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Re: A Daily Prayer for all
Reply #3430 - 12/21/17 at 08:11:56
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Genesis 28:15 (KJV)
And, behold, I am with thee, and will keep thee in all places whither thou goest, and will bring thee again into this land; for I will not leave thee, until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of.


Home for Christmas

One year Christmas found me on assignment in a place many of my friends couldn’t locate on a map. Trudging from my worksite back to my room, I braced against the chill wind blowing off the bleak Black Sea. I missed home.

When I arrived at my room, I opened the door to a magical moment. My artistic roommate had completed his latest project—a nineteen-inch ceramic Christmas tree that now illuminated our darkened room with sparkling dots of color. If only for a moment, I was home again!

A Light has entered the world to show us the way home.

As Jacob fled from his brother Esau, he found himself in a strange and lonely place too. Asleep on the hard ground, he met God in a dream. And God promised Jacob a home. “I will give you and your descendants the land on which you are lying,” He told him. “All peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring” (Gen. 28:13–14).

From Jacob, of course, would come the promised Messiah, the One who left His home to draw us to Himself. “I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am,” Jesus told His disciples (John 14:3).

That December night I sat in the darkness of my room and gazed at that Christmas tree. Perhaps inevitably I thought of the Light that entered the world to show us the way home.

Lord, no matter where we are today, we can thank You for preparing a place for us to be with You. And we have the presence of Your Spirit today!

Home is not so much a place on a map, as it is a place to belong. God gives us that place.

INSIGHT
Sometimes our perceptions of God get a startling adjustment. That was the case for Jacob in today’s passage. From our perspective we know through the Old and New Testament Scriptures that God is everywhere and is always with us. But Jacob’s knowledge was limited. His statement in Genesis 28:16 hints that he thought he was out of “God’s area.” How comforting it must have been to Jacob to realize that though he had left his family and his home, he was still in the presence of God.

How does knowing that God is always present comfort you?
  

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference.
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Re: A Daily Prayer for all
Reply #3431 - 12/22/17 at 05:57:22
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2 Corinthians 5:17 (KJV)
Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.



Silent Night of the Soul

Long before Joseph Mohr and Franz Gruber created the familiar carol “Silent Night,” Angelus Silesius had written:

Lo! in the silent night a child to God is born,
And all is brought again that ere was lost or lorn.
Could but thy soul, O man, become a silent night
God would be born in thee and set all things aright.

Jesus, thank You for being born into this dark world so that we might be born again into Your life & light.

Silesius, a Polish monk, published the poem in 1657 in The Cherubic Pilgrim. During our church’s annual Christmas Eve service, the choir sang a beautiful rendition of the song titled “Could but Thy Soul Become a Silent Night.”

The twofold mystery of Christmas is that God became one of us so that we might become one with Him. Jesus suffered everything that was wrong so that we could be made right. That’s why the apostle Paul could write, “If anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone; the new is here! All this is from God who reconciled us to himself through Christ” (2 Cor. 5:17–18).

Whether our Christmas is filled with family and friends or empty of all we long for, we know that Jesus came to be born in us.

Ah, would thy heart but be a manger for the birth,
God would once more become a child on earth.

Lord Jesus, thank You for being born into this dark world so that we might be born again into Your life and light.

God became one of us so that we might become one with Him.

INSIGHT
At the heart of the concept of becoming one with Christ is His work of reconciliation in us. In today’s passage, Paul weaves several themes together—life, love, new creation, and the ministry of reconciliation—all framed by a call to act with urgency. It is because of Jesus’s life, death, and resurrection that we can be reconciled to God. Those who accept Christ’s gift of reconciliation must “no longer live for themselves” (2 Cor. 5:15). Instead, we are compelled to view everyone differently (v. 16), as people in dire need of Christ’s reconciliation. And what is this reconciliation? God will no longer “[count] people’s sins against them” (v. 19). With urgency, Paul tells us that we are now Christ’s ambassadors of reconciliation and says, “We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God” (v. 20, emphasis added).

With whom can you share this offer of reconciliation today?
  

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference.
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nanny
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Re: A Daily Prayer for all
Reply #3432 - 12/23/17 at 05:39:25
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Matthew 1:23 (KJV)
Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.


God with Us

“Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me, Christ within me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me, Christ at my right, Christ at my left . . .” These hymn lyrics, written by the fifth-century Celtic Christian St. Patrick, echo in my mind when I read Matthew’s account of Jesus’s birth. They feel like a warm embrace, reminding me that I’m never alone.

Matthew’s account tells us that God dwelling with His people is at the heart of Christmas. Quoting Isaiah’s prophecy of a child who would be called Immanuel, meaning “God with us” (Isa. 7:14), Matthew points to the ultimate fulfillment of that prophecy—Jesus, the One born by the power of the Holy Spirit to be God with us. This truth is so central that Matthew begins and ends his gospel with it, concluding with Jesus’s words to His disciples: “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matt. 28:20).

God’s love became Incarnate at Bethlehem.

St. Patrick’s lyrics remind me that Christ is with believers always through His Spirit living within. When I’m nervous or afraid, I can hold fast to His promises that He will never leave me. When I can’t fall asleep, I can ask Him to give me His peace. When I’m celebrating and filled with joy, I can thank Him for His gracious work in my life.

Jesus, Immanuel—God with us.

Father God, thank You for sending Your Son to be God with us. May we experience Your presence this day.

God’s love became Incarnate at Bethlehem.

INSIGHT
We can only imagine the emotions Joseph experienced when he discovered his fiancée was pregnant. But in a dream he was told that Mary’s child was conceived supernaturally by the Holy Spirit. In obedience to this divine revelation, Joseph took her as his wife and did not consummate the marriage until she had given birth to the child.

The Father, Son, and Spirit all share in our redemption. God took on human form and came to Earth to live among us. Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit and the Spirit now dwells within us (1 Peter 1:11; Gal. 4:6; 1 Cor. 6:19).

How does knowing Christ is present in your life through the ministry of the Holy Spirit encourage you?
  

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference.
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Re: A Daily Prayer for all
Reply #3433 - 12/24/17 at 08:39:16
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Luke 2:11 (KJV)
For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.


A Thrill of Hope

Reginald Fessenden had been working for years to achieve wireless radio communication. Other scientists found his ideas radical and unorthodox, and doubted he would succeed. But he claims that on December 24, 1906, he became the first person to ever play music over the radio.

Fessenden held a contract with a fruit company which had installed wireless systems on roughly a dozen boats to communicate about the harvesting and marketing of bananas. That Christmas Eve, Fessenden said that he told the wireless operators on board all ships to pay attention. At 9 o'clock they heard his voice.

Without Christ there is no hope. Charles Spurgeon

He reportedly played a record of an operatic aria, and then he pulled out his violin, playing “O Holy Night” and singing the words to the last verse as he played. Finally, he offered Christmas greetings and read from Luke 2 the story of angels announcing the birth of a Savior to shepherds in Bethlehem.

Both the shepherds in Bethlehem over two thousand years ago and the sailors on board the United Fruit Company ships in 1906 heard an unexpected, surprising message of hope on a dark night. And God still speaks that same message of hope to us today. A Savior has been born for us—Christ the Lord! (Luke 2:11). We can join the choir of angels and believers through the ages who respond with “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests” (v. 14).

God, we give You glory and thank You for sending Your Son Jesus Christ to be our Savior!

Without Christ there is no hope. Charles Spurgeon

INSIGHT
Luke’s telling of the birth of Christ is a study in contrasts. We are introduced to the Son of God in the weakness of an infant, while powerful world rulers play their part in moving the family to the city of David. The shepherds were likely guarding temple flocks that would supply the sacrificial system at Jerusalem’s temple. Yet though they were treated as unclean by the religionists of their day, they are invited into the presence of the ultimate Sacrifice. From the humble to the heavenly and everything in between, these contrasts launch the journey of the Son who came from the highest place to be the Lamb of God.

In what way does the coming of Jesus touch your heart?

  

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference.
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Re: A Daily Prayer for all
Reply #3434 - 12/24/17 at 09:11:16
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Kiss Kiss
  

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Re: A Daily Prayer for all
Reply #3435 - 12/25/17 at 07:51:50
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Luke 2:10-11 (KJV)
10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.


Traditions and Christmas

As you savor a candy cane this Christmas, say “danke schön” to the Germans, for that confectionary treat was first created in Cologne. As you admire your poinsettia, say “gracias” to Mexico, where the plant originated. Say “merci beaucoup” to the French for the term noel, and give a “cheers” to the English for your mistletoe.

But as we enjoy our traditions and festivities of the Christmas season—customs that have been collected from around the world—let’s save our most sincere and heartfelt “thank you” for our good, merciful, and loving God. From Him came the reason for our Christmas celebration: the baby born in that Judean manger more than 2,000 years ago. An angel announced the arrival of this gift to mankind by saying, “I bring you good news that will cause great joy . . . a Savior has been born to you” (Luke 2:10–11).

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him. Romans 15:13

This Christmas, even in the light of the sparkling Christmas tree and surrounded by newly opened presents, the true excitement comes when we turn our attention to the baby named Jesus, who came to “save his people from their sins” (Matt. 1:21). His birth transcends tradition: It is our central focus as we send praises to God for this indescribable Christmas gift.

Lord, we thank You for coming to join us on that first Christmas. During a time of the year filled with many traditions, help us to keep You first.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him. Romans 15:13

INSIGHT

The angel Gabriel told Mary, “[Jesus] will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David” (Luke 1:32–33). The angel who appeared to Joseph said, “What is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. . . . [Y]ou are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins” (Matt. 1:20–21). Mary and Joseph knew Jesus would be the Messiah, and as faithful Jews they would have known the Messiah was to come from Bethlehem, David’s hometown. Perhaps when Joseph was ordered to Bethlehem for the census he thought, So that’s how God is going to get us to Bethlehem!

How does reflecting on the miraculous events that led to the birth of Jesus fill you with renewed awe and wonder?
  

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference.
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Re: A Daily Prayer for all
Reply #3436 - 12/26/17 at 08:23:58
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Philippians 4:19 (KJV)
But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.



What on Earth?

When Andrew Cheatle lost his cell phone at the beach, he thought it was gone forever. About a week later, however, fisherman Glen Kerley called him. He had pulled Cheatle’s phone, still functional after it dried, out of a 25-pound cod.

Life is full of odd stories, and we find more than a few of them in the Bible. One day tax collectors came to Peter demanding to know, “Doesn’t your teacher pay the temple tax?” (Matt. 17:24). Jesus turned the situation into a teaching moment. He wanted Peter to understand His role as king. Taxes weren’t collected from the children of the king, and the Lord made it clear that neither He nor His children owed any temple tax (vv. 25–26).

Lord, thank you that You provide everything we need.

Yet Jesus wanted to be careful not to “cause offense” (v. 27), so He told Peter to go fishing. (This is the odd part of the story.) Peter found a coin in the mouth of the first fish he caught.

What on earth is Jesus doing here? A better question is, “What in God’s kingdom is Jesus doing?” He is the rightful King—even when many do not recognize Him as such. When we accept His role as Lord in our lives, we become His children.

Life will still throw its various demands at us, but Jesus will provide for us. As former pastor David Pompo put it, “When we’re fishing for our Father, we can depend on Him for all we need.”

Lord, teach us to bask in the wonderful realization that You provide everything we need.

We are children of the King!

INSIGHT
People in Jesus’s day worried over the basic necessities of food, clothing, and shelter just as we do. But Jesus assures us of God’s care and provision by pointing us to His constant providential care for all the earth. Because we are more precious to God than all of creation (Matt. 6:25–30), Jesus reminds us, “Do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ . . . Your heavenly Father knows that you need [these things]” (vv. 31–32). Because we have a heavenly Father who loves and cares for us deeply, we can ask Him to give us what we need (7:9–11; 1 Peter 5:7). Paul encourages us to replace our anxieties with expectant trust and grateful prayer. The peace of God is the inner calm or tranquility that comes from a confident trust in God who hears our cries (Phil. 4:6–7).

In what ways has God provided for you this week?
  

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference.
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Re: A Daily Prayer for all
Reply #3437 - 12/27/17 at 08:58:11
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Psalm 117:1 (KJV)
O praise the Lord, all ye nations: praise him, all ye people.


Thanks Journal

When I was a new believer in Jesus, a spiritual mentor encouraged me to keep a thanks journal. It was a little booklet I carried with me everywhere I went. Sometimes I would record a thanksgiving right away. Other times, I would pen it at the end of the week during a time of reflection.

Taking note of praise items is a good habit—one I’m considering re-establishing in my life. It would help me to be mindful of God’s presence and grateful for His provision and care.

Father, if we were to record all of Your blessings, we could not complete the task in a lifetime.

In the shortest of all the psalms, Psalm 117, the writer encourages everyone to praise the Lord because “great is his love toward us” (v. 2).

Think about it: How has the Lord shown His love toward you today, this week, this month, and this year? Don’t just look for the spectacular. His love is seen in the ordinary, everyday circumstances of life. Then consider how He has shown His love toward your family, your church, and to others. Let your mind soak up the extent of His love for all of us.

The psalmist added that “the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever” (v. 2 emphasis added). In other words, He will continue to love us! So we will continue to have many things to praise God for in the coming days. As His dearly loved children, may praising and thanking God characterize our lives!

Father, if we were to record all of Your blessings, we could not complete the task in a lifetime. But we can pause this moment to say a simple “Thank You” for Your faithfulness and goodness.

Remember to thank God for the ordinary as well as the extraordinary.


INSIGHT
Have you noticed how hard it can be to be thankful when we are focused on what has been withheld from us? Our first parents, Adam and Eve, were probably content until they were led to believe that God was holding out on them.

Many generations later, the family of Israel struggled with contentment and thankfulness during their journey to the Promised Land. God gave them the annual celebration of Passover to help them remember their wonder-filled rescue from slavery in Egypt. In a group of songs known as the Egyptian Hallel (Pss. 113–118) they reminded one another to “give thanks to the Lord” for His faithful acts of love that fill the earth and endure forever (118:1). Those words aren’t just for God’s chosen people, Israel. In Psalm 117, the shortest of all of their national psalms, Israel invites the nations of the world to join with them in their songs of thanksgiving for God’s goodness and miraculous acts of rescue.

Together we are all still learning to thank God—not for everything that has happened to us—but rather that, in everything, our good God is with us.
  

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference.
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Re: A Daily Prayer for all
Reply #3438 - 12/28/17 at 08:50:53
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Proverbs 15:13 (KJV)
A merry heart maketh a cheerful countenance: but by sorrow of the heart the spirit is broken.


Everyday Moments

I piled groceries in my car and carefully exited my parking spot. Suddenly a man darted across the pavement just in front of me, not noticing my approach. I slammed on my brakes, just missing him. Startled, he looked up and met my gaze. In that moment, I knew I had a choice: respond with rolled-eye frustration or offer a smiling forgiveness. I smiled.

Relief flickered across his face, raising the edges of his own lips in gratefulness.

In everyday moments, a smile can offer relief, hope, and the grace needed to continue.

Proverbs 15:13 says, “A happy heart makes the face cheerful, but heartache crushes the spirit.” Is the writer directing us to cheery grins in the face of every interruption, disappointment, and inconvenience life brings? Surely not! There are times for genuine mourning, despair, and even anger at injustice. But in our everyday moments, a smile can offer relief, hope, and the grace needed to continue.

Perhaps the point of the proverb is that a smile naturally results from the condition of our inner beings. A “happy heart” is at peace, content, and yielded to God’s best. With such a heart, happy from the inside out, we can respond to surprising circumstances with a genuine smile, inviting others to embrace the hope and peace they too can experience with God.

Dear Father, today as I cross paths with others around me, make my heart happy that I may share with them the hope only You can offer.

Encourage one another and build each other up. 1 Thessalonians 5:11

INSIGHT
In today’s reading we see the dynamic impact of a happy heart. It is interesting to note that our attitude toward our circumstances—not our situation—is the key issue. A wise person seeks out knowledge, which builds positive character rather than feeding (literally “grazing like cattle”) on those things that lead to foolishness. The oppressed are those who are bowed down or in great need, which can cause emotional turmoil. But we also see in verse 15 how those who are cheerful have a continual feast. The one who focuses on the God of compassion finds hope in difficult situations and also helps others to have hope.

Are you struggling today? Ask God to help you focus on Him with a joyful attitude.
  

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference.
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Re: A Daily Prayer for all
Reply #3439 - 12/29/17 at 05:49:24
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Psalm 104:24 (KJV)
O Lord, how manifold are thy works! in wisdom hast thou made them all: the earth is full of thy riches.


What Remains in the Eye

The hummingbird gets its English name from the hum made by its rapidly beating wings. In other languages, it is known as the “flower-kisser” (Portuguese) or “flying jewels” (Spanish). One of my favorite names for this bird is biulu, “what remains in the eye” (Mexican Zapotec). In other words, once you see a hummingbird, you’ll never forget it.

G. K. Chesterton wrote, “The world will never starve for want of wonders, but only for want of wonder.” The hummingbird is one of those wonders. What is so fascinating about these tiny creatures? Maybe it is their small size (averaging two to three inches) or the speed of their wings that can flap from 50 to 200 times per second.

G. K. Chesterton wrote, “The world will never starve for want of wonders, but only for want of wonder.”

We aren’t sure who wrote Psalm 104, but the psalmist was certainly captivated by nature’s beauty. After describing many of creation’s wonders, like the cedars of Lebanon and the wild donkeys, he sings, “May the Lord rejoice in his works” (v. 31). Then he prays, “May my meditation be pleasing to him” (v. 34).

Nature has plenty of things that can remain in the eye because of their beauty and perfection. How can we meditate on them and please God? We can observe, rejoice, and thank God as we contemplate His works and recapture the wonder.

Father, help me to reflect on the wonders of nature and meditate on them with thankfulness for all You have done!

Wonder leads to gratitude.

INSIGHT
Many of the psalms overflow with awe at the magnificence of our God and the world He created. Psalms 8 and 104 are two examples. To realize that we are loved by our Creator God who “wraps himself in light as with a garment” (104:2) and who “set [his] glory in the heavens” (8:1) can cause us, like the psalmist David, to wonder, “What is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them?” (v. 4). Yet Scripture repeatedly assures us that God does indeed love us!

In what ways—large or small—have you felt God’s love for you today?
  

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference.
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