Looking For God in 2022

“You chart the path ahead of me and tell me

when to stop and rest.

“Every moment you

know where I am.” Psalm 139:3

“The Lord says, “‘I will guide you along the

best pathway for your life. I will advise you

and watch over you.’” Psalm 32:8 

“Because of Christ, we have received an

inheritance from God, for He chose us from 

the beginning and all things happen just as 

He decided years ago.” Ephesians 1:11

“The Lord will work out His plans for my

life – for Your faithful love, O Lord, endures

forever. Don’t abandon me, for You made

me!” Psalm 138:8 

“Seek His will in all you do and He will

direct your paths.” Proverbs 3:6 

Prayer: Grant us wisdom, give us faith, increase our trust, and watch over us each day, Father, as we seek Your plan for our lives. May we follow You always. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scriptures For Today: - Psalm 139:3: Psalm 32:8; Ephesians 1:11; Psalm 138:8; Proverbs 3:6

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Some Final Words

Often what we find depends on what we look for. Here are a few things to look for in the days we will face in the year to come:

Look for God’s presence. When fear grips us or failure would defeat us, or if life’s challenges seem to be larger than we are, or the nights are longer than usual, remember, we are never alone if Jesus rules and reigns in our lives. He promised that “He will never leave us nor forsake us.” When life turns to shambles, He will wrap His loving arms around us and protect us because He is with us.

Look for God’s power. The psalmist said that “God is our refuge and strength.” Often we look to people for insights and advice when we are faced with difficult problems. But their solutions are never as good as the solutions that come from God. God is the greatest asset any Christian has but we must go to Him and draw from His strength and power.

Look for God’s provision. “My God shall supply all your needs.” Though we may fail Him, He will not fail us. Though we may fail to claim His promises, it does not mean they are not available. If we look to and trust in Him, He will not let us down.

Prayer: Father, we look to You in faith believing that You will meet our every need if we trust You. Lord, help our unbelief! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scriptures For Today: 1 Kings 8:56-58; Psalm 46:1-3; Philippians 4:19

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What To Expect in 2022

As we come to the close of this year and face the uncertainties that are before us in the year to come, it is important to pause, listen to, and accept a promise from our God:

“For I know the plans I have for you, says the LORD. They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.

“In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you search for me with all your heart, you will find me, declares the Lord.”

This is one of God’s if – then’s. There can be no misunderstanding of what He is talking about in this passage of Scripture. God knows our future. He very carefully designed it in our best interest to enable us to find and follow His will. Because He knows our future, He assures us that it can be one of goodness and hope – not one of disaster.

But if we want this future that contains goodness and hope, we must study His Word and go to Him in earnest prayer. He assures us that He will listen to us IF we search for Him with all of our hearts and THEN are obedient to and follow Him. IF we do this, THEN He will bless us. 

Perhaps we have prayed and even searched for Him in years past, but did not do so with all our heart. With God, it is always IF you obey me, THEN you can count on Me. 

Prayer: Lord, may we come to You this year with sincerity and singleness of heart to find Your plans. Give us Your courage to seek, find, and follow You in our lives. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scriptures For Today: Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. 

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Why Parents Matter

There is limited information in Scripture that describes the home life of Jesus. Every now and then we get a glimpse of something. But there can be little doubt that God and His teachings were at the center of everything.

We read that “Jesus kept increasing in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and man.” No doubt His knowledge of and reverence for the Law and Prophets shaped His life and His reverence and relationship with His Heavenly Father and others.

Luke’s Gospel tells us about a family trip to the temple. On the way home, they noticed that He was not with them. When they returned to the temple they found Him listening to and answering questions of the learned teachers. At the tender age of twelve Jesus demonstrated to others the deep understanding of God’s Word that obviously came from His parents.

Mary and Joseph realized that they were obligated to God for the welfare and wellbeing of His one and only Son. While He was waiting to begin His public ministry He listened to their teachings and followed their examples of godly living.

Parents can never overlook or underestimate the influence and impact they have on their children. Parents must follow the example of Joseph and Mary in raising their children.

Prayer: We pray, Father, that parents will realize the important gift of a child and the trust You place in them to raise them to know, love, trust, obey and serve You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: Luke 2:52 And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men. 

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Why Fathers Matter

We rarely think of Joseph when we speak of Mary and her son, Jesus. But Joseph was a very special individual as well.

In describing him, Matthew says that he was a “just” or “righteous” man. And, because of that, he was a “decent,” “fair” and “righteous” man. When he was faced with an incredibly difficult decision, an angel appeared and advised him to “go ahead with your marriage to Mary.”

Initially, Scripture informs us, “that not wanting to disgrace her, he planned to send her away.” He was well aware of the fact that stoning was the legal prescription for what people would think of Mary’s being pregnant without being married. If he took Mary to be his wife, he could be humiliated or ridiculed by those around him. But he chose to obey the command of the angel to marry her. As a “righteous” man he was also a “merciful” man, a man willing to listen to, hear from, and obey God. Joseph was a man of great character.

But there is more. Not only was he righteous, merciful, and obedient to the voice of God, but he was a man who was sensitive and discrete. Joseph was open to the voice of God and responded immediately when God spoke to him and protected the reputation and honor of Mary – thereby revealing he was a man of integrity.

Prayer: Lord, we pray for fathers everywhere who will strive to be like the earthly father of Your Son. We ask that You raise up men of integrity to honor You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today:  Matthew 1:18-25 Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly. 

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Why Mothers Matter

One of the most beautiful passages in Scripture is found in Luke’s Gospel. It is called “The Magnificat.” We have Mary proclaiming, “My soul magnifies the Lord.” The word “soul” is a special word and in Hebrew is used to reveal or describe a person’s entire identity. It is the very essence – or being or character or the “sum total” – of a person. In this one word, 

Mary reveals that all of her is committed to the Lord. The sum and substance of her life was to worship God in all of His Majesty!

If we want to study the smallest particle of God’s creation we put it under a microscope to magnify it. This enlarges, or expands, every detail of the particle so we can discover its intricacies, its subtleties, and its structure. Mary was determined to put God under her “microscope” so she could understand Him personally, intimately, and completely.

In her “song” she magnified her Lord – not her Son. Often we become overly concerned about the way our children look rather than what they look at. Not so with Mary. She recognized her responsibility as a mother and knew that if God were first in her life, He would be first in her child’s life. She had her priorities right.

God entrusted Mary with the Messiah because He was at the center of her life and knew that her Son would be nurtured in what matters most in the life of a child: knowing, understanding and following His will. 

Prayer: We ask, Lord, that all mothers everywhere will recognize the importance of being a mother and the trust You place in them to raise children to know You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: Luke 1:46-55 “My soul magnifies the Lord, And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior. For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant; For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed. 

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The Birth Of Jesus

“And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born. She gave birth to her first child, a son. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger because there was no lodging available for them.

“That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.”

Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others - the armies of heaven - praising God and saying,

‘Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.’

‘When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, “Let’s go to Bethlehem! Let’s see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.

‘They hurried to the village and found Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in the manger.” 

Prayer: We lift our hearts in praise this day, Lord of Life, for the birth of Your Son, our Savior. Our minds cannot comprehend, nor our hearts contain, the generosity of Your love, mercy, grace, love, and hope that we have because of the gift of Your one and only Son. Fill our hearts with unending gratitude for Your salvation. In Jesus Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: Luke 2:6-16 I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.” 

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Joseph's Dream

“…Mary, was engaged to be married to Joseph. But before the marriage took place, while she was still a virgin, she became pregnant through the power of the Holy Spirit. Joseph, her fiancĂ©, was a good man and did not want to disgrace her publicly, so he decided to break the engagement quietly.

As he considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. ‘Joseph, son of David,’ the angel said, ‘do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit. And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.’

All of this occurred to fulfill the Lord’s message through his prophet:

‘Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel, which means “God is with us.”’

When Joseph woke up, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded and took Mary as his wife.”

When the Lord calls us to do His work, and we are faithful and obedient to Him, great things happen!

Prayer: Father, when You call us to do Your work in Your world, may we accept the challenge, knowing that great things will happen that will bless us and others, and Your Name glorified. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: Matthew 1:18-24 For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit. And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.’ 

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The Angel's Visit To Mary

In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a village in Galilee, to a virgin named Mary. She was engaged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of King David. Gabriel appeared to her and said, “Greetings, favored woman! The Lord is with you!”

Confused and disturbed, Mary tried to think of what the angel could mean. “Don’t be afraid, Mary,” the angel told her, “for you have found favor with God! You will conceive and give birth to a son, and will name him Jesus. He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David. And he will reign over Israel forever; his Kingdom will never end!”

Mary asked the angel, “But how can this happen? I am a virgin.”

The angel replied, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the baby to be born will be holy, and He will be called the Son of God. What’s more, your relative Elizabeth has become pregnant in her old age! People used to say she was barren, but she’s now in her sixth month. For nothing is impossible with God.”

Mary responded, “I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true.” And though the angel left her, she was not alone.

Prayer: Thank You, Father, for Your presence and the peace and protection that is ours when we are obedient to Your voice. Give us Your courage to be faithful to Your plan to fulfill Your purpose for our lives. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: Luke 1:26-38 Don’t be afraid, Mary,” the angel told her, “for you have found favor with God! You will conceive and give birth to a son, and will name him Jesus. 

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Prophecies From Isaiah

“Therefore, the Lord Himself will give you a sign. Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call his name Immanuel – God with us!

“The people who walk in darkness

Will see a great light;

Those who live in a dark land,

The light will come to them.

For a child will be born to us, a

son given to us;

And the government will rest on

His shoulders!

And His name will be called:



Mighty God!

Eternal Father!

Prince of Peace!

There will be no end to the increase 

of His government or of His peace.

“The spirit of the LORD will rest on Him,

The spirit of wisdom and understanding.

The spirit of counsel and strength,

The spirit of knowledge and 

the fear of the Lord.”

Prayer: Thank You, God, for keeping Your word! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: Isaiah 7:14; Isaiah 9:2, 6-7; Isaiah 11:2-3

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Christ's Day

On Mother’s Day, we focus all of our attention on our Mothers, recalling and remembering how much they struggled to raise us. Lovingly we shower gifts on them, purchase cards that describe her many sacrifices for us, and the unending care she gave to us. She deserves all of the attention and recognition we can give her.

On Father’s Day, we turn our thoughts to “Dad” – what he has done for us and then express our gratitude to him for the time he spent with us. We recall his efforts to teach us to throw a ball, catch a pass, cast a fishing line or attend a special event. He, too, deserves all the attention and recognition we can give him.

We also give recognition and attention to our Grandparents, to brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles and friends and relatives on their special days.

But what will we do that is really special or unique to show our appreciation and gratitude for Jesus on His day this year?

Will there be an envelope under the tree with a special love-offering that recognizes His importance in our lives? Will it match the amount we gave others?

Will we sacrifice some of our time to show God’s love by being with those who would otherwise be alone and lonely on His day?

Will we share a meal with someone who is hungry? Give some clothes to those who are cold and have little? Spend time reading His story to children?

“In as much as you have done it to the least of these, you have done it unto Me!”

Prayer: Take Your peace from us Father, until and unless we show others Your love on Your day. Why? “In as much as you have done to others, you did to Me.” In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: Matthew 25:40 And the King will answer and say to them, “Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.” 

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The Joy That Comes From Christmas

A young run-away girl collapsed on the streets of a large city at the beginning of the Christmas season. She was rushed to a hospital, placed in intensive care, and finally made it to a room where she made slow progress in regaining her health.

One evening a group of carolers stopped by her room and sang the beautiful songs that describe the birth of Jesus. After they sang, a young lady approached her bed and asked if she knew the Baby that they had been singing about.

Quietly, barely above a whisper, she said, “I heard about Him when I went to Sunday school. But don’t remember too much about Him.”

The young lady reminded her of the story and the meaning of the birth of Jesus and the plan of salvation. When she heard the story, she accepted the Lord as her Savior.

Finally, it was time for her to leave and a nurse said, “Well, now that you’re better, it’s time for you to leave.”

Happily, she said, “Yes, but I’m not leaving alone. I’m taking Jesus with me. Do you know Jesus?”

“Oh, yes,” replied the nurse, in a grumpy voice.

“Well, then,” she asked, “why aren’t you filled with joy like I am? If you truly know Jesus, you’ll be happy all the time.”

David said, “Restore to me the joy of Your salvation!”

Prayer: Lord, sometimes we surrender our joy to the stress and strains of life. Come now and return the joy we once had when we accepted Christ as our Savior. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: Psalm 51:12 Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, And uphold me by Your generous Spirit.

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No Mistake

Walter came home from Sunday school with a question all over his face. “Mom,” he asked, “did the shepherds have washing machines where they kept their sheep?”

“Shepherds? Washing machines?” After a moment she said, “No, darling, they did not have washing machines. Why do you ask?”

“Well, Mrs. Mathis was reading the story of the birth of Jesus and she said, ‘While shepherds washed their socks that night...’ and I didn’t understand what was going on.”

While we often think of the shepherds in the field that night, the glory that appeared with the angel and the fear that gripped them, we seldom connect the shepherds in that field with the Good Shepherd. 

Jesus said, “I am the Good Shepherd” twice in John’s Gospel. In those statements, he summarized all of the prophetic images of His role as prophesier in the Old Testament. This declaration is a claim to His divinity as revealed in the Old Testament and focuses on His love, protection, and guidance of us – His lambs – in the New Testament.

But there is more. Not only is He our Shepherd but He chose to identify Himself as the “good shepherd” – and good is a term that carries with it nobility. It stands in sharp contrast to shepherds who were hired hands who worked and cared only for their own self-interests.

Prayer: We thank You, Lord, for loving us, for being our Good Shepherd and for laying down Your life for us. May we always follow You, our “Good Shepherd!” In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: Luke 2:8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 

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No Room, But...

The annual church Christmas program was rapidly approaching, and Mrs. Adams was assigning roles to the children in her Sunday school class. “Albert,” she said, “I’d like you to be the innkeeper this year.”

“No way, not me, absolutely not!” said Albert. “I’m not going to be the one who turned Mary and Joseph away from a good night’s rest.”

“Oh, please,” she begged. “I really need you to do this. We won’t be able to have the play without you,” she pleaded. Finally, he agreed.

On the night of the performance, Joseph went to the door and knocked. “Who’s there?” he asked.

“My name’s Joseph, and Mary and I need a place to sleep,” was the reply.

“I’m sorry,” he said politely. “We have no rooms available.” And then added kindly, “But if you’d like you can rest awhile, and I’ll get you some cookies and milk.”

There are many, like Albert, who would gladly give our Lord some “cookies and milk” but would never allow Him to come into their hearts and change their lives. It’s enjoyable to visit the manger, sing a few carols, read the story of His birth, and then exchange gifts. But to make Him a permanent resident? Not likely!

See Him now: Patiently standing. Gently knocking. Carefully listening. Waiting hopefully. Wanting desperately to save us and give us eternal life.

Prayer: We thank You, Father, for wanting to be our Savior and to fellowship with us. Come, dwell within us and make our hearts Your home. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: Revelation 3:20 Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.

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Never Quit!

“Don’t let this be you!” said a coach to his football team after a difficult loss. He was pointing to a picture of a player sitting in front of his locker. His helmet was between his feet. His elbows were on his knees and his head was between his hands with a look of sadness in his eyes. Under his helmet were the words, “I quit!”

As we look into the manger this Christmas, we can rejoice together and say, “Thank You, God, that You didn’t quit – that You never gave up!”

Whenever we think of the eternal love that God has for us, we often forget about the disappointments He must have endured. Imagine, if you can, what must have entered into His mind and heart when Adam and Eve rejected His plan and the path before them. Consider, if you will, the many agreements He made with people who promised to obey Him and then abandoned their word when they thought He was out of sight. We will never know the grief He suffered because of the hope He had that people would love Him and be obedient to Him.

But, He never gave up. He never quit. Finally, John wrote, “We have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son to be the Savior of the world!”

All of us have suffered many losses in life. None, however, can ever be compared to God’s losses. But He refused to give up even though it cost the life of His one and only Son.

Prayer: We thank You, Father, for Your unfailing love and determination to rescue us. We are overwhelmed when we think that You would sacrifice Your Son for us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: 1 John 4:14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son as Savior of the world.

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Christmas gifts generate great excitement and interest. After the presents are wrapped and placed under the tree, many people spend countless hours trying to figure out what might be on the inside. Sometimes the gifts are carefully shaken or lifted to see if the weight or size might give an indication about what the contents might be.

But when God gave us the first Christmas gift, its value was obvious. It was a gift of love that could not be measured or found outside of Him. It was a gift of mercy that only He could provide. And, it was a gift of grace that only God could give us through His Son.

God’s love is ultimately expressed in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. His love is the source of His mercy and grace, and it is because of His love that we have mercy and grace. It was because of His love for us that He gave His one and only Son so that whoever believes in Him will find His mercy and enjoy His grace and be with Him forever in eternity.

John says something very significant about this love. “If God loved us,” he says, “we ought to love one another.” His love does not end with our salvation and then begins with our obligation to share His love with others. It begins a pattern of self-sacrificing love that Christians must live by sharing His mercy and grace with others.

Prayer: Lord, we often forget how responsible we are to share Your gifts of love, mercy, and salvation with others. Give us no peace until we share Your gifts. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: 1 John 4:11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 

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Planning Ahead

It was the Sunday before Christmas and the teacher of the fifth-grade class was reviewing the details of the birth of Jesus. With carefully chosen words, she talked about the difficult journey to Bethlehem. Then she said with sadness, “And when they arrived, there was no room for them in the inn. Wasn’t that terrible?”

George, after thinking for a moment about the vacations his family had taken and the careful, detailed plans they made said without thinking, “Why didn’t Joseph make a reservation?”

There will be many around us during this holiday season who will make no room – no reservation – for Jesus to be with them this year. We often remind each other that “He’s the reason for the Season” but do not take time to explain to others what that “reason” is. We are quick to condemn those who want to take “Christ out of Christmas” but do not take time to plant the message of Christ in their minds and hearts at Christmas. We place the manger scene under the tree, cover it with presents and then wrap it back up and forget about His birth and its significance for another year.

Hanging next to Jesus on a cross was a thief who was dying for crimes he committed. In his final moments, he turned to Him and said, “Jesus, remember me.” And Jesus said, “I certainly will! Today you will be with me in paradise.” The best day to make your reservation to be with Him is this day if you have not done so. Don’t delay!

Prayer: Your Word, Lord, declares with certainty: “Today is the day of salvation.” May we take advantage of this day and not risk the uncertainties of life! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: Luke 2:1-7 And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger because there was no room for them in the inn. 

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Facing Fear With Facts

A bright light on a dark night would frighten most individuals if it was unexpected. How much more frightening would it be if an angel of the Lord suddenly appeared and God's glory lit up the area where sheep were quietly sleeping, and shepherds were watching them carefully and constantly to make certain that they were safe.

Sensing the fear of the shepherds, the angel said confidently, “Don’t be afraid of this Light!” The angel wanted to calm their pounding hearts. “I came with Good News. News that will bring great joy to everyone, everywhere who is willing to accept this Good News!”

How gracious is our God! The shepherds did what any of us would have done: react with apprehension and fear. Yet, God, in His love and mercy, first gave them His assurance that they were safe and then explained to them what had happened: “A Savior, Christ, who is the Anointed One, the One that you have been waiting for, even the LORD, has been born!”

There is a wonderful lesson here for each of us. Rarely do we get through any day without something unusual – sometimes a tragedy, perhaps a life-threatening or grief-producing event – invading our lives. It is normal and natural to react with fear when the unwelcomed comes.

But, as God said to the shepherds then and as He says to us every day, “Don’t be afraid. Good News awaits you. Your Savior is with you. Turn to Him in faith and He will save you!”

Prayer: How thankful we are, Father, to know that Your Son, our Savior, is with us every moment of every day. Calm our fears and bring peace to our hearts through Him. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: Luke 2:8-12 Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. 

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The Real Thing!

It has always been difficult for missionary families to be together at special times for important occasions. Often hearts ache for the joy and happiness that bonds hearts and unites loved ones for special reasons and seasons.

The headmaster of a school for the children of missionaries knew that feeling very well. His parents were missionaries, and he spent many birthdays alone as well as many holidays apart from family members. He knew that one of his students, in particular, was having a difficult time one Christmas and decided to visit him in his room.

After talking for a few minutes he asked, “John, what would you like for Christmas this year?”

Looking at a picture of his father on the wall, he said, “I would like my father to step out of that frame.”

That’s what Jesus did. He “stepped out” of the Old Testament “frames” that prophesied His coming. He became the “real thing” when he walked among the people, laid His hands on the sick, and restored them to health, fed the hungry with bread that would last throughout eternity, and gave the water of life to those dying of thirst.

The Son of God willingly and voluntarily made Himself “nothing” when He assumed a human body and a human nature and became the “real thing.” Jesus is God seeing us through human eyes, hearing us with human ears, touching lives with human hands, and loving us with a human heart. In Jesus, we see God with us – Immanuel! 

Prayer: Thank You, Father, for sending us the “Real Thing.” Through Your Son we know how much You love us, understand us, and know our every need. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: Philippians 2:5-11 Who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. 

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What Kind Of Day Will It Be?

As you look forward to Christmas, what special memories will you take from the day that will remain with you after it’s over? Will it be a “horrible day,” a “holiday” or a “holy day?”

For some, it will be a “horrible” day. It will be a day when families gather and feuds erupt, unwanted gifts are exchanged, stomachs are stuffed, alcohol generated hangovers will dull minds and memories, and promises to “never do this again” are made. Not ever!

Or, will it be a holiday? Families traveling many miles to get together to share problems and pains that brought them closer together, share joyous memories of special events that united them in love and laughter, introducing a new-born child or one who will soon be the next in-law uniting two “love-birds.”

Would it not be special, however, if we made it a “holy day?” A day of worship and praise, a day when we set aside time to share and emphasize the gift of our new birth through Christ?

Paul wrote some inspiring words about the gift of our new birth made possible because of the birth of Jesus. “You have clothed yourselves with a brand-new nature that is continually being renewed as you learn more and more about Christ, who created this new nature within you.”

This “new nature” means that it is possible for us to have a new life through His Son, our Savior, and the hope that one day we will be like Him and spend eternity with Him.

Prayer: We thank You, Lord, for the gift of Jesus Who gives us a new life and the promise of joy, peace, and presence that comes with the assurance of salvation. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: Colossians 3:10 Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him. 

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Where's Jesus' Present?

It was Christmas Eve. The tree was brightly decorated, the presents were wrapped with beautiful paper and colorful bows, the meal was over, and the family gathered together to read the Story of the Birth of Jesus, followed by a time of prayer. It was a family tradition.

"Now,” said Dad, “let each one of us say a prayer and I will end our prayer-time before we go to bed.”

After praying, Susie went to the tree and began to look at each present. She looked at the name on each of them very carefully. The family was curious but quiet.

Finally, Susie, looked at each member of the family and asked, “Where’s the present for Jesus? What are we giving Him this year?”

Stunned, the family sat in silence. No one had thought about a gift for Jesus.

Paul has a suggestion for the best gift we could give Christ this Christmas. Writing to the Romans he said, “And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies – your entire self – to God...be a living and holy sacrifice to Him – the kind He will accept.”

When we think of giving gifts this Christmas each of us would do well to think first of the gift God wants from us. We need to take Paul’s words seriously, and give the most valuable gift – the gift of ourselves – to God!

Prayer: Heavenly Father, trouble our hearts with the words of Paul this season, and carefully and prayerfully consider the gift You want most – surrendered lives! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: Romans 12:1I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. 

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Whose Party?

Competent! Outstanding! Careful! Friendly! Supportive! Bright! Cheerful! Caring! Gracious! And the list of words to describe Beth, the secretary to the president of the company, could go on and on. She was loved by everyone who knew her.

When it came time for her birthday one year, her co-workers decided to honor her with a lavish party. They rented a beautiful ballroom, hired the best caterer, designed a special cake, had special napkins with her name printed on them, and collected money to buy a gift.

All went well. The tables were beautifully set, the caterer was on time, the guests arrived, and there was excitement in the room. Everyone kept looking at the entrance awaiting the arrival of Beth. After waiting for fifteen minutes, the co-worker who organized the event said to Beth’s best friend, “Where is she?”

“I’m not sure,” she replied. “I’ll phone her.”

She did – and discovered that she was at her favorite sandwich shop enjoying her lunch - alone. No one thought to invite Beth to her own celebration!

There will be many parties this Christmas. And as usual, the Guest, Whose birthday we celebrate, will not be invited. Tables will be set, lights will blink, guests will arrive, laughter will ring out, gifts will be exchanged, everyone will have fun – but Jesus will not be present. No one will think to invite Him – the One who should be the main attraction.

Prayer: Lord of the season, may we place Your Son, our Savior, at the center of everything we do this Christmas. May we never forget, “It’s all about Him.” In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: Matthew 2:11 And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. 

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The Promise Of Peace

A professor stood before his class and boasted, "The Bible is false. It cannot be believed. It says, 'Peace and goodwill toward men.' History cannot account for a time when there were no wars!"

Disturbed, Arthur went to his pastor and related the incident. Calmly, his pastor said, "Art, that's not what the angels said. They said, 'Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace on earth among men with whom He is pleased.'"

Politicians speak of peace through treaties and boundaries, threats and sanctions, wars and rumors of wars. But that is not the peace that God speaks of in His Word. His Word speaks of a peace that comes through salvation and surrender to the Prince of Peace. It is a peace that comes from the new heart that He implants within us. It is a peace that Christians enjoy when we open the door to our hearts and allow Him to come in and rule our lives.

The peace that Scripture speaks of will never come from a non-peaceful source. It is a peace that comes through the risen Christ and has its source in God Himself.

We cannot find peace in a turbulent, war-torn world until we make peace with God through Jesus Christ. Only when we go to Him in humility and with faith, trust, and surrender, repent and ask for His forgiveness will He grant us His peace. 

Prayer: We pray, Father for Your peace – a peace that comes from the God of all comfort Who gives us His peace that assures us of His presence in our lives. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: Luke 2:13-14 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” 

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Can You See Him Now?

It was the very first Christmas that Jo Ann’s church had a Nativity scene on the front lawn. Working anxiously, she kept arranging, then rearranging, the figures to make certain they could all be seen.

Finally, she sent her friend, Alice, to the edge of the lawn and asked, “How do they look?”

“Fine, they are all O.K.,” came the answer.

Suddenly Jo Ann began to rearrange them once again. “What are you doing? I said they were fine,” said Alice grumpily.

“Yes, I heard what you said,” responded Jo Ann. “But I just want to make sure that Jesus is visible so all of the people can see Him!”

Often Santa gets more attention than our Savior does during these Holy Days. Children anxiously stand in line waiting their turn to ask for gifts and have their picture taken with him. Rarely, however, do children pose at the manger to have a picture taken with the Baby Jesus. Could it be that He is not visible to most people at Christmas? Do we make any effort at all to make Him visible? Is He lost in the pile of gifts? Is He hidden behind the tree? 

Matthew wrote about a group of shepherds who said, “Let’s go to Bethlehem...and see this wonderful thing that has happened which the Lord has told us about.”

This “wonderful thing,” Jesus, is what the world needs to see. Let’s be certain He is always visible – especially in our lives!

Prayer: Lord, may we not allow Your Son to be hidden or to be placed behind the “false idols” that so many worship at Christmas. May we make Him visible! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: Luke 2:15 So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, “Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.” 

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A Gift For Eternity

Timothy did well in his first semester at college. A sense of excitement was building in the family as the day approached when he would be home for Christmas. His mother wanted to make it a special event, one he would remember for years to come.

“Let’s give Timothy a wristwatch for Christmas,” she said. “He’s done so well and I want him to know how much we appreciate all of his hard work.”

“But,” protested his father, “what happened to that crush proof, waterproof, shockproof, scratchproof watch we gave him when he left for college?”

“He can’t find it,” said his mother.

In giving us the gift of His Son, God gave us Someone Who will be with us forever. A Gift that will be with us until the end of our lives and throughout eternity. An indestructible, unchanging, all-powerful, and ever-present Presence.

Jesus promised: “be sure of this – I am with you always and everywhere, even to the end of the age.”

Some would ask, “What does it mean that He will be with us? Did he not leave His disciples when He ascended into heaven?” No, He didn't.

When He left them physically, He sent the Holy Spirit to be His presence with them personally. We know He was called “Immanuel – God with us” when He was born. We know He is with us now through the Holy Spirit.

Prayer: It’s easy, Father, to lose sight of You and Your messages at this time of the year. But help us to pause, pray frequently and sense Your presence within us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: Matthew 28:20 Teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. 

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Never Mind, Santa...

Chris was sitting in Santa’s lap and going over a long list of presents that he wanted for Christmas. “I want a bicycle,” he said, “and I also want a wagon, a chemistry set, a telescope, an electric train, a football, a Kindle FIRE, and a pair of rollerblades.”

“That’s a long list,” said Santa. “I’ll have to check carefully to see if you were a good boy.” 

After thinking for a moment Chris said, “Don’t bother, Santa, I’ll just settle for the rollerblades.” Not many of us would be able to “pass” a really thorough investigation to discover if we were worthy of receiving a long list of gifts. We’d probably be like Chris and settle very quickly for very little. Nor would many of us want to have someone investigate our lives and then decide if we deserved a gift or not. We would be quite anxious – if not completely frightened. 

But God is so very different. He knows everything there is to know about us and still offers us the most precious gift He has: His Son.

“Now, no one is likely to die for a good person,” said Paul, “though someone might be willing to die for someone who is especially good. But God showed His great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.” Christ: the source of eternal life.

There you have it. It is not about whether or not we are good or deserving of eternal life through Him. It is because of God’s great love that we can have the gift of eternal life!

Prayer: May we realize during this season, our Father, the great Gift we have because of Your love. May Your Son be our main interest and attraction this year. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: Romans 5:5-11 Now, most people would not be willing to die for an upright person, though someone might perhaps be willing to die for a person who is especially good. But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. 

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How To Gain Understanding

James the Fifth of Scotland ruled his subjects quite differently than other rulers did. Historians say that he would often lay aside his royal robes, put on the clothes of an ordinary man, work as they worked and live as they lived. His disguise allowed him to move freely among his people without being recognized. 

He did this, we are told, to gain an understanding of their needs and problems, sorrows and difficulties. Then, when he returned to his throne, he would have a clearer insight of his subjects and was better able to rule over them with compassion and care.

That is what Jesus, the King of kings, did. He laid aside His glory. Paul writing of this said, “Though he was God, He did not demand and cling to His right as God. He made himself nothing, He took the humble position of a slave and appeared in human form!” 

It is common for most of us to be selfish and express our pride by “demanding our rights!” We want what we think is “rightfully” ours for any number of reasons. We believe that we have earned something or deserve something and therefore demand something!

But not Jesus. He laid aside every right that was rightfully His in order to serve others. As His followers, we are to live as He lived. We must develop an attitude of love and humility, and willingly and sacrificially, serve others as our Lord did!

Prayer: We thank You, Lord, for becoming like one of us and for going through everything that we go through. Knowing this enables us to know You do care. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: Psalm 2:5-8 I will declare the decree: The Lord has said to Me, ‘You are My Son, Today I have begotten You. Ask of Me, and I will give You The nations for Your inheritance, And the ends of the earth for Your possession. 

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"Love With Skin On It"

A young man, who grew up in a housing project, having little hope and few goods, heard an evangelist preaching “love” on a street corner. After listening for a few moments, he shouted to the preacher, “I’m sick and tired of you people talking about love. I want to see love. I want to feel love. I want to see love with some skin on it!”

That’s Christmas: “God’s love with skin on it.” 

Paul wrote, “For in Christ the fullness of God lives in a human body!” 

In Jesus, we see Someone bringing love to life – but a very special type of love. It is God’s love. We see this love coming to life when Jesus fed the hungry, gave sight to the blind, cleansed the lepers, healed the sick, offering water to a thirsty soul, calming the waves to relieve the fears of experienced fishermen, washing dirty feet, spending time with little children, teaching people the truth that brought meaning and purpose to their lives and finally hanging lifeless from a cross – abandoned and alone. 

Jesus is God loving through a human heart, healing with a human hand, walking on errands of mercy with human feet, showing love, grace and mercy to those who would do Him harm. 

Jesus is God loving the least, the last and the lost. In Jesus, God showed His love with “skin on it.”

Prayer: Help us, Father, to put Your “love in our skin” and take Your love to those in need. May we be as faithful in caring for others as You are in caring for us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: Colossians 2:9 For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.

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What Gift?

Joyce fell behind in her Christmas shopping and suddenly realized that she had neglected to purchase cards for her friends. Hurriedly, she ran to the “surprise” section of a large greeting card store and purchased 100 cards with a beautiful scene of a family gathered in front of a glowing fireplace enjoying its warmth.

Returning home she hastily signed each of the cards without reading the message. Several days later she was sitting with her husband reviewing the guest list for a family dinner. She decided to show him the card she had sent to their friends.

After looking at the picture, she opened the card and read the verse to Jason, her husband: “This card is sent to you to say, A lovely gift is on the way!” Quite a surprise!

God gave us a “star” to alert us that His “lovely gift” would be discovered in a manger – His son. All of the books of the Bible describe the Gift that He promised to send, tell us the reason for His gift, and what we can enjoy now and in the life to come because of His gift. 

But, as with every gift, there are two parts: one is the giver and the other is the receiver. An angel rejoiced and proclaimed: “For unto you is born this day in the city of David, a Savior which is Christ the Lord.” That is God the Giver, giving. And, John said, “As many as received Him...to them He gave life.” But that is our choice: the receiver - to accept God’s gift, His Son.

Prayer: We thank You, Father, for the Gift of life You provided for each of us in Your Son. May we accept Your Gift in faith believing, that He came to save us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: John 1:12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name. 

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What's In A Name?

Initially, He was named Jesus. Now we also call Him Christ. 

Jesus was the name given to Him when He was born. It means the same as the Jewish name, Joshua, which literally means God is salvation! So, the message that God sent to Joseph through His angels was, “You shall call Him ‘God is salvation’ for He shall save His people from their sins.” That name, Jesus, tells us all that we need to know because it reveals God’s plan and purpose: God will save humanity through His only begotten Son. 

Christ is more than a name. It is a title. It comes from the Greek word Christos, meaning “anointed” or “anointed one.” Its meaning is the same as the Hebrew word Messiah. John quoted Andrew in a conversation that he had with his brother Peter. Said Andrew, “We have found the Messiah (which translated means Christ).” So the terms Messiah and Christ are titles given to Jesus that assure us that He is the anointed one. Jesus is the One whom God anointed to fulfill the promises and prophecies of the Old Testament.

The name Jesus proves that He was human, lived life on our level and faced the same issues and problems that we face. But the title Christ assures us that this One, once called Jesus, can lift us up to God’s level because He is the One whom God anointed to be our Savior.

Prayer: We thank You, Lord, for what You did for us through Your Son, our Savior. We rejoice in Your love, mercy and grace that brought our salvation through Him. In Jesus’ Name, Amen. 

Scripture For Today: John 1:41 He first found his own brother Simon, and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which is translated, the Christ).

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"Are You Ready For Christmas?"

Hal and Matt, two longtime friends, accidentally met in a department store a few weeks before Christmas. They gave each other a forced smile – as if they were happy to see each other – but wished their meeting was under different circumstances.

“You know,” said Hal, “I’ve come to the conclusion that Christmas has become a wrap race.” 

“I agree,” replied Matt. “And I’ll tell you something else. I've finally discovered the real meaning of the word Yule.” 

“Oh,” responded Hal. “What is it? I'd like to know myself.”

“It’s my wife saying in a very convincing voice, ‘You’ll buy me this and then you’ll buy me that!’ I feel like I have no choice but to buy her whatever she asks for,” replied Matt. “Everything seems to be about things.” 

It would be a wise investment of our time this Christmas to try to imagine what God might have seen when He looked into the manger. Certainly it was more, much more, than a Baby. Did He see the crowds ridiculing and mocking His Son? Did He turn His head when He saw the “kiss of betrayal” from Judas? Was His mind troubled by the trial that unjustly condemned His Son? Did He weep when He saw Jesus hanging from the cross? Certainly. But let’s not forget to see the smile that was on His face and the peace that flooded into His heart when He saw the empty tomb. 

Prayer: Help us, Heavenly Father, to get ready for Christmas by seeing its sights and sounds through Your eyes. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: John 14:9 Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?”

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