later, I knew when I died my soul was bound for hell. I willingly accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior and rested in His love and forgiveness. That was thirty-three years ago. I truly believe that Mom’s prayers and quiet acceptance simply loved me to the Lord. Sometimes love is spoken loudest with no words at all.

Father, Thank You for everyone along our journey who prayed, accepting us with love. May all the glory be Yours. Amen.

© Bonnie Mae Evans

Friday, August 12, 2011

Think on These Things

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, . . . honest, . . . just, . . . pure, . . . lovely, . . . of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Philippians 4:8 (KJV)

How many thoughts run in my mind throughout the day? let me count the ways. Thoughts of finances, work, family, friends sickness, health, the good, the bad and (no, not the ugly) runs rampant each day. These thoughts turns into worries when I find that things are not going according to my plans. My focus is no longer on the things on which God would have me focus.

It is hard to keep a positive outlook on life when everything seems to be falling apart around you, your family and friends. Loss of loved ones, jobs homes and hope rule your thoughts. Philippians 4:6 tells me "be careful for nothing: but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your request be known unto God." (KJV)

When I take time out of my day to be in the presence of God in prayer, He helps direct my thoughts on things that are true, honest, just, pure, lovely and of good report. I can not do it in my own power. It is only through His power that I am strong enough to change my thoughts.

This is a daily struggle for me. Yet, I look forward to God's grace in dealing with the many trials I face. I want Him to be the author of my thoughts.

Thank you God that You are the author of my thoughts and the answer to my prayers. Help me to keep focus on You each day.

(c) Dawn M Sexton

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Tears for a Soldier

There is a time for everything … a time to be born and a time to die … a time for war and a time for peace. (Ecc. 3:1,3:8 NIV)

Struck by gunshot, the Captain’s gloved hand reflexively moved to the wound on his forehead. Men under his command carried him to a field hospital. He died the next morning at age 36.

The day before the battle, he shared with his commanding officer a premonition that death loomed in his immediate future. He requested that his handwritten letter be sent, along with his belongings, to his wife and three daughters who were praying for him.

His canteen, hacky sack, uniform and blood stained white glove still exist. I have seen them. This is remarkable because he died on September 20, 1863 during the Civil War battle of Chickamauga, Tennessee.

Why then, do I find myself teary eyed when I think of this incident? I can touch his humanity because Wm. Jonas Leas was my great-great grandfather.

Captain Leas’ dedication to God and country is no different than his descendents who fought in WWII, nor his forefathers in the Revolutionary War, nor present day patriots fighting in Afghanistan.

God has repeatedly called His people to battle. I believe that war sometimes brings His will to bear. The Lord has honored our belief in Him as a nation with victory in many battles in our over 235-year history as a nation.

However, individual stories of men and women who have suffered loss in these wars should not be discounted or forgotten but rather remembered and honored.

Lord thank You for blessing our nation and for those brave men and women who served You and our country. © Christy Struben 2011

Friday, July 29, 2011

Good Grief

Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I have kept Your word. It is good that I have been afflicted, that I may learn Your statutes. Psalms 119:67,71 (NKJV)

The first time I was afflicted was when I was a little girl. I was too young to know what the word “afflicted” meant, I just knew that it hurt.

Although the suffering was not of my own making, it was the beginning of my relationship with God. When my mother and father abandoned me, it was the Lord who took care of me. In addition to providing food, clothing, shelter and education. Most importantly, He gave his word, love, and love of others.

From the very beginning, I learned and still do trust and depend on Him. Through all my experiences, I know and tell others that He will never leave nor forsake us.

My current season of affliction is much like David’s. David made a wrong decision with Bathsheba. It didn’t matter that he caused his own afflictions, God still used it to shape him and make him grow. In the same way, I have wandered from God through poor choices, but my heavenly Father lovingly corrected me. But may the Lord of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while perfect, establish, strengthen and settle you. 1 Peter 5:10 (NKJV)

When I am afflicted, it helps me to remember that God is in control and that He has my best in mind. He will use it to cleanse me and I, in turn can encourage others in their afflictions.

Thank You Father for the blessing of affliction, through it lessons, I have learned your love, faithfulness, mercy and grace.

© 2011 Wanda Currie

Friday, July 22, 2011

Broken Hearts

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. (Psalm 147:3 NIV)

I sat with my twin grandchildren searching for clues in the pages of a book filled with mysterious photographs. On one page, I noticed a small broken heart-shaped locket. I asked my grandchildren, “What does it mean to have a broken heart?” Without hesitation, my four-year old grandson responded, “It’s when somebody doesn’t love you anymore.” I was astonished. This little boy had captured the essence of a broken heart. How could a small child express so profound a truth?

My husband chose to stop loving me and walked away from our marriage. He broke my heart. I struggled with the pain of the loss of my relationship with him and with his rejection of me. But I remembered God’s promise to heal my broken heart, and His assurance that He would be close to me in my despair. As I trusted my Savior, He walked with me through the long process of grieving my loss. Slowly, my life began to change as He released me from sorrow and into freedom with Him. I have prayed, as David prayed, “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me . . . Restore to me the joy of Your salvation.” Psalm 51:10, 12a NIV).

When our hearts have been crushed by the failure of a business, or the loss of a loved one, our hopes and dreams lie at our feet. When we face these devastating losses, we can rest in the loving arms of our Savior who promised to bind up our wounds.

Dear Father, I need Your hand on my heart as it continues to heal. Thank You for Your loving faithfulness as we walk this path together. Amen

© 2011 Diane E. Hussey

Saturday, July 16, 2011

The Spirit of the Letter

I had many things to write, but I do not wish to write to you with pen and ink; but I hope to see you shortly, and we shall speak face to face. 3 John 1:13-14a (NKJV)

When I was a little girl I wrote a long letter to my favorite television star. I poured my heart out on those pages, and I wanted to know everything about her, too. The response? A form letter, full of facts and figures.

God wrote us a letter, too. He poured out his heart, writing down everything about Himself, and everything we would need to sustain us in this life. But He knew we would need more, because His ways and His wisdom are not like ours. To our limited understanding, His letter would seem like just a bunch of facts and figures—dos and don’ts. We could never understand the depth of His love, or know how deeply he feels our pain. So He sent the Holy Spirit to impart His message to our hearts.

In a way the Bible is like a form letter in that He only wrote one; however, the similarity ends there. Through the Spirit, God’s words take on new life and meaning for each one of us individually. “Dos” become opportunities, and “don’ts” become protection. His words communicate something new every time we delve into them. They teach us how to love Him, how to love ourselves, and how to love one another. And if we pay attention as we open His letter and begin to read, we may just hear Him say, “I hope to see you shortly, and we shall speak face to face.”

Father, thank You so much for Your letter. We can’t wait to see You!

© 2011 Katherine A. Fuller

Friday, July 8, 2011

Spiritual Blemishes

These are the ones that come out of the great tribulation, and they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Revelation 7:14b (NWT)

Distressed to see grease spots still on the front of it, I ironed my blouse. I had sprayed the spots with pre-wash before putting it in the washer, but the spots were still there. As I ironed, it occurred to me that the spots were like my soul, marked by human imperfection and sinfulness. The next time I do laundry, I will try another pre-wash and let the blouse sit for a while.

I used to wear bib-aprons when I cooked. I think it would be wise for me to go back to that practice of protecting the front of my clothing. Like that apron, God protects me from the world of sin around me. Jesus represents the cleansing power that, through His blood, washes the dirt and grease of sin from my soul. With help, my spiritual laundry is guaranteed to be whiter than snow.

Thinking on these things, I am reminded of Ephesians 6:11 which says to put on the complete suit of armor from God that you may be able to stand firm against the machinations of the Devil. The best way I can do that is to read my Bible daily so I can prepare for whatever soil I have to wash out of my day. And I'll thank God for His Son, who has cleansed me of all unrighteousness.

Dear Father, we children sometimes err and get our spiritual clothing spotted. Open our eyes to our mistakes so we may ask Your forgiveness through the cleansing blood of Jesus, our Savior. Amen

(c) 2011 E. Bonnie Ryan

Friday, July 1, 2011

Under Whose Control?

Being then made free from sin, you become the servants of righteousness. (Romans 6:18 NIV)

On July 4, 1776, members of the Continental Congress representing the thirteen American colonies approved the Declaration of Independence. This document proclaims, “these united Colonies are and of right ought to be Free and Independent States.”

The colonists desired to be free of English control. They desired to be independent and pursue life on their own.

What a blessing to be free from control of others and to make our own decisions personally and as a nation. It is proper that we celebrate this holiday with family gatherings, picnics and fireworks.

Yet many in this country have relinquished their spiritual independence to sin, which robs them of the ability to stand on their own. They have lost their personal freedom and are regulated by external forces.

Jesus came to set us free from sin. He said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples, Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31 NIV)

I have discovered an irony in accepting Jesus as my savior. His sacrifice freed from sin and spiritual death. However, I willingly give up my independence to rely on Him and gladly seek His control over my life.

I justifiably give thanks to God that I live this life on earth in a free and independent nation. I also exalt my Savior because He has given me a life that is further blessed through His control.

Dear Lord, Thank You for the gift of Your Son that has made my soul and sprit free. And thank You for a country that allows me to declare myself a bond servant to You.

© Christy Struben 2011

Friday, June 24, 2011


And stretching out His hand, He touched him, saying, “I am willing; be cleansed.” And immediately his leprosy was cleansed. Matthew 8:3 NAS

My daughter was telling me she had run into an acquaintance from her past and that he had changed for the better. Remembering her bitter experience and how she had been disappointed, I quickly said, “A leopard doesn’t change his spots.” I was cynical that he would ever change.

Immediately, the Holy Spirit nudged my heart with the words, “No, but it was I who cleansed the leper’s spots.” I recalled the stories in the Bible where Jesus healed the lepers. They were unable to heal themselves, but their lives were completely changed by His touch, just as my life had been transformed when He touched my heart and forgave my sins.
Who was I to judge this young man so severely? At his age I was still unsaved, unable to change on my own. Jesus died to do what we cannot. He can change our hearts, erase our blemishes and bring us spotless before Him.

Convinced, I prayed and asked the Lord to forgive my sinful attitude and to help me see with Christ-like eyes. I began to pray often for his salvation. I don’t know how he’s doing today or where he stands with the Lord, but I do know that the Lord loves him and died for him, so I will continue to pray.

Thank You Jesus, that Your love for us is so great that You willingly died and rose again so that we could be forgiven and cleansed of all unrighteousness. Thank You for washing our spots away with Your precious blood. Amen.
© 2011 Bonnie M. Evans

Friday, June 17, 2011

Father Time

But Jesus called the children to him and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” Luke 18:16 (KJV)

I asked my grandson, “What would make a great father?” His reply was, “ A father who does tickle time.” I thought that was a silly answer, but then realized that it revealed something else. You see my grandson does not get to see his father often.

Our grandson learned about "tickle time" by playing with my husband who also loves the game. It became an all out war of who got tickled the most. Our grandson craved and appreciated the attention and unconditional love he received.

Similarly, we long for relationships with our Father in Heaven. Jesus demonstrated the way to spend time with the Father when He constantly withdrew to pray in synagogues, in towns like Capernaum, or in the wilderness.

Jesus also modeled the unconditional love of fatherhood. He took the time to allow the children to come to him. He would not hinder them and rebuked His disciples when they tried to keep the children away.

Now, I look to Jesus’ example, spend time with my heavenly Father and enjoy learning from Him. Our Heavenly Father is always available and finds joy with anyone who comes to Him.

Thank you Father for the “tickle time” we get to have with You. Thank you for being the kind of Father who loves to spend time with us.
© 2011 Dawn M Sexton

Friday, June 10, 2011

Being Saved

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Hebrews 13:8 (NKJV)

Yesterday: The Lord heard the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah and sent His angel. First, though, he talked with Abraham whose rather contentious relative, Lot, lived in Sodom.

Abraham begged God to spare the cities from destruction if ten good people could be found there. The Lord agreed because of His righteousness and because of His love for Abraham.

What surprises us is that God went further. When ten could not be found, His angel sent Lot and his whole family away just before the maelstrom struck.

Today: We read this story in awe because of what it reveals: What God did in the Old Testament, He did again in the New. Jesus, like Abraham, prayed for men's salvation. He too went further. In a garden, He prayed for our sanctification. "I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in me through their word" (John 17:20).

We trust God who keeps His promises yesterday, today, and forever. Just as He saved Lot out of evil and immorality, He saved and sanctifies us.

Forever: Paul tells us another mystery, and we recognize its truth. The time will come when the trumpet sounds, and the sleeping and not yet sleeping will be saved out of corruption to enter eternity. Jesus' prayer for believers covers the future.

Lot benefited from Abraham's prayers and received mercy. We have the prayers and sacrifice of Christ, the Messiah. Knowing His word is true, we trust, and look forward to eternity. How great, gracious, and loving is He!

Praise be to the Lord who is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

© 2011 V. Colclasure

Friday, June 3, 2011

Staying Stuck

I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus . . . one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:12b,13b,14 (NASB)

It is easy to focus so much on situations and relationships from the past that it is difficult to get on with life. The death of a family member, divorce or the loss of your home to a tornado is devastating. A close friend reminded me recently that I enjoy the sympathy I receive from others when I linger in my self-pity. I stay stuck in my memories of past hurts and continue feeling sorry for myself.

In the book of Philippians, Paul exhorts us to press on toward the life God has for us. We are unable to more forward without putting the past behind us. We may never forget what happened, but we can step out in faith and trust God as we put one tentative foot in front of the other. God is with us and “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds” (Psalm 147:3 NIV).

Note all the action words in this passage: press on, lay hold, forgetting, reaching forward. It is clear that God is urging me not to stay stuck in selfish fretting over my painful past, but to move on toward the future He has for me in Christ.

Dear Father, I put my hope in Your unfailing love and choose to trust You for the future. In Jesus Name, Amen.

© 2011 Diane E. Hussey

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Something from Nothing

“What can I do to help you?” Elisha asked. “Tell me, what do you have in the house?” “Nothing at all, except a flask of olive oil,” she replied. 2 Kings 4:2 (NLT)

Lyle and Devin rummaged through the cupboards and asked, “What is there to eat, Miss Kathy?” We don’t stock instant foods or ready-made meals in our house, so I shooed them outdoors, saying, “Go outside and play, and I’ll make something for you.”

A half-hour later they tromped back in, rosy-cheeked and ready to eat. The kitchen smelled wonderful, and a hot meal sat on the table. “Wow,” Devin exclaimed. “You made something out of nothing!” Laughing, we sat down, said grace, and dug in.

These days the kids are old enough to make dinner themselves. Lyle still refers to it as “pulling a Miss Kathy.” But isn’t that just like God? So often we think only of how He created the universe out of nothing—but there are so many ways in which He works this miracle. When we are depleted, He quickens us. When our souls are in desert places, He provides water and makes a highway in the wilderness. When we are unable to pray, He intercedes for us.

Praise God, who brought us out of a horrible pit, from the miry clay, and set our feet upon the rock. He hung the earth upon nothing, and set the world in our hearts. Praise Him for His unsearchable riches! He clothes us with righteousness. He calls us friends. Praise Christ, our Bread of Life, who came that we might have life, and have it more abundantly.

Father, when we are empty, You fill us up. Thank You for the countless ways You create something out of the nothing of our lives.

© 2010 Katherine A. Fuller

Saturday, May 21, 2011

My Pain

Carrying His own cross, he went out to the place of the skull. Here they crucified him. John 19:17,18b (NIV)

I awakened, stiff and sore from garden work. My head hurt. Then I thought I can’t hurt as badly as Jesus did when they pushed the crown of thorns onto his head. Conscious of my frailty, I asked forgiveness.

Later toward lunchtime, I walked a little stiff-legged from bending so much the day before. My knees and feet hurt with every step. I thought my knees don’t pain me as much as Christ’s knees holding up his body so he could breathe. My feet can’t hurt as much as His from being nailed to that harsh cross. Again I feel badly because I complain.

My hips and back gave me fits until I went to the exercise room and walked two miles to stretch my muscles. Carrying his cross Jesus walked almost two miles to Golgotha Hill where he was crucified. I feel humbled.

Vowing to change, I determined to ignore my wrists which pain me when I lift something heavy, especially when I work in the yard or garden. Even though I grabbed the Tylenol bottle and took a couple pills, I couldn’t forget that Jesus refused pain relievers when His wrists were nailed by heavy iron spikes that held His body weight. Jesus died, but was gloriously resurrected three days later.

Jesus accepted the sins of everyone who’s ever been born or will be born. What have I got to complain about?

Father, during this Easter season, let me not complain of my own pain, but let me recall what You endured because of Your love.

© 2011 E. Bonnie Ryan

Friday, May 13, 2011

Protection from Fleas

Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation? Hebrews 1:14 NKJV

The cat hides in closets, cowers in corners, or hunkers down under chairs when the time comes for her monthly dose of medicine. Without it, she would be infested with ticks and fleas and risk being infected by the diseases they carry. No matter how much she tries, we always find her. When we do, we pick her up and rub a medicated gel on her neck. She hates that kind of attention, but she is our cat and we want her to be healthy.

I know how she feels. When life beats me up, I’ve made wrong decisions, or anxiety overtakes, I can imagine the Lord looking for me in the world’s corner closets. His love is steady and healing, yet I block His presence; pride, lack of trust, or sense of unworthiness sneak into my soul and make it difficult for me to stand before His throne. That is when He sends ministering spirits to find me or comes himself. His banner of love and care provides daily protection from the infestations of sin and keeps me from falling into the eternal abyss.

Like the cat, I hate it that the Lord has to keep helping me evade the world’s diseases. You would think that I’d get it right and be permanently resistant. The Lord knows that will never happen here. The world is the world. Fleas are fleas.

Praise him for his grace and mercy. All hail King Jesus, the one who loves and cares for us. Amen.

© 2010 V. Colclasure

Friday, May 6, 2011

A Mother's Joy

 I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth. III John 4 NAS
There was a season in my life when I prayed unceasingly for the “desires of my heart.” Those desires were to have children someday. After a grueling nine-year wait, and learning first to surrender my will to His, we had our first child—a daughter—followed by a son five years later.
Before they were born I spent a lot of time on my knees praying for their development and safe delivery. Little did I know, my prayer time had barely begun. During their infancy and early childhood, I prayed over every tear, sniffle and scraped knee. As they entered school I prayed for their safety, teachers and friends. Teenage years brought new and desperate prayers as I began to let go, experiencing what felt like my heart venturing out in the world without me there to protect it. All of these prayers were laced with praise for the One who loves them even more than I.
Now, years later, I find that I am still praying for my children, and always will be. The continued desire of my heart is for them to know, love and serve Jesus; to put aside the “old self” and allow God’s love to make them new creatures in Christ. I pray for them to experience the extreme joy and freedom that basking in His love gives; joy unspeakable, joy that cannot be dimmed by the world or circumstances—joy as they discover His will for their lives.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for answering my prayers with two wonderful children. Thank You for the joy of communing with You daily, as I continue to lift them up in prayer. Amen.
© 2011 Bonnie M. Evans

Friday, April 29, 2011

Born to Die

It was now about the sixth hour, and darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour, for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last. Luke 23:44-46 (NIV)

When you hold a precious little bundle of joy in your arms for the first time many thoughts run through your mind. Will you be a good parent? What will this child grow up to be? What are God plans for my child? The list goes on. The last thing on your mind is your child being born to die.

I can only wonder when Mary held Jesus in her arms for the first time if she knew He would give His life for a fallen world. That His purpose was to die. Would she try to influence Jesus, change His mind or protect Him?
We know that Mary was obedient to carry Jesus in her womb for nine months. Yet we may know little about how He was raised. God's laws and traditions dictated Joseph and Mary's parenting. Whatever plans they had for Jesus were overridden by God the Father.

Jesus was born to die for a world lost in sin and hopelessness. From the first second of conception to His last minutes on the cross, Jesus' purpose was fulfilled when He returned to the waiting arms of His true father.

Thank you, God, for the gift of Your Son. As your child help me to fulfill Your purpose in my life just as Jesus fulfilled His.© 2011 Dawn M Sexton

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Christmas to Easter

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. Ephesians 2:8 (NIV)

Christmas is a wonderful time of year! People seem happy looking for the perfect gift for that special someone. I love giving gifts and watching the faces of my love ones, even more my grandchildren ripping and tearing at their boxes full of goodies. Yes, Christmas is a wonderful time of the year!

On December 26th something is missing. Christmas day family’s celebrated singing carols and eating food with relatives and friends. I have that feeling of love and happiness all year, because Jesus is the reason for all seasons.

Jesus came as a small package and was the greatest gift. The angels brought the good news to shepherds in their fields. After they saw the baby they returned to the fields glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen.

From a baby in a manger to a man on the cross, Christmas to Easter, the Resurrection of Jesus Christ is the beginning of man’s complete reconciliation with God.

When I confessed with my mouth and believed in my heart that Jesus died for my sins and that God raised Him from the dead, I received the gift of eternal life. That is the greatest Christmas gift I ever received. Sharing the good news with my family and others who cross my path, is the greatest gift I can give to another. Priceless!

Father, Help me to recognize the full meaning of the journey from the manger to Christ’s resurrection.

©2011 Marcella Panowicz

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Universal Donor

This is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. Matthew 26:28 (NKJV)

Drip...drip...drip. I watched, fascinated, as blood siphoned from my arm through a plastic tube and emptied into a waiting bag. Precise markings identified donor, blood type, and date. Just qualifying to donate had been a chore. It didn’t matter that I had previously given. I answered the myriad questions designed to weed out unsuitable candidates.

I have never thought much about blood, but I was in a pensive mood as mine dripped away. Would it save someone? My mind wandered to Easter. What about Christ’s blood?

Most people have heard that blood types must match to be compatible for transfusions. One blood type, however, can be given to anyone. People with O negative blood are called universal donors.

That’s what Christ is for us. We cannot save ourselves or anyone else because sin taints our blood. Christ was tempted in every way, yet without sin. And that is the point. He did not sin. He is the universal donor of all the ages. He answered all of God’s requirements, and He is the only one qualified to save. Our Savior gave His own perfect blood, not contaminated by sin, and infused us with His righteousness in a supernatural transfusion.

My blood may save a life someday, but only Christ can save a soul. When we were dead in our sins, Christ died for us. He quickened our spirits, and gave us a chance to live again. Thank God for His gift of salvation! Precious blood now courses through our veins, calling us to live life more abundantly.

Jesus, You have given us the gift of life. We remember how much it cost with grateful and loving hearts.

© 2011 Katherine A. Fuller