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NUGGET Today's Devotional

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Re: NUGGET Today's Devotional

Post  Admin Yesterday at 3:54 pm

Welcome to the Nugget
November 23, 2017

God's Armour, Intro

By Answers2Prayer Subscribe Unsubscribe Devotionals Contact us
As we all know by personal experience, life is full of challenges. The Bible actually describes this quite vividly in the book of Isaiah: "When the enemy shall come in like a flood..." (Isaiah 59:19b KJV). I think we can all relate to this, for problems swamp us, negative circumstances engulf us, illnesses, both physical and mental, drown us, temptations overcome us...In fact, the Bible has yet another vivid metaphor for this: "Your enemy the devil, like a roaring lion, is on the prowl looking for someone to devour." (1 Peter 5:8 NET). 

Is it for naught that we are told to: "Resist the devil, and he will flee from you..." (James 4:7 NET)? That we are told to: "Resist him, strong in your faith..." (1 Peter 5:9 NET)?

But just how do you "resist the devil"?

As with any battle, it is important that we first be properly clothed and armed. Going into any battle without the proper gear would be like getting caught in a thunderstorm without a raincoat, boots or umbrella. It would be like trying to cross the busy street without a crossing guard or a crosswalk, or to cross the Atlantic without a boat or a submarine. It would be like trying to fly to India without an airplane! 

But what kind of "gear" are we talking about here? I mean, since our worst struggles are: "...but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens...." (Eph. 6:12 NET), then it makes sense that any human guns, shields and protective clothing will not help us. This is why we are told very clearly to: "...Clothe yourselves with the full armor of God so that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil." (Eph. 6:11 NET)

Friends, putting on this armour of God is vital to overcoming; it is to resisting the devil and standing strong in the storm; and it is vital to going coming through trials, illness, addictions and circumstances victorious.

Just what is this "armour" that can make us strong and give us victory over the enemy? What protection will help us to stand strong through the trials that beat and bash at our door? What defense will cause us to triumph over temptation, physical and mental illnesses and addictions? 

The Bible outlines this for us as well: "Stand firm therefore, by fastening the belt of truth around your waist, by putting on the breastplate of righteousness, by fitting your feet with the preparation that comes from the good news of peace, and in all of this, by taking up the shield of faith with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God." (Eph. 6:14-17 NET)

With the Christmas season nearly upon us, it is fitting to mention that the protection we need is actually part of God's precious Christmas present to us. When Jesus came to this earth as a tiny baby, not only did He come to pay the price of our sin and ensure that anyone who accepts His gift will have eternal life with Him, but it was also to give us direct access to wisdom, to healing, to joy and peace, to help in times of trouble, to friendship with God and to liberty from bondage (See Isaiah 9:6, 11:2). Perhaps, however, the most priceless part of this wonderful "Christmas Gift" through the birth of Jesus Christ is that God also gives us direct access to protection and strength for overcoming the traps of the enemy (See 1 John 5:4; 1 Cor. 15:57).

More than anything else, my wish for each of us is that we truly experience Jesus--throughout the upcoming Christmas season and New Year, and throughout the rest of our lives. I pray that we will fully focus on the many aspects of His wonderful gift for us and that we will know who we are in Him and what it means to give ourselves completely to Him. Let's all resolve to go through our lives fully protected, so that after the trials and temptations, after the illnesses and the attacks on our lives and families, we will truly be standing even stronger than ever before. 

But wait a minute. What does it actually mean to "clothe" ourselves with the "full armour of God"? The articles of clothing we are told to don are not exactly common...

Please join us for the next two weeks as we take a close look at each these pieces and how we are to go about donning them.

In His love,
Lyn

Lynona Gordon Chaffart, Speech-Language Pathologist, mother of two, Author -- "Aboard God's Train -- A Journey With God Through the Valley of Cancer", Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, and Scriptural Nuggets, a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, with Answers2Prayer Ministries. Follow Lyn on Twitter @lynchaffart.

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Re: NUGGET Today's Devotional

Post  Admin on Sat 18 Nov 2017, 11:23 pm

Welcome to the Nugget

November 18, 2017

When God Seems so Far Away...

By Answers2Prayer
I can't believe hubby had the nerve to do what he did! He sat among executives around a large conference table for their weekly meeting. They all took turns sharing a bit of news about their life and family.

"Well," hubby said, "this weekend Janet and I split up."

Gasps spread around the room. They all know we've been happily married over 40 years.

Then he followed by saying: "Yep, I went to California, she went to Titusville and we both came home on Sunday."

Funny guy, isn't he?

But whether a joke or not, separation is devastating. I know firsthand. Years ago, sorrow had separated me from God. My sudden blindness at age 30 and the death of my youngest son pushed me far away from Him.

Drained by my heartache, I didn't sense Him near. I didn't hear His comfort or even felt that He cared.

Have you been there? Although our mind wants to believe, our heart refuses. And though we know God exists, His comfort seems distant.

What joy to write this for you. My fingers are dancing on the keyboard as a result of the peace that fills my soul. Here's the reason: Jesus said: "I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing." (John 15:5)

He had His place. And I had mine. He claimed His role and named mine, too. When my foolish notion of finding answers on my own faded, peace came back, joy was born and freedom from sorrow swept through.

Father, I praise you because we don't have to face this life alone. Thank you for promising we'll bear fruit, find refuge, have a new beginning, and live with victory united with you. In Jesus' name, amen.

What are you trying to accomplish on your own?

Janet

Janet Eckles

If this message resonated with you, please visit Janet's cyberspace home for more inspiration.
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Answers2Prayer ministries is offering a series of non-denominational bible studies called "Getting to Know Him". These consist of three in-depths studies:1. Can you believe the New Testament?Discover how reliable the New Testament books are. The verdict will be yours to make!2. Jesus, a Fraud, a Lunatic or the Messiah?Who was Jesus Christ? Were His claims true? Was He really who He said he was? Is there anyway to verify who He truly was? Who do YOU think Jesus really was? Was He a liar, pretending to be someone that He truly was not? Was He a lunatic, truly believing He was someone that He was not and deserving to be locked up in an institute? Or was He the one He proclaimed Himself to be?3. Basking in God's Unfailing Love, An Open Invitation to Experience God Personally To a world gone mad, trying to get to know Jesus may seem foolish. However if you give Him a try, you will desire to get to know Him more and more at the deepest level possible. His relationship with you will be more precious compared to any other human relationships out there. Enjoy getting to know Him.These Bible studies are available on the Net. Subscription is free.These studies are also available via email, for those who do not have web access. If interested, please let us know by sending us an email.Come and discover the wonderful purposes Jesus has for you. Enjoy!
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Re: NUGGET Today's Devotional

Post  Admin on Fri 17 Nov 2017, 7:59 pm

Welcome to the Nugget
November 16, 2017
How Old are You?
By Answers2Prayer
"And I commend joy, for man has nothing better under the sun but to eat and drink and be joyful, for this will go with him in his toil through the days of his life that God has given him under the sun." (Eccl 8:15)

I have another birthday coming up soon. With the card, cake, present and hugs will, of course, come the inevitable question, "How old are you?" I have gotten to the point now where I can honestly say, "I'm not sure." This body of mine is going to be 50 years old. This vehicle that carries around my soul will have been here half a century soon. Parts of it look younger and other parts of it feel older. My energy level has certainly gone to the dogs. Some of the time I feel like my two month old puppy who is chewing on my toes right now. Some of the time I feel like my twelve year old beagle who is napping by the fan. Mentally my age varies too. In some things I feel like a wise old sage. In other areas I feel like a first grader. Emotionally there are times when I feel like a five year old playing in the sunshine. There are other times when I feel like a nineteen year old looking forward to the rest of my life. There are still other times when I feel like a ninety nine year old wondering where all the years have gone. Spiritually it is just as confusing. I feel like the eternal soul that I truly am. Yet, that eternal soul is also forever young.

From now on then I am just going to live each day with all of the love, laughter, and joy that I possibly can and let the years take care of themselves. After all, it isn't the number of years you live that matters. It is how you live them. For all of us here the longest life is too brief. Why then should we waste a single moment not living our lives to the fullest? Why should we pass up a single opportunity to love, to share, to help, to care, to smile, to pray, to laugh, to sing, to dance, or to be kind?

How "old" are you? Are you the slowly aging body you see in the mirror or are you the forever young soul within it? Are you a collection of wrinkles and gray hairs that will one day turn to dust or are you a Child of God meant for an eternity of love?

Joseph J. Mazzella

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©️Copyright 2011 Answers2Prayer | Matt 10:8 "Freely you have received, freely give."
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Re: NUGGET Today's Devotional

Post  Admin on Tue 14 Nov 2017, 10:57 pm

Welcome to the Nugget

November 14, 2017
The Trails, Part 2: The Better Road
By Answers2Prayer

Our recent trip to Spain was highlighted by a fair amount of hiking, one of my personal favorite activities. A pattern began to emerge, however, as our trip progressed.

It began on day two, when we decided to hike down to a lovely little cove on the Mediterranean coast: Cala Pola. Initially we couldn't find the place, but after several attempts at getting directions with our limited (Okay, let's be honest...our "non-existent") Spanish, we ended up in a parking lot at the head of a rather perilous-looking trail.

Being half mountain goat by nature -- or so says my husband -- I hopped on down without a thought. He, on the other hand, wasn't quite so enthusiastic; but with lots of help from trees, boulders and his wife, he made it down without incident, and after about half a kilometer, we came to a dirt road that continued to wind its way gradually and safely to the beach below.

Interestingly, the dirt road didn't begin where we had joined it, and on our way back to the car, we decided to follow it instead of trying to take the perilous path we had hiked on our way down. We were pleasantly surprised to find it brought us within about 100 meters of our car.

Why hadn't we taken that road in the first place?

The answer is simple: I started down the first path I saw, and my husband followed. We never even looked to see if there was an easier way.

A few days later, we found ourselves hiking around Las Medulas, an ancient Roman gold mine in northern Spain. We thoroughly enjoyed seeing the beautiful rock sculptures left behind by the mining operations from the bottom of the cliffs, but we wanted more. We wanted to explore the mines from the top, and when a trail leading upwards presented itself, we turned off the wide, smooth path in favor of a narrow, steep, slippery one that led towards the top of a particularly beautiful formation.

We climbed for a good 30 minutes before it began to dawn on us that what goes up must also come down. If we were slipping and sliding so badly in the upward direction, it would be far worse on the descent. Since there was no evidence that there was any easier way back to the path below, we turned around and very carefully made our way down that hazardous trail. The descent was so bad that even I was a bit nervous; but praise be to God, there were no injuries. After a few more moments of walking, however, along that wide, level path at the bottom, we discovered a much safer way to arrive -- not at the top of one of the Medulas, but at the top of four.

As we returned to the car from our Las Medulas hike, I began to think about how our hiking trails are very much like the rocky paths we are often required to take in life. Illnesses come; spouses leave; death happens; children rebel; financial problems arrive; jobs are lost...And we have no choice but to walk these paths. Last Saturday, in The Trails, Part 1, we talked about how the more difficult path is often the one that will build our strength of character and sharpen our patience, our endurance and our resilience. But what if there were an easier way to arrive at the same destination, a better way that we are simply overlooking?

Jesus says, "I am the Way" (John 14:6 NLT). He also says, "Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light." (Matt 11:28-30 NLT)

When we choose to rely on Jesus through the troubled times, He promises us rest. He promises to "yoke" Himself to us and take the majority of the pull. He promises that the road will be "easy to bear" and "light".

No, we don't choose to trod the valleys of life, but when we are forced onto them, let's remember two important things: 1) The hard times help us build character; and perhaps even more importantly, 2) Jesus is there to help us through, to make our road "easy" and "light". All we have to do is choose the "easier" way, the way that allows Him to carry us through.

In His love,
Lyn

Lynona Gordon Chaffart, Speech-Language Pathologist, mother of two, Author -- "Aboard God's Train -- A Journey With God Through the Valley of Cancer", Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, and Scriptural Nuggets, a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, with Answers2Prayer Ministries. Follow Lyn on Twitter @lynchaffart.

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©️Copyright 2011 Answers2Prayer | Matt 10:8 "Freely you have received, freely give."
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Re: NUGGET Today's Devotional

Post  Admin on Wed 08 Nov 2017, 12:00 am

Welcome to the Nugget

November 7, 2017

Prayers off the Ceiling

By Answers2Prayer
I'd like to start by asking you a question. This is more to assure myself that I'm not alone in the pursuit of a picture-perfect prayer life. So here it is...

Do you ever wonder if your prayers simply bounce off the ceiling? Or maybe God's wearing 'prayer cancelling headphones' and isn't tuning into your petitions? I'm hopeful that your head is bobbing up and down right now, not because I'm happy you might also periodically struggle with your prayer life, but because as a believer in Jesus Christ, I'm comforted by the fact I'm not alone!

I believe unwavering faith is an attribute we all crave. That when we pray, it's a done deal! When I pray, I envision myself placing burdens down at the foot of the cross and then backing away to leave God to handle the mess. I hunger for the unwavering certainty that He hears everything, and according to His purpose and plan for my life, He will act upon those requests. So if God's ears are tuned in as the bible assures us... "This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us." (1 John 5:14 NIV)...why does it sometimes feel like the ceiling blocks any outgoing transmissions?

Here's my theory; Prayer can be both gratifying and exhausting, and when God takes His time to respond to our troubled hearts or things escalate beyond our comfort zone, the air in our tire of faith can rapidly deflate and we're left feeling empty and discouraged. Prayers that go unanswered can be a tough pill to swallow.

I'll toss you an example from my personal prayer crisis memoirs: One evening when things seemed rather bleak, I dropped to my knees and asked God to intervene on several fronts, "Therefore I want the men everywhere to pray, lifting up holy hands without anger or disputing." (1 Timothy 2:8 NIV)

Looking back, I realize I was honoring the first part of this verse, but in all honesty, my heart wasn't without anger or dispute! It felt more and more like my prayers were ricocheting off the ceiling and going no further. God was being silent and I felt very alone in my escalating tribulations. Have you ever felt that way? I sense more nods.

My wife was dealing with significant health issues and I had just discovered my employer was shutting down operations. My job ended. So as I often do when the trouble ensues, my knees hit the carpet and my hands lift up to appease my angst. It was then I felt water absorbing into the fabric of my jeans! I froze, my immediate thought being that God was anointing my knees with holy water because of my faithfulness to pray! That was wishful thinking!

I knew right then our water lines had sprung a leak somewhere behind the walls and that my prayer time was over. "How could you do this to me God?" I asked. "I was being faithful in prayer. I was looking for divine intervention and all I ended up with was another massive headache and untimely renovation bill!" Feeling sorry for me yet?

Despite a failed attempt at successfully leaving my troubles at the Lord's feet, my wife gently reminded me that had I not knelt in prayer, I might well have missed the soggy carpet underlay in the first place and things could have been worse. I gather you've heard the expression, God moves in mysterious ways? Seems that might have been case here. God reminds us, "'For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,' declares the Lord." (Isaiah 55:8 NIV) Point for you Lord!

When I thought my prayers were going only as far as the stipple on the ceiling, God had something else to show me. That's how it is sometimes. When you're in the midst of crisis and God appears un-involved, I can assure you He's working in the background and will turn everything for good. "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." (Romans 8:28 NIV)

As I look back upon my life, there have been times when it felt as though my prayers were ineffectual. That what I specifically prayed for resulted in the exact opposite. But in time, I realize God was there all along. He loves me enough to turn all my worries, heartaches and disappointments into something good, something useful for His purposes. Our job is to keep at prayer and abide in patience.

Though it may not always seem this way, our faith grows as we flounder amidst sunless valleys. And it's then God says to us, "for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you." (Deuteronomy 31:6 NIV) Amen to that!

I assure you God hears prayers beyond the confines of a ceiling. It may take some time before you see His master plan, but we can say in confidence, "I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears." (Psalm 34:4 NIV)

As a final word, I'll offer you this reminder. God loves you and is interested in everything that concerns you. But the next time you drop to your knees in prayer, be sure to check for water first!

Paul Smyth

Announcement:

The easy path or the hard climb: Which do you prefer? Please join us on Saturday for Part 1 of a 2-part mini-series designed to help us see that sometimes the easy road isn't always the best: "The Trails", a mini-series by Lynona Gordon Chaffart
©️Copyright 2011 Answers2Prayer | Matt 10:8 "Freely you have received, freely give."

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Re: NUGGET Today's Devotional

Post  Admin on Tue 31 Oct 2017, 8:28 pm

Welcome to the Nugget
October 31, 2017

Of Motion, Reformation and Celebration! Part 3
By Answers2Prayer

Today we come to the concluding part of the series whose purpose is to cast the spotlight on the significance of progression (and the principal cause behind it) in the spiritual realm, even while tracing the history of the Church (in brief) till the Reformation movement of the 16th century.
Reformation...

We can fully appreciate the significance of reformation only if we fully grasp to what depraved depths the Church had plummeted in the "Dark age". Power corrupts, and Popes, Bishops, etc. were sadly no exception to this truth. Somehow, just as our Lord had prophesied that in the good field the Devil would one day plant tares (See Matt 13:24-25), the enemy number 1 got his men into key positions, and spiritual malaise infected and then spread in the once "pure" Body of Christ (refined by persecutions) like never before.

Non-Biblical practices (I say this with utmost love and concern for my fellow dear Brothers and Sisters who have been misguided) began, such as:

a) The worship of Mary. She came to be seen as the "divine mediator", in blatant violation of Scriptures: "For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus…" (1 Tim. 2:5 ESV). Remember that Jesus Himself said, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me." (John 14:6 ESV). Some apologists even today try to present Luther himself as Mary worshipper. A proper, analytical study of his works, however, clearly points to the contrary.

b) Selling of Indulgences, meaning that a person who has committed a sin can go and "buy" his forgiveness from the Pope by shelling out some money. This is also in gross violation of Scriptures, which state that the Blood of Christ alone atones for sin: "He himself is the sacrifice that atones for our sins--and not only our sins but the sins of all the world." (1 John 2:2 NLT. See also 1 John 1:7).

c) Prohibition of Scripture-reading amongst the Laity, in stark contrast to the Scriptural mandate that Scriptures should not only be read, but also memorised and medidated upon, by both Clergy and Laity: "but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night." (Psalm 1:2 ESV. See also Ps. 119:11).

d) Climbing 28 steps of what is known as the St. Helena's or Scala Sancta staircase on knees to "win over" God's favour (St. Helena the Mother of Emperor Constantine had shipped this structure from Jerusalem to Rome. It is believed that this staircase bears the marks of blood which had oozed out of the Saviour's head as he, wearing a crown of thorns, had climbed these steps to stand in his trial before Pontius Pilate -- See John 19:1-5). The assumption that this one-time act of scaling the steps on one's knees would "win-over" God's favour by way of temporary withdrawal of the Divine punishment for the sins committed (plenary indulgence and all that) is in stark contrast of the Scriptural mandate that a life-long walk of faith alone would please God: "but my righteous one shall live by faith, and if he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him." (Heb. 10:38 ESV. See also Hab. 2:4, Romans 1:17)

It is said that only when Martin Luther himself was performing this unbiblical ritual of scaling St. Helena's steps that he received a divine revelation that these practices do not lead a man to right relationship with God; but rather, that, "…the just shall live by faith." (Rom. 1:17 KJV). It was this revelation which triggered the Reformation movement, of which all of us are beneficiaries.

It must be noted here that while due credit needs to be accorded to Martin Luther for initiating the Reformation, there were other fully committed, sincere Christian leaders at that time like William Tyndale, John Calvin, Thomas Cranmer, Menno Simmons, et al, who also "put their shoulders to the wheel" so to speak, in their own inimitable ways, to take the Reformation movement forward. How these inspired souls weathered the consequent persecution that followed from the powerful church constitutes yet another shining chapter of the Reformation history. More about it...some other time...even while we remain riveted to the subject (events leading to Reformation) in hand.


Celebration...

Yes, since all of us who constitute the "Body of Christ" are beneficiaries of this monumental Reformation movement that led the then "Body of Christ" from "darkness to light", we need to celebrate with much thanksgiving that Landmark day, 31st October, 1517, when that great German Reformer nailed his 95 theses on the door of the All Saints Church in Wittenberg, Germany.

To put it in a nutshell, his 95 Theses contained a sound Biblical argument as to why the non-biblical practices, such as the ones I had outlined above, are "far off the mark" scripturally when it comes to pleasing the Lord. Just imagine still being under the yoke of those rituals. It is scary, to say the least, to think that there are those still doing this in 2017. Yes, we all need to be profusely thankful for the Reformation which removed some of the "spiritually debilitating unnecessary, paralysing weight" off our shoulders.

The Protestant Church itself, even after enduring for some time the "rough weather" of Papal persecution, would in due course become "complacent and sickly" when persecutions ceased! Enter the likes of Jonanthan Edwards, Wesley Brothers to set right the matters...well...that's a different story altogether...

Meanwhile, let's celebrate with much thanksgiving the 500th year of the birth of the Reformation movement on 31st October 2017. Hallelujah!

Prayer: Father, like in Israeli history, in Church history too, You have from time to time used great Reformers to bring back Your wayward people onto the right track. We praise and thank You for the Reformation movement of the 16th Century, thanks to which, we are possessors of sound doctrine today...applying which would please Thee. If there is any waywardness in us today, Father reform us. We are open to Thy correction. In Jesus' Name. Amen.

Suresh Manoharan
An unworthy servant
J and SM Ministries
Announcement:

Good news!

"Aboard God's Train", the personal testimony of my walk with God through the valley of cancer in 2012, has been published and is now available for purchase in North America through Gospel Folio Press and for worldwide sales, through Sable Publishing House.

May God bless each of you abundantly as you continue to draw closer to Him through the trials of your life!

Lyn Chaffart, Moderator, The Nugget
©️Copyright 2011 Answers2Prayer | Matt 10:8 ...Freely you have received, freely give....
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Re: NUGGET Today's Devotional

Post  Admin on Sun 29 Oct 2017, 12:19 am


Welcome to the Nugget
October 28, 2017

Of Motion, Reformation and Celebration! Part 2
By Answers2Prayer
Friends, you would remember that in this 3 part Series, yours truly had said that he would endeavour to cast the spotlight on the significance of, as well as the principal cause behind progression in the spiritual realm, even while briefly tracing the history of the Church until the Reformation movement of the 16th century.

While coming now to church history in this penultimate part of the series, let it be told at this stage that until the Reformation, the history of the church can broadly be divided into the following ages...so here goes...let's hit the rewind button...


Recollection...

1. The Apostolic Church Age (AD 30 to AD 100): A period ranging from the Birth of the Church on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2) to 100 AD, when the last of the Apostles, namely John the Beloved (John 21:20), died. Yes, persecution was rampant during this age, especially during the rule of Roman Emperors such as Nero and Domitian; however, this age is not clubbed with the name "Persecution age", mainly in deference to the Apostles (rightly called the Foundation of the Church -- See Eph 2:20) who lived during that time. I reiterate that it is because the apostles needed to be given "Pride of place" (rightly so) in Church History that this age was thus called and not clubbed with the following "Persecutions age".

2. The Persecuted Church Age (AD 100 to AD 313 AD): From the death of Apostle John to the "conversion" of Roman Emperor Constantine to Christianity. In the interim period, when persecution was severe during the reigns of other Roman Emperors like Marcus Aurelius, Trajan Decius, and Publius Valerian...the church was flourishing spiritually, and the Law of Spiritual progression (I began my essay with the same) was very much in operation. We should remember that persecution also always separates "the wheat from the chaff". Only the genuine Children of God hang on to the Lord, irrespective of the consequences, whereas others are "swept away". From our Heavenly Father's perspective, a church faithfully enduring persecution would appear to be "pure gold": Nothing more, nothing less and nothing else!!

3. The Imperial Church Age (AD 313 to AD 476): With the Roman Empire itself turning into a Patron Saint from being a Persecutor, courtesy the conversion of Emperor Constantine, the Church had "unwelcome visitors". These were the souls who wanted to embrace Christianity just because they wanted to identify themselves with the "faith of the Emperor" and not because of any new found love for the Saviour. These folks, inside the Church without a genuine born-again experience (Acts 2:37-41), were bound to be more of a liability than an asset. What harm the Devil couldn't inflict upon the "Body of Christ" from "far outside", he could now do from much "closer quarters".

4. The Medieval Church Age (476 AD to 1517 AD): The age of "Bye bye persecutions...Hello complacency". With refining persecutions out of the way, complacency was bound to creep in. Soon the Church lapsed into what is now known as the "detestable Dark Age". Just like King David, who, at the peak time of Israeli military might, drifted into "idiocy of indolence" (he wouldn't go to war with his soldiers -- See 2 Sam 12--which paved the way for his hideous sins soon after). Oh, how spiritually vibrant he had been when he had to be on his toes both physically and spiritually, as it were, whilst encountering persecutions wrought by his enemy King Saul!

Prayer: Father, in thy Sovereign, infinite wisdom, permit all that is needed in our lives to keep us spiritually alert. In Jesus' name, Amen.

Suresh Manoharan
An unworthy servant
J and SM Ministries
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Re: NUGGET Today's Devotional

Post  Admin on Thu 26 Oct 2017, 3:19 pm

Welcome to the Nugget
October 26, 2017
Of Motion, Reformation and Celebration! Part 1

By Answers2Prayer
"Stagnation is self-abdication," said a wise Philosopher. Humans were made for "going places" literally and figuratively speaking in both physical and spiritual realms rather than "rotting" at one place (Gen 1:27-28/Gen 9:7, Acts 1:8).

In this 3 part series, yours truly would endeavour to cast the spotlight on the significance of, as well as the principal cause behind progression in the spiritual realm, even while briefly tracing the history of the Church until the Reformation movement of the 16th century.


Motion...

"But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth." (Acts 1:8)

The Fundamental Law of Motion, designed by the all-wise God and discovered and revealed to us by Sir Issac Newton, says that we move forward whilst walking or running, not just by exerting the force on earth with our feet by ourselves, but also by the propulsive force which the earth exerts in return when we first exert force on it. How true in the spiritual realm as well! Simply put, the act of gospel advancement by the spiritually vibrant Christians of the First century AD was always countered by the resisting forces of evil. Nonetheless, this actually resulted in furtherance of God-honoring work. Simply put the gospel advancement has essentially been through the ages, "a fight between the liberating truth on one side and the lies of the Devil on the other." How often in Christian history have we not witnessed persecution; however, it may not have registered on many that these persecutions prima-facie exerting pressure in the opposite direction to the gospel advancement had actually induced further beneficial growth of:

a) the church at large, as the scattered Christians came out of the their "comfort zone" of Jerusalem thanks to persecution, and went about preaching the Gospel everywhere (See Acts 8:4).

b) Building up the character of the persecuted ones (Romans 5:3-4/ James 1:2-4), making them "move forward", as it were spiritually. Truth be told, minus the persecutions (the scope of which is also controlled by the infinitely Wise God -- see 1 Cor 10:13), the Apostle Paul, as well as the genuine Christians of different stages of Church history, would not have grown as much in Christ-like qualities like meekness, gentleness and exemplary patience as would be desired by our Master.

Prayer: Father, keep us on our toes always lest any needless complacency starts creeping in. In Jesus' Name. Amen.

Suresh Manoharan
An unworthy servant
J and SM Ministries
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On October 31 of this year, protestantism will celebrate its 500th anniversary. What lessons can we learn from this monumental day? Join us on Saturday, along with Tuesday of the following week, for "Reformation!" A Mini-Series by Suresh Manoharan.
©️Copyright 2011 Answers2Prayer | Matt 10:8 ...Freely you have received, freely give....

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Re: NUGGET Today's Devotional

Post  Admin on Sat 07 Oct 2017, 7:03 pm

Welcome to the Nugget

October 7, 2017

CATHEDRALS!

Lessons on Being Supportive, Part 3: Gaudi's Crypt



By Answers2Prayer Subscribe Unsubscribe Devotionals Contact us Last Thursday, in "CATHEDRALS! Part 2", we learned three things from the construction of the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona: 1) We must do everything in our power to teach those we wish to support to be self-supportive by introducing them to the Source of true strength and support: Jesus Christ; 2) We must make a habit of building relationships, listening and loving unconditionally and unselfishly...not just when crisis arises, but all the time; And finally, 3) We can look to the example of God, the ultimate Father, to see that being supportive means being there for them...when it is requested!

But what if they refuse our help? How we sit back and watch while those we care about make the wrong decisions, decisions we know are not for their ultimate good, decisions that may result in harm to others?

God had an answer for me...in an unfinished cathedral!

Not all of the works of Antoni Gaudi, the famous Spanish architect and designer of the Sagrada Familia, were completed. Perhaps the most famous example of his uncompleted work can be found in a small hamlet outside of Barcelona, Colonia Guell...

The town itself was constructed around a textile factory, and company owner, Eusebio Guell, worked hard to ensure the social conditions of his workers was optimized by providing funding for cultural and religious facilities. He entrusted Antoni Gaudi with the design of the town's church.

Gaudi considered this project to be a culminating point of his work, and its construction was to include practically all his architectural innovations. His design foresaw a two-level structure with a lower crypt and the main sanctuary above, and he planned to top the project with towers and a 40 meter central dome. Unfortunately for Gaudi, he had only completed the walls and the interior of the lower crypt when the Guell family stopped financing the venture, and without financial support, Gaudi's work on the cathedral came to a screeching halt. A few years later, another architect put a flat roof on the uncompleted structure, and the church has popularly become known as "Gaudi's Crypt".

Just imagine how hard it must have been for Gaudi to abandon this culmination of his life's work. He knew the church would never be completed, and he lived to witness the flat, ordinary top that was put on his magnificent creation. How his heart must have ached for what could have been.... Yet when his assistance was no longer requested, he had no choice but to abandon the project.

This is the lesson we can learn from Gaudi's Crypt: When our support is no longer requested, we must let go!

But if we truly love someone, how can we just leave them to make bad decisions?

Again we must look to God our Father as our ultimate example. The Bible tells us that God created man in His image: "Let us make humankind in our image, after our likeness, so they may rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move6 on the earth." (Gen. 1:26 NET).

Notice that God specifies here that man would rule over everything on the Earth. This means that we were created to be in charge, to make our own decisions.

We also know that God placed the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil in the midst of the Garden of Eden and told Adam and Eve not to touch it: "Then the LORD God commanded the man, 'You may freely eat fruit from every tree of the orchard, but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will surely die.'" (Genesis 2:16-17 NET).

Let's also remember that God did not stop Adam and Eve from making the most horrible decision of eternity, one that would affect all of mankind and ultimately result in Jesus' death on the cross. Why? Because He was giving them the choice to obey or to disobey Him. He created us to be free, to make decisions, to choose between good and evil. If He hadn't given us this power, we would essentially be robots, doing only what we are programmed to do.

In the same way, those we wish to support are also creations of God, and God has also given them the freedom to choose. Just as it was not God's place to intervene with Adam and Eve, and thus, was forced to sit back and allow them to make the most horrible decision of eternity, it is also not our place to intervene where we are not asked to do so. And yes, sometimes we will be forced to sit back and allow them to make bad choices; but if God, our ultimate example of a supportive Father, did not stop the first human beings from their very bad choice, then how can we, who are imperfect, claim to "know best"? When God allows us to choose between good and evil, how can we remove this from those we wish to support?

Just like Antonio Gaudi worked hard at building the cathedral in Colonia Guell, our support is to be given when it is requested. But just as he was forced to abandon this culminating work of his career, we, like Gaudi, must also stop trying to convict, assist and advise once it is no longer bidden. Yes, we know what the potential consequences might be, but just like God respects our power of choice, we must respect the rights of those we care about to make their own choices.

What will happen if we persist in forcing our support on those who have declined it? Join us on Tuesday for "CATHEDRALS! Part 4: The Cathedrals of Janovas and Mediano".

In His love,
Lyn

Lynona Gordon Chaffart, Speech-Language Pathologist, mother of two, Author -- "Aboard God's Train -- A Journey With God Through the Valley of Cancer", Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, and Scriptural Nuggets, a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, with Answers2Prayer Ministries. Follow Lyn on Twitter @lynchaffart.
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©️Copyright 2011 Answers2Prayer | Matt 10:8 "Freely you have received, freely give."



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Re: NUGGET Today's Devotional

Post  Admin on Sat 30 Sep 2017, 6:59 pm


Welcome to the Nugget
September 30, 2017
CATHEDRALS!
Lessons on Being Supportive, Introduction

By Answers2Prayer
I love cathedrals. One of my favorite things to do when in Europe is to visit these tall, majestic, regal--and rather imposing--structures that stud the landscape. To me, they are far more than just buildings; rather, these towering feats of architecture are masterpieces of art, built in the name of the Lord, that speak of His power, His strength, His protection, His love and His beauty.

On our trip to Spain in the summer of 2016, however, these towering edifices spoke to me somewhat differently...

You see, when I began this trip, I was struggling with the concept of how to "parent" my adult boys and the girls they bring into my life. Some weeks before, a good friend and I had been commiserating about this via text, and she mentioned that she had been advised to be "supportive". That sounded like excellent advice to me, not only for how to continue parenting my adult children, but also for how I should deal with all the relationships in my life. Yes, it was absolutely brilliant.

Then reality set in: Just what does it mean to be supportive?

The more I contemplated this question, the more frustrated I became, for if I were to be perfectly honest with myself, all my former attempts at being "supportive" have never truly been fueled by supportiveness at all. In fact, "controlling" would likely be the descriptor best used to describe my past efforts at showing love and support. Hadn't my own version of "supportiveness" resulted in my son being torn between doing what I was sure he should do and the direction God was leading him? Hadn't my "supportiveness" succeeded in making this same son afraid to tell me he had bought himself a car? Hadn't my attempts at "being supportive" created a chasm between me and one of the girls my boys brought home? Didn't my "supportiveness" often bring my own dear mother to tears?

Sadly, my list of examples could fill this page, but I won't continue to bore you with the details. It is safe to say that all my efforts at being supportive have failed miserably. The truth of the matter is, I have no idea what "supportive" looks like, and I have no clue how to separate it from its destructive but mimicking cousin, "control".

I am sure that I am not the only one struggling with the concept of how to be supportive. You may be struggling to be supportive of adult children and parents, as in the above examples, but you may also be struggling in one of many other incidences where being supportive is vital. After all, doesn't God exhort us to: "...encourage one another and build each other up..." (1 Thes 5:11 NIV)? We may desire to be supportive of good friends or neighbors; we may wish to be supportive of our coworkers, our clients and the people who share our pew at church; and we are called to be supportive of our pastors, mayors, councilmen, representatives, presidents and prime ministers. In fact, aren't we exhorted to pray for and be supportive of...everyone? "I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people--for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness." (1 Tim 2:1-2 NIV)

I am not writing this today because I feel I have found the answer to the question of how to be supportive; but as God spoke to me in His gentle, all-wise way, through the many beautiful cathedrals in Spain, He began to paint a picture for me of what it means to truly be supportive. I have a burden on my heart to share these precious lessons with you, and this will be the subject of the next six devotionals. It is my hope that some of you will benefit from the struggles I have undergone and the lessons God has given me. Please join us on Tuesday for "CATHEDRALS! Part 1".

In His love,
Lyn

Lynona Gordon Chaffart, Speech-Language Pathologist, mother of two, Author -- "Aboard God's Train -- A Journey With God Through the Valley of Cancer", Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, and Scriptural Nuggets, a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, with Answers2Prayer Ministries. Follow Lyn on Twitter @lynchaffart.
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HAVE A BEAUTIFUL FALL!
With Autumn already showing her colours throughout the Northern Hemisphere of our planet, with the children all back in school, let's all take a moment to reflect upon the blessings that God has granted us througout this past summer. May God bless you abundantly and with abundance this fall!
©️Copyright 2011 Answers2Prayer | Matt 10:8 "Freely you have received, freely give."
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Re: NUGGET Today's Devotional

Post  Admin on Thu 28 Sep 2017, 6:29 pm

Welcome to the Nugget
September 26, 2016
The Perfect Hope for Happiness

By Answers2Prayer
No airplane flight has ever been boring for me. I hear stories and details from fellow passengers that make me think, surprise me at times but more often, they become fodder for my writing.

Here is the latest one: "Oh, I was really hoping this would be the one," the woman seated beside me in the plane related as she sipped her coffee. "but didn't happen. He was just another jerk. I married two of them already...don't need another one."

With disgust in her voice she detailed how for months and months she did all she could to find her soul mate, her partner for life, the husband to make her happy.

And each time she hoped God would send the right one. She hoped the matching website she signed up would render positive results. And to make it more urgent, she told me that, she hoped, really hoped her time clock would slow down a bit.

She wasn't alone. King David might have been on the same search. However, His version of Christian Mingle was probably more effective as he had relationships galore. But sadly, he wasn't the purest of them all. He was flawed, he failed, he lied, he cheated and he even murdered.

Yet...are you ready...God called him "a man after His own heart."

How could that be! Possibly, one of those nights, like so many nights before, David drank yet another glass of sorrow and regret. As he dropped to his knees, his hope surged. But his hope was different than the woman on the plane. This is what he said:

"Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God." (Psalm 42:3-5)

David finally got it right. He found the only hope for his happiness and meaning. What an example of a ghastly life with a glorious ending. That's because David put his hope in God, the one who forgives, the one who provides and the one who brings our deepest desire to reality.

How about you...may I ask in whom or in what are you placing your hope these days?

Janet Eckles

If this message resonated with you, please visit Janet's cyberspace home for more inspiration.

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©️Copyright 2011 Answers2Prayer | Matt 10:8 "Freely you have received, freely give."


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Re: NUGGET Today's Devotional

Post  Admin on Tue 26 Sep 2017, 11:34 pm

Welcome to the Nugget

September 28, 2016

More to Do

By Answers2Prayer
It was a hot and humid day in July. I was driving to the local grocery store because the heat had made my bananas go from yellow to brown overnight. My air conditioner in my car was on high, but it still wasn't cooling me down. Suddenly, the car in front of me signaled that it was pulling off. I pressed on the brakes and slowed down. Out of the corner of my eye I saw several teenagers standing in the sweltering, Summer sun. They weren't playing, goofing off, or hanging around though. They weren't drinking, smoking, gossiping, or looking at their cell phones. They were working on a porch.

I recognized them immediately as one of the church work camps. For more years than I can remember these young men and women have volunteered their Spring and Summer vacations to come here and help repair the homes of poor people. I smiled when I saw them there sweating, straining, and working hard to do some good in this world. While the news headlines were so full of murder, hate, and violence, these young people were doing their best to share some love and light with others. In my heart and mind I heard the words once again: "I was hungry and you gave me food...I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me." (Matt 25:35)

There is so much good we can do in this life. There are so many people we can help. There is so much love we can share. And as long as there is life, there is more to do. Whether it is repairing a house, sharing a smile, offering a hug, adopting a dog, visiting the sick, giving to charity, praying for others, sharing a kind word, or doing any act of goodness, every single thing we do is precious in the eyes of Heaven.

God loves us all so much and His greatest wish is for us to love each other as well. Choose to love then. Chose to love and you will have joy. Choose to love and you will share joy. Choose to love and you will help others and make this world a better place. There is no greater way to live and there is always more to do. May God bless and guide you always.

Joseph J. Mazzella

Announcement:

Most of us truly desire to be supportive, but we simply don't know how. Little did I know that God would use the towering basilicas from Norther Spain to teach me valuable lessons on how to be supportive God's way. Join us on Saturday for the first of this 7 part series: "Cathedrals!" by Lynona Gordon Chaffart
©️Copyright 2011 Answers2Prayer | Matt 10:8 "Freely you have received, freely give."

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Re: NUGGET Today's Devotional

Post  Admin on Fri 30 Dec 2016, 11:55 pm

Welcome to the Nugget
December 29, 2016
Joy Happens Anyway

By Answers2Prayer
Christmas didn't call for a celebration. Not anymore. Not when you have a vital part of your life missing. It's been twelve years since we lost our son Joe. Festivities don't seem to have the joy they should. And Christmas trees don't emanate the usual scent.

Actually, my days needed to erase Christmas, the birthdays, the holidays--all ushered pain rather than delight. They reminded me of what I once had and now what was gone.

The world celebrated, greetings of good wishes filled the room. But when tragedy turns your world upside down, no amount of cheer can bring clarity to the fog of sadness.

Strange, though. Often, it's the scorching pain that forces our eyes to open to a bigger picture. It did for me as I rewound memories of past Christmases.

Years ago, when our three sons, including Joe, were still young, I focused on providing a perfect Christmas, a perfect tree to wrap a perfect celebration. As a result, little things tended to roil in me such as a light strand that refused to shine because of a burned out bulb. Annoyed at the glitch, I promptly set off to resolve it--I fussed, I rearranged, plugged and unplugged until frustration grew hot in me.

How foolish and silly. I focused on that one bulb, dismissing the glow of the star atop the Christmas tree.

I've done the same with light bulbs that burned in my life--from broken relationships to shattered plans. Exerting tons of energy trying to fix them, I missed Christ, the newborn King--the star that gave significance to my life. The star that covers shadows of gloom and sorrow.

Joe's memories changed--his sweet smile, his tender hugs and his sense of humor now sit atop of my life, casting off that glow to bring back the joy. To remind me that he's not gone, not from my heart, not from my mind. Also not gone are the images of his spunky self.

When that void in our heart aches to be filled, it's Christ's star of comfort that makes it whole. When bitter sorrow robs the spirit of Christmas, it's the star of His everlasting love that whispers joy. When a health diagnosis shakes our world, it's His star of reassurance that shines the certainty of new tomorrows. When the economy robs our security, it's the star of God's provision that ushers the radiance of reassurance. It's the same star that never loses the brilliance of hope, incomprehensible hope, one we can safely embrace even when all strands of life burn out.

"Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, 'I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.'" (John 8:12)

Janet Eckles
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Re: NUGGET Today's Devotional

Post  Admin on Wed 28 Dec 2016, 11:36 pm

Welcome to the Nugget
December 27, 2016
The Day After

By Answers2Prayer
Weeks of preparation to decorate the house, do all the baking and cooking, select the perfect gits, wrap them, put them under the tree, send out Christmas greetings, organize and attend parties and dinners, make travel arrangements; and after just a few brief hours, Christmas is all over for the year.

I don't know about you, but December 26 has traditionally been a bit of a depressive day for me. After all the preparation, it seems like a bit of a let-down.

It is also perhaps depressing because it is the day I traditionally begin the Christmas "undecorating" process. Yet as I put away the ornaments, the garlands, the candles and the lights of Christmas for yet another year, I also realize that Christmas is truly not over on December 26. Christ's indescribable gift that we celebrate at Christmas is available 365 days a year, and 366 during leap year! I don't know about you, but I think I will try to use it every one of those 365/6 days this year!

Another thought comes to my mind as I take down the Christmas tree and store it in its box: Seeing as it is difficult for us, in our society, to remember the true meaning of Christmas even on the very next day, perhaps it is a good thing that we celebrate Christmas each year! True, Jesus wasn't born on Christmas Day; yet without Christmas, would we even remember His indescribable gift at all?

Of course, December 26 is a national holiday in Canada as well as in many other countries under the British Crown. It is known as "Boxing Day".

Being an immigrant to Canada, when December 26 rolled around that very first year as a Canadian resident, I had no idea what "Boxing Day" meant. After all, isn't boxing a sport where two people stand in a ring and tried to beat each other down? What does that have to do with the day after Christmas? When I asked someone about it, I was told that Boxing Day was a shopping holiday when stores had sales on everything that they didn't sell before Christmas. When I asked how the name "Boxing Day" came to be, I was told that it's because people "box" each other for the greatest bargains!

And so has been my experience in the 27 years I have lived in Canada. In more recent years, it isn't unusual for people to be standing outside of major stores at 6:00 in the morning on Boxing Day to ensure they are able to obtain the best bargains, and as cyber sales become more popular, these often begin on Christmas Day itself. As a result, besides the commercialism that has come into the weeks (and months?) leading up to Christmas, we have people on Christmas Day itself sitting at their computers, waiting for the sales to "open" so that they can purchase their desired objects for that coveted 20% off.

I have since learned that this is not traditionally what "Boxing Day" was all about. The holiday dates back, in fact, to the 19th century, where there was a tradition for employers to prepare a "Christmas box" of food and gifts to give to each of their employees and servants. Thus the term, "Boxing" day. History also records random reports of these Christmas boxes being given out by some employers as early as the 17th century, and that the tradition of giving gifts and money to the poor on December 26 dates back a least into the Middle Ages, if not earlier.

As I read this, I have to ask myself: How did such a benevolent day get turned into something where shoppers would have to "box" with each other over after-Christmas bargains? What has happened in our society?

Yet, if you think about it, with the world turning the celebration of Jesus' birth into an occasion for retailers to make more money than at any other time of the year, why wouldn't a day set apart for taking care of the poor be turned into something similar?

At my house, we work hard to keep Christ a part of our Christmas, and I was delighted this year to hear from my now-adult son that he no longer looks forward to the gifts he will get for Christmas each year; rather, he looks forward to the celebration of Jesus' birth. When I heard those words, tears came to my eyes and I thanked God for helping our family, at least in a small way, to put Christ back into our Christmas. But what about Boxing Day? How could I put the historical benevolence of this day back into December 26?

Please don't get me wrong, I love the after-Christmas sales as much as anyone; but it all makes me think: Is this part of the reason why Christ has been taking out of Christmas?

Yes, Christmas and Boxing Day have been turned into paganized, commercialized times of the year; yet can they not also be used as powerful tools where we can be proclaiming Jesus' indescribable gift to a world who has long ago forgotten the true meaning of Christmas and Boxing Day? I don't know about you, but I'd like to try to do something benevolent this next Boxing Day! I know that I'm just one person, but if everyone reading this devotional would try to do so as well, perhaps we could make a kingdom difference in a lost and hurting world!

Remember, the world's wisest man told us thousands of years ago: "Withhold not good from them to who it is due, when it is in the power of your hand to do it" (Proverbs 3:27); and "He covets greedily all the day long: but the righteous gives and spares not." (Proverbs 21:26)

Will you join me in "boxing" away the enemy of our souls by showing some Jesus-love on December 26 next year? For in so doing, we will truly be celebrating "Boxing Day"!

In His love,
Lyn

Lynona Gordon Chaffart, Speech-Language Pathologist, mother of two, Author -- "Aboard God's Train -- A Journey With God Through the Valley of Cancer", Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, and Scriptural Nuggets, a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, with Answers2Prayer Ministries. Follow Lyn on Twitter @lynchaffart.

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Re: NUGGET Today's Devotional

Post  Admin on Sun 25 Dec 2016, 12:39 am

Welcome to the Nugget

December 24, 2016
Decorating for Christmas, Conclusion: Decorating the Heart

By Answers2Prayer
Over the past five lessons, we have learned how decorating for Christmas can draw us nearer to the One Who Christmas is all about:

* In the hanging of the ornaments, we remember the blessings of God on our families;

* In the Nutcrackers, we remember that God is our strength, our fortress, our strong tower, our ever present help in time of need;

* In the stringing of the lights we remember that God asks us to be lights in this world, ever sharing the beautiful gifts He has given us at Christmas with the world;

* In the "decorating crew", we remember that we are adopted into the family of God, and God, the ultimate Father, has taken us into His family. He will never, ever leave us or forsake us;

* Finally, in the wrapping of the gifts, we see that what truly counts is what is inside the package--It is what is inside our hearts that God sees, and that is what truly matters.

As I stood back to admire how pretty my house looked--on the inside, as well as on the outside!--it occurred to me that there was one other thing that was important to decorate for Christmas: My heart! As I contemplated this idea, I realized that this is perhaps the most important thing to decorate for Christmas! In fact, even if I didn't have the time or resources to decorate anything else, this is the one thing that shouldn't be neglected!

But just how does one "decorate the heart" for Christmas?

Perhaps the answer lies in the original Christmas story. You see, God brought only a few select people to that first Christmas, and perhaps the most poignant is who He did not bring! He didn't bring kings or priests or rulers. He didn't bring inn keepers or even the ordinary citizens of Bethlehem. Instead, He brought--shepherds!

I realize that over the past 2000 years since this story actually happened, we have managed to somehow "glorify" the shepherds. After all, they must have been very special indeed to have been invited to Jesus' birthday party. In reality, however, shepherds were not considered high society. Shepherds were dirty, they wore tattered clothing and had unkept hair, they were away from home for days on end, and their families were their flocks of sheep. They rarely even got a good night's sleep due to the fact that it was especially at night that they needed to guard their flocks. And if one of those sheep went missing, there was no rest, no meal until the lost was found.

Why would God choose shepherds as the guests of honor for Jesus' birth?

Because it is in becoming like those shepherds that we decorate our hearts for Christmas!

Not following me?

Think about the traits of character that a shepherd must have to be able to give total dedication to his sheep, to deny self, to be focused solely on the well-being of those sheep. Is this not how God would have us to be as well? Totally dedicated to loving Him and loving others? Solely focused on the well-being of those around us, to the point that we deny self? Is this not the example that we have from Jesus' life? Does He not admonished us that: "If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it..." (Matt 16:24,25)?

Still not convinced? Let's see what the Old Testament has to say about shepherds:

1. God is likened to a Shepherd, and He is our ultimate example: "The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want." (Ps. 23:1);

2. The leadership of Moses was likened to that of a shepherd, and interestingly, Moses spent many years as an actual shepherd in order to learn the skills required to "shepherd" the people of Israel: "Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian..." (Ex. 3:1,21);

3. Moses saw his role as a shepherd, for in his prayer of consecration for his successor, Joshua, he said, "May the Lord...appoint someone over this community...so the Lord's people will not be like sheep without a shepherd." (Num. 27:16-17 NIV)

4. The Bible also speaks strongly against the leaders of Israel who did NOT shepherd Israel: "The shepherds are senseless and do not inquire of the Lord; so they do not prosper and all their flock is scattered." (Jeremiah 10:21).

5. Finally, the Old Testament promises that God will raise up a "good shepherd", one that will really tend the flocks: "See, the Sovereign Lord comes with power...his reward is with him, and his recompense accompanies him. He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young." (Isa. 40:10-11 NIV).

This is why God brought shepherds to Jesus' first birthday, and it is in following in the example of these shepherds, in becoming humble, self-denying caregivers of God's flock, that we will adequately "decorate" our hearts for the celebration of Jesus' birth this year.

I urge each of you to not only put up a tree and drape it with lights, tinsel and ornaments; don't just put out the nutcrackers and wrap the presents. It isn't that these things are wrong, but when we focus ONLY on the decoration of our homes, we miss out on the most important decoration of all: The decoration of our hearts.

In His love,
Lyn

Lynona Gordon Chaffart, Speech-Language Pathologist, mother of two, Author -- "Aboard God's Train -- A Journey With God Through the Valley of Cancer", Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, and Scriptural Nuggets, a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, with Answers2Prayer Ministries. Follow Lyn on Twitter @lynchaffart.

Announcement:

Tomorrow is Christmas. Have you decorated your heart? Have you made room in your celebration to honor the Reason for the Season? Don't go another moment without doing just that!

Merry Christmas to each and every one of you. May God bless you abundantly as you spend the day celebrating the greatest gift of all: Jesus Christ!
©Copyright 2011 Answers2Prayer | Matt 10:8 "Freely you have received, freely give."

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Re: NUGGET Today's Devotional

Post  Admin on Fri 23 Dec 2016, 11:44 pm

Welcome to the Nugget

December 22, 2016
Decorating for Christmas, Part 5: Wrapping the Presents
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By Answers2Prayer Subscribe Unsubscribe Devotionals Contact us
Last Tuesday, in "Decorating for Christmas, Part 4", we saw that our "decorating crew" can help us that we are all part of God's family, a privilege provided for us by Jesus' ultimate gift at Christmas.

With the house all decorated, only one thing remained: Wrapping the presents.

Under my tree, there are many different kinds of wrappings:

1. The gifts from my son were bought pre-wrapped. They are beautiful and perfect.

2. There are also gift bags for items that don't easily fit in a box, as well as from those who know they are not "gifted" with the ability to make packages look pretty.

3. There are other packages from those who were gifted with that ability, and these look like works of art. Far too pretty to be opening!

4. There are envelopes in the branches of the Christmas tree, holding gift cards from this place or that.

5. Finally, there are the packages I wrapped. I'm in the category of people who were not "gifted" with the ability to make packages look pretty; yet I'm not smart enough to realize it...

My cat is no respecter of packages, and she is sure that all those pretty ribbons and bows are for her. She rips them off and carries them around the house, playing them as she would a mouse. After Christmas each year, it is quite interesting to see the unique places the bows on the once-pretty packages have gotten to: In potted plants, under couches and chairs, in dark corners of the basement, to name a few. As a result of my cat, when I hand out packages from underneath the Christmas tree each year, I do it with an apology attached, as well as a finger pointing...at the cat!

There are usually a couple of packages that the cat doesn't find, however, and I am always proud to hand these out. But then, I must stand by and look with horror as all that beautiful art-work is torn away in a matter of seconds...

My mind also goes back to the years we've played tricks on each other at Christmas time. A giant, beautifully-wrapped box is placed under the tree, but it only contains a note, or perhaps a series of smaller, beautifully-wrapped boxes, or maybe nothing at all! I remember once when I was sure I was getting a pair of roller skates for Christmas, and that roller-skate-shaped, heavy box was the proof; only to be completely disappointed to open the package and find someone had wrapped up a brick...

It makes you think, doesn't it? It truly isn't the wrapping that matters at all; rather, it is the gift inside, and with this in mind, I must ask the question: does it truly matter what a package looks like on the outside?

Jesus spoke often of this, and His comments were far from complementary: "...You are like whitewashed tombs that look beautiful on the outside but inside are full of the bones of the dead and of everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you look righteous to people, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness." (Matt 23:27-28).

In other words, we can be like Christmas presents that look beautiful on the outside but inside are full of bricks and empty boxes. We may look righteous to people, but inside we may be full of hypocrisy and lawlessness!

We can find references in the Old Testament to things that look pretty on the outside but inside are full of rot: "...When anyone builds a wall without mortar, they coat it with whitewash. Tell the ones who coat it with whitewash that it will fall...When the wall has collapsed, people will ask you, 'Where is the whitewash you coated it with?" (Ez 13:10-12)

What does the Lord do with "whitewashed walls without morter" and "whitewashed tombs"?

"Therefore this is what the sovereign LORD says: 'In my rage I will make a violent wind break out...I will break down the wall you coated with whitewash and knock it to the ground so that its foundation is exposed. When it falls you will be destroyed beneath it, and you will know that I am the LORD. I will vent my rage against the wall, and against those who coated it with whitewash...'" (Ez 13:13-15).

As you prepare the packages to go under the tree this year, remember: It isn't the wrapping paper and bow that count, and it isn't even the gift bags or the ribbons. What counts is what is inside the package. In the same way, it doesn't matter how "righteous" we look and act on the outside. It is what is inside our hearts that God sees, and it is this that truly matters. When we unwrap our packages this Christmas, let's all agree to pray the following prayer: Lord, make me beautiful...From the inside out!

But wait a minute: With all the concern and effort being put into the decoration of our homes for Christmas, are we overlooking perhaps the most important part of decoration for Christmas? Are we neglecting the decoration of our hearts? Join us on Saturday for "Decorating for Christmas, Conclusion".

In His love,
Lyn

Lynona Gordon Chaffart, Speech-Language Pathologist, mother of two, Author -- "Aboard God's Train -- A Journey With God Through the Valley of Cancer", Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, and Scriptural Nuggets, a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, with Answers2Prayer Ministries. Follow Lyn on Twitter @lynchaffart.
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Needing spiritual inspiration for Christmas? Why not check out the Christmas page on the Scriptural Nuggets website for past and present devotionals about Christmas? Just click here.
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Re: NUGGET Today's Devotional

Post  Admin on Wed 21 Dec 2016, 11:27 pm

Welcome to the Nugget
December 20, 2016
Decorating for Christmas, Part 4: The Decorating Crew
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By Answers2Prayer
Last Saturday, in "Decorating for Christmas, Part 3", we learned from looking at the lights on the Christmas tree that a tree is only pretty when all the lights are working. In the same way, we are made to shine forth Jesus in every aspect of our lives so that we can truly be lights in this dark world.

Once the lights were on the tree, my thoughts took a turn in a different direction, and I began to think about the decorating crew. To me, one of the most precious things about decorating for Christmas is the fun and laughter and togetherness of family. When my boys were little, their excitement at the thought of decorating for Christmas was almost more than their excitement for Christmas itself. As time went on and they grew into teens and young adults, the excitement waned, perhaps, but the enthusiasm did not. There were years when they would bring home their friends to help decorate. We would have hot chocolate and snacks and Christmas carols, and all the while, the mantel was being decorated, the snow scene was appearing on top of the piano and book case, the snowmen were coming out of their summer habitats, and the tree was going up and being beautified.

This past year, neither of the boys could be home to help with the Christmas decorating. I was disappointed, but I understood. Nonetheless, the thought of decorating the house by myself was not a very motivating one. Finally I bit the bullet and started bringing up the boxes. My cat immediately joined me. Every box had to be investigated. She had to physically go inside each one. Every garland was a string for her to chase, ever ornament, a cat toy hung at just the right place for her to bat and steal.

The decorating process took a bit longer than usual with me doing it myself, especially with my four-legged "help", and I expected that the cat would simply lose interest in the "game". She didn't. She was having the time of her life, and you could almost read in her thoughts: "Why can't we decorate for Christmas every day?"

I then began to receive help from an unexpected source. My husband, usually too busy with this ministry to be able to help decorate for Christmas, turned on some Christmas music, turned off his computer screen, and started hanging ornaments on the tree. I have never had so much fun with my husband as we did decorating that tree this year. In fact, I believe his thoughts went along the lines of, "Why don't I do this with my family every year?"

It all made me think. Christmas is a time of family, a time of unity, love and peace throughout families. It is a time for having fun together as we prepare to celebrate the most important birthday in history. But "family" isn't just about husbands and wives and children and grandparents. The Bible teaches that we are all one family: "So now you Gentiles are no longer strangers and foreigners. You are citizens along with all of God's holy people. You are members of God's family. Together, we are his house, built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets. And the cornerstone is Christ Jesus himself. We are carefully joined together in him, becoming a holy temple for the Lord." (Eph 2:19-21)

Over and over again, we are called God's Children. Here are just a few examples: "For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus." (Gal 3:26); "And I will be a father to you, And you shall be sons and daughters to Me," Says the Lord Almighty." (2 Cor. 6:18); "Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God--children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God." (John 1:12-13)

When we celebrate Christmas, we actually celebrate our Heavenly family. We celebrate the fact that we are now adopted into the family of God! It doesn't matter if we have no Earthly families, if our children are far away, if our families have rejected us. God, the ultimate Father, has taken us into His family, and He will never, ever leave us or forsake us: "Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you." (Deut 31:6).

Please join us next Thursday to see what we can learn from wrapping the presents in "Decorating for Christmas, Part 5".

In His love,
Lyn
Lynona Gordon Chaffart, Speech-Language Pathologist, mother of two, Author -- "Aboard God's Train -- A Journey With God Through the Valley of Cancer", Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, and Scriptural Nuggets, a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, with Answers2Prayer Ministries. Follow Lyn on Twitter @lynchaffart.
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John the Baptist said, "The time has come...The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!" (Mark 1:15). But what exactly is the Kingdom of God? Check out "Basics of Basileia", a four-part mini-series by Brother Suresh Manoharan designed to help us have a better understand of God's Kingdom!
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Re: NUGGET Today's Devotional

Post  Admin on Sun 18 Dec 2016, 5:31 pm

Welcome to the Nugget

December 17, 2016
Decorating for Christmas, Part 3: The Lights on the Christmas Tree
By Answers2Prayer
Last Thursday, in "Decorating for Christmas, Part 2", we saw when we look at a nutcracker, we can be reminded that Jesus is our "nutcracker", and we have access to this incomprehensible power simply by accepting His ultimate gift, the one we celebrate this Christmas.

As I shifted my focus from the nutcrackers to the Christmas tree, my attention was drawn to the lights. Our Christmas tree is artificial, and it is classified as "pre-lit". This means that hundreds of tiny white lights are permanently attached to the branches, and all I have to do to have a perfectly lit tree is to set it up and plug it in.

Or at least, that's all I have to do in theory...

You see, when we plugged in the tree lights for the tree's second Christmas season, there was an entire band, approximately .5 meters high that was completely unlit. The beautiful white lights sparkled at the top and bottom of the tree, but in the middle, all was dark.

The tree was still under warranty at the time, and I wrote to the company. I was delighted that they said they would take care of the problem; but horrified when their "solution" was to send me a string of lights! I had to get into the tree, find the exact string of lights that was not working, unfasten each of the tiny bulbs from the tree branches and attach the new light string in their place.

After hours of tedious work, the tree was again a thing of beauty, radiating sparkling lights from the top all the way to the bottom.

A couple of years later, the same thing happened again, only this time, the tree was no longer under warranty...Yes, I could have gone out and purchased a new string of white lights, but all I could remember were the hours of monotony required to put in the new string. With the busy holiday season, I couldn't see spending the time or money to do that, and that year our tree was "striped".

Quite naturally, the tree didn't "fix" itself in its box throughout the next year, and when we pulled it out for the next Christmas season, the broken lights from the previous year not only didn't work, but there was another band of unlit tree near the top. Now I truly had a "striped" Christmas tree!

After Christmas that year, we bought some strings of coloured lights on sale, and the next Christmas season, we draped those bare spots with coloured lights. The tree wasn't nearly as pretty as before, but at least it didn't have any dark spots; and this is how we have used the tree for the past several years.

As I arranged the coloured lights over the black-out areas of the tree this year, it made me think of a verse in the Bible: "You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven." (Matt 5:14-16)

You see, when Christ lives in us, each of us become like that pre-lit Christmas tree, all ablaze for His glory. We are that town that cannot be hidden. Unfortunately, however, there may be areas in our lives where we do not let that light shine forth. Maybe we are not shy about talking about our faith to fellow Christians or on the Internet, but at work or school, we tend to have a "shut mouth" attitude. Perhaps even our actions don't portray that we are God's children. As a result, we become like my poor artificial "pre-lit" tree, with bright, beautiful lights at the bottom, followed by a band of darkness, then more beautiful lights, and then another band of darkness! How much more beautiful that "tree" of our lives would be if we were not trying to hide our "lights" under a bowl, but putting them forth on a stand to give light to everyone in our circles!

It's true that I have tried to cover the bare spots with other lights, and in the same way, God does this as well. When we are tight-mouthed about our faith in the work field, He puts in other lights to show the way. But it isn't the same. My tree is not beautiful like it once was, despite the addition of coloured lights. That is because God has created each of US to shine for Him in all situations.

I think that this is the last season for our poor "striped" Christmas tree. In fact, we already bought its replacement when it went on sale last month, and it sits in its box for the next Christmas season. This reminds me of another text: "He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful." (John 15:2). I don't know about you, but I don't want to be "cut off" from Jesus. I desire to shine forth in every area of my life.

Father God, help us to shine forth Your light in all areas of our lives, that we may truly be the light of the Earth.

And the next time you look at a Christmas tree, all lit up with its beautiful tiny bulbs, remember that it is only pretty when all the lights are working!

Please join us next Tuesday to see what lessons can be learned from the decorating crew in "Decorating for Christmas, Part 5".

In His love,
Lyn

Lynona Gordon Chaffart, Speech-Language Pathologist, mother of two, Author -- "Aboard God's Train -- A Journey With God Through the Valley of Cancer", Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, and Scriptural Nuggets, a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, with Answers2Prayer Ministries. Follow Lyn on Twitter @lynchaffart.
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Re: NUGGET Today's Devotional

Post  Admin on Fri 16 Dec 2016, 11:52 pm

Welcome to the Nugget

December 15, 2016
Decorating for Christmas, Part 2: The Nutcrackers

By Answers2Prayer
Last Tuesday, in "Decorating for Christmas, Part 1", we saw that the ornaments all bring back precious memories. As we admire the beautiful ornaments this year, let's remember the precious gift of Jesus and all of its components. Let's "open" that gift of salvation, love, victory, comfort, peace and wisdom, and let's make use of it today.

As I continued the Christmas decorations this year, the next thing out of the boxes was the set of nutcracker. I carefully removed them from the pillows that protected them and set them in a semi-circle on the hearth, the tall ones in the back and the short ones in the front. As I did so, I couldn't help remembering a little exercise we had done as a family a few years ago. I had asked each person in the room to pick one symbol of Christmas and to share how that symbol reminded them of Jesus. My future daughter-in-law picked the nutcrackers, stating that they reminded her of the closeness and importance of family, and how in Christ we are all one big family. As I contemplated this, my mind began wandering down the paths of history, and I couldn't help wondering how nutcrackers came to be a traditional part of Christmas. A quick "google search" revealed the following:

Nutcrackers originated in Germany, and according to folklore, they were given as keepsakes to bring good luck and protect your home. They represented power and strength, and they served as "watch dogs", bearing their teeth to evil spirits and protecting the family against harm.

Nutcrackers apparently also reflect ancestral dining customs. Unusual nutcrackers were part of the social setting, providing a whimsical--and useful!--conversation piece as guests rounded out their meal with pecans and hazelnuts.

Nutcrackers didn't become popular in the Americas until about 50 years ago. GIs stationed in Germany during WWII found an intriguing companion in the nutcracker, and they brought them back to the Americas upon their return.

In general, nutcrackers have always been enjoyed for their whimsical expressions and their authentic costumes and charm. It is said that the hidden message of the nutcracker is this: "Don't be afraid, my beard is long, my head is large, my look is grim, but that matters not. I won't bite you. In spite of my big mouth and grim appearance, I look with my heart for your happiness."

Legend?

Absolutely.

What can we learn as we set out our nutcrackers at Christmas time?

Just this: Nutcrackers serve as an important reminder of just one part of Jesus' indescribable gift that we celebrate at Christmas: Jesus is our strength, our power and our protection: "God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, Even though the earth be removed, And though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; Though its waters roar and be troubled, Though the mountains shake with its swelling." (Ps. 46:1-3). His gift at the cross conquered sin and subdued the power of the dark side once and for all, "The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." (1 Cor 15:56, 57), and when we accept Him into our hearts, we have access to His gift of protection. When we make use of every part of Christ's indescribable gift, we find that we indeed have a fierce protector who looks with His heart for our happiness: "For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart." (Jeremiah 29:11-13)

In this traditionally useful tool for the opening of nuts, we also see how practical Jesus is. He isn't just about helping us through our big problems; He is about carrying us through every aspect of our everyday lives. Why struggle to open a nut by hand, when you could open it with a nutcracker? In the same way, Jesus tells us, "Why struggle handling that problem by yourself, when I can handle it for you?" ("Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." Matt. 11:28-30; "Therefore do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you." Matt 6:31-33)

I hope and pray that you will never look at a nutcracker in the same way again. Instead of seeing the whimsical wooden man, remember that Jesus is our "nutcracker", and we have access to this incomprehensible power simply by accepting His ultimate gift, the one we celebrate this Christmas.

Please join us on Saturday to learn what we can glean from the lights on the Christmas tree: "Decorating for Christmas, Part 3".

In His love,
Lyn


Lynona Gordon Chaffart, Speech-Language Pathologist, mother of two, Author -- "Aboard God's Train -- A Journey With God Through the Valley of Cancer", Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, and Scriptural Nuggets, a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, with Answers2Prayer Ministries. Follow Lyn on Twitter @lynchaffart.

Announcement:

Do you have a prayer request? Do you know someone who needs to be prayed for? Prayer works! The Bible confirms this in James 5:16: "The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective." (NIV) Send your prayer request here and let us pray in agreement with you! Matt 18:20: "For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them." (NIV) Hallelujah!
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Re: NUGGET Today's Devotional

Post  Admin on Wed 14 Dec 2016, 1:10 pm

Welcome to the Nugget
December 13, 2016
Decorating for Christmas, Part 1: The Ornaments

By Answers2Prayer
Decorating for Christmas: A phrase that excites some and brings stress to others. What can we learn from this preparation for Christmas that will point us to our Lord and Savior? That will help us to be ready, inside and out, for the celebration of the greatest birth in history? I invite you to join us over the next two weeks to learn how decorating for Christmas can draw us closer to God.

Over the past three weekends, I put out the Christmas decorations. I put up the outside lights, strung the tinsel and the garlands and set out the candles. I put the nutcrackers on the hearth and got out the snow men, then I put up the tree, and my husband and I decorated it together. As we took out each of the ornaments, my mind traveled back to how each of them had come to be in our Christmas ornament box...

First there were very old ones that I remembered buying when my husband and I were newly-weds. There had been a flood on the dessert where we lived, and all our Christmas decorations had been ruined. With the insurance money, we had gone out and purchased a few new things. I recalled how we had painstakingly examined each one before placing it in the shopping cart, and especially how conscientious we had been that the "perfect" ornament in our own eyes had also been "perfect" in the eyes of the other.

A whole new class of ornaments were in the next box. These were ones that Rob, as a teacher, had been given over the years by his students. I guess we could tell how many years he has been teaching by the number of ornaments in that box! And each one brings to mind a precious life that he had touched throughout his carreer.

As I don't work with children, there weren't very many in the next box, but each of these were precious in their own right, for these had been given to me over the years by special patients, people whose lives I had touched, but perhaps more importantly, people who had touched my life and forever changed me in their own special ways.

Next came the ornaments that our children had picked out when they were little. There were musical instruments and little tips that went over the lights. I remembered with fondness how our oldest son, who is a musician at heart, had carefully arranged these musical ornaments on the tree, putting them so that little angel ornaments were blowing trumpets and little puppy ornaments were beating drums with their tails, etc. Then there was the bat man ornaments. A patient of my some years ago had been a police officer involved with the RIDES program. He had given me the extra batman ornaments leftover from the previous year's RIDES program. How my youngest son had loved those ornaments, and my husband and I had fun hanging them from the lower branches where we could see them clearly and be reminded of him.

Next there were the hand-made ornaments. My mother had lovingly made some of them, and my children and I had made many as craft projects back when we were homeschooling. Each of these were beautiful reminders of fun times and happy days as a family.

Finally there were the new ornaments. There truly weren't very many of these, for the tree was already overflowing with all the others.

As I sat back and looked at our creation, I was reminded that Christmas is truly a time to remember. To remember special times as a family, yes; But perhaps even more importantly, to remember the reason for the season. Jesus selflessly gave his life so that we could have a bright and beautiful future. He painstakingly handcrafted His gifts for us: Wisdom, Peace, Joy, Healing, and of course, the greatest gift of all, Salvation.

I realized then that it would be a shame to not put all the old decorations on the tree, for each time I look at the Christmas tree today, I remember the loving, beautiful family and wonderful times God has given us together. At the same time, I remember Jesus' amazing, out-of-this-world gift with its many different parts. Wouldn't it be a shame to leave them in the "ornament box" of our lives? Why not take them out? Why not dust them off and hang them from the "trees" of our lives? Why not accept His gifts of Salvation, healing, wisdom, peace, joy and love?

The next time you see beautiful ornaments hanging from a Christmas tree, remember Jesus' indescribable gift. Open that package and make use of it today! "Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!" (2 Cor. 9:15)

Please join us on Thursday for special thoughts about what we can learn from--The Nutcrackers: "Decorating for Christmas, Part 2".


In His love,
Lyn

Lynona Gordon Chaffart, Speech-Language Pathologist, mother of two, Author -- "Aboard God's Train -- A Journey With God Through the Valley of Cancer", Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, and Scriptural Nuggets, a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, with Answers2Prayer Ministries. Follow Lyn on Twitter @lynchaffart.

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Re: NUGGET Today's Devotional

Post  Admin on Sun 11 Dec 2016, 12:07 am

Welcome to the Nugget


December 10, 2016
The Best Christmas Gift Ever

By Answers2Prayer
"Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, So are the children of one's youth. How blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them..." (Ps 127:4,5)

The best Christmas gift I ever got was both early and late. My first born child came into this world on December 16th, nine days before Christmas. He was supposed to be a Thanksgiving baby, however, so when my wife went into labor 3 weeks late he had to be delivered by an emergency Caesarean section. My first word when I saw him wasn't even a word but a sigh of relief, love, and joy. My early Christmas present had a red, splotchy face from being overdue but it was washed several times over the next few days with happy tears from me, my wife, and several grandparents.

My son was named Joseph John after me and "J.J." as he was called soon became the most cuddled and photographed child around. He was the first grandchild on both sides of the family and spent his first Christmas going from arms to loving arms as everyone wanted a chance to hold him. I looked forward to a blessed life watching my first born grow up to be a strong and smart man.

That dream, though, wasn't to turn out the way I thought it would. As my son entered his second year we realized that his language wasn't developing as it should. He only seemed interested in a few things and would jump up and down over and over to amuse himself. We finally got him tested but were given no answers. We were only told that he wasn't normal. It was raining that day as my wife and I drove home and finally we pulled the car over, held each other, and added our own tears to the storm.

With the end of that dream came the birth of another. We decided to find out exactly what was "different" about our son do all we could to help him become all he could be. Soon a local Doctor saw what the specialists hadn't. Our son had Autism. In that day very little was known about Autism or what could be done to treat it. My wife and I read every article and researched every treatment there was to help our son. We put our anger at God aside and asked instead for His love and guidance to help us with our boy. We enrolled J.J. in Special Education at school and worked with him everyday at home. We were blessed to get a loving, kind-hearted, and patient personal-aide for him at school and she became like a second mother to him. It was by her side during another Christmas season that my boy spoke his first sentence about the beautiful Christmas tree at the school.

As we continued to work with my son I noticed something else too; his loving spirit was also working on us. His smile was contagious, his cheer was infectious, and his innocent love was purifying. Over the years I became a better, kinder, more loving, and more spiritual person just by being around him. He taught me so much about love, so much about joy, and so much about embracing life. His language continued to improve and he became beloved by his teachers, fellow students, and especially by the school football and basketball teams where he worked as the equipment manager. His loving presence became a comfort to my days. His gentleness helped me to deal with money struggles and career problems. His sweetness helped me when his younger brother was born with an even more severe form of Autism and I gave up teaching to care for them both.

Now as the best Christmas gift I ever got approaches his 28th Christmas with me I have realized that he is the gift that keeps on giving. Like a ray of sunshine he brightens the day of everyone he meets. Like an earth angel he touches the souls of others with his gentle love. He shares his smile with everyone and calls everyone by name. He goes through his life making this Earth a little more like Heaven. He lives out God's dream for him which is a far better dream than mine ever was.

I wish all of you a Merry Christmas. May your Christmas and all of your days be full of the best gift there is, the gift my two special sons give me everyday-the gift of LOVE. God bless you always.

Joseph J. Mozzella

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How can decorating for Christmas help us keep Christ in Christmas? Join us next week for "Decorating for Christmas", a mini-series by Lynona Gordon Chaffart
©Copyright 2011 Answers2Prayer | Matt 10:8 "Freely you have received, freely give."
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Re: NUGGET Today's Devotional

Post  Admin on Fri 09 Dec 2016, 10:22 pm

Welcome to the Nugget

December 8, 2016
How to Find True Happiness at Christmas

By Answers2Prayer Subscribe Unsubscribe Devotionals Contact us A few weeks ago, hubby cleaned the garage. I filled plastic bags of items and we gathered all to donate to the Orlando Rescue Mission.

Christmas season soon came and hubby was fulfilling his own mission to help decorate. He pulled the Christmas tree out of the box. It came all equipped with lights. A very cool thing. And grandkids flew open the front door with shouts of excitement, anticipating hanging tree ornaments galore. I handed them the tin with a huge smile at their giggles as we were about to follow our regular tradition. But to our chagrin, the tin only contained a few broken ornaments from years past. We searched every nook and cranny for the correct tin, which we had stored last year after filling it to the brim with beautiful ornaments. They were gone. No doubt, we had packed them with items to be given away.

So there we were, staring at a bare tree lit up but waiting to be dressed. I tried to comfort the kiddoes and wondered how to explain that ornaments are just that--an addition to adorn what is already there. I truly believe that. As I relish, not in decorations but on the company of our grandkids, healthy and full of life. They are the God-created ornaments that adorn our life.

Then another nice thing happened. God smiled. I held up two ornaments--a recent gift from a dear friend. They're small picture frames. In each, we placed the photo of our grandkids as you see in this picture. And our tree never looked lovelier.

We're not missing anything this year. We have the main ingredient for the recipe of true happiness. Just enough ornaments to add meaning. Just enough lights to remind us of Christ. And plenty of green to speak of the evergreen nature of Jesus' love.

Aha! No wonder He said: "Store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." (Matthew 6:19-21)

What will you store in your heart this Christmas?

Janet Eckles
If this message resonated with you, please visit Janet's cyberspace home for more inspiration.

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DEALING WITH GRIEF
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©Copyright 2011 Answers2Prayer | Matt 10:8 "Freely you have received, freely give."

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Re: NUGGET Today's Devotional

Post  Admin on Wed 07 Dec 2016, 8:50 pm

Welcome to the Nugget

December 6, 2016
It's Elementary? Well, Mostly... Part 4

By Answers2Prayer
Today in the concluding part of our series on some obvious and some not so obvious lessons gleaned from the First Christmas Story, today we come to a lesson, which would perfectly fit into the not-so-obvious category perforce requiring study of some Scripture portions with a magnifying glass, as it were...a la Holmes...

Perpetuity...

"For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus," (1 Tim 2:5)

Finally, we come to the point...what exactly it cost Christ to condescend down as man.

Excruciating death on the Cross? Wait there is something more...let me illustrate...

A father and his son put up a beautiful bird sanctuary, housing variety of doves spouting feathers of various hues. Sadly one day these doves turn into crows and in their new ravenous nature start harming and even killing one another oblivious to repeated appeals of both the father and the son, not to do the same.

The father comes up with an idea to remedy the situation. His son would go amongst the crows as a bird himself, speaking their language in order they understand him and hopefully mend their ways. Hey from human perspective would not that be a case of lowering oneself by two notches (stooping below even the mammalian order)? When Christ condescended to become man, did not He lower himself below his own "second-ranked" created angels (Psalms 8:34-36/Heb 2:7) that are superior to men but inferior to the Almighty (Job 15:15)?

Now once the son made up his mind to do become "a bird" (Phillipians 2:5-8), the father comes up with three realities which would come His son's way. The son willingly agrees to take them all in his stride...

a) The crows may eventually kill him, not giving a hoot to any of his pleas to change themselves for better

b) The father by giving a kiss of life, would bring back the son now confined in the bird's body to life

c) The son in a bird's body would then be elevated, exalted and even glorified but he would still remain in a bird's body...worse...world continue to bear the wounds that caused his death (Rev 5:6-TLB) throughout eternity. His being throughout eternity would be a far cry from a far better state, he had possessed before incarnation.

Dear Friends, is the enormity of Christ's sacrifice of coming down in a mere man's body and being confined in it for eternity registering in your minds and spirit? His condescension meant, He would forever remain man albeit in a Glorified body (Rev 1:12-16).

Consider these Scripture portions (in present tense, one of it is being repeated under this sub-topic) penned after Christ's ascension, which are a "clincher" as it were, substantiating this "chilling" truth..."For in Christ there is all of God in a human body" (Col 2:9 TLB); "That God is on one side and all the people on the other side, and Christ Jesus, himself man, is between them to bring them together" (I Tim 2:5 TLB)

Now for a subject within the subject. What was the Father's response to such a submissive, sacrificial obedience? He made His Son's Name a Name above all names (including His--Philippians 2:9). Boy, if you are wondering where is the role of the third person in the Godhead- Holy Spirit (oh, He never clamors for attention) in all these, let it be said that every word that has ever been written in appreciation of the Almighty's Grand redemption plan has been inspired By Him...including this one of yours truly. Of the perfect unity that exists within the Trinity in using the "redemption plan" to save the lost, it was said by a ransomed soul "The Father thought it, the Son bought it, the Holy Spirit wrought it, though Devil fought it, Praise God I got it".

Coming back to the main track, let me conclude now with a relevant, touching story which goes thus...

There was an orphaned boy living with his grandma when their house caught fire. The grandmother, trying to get upstairs to rescue the boy, perished in the flames. The boy's cries for help were finally answered by a man who climbed an iron drainpipe and came back down with the boy hanging tightly to his neck. Several weeks later, a public hearing was held to determine who would receive custody of the child. A farmer, a teacher, and the town's wealthiest citizen all gave the reasons they felt they should be chosen to give the boy a home. But as they talked, the lad's eyes remained focused on the floor. Then a stranger walked to the front and slowly took his hands from his pockets, revealing severe scars on them. As the crowd gasped, the boy cried out in recognition. This was the man who had saved his life. His hands had been burned when he climbed the hot pipe. With a leap the boy threw his arms around the man's neck and held on for dear life. The other men silently walked away, leaving the boy and his rescuer alone. Those marred hands had settled the issue.

Even as Christmas is around the corner, let us reflect on the truth that Christ's hands and legs still retain the scars we inflicted upon Him and respond with a resolution of life-long loyalty purely out of love for the one who has given His all to us, come what may! What a Saviour! Hallelujah!

Those who have not received Him yet in their lives, this Christmas receive into your lives the Indescribable gift, Christ Jesus (2 Cor 9:15). A gift ought not to remain as a mere gift but it has to be "used" for the purpose it is given. Then it would really be Merry, Joyous (this joy would be internal not dependent on any extraneous factor--See John 15:11) Christmas for you!!!

Prayer: Lord Jesus, we surrender our body, soul and spirit to Thee for what You have done sacrificially for us acknowledging that there is no other way, we can properly thank Thee. Amen.

Suresh Manoharan
J and SM Ministries
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Re: NUGGET Today's Devotional

Post  Admin on Sun 04 Dec 2016, 10:32 pm

Welcome to the Nugget

December 3, 2016
It's Elementary? Well, Mostly... Part 3

By Answers2Prayer
Today in the penultimate part of our 4-part series on the some obvious and some not-so-obvious lessons gleaned from the first Christmas, let's focus on

Poverty...

If at all there was one person who could have chosen affluent parents to live a life of ease, it was Jesus. Yet, He chose lowly carpenter's abode to grow-up. Want proof of Jesus' earthly "parents" poverty...consider these Scripture portions.

As per the Mosaic Law, for a mother's purification ritual, the woman was required to..."And if she cannot afford a lamb, then she shall take two turtledoves or two pigeons, one for a burnt offering and the other for a sin offering. And the priest shall make atonement for her, and she shall be clean." (Leviticus 12:8)

So what did Mary and her supportive husband Joseph do? Let the Scripture speak again...

"And when the time came for their purification according to the Law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, 'Every male who first opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord') and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the Law of the Lord, "a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons." (Luke 2:22-24)

What about our Lord during His Ministry? Enormous crowds followed Him (Matt 4:25). Did He greedily and opportunistically fleece the" flock" or feed it? Well, the Saviour who had no place (read home) to lay down His head to sleep (Matt 8:20) during the time of Ministry owned nothing more than one seamless garment (John 19:23-24) towards end of His life, to acquire which the Roman soldiers cast lots for.

Many years later, an inspired Apostle Paul would say..."In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.'" (Acts 20:35)


Felicity...

"Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus..." (Philippians 2:5)

This Christmas what better gift we (those of us who are already walking with Him) can give to the Lord than by resolving sincerely to "have the mind of Christ" at all times. It would delight the Trinity, when we depending on the strength of the indwelling Holy Spirit (John 15:4-5) strive to see issues as Christ sees, have inter-personal relationships as Christ would have, respond to persecutions as Christ would all for the Father's glory (1 Cor 10:31). For one thing, such an act like it was intended in the Church at Phillipi, would bring complete unity on the Body of Christ.

Prayer: Father, what else would please Thee more than your children donning a Christ-like attitude at all times. Even as we display our will for the same, empower us from within.

Suresh Manoharan
J and SM Ministries
Announcement:

It is that time of year again. Christmas is just around the corner. We are aware of the obvious facts around Christ's birth and Christmas; but are we also aware of the less obvious, yet equally-vital, lessons to be learned from that First Christmas? Join us next week for the conclusion of: "It's Elementary? Well Mostly...", a mini-series by Brother Suresh Manoharan.
©Copyright 2011 Answers2Prayer | Matt 10:8 "Freely you have received, freely give."
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Re: NUGGET Today's Devotional

Post  Admin on Fri 02 Dec 2016, 4:53 pm

Welcome to the Nugget
December 1, 2016
It's Elementary? Well, Mostly... Part 2
By Answers2Prayer
Continuing with our series on some obvious but some not-so-obvious lessons gleaned from the First Christmas, today let's come to

Humility/Propitiatory...

"Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross." (Phillippians 2:5-9)

Another truth clear as a crystal is this...minus Christ's immeasurable humility, first Christmas would not have come about. Well, first Christmas symbolized merely Christ's first step towards the Cross. Wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23), Jesus paid the price on our behalf. God's perfect character of holiness required that price be paid for our sins--not merely issue a ticket for our transgressions but issue a death penalty itself--at the same time His infinite love demanded that man be set free from that condemnation.

Welcome to a true story which in a small way mirrors Christ's eventual propitiatory act of dying on the Cross after condescending to be a mere human...

On Oct. 4 2014, Officer Ben Hall of Emmett Township, Mich., received a call to investigate a car in which, reportedly, an unsecured child was observed. Alexis DeLorenzo and her daughter were riding in this car with a friend. When Hall pulled them over, things didn't go as expected. When Hall walked over to the car, he saw that DeLorenzo's 5-year-old daughter was wearing a seat belt but was not secured in a booster seat. In Michigan, child safety restraints are required for children under the age of 7. "When I spoke to her, she was very forthcoming and knew that the child should be in a booster seat," Hall said. He added, "She admitted that she was wrong and that she had recently fallen on hard times."

Hall said DeLorenzo told him that her car had been repossessed that day with her daughter's booster seat in it, and she simply couldn't afford a replacement booster seat. Instead of writing DeLorenzo a ticket, Hall decided to address the problem with, to his mind, a more productive solution. "A ticket doesn't solve the situation," Hall told WXMI-TV. "What solves it is the child being in the booster seat like she should be." Hall instructed DeLorenzo to meet him at the local Walmart. There, instead of writing her a ticket, he purchased a booster seat for her. DeLorenzo was overwhelmed by the officer's understanding and compassion. Hall didn't seem fazed; he said, "It was the easiest 50 bucks I ever spent." DeLorenzo made sure that Hall's actions were recognized, posting to the Emmett Township Police Department's website her thanks.

Coming back to the spiritual realm, let the Scripture take over at this stage...

"For our sake he made him to be sin (in the Cross) who knew no sin (being conceived in a Virgin's womb...holy right from conception), so that in him we might become the righteousness of God." (2 Cor 5:21)

The Saviour humbled himself condescending to being a human baby on the First Christmas in order that He pays the ultimate price on the cross. What a Saviour!

Prayer: Lord Jesus, you have won my heart, not by force but by demonstration of your agape love. Let my passionate love for Thee, never diminish. Amen.

Suresh Manoharan
J and SM Ministries
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