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Posted in Daily Devotions

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6

Life has to be lived forwards but it can only be understood backwards.

If we could walk backwards through life, so many times of doubt and questioning would be erased from our path. But sadly, we would have missed those desperate moments of trusting in the Lord, and clinging to him for guidance.

“Is not wisdom found among the aged? Does not long life bring understanding?” Job 12:12

Father, let me learn, and grow, from all that life has thrown at me and let me always remember that what the enemy has meant for evil, You have meant for my good; In Jesus name. Amen

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Forgiveness Focuses Forward

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“Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:12-14

As we come to the end of the year, so often we look back with regret on things we did not accomplish or resolutions long forgotten. But sin is one thing we should never need to look back on with feelings of failure. If we have confessed our sins and asked God’s forgiveness, we simply need to keep a forward focus toward the goal of pleasing Christ.

Look not back on yesterday; So full of failure and regret; Look ahead and seek God’s way; All sin confessed you must forget.

“As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.” Psalm 103:12

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Posted in Daily Devotions

There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all. (Ephesians 4.4-6)

Do you remember the Greek myth of Pandora’s box? In Greek mythology, Pandora was the first woman on the earth. Zeus wished to counteract the blessing of fire, which had been stolen from the gods by Prometheus and given to man. So he had Pandora created and given to Prometheus’ brother. Since she was stunningly beautiful, Prometheus’ brother did not object. But Pandora brought with her a box, also a gift from Zeus. They were warned to never open it. However, Pandora’s curiosity overcame her fear of what might lurk within the beautiful little box. She lifted the cover and immediately innumerable plagues flew from within its depths to journey all over the world plagues that afflicted the mind, the body, and the soul. In terror Pandora tried to shut the box, but it was too late. Only one thing remained in the box hope. Hope remained to comfort mankind in our misfortune. It is that hope we celebrate during this Christmas season.

The writer of the Gospel of John knew about the importance of hope. “The light shines in the darkness,” he wrote, “and the darkness has not overcome it.” And we are recipients of that hope.

Loving God, help me to share your hope in this sometimes dark world.  In Jesus Name, Amen.

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Don’t Forget The Baby

Posted in Daily Devotions

“Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel,” which means, “God is with us.” (Matthew 1.23)

A young family was going home for Christmas. The car was all packed. The mail and the newspaper delivery had been stopped. A neighbor would keep an eye on the house and feed the dog. All the gifts for parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles were somehow fitted into the trunk of the car. They had plenty of anti‑freeze in the radiator. Their suitcases and hanging clothes were in place. They were finally ready to go. The husband started out of the driveway, when all of a sudden the wife gasped, “Honey, we’ve forgotten the baby.” It was true. In all the excitement and the grabbing up of luggage and Christmas gifts, they had forgotten their most precious cargo‑‑their baby. We can forget the baby, too, if we are not careful. That’s easy to do this time of year.

We see visual reminders, “Don’t leave Christ out of Christmas.” And we try to keep that from happening. He IS the reason for the season.

Heavenly Father, you are my reason to celebrate this season of love and hope.  In Jesus Name, Amen.

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Posted in Daily Devotions

It shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice with joy and singing. The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it, the majesty of Carmel and Sharon. They shall see the glory of the LORD, the majesty of our God. (Isaiah 35.2)

Comedian Dom DeLuise tells about one of the best Christmas gifts he ever received. He says that there was a time when nothing made him laugh. “Everything was wrong‑‑life was hopeless and I was feeling useless.” When his son asked what he wanted for Christmas, DeLuise replied, “Happiness‑‑and you can’t give it to me.” On Christmas day his son handed him a piece of cardboard with HAPPINESS written on it. “You see Dad,” his son said, “I can give you happiness!” For a moment at least, DeLuise’ depression was shattered.

It is amazing how children can bring us happiness. That’s what Christmas is really all about. We say that Christmas is for children. Untrue. A child opening with glee his or her new toy from Santa does not feel nearly the happiness Mom and Dad feel at that moment. Children bring us joy‑‑whether they are ours or someone else’s. But there is one child that has brought more joy into more people’s lives than any other. He is the Christ child of Bethlehem. Isaiah the prophet anticipated what his coming would mean. He wrote, “The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad, the desert shall rejoice and blossom; like the crocus it shall blossom abundantly and rejoice with joy and singing. The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it, the majesty of Carmel and Sharon. They shall see the glory of the Lord.”

Loving God, thank you for showing us your glory in Jesus Christ. Amen.

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No Vacancy

Posted in Daily Devotions

And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn. (Luke 2.7)

According to an old legend, when the Magi were following the star of Bethlehem, they came to the house of a certain woman. They said to her, “Come with us! We have seen his star in the east and we are going to worship him.”

“Oh,” she said, “I would love to go. I heard that he would be coming one day and I have been looking forward to it. But I can’t come now. I must set my house in order; then I will follow you and find him.”

But when her work was done, the wise men were out of sight, the star shone no more in the heavens, and she never saw Jesus. That can happen. We can go through this whole busy Christmas season and miss the essential meaning of it all. It really makes no difference that a “No Vacancy” sign hung over an inn 2,000 years ago, but if a “No Vacancy” sign hangs over our hearts, it makes an enormous difference.

Heavenly Father, come into my life to stay so that my sign will always say, “No Vacancy.”  In Jesus name, Amen.

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A Little Eternity

Posted in Daily Devotions

I will bring near my deliverance swiftly, my salvation has gone out and my arms will rule the peoples; the coast lands wait for me, and for my arm they hope. (Isaiah 51.5)

Leslie Weatherhead, the great British pastor tells of a postal clerk in his country who handled the mail to Santa Claus.

The clerk was called the “Nixie Clerk” because he handled all the mail that was “nixed” because of an insufficient, inaccurate, or illegible address.

Here is a letter sent to Weatherhead by the “Nixie Clerk.” It reads:

“Last Christmas the letters began to pile in, as usual, addressed to Santa Claus. I suppose I get hundreds of letters every year.

“On Christmas Eve I was working late, and was very sad and lonely in my corner. There was a great rush at the windows and the office, and the malls were loaded with Christmas gifts and greetings. A merry crowd rushed through the corridors and laughter sounded all around, but a great shadow of sorrow rested over me and my eyes burned as I bent over my work. Finally the messenger brought me the last few “Nixies” of the day and laid them on my desk. I took up the first one mechanically. Attached to it was a note from Postman Number 34:

“This was given me by a little girl at 302 Walnut Street.”

“My body tingled when I read it, because that address was my own home! The envelope was a small one addressed to ‘Santa Clause, North Pole.’ I recognized my own little girl’s cramped writing…This is what she wrote:

Dear Santa Claus, “We are very sad at home this year, and I don’t want you to bring me anything. Little Charlie, my brother, went up to heaven last week, and all I want you to do when you come to my house is to take his toys to him. I will leave them in the corner by the chimney, his hobbyhorse and train and everything. He will be lost up in heaven without them, especially his horse. He always enjoyed riding it so much. So you just take them to him, and you needn’t mind leaving me anything.”

“If you could give Daddy something that would make him stop crying all the time, it would be the best thing you could do for me. I heard him tell mummy that only eternity could cure him. Could you give him some of that? Be sure to take the thing to Charlie and I will be your good little girl. Marion”

Could you give him a little eternity? We need from time to time a reminder of eternity‑‑that there is more than rocks and trees and houses and clothes and cars and even our physical bodies. Christmas is that reminder. Isaiah said people would rejoice because the glory of the Lord would be revealed. The world hungers to see that glory. For a moment, at least, in the star shining and the carols being sung and the love being expressed the world catches a glimpse of that glory.

Dear God, help me to see your glory in this season of hope. In Jesus name, Amen.

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Live In The Truth

Posted in Daily Devotions

Jesus said to them, “Give to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” (Mark 12:17)

On a can of room freshener there appeared these words: “Bring the clean, natural freshness of a country meadow indoors. Freshens the air in your home with a clean, back-to-nature scent–as refreshing as the summer grass and fragrant flowers of a country meadow.” Following were these words: “WARNING: Inhaling the contents can be harmful or fatal.” Just a reminder: that which smells sweet is not necessarily healthy. That which is popular is not necessarily true.

If you were to assess the situation in Jesus’ day, wouldn’t you say that Caesar had all the glory and Jesus had all the pain? Caesar had power, prominence, palaces. Jesus had no place to lay his head. Caesar could pass laws that would drastically affect the lives of men and women throughout his empire. Jesus could but tell stories and hope his listeners understood. With a wave of his hand Caesar could have a person put to death. Jesus died at the hands of the state. Yes, Caesar had the glory, and Jesus had the pain. But wait. That’s not the end of the story. Caesar is in the grave. Jesus has been resurrected. Yes, Caesar was popular, but Jesus brought the truth. May we live in that truth!

God of all things, may I live in the truth of my Savior, Jesus Christ. In Jesus Name, Amen.

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Genuine Humility

Posted in Daily Devotions

I am not worthy to have you come under my roof. (Matthew 8:8)

The centurion was man of great humility. Jesus was persuaded by the testimony of the elders and went with them. When he was not far from the house, the centurion sent friends to him saying, “Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you come under my roof . . . .” Can you believe this? Here is a Roman solider a man of wealth, power, and authority and he is saying to an itinerant Jewish teacher, “I am not worthy to have you come under my roof . . . .” He was a man of great humility.

Is there any quality more appealing in a woman or man than genuine humility? This is not the same as low self-esteem that causes others to walk all over us. Certainly the centurion was no doormat. But he recognized Jesus’ power and he was humbled.

For some reason, one of my favorite stories is about a bald man who decided with his wife one night to go out to dinner and have a baby sitter to take care of their two little children.

While they were gone, the baby sitter got interested in a television program and wasn’t watching the children very carefully. The little boy got into his father’s electric shaver and shaved a big landing strip right down the middle of his head.

When his father came home, he was furious. He said, “Son! I told you never to play with my shaver. Now you are going to get a spanking!” Dad was just about to give his son a spanking when his son looked up at him and said, “Wait until you see sister!” Dad was horrified.

He went into the next room and there was their little four-year-old daughter with her hair shaved off. By this time dad was really furious. He grabbed up his son and said, “Now you are really going to get it.”

Just as he lifted his hand his son looked up at him with tears in his eyes and said, “But Daddy! WE WERE JUST TRYING TO LOOK LIKE YOU!” I’m sure that little boy didn’t get any punishment that night.

A good person of God is humble.

Heavenly Father, through your humility you became my savior. May I also be humble for God’s glory.  In Jesus Name, Amen.

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Quality Time

Posted in Daily Devotions

Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs. (Matthew 19:14)

This is the season of the children: paternal children, step-children, grandchildren, and children of friends.

Based on the tradition of children having the lowest position in the community during Jesus time, Jesus made an important statement when he said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs.”

There is a story about a little boy who came to his dad and said, “I wanna horsey ride!”

The dad who was stirring paint said, “I’m too busy.”

The little boy said, “You know, Dad, it won’t be long before I’m all grown up. One day you’ll wake up and wonder how all the years slipped by. You’ll look back and say, “Where has the time gone? My boy is so big. It’s hard to remember when he was small enough that I could give him horsey rides…” But those days will be lost forever.”

The next thing you know the little boy is on Dad’s back as they gallop toward a fence.

Dad says, I think I’ve worked through my potential guilt now.”

The little boy says, “Oh no you haven’t. Jump the fence!”

The best way we can show respect for our children is to spend time with them. Jesus did!

God of all, may I demonstrate my love for my children by giving them some of my quality time.  In Jesus Name, Amen.

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