Monday, December 31, 2012

A New Season

But forget all that – it is nothing compared to what I am going to do. For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland. Isaiah 43:18‑19 (NKJV)

I am glad that a New Year has come. 2012 brought great affliction for me. At the beginning of the year I felt like Job; in the middle, Jonah; and by the end, I felt like all three Hebrew boys: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.

 Like Job, at times I questioned God concerning the severity and fairness of my trials, but I needed to learn that God did not cause my problems; He did, however, allow them. Instead of submitting to His will, I went the opposite way and ended up swallowed by my circumstances. Like Jonah, who found himself in the belly of the whale after running from God, the experience humbled me, teaching patience and obedience.

 Throughout 2012, I truly experienced what it means to contend for the faith. When the three Hebrews boys were cast into the fiery furnace, they held the absolute conviction that God would save them. Their faith and trust in God through the trial kept them from being consumed.
God’s word promises that after I have been tested I will come forth as pure gold. I experienced His refining fire this year, and learned precious lessons, like praying for His will for my life. He taught me submission, obedience, patience, humility, and service. I pray that the gold produced in the crucible of 2012 will shine in the coming year.

 Father, thank You for grace and mercy, for a New Year, and for a new season.

 © 2012 Wanda Currie

Sunday, December 30, 2012

I Just Wanna Be Bad

For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God . . . Ephesians 2:8 (NASB)

My oldest nephew was a very inquisitive three year old. His curiosity often got him into trouble. One year he was especially “busy” during all the preparations and excitement of Christmas. Trying desperately to keep his behavior in check my sister reminded him frequently that Santa wouldn’t bring him gifts if he didn’t behave.

Finally, exasperated at another warning, he threw his little hands up in the air and exclaimed, “I don’t care if Santa doesn’t come. I just wanna be bad!” He said “bad” with such enthusiasm, shaking his hands overhead, no doubt was left in our minds that he meant it. Being bad was easier and more fun than being good—even when a reward was at stake.

We laughed at his adorable display of honesty. However, his words caused me to reflect on how easy it is to fall into temptation, which can lead to sin if our human nature is not yielded to the Holy Spirit.

Often we have to work at being good. Sometimes it’s less arduous to “just be bad.” Then, those sneaky sins come to mind, the ones we don’t deliberately commit, but are counted as sin all the same. Soon, our reward of Heaven appears distant and far away. It looks impossible to be good enough to keep God’s favor. The glowing gift grows dim, but thankfully, just before it disappears from our sight completely we remember the truth of God’s grace. Our salvation is a gift from God. We can’t earn it—only accept it.

Thank you, Jesus for taking care of our sin once and for all. Amen.

2012 Bonnie Mae Evans


Saturday, December 29, 2012

Birth Week

No one has greater love than the one who gives his life for his friends. John 15:13 (NIrV)

When I was in college, my roommates and I observed what we dubbed “Birth Week.” Whenever one of us had a birthday, on every day of that week, we would do something for them, individually or together. Invention was the order of the day as we found ways to show our appreciation. We anticipated their discovery of a gift hidden somewhere, or watching as they emerged from their bedrooms—nose first—to the aroma of coffee and breakfast. We wanted them to experience our friendship.

My girlfriends and I have remained close, and those days of gift giving are precious memories. They made us kindred spirits, binding us together with cords of love. Those ties have held through all the joys and sorrows that life brings.

Now it’s Christmas, and as I hear about living in the “spirit of Christmas” all year, I agree. But I had a new thought recently. Why couldn’t I go even further? What if I went beyond the norm and gave Jesus a gift every day—my life—in thoughts, words, and actions?

I encourage you to join me. As with the birth-week celebration, our gifts might be small, but they are continual and exciting. Let’s think of ways to bless Him because of the joy of our salvation, gratefulness for His mercy, and because of the gift of His grace that we have received. Our gifts may not seem earth shattering to us, but rest assured that what Christ does with our lives, when we give them wholeheartedly to Him, will be.

Happy birthday, birth week, and birth years, Lord! We celebrate your life by giving you ours. Use them as you will. Amen.

© 2012 Katherine A. Fuller

Friday, December 28, 2012


Jesus spoke all these things to the crowd in parables. Matthew 13:34a (NIV)
“I bring you good news of great joy … Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.” Luke 2:10-11 (NIV)
When I was a child, our family enjoyed decorating our Christmas tree. After we finished, everyone left to do other things. My childish imagination was captured by the wonder of Christmas, so I stayed by the tree making up stories about the figures who “lived” there. My favorite was my small white angel trimmed in gold. Santa was kissing Mrs. Claus. Jolly snowmen and small dolls danced in the glittering lights. Mom set up a Christmas village on the cedar chest, and a small nativity.

In one story the angel might fly to visit the North Pole, but she would spend time with baby Jesus in the manger. She might talk to Mary. The snowmen and dolls were part of my make-believe stories, too.          The Bible is filled with stories that capture our imagination: the Israelites crossing the Red Sea on dry land; only eight people and thousands of animals floating on an enormous ark with no land in sight; a boy named David kills a giant with a sling and stone.

Jesus revealed scriptural truths in the parables He told. In illustrations drawn from life He told people about His kingdom: the sower, the weeds, the hidden treasure and the pearl.    The most miraculous story ever told is God breaking into human history by sending His Son to bring salvation to all who believe in Him.
Praise your name, Father, for sending your beloved Son to be our Savior. May those who search for answers to life’s deepest questions find them in Jesus.
© 2012 Diane E. Hussey




Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Toy Story

While I was with them, I guarded them. I kept them safe through the name you gave me. None of them has been lost. John 17:12a (NIrV)

Toy soldiers stood at attention, lined up on the linoleum,
back-dropped by Christmas wrapping. I stood up to inspect my squad when a soldier in the middle fell over. On examination he looked okay, so I put him back down only to watch him topple again. I had enough soldiers to play with now, and didn’t want to deal with the problem, so I threw him away without hesitation.

The movie Toy Story recalled my childhood fixation with action figures, making me remember the gifts I received as a child. So many were only used once and then forgotten, lost, broken, or discarded. Were the movie premise real, my toys would have lived fearful, sad, and discouraged lives.

Jesus didn’t receive new toys on Christmas. He was Himself a gift, and today the greatest gift we can give Him is a broken and contrite heart. He won’t forget about us after a while, or discard us if we make mistakes. He’ll never lose us when we wander.

Let’s thank God this Christmas for how gently Jesus deals with the gifts He receives, and present ourselves to Him knowing that He will accomplish His work in us. He will make us soldiers in His army, marching together under His banner of love. If we are wounded in the fight, He won’t set us aside; instead, He’ll pick us up when we fall, fix us when we are broken, and use us to do the same for others.

Lord, thank you for taking care of those whom the Father has entrusted to you.

© 2012 Katherine A. Fuller

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Prince of Peace

For God so loved the world that He gave His Only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. John 3:16 (KJV)

He didn't come with jewels and crown,
nor gold and sweet perfume.
He didn't come with platitudes
or shouting death and doom.

He didn't come with angry words
for our transgressions bold.
He came as a helpless baby
for a gentle woman to hold.

He came in human innocence
to learn of life and love.
He came to bear our burdens
from His Father, God above.

He came to share our sorrows
and bear our inner pain.
He came to show us how to love
and bring us peace again.

©  2012 Evelyn B. Ryan

Monday, December 24, 2012

No Vacancy

And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.” Luke 2:7 (KJV)

Years ago, whenever our family traveled, my brother sat in the back seat of the car searching through the AAA motel listing. When he found motels where he thought we should stay, he called out their names and the reasons they qualified. At first his main criterion for a motel was a television in the room, but soon the luxury of color television became a requirement.

As Dad drove on, my siblings and I watched for motels and read the “vacancy” and “no vacancy” signs to our parents. It was always a letdown to my brother when “no vacancy” flashed in front of the motels with color TV, and worse yet when Dad pulled into the lot of a motel that had “vacancy” but no television at all. Although there was griping, there was always a comfortable room for the five of us to stay the night.

Mary and Joseph were also faced with no room in the inn. Tired from travel, Mary needed a place to stay to give birth to the Savior, God incarnate. Luxury was what we wanted, but a humble abode, a place open to receive Him, was all the Father wanted for His son. Today, the Savior continues to be met with “no vacancy” signs or “no room in the inn” posted on the hearts of humankind. He doesn’t need a perfect or clean resting place; He simply wants a place in our lives.

Prayer: Father, may my heart always have room for you, forsaking all else that might encroach the space that is yours. Amen.

© 2012 Nance

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Guest of Honor

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. Luke 2:11 (KJV)

“Surprise!” Party goers practiced their line for when the guest of honor arrived for his birthday party. “Surprise!”

For weeks several friends planned the big surprise party. They met to discuss the venue and the menu. They went on shopping excursions to buy decorations and party favors.  They had their own mini-party to write the invitations to plan games. They recruited others to hang the decorations and craft centerpieces for the tables. 

It was finally the big day! All of the guests arrived on time and got in position. The plan was that when the guest of honor entered the room, everyone would gather and yell, “Surprise!”

This surprise party was different from most; the guest of honor, whose birthday the guests were to celebrate, was identified as “a surprise” on the invitations.

“We have been practicing for fifteen minutes,” one guest complained. “When is the mystery guest supposed to arrive? I hope he doesn’t forget to come!”

“Cut him a break,” another guest added. “It had to be rough as a child having a birthday so close to Christmas. He probably never got much birthday attention.”

“Let’s sing carols while we wait,” suggested a host. She sat at the piano and began playing, “Away in a Manger.”

When the singing finished, one of the other hosts walked around the room with a banner: “Happy Birthday, Jesus.”

“So many Christmas parties forget to invite the Guest of Honor,” a host said.  “Our Guest is here.”

Father, forgive us for leaving You out of our Christmas celebrations, for the times we have not invited You to Your own birthday party.  Happy Birthday!

© 2012 Nance

Friday, December 21, 2012

The Star

We saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him. Matthew 2:2b (NIV)

Years ago, the Hale-Bop comet came into earth's stratosphere. I stepped out on my back porch and there, in the sky, over my garden was a bright light with a long tail behind it. I stood a long while staring, but it didn't seem to move. Realizing that it must be the Hale-Bop comet that the news had reported, I became excited. Here was a once in a life time opportunity to see a real comet in the night sky.

My thoughts turned to the three wise men from the Orient. They had seen a bright star and knew it as a sign of a king who would be born, the Messiah whom the scriptures foretold. They followed where the star led, hoping to find the baby king. It took a long time, maybe as much as a year, or more, before they arrived at Bethlehem. At the end of their long journey, they found Jesus. Falling on their knees, they worshiped Him, presenting Him with gifts---gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

How long was the bright star in the heavens before the Christ child was born? How long did it remain, its bright rays pointing to where the Holy family lived? Was it still there when they had to escape Bethlehem and go to Egypt to save Jesus' life? When did it cease to be there? All these questions haunted me. Then, John 9:5 came to me. "While I am in the world, I am the light of the world."

Father, may Jesus continue to be the light that lives in Your children until His return. Amen.

(c) 2012 Evelyn B. Ryan

Thursday, December 20, 2012

A Homemade Christmas

And she brought forth her first born son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. Luke 2:7 (KJV)

When I was still a child I remembered one Christmas that my parent were short of funds. We did not receive any purchased presents. So my parent came up with this idea to make it a Homemade Christmas.

We collected things from around the house to make the decorations for the tree. While the popcorn was popping and the cookies baking we cut construction papers into strips. We use these strips to make garland for the tree. Once the popcorn was ready we strung those with fresh cranberry to make more garland.

While the cookies cooled we poked small holes on top, put strings through them and hung the ornaments. The left over construction papers were folded into origami shape ornaments, covered in glitter and added to the tree.

Even now as I look back I don't think I love another Christmas as much as I did this one.

When Mary and Joseph arrived in Bethlehem, there was no where for them to stay. There was no room in the inn so they were force to make do with what was available at the stables. They had to use the materials on hand---swaddling clothes and a manger, to bring in the first Christmas. Everything was homemade.

I am sure that Mary would relate to a homemade only Christmas since she had to make do with what was available.

The greatest gift was Jesus.

Thank you, Jesus, for each Christmas season. Help me to keep the season simple and focus on you, the greatest gift of all.

© 2012 Dawn M Sexton

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

O Christmas Tree!

Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts.  Zechariah 4:6b (KJV)

The year that the young adult fellowship Christmas party was held at my apartment marks my first experience buying a Christmas tree. Driving the tree home and dragging it up three flights of stairs was challenging, but putting it up was just plain crazy—especially because the stores had sold out of stands.

The tree wobbled some in the crock pot, but the sneakers and flip-flops stuffed around it kept it standing—for a minute. A paperback book, a few wooden spoons, and some rolled socks joined everything else in the crock pot, but the tree fell again and again. Finally, though it looked a bit odd with numerous strings tied to the top of the tree and mounds of masking tape securing taut strings to the ceiling, the tree was up and decorated.

We had a fun night at the party, but near the end of the evening one of the guests accidentally brushed against the tree, and down it went with the decorations, the string, and the tape.

“I could have brought you an extra stand from my house,” he said.

At times it seems like pieces of our lives fall down around us like that tree. We do everything in our power to get things to stand in place. Just when we think we have it together, something else happens and we try this and that to somehow make things work. All the while, the Lord waits for us to ask Him for help.

Lord, help me remember that I do not have to count on my strength for big or small things. Help me to count on your power to keep my life together. Amen.

© 2012 Nance

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Grinch's Heart

So that thou incline thine ear unto wisdom, and apply thine heart to understanding; . . . Then shalt thou understand the fear of the Lord, and find the knowledge of God. Proverb 2:1-2, 5 (KJV)

We have all heard the story of “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.” It is a timeless story about a changed heart.

My favorite part of the story is when the Grinch puts his hand by his ear waiting to hear the cries of the Whos. Instead of cries of despair, he hears them greet Christmas morning with a song. He does not understand what he is hearing. All kinds of questions enters his thoughts. He listens again and this time truly hears the wisdom of the Whos. His heart receives a better understanding of the meaning of Christmas. Not only did his heart grow three times larger, it changed.

Each year during this time of the season I seek to incline my heart to the words of God, renewing myself with a better understanding of His message and receiving His knowledge.

Working at a toy store at Christmas, and all the hassle that goes with that, it is so easy to get into a Grinch-like state and allow my heart to grow cold and bitter. Sometime I just want to crawl into a hole to hide.

When I finally take a moment to be still, listen with my ears and my heart, I will receive all the blessings that God has for me. My heart also grows and changes with the knowledge of God.

Thank you, Jesus, for changing my heart. I count the many blessings You give each Christmas season. Help me to always keep my incline ears and apply heart to You.

© 2012 Dawn M Sexton

Monday, December 17, 2012

You Can Afford Christmas

 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.  Philippians 4:12 (NIV)

Bells ringing, carol singing, lights blinging—ahh,  the sights and sounds of Christmas. How I long for the childlike anticipation of Christmas past when my heavy eyes fought to stay open at bedtime and my mind imagining numerous gifts of all sizes under the tree. In my youth, I never worried how my mom paid for every present given to me. I was oblivious to the planning, the saving and the buying that went into putting the twinkle in the eyes of my mother’s children at Christmas. Now that I’m grown with children of my own, I appreciate the efforts of my single mother to make every year memorable whether in times of plenty or in times of lack.
What we lacked in material gifts, we more than made up for with the overflowing joy of the celebration of Jesus Christ’s birth. The special sounds and sights of Christmas filled our hearts. The sounds of Christmas pageants and church bells ringing made a joyful noise in our ears. The sights of the Bethlehem star shinning in house windows and decorative angels on tree tops still symbolizing the shepherd’s announcement of peace on earth and good will to men.
Thank you, Father, for filling our hearts with praise and contentment especially when we lack financial resource during times when children anticipate gifts from their parents and guardians the most. Help us remember your gifts of heavenly joy and peace that comfort us during circumstances and situations that leave us in want.

© 2012 Danielle Martin Moffett

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Change of Address

For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly await for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. Ephesians 3:20 (NAS)

This year has been especially difficult for me to get started on the usual preparation for the holiday season. Normally, by the end of October, I have already ordered and received our family photo Christmas cards. By November, they are addressed, stamped with Madonna and Child and ready be sent out, spreading cheer to friends and family all across the continent, a few will even go to other countries.

This winter is different. Way behind schedule, I gloomily got out my address book with the alphabetical Christmas card list in the back. Each year as I begin to send out cards I am saddened by the realization that more and more of our dear friends and loved ones are no longer with us. Many have gone on to be with the Lord.

This year was more painful than usual. My dad became one of those who will be missed, as he went to be with Jesus a week before Thanksgiving. Staring at his name through tears, it occurred to me that while the beloved names of people on my list are decreasing, the names in the roll book of Heaven are increasing! My precious friends and family have simply relocated. They have a glorious new home with a new address. And someday, with great expectation and hope I can look forward to moving there also.

 So, this year I won't erase them from my address book. Instead, I will joyfully write the new address next to their name—Heaven.

 Dear Father, I thankfully praise You for the promise of Heaven for those who love You. Amen. 
© 2012 Bonnie Mae Evans

Saturday, December 15, 2012


Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creation: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. II Corinthians 5:17 (KJV)

Every Christmas Peter waited until Christmas Eve to “shop” for his sisters’ presents. It never took long, for he wrapped some of his old (and sometimes broken) toys in newspaper and put them under the tree for the girls.

One year, he took his “ABU gift giving” to an all time low. Not wanting to part with any of his own things, he snuck into his sisters’ room and snatched some of their belongings to give to them for Christmas.

Used to their brother’s antics, when the girls opened the presents, they pretended to be surprised by new items.

“I have just the right place for this,” one girl said.

“This will look great in my hair,” the other said.

Seeing how much this unexpected reaction took the fun out of their brother’s ABU game, the girls continued to list new uses for their old items. Before long, the list of possibilities made these old gifts seem brand new.

In a far greater way, Jesus breathes new life into ABUs, or “already been used” lives. He accepts our broken pieces and returns them restored. He comforts the worn out soul and exchanges it for a new beginning. No matter the burden or state of the ABU life that we give to Him, Jesus will gladly fill it with abundant life, for “He makes all things new.”

Father, thank you for this season when we celebrate the gift of your Son. I bring to you my life, wrapped in prayer. Take my ABU life, and renew me for your purposes this Christmas. Amen

© 2012 Nance

Friday, December 14, 2012

First Christmas Without Mom

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” John 3:16 (NASB)

 Recently my mother went home to be with the Lord. This will be my first Christmas without her. During her memorial service, I shared memories of my mother’s love for Christmas. She enjoyed buying and making gifts, decorating the house and tree, baking and preparing meals, and sharing time with extended family. She loved surprises and special gifts. Mom was as happy giving presents as she was receiving them. She even enjoyed wrapping them

 Several Christmas gifts stand out in my memory: handcrafted doll furniture, a hand-sewn rag doll with clothes and, a ballerina gown. One year she painted bicycles for my brother and me. I remember how happy she was when my seriously injured Dad came home from the hospital just for Christmas Day. Reflecting on my childhood, she is part of all the memories.

t is hard to imagine Christmas without my mom, but I want to celebrate her life. Her creativity revealed love for her family through all the special things she did for us. My mother’s love for us is a reminder of God’s love. After all, isn’t Christmas a celebration of God’s love in giving His Son to us? God prepared the way for His coming with prophecies throughout the Bible, but we were surprised when He arrived as a tiny baby. Jesus surprised us again when He humbled Himself to die for our sins on a cruel cross.

 Father, thank you for the gift of my mother’s life, and thank you for the gift of salvation through your Son.

© 2012 Diane E. Hussey



Thursday, December 13, 2012


… and a little child shall lead them.  Isaiah 11:6 (NIV)

Over the years I have attended many church Christmas pageants. Often a narrator reads the story while Sunday school students act the parts. There is usually a manger scene with Mary and Joseph, angels, shepherds, and three kings--all portrayed by young “actors.” Loving parents and grandparents watch, eyes gleaming chuckling when mistakes are made.

When my son was very young he told me that he would be a “German Shepherd” in his play. Hopefully the presentation was a teachable moment for all of the participants.

I have witnessed programs of professional quality with adults acting the parts and a plot that include modern day Christmas as well as a re-enactments of the first Christmas.

One program stands out in my mind above all others. The usual parts were represented: angels standing behind the manger appropriately moving their huge glittery wings. Mary cuddled a human baby Jesus when necessary. It touched me to hear a woman I know to be a Jewish convert sing “Mary Did You Know?” Magnificent pageantry accompanied the approach of the three kings.

None of those things touched my heart as did the last scene. The lights snapped off and a spot light followed a very small child walking down the center aisle. She carried a large cross and a crown. When she arriving  at the stage, she laid the cross beside the manger and the crown at the top. Suddenly, the lights went dark.

Dear Heavenly Father, let us never forget that the gift you gave us came in all the innocence of a baby but faced a future of suffering that would save us all.

© Christy Struben 2012


Wednesday, December 12, 2012


“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” John 3:16 (NKJV)
I didn’t grow up in a Christian home. We believed in God, but never went to church. My father, a survivor of the Great Depression, worked every day and anywhere he could. He delivered newspapers, performed handy-man chores, helped build houses, then became an electrician working at the plant. He was a provider. Earning money was his master.
Gramma went to church for a while, until the dog ate her hat. She couldn’t afford another, so she quit going. Dad said church goers were hypocrites, that hats should not make a difference. Dad died at forty-six years old. I never knew if he accepted Jesus as his Lord and Savior.
After I learned about Jesus and gave my heart to Him, I attempted to share the gospel with my aunt, who quickly shut me down.
“Your dad said all church-goers were hypocrites, and I believe he was right,” she said.
“You are right. That’s what he said. In reality, we are all beggars telling other beggars where to find bread, as we share Jesus Christ and His love.” I replied.
My aunt wouldn’t hear anything about Jesus. She died a few years later without a Savior. She was bitter, blamed everyone for her problems.
A grief comes over me as I see folks buy gifts and decorate everything and do not know Jesus. So sad! Jesus came to save the world. This Christmas, as all the lights and ornaments deck the halls, I pray that Jesus is the main theme.
Dear Lord. Thank You for loving us. Empower Your words we speak to touch hearts. Help us reach the lost. Amen
© 2012 Lois E. Gosley

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Christmas Lists

Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Romans 12:9-18 (NIV)

I tucked my legs beneath me on the sofa, enjoying the Christmas lights as they bathed the room in their soft hue. I reached for a notebook, ready to tax my brain guessing what my husband wanted for Christmas this year—and uncovered my Bible. Its brass placeholder blazed to life, a cross of reflected light.

Picking up the Bible, I opened to Romans 12:1, and smiled to read immediately about presenting my body as a living sacrifice to God. Merry Christmas, Jesus! Reading on, my own list became insignificant as I learned how to present myself to Him. I realized then why the best gifts are intangible: they bring unity, which Jesus desires above all else.

I’m still guessing what my husband wants for Christmas this year, but not Christ. I think I’ll give Him . . . Me!

Lord, as we prepare for Christmas, make us one, that we might reflect your light to all.

© 2012 Katherine A. Fuller

Monday, December 10, 2012

Christmas Bird Count

In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. Luke 2:1 (NIV)

The 113th annual Christmas Bird Count will take place from December 14, 2012 through January 5, 2013. Tens of thousands of volunteers throughout this country will take part in this yearly census. For some families, this has become a Christmas tradition throughout each generations.

Families, students, birders and scientists alike arm themselves with binoculars, bird guides and checklists. They go out often before dawn's light to document each bird sighting.

For over one hundred years, the desire to experience nature's beauty has driven dedicated people to leave the comfort of a warm home. They want to take part in the hard work of bird lovers keeping records of the migrating birds throughout the Christmas seasons.

You can say that they are taking a bird census.

Another count/census was decreed in biblical times. While Mary was pregnant with Jesus, Caesar Augustus issued this decree which caused everyone to travel to their own hometown. Mary and Joseph traveled to Bethlehem to register.

Every ten years we are counted in the US's census. We don't have to travel to be counted.

Another thing we can count is our blessings. The first day of Christmas began at Jesus' birth. For thousand of years people throughout the world count their blessings of health, love, healing and salvation as they reflect on the birth of Christ.

Each day I count my blessings of family, friends and freedom. This year I hope to be part of the bird count. I always feel closer to God when I am in the presence of His creation.

Thank you, Jesus. As I count the Christmas birds let me also count the many blessings.
© 2012 Dawn M Sexton

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Christmas Disobedience

Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. "Honor your father and mother." Ephesians 6:1-2a (NIV)

Christmas was exciting when I was young and still believed in a Santa Claus. I daydreamed about the gifts I wanted but I knew we were poor. Although both my parents worked, we lived from one paycheck to the next. Having no money for extras, we never asked for anything.

One day while Mom worked and my sisters and I were home alone, I couldn't resist sneaking into Mom's bedroom. We weren't supposed to go in there when my parents weren't home. I thought it wouldn't matter if no one saw me. Once inside, I began snooping around.

My parent's closet had no door, just a curtin covering the doorway. I tiptoed over and peeked behind the curtain. My eyes widened at the sight of a blue two-wheeler and other gifts on the upper shelf. I closed the curtain and tiptoed quickly from the bedroom. My heart pounded with excitement, but I couldn't tell anyone of my disobedience. I feared the punishment Mom would give me if she discovered my terrible, sweet secret. Guilt is a burdensome thing.

It was only the year before Mom died that I finally confessed my disobedience to her. She listened, and when I was through, she smacked me on my behind, in mock disappointment. I hugged her and told her I was sorry. My punishment had been a guilty conscience all these years.

Confession is truly good for the soul. Scripture teaches that those who confess their sin find mercy. Jeremiah 28:13.

Father, although my sin was small, it was still disobedience. Forgive me, Lord, for my weakness. Amen.

(c) 2012 Evelyn B. Ryan

Saturday, December 8, 2012

The Heavy To-do List

Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28 (KJV)

“Let’s get this, Ma,” Bill said, pointing to the advertisement for a weight vest. “It could be a family Christmas present. The weights can be adjusted, so you can wear it for bone density, Dad can wear it for weight loss, and I can wear it to help me bulk up with strength and endurance. Please, Ma. We can take turns wearing it.”

Ma answered, “Why would I want to add more weight to my load this season? My to-do list is heavy enough! I’ve got to shop for gifts, practice for the cantata, clean for company, attend six parties, bake cookies, and much more.  I also have to continue to work each day and keep up with the cleaning, cooking, and laundry. What I need is a vest that carries the load for me, not one that adds more weight to my back.”

Day-to-day life is already so hectic and stress-filled that packing more into a full calendar can weigh us down. With all of the social demands of the holiday season, Christmas can become more of a burden than a time of spiritual reflection and celebration. The Savior who we celebrate at Christmas tells us that His “yoke is easy,” and His “burden is light” (Matthew 11:30). We can cast all our cares on Him, knowing that He cares for us (I Peter 5:7). We can exchange the heavy burden of the season’s to-do list for joy in the Lord.

Father, take the weight from me that keeps me from experiencing the true joy of this blessed season. Help me to fix my eyes on you rather than on my to-do list. Amen.

© 2012  Nance

Thursday, December 6, 2012

A Christmas Lesson

It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ Acts 20:35 (NIV)
Christmas of 2008 started with an unusual twist.
Our four children woke up to only four small wrapped gifts under the tree, one for each. Our five year old, we call “Candy man” squealed with excitement when he opened his box of candy. Our seven year old son loved toys thus he received a toy car. He looked at us unsure of how to react. Our youngest daughter, twelve, unwrapped a coffee mug with a note promising “tea talks” at her request; she stared at us in disbelief. Finally our firstborn daughter, seventeen, opened her gift of mechanical pencils she requested for school and she immediately burst out crying, exclaiming, “oh no, we’re poor!” Our other daughter joined with her own sobs of disappointment. Our children’s hearts had grown more accustomed to receiving at this most sacred time.
My husband and I gathered them into a big family hug. Now we had their attention! We taught them Christmas is a day of giving more than receiving. It’s not a day of selfish indulgence, but rather of showering love on those we value. We explained, God our Father, showered the world with His gift of love that first Christmas when He gave His all, His Son-our Savior, Jesus the Christ.
God blessed our family with a Christmas lesson learned! He reminded us that it is more blessed to give than to receive. Our plan worked and we surprised the kids with a scavenger hunt for their other gifts. They received them with smiles and hearts of gratitude.
Thank you Father for your gift to the world of peace, joy and love that far exceeds any material gift we could receive especially at Christmas time.
© 2012 Danielle Martin Moffett

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

What Color is Christmas

“And an angel of the Lord appeared to them [shepherds and sheep], and the glory of the Lord shone around them.” Luke 2:12 (RSV)

Where did red and green, the dominate colors of Christmas, originate? Some attribute them to the Miracle Plays popular in the 1300's. Year after year, in the December 24th dramas of Adam and Eve, actors tied red apples to green trees to represent the Garden of Eden. Although tastes in literature changed, the visual remnants of red and green carried over from the creation pageants into Christmas dramas and celebrations.

Studying the symbolism, Christians recognize red, a visual emblem of Christ’s blood shed for forgiveness. Green can denote both eternity and new life essential for Christian growth.

Fashions change, and now there are other Christmas colors. My favorites are the luminescent, sparkling hues of white and gold. I think of heaven filled with light, reflecting golden tints of sunshine. I think of Jesus who is light and life. And I think of angels as being light, airy, white and gold. In all likelihood, when these beautiful beings looked at the sheep, they didn’t see snowy white wool. They must have seen wool covered with the debris of the world: dirt, straw, leaves, weeds, cockleburs—completely symbolic of spiritually impure men contaminated by the world’s immorality. 

Hovering between heaven and earth, angels surrounded by the glory of the Lord brought the message. The Savior, born to forgive us and restore us to spiritual purity, had come. Because of Christ’s sacrifice, coats of sheep and the lives of men will become pure, golden, the color of light and the color of Christmas.

Lord, Thank you for the Christmas colors which remind us of you and your love. Amen.

© 2012 V. Colclasure

Tuesday, December 4, 2012


But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Matthew 6:3-4 (NIV)

Shhh! Christmas is a time for secrets!

We sneak in the back door with a bag full of gifts, hoping no one in the household catches us. We tuck presents under beds, in closets, in attics and in the trunks of cars. Later, when we are sure that no one is around, we take the presents out of hiding and wrap them, hoping the recipients won’t know what is inside the pretty packages. Then, we await the expression on their faces when the gifts are unwrapped on Christmas day. Secrets are a fun part of Christmas!

Martha stopped by her coworker Beth's desk to talk about Christmas gifts.

“Have you finished your shopping?” Martha asked.

“I’m about half way,” Beth said.  “And you?”

Martha proudly blurted, "We don't give gifts to each other in our family. Instead we buy chickens, water buffalos and water filters for people in Asia.  Also, we serve food at the homeless shelter on Christmas Day, and we give a huge donation to several ministries."

“That’s very generous of you,” Beth said.

“It’s what we do,” Martha said, head high.

Shhhh! Christmas is a time for secrets!

So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. Matthew 6:2 (NIV)

Father, help me to remember that what I give is our special secret. I do not need the praise or acknowledgement of men. I desire only to please You. Amen.

© 2012 Nance

Monday, December 3, 2012


For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for our sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.                    
2 Corinthians 8:9 (NIV)

When discussing the birth of Jesus with an un-churched friend, I was surprised by the question he asked.
“I don’t understand why everyone failed to recognize immediately who He really was,” he said. “After all, He had a halo.”
“What do you mean, He had a halo?” I asked with a frown on my face. “He wasn’t born with a halo.”
“Well, He must have gotten one right after He was born. Every picture I’ve ever seen of Him, He had a halo.”

I answered, “Yes, there are a lot of pictures of Jesus with a halo, but He never really had one. I suppose artists have portrayed Him in that manner as a way of honoring Him as God’s Son and gift to us.”
I went on to explain that Jesus existed in heaven before the formation of planet Earth—before the concept of time itself. He could have demanded anything in the universe that He desired and it would immediately be His. He had every right to come to us in glory wearing a halo. Yet because of His love for us, He came to us in poverty—born in a shelter for animals.

At Christmas, we honor Him because His sacrifice has opened the riches of heaven to those who receive Him as Savior. We will see Him with a crown that shines brighter than a halo when he comes again in glory.
Dear Jesus, as we celebrate your humble birth may we remember all that you sacrificed to give us the gift of eternal life.

© Christy 2012



Sunday, December 2, 2012

A Big Deal

Whatever you do, work at it wholeheartedly as though you were doing it for the Lord and not merely for people. Colossians 3:23 (NIV)

Although my juice machine needed to be replaced, it took a while before I convinced myself to purchase a new one. I knew it would be a good investment and a quality machine, but it was hard to put out the cash. After buying the juicer, imagine the shock when I opened the box and found filthy unwrapped parts carelessly piled on top of a carrot-stained machine.

Apparently a customer returned the unwashed juicer. Apparently an employee at the store spider-wrapped the box and re-shelved it without checking to see what was inside. Apparently, based on the manager’s response, none of this was a big deal.

It is more and more acceptable in our culture to relax, get sloppy, and “cut corners.” After all, “that’s what everyone else is doing,” and relativism tells us that nothing has to be done a certain way. The pressure of maintaining high standards is gone.  

At Christmas we are reminded that God sent his pure and holy Son as a gift to humankind. He did not cut corners. He gave us His best, a part of Himself. This perfect gift, the Messiah, did not cut corners either. He gave His life for us to the point of death on a cross. God continues to keep His promises, not lowering His standards or missing any details, following His absolute plan.

Father, during this Christmas season we are reminded that you held nothing back in giving us Your best. Help us to represent You with high standards, doing our best in the big and small things of life even when others might be willing to accept less from us.

© 2012 Nance

Saturday, December 1, 2012

The Gift of Peace

 Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you: not as the world gives do I give to you.  Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. John 14:27 (NKJV)


It is that time of year again—the Christmas season—encompassing thirty-two shopping days. More than five hundred billion dollars will be spent in that time. In 2011, an excess of fifty‑three billion was spent between Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
Unfortunately, the 2011 shopping frenzy also brought fights, stabbings, shootings and deaths—all of this in quest for Christmas gifts? Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God (Matthew 5:9).

 Peace can be defined as freedom from quarrels and disagreement. It brings public security and order, and certainly would have been welcome in 2011. Peace of mind, however, is an inward condition, independent of external circumstances. When we have God’s peace, which surpasses all understanding, it helps us to remain calm and in control, even in the midst of problems, difficulties or unpleasant situations.
There are other benefits of the gift of peace, such as the development of patience, tolerance and tact; the ability to not be disturbed by what people think and say; and an increase of self‑mastery and ‑discipline. An added advantage is the ability to fall asleep and stay asleep by eliminating negative, futile and restless thinking.
When the season is over, I will be grateful for the sweaters, books and perfume, but all I really want for Christmas is PEACE.


Father help us remember the reason for the season. Thank you for giving your Son, the gift: Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father and the Prince of Peace.  Teach us how to trust and rest in Him.  Give us perfect peace. Amen



© 2012 Wanda Currie