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THE MASTERS LIST Dean W. Masters

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Re: THE MASTERS LIST Dean W. Masters

Post  Admin on Thu 05 Jan 2017, 4:54 pm

A Simple Prayer

Today,
For what I am that I ought not to be,
Forgive me.
For what I am not that I ought to be,
Forgive me.
Be with my mouth in what it speaks
Be with my hands in what they do
Be with my mind in what it thinks
Be with my heart in what it feels
Work in me
...through me
...for me
...in spite of me
In the precious name of Jesus,
Amen

This Year's Motto

Continue steadfastly in prayer. - Colossians 4:2

It is interesting to consider how large a portion of the Bible
is occupied with the subject of prayer, either in furnishing examples,
enforcing precepts, or pronouncing promises. We scarcely open the Bible
before
we read, "People began to call upon the name of the LORD;"1 and just as we
are about to close the volume, the "Amen" of an earnest supplication meets
our
ear.

Instances are plentiful. Here we find a wrestling Jacob--there a Daniel who
prayed three times a day--and a David who with all his heart called upon his
God. On the mountain we see Elijah; in the dungeon Paul and Silas. We have
multitudes of commands, and myriads of promises. What does this teach us,
but
the sacred importance and necessity of prayer? We may be certain that
whatever God has made prominent in His Word, He intended to be conspicuous
in our
lives. If He has said much about prayer, it is because He knows we have much
need of it. So deep are our necessities that until we are in heaven we must
not cease to pray.

Do you need nothing? Then I fear you do not know your poverty. Have you no
mercy to ask of God? Then may the Lord's mercy show you your misery! A
prayerless
soul is a Christless soul. Prayer is the lisping of the believing infant,
the shout of the fighting believer, the requiem of the dying saint falling
asleep
in Jesus. It is the breath, the watchword, the comfort, the strength, the
honor of a Christian. If you are a child of God, you will seek your Father's
face and live in your Father's love.

Pray that this year you may be holy, humble, zealous, and patient; have
closer communion with Christ, and enter more often into the banqueting-house
of
His love. Pray that you may be an example and a blessing to others, and that
you may live more to the glory of your Master. The motto for this year must
be, "Continue . . . in prayer."

1 Genesis 4:26

Family Bible reading plan

verse 1 Ezra 2

verse 2 Acts 2

Psalms By The Day: A New Devotional Translation

A fresh translation of all 150 Psalms from biblical scholar Alec Motyer,
Psalms By The Day takes readers through a wonderful day-by-day study of the
Psalms. Translating as closely as possible to the original Hebrew language,
Dr. Motyer provides great help navigating the words given to us by the
author by providing rich historical insights into the origin and ancient
meanings
of the text. In this comprehensive, yet easy to read devotional,
Psalms By The Day is a treasure that immerses readers in the Christian life
laid out in all of its emotional dimensions.

Click here to learn more about Truth For Life

From Morning & Evening revised and edited by Alistair Begg copyright (c)
2003. Used by permission of Crossway Books, a publishing ministry of Good
News
Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187,
www.crossway.org .

The Response of Adoration
By Skip Heitzig

If you as a believer had to live your life all over again, what would you do
differently? Would you pray less? Would you obey God less? Would you help
people less? I have yet to meet somebody on their deathbed who has ever said
anything close to that.

Here's my challenge to you: plan now how you're going to spend the rest of
your life--what your response to God is going to be. Because every person
responds
to God in some manner: some ignore Him, some abhor Him, and others adore
Him. Let me give you four appropriate responses out of Psalm 100 that every
follower
of God, every person who adores Him, should have: worship, serve, love, and
thank.

First, worship the Lord joyfully: "Make a joyful shout to the Lord, all you
lands!... Come before His presence with singing" (vv. 1-2). I discovered no
less than eighteen times in Scripture where we are told to make a shout or
noise of joy unto the Lord. In ancient times, it was customary that if the
king
came into the presence of his subjects, they would let out a shout of
victory. It was their way of saying, "Our king is strong, and we are
victorious because
of him."Now, whenever the subject of worship is brought up, people tend to
make excuses, like "I'm not a good singer." Listen, the voice you have is
the
voice God has given you, and it's an adequate enough instrument to make a
joyful noise unto Him. When God is in your midst, if He is real to you, you
will
engage Him on some level of worship.

Second, serve Him gladly: "Serve the Lord with gladness" (v. 2). Singing
joyfully is great, but God wants more than fans; He wants followers. We
should
respond to God on some level of emotion, but we should also respond with the
motion of obeying what He says--serving Him. Spiritual maturity isn't
measured
by glorious singing as much as by glad serving. God loves a life that is
lived cheerfully for Him.

A third appropriate response to God is to love Him intelligently: "Know that
the Lord, He is God; it is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; we are
His people and the sheep of His pasture" (v. 3). The word
know means to perceive something with understanding. Your mind matters to
God (just read
Matthew 22:37 , Romans 12:2 , Hosea 4:6 , and
2 Peter 3:18 ), and in relating to Him, there are certain things He wants
you to know: His lordship, His craftsmanship, and His ownership, for
example,
as we can see in Psalm 100.

The fourth response to the Lord we should have, especially during this
season, is to thank Him consistently: "Enter into His gates with
thanksgiving, and
into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name. For the
Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting, and His truth endures to all
generations"
(vv. 4-5). Notice the psalmist gave us three reasons to thank the Lord: He's
good, He's merciful, and He's honest. Whether you've had a good week or not,
you can thank Him for His consistent character.

So, if you had to live your life all over again, what would you do
differently? And what are you going to start doing differently now? I
encourage you
to engage in all four of these things: to worship the Lord joyfully, gladly
serve Him and His people, engage your mind and learn of Him, and then
consistently
say, "Thank You, Lord, for Your mercies and Your goodness"--especially as we
go into this holiday season. There's no better time to start than now!

Copyright (c) 2016 by Connection Communications. All rights reserved.
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Re: THE MASTERS LIST Dean W. Masters

Post  Admin on Wed 04 Jan 2017, 11:58 pm

The Passing of Time
Monday, January 2, 2017

"A thousand years in your sight are but as yesterday when it is past, or as
a watch in the night."
Psalm 90:4 ESV

For people in our culture, it can seem that our calendar in its present form
has been accepted throughout eternity. But many of the dates we take for
granted
were, until fairly recently, matters of controversy.

Historian Daniel Boorstin explains that, "during most of human history,"
there was "no scheme at all for dating events in one place in relation to
events
in another place." In fact, the way dates were established often was highly
divisive.

For example, beginning the new year on January 1 was a pagan practice, when
the Romans began their year. This explains "why the Church opposed
observance
of that day."

But gradually these objections were forgotten. Through the use of almanacs
and calendars, by the end of the 16th century, January 1 generally was
accepted
as beginning the "new year."

While people develop their own ways to organize time, the Bible makes clear
that God has a unique perspective. At the beginning of creation, He provided
signposts to mark time. He established days, weeks, and years to remind us
of the past, and to have His perspective on our lives. He also established a
specific calendar for His people. On His calendar, the year began on Rosh
Hashanah, celebrated annually.

At the same time, the Bible reminds us that God is beyond time. What for us
might seem like years can be as brief as a few hours to Him.

As you approach what our culture describes as a new year, pause for a
moment, and commit the future to God. Remember that He has a different
perspective
of time. "He has made everything beautiful in its time" (Ecclesiastes 3:11).
But His Word also reminds us that we need to be watchful, for "the days are
evil" (Ephesians 5:16).

Be careful what you do with your time.

Today's Inspiring Prayer

Father, I commit my time, talent, and treasure to You. I will invest my
resources in Your Kingdom. Help me to be faithful with everything You have
given
me. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Further Reading: Psalm 90

Unjust, Unkind, Unfair, Un-humble?

It is a bold claim we Christians make, a claim that puts us at odds with the
great majority of people on this earth. Our claim is that, by the grace of
God, we’ve got it right and they’ve got it wrong, that we know the way to be
made right with God and they do not. This grand claim is not built upon
anything
we are or anything we’ve done but solely upon who God is and what God has
done.

Some charge that this exclusive claim is unjust, unkind, unfair, un-humble.
We insist it represents reality as God has revealed it. This bold claim is
built upon several others, all of them exclusive in their own way.

One God

There is one God. This is the most foundational claim, that in all the
universe there is but one God, one supreme, uppercase God who created this
world,
owns this world, and who maintains supremacy over it. “Hear, O Israel: The
LORD our God, the LORD is one” (Deuteronomy 6:4). There are many
competitors,
many pretenders, but they are, at best, lowercase gods, perversions of what
God created as good and very good. There is “one God and Father of all, who
is over all and through all and in all” (Ephesians 4:4-6).

One Humanity

There is one humanity. This one God created one humanity. He created one man
and one woman from whom all of us are descended both physically and
spiritually.
He created these people perfect and watched as they rebelled. He created
them for fellowship with him, but saw them resist, run, alienate themselves.
We
carry their DNA in every cell of our bodies and we carry their depravity in
our every part—our bodies, souls, and minds. When it comes to our descent
and
its consequences, there is no distinction: “All have sinned and fall short
of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). The one God rules in such a way that all
are accountable to him, to acknowledge him and to submit to his rule. “So
then each of us will give an account of himself to God” (Romans 14:12).
There
is one humanity, fallen into woeful futility, facing the terrible judgment
of God.

One Way

There is one way. This God has not deserted us, despite our parentage and
despite our actions. We carry inherited sin and we carry committed sin, we
carry
the burden of having alienated ourselves from God, of having committed
treason against him. Yet he offers a way to recover all that we lost. One
way. The
only way. He offers it through his Son Jesus who says, “I am the way, and
the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John
14:6). Jesus represents the path that spans the vast distance between God
and man, the road that leads from isolation to friendship. He represents the
only path, the only road, the only way.

One Mediator

There is one mediator. The separation between God and man is far too
pervasive and terrible to be solved by those who caused it. We cannot
navigate or
negotiate our way back into God’s good graces. We need someone who is
willing and able to represent us before God, to plead our case on our
behalf. Jesus
Christ is that one mediator. “For there is one God, and there is one
mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus who gave himself as a
ransom for
all, which is the testimony given at the proper time” (1 Timothy 2:5-6). He
stands between the convicts and the judge to plead their case, to insist
upon
their innocence, to demand that he has already paid their ransom.

One Name

There is one name. There is, then, just one name in which salvation is to be
found. “And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name
under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). There
is no other name by which we can be saved other than the name of Jesus. He
is
the way, he is the mediator, he is the name, he is the one. All the benefits
he offers are ours when we plead his name, when we put our hope, our trust,
our confidence in him and him alone.

The One and Only

Is it unjust, unkind, unfair, un-humble to insist upon the exclusivity of
Jesus Christ? No, it is unjust, unkind, unfair, un-humble not to, for in
doing
so we are simply describing reality. In doing so we are offering hope.

If we are to return to God, we must go in and by and through Jesus Christ.
We must go in and by and through Jesus Christ
alone. He demands exclusivity. We cannot use Jesus to hedge our bets, adding
a little Jesus to our own efforts or to another guru or deity. We cannot use
Jesus as a preferred way while allowing others to follow their own ways,
their own paths. For Jesus is not
a way, but the way—the only way there is, the only way there ever has been,
the only way there ever will be.

The post Unjust, Unkind, Unfair, Un-humble? appeared first on Tim Challies .


25 Questions for Mary

A teacher friend of mine asked her students to make a list of questions they
would like to ask Mary. Their responses included: What was Jesus’ first
word?
Did he ever get sick? Did Jesus ever misbehave? All legitimate questions.
The fact that we can ask these questions raises an even greater one. Why did
God go so far? Why did He become a human being?

A chief reason is God wants you to know that he gets you. The Bible
says in the Book of Hebrews that he understands how you feel and has faced
what you face (4:15-16). Jesus has been through weakness and testing; he’s
experienced it all--all but the sin! So let’s walk right up to him and get
what he is so ready to give. Take the mercy, accept the help!
Because of Bethlehem, you can boldly go to him!

From Because of Bethlehem

Listen to UpWords with Max Lucado at OnePlace.com
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Re: THE MASTERS LIST Dean W. Masters

Post  Admin on Tue 03 Jan 2017, 10:14 pm

God Has Brought Me Safe Thus Far
Tony Reinke / January 1, 2017
God Has Brought Me Safe Thus Far

John Newton’s hymn “Amazing Grace” is the most famous New Year’s Day hymn in
church history, first unveiled to his rural congregation on January 1, 1773.

The entire hymn is closely modeled after 1 Chronicles 17, a chapter that
speaks of King David’s past, present, and future. Newton does the same,
reflecting
on past grace, present grace, and the hope of future grace. It was a fitting
way to bring in the New Year, and it was his annual pattern.

At the start of every year, Newton set aside a day to reflect on life. He
was at one time a hardened sailor in the slave trade. He was broken and
humbled
and redeemed. And he was aware of the ongoing grace upholding his life. And
his future was completely in the hands of God’s mercy, too. Like David,
Newton
saw grace in 3D — past, present, and future.

New Year’s was a special time of reflection and worship, and the practice
was embedded into his personal disciplines. It became a hallmark of his
pastoral
work. He penned new hymns and sermons and personal letters every year to
urge his friends to take time at the unveiling of a new year to stop and
reflect
on grace. He would tell us to do the same at the start of 2017.

Past, Present, Future Grace

Newton’s most famous hymn “Amazing Grace” is the best example of this
reflection. The hymn was first unveiled in his church on New Year’s Day
(1773), and
it’s a reflection on the new year: a look back on his
past deliverances, a look around on his present deliverances, and a look
forward to his
future deliverances in Christ.

As each New Year approached, Newton patterned his thinking along this
reflective triplet.

In one letter to a friend, Newton explained the discipline,

New Years finds me employed. I compare it to a hill on the road, from the
top of which I endeavor to look back on the way that the Lord has led me
thus
far through the wilderness (past). I look around to contemplate the
difference his goodness has made between my situation, and that of thousands
of my
fellow creatures (present). I then look forward, and perceive that I am
drawing apace to my journey’s end. I shall soon be at home (future).

At the time he wrote this, John Newton, the wretched sinner, had been saved
from his sin and judgment. John Newton, the folly-prone Christian, was being
saved. And John Newton, the glorified and perfected man in Christ, would be
saved in the end.

Such confidence in grace was synonymous with his confidence in the
all-sufficient Christ.

To another friend, Newton wrote, “I hope this New Year will bring many new
blessings to you. The Lord is good. He has delivered (past) — he does
deliver
(present) — he will deliver (future). Oh, what an Altar, Atonement, Temple,
Priest! What a Sun and Shield! What a Savior and what a Shepherd have we!”

The New Year afforded Newton the reminder to meditate on the grace of
Christ.

Amazing Grace

Knowing how Newton processed the New Year — and knowing he wrote “Amazing
Grace” for a New Year’s Day service in his church — take a moment now to
read
the hymn as it originally appeared. Read it slowly, meditatively, as you
reflect on how God has delivered, is delivering, and will finally deliver
his
children.

The hymn opens with a reminder of God’s past grace:

Amazing grace! (how sweet the sound)
That sav’d a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.

‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears reliev’d;
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believ’d!

Now note the transition to God’s present grace:

Through many dangers, toils, and snares,
I have already come;
‘Tis grace has brought me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home.

Finally, Newton concludes with confidence in God’s future grace:

The Lord has promis’d good to me,
His word my hope secures:
He will my shield and portion be,
As long as life endures.

Yes, when this flesh and heart shall fail,
And mortal life shall cease,
I shall possess, within the veil,
A life of joy and peace.

The earth shall soon dissolve like snow,
The sun forbear to shine;
But God, who call’d me here below,
Will be forever mine.

New Year, New Mercies

Wrote Newton in another letter to a friend, “With new years, new mercies.”

Yes, because we are in the middle of a storyline of grace, a new year brings
new anticipation of new mercies from Christ.

The new year is an opportunity to pause on the path and to stand humbly on
the hilltop of time to look back on grace received, to cherish the
sustaining
grace of God upholding us now, and to anticipate future graces yet to come
in 2017.

Will I Be Single for the Rest of My Life?
John Piper / January 1, 2017
Copyright © 2017 Desiring God, all rights reserved

Moving Forward Into the New Year
View this email in your browser

BIBLE MEDITATION:
“Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the Lord: His going forth is
prepared as the morning; and He shall come unto us as the rain, as the
latter
and former rain unto the earth.”
Hosea 6:3

DEVOTIONAL THOUGHT:
On this New Year’s Eve, you may be wondering what is going to happen. Years
ago, some men were on a leaky old ship in the middle of a rough and stormy
sea. One of them asked the captain, “Are we safe?” He said, “Well, the
boilers are weak and may explode at any moment. The ship is taking on water.
To
be very honest with you, we may go up, or we may go down, but at any rate,
we are going on.”

And that’s the way we are as we face this new year. Jesus may come; we may
go up. We may die, and go down and then up, but at any rate, we are going
on.

ACTION POINT:
Reflecting on this past year, allow the Holy Spirit to invade your heart,
convicting and drawing you to Himself. Ask for wisdom, courage, and faith to
continue on, whatever happens this next year!
Love Worth Finding Ministries
Copyright © 2016 Love Worth Finding Ministries, All rights reserved.
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Re: THE MASTERS LIST Dean W. Masters

Post  Admin on Tue 03 Jan 2017, 12:07 am

Scared

One year the youth at my church presented the musical “The Surprising
Christmas Pageant ( The Story of the Birth of Christ Told with Humor,
Mystery and Awe)” by Dennis Hartin. In this musical an angel went to Mary
and told her the message from God about her giving birth to Jesus Christ.
Then the angel went to Joseph and told him about Mary who is going to give
birth to the Messiah. When the angel appeared, both Mary and Joseph said,
“It’s an alien!” The angel then had to tell them it was not an alien but and
angel with a message from God. When the angel was finished both Mary and
Joseph said, “I would be less scared if you were an alien.” Samuel might
have thought the same thing in the following Scripture:

1 Samuel 3:10-15 (NLT)
10 And the Lord came and called as before, “Samuel! Samuel!” And Samuel
replied, “Yes, your servant is listening.” 11 Then the Lord said to Samuel,
“I am about to do a shocking thing in Israel. 12 I am going to carry out all
my threats against Eli and his family. 13 I have warned him continually that
judgment is coming for his family, because his sons are blaspheming God and
he hasn’t disciplined them. 14 So I have vowed that the sins of Eli and his
sons will never be forgiven by sacrifices or offerings.” 15 Samuel stayed in
bed until morning, then got up and opened the doors of the Tabernacle as
usual. He was afraid to tell Eli what the Lord had said to him.

This was the first time Samuel had ever heard God speaking to him. It took
god three times to get Samuel’s attention. When Eli finally figured out that
God was trying to talk to Samuel, Samuel was scared. This was a heavy load
to put on anyone.

Why don’t people listen for and to God today? You might do your duty and
read your chapter of Scripture almost every day but you don’t take time to
meditate on it and let God speak to you through it. You might spend a little
time in prayer but it is just giving God your wish list of things you want
Him to do for you. You don’t take time after your talking to allow God to
talk to you. Could it be because you are scared of what God might say to
you? You might hear God tell you to do something like God told Samuel to do
or like what God said to Moses at the burning bush. God had things for these
two people to do for Him.

When He talks to you He may have something for you to do. No matter what God
has to say, He can’t say it unless you listen. Take time to listen to God.
He may just want to say,

“I LOVE YOU!”

by Dean W. Masters

"Right on Time, Just When We Need His Grace" #84-18

Sermon Text for January 1, 2017
Presented on The Lutheran Hour on January 1, 2017
By Rev. Dr. Gregory Seltz, Speaker of The Lutheran Hour
Copyright 2016 Lutheran Hour Ministries
Listen to The Lutheran Hour podcast online
Text: Galatians 4:4-7

But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman,
born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive
adoption
to sonship.

Christ is risen. He is risen, indeed. Hallelujah! Amen!

A blessed, joyous New Year to you from all of us here at The Lutheran Hour!

When a new year begins, it's the right time to do some new things. Sometimes
the newness of a new year can't wait. Last New Year's Eve, a competition
labeled
as "the battle of the babies" developed in New York City. Precisely at
midnight two babies were born, rivaling each other for the title of the
first baby
of the New Year. On Long Island, a bouncing baby boy named Maxim was born.
Birth monitors confirm that at the exact same time, in the borough of
Brooklyn,
little Zayden was born, weighing in at seven pounds, one ounce. It was a
tie. No one could stop these little gifts from God from making their New
Year's
entrance into the world.

That's just how it goes sometimes. When it's time, it's time!

We've just entered 2017. Do you know what that means? Yes, later this year
the whole world will be celebrating the 500th anniversary of the
Reformation.
I bet you hadn't thought about that, right? In 1517, Martin Luther, a
pastor, a monk, and professor, posted the Ninety-Five Theses on the Castle
Church
door in Wittenberg, Germany. He was calling for a serious discussion about
"getting right with God," salvation by faith in Jesus because of God's
grace.
He wanted the church to focus on the Good News of the Gospel for the people
in their communities. His small action triggered massive changes not only in
the church, but in the whole world, all as a result of unleashing the Good
News of Jesus to a new generation. It was the right time. And when it's the
right time, you can't stop it.

But what about you? Is this finally the right time for real change in your
life? What new step in life is getting ready to break through? Is it time
for
you to start something? Or is it time for you to stop something? Are you
thinking about your health or diet? Are you evaluating a habit in your life
that
needs to change right now? Has the right time come for forgiveness or
reconciliation? What is the right time in your life? Maybe you've been
waiting, watching,
and wondering. Perhaps now is the right time!

You know, there may be a real shortage of really good new news in the world
today because even the good news of our world doesn't always last. January
may seem like it brings the same old, same old. But what I want you to know
today is that God does things differently than we do. God does things much
differently than the world does too. The Bible says it clearly; He is the
One Who makes all things new in His time.

The Apostle Paul, who had a miserable old life, filled with hatred and
destruction, experienced God's renewing work at the right time. As Paul
plunged
headlong into persecuting and tormenting followers of Jesus, the risen
Savior appeared to him personally, led him out of destruction and
bitterness, and
filled him with the Holy Spirit through baptism. Paul was a brand new
person. He had a brand new outlook. He received the love and forgiveness of
Jesus
and his life was dramatically changed. Paul himself proclaimed to brand new
believers in 2 Corinthians 5: "If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation;
the old has gone, the new has come"
(2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV).

Suddenly, Paul had the hope of heaven instead of the dread of another
difficult day. Right on time, Jesus brought His grace into Paul's life.

God knows all about timing; and that's why, in His Name, I ask you, "What
newness is it time for in your life?"

Over the Christmas season you celebrated God's good timing. Paul's letter to
the people in Galatia tells us what caused Christmas: "But when the fullness
of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law,
to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption"
(Galatians 4:4-5).

It was the right time for Jesus to be born. God couldn't hold back anymore
as He sent His only Son into our world to make the biggest Christmas
purchase
ever. The price was high: the purpose of Christmas was that Jesus would
ultimately give His life on a cross for the forgiveness of your sins and
mine.
That gift to the world was too big to wrap: forgiveness of our sins, the
blessings of eternal life, hope that lasts forever, and a brand new future
empowered
by God's Spirit. The result was miraculous. Just as Jesus Christ was raised
from the dead, we too are raised with Him through baptism so we can walk in
newness of life just in time.

Have you been waiting for a new life, a fresh start, a brand new beginning?
Have you been yearning for help and hope? God's Word brings you the good
news
today that "now is the time of God's favor, now is the day of your
salvation"
(2 Corinthians 6:2 NIV).

The writer of the book of Hebrews calls out to you and me as the New Year
dawns. He says: "See to it...that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving
heart
that turns away from the living God...As has just been said: 'Today, if you
hear his voice, do not harden your hearts'"
(Hebrews 3:12-15 NIV).

I'm telling you directly then, in the Name of Jesus now is the right time
for you to believe. It is the right time to return to God, to repent, to ask
for His help, to let Him carry the load, to trust the risen Savior, Jesus
Christ.

I hope that you've been waiting for this time! Let it be the right time for
you. God's Word promises: "If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord
and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be
saved" (Romans 10:9). You don't have to solve all of life's problems or
carry
the load of responsibility for everything. You don't have to figure out
everything or know all the answers. If you're tired of weariness, your
anger, your
regrets, your failures, your struggles, let today be the day of salvation
for you. Let today be the right time to receive God's grace in your life.
Have
faith in Jesus, the One Who can handle the load, Who solved life's problems,
and Who promises to be with you always. Ask Him to be your help, your peace,
your consolation, and your salvation. It's the right time.

Sometimes you do have to wait for the right time, don't you?

The story is told of a group of women that met for Bible study. While
studying in the book of Malachi, chapter three, they came across a verse
which says:

"He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver." That verse puzzled the
women and they wondered how this statement applied to the character and
nature
of God. One of the women offered to find out more about the process of
refining silver and get back to the group at their next Bible study.

The following week, the woman called up a silversmith and made an
appointment to watch him while at work. She didn't mention anything about
the reason
for her interest, beyond curiosity about the process of refining silver.

As she watched the silversmith work, he held a piece of silver over the fire
and let it heat up. He explained that in refining silver, one needed to hold
the silver in the middle of the fire, where the flames were the hottest so
as to burn away all of the impurities.

The woman thought about God holding us in such a hot spot for what seemed
like entirely too much time; then she thought again about the verse,
"He sits as a refiner and purifier of silver."

She asked the silversmith if it was true that he had to sit there in front
of the fire the entire time that the silver was being refined. The man said
yes, that not only did he have to sit there holding the silver, but he had
to keep his eye on it the entire time it was in the fire; too short a time,
still full of impurities; if the silver was left even a moment too long in
the flames, it would be destroyed.

The woman sat silent for a moment. Then she asked the silversmith, "But how
do you know when the silver is fully refined?"

He smiled at her and answered, "Oh, that's easy--when I see my image in it."

That's right; like the silversmith has a stake in the silver's refinement,
God Himself has a stake in your life. He wants all of His blessing, His
favor,
His grace to be delivered to your life. He literally wants you to be
"recreated in His image again" as His dearly loved son or daughter! Haven't
you waited
long enough to receive this? Are you finished trying to handle life's deep
problems by yourself? Are your cares crushing you? Are you ready to live as
a blood-bought child of the Savior God?

Galatians 4; let me paraphrase it this way: "Because you are sons and
daughters, God has sent his Spirit of his Son Jesus into our hearts, so we
can cry,
'Abba! Father!' So you are no longer a slave, you're a part of the family.
And if you're a part of the family, you're an heir of God" (Galatians 4:6-7
paraphrased).

It was a just in time right time for little May Lynn. She was a newborn
brought to her first foster home in a far away Asian nation. Her parents,
her birth
parents, had abandoned her and there really wasn't any room for her in the
orphanage. And her first foster family, they merely took her in for the
money.
They neglected her, barely feeding her, not even speaking with her. But just
in time, a couple from the United States received the news that they could
adopt her.

May Lynn's 2-year anguish was over. This couple's 10-year wait was over.
They adopted one child 10 years earlier, and had been trying each year after
that
to adopt another. They saved money, they prayed, they waited, and finally,
God opened the door. It was the right time. They flew across the ocean to
pick
up their little girl and brought her home.

But just in time love even takes time too. While they were filled with joy
as a family, it didn't take long for them to realize the challenges involved
in loving little May Lynn. Her 2-year trauma in her first foster home left
her terrified of this new reality. She didn't say a word. She suffered from
a variety of illnesses. She wasn't well-nourished and had no pattern of
dependable sleep. But she was theirs. They loved her. They struggled, day by
day,
but today, little May Lynn delights in seeing her mommy and daddy with a
whole new life ahead of her; life, love, just in time.

Well, that's just a glimpse of what God has done for you through Jesus
Christ, sending His Son into this world just in time to save you and me. He
adopted
you. He made you His own. He paid the price, met the challenges, shouldered
your maladies, overcame your neglect and fear, and made you His own. You too
now have a new life by the grace of God through faith in Jesus.

So, take a hard look at the old things; the things of yesterday, without
God's grace. Are there past things that torment you, present things that
plague
you with worry, future things that fill you with anxiety? Your living Savior
will take care of it. Your life is new. It's a new chapter for you today.
Today's the day to be His own, now is the time for His freedom and salvation
by grace to be in your life.

Now is the time to live as His child, His heir; not in the bondage and
prison of your sin and guilt, but alive in His forgiveness and grace in the
freedom
that comes with following Jesus through the open door of grace, and mercy,
and peace.

And that life can be yours right now. Just like a lady I heard about who was
going through some very difficult and trying circumstances. She was
experiencing
major distress in her marriage; her job was unfulfilling and was causing her
heartache. She became so distraught over her circumstances that she just
felt
like giving up. She felt lonely, dejected, isolated. She had tried
everything, but she got nowhere. Finally she came to the point of exhaustion
and felt
that there was no way out of her terrible circumstances and she even felt
there would be no more joy in her life. Have you ever felt like that?

One day, frustrated and lonely, she just sat in her kitchen and began to
cry. Just then she noticed a small sparrow had somehow gotten into her
kitchen,
so she opened the door thinking the sparrow would simply fly out the door.
To her surprise the sparrow kept flying into the closed window that was just
above the door. She did everything she could to redirect the bird's
attention, but to no avail as it flew into the window again and again and
again. The
bird became weaker and weaker each time as it hit the glass. When the bird
got so tired that it couldn't fly, it just started to walk on the ground. As
it walked, it made its way right out the open door to freedom. When the
sparrow began to regain his strength, off he flew, free again.

It was as though God literally opened up this woman's spiritual eyes. She
realized in just about every area of her life she was behaving just like
this
sparrow. She was trying in her own way to get out of the confining
situations she was in, each time being knocked down in defeat. In reacting
harshly to
her family members - knocked down! Not giving her best at work - knocked
down! Paying back evil for evil done to her - knocked down! Saying and doing
things
that she knew were wrong - knocked down!

She finally realized that all she had to do was do just like this sparrow -
to very humbly walk in the power of God's grace and mercy and allow Him to
work out all her heartaches and difficulties and walk with Him through the
door He would open for her.

This New Year, now's the time! Like the Bible says in 2 Corinthians 6, "In a
favorable time, I (the Lord) listened to you, and in a day of salvation, I
the Lord helped you." Now's the time. Look for God's gracious open doors;
don't miss what God is graciously giving you at the right time. It's the
treasure
of forgiveness. It's the blessing of a new beginning. Go to God in prayer
today even more boldly. Find a pastor, a church, reconnect with a community
of
faith and be embraced by God's love and filled with His living Word. This
New Year is the right time for you. You never know what surprises God has in
store yet for you.

In Jesus, you are no longer a slave to your own sin and helplessness. You
are God's child, an heir of everlasting life, an heir of eternal hope, an
heir
of the forgiveness of sins. You are an heir of the great blessing of sharing
the light of Jesus Christ in a dark and difficult world. You are God's
child.
It is today! Right on time, just when you need God's grace for life today
and forever. Amen.

Print this Sermon
Action in Ministry for January 1, 2017
Guest: Rev. Dr. Gregory Seltz

ANNOUNCER: You're listening to The Lutheran Hour and this is Action In
Ministry. As we begin the New Year, we might be pondering resolutions and
goals
for the year just ahead.

SELTZ: Mark, I know that I plan to tackle a few. One goal is to be
intentional about sharing Christ with those I encounter: friends, neighbors,
strangers,
the people around us.

ANNOUNCER: We have a booklet that we want to share with you this week. It's
titled: Live the Six: Learning to Live as an Everyday Missionary. It's about
taking the Gospel out to the streets every day and not just taking it in
while you're sitting in the church pew on Sunday.

SELTZ: Right.

ANNOUNCER: Pastor Seltz, you were a parish pastor prior to becoming Lutheran
Hour Speaker and your focus was on urban ministry.

SELTZ: That's right.

ANNOUNCER: Could you share any examples of how you performed every day
mission service outside of the regular Sunday services?

SELTZ: The goal of being a missionary, if you will, or a witness of Jesus
Christ is be yourself. Be yourself in Christ for others. Again, it's not
some
plan. It's not some program. It's just how can you be the best you that you
can be so that if others get to know you, they get to know Jesus. Now here's
one way I did it in New York City, for instance. I like pizza, how about
you?

ANNOUNCER: Sure. Yeah.

SELTZ: Okay, New York pizza on the corner, you've got to have it. I used to
go to this coffee shop and get coffee and doughnuts. Well, one of the things
we used to do in the neighborhood is we would say we're here to bless. Our
job is to bless and pray for the folks in the neighborhood and so I'd tell
people
that. I'd bring my business card and say, "I'm Pastor Seltz. Every Wednesday
we pray about the businesses in our community. I just want you to know we
pray for you. Now here's my card. If you want a specific prayer, write it on
the back and give me the card when I come see you tomorrow because I'm going
to get coffee no matter what..."

ANNOUNCER: And more pizza.

SELTZ: Right, and more pizza. But I said, "If you don't want the card, just
throw it away." Every month I would give them a new card. Every month I'd
give
them a new card. Over time, they'd start asking questions like: "Why'd you
do this? Do you really care? Do you really want to... I've got some
questions.
I've even got some prayer requests." Be yourself in Christ for others.

ANNOUNCER: And you build that relationship over time.

SELTZ: Absolutely. Absolutely.

ANNOUNCER: Yeah. Now how does God's service to us in worship prepare us for
that kind of service the rest of the week?

SELTZ: I think that's the key. People think that going to church is you
having to do something so that God will actually love you. It's the exact
opposite.
It's God coming on His terms, yes, but with His grace. So He's actually
serving you. So the whole action being in worship from a Christian point of
view
is that God comes with this incredible grace and He actually reconciles you
to Himself. He serves you back into His kingdom. That's a whole different
way
of looking at life and looking at your friends and neighbors as you serve
them like God serves you.

ANNOUNCER: People might say though, "Okay. You're a professional. You're a
pastor, so this is your job." Do you have some examples of how people
outside
of the clergy live as every day missionaries and use those opportunities?

SELTZ: Well, I've got to tell you right now, my wife's the best evangelist
of the two of us. She's way better than I am. In fact, I only get to close
the
deal when she makes friends. She's intensely interested in people and she
has this real love for people and people trust her very quickly and then
they
start to see that that's a special gift that comes from a God Who loves her
the same. One of my best examples was one day she got a ticket, and I don't
want to get into a whole thing, but she never gets tickets. My wife always
seems to be able to talk her way out of it. This time she gets the ticket
and
she goes to traffic school. Who goes to traffic school and comes back with
five new friends? And they call themselves to this day The Violators. The
Violators,
if you're listening, you know I'm what I'm talking about. These have become
our friends from all over the world, but they're our best friends and we've
had a chance to share our faith with them. In fact, every year we have The
Violators Christmas party where we sing about the good things of God.
Through
that whole process we've met friends, we've been able to share faith, we've
grown in faith together with some of those friends. It's just one of those
things. But who goes to a traffic court and comes back with new friends who
then you can share the Gospel with?

ANNOUNCER: Yeah. Yeah. Do you have examples also of ways that you've reached
people...

SELTZ: Oh, yeah.

ANNOUNCER: ...where they didn't know you were a pastor?

SELTZ: That's the thing. It's actually harder when you're a professional
because they assume you're going to tell them something. So when I'm on a
plane,
for instance, and people ask me what I do, I usually... what do you say? If
you say, "I'm a pastor," that's the end of that conversation. But I talk
about
some things and occasionally... finally when someone says, "You seem to deal
with something spiritual," I go, "Yeah. Here's a card." And I give them
Luther's
prayer; morning and evening prayer. And they start to read that and they go,
"Wow! This is pretty powerful stuff." And I go, "Yeah, actually I am a
pastor
and if there is more that you'd like to know about, I'd love to talk to you
or if not, I'd love to talk about the Lions. I think they're going to win
this
year."

ANNOUNCER: And this booklet that we're offering, Live the Six; I think it's
one you'll want to read. It will help you see your circumstances, your
opportunities,
in a whole different way. Pastor Seltz, thank you for sharing your
experiences with us today.

SELTZ: It's been my pleasure.

ANNOUNCER: And that's our Action In Ministry segment for today; to bless, to
empower, and to strengthen your life in Christ for others. For your free
copy
of the booklet
Live the Six
go to lutheranhour.org and click on Action in Ministry. Or call
1-855-john316. That's 1-855-564-6316.

LUTHERAN HOUR MAILBOX (Questions & Answers) for January 1, 2017
Topic: How Can I Have Hope in the New Year?

ANNOUNCER: Now Pastor Gregory Seltz responds to questions from listeners.
I'm Mark Eischer. Many people felt last year was very challenging for a
number
of reasons. How can we have hope for the New Year?

SELTZ: Well, Mark, first let me wish our listener and everyone a Happy
Blessed New Year.

ANNOUNCER: Happy and blessed is a good way to start the New Year.

SELTZ: Indeed it is. Sometimes it's easy to become downhearted and even
cynical about the future. The longer life goes on, Mark, the more trouble we
do
see.

ANNOUNCER: Considering all the challenges faced by the world and the
divisions within our country, we can see how people might be at a low ebb of
hope.
What answer can you give to that very real issue?

SELTZ: Well I'm not going to raise the banner of technology, new products,
political leaders, advances in medicine; I'm not even going to talk about
rallying
around our best sports teams. We do have blessings in all those areas, and
they can be wonderful things to a degree, for a time, but I'm sure our
listener
will agree that they only give temporary boosts in morale and only
short-term hope.

ANNOUNER: Right. We need something more than anything the world can dream up
or invent.

SELTZ: And that's the real and lasting hope that we find in the Bible. The
writer of Psalms 42 and 43, it gives us a key to hope for the New Year.
Listen
to what he says, "Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God"
(Psalms
42:5-6 NIV). The Psalmist repeats these exact words three times over the
course of these psalms. The answer to hopelessness is in our Savior, our
God,
Jesus Christ.

ANNOUNCER: Picking up two words there downcast and disturbed; that sort of
captures what we might feel at times. What does it look like to put one's
hope
in God?

SELTZ: Your question makes me think of a group of people who could have felt
very hopeless. In the book of Acts, chapter one, Jesus just ascended into
heaven. He left His followers with the promise that the Holy Spirit would
come, but He was gone. Can you imagine how they felt? Alone, uncertain,
frightened,
doubting, even hopeless maybe to a degree. What did they do? They went back
to Jerusalem, gathered together and, as the Bible says,
"They all joined constantly in prayer" (Acts 1:14 NIV).

ANNOUNCER: And that tells me that living in hope means to trust in God, pray
to Him, and wait for Him to act on His promises.

SELTZ: I love that. Isaiah 40 says it the same way, "Those who hope in the
Lord, they will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles;
run
and not grow weary, walk and not grow faint" (Isaiah 40:31 NIV). The problem
is too many people, I think, are looking everywhere else for hope but here.
God's people have hope in the Lord when we wait for Him and seek Him.

ANNOUNCER: And, if our listener wants to grow in hope for the New Year, the
best place to look is at God's promises.

SELTZ: That's why, I think, the Apostle Paul's counsels us in Colossians 3.
He said: "If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are
above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on
things above, not on things that are on the earth" (Colossians 3:1-2 ESV).
He
goes on to describe a life filled with the fruit of the Spirit and the love
of Christ. And then, of course, he says, "Let the word of Christ dwell in
you
richly" (vs. 16). That's a wellspring of lasting hope. It's found in the
living water God gives through His Living Word. Alone!

ANNOUNCER: Hope is not just having an optimistic outlook because everything
seems like it's going to go well. Hope is the result of trust in God even
when
things look bleak.

SELTZ: Right. Hope is born out of the fire of realizing that this world
without Jesus, it is hopeless.

ANNOUNCER: We think here of those wonderful verses from Romans, chapter 5,
where it says: "Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we
have
peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ... And we rejoice in the hope
of the glory of God... Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings,
because
we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and
character, hope"
(Romans 5:1-5 NIV).

SELTZ: And do you know what Paul says after that? "And that hope does not
disappoint." Why, because God poured out His love into our hearts by the
Spirit.
How can our listener, and all our listeners, face the New Year with hope?
God poured His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit. Jesus gave us access
to a new place and a new outlook-one of His grace.

ANNOUNCER: And because of our living God and Savior we have every reason,
then, to hope throughout this New Year.

SELTZ: Yes we do.

ANNOUNCER: Thank you, Pastor Seltz. This has been a presentation of Lutheran
Hour Ministries.
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Post  Admin on Sun 01 Jan 2017, 10:13 pm

BYE FOR NOW
By Heather Spears Kallus

Goodbye seems so final seven letters in a row,
"Bye for now" feels better this I do know.

When parting ways from this earth or simply for the day,
Bye for now is comforting - that I must say.

Bye for now provides a chance to meet again somehow,
To give or get another hug that time, it will allow.

Bye for now offers hope to all the ones we love,
That simple phrase might be a gift directly from above.

Days can feel oh so long, but years are short indeed,
Ask anyone who's lost a love "Just one more day," we plead.

All the memories in our hearts, tucked away, we keep,
Special ones leave a mark, one that's surely deep.

So, let's not say goodbye. Let's change the way we part,
Let's say, "Bye for now." It's softer on the heart.

Whether it is in a text, long e-mail, or note,
Let it be remembered bye for now is what we wrote.

Or when our time on earth has met its final date,
It's bye for now, not goodbye see you at The Gate!

Blog link:
http://sipsofsunshine.blogspot.com/2016/10/bye-for-now.html

Copyright 2016 Heather Spears Kallus. Permission is granted to send this to
others, but not for commercial purposes.

Inspiration Ministries Daily Devotion

Hiding in God
Saturday, December 31, 2016

"Rescue me from my enemies, LORD; I run to you to hide me."
Psalm 143:9 NLT

William Cushing faced a challenged. How to respond to the request of Ira
Sankey (famed for his work with evangelist Dwight Moody) for hymn to write a
special
hymn. It was 1876, and Cushing prayed, asking God to give him something that
would glorify Him. He later recalled that how words came to him as he
thought
about his life.

Cushing, who was born on this day in 1823, had spent most of his life in
ministry. But he also had experienced personal trials. He was forced to
retire
after his health declined and his wife died. Writing hymns became an outlet
to express his faith, and what he had learned from the Lord. He also looked
at these hymns as part of his worship.

As he pondered Sankey's challenge, he remembered the "many battles" he had
experienced. He expressed "the outgrowth of many tears, many heart-conflicts
and soul-yearnings, of which the world can know nothing."

In this hymn ("Hiding in God"), Cushing wrote that God had been faithful. In
the storms of life, he felt safe clinging to "the Rock that is higher than
I," and that his soul would fly to His safety when he went through
"conflicts and sorrows."

He felt weary, and knew the pain and price of sin, but knew that he could
hide in God, who was with him anytime, "in the calm of the noontide, in
sorrow's
lone hour," and "in times when temptation casts o'er me its power."

On the last day of this year, look back and remember how God has been with
you.

He promises to be with you into the future. No matter what happens in the
coming year, you can trust Him. Seek Him with your whole heart. Be at peace
and
rejoice. You can hide in Him.

Today's Inspiring Prayer

Father, thank You that You have been my Rock in the past. I commit the
future to You. I trust You. Direct my path. Give me Your wisdom. Help me to
serve
You. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Further Reading: Psalm 143

PresbyCan Daily Devotional

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Today's Devotional

Which Way To Go?

As I look out of my living room window early in the morning, I see a seagull
standing on the rooftop of the neighbour's two-story building. What is he
looking for? Another sea gull? He looks so alone, taking stock of his
domain. The ocean is just down the street, and the mountains stretch out
behind him.
It must be quite a view for him. Which way does he go?

As we stand on the brink of this new year looking into the unknown, which
way do we go? We need to pray for direction and support — or at least I do.
This
new year will bring massive changes for which I need to prepare and pray my
way through. I am expecting to move into residential care. I don't have much
energy these days, and much looks like the view from a hard rooftop. What
shall I do? What should you do?

This verse gives me some direction and hope:

Isaiah 40:31 – But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they
will
walk and not be faint. (NIV)

I can see myself up on the rooftop ready to fly off. With God leading, I
know the way that I need to go, soaring away on wings like eagles, safely
guided.

This city has a lovely beach, and the grass has often held what seemed like
thousands of birds clustered together. As I watch the seagull on the
rooftop,
I am with it in spirit. A recent culling has left him alone, for many birds
have been taken from the area. Now, those that are left need to learn what
it is like to be alone, flying off into the future.

But you and I are never totally alone. The Bible reminds us that the Lord
Jesus is leading the way into the future. Psalm 103:5 reminds us of God,
"who
satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like
the eagle's." (NIV) No matter how hard and difficult the future is, the Lord
Jesus guides us through each day, through every problem and hard decision.
Yes, Scripture reminds us that our youth is renewed like the eagle's, even
when
we look ahead with doubt and confusion. All is safely undertaken as the Lord
leads us along through every age.

Let us take our confusion to the Lord and commit this day and the new year
to Him. He will guide us through with love and joy.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, as we stand on the rooftop of the new year, may we fly
straight into Your arms where we are guided and protected by You. In Your
name,
we pray. Amen.

Iris Ford
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Post  Admin on Sun 01 Jan 2017, 1:30 am

Small Changes with Big Results Next Year
by Stephen Altrogge

There is something about goal setting that gets me fired up and excited.
Maybe it’s the prospect of doing something awesome in the upcoming year,
like
running a marathon, or reading through the entire Bible, or finally writing
that book I’ve been thinking about. Or maybe it’s the prospect of finally
kicking
those bad habits I have, like getting up too late, or regularly eating
things that will probably shorten my life in the long run. I like to set big
goals
that will challenge me.

But in the last couple of years I’ve started to notice something about
myself: Small goals coupled with faithfulness produce the biggest results.

One example: I don’t think I’ll ever run a marathon. I would like to, but I’ve
got a bad knee and I don’t have the time required to train for a marathon.
But, with God’s help, I can discipline myself to run for 20-25 minutes a
couple of times per week. Another example: I have a hard time reading
through
the entire Bible in a year. I’ve done it, but it doesn’t work particularly
well for me and my personality. But I can read the Bible and pray for 35-45
minutes most days before my day gets going. One last example: I don’t have
hours and hours to spend working on a book or a song or any other creative
project.
But I can find 20-30 minutes a couple of times a week.

I’ve started to see that seeking to be faithful in these little areas has
wonderful long term results. The more I run, the better I feel. The more
consistently
I read my Bible, the more I grow in my walk with God. The more I work on
writing, the better I become. I’ve got two small children with one on the
way,
and I’m a pastor at a church. I don’t have huge amounts of time to dedicate
to things. But I can be faithful, and God honors faithfulness, even to
little
things.

In Luke 16:10 Jesus said:

One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who
is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much.

In Proverbs 13:4 it says:

The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing, while the soul of the
diligent is richly supplied.

Over and over scripture
emphasizes the value of diligence. God rewards diligence and faithfulness
and hard work. We probably won’t see the results immediately, but over time
we will. It’s like building a house. When you lay the first bricks, it doesn’t
look anything like a house. But as you slowly and methodically work toward
your goal, things begin to take shape.

So let me give you a few steps to take:

Okay, now it’s your turn. What little goals will you pursue this year?

Lessons from the Fog
by The Good Book Blog

By Joy Mosbarger

A few weeks ago I had an early morning meeting that required me to get up
and leave home way before it was light. As I walked out my front door, I
noticed
for the first time that not only was the world still shrouded in darkness,
but it was also shrouded in fog. This immediately brought back strong
memories
of the years I lived in California’s Central Valley where heavy fog at
certain times of the year was commonplace. And most of those memories were
not pleasant.

In fact, most of those memories involved driving, and the primary emotion
they evoked was apprehension. My first memory of driving in the fog happened
during my first year of college when the college closed down for a “fog
day.” In my naiveté, I viewed this as an opportunity to leave early for a
planned
weekend in Southern California. I soon realized the folly of my decision
when I got on the freeway and could hardly see more than a few feet in front
of
me. Eventually I developed a strategy of getting behind a big semitrailer. I
stayed just close enough so I could see its lights. If it slowed down, I
slowed
down. If it speeded up, I speeded up. If it changed lanes, I changed lanes.
Needless to say, my eyes were intensely focused on those lights.

The fog that was present on my way to my early morning meeting was not as
thick as that Central Valley fog often was. But it was thick enough that I
adopted
my strategy of keeping my eyes focused intently on the lights of the car in
front of me, my hands tightly gripping the steering wheel. In the midst of
my intense focus, a line from one of the songs that was playing on the radio
jumped out at me... “fixing our eyes on Jesus.” The connection between the
intensity of my focus on that car in front of me and the idea of fixing our
eyes on Jesus struck me immediately. That thought was followed almost
instantly
by a powerful grief that I so rarely focus as intently on Jesus as I was
focused on that car in front of me.

Hebrews 12:1-2
tells us that we should run with endurance the race of life before us with
our eyes fixed on Jesus, who is the author and perfecter of our faith. The
Greek participle that is translated “fixing” (
aphorōntes) evokes the idea of directing close attention on one thing
without distraction and to the exclusion of anything else. Unfortunately, I
am easily
distracted. But when driving in the fog, I realized that if I took my eyes
off of that car or truck in front of me, I could miss a lane change or a
sudden
stop. Straining to look beyond that car or to see what was happening on
either side of me could result in the failure to notice a key move on the
part
of what should be the object of my attention. Fixing our eyes on Jesus
involves a decision to turn away from all else that might distract us and
gazing
intently at Jesus alone.

And the reason we are to fix our eyes on Jesus is that he is the author and
perfecter (
archēgon kai teleiōtēn) of our faith. He is the author of our faith—the
pioneer or originator. He is the one who has gone before us and provides the
only
sure example of how the life of faith is to be lived. And he is the
originator of the individual path that each of our lives of faith is
intended to follow.
In addition, Jesus is the perfecter of our faith—the one who has brought the
life of faith to a successful conclusion and makes it possible for us to do
the same.

Hebrews 12:2
indicates that this successful conclusion and one of the ultimate goals of
the life of faith is to sit down in the presence of God. Jesus has gone
before
us and was the first to attain that goal. And through Jesus, we too can
enter the presence of God. On that foggy morning a few weeks ago, I was just
trying
to get to my meeting on time and in one piece. That’s why I fixed my eyes on
that car in front of me. But during that trip I was challenged to fix my
eyes
consistently, with the same intensity and focus, on Jesus. Because my
ultimate goal is not to get to a meeting; rather it is to arrive safely in
the presence
of God. Jesus is the only one who knows the safest and best path to that
goal. And he will lead me there if I keep my eyes fixed on him.

PresbyCan Daily Devotional

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Today's Devotional

A Morning Prayer

Each morning, missionary and author, Norman Grubb, would pray a simple
prayer:

Good morning, God.
What are You up to today?
I want to be a part of it.
May I?
Thank You, God.
Amen.

For me, this short prayer is like spiritual medicine. It frames my day with
hope. It opens my expectations to possibilities beyond my finite thoughts,
my gnawing anxieties, and my gloomy uncertainties. It reminds me that God is
fully in charge of this day. God is doing something that matters, and I can
be part of His program — yes, even today. That possibility puts meaning into
my day.

Any of us can pray these words! It's a wonderful prayer. It shifts our minds
from
our agenda for God to God's agenda for us — or rather, for anyone He wishes,
anywhere, and in any way — according to His glorious, divine purposes. To
be sure, God's agenda is far grander than what we can fathom! We can expect
surprises — every day.

Jeremiah 33:3 – Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and
unsearchable things you do not know. (NIV)

I am learning to recognize God's invitations into His agenda, even through
trivial conversations. They are opportunities for His grace to shine,
perhaps
through my faltering affirmations. I've caught glimpses of God at work in my
own heart, like when He's used troubled sinners to help me grow in empathy
and mercy. He's used fretful people to remind me of my own need to grow in
faith. Recently, I witnessed God's hand through a friend's testimony, shared
casually over a cup of tea. My part was simply to listen with joy, give
praise to God, and hold my friend up in prayer.

Today, I was reminded of God's hand in the past, through reading about St.
Patrick in fifth-century Ireland. That's the very same God still working
today
— right now! God is still just as powerful, and His grand agenda is still in
place: He's still sustaining humanity, through every breath of air, every
drop of kindness. And He's still drawing the hopelessly lost into His grace,
through His miraculous work. I want to know about it, and even be part of
it!

Oh, what a privilege it is to join God in His program for today! Do you
believe that it's possible? If so, then you can boldly pray this prayer —
each
morning:

Prayer: Good morning, God. What are You up to today? I want to be a part of
it. May I? Thank You, God. Amen.

Diane Eaton
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Re: THE MASTERS LIST Dean W. Masters

Post  Admin on Fri 30 Dec 2016, 11:46 pm

1 Truth to Remember When Christmas is Over
Debbie McDaniel

So often this week after Christmas can seem maybe, not so festive, or
sparkly. You might be feeling like the holiday spirit came and went by too
fast.
Maybe you never did get everything done, but now that the big day is gone,
you're already vowing to make next year even more special. Messy house
calling
your name, organization of it all begging for attention, returns waiting to
be done, toys already broken, lights going out...

Or maybe loneliness still lingers,from broken relationships or loss.
Shattered pieces of life can add more pain to the hurt already there, while
in the
midst of big holiday moments. Like we’ve been forgotten. Or too deeply
wounded…

Deep breath.

His reminder today, Christmas may be over, but He never changes. Though some
days seem to have lost their shine, He's still the same.

Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. On all
the big, celebration days and on all the days in between.

We still have such reason to celebrate, we still have reason for joy, today,
and every day.

For He is with us.

Don't ever doubt. His heart is for you. In the times of joy, and the times
of brokenness, through it all, He longs to give grace and pour out His love.

May His peace and joy fill your hearts and homes more than ever before, in
these days after Christmas.

Dear God,

Help us to focus on you today, remembering that the gift of Christ,
Immanuel, is our most treasured gift for the whole year through. Fill us
with your
joy and the peace of your Spirit. Direct our hearts and minds towards you.
Thank you for your reminder that both in seasons of celebration and in
seasons
of brokenness, you’re still with us. You never leave us. Thank you for your
daily Presence in our lives, that we can be assured your heart is towards
us,
your eyes are over us, and your ears are open to our prayers. Thank you that
your surround us with favor as with a shield, we are safe in your care. We
choose to press in close to you today…

In Jesus’ Name,

Amen.

9 Verses to Remind Us He Is with Us:

“The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will
rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult
over
you with loud singing.” Zep. 3:17

“Nevertheless, I am continually with you; you hold my right hand. You guide
me with your counsel, and afterward you will receive me to glory. Whom have
I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides
you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and
my
portion forever.” Ps. 73:23-26

“For you bless the righteous, O LORD; you cover him with favor as with a
shield.” Ps. 5:12

“…And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matt. 28:20

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” Heb. 13:8

“The eternal God is your dwelling place, and underneath are the everlasting
arms.” Deut. 33:27

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the
Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.”
James 1:17

“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will
strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right
hand.”
Is. 41:10

“The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are attentive to
their cry…the Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are
crushed
in spirit.” Ps. 34:15,18

Welcome to the Illustrator
Today's Bible Verse:

This Isaiah-prophesied sermon came to life in Galilee the moment Jesus
started preaching. He picked up where John left off: "Change your life.
God's kingdom
is here." (Matthew 4:17, MSG)
By Answers2Prayer
Changes

As the year rushes towards its end here in the mountains of my home, changes
are everywhere. The sunlight suddenly seems scarce. The blue skies are more
gray. The leaves have fallen and the trees are bare. The grass has gone
yellow and snow will be coming soon.

The winds have turned bitter making my coat a necessity. Inside my home it
is time for thick socks and warm sweaters. Hot soups have replaced
sandwiches
for lunch and oven roasts heat the whole house as they cook for dinner. I
look forward to reading my books with the warmth and comfort of my furry dog
napping on my feet and my purring cat sitting on my lap. Christmas carols
are playing on the radio and I find myself softly singing along. As I gaze
out
my kitchen window, though, I know that a long Winter still lies ahead of me
and that it will be months before the world warms again and I see the first
flowers of Spring.

Yet, amidst all of these bittersweet changes I am not sad. I know that all
the seasons of life have changes that we must go through. Some of them are
pleasant
and some of them are tough.

Some of them bring us instant joy and others force our souls to grow. All of
them call on us to love. It is only when we love that we can fully enjoy the
green grass and new flowers of Spring.

It is only when we love that we can overcome the darkness and cold of
Winter.

Throughout your life here you will be faced with countless changes. Know in
your heart that God is with you through them all. God loves you through them
all. God is helping you to use every single one of them to travel closer to
Heaven. Meet each new change that comes your way with a loving heart then.
Meet each new change with a soul full of compassion. Meet each new change by
loving more, learning more, caring more, giving more, and helping others
more.
Life is full of changes, but you can make them changes for the better.

Joseph J. Mazzella

Announcement:

One of the ministries connected with Answers2Prayer provides inspirational
stories
. If you have written inspirational stories and would like to share them
with others, please feel free to submit them to me. The writer of any story
published
on our site will receive proper credit. Please
submit your story to us . Thank you.

Rob Chaffart

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

Our Lord has written the promise of resurrection, not in books alone, but in
every leaf in springtime.
--Martin Luther

Okay, here's one truth that no one likes to think about too much,
particularly after watching the latest zombie flick:

Your body will decompose.

Yuck. No need to talk about this one much. Whether your body is cremated,
put in a casket, or donated to medical science ... the result will be the
same:

All go to the same place; all come from dust, and to dust all
return. --Ecclesiastes 3:20

What happens after that? There are several very popular theories out there
(but none of them can be backed up with the
Bible ):

• Soul sleep. This is the "eternal nap" theory. The soul still exists, but
in death it goes into an unconscious snooze forever.
• Nihilism. I call this the "poof" theory. After death, the soul and spirit
just kind of evaporate and cease to exist altogether.
• Reincarnation. This is the "repeat" theory. When any living thing dies,
its soul goes into other living things – actually becoming something else
over
and over again in a never-ending cycle of life and death.

None of that sounds like a great option, in my opinion. HOWEVER, there is
definitely a flip side of the coin of death – and it's really awesome if you
know Jesus Christ personally:

Your spirit will dwell.

For we live by faith, not by sight. We are confident, I say, and would
prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord.
--2 Corinthians 5:7-8

This passage reveals the heart of a godly, and yet struggling, man. Paul
says that he would prefer to be away from the body ... he would rather be
dead.
When the body dies, our spirit is freed from tangible flesh and we can be
with the Lord at home – home, where we will be alive and aware; home with
the
Father experiencing His love without distraction; home where we belong.

Paul had this in perspective – and I think it's one of the reasons he lived
such a free, focused, purpose-driven life. Yes, he knew he had good reasons
to stay. But he knew from the heart that he would be moving on to much, much
better things, and it gave him the freedom to live powerfully and fearlessly
while on earth.

Father, conform my perspective of death to the principles of Your Word.
Release my grip on physical life, which I cannot keep, so I can live freely
in
light of eternity, prioritizing my days for the things that will last
forever. Amen.

Listen to Pete, Jill & Stuart Briscoe on the Telling the Truth broadcast at
OnePlace.com
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Re: THE MASTERS LIST Dean W. Masters

Post  Admin on Fri 30 Dec 2016, 12:57 am

A Remarkable Advent: Day 25
By shauna on Dec 25, 2016 06:00 am

Reflection based on Luke 2:6-7 .

----------------------------------------------------------

What a precious glimpse God has preserved for us through His word.

In a few short verses He has allowed us to peer through a crack in the wall
of the stable to see just a few of the details of that night.

Imagine Joseph hovering over Jesus’ little body–quick and quiet breathing
pumping His little chest up and down.

Imagine Joseph worshiping in adoring Hebrew whispers “Yeshua.”

On this first Christmas, just moments after Jesus was born, it probably
appeared to Joseph that the long-expected Messiah had arrived at an
inappropriate
place with no fanfare or announcement at all.

But just as God has somewhat hidden from us those first moments with the New
Born King, He had hidden from Joseph many future events.

Joseph did not yet know there was a choir of angels stirring up a ruckus on
a hillside in that region.

He did not yet know a procession of musky Shepherds were hustling toward the
awkward sight of a baby in a feeding trough.

He did not yet know the blessing of Anna or Simeon or of the looming “sword”
that would pierce Mary’s soul.

He did not yet know wise men’s gifts would also agitate the paranoia of an
insane king.

He did not yet know his little family would need to flee for their lives
under a genocidal decree from that same king.

But he knew Jesus was God’s Son, born to save His people from their sins.

And for Joseph, at this moment, that was all God chose to show him.

And it was enough.

In a sense, you and I are living in that same space–between the wonder of
all God has done and all trials and glory to come.

We know about the manger, the cross, and the empty tomb. The rest He
promised is still somewhat hidden.

We do not know when we’ll hear the diagnosis, the news, or a dreaded
announcement.

We do not yet know every detail about angels, or the particulars Heaven, or
the exact implications of an eternal Kingdom.

Though we cannot fathom the extent of future hardships or blessings, we know
Jesus and He know us.

And that is enough for now.
---------------------------------------------------
Merry Christmas, Dear Friend.
I hope you have enjoyed “A Remarkable Advent: Stories of the Ordinary People
God Chose to Fulfill His Extraordinary Plan,” and the daily readings I have
posted here.
I have sure enjoyed pondering and writing about it. I hope you have been
stirred with an affection for God and His unfathomable plan. I certainly
have been.
Thank you for reading and for joining me in quiet worship of the One who
wrote the story in the first place.
Merry Christmas,
Shauna
Recent Articles:
A Remarkable Advent: Day 24
A Remarkable Advent: Day 23
A Remarkable Advent: Day 22
A Remarkable Advent: Day 21
A Remarkable Advent: Day 20
Copyright © 2016 Shauna Letellier--Rest & Relief for Ragged Souls, All
rights reserved.

PresbyCan Daily Devotional

Monday, December 26, 2016

Today's Devotional

The Everyday Christmas Gift

Matthew 2:10-11 – When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to
the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and
worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts
of gold and of incense and of myrrh. (NIV)

If there's one thing that I've learned when I am in the corral cleaning up,
whether it be summer or winter, it's to be deliberately conscious of my
step,
for the corral is fraught with perils. Brush, broken branches, rock, and
uneven ground abound. Horses and goats break down pretty much anything in
their
path, and so the landscape of the corral is ever changing. If I don't
deliberately choose to watch my step, falls and injuries can happen quickly
and easily.

As I was contemplating this thought the other day when I was out there
cleaning up, the Lord nudged me a bit farther in regard to being
deliberately conscious
of my step as His servant, each and every day. That's when the idea of the
everyday Christmas gift floated to the surface of my mind. I thought, What
if,
every day in the new year, I deliberately chose consciously to do something
nice, to give an everyday Christmas gift to someone? What if I actually put
it on my to-do list each morning and then followed through? How might such a
deliberate and conscious choice make a difference for Christ in the lives
of others?

Our world is fraught with perils. People around us are always struggling or
suffering in one way or another, and none of us always knows what they are
going through — but God does.

Therefore, I have decided that in 2017, with God as my helper, I will give
an everyday Christmas gift to someone, somewhere. Perhaps the gift will take
the shape of a letter of encouragement or a "Thinking of You" card. Perhaps
it will be a small handmade gift, or a baked item, or money. Perhaps it will
be a conscious prayer, or it could be a phone call to see how someone is
doing, or an invitation for tea — I really don't know. But God does. Because
He
does, I know that, as I pray and listen each day, the everyday Christmas
gift that He has for me to pass on to another will make a difference in
someone's
life, somewhere, for Him. For much like the wise men's gifts, they, too,
will be treasures for the King. What better gift could you or I offer to the
King
of kings and Lord of lords this Christmas season!

Prayer: Father God, thank You that each day, as Your children, we have the
best Christmas gift ever. We have the gift of Christ and all His love,
wisdom,
strength, and glory in our lives. Help us, therefore, to deliberately and
consciously choose to share Him with others every day in the coming year, as
You lead and direct us. In the wonderful name of Jesus, we pray. Amen.

Lynne Phipps < lynnephipps@hotmail.com >
Atlin, British Columbia, Canada

What If I Don’t Want to Sing?
Matt Damico / November 19, 2016
What If I Don’t Want to Sing?

At our church, everyone shows up ready to sing with full hearts each Sunday
morning. Nobody arrives after a tense car ride to church, or a difficult
morning
with children, or a late night of studying, or a long week of work. Everyone
is well-rested and eager to make melody to God.

Except, not really.

Each Sunday, a good portion of our churches gather for worship with genuine
anticipation for singing, praying, and hearing the word. But not everyone.
Life is too real, and the ancient fall of Genesis 3 is still too valid, to
think nobody walks into church with scars, shame, or even cold apathy.

But let’s be honest. Even the most stably enthusiastic in our gatherings
have had Sundays when we wished our hearts burned more brightly. We
experience
an inner struggle in these moments. On the one hand, we know that we should
sing because we’re at church. On the other, it’s good to be authentic and
real,
so it feels like a lie to sing when we don’t feel like it. Is it better to
be honest and silent than an audible hypocrite?

Of course, we don’t want to portray something false about ourselves.
Nevertheless, we have at least two good reasons for us to open our mouths
and lift
our voices even when we don’t feel like it.

You Have the Voice Your Neighbor Needs

People in every congregation have no voice at times. They’re not singing,
but not because they don’t want to. They’re weak and worn, and in that hour
they
can hardly speak, much less sing. Maybe it’s a young woman who can’t sing
“It Is Well” because that Sunday marks one year since her mother’s death, or
a young couple who can’t sing “Great Is Thy Faithfulness” a few days after
another miscarriage.

In God’s infinite love, he has not left these people alone. Instead, he has
ordained for corporate worship to work not only vertically, but
horizontally.
In that moment, when the broken believer struggles to address God, we
remember that God has told us to address
one another with our songs (Ephesians 5:19).

When we don’t feel like singing, we have an opportunity to consider the
interests of others and count them more significant than our own
(Philippians 2:3–4).
We have the privilege, in a way, to open our mouths for the mute (Proverbs
31:8). You may not want to sing, but the person next to you, in front of
you,
or behind you may need you to sing. The sight and sound of your singing may
impress on them the truths of the gospel, or spur them to believe, with the
psalmist, “Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will
praise you” (Psalm 63:3).

The sight and sound of God’s people singing is a powerful, stirring
exhortation for struggling hearts to believe the truths they hear sung
around them.
The next Sunday you’re inclined to keep quiet, remember your neighbors and
sing their song.

Singing Bends Our Souls to God

Another reason to sing when we don’t feel like it is this: singing can be
the best way to start feeling like it
.

It is impossible for us to desire the right things all the time. Our wills
and affections often lag behind our knowledge. I know I should exercise
more,
but the desire is sometimes absent. I know I should pray more, but my heart
is often cold. Does that mean that when I do exercise or pray after some
self-convincing,
I’m not really exercising or praying? Of course not. It’s better to desire
everything we ought, but we need not wait to feel rightly before we act
rightly.

In Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis articulates this with typical poignancy in
regard to loving our neighbor when the desire isn’t there:

Though natural likings should normally be encouraged, it would be quite
wrong to think that the way to become charitable is to sit trying to
manufacture
affectionate feelings. . . . The rule for all of us is perfectly simple. Do
not waste time bothering whether you “love” your neighbor; act as if you
did.
As soon as we do this we find one of the great secrets: When you are
behaving as if you loved someone you will presently come to love him.

So it is with our singing. Let’s not wait for our hearts to burn before we
open our mouths. Opening our mouths can be an important part of kindling the
fire.

This isn’t an up-by-the-bootstraps approach to corporate worship. Lifting
your voice, when you’d rather not, can be an act of faith, believing that
God’s
word is true: “it is good to sing praises to our God” (Psalm 147:1). You may
need to pray, “O Lord, open my lips” (Psalm 51:15), but before long, don’t
be surprised to find your heart beginning to refill with thanks and praise.

Perhaps it will be this weekend. Another Sunday is coming when you will feel
a cool disinterest toward the singing of the saints. When that happens,
remember
God’s promises, remember your neighbor, and remember what a privilege it is,
and what a catalyst it can be, to sing to the one who has saved us.

Desiring God
2112 Broadway Street NE, Suite 150
Minneapolis, MN 55413

Copyright © 2016 Desiring God, all rights reserved
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Re: THE MASTERS LIST Dean W. Masters

Post  Admin on Wed 28 Dec 2016, 11:16 pm

One Long Extended Gift
by Chuck Swindoll

Luke 21:1-4 ; Ephesians 2:8, 9 ; Matthew 2:11

It's not too late to give some things away this Christmas. Not just on
Christmas Day, but during the days after December 25. We could call these
daily
gifts "our Christmas projects." Maybe one per day from now 'til the end of
the year. Here are thirty-two suggestions. Take your choice.

• Mend a quarrel.

• Seek out a forgotten friend.

• Dismiss suspicion.

• Write a long-overdue love note.

• Hug someone tightly and whisper, "I love you so."

• Forgive an enemy.

• Be gentle and patient with an angry person.

• Express appreciation.

• Gladden the heart of a child.

• Find the time to keep a promise.

• Make or bake something for someone else. Anonymously.

• Release a grudge.

• Listen.

• Speak kindly to a stranger.

• Enter into another's sorrow.

• Smile. Laugh a little. Laugh a little more.

• Take a walk with a friend.

• Kneel down and pat a dog.

• Read a poem or two to your mate or friend.

• Lessen your demands on others.

• Play some beautiful music during supper.

• Apologize if you were wrong.

• Talk together with the television off.

• Treat someone to an ice-cream cone.

• Do the dishes for the family.

• Pray for someone who helped you when you hurt.

• Fix breakfast for someone on Saturday morning.

• Give a soft answer even though you feel strong.

• Encourage an older person.

• Point out one thing you appreciate most about someone you work with or
live near.

• Offer to baby-sit for a weary mother.

• Give your teacher a break—be especially cooperative.

Let's make Christmas one long, extended gift of ourselves to others.
Unselfishly. Without announcement. Or obligation. Or reservation. Or
hypocrisy.

That is Christianity, isn't it?

Excerpted from Growing Strong in the Seasons of Life
, Copyright © 1983 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights reserved
worldwide. Used by arrangement with Zondervan Publishing House.

Finding God when the World's on Fire
It's Your Ministry
Visit insight.org

Copyright © 2016 Insight for Living Ministries. All rights reserved
worldwide.

The Gift of Incarnation
December 24, 2016

Read: John 1:1-14

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory,
glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. (v. 14)

The incarnation, in the end, is simply mystery. Even though we can never
explain the way God became a human being, poetic voices have painted with
words
that help us imagine.

The Gospel writer John says: “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.”
Charles Wesley penned: “Veiled in flesh, the Godhead see.” Chris Rice wrote:
“Wrap
our injured flesh around You, / Breathe our air and walk our sod.”

The idea of God wrapping our injured flesh around himself is particularly
powerful. Jesus once said there is no greater gift than to lay down your
life
for your friends; consider how that is not only the gift of his crucifixion,
but the gift of his incarnation as well. Jesus didn’t just lay down his
earthly
life, he laid down his heavenly life for this messy world in an act of
perfect self-discipline. Scripture says Jesus learned obedience by the
things that
he suffered (Heb. 5:8), so as Advent draws to a close, ponder what suffering
may have been involved before Jesus was gently laid in that manger. May a
fresh gratitude for the incarnation dawn as we celebrate his coming.

—Amy Clemens

Prayer:
Jesus, your willingness to be wrapped in my injured flesh was a costly gift,
and I honor and love you for becoming more like me, so that I could become
more like you.

God remembers you, for you matter to Him.
Ciloa logo
December 26, 2016
Volume XVI, Issue 52
A Note of Encouragement

Send this Note to a friend.
The Hubbell image of Pismis 24-1, core of the Nebula NGC 6357

If God did that...

Many had a tough year. Things didn't go as planned. Life took an unexpected
turn. And they wonder, "Do I really matter? Has God forgotten me? Is He
there?"

Star light, star bright.

The Hubble telescope in orbit around the earth
An amazing picture by the Hubble telescope shows a huge cosmic fortress,
shaped by surrounding dust, interstellar winds, radiation, and magnetic
fields.
Light from ionized gas gives definition. And in the very center, there's a
giant star.

That star is 47,029,002,985,468,856 miles from you right now, give or take a
thousand. That's far away. In fact, 8,000 years had to pass before we could
see this picture. And what we see now is only an image from the past. But
what if God wanted us to see it?

First the star had to be formed which, according to experts, took millions
of years. But that's not enough for us to see it. The star needed a high
level
of brightness. Then it had to be in the exact location the Hubble telescope
would be scanning...8,000 years later.

What if it had all been planned?

If God wanted us to see that star, He had to do plan it a very long time
ago. But...

A man's silhouette against a night sky filled with the Milky Way
If God did that...there had to be a reason more important than sending us a
pretty picture. Perhaps there was a message for us to figure out. I haven't
forgotten you. There's hope for you yet. Do not forget me.
Maybe all three.

If God did that...then you and I are not specks on a rock floating about in
space. We are important to Him. So important that many thousands of years
ago,
He moved the heavens to create something special for us to see.

If God did that...wouldn't it be a shame if we missed it?

A very special star so long ago.

Before time...God made the heavens and earth.1 Even then, He planned to send
the One who would come to save the world.
2 For that arrival, He would make something special.

A bright and shining star on one dark night
Eons passed. A man had a vision. I see him, but not now; I behold him, but
not near. A star will come out of Jacob.3 Centuries later, God spoke.
Bethlehem, out of you will come a ruler who will be the shepherd of my
people Israel.4

Then one day, men saw a bright and shining star rising in the east.
Overjoyed, they journeyed to Bethlehem, found the promised child, and
worshiped Him
.5 The true light that gives light to everyone had come into the world.
6
A star was formed long ago. A message has lived ever since. God has not
forgotten. He is with you, even now. He formed a star and sent His Son so
you could
be His child. God did all of that and infinitely more, because...
you do matter to Him!

Take care & be God's,

Chuck
Ciloa Lawrenceville, Georgia, U.S.A. www.Ciloa.org
Ciloa is funded entirely by contributions from those wanting to share God's
encouragement with the world.
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Re: THE MASTERS LIST Dean W. Masters

Post  Admin on Tue 27 Dec 2016, 6:19 pm

Ron Hutchcraft Ministries - A Word With You
A Word With You

It might be the favorite song of the Christmas season; a lullaby written to
the Christ Child many years ago in a little mountain village in Austria. You
probably know what it is. A village pastor, desperate for some music for his
Christmas Eve service since the church organ wasn't working, thanks to a
mouse
eating through parts of the organ! His composition didn't stay in that
village. It spread from the Alps around the world, and you can't have a
Christmas
season without hearing it - probably multiple times. The signature song of
celebrating Christmas, "Silent Night." Every verse ends with those beautiful
calming words, "Sleep in heavenly peace." Nice words. Not always the way it
is.

I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Why We
Can't Sleep in Heavenly Peace."

While the song is directed to the baby Jesus, the idea of having that
"heavenly peace" is something for all of us. Not just to sleep in peace, but
to live
with peace in your heart. For many folks, that inner peace has been elusive
their whole life; maybe something you know all too well. There's been no
relationship,
no accomplishment, no experience, not even a religion that has given you
what your heart really desperately cries out for - lasting personal peace.
An
anchor inside that holds you steady in the most stressful, most uncertain of
times.

The Bible actually describes the condition of many a human heart I think
pretty graphically this way: "Like the tossing sea which cannot rest, whose
waves
cast up mire and mud" (Isaiah 57:20). Ever been to the ocean during a storm?
You know what that looks like. Then God uses these two words to describe any
heart without God in it, "There is no peace." No peace - the guilt of our
mistakes, the people we've hurt, the things that have hurt us, our fears
about
the future, our chronic feeling of loneliness, of lostness, of
meaninglessness. They make it hard to live in peace - to sleep in peace.

"Silent Night" is right when it refers to peace as being "heavenly peace."
It's only heaven, it's only God that can finally bring peace to the lifelong
storm in our hearts. One of the classic scriptures of Christmas suggests why
we don't have God's peace and how we can. In Isaiah 9:6, our word for today
from the Word of God, the Bible says: "Unto us a child is born, to us a son
is given, and the government will be on His shoulders. And He will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." There
it is. Jesus came here to be our Prince of Peace, but you can't have His
peace
until He's your Prince.

Jesus is supposed to be governing your life. It's nice to have Jesus as a
belief, or a religion, or a security blanket. But He's the King of kings and
the Lord of lords. We've chosen to drive our own life where we want it to
go, effectively ignoring the God who made us. So Jesus may be in your
church,
but He's not in charge. He may be a compartment in your life, but He's not
in control of your life. He may be in your head, but not in your heart.

And it's only when you put your trust in Him with all your heart that your
sins are forgiven and your relationship with God finally begins. Because
heaven's
Prince went all the way to a cross to pay for your sins, to cancel what has
kept you from God and from His peace all these years. And what will keep you
from Him forever if you don't belong to Jesus. Let's get that done this
Christmas, huh?

You could belong to Jesus before this day is over. You need to reach out to
Him and give yourself to Him. And what better time than this season when He
came here to die for you? If you're ready to move from a religion to a
relationship with Jesus, if you're ready to trade the hell you deserve for
the heaven
you could never deserve, tell Jesus, "Lord, I'm Yours."

Our website is there to help you be sure you belong to Him. And I'd
encourage you to check it out whenever you can as soon as you can. It's
ANewStory.com.
I'll meet you there.

Tonight you can go to sleep forgiven and safe, with the missing part of you
no longer missing. You'll belong to Jesus. And you really can sleep in
heavenly
peace. "Merry Christmas!"

RHM Homepage RHM on Facebook RHM on Twitter RHM on YouTube RHM on
Instagram RHM on Pinterest Get RHM Email Updates
OEW Homepage OEW on Twitter Get OEW Email Updates


Ron Hutchcraft Ministries, Inc. · P.O. Box 400 · Harrison, Arkansas 72602 ·
USA

Anne Graham Lotz - Overshadowed by the Spirit
View this email in your browser

Overshadowed by the Spirit
The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will
overshadow you.

Luke 1:35, NIV

When the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary, he gave her the startling
announcement that “the Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the
Most High
will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of
God.” When you and I place our faith in Jesus Christ and invite Him to come
live
within us, the Holy Spirit comes upon us, and the power of God overshadows
us, and the life of Jesus is born within us. We do not conceive a physical
life,
but the spiritual life of Jesus in the Person of the Holy Spirit.

It is the indwelling powerful Person of the Holy Spirit Who sets me free
from the habits of sin. But the power I possess to live a life pleasing to
God
is directly related to how much control of my life I give to the Holy
Spirit.

Blessings,
Copyright © 2016 AnGeL Ministries, All rights reserved.


Today's Turning Point with David Jeremiah
Turning Point
Thursday, December 22

True Story, Pure Joy

When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy.
Matthew 2:10

Recommended Reading
Luke 1:46-55
Jesus came wrapped in the swaddling clothes of joy. The words “joy” and
“rejoice” fill the original story of Christmas. The Virgin Mary exclaimed,
“My
spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior” (Luke 1:47). When the angel Gabriel
appeared to Zacharias, he promised, “You will have joy and gladness, and
many
will rejoice…” (Luke 1:14). When Elizabeth heard Mary’s voice, she said,
“The babe leaped in my womb for joy” (Luke 1:44). When the Magi saw the
wondrous
star, “they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy” (Matthew 2:10). And, of
course, the angels brought the shepherds “good tidings of great joy” (Luke
2:10).

Listen to Today's Radio Broadcast
Sometimes the emotions of Christmas are pensive and reflective, and
occasionally even sad and lonely. Those are understandable feelings as we
contemplate
an event so profound and wonderful. But don’t forget the “rejoicing” part!
This season is all about celebrating the birth of Jesus, the One who made it
possible for all of us to someday live in heaven for eternity. The
celebration of a true story should always be a source of pure joy.

Joy to the world, the Lord has come! Let earth receive her King!

Read-Thru-the-Bible
1 Peter 1 – 2 Peter 3

TURNING POINT WITH DR. DAVID JEREMIAH
David Jeremiah's Website
Copyright © 2015 Turning Point for God. All rights reserved.
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Re: THE MASTERS LIST Dean W. Masters

Post  Admin on Mon 26 Dec 2016, 10:35 pm

Eight Tiny Reindeer

At Christmas time we read and hear a lot of poems, stories and songs about
reindeer. There are those eight tiny reindeer, Rudolph the red-nosed
reindeer and the one that ran over Grandma.

Once Harold Kurtz, a missionary in the Presbyterian Church USA, spoke of
going to Siberia which is in the northern part of Russia. He visited a
reindeer herding people called Nenets. There are about 30,000 in this people
group. Harold wondered how he could let those people know of the love of God
and what Jesus Christ had done for them.

One day he saw one of the men sacrifice a reindeer to their god. He found
out this was done on a regular basis. Harold then thought of the following
Scripture from the book of Hebrews:

" Since the law has only a shadow of the good things to come and not the
true form of these realities, it can never, by the same sacrifices that are
continually offered year after year, make perfect those who approach.
Otherwise, would they not have ceased being offered, since the worshipers,
cleansed once for all, would no longer have any consciousness of sin? But in
these sacrifices there is a reminder of sin year after year. For it is
impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins." (
Hebrews 10:1-4, NRSV)

"But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, “he
sat down at the right hand of God,”" (Hebrews 10:12, NRSV)

Harold told those people about Jesus Christ giving His life. He told the
people that Jesus Christ was their reindeer. All the sacrifices they had
made were useless. There was only one sacrifice for sin and that was made by
Jesus Christ. Since Harold met with them many of the nenets have been
turning to the Lord.

We also must remember that the blood of eight tiny reindeer or millions of
animals will not pay the sin debt for us but only Jesus Christ giving His
life will if we turn to Him. Praise God we don't have to do anything to
appease God to get Him to love us. God showed his love by sending his Son to
live a human life then die on the cross, one sacrifice for sin.

At Christmas time it is nice to remember the manger but we have to leave
there and remember that Jesus came to be our sacrifice. And then to remember
that He didn't just die but rose from the dead to sit at the right hand of
God.

Prayer: Lord god, we thank You for sending your Son as a baby in a manger.
But we thank You and praise You more for sending him to be our sacrifice. In
the name of Jesus Christ who lived and died for us, Amen.

by Dean W. Masters
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Re: THE MASTERS LIST Dean W. Masters

Post  Admin on Sun 25 Dec 2016, 11:41 pm

PresbyCan Daily Devotional

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Today's Devotional

Immanuel

Proverbs 30:4 – Who has ascended into heaven and descended? Who has gathered
the wind in His fists? Who has wrapped the waters in His garment? Who has
established all the ends of the earth? What is His name or His son's name?
Surely you know! (NASB)

Isaiah 7:14 – Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a
virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name
Immanuel.
(NASB)

Years ago, the pastor of my church invited a rabbi from a local synagogue to
host a traditional Passover meal for our congregation during the Easter
season.
It was an interesting experience, tasting various ritual foods, such as
matzo, bitter herbs, and charoses — a mixture of apples, nuts, and cinnamon.
Afterward,
I had a thought-provoking discussion with the rabbi regarding the Jewish
Messiah and his interpretation of some Old Testament prophecies. In
particular,
I asked him how he would explain today's verse from Isaiah. In his view, the
Hebrew word
alma, translated "virgin", should be interpreted "young maiden".

Subsequently, I researched the word alma and found that it occurs seven
times in the Old Testament. In every instance, the term implies a young girl
of
child-bearing age who is a virgin. The ancient scribes agreed with this
interpretation when they translated the Bible from Hebrew to Greek. This
manuscript,
called the Septuagint, was transcribed two hundred years before Christ;
therefore, it is an unbiased and reliable witness. But more importantly, the
event
that Isaiah described was said to be a "sign", so it had to be something
quite extraordinary.

The Scriptures tell us that Jesus was born of a virgin in fulfillment of
Isaiah's prophecy. This miracle was a plan conceived by God so that the King
of
the universe could be made into the likeness of humanity without inheriting
our sinful nature. For this reason, the Babe born in Bethlehem over two
thousand
years ago can rightfully be called "Immanuel" — "God with us".

With Christmas Day fast approaching, let us take time to reflect on not only
the wonder and mystery of His incarnation, but also the amazing power of His
life, death, and resurrection. These profound truths will motivate our
hearts to praise and worship as we celebrate once again the birth of our
Saviour
and King.

Prayer: Sovereign Lord, thank You for the miracle of the virgin birth which
made it possible for You to come to this earth as one of us, yet without the
stain of sin. May our response to this mystery draw us closer to You as we
acknowledge that You are not bound by the limitations of our natural world.
Touch our lives with Your resurrection power to experience the miraculous,
while we seek to maintain a dynamic relationship with You forevermore. In
Jesus' holy name, we pray. Amen.

Welcome to the Illustrator
Today's Bible Verse:

"This is religion pure and undefiled that you help widows and orphans in
their distress." James 1:27

By Answers2Prayer
Christmas Cards For the Brokenhearted?

I love Christmas. I haven't loved every Christmas in my life however. The
first Christmas four months after my daughter died in a car accident was a
bad
one. The Christmas before that after my husband left, that same daughter
wept as she opened presents sent from her father. That was not a good
Christmas
either. Christmas cards, movies, T.V. programs etc., all promote the perfect
family sitting down to the perfect meal after opening lovely presents. But
what about the other people--the ones who find the sting of loss even more
excruciating at Christmas next to the template of that perfect family
Christmas?
What Christmas cards are there to send those people?

I think I could make one. It would show someone with their face turned to
heaven in the shadow of the cross with the nativity scene to one side. It
would
say, "Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow because of the child
given so long ago." The inside might say, "...He has sent me to bind up the
brokenhearted..." I have been one who has been bound up with healing from
the Son of God who spoke in the temple that day. By God's mercy, I have
enjoyed
many good Christmas times since those sad ones.

The family side of Christmas is important as our emotions are more tender at
this time of year. However, deep in the heart of every Christian is the
recognition
that Christmas is not truly about a family Christmas. It is about
appreciating the tremendous gift of salvation given as God in Christ stepped
into time
at Bethlehem to accomplish our salvation. And what does one DO with this
appreciation? How do we please God during this season? Reaching out to
others,
especially when we are sorrowful, can end up being a comfort for the giver
and the receiver--a sort of two for one. They feel better and so do we. What
visit, what meal, what kindness can we give someone else to alleviate their
painful Christmas?

That's the key: thanksgiving to God and outstretched hand to others in need.
Now there's a good Christmas card sentiment. Happy or sad, may the Lord
Jesus
bless your Christmas with joyful thanksgiving of what Almighty God did to
make a way for us to be forgiven, because of that first Christmas.

"Help me Lord to comfort others this Christmas the way you have comforted
me. Then I might please you, and in doing so, find my own peace through it."
Thanks be to God. Amen

Linda Greenfield

Inisfil, Ontario, Canada
Announcement:

Christmas is such a busy time of year. Let's all make an effort to remember
the Reason for the Season, the indescribable gift that Jesus came to this
earth
that first Christmas to give us. And don't forget that the best Christmas
gift we can give back to Jesus is to make use of His gift in its entirety:
Salvation,
peace, wisdom, liberty and deliverance, healing, protection, everything!

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

BIBLE MEDITATION:
“For Thou hast delivered my soul from death, mine eyes from tears, and my
feet from falling.”
Psalm 116:8

DEVOTIONAL THOUGHT:
I believe that the holidays are the loneliest time of the year. Everywhere
you look, people are told they’re supposed to be happy and they realize they’re
not. They see everybody else acting happy, and they feel so lonely. Just
walking down the mall can make you feel lonely.

But Jesus has said, “I will never leave thee nor forsake thee” (Hebrews
13:5). When I’m discouraged, His presence sees me through. When I’m lonely
His
presence cheers me up. When I’m worried, His presence calms me down. And
when I am tempted, His presence will help me out.

ACTION POINT:
Write down the last portion of this devotional thought and personalize it.
Now use it as a prayer of faith and trust.
Love Worth Finding Ministries
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Re: THE MASTERS LIST Dean W. Masters

Post  Admin on Sun 25 Dec 2016, 12:38 am

Inspiration Ministries Daily Devotion

Singing Praises
Monday, December 19, 2016

"Suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host
praising God and saying, 'Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace
among
men with whom He is pleased.'"
Luke 2:13-14 NASB

Music seemed to pour from Charles Wesley's heart after he committed his life
to Christ. He went on to write more than 6,000 hymns. He carefully chose the
exact words he felt were appropriate, and insisted that his hymns be
reprinted "just as they are." He could become irritated when any words were
altered.
He did not want to be blamed "for the nonsense or for the doggerel of other
men."

Perhaps this helps to explain why he became so angry at his friend, and
fellow evangelist, George Whitefield. In 1739, Wesley had written a
Christmas hymn,
called, "Hark! How all the Welkin Rings." But, when Whitefield published
this song, he changed the title to "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing." He also
altered
some lyrics.

Wesley was furious. He felt that Whitefield changed the meaning of his hymn.
Wesley, a stickler for scriptural detail, knew the Bible never said that
angels
sang. With Whitefield's changes, the hymn soon became widely popular. But
Wesley never sang the altered version.

We may not know that whether or not the angels actually sang to the
shepherds, but we do know that this "multitude of the heavenly host" was
"praising
God!" And we know that singing is an important way to express praise. As the
Bible says, we are to "sing unto the LORD a new song ... Sing praises unto
Him with the timbrel and harp ... Sing aloud" (Psalm 149:1-5).

This season, remember that God deserves your praise and worship. In the
words you speak, the things you do, and the songs you sing! Today, join the
angels.
Praise God! Declare His praises, in word and song! Give "glory to the
newborn King!"

Today's Inspiring Prayer

Father, I worship You and give You glory! Thank You for all that You have
done. You are worthy of all praise! I honor and exalt the name of Jesus! In
His
name. Amen.

Further Reading: Luke 2

Be a life changer!


The Gift of Prayer
December 20, 2016

Read: Luke 2:36-38

She did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night
and day. (v. 37)

Although not Luke’s intention, Anna’s story leaves me feeling undone after
only three short verses because of the lukewarm faith I live. A woman of
tragic
loss draws near to God. Widowed in her youth, she has found a home and a
“husband” in the temple. She never leaves his house, but worships “with
fasting
and prayer night and day.” No wonder the God she adores hears her voice,
giving her prophetic words straight from heaven about this baby, Jesus, and
the
redemption he will bring.

Many years later, that child grows up and teaches his followers that prayer
isn’t about meaningless repetition, but meaningful connection. It’s a
connection
that sustains him, so he doesn’t just teach it, he rises early and seeks out
the “lonely places” while others are still sleeping (Luke 5:16 NIV). And he
followed Anna’s diligent example right into eternity, where Hebrews 7:25
tells us that Jesus lives to intercede night and day on behalf of those who
come
through him to the Father.

Christ’s advent opens the door for a new intimacy with God which, if we
pursue, will make us more like Anna and Jesus too: sharing conversations
with the
King that are so necessary we want to rise early, stay up late, and worship
night and day.

—Amy Clemens

Prayer:
Giver of good gifts, thank you for prayer, that gift of conversation between
the Holy and mere mortals. And thank you for Jesus, who prays for us, night
and day!

How to Deal with Disappointment in December
Kelly Needham

I prayed. I believed. I trusted. I hoped. And in the end, I was
disappointed.

This December, like many before it, God’s response to my prayers is no. No,
your son will not be home by Christmas. No, that baby in your womb will not
live. No, that
marriage
will not survive. Dashed hopes and unfulfilled longings are familiar
companions to my holiday celebrations.

I know I am not alone. This is a particularly hard time of year for many.
Because expectations are higher, we’re more easily disappointed. Traditions
remind
us of losses suffered, Setting us up for grief. For many, this month will be
as full of heartache as it is of joy.

“God, how could you be so unkind?” In my own losses, I find myself looking
with confusion toward heaven in the same way my daughters look at me when I
withhold what they ask for. Unable to see the bigger picture, my children
are easily and quickly sent into despair. If only they knew what awaits them
under the tree.

I cannot know what God knows. I cannot perceive His divine wisdom, His
eternal perspective, His profound and unsuperficial love. I know in theory.
I affirm
in mind. But my heart drags behind, slow to recognize and accept His
faithfulness and His predisposition to do good to sinners. The aches of
unfulfilled
longings are a black shroud, darkening and blurring the abundance of God’s
kindnesses present in each morning.

Deferred hope feels like coal under the tree, a confirmation that God has
passed over you to shower His blessings on someone else this Christmas.

LONG LAY THE WORLD

The people of God ought to be experts at handling disappointment.

Abraham, promised to be father of many nations, is married to a barren,
elderly woman. After God miraculously gives her a son, that son marries a
woman
who is barren for 20 years. Can you imagine how Isaac and Rebecca felt 15
years into marriage with no child? How will our family bring about many
nations
when we cannot even get pregnant? Five more years would go by before Isaac
prayed and God finally answered.

The enslaved Israelites in Egypt would have wondered if God had abandoned
them. Where is the favor of God now? We are slaves and our children are
thrown
into the nile. Miriam surely had hope as she watched her baby brother Moses
be saved from the infanticide. But it won’t be for another 80 years that he
returns to free his people. What did she think 10 years after Moses fled
from Egypt? Would he ever return? Did he forget about his family now that he
was
safe from Pharoah in the wilderness?

By the end of 2 Kings, God’s people are taken captive by King
Nebuchadnezzar. God promised to restore these exiles to their land but He
told them they
must first spend 70 years in Babylon. Many would have died before this
promised was fulfilled. How did the people feel 50 years into the exile? How
sure
did God’s promise seem when many Israelites had known no other home but
Babylon?

Rarely do the people of God get exactly what they want, when they want it,
in the way they want it. They are disappointed, left in waiting, crushed
with
grief and filled with anxiety.

And yet, amidst the hard God continues to make promises like: I will forgive
their iniquity and I will remember their sin no more (Jeremiah 31 ), a ruler
shall rise up from ancient days from Bethlehem and he shall be our peace
(Micah 5
), and he shall bear our iniquities and with his wounds we are healed
(Isaiah 53
). In fact, in the very last words of the Old Testament, God promises to
send a forerunner before the Long-Expected Promise-Fulfilling Messiah:
“Behold,
I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the
LORD comes. And he will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and
the hearts of the children to their fathers...”
(Malachi 4:5-6 )

What expectation Malachi’s words bring! He’s coming! God is sending Elijah
to prepare the way. Finally!

100 years go by. Nothing.

100 more years. Nothing. And Silence.

100 more years. Nothing. Silence. And more silence.

100 more years of excruciating, nerve-wracking quiet. Has He forgotten us
forever? Maybe all His promises were just empty words the prophets said to
keep
us from despair. Surely they cannot be true. It’s been 400 years and God has
ceased to speak. Surely He’s abandoned us.

Can you imagine waiting on God to fulfill a promise He made in the 1600s?
That is the condition of God’s people when the angel Gabriel is sent on His
mission
in
Luke 1 :

“But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your
prayer
has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall
call his name John. And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the
Lord their God, and he will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah,
to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children...”
Luke 1:13
, 16-17

Gabriel’s pronouncement to Zechariah breaks the silence and precedes his
more famous proclamation to the teenage virgin in Nazareth. In just a matter
of
months a baby Boy from ancient days will enter the world He made. For long
laid the world in sin and error pining, til He appeared and the soul felt
its
worth. A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices for yonder breaks a new
and glorious morn!

THE BEST MONTH FOR HEARTACHE

Of all the months to experience heartache, few of us would select December
as our chosen preference. But I’m beginning to think it’s God’s kindness
that
allows our disappointment to coincide with the celebration of the
incarnation. For it’s in this season we remember God’s faithfulness to send
a Savior.
It’s in this season we remember God’s compassion to enter our world,
becoming like us in all respects yet without sin. It’s in this season we
remember
the humility of Christ, emptying Himself and willingly choosing the form of
a servant, being born in our likeness. What better to surround our
temptations
toward despair than a thousand reminders of a faithful, compassionate, and
humble God.

We should not be surprised by hardship, as if something strange were
happening. First, we are in the company of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses,
Joshua, Gideon,
Naomi, Ruth, Hannah, Samuel, David, Elijah, Elisha, Hezekiah, Jeremiah,
Isaiah, and Ezekiel. None of their lives were a breeze. All had
disappointment,
loss, years of waiting, suffering, failure, disgrace, humiliation. Secondly,
we are the followers of Jesus, a rejected and crucified Lord, who calls us
to take up our own instrument of death and follow Him. The way is not an
easy one. The people of God don’t get everything they want, when they want
it,
in the way they want it precisely because God is kind! He plans to give us
so much more than what our small, limited, and short-sighted desires set
their
affections on.

Brothers, Sisters- Do not be alarmed or surprised by heartache this month.
Grieve what ought to be grieved; cry out to God in your suffering. But also
be grateful for the provision of this season and its reminders of a
faithful, compassionate, and servant-hearted God who came to save us. A God
who longs
to give you so much more than what you want. He plans to awaken and satisfy
superior desires, and sometimes disappointment is the first step toward that
awakening.

This article originally appeared on KellyNeedham.com
. Used with permission.

Kelly Needham hopes to persuade as many people as possible that nothing
compares to simply knowing Jesus. She is married to Christian
singer/songwriter,
Jimmy Needham, whose ministry of sharing the gospel through song takes him
all over the world. After spending many years traveling with her husband as
his road manager and violinist, Kelly came off the road to be a full-time
mom to their two young daughters.

Image courtesy: Unsplash.com

Publication date: December 19, 2016
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Re: THE MASTERS LIST Dean W. Masters

Post  Admin on Fri 23 Dec 2016, 11:19 pm

The World's Wisdom Bows Down
by Michael Card
[Based on Matthew 2:1-12]

An ancient superstition was current
in the East, that out of Judea at this time
would come one of the rulers of the world.
Suetonius

It has been roughly two and a half years since the close of Matthew 1
. After that chapter of the story of Jesus, recorded for us in
Luke 2
, the author of Matthew takes up the thread of Jesus’ life.

It is roughly the last year of Herod the Great’s tumultuous reign. He is
sickly, dying of gonorrhea and possibly also cancer. He has spent his entire
reign
protecting his precarious throne. His appointment first came in 40 B.C.
through his patron Mark Antony. He weathered the split between Antony and
Augustus
and was able to deftly change sides and preserve his power. In time he would
build temples and name cities for Caesar, further cementing his title as
rex socius (a client king).

In the latter years of his reign, their relationship will begin to break
down. At one point Augustus said of Herod, “It is better to be Herod’s pig
than
Herod’s son,” owing to the fact that Herod had killed so many of his own but
maintained the appearance of keeping kosher. He barely survived a plot by
none other than Queen Cleopatra of Egypt to seduce and blackmail him. He
executed his beloved wife, Mariamne, and her mother, Alexandra, as well as
his
three older sons. As he lay dying in Jericho in 4 B.C., he ordered a number
of well-loved Jewish leaders to be held in the hippodrome in Jericho to be
executed upon his death so that there would be “mourning in Israel.” His
tomb in the Herodium has only recently been discovered by archaeologists.

That the magi come from the East would have been interpreted as a particular
threat. Herod had built several fortresses along his eastern borders in
anticipation
of a threat coming from Persia. Masada is the best known and most imposing
of these forts. He also constructed the fortresses known as the Herodium and
Machaerus, where John would later be beheaded by Herod’s son, Antipas.

Herod had degenerated into a sickly, spent force. Driven mad by decades of
stress, not to mention the long-term neurological effects of gonorrhea, he
was
pathologically paranoid. With this as background, we can begin to imagine
the impact the magi’s message would have had on the fragile king. The
greatest
threat he could imagine had reared its head once more, only this was a very
real threat, not an imagined one.

The bearers of the message of the newborn king represented an even greater
threat to Herod. The magi were an elite political and spiritual force that
had
exercised authority since before the time of Daniel, who was appointed as
one of their number (
Dan 2:48 ; 5:11
). They were the interpreters of dreams (
Dan 2:2 ; 4:7
) and possessors of secret knowledge of the planets and the stars (see
Esther 1:13
). Owing to the presence of the exiled Jewish community in Babylon during
the captivity, the Jewish Scriptures had become part of the magi’s vast
accumulation
of knowledge. Though the passage is not quoted, the most likely reason for
their journey was the prophecy of the wicked prophet Balaam in
Numbers 24:17 :

I see him, but not now;
I perceive him, but not near.
A star will come from Jacob,
and a scepter will arise from Israel.

The magi appear from the East, presumably with their entourage of Persian
cavalry announcing they have come to “worship” the newborn king of the Jews.
The word describing Herod’s response can also be translated “terrified,”
“troubled,” or even “intimidated.” From what we know of Herod the Great, he
most
likely experienced this entire range of emotions.

The two groups of advisers he calls together—the chief priests and the
teachers of the law—represent the two groups that will in time band together
in
an attempt to destroy the newborn king. The chief priests were primarily
Sadducees, and the teachers of the law were mostly Pharisees. It seems
common
enough knowledge, from
Micah 5:2
, that the king will be born in the city of David’s birth: Bethlehem. Just
why the magi didn’t notice the passage before we are left to wonder.

Herod’s secret meeting with them to determine the exact time of the guiding
star’s appearance is actually a ruse to allow him to calculate the age range
of the boys in Bethlehem he will order to be executed (see Mt 2:16 ). This
number also indicates the probable length of their journey, two years.

As they resumed their journey, the star reappears and guides the weary troop
to a house where the young child is waiting. Their joy at seeing the
familiar
star once more and finding the goal of their long trek is difficult for us
to imagine. What, to me, is most significant about the magi occurs in
Matthew 2:11
. There is a doubled statement: they fall to their knees and worship him.
When we take into consideration the vast knowledge base possessed by the
magi,
and the fact that they were willing to undertake such a long journey,
indicates one simple startling fact: in all their sacred wisdom, in all
their vast
learning, they had not yet found the wisdom their hearts were longing for.
Why else would they have taken such an arduous trip if not for an aching
need
to satisfy a hunger that all of the world’s wisdom had not yet satisfied?

We must rid ourselves of the notion that because there were three gifts,
there must have been only three magi. Perhaps there were dozens of them.
Gold
is a gift for kings. Frankincense was the only incense allowed on the altar
in the temple (
Ex 30:9 , 34-38
). Myrrh was primarily used as a perfume but also in the process of
embalming (
Jn 19:39
). They were the perfect gifts for a king who was also a priest who had come
to die.

The simple fact that they worshiped the toddler king indicates that in him
they apparently found all they had been looking for. This wordless one, who
was the Word, was at the same time the wisdom of God. The wisest men in the
world recognize it and fall to their knees.

The Persian dreamers are warned by one final dream to go home by another
route, to avoid the insane Herod, who by this time was surely furious.

2Q== Taken from Matthew: The Gospel of Identity
by Michael Card. Copyright(c) 2013 by Michael Card. Used by permission of
InterVarsity Press, PO Box 1400, Downers Grove, IL 60515. www.ivpress.com

Matthew writes his Gospel to help his readers define their new identity as
followers of Jesus the Messiah. Michael Card unpacks how Matthew’s emphasis
on fulfillment confirms their Jewish connection to the Torah, while his
focus on the kingdom helps them understand their new identities in Christ.
Matthew
presents this process of redefinition as an exercise of the imagination, in
which Jesus reshapes who we are in light of who he is.

KenBible.com

New Post on KenBible.com - Christmas Is Past, Present, and Future
----------------------------------------------------------

Christmas Is Past, Present, and Future

Posted: 18 Dec 2016 09:55 PM PST

Christmas is more than just a celebration of a past event,
however wonderful or important.
The God who came to us as an infant still comes to us
personally,
gently,
quietly,
now as then.
He still comes to us as marvelous, mysterious Life,
drawing us toward Himself.

He is still the Light in every dark place,
the Star shining from the bottomless blackness,
the fresh glow in every dingy stable.

He still invites the magi and the shepherds,
the highest and lowest of people.
He still comes in stunning humility,
yet in unearthly glory.
He is still awe-inspiring in
His transcendence and
His simplicity.

The God who came
is still coming.

And He is coming again.
As before, He will come
unexpectedly,
after a seemingly endless wait, and
at just the right time.
But this time, He will come,
not quietly,
but with sound of a trumpet;
not simply,
but with all of heaven’s angels;
not in a dark corner,
but where every eye will see Him.
He will come,
not as a helpless infant,
but as sovereign Lord and Judge of all.

The God who came
is coming and
will come again
in love,
to save completely all who will receive Him.

Hidden in the Wrappings"
December 20, 2016
(Zechariah said) "that we should be saved from our enemies and from the hand
of all who hate us" (Luke 1:71).
Read Luke 1:71-75.

Scattered among my Christmas memories are some dark clouds. Several
Christmases saw cancer and death stalking our family. One year it hovered
over my wife's
father; several years later it was my mother. That terrible enemy cast a
shadow over everything, attempting to swallow up our joy, peace and light.

Of course, it doesn't take as formidable an enemy as death to suck the joy
out of Christmas. The nagging problems of poor health, strained
relationships,
or financial struggles are more than enough. That's why I love the third
stanza of "It Came upon the Midnight Clear."

"All you, beneath your heavy load, by care and guilt bent low
Who toil along a dreary way, with painful steps and slow:
Look up, for golden is the hour, come swiftly on the wing,
The Prince was born to bring you peace, of Him the angels sing."

Zechariah carried that same thought as he praised God for sending His Son to
visit and redeem His people, "that we should be saved from our enemies and
from the hand of all who hate us."

The truth is we do have great and powerful enemies who are out to get us.
Satan tempted our first parents to sin. That sin led to God's condemnation
and
resulted in death and hell. But God did not abandon us to their heartless
hands. He sent His own all-powerful Son to rescue us.

Come back around for the Lenten devotions this coming spring. Then you will
see Zechariah's prophecy unfold, as Jesus shows His great strength, against
all of these bitter enemies.

THE PRAYER: Gracious Father, we are surrounded by powerful enemies who would
destroy us, but You sent Your Son to win our salvation by His perfect life,
innocent suffering and death and powerful resurrection. Keep us safe in this
faith until His return. In Jesus' Name. Amen.

Today's Bible in a Year Reading: Esther 1-2; Matthew 1; Luke 3
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rights reserved by the Int'l LLL (LHM).

Change Their World. Change Yours.
This Changes Everything.
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Re: THE MASTERS LIST Dean W. Masters

Post  Admin on Thu 22 Dec 2016, 11:07 pm

Why Christmas?
by Ron Edmondson

But your iniquities have separated you from your God, your sins have hidden
His face from you, so that He will not hear. (
Isaiah 59:2 NIV)

Why do we need Christmas? Have you ever thought about that question?
Probably not! If the truth be known, you, like me, are just so busy “doing”
Christmas,
and enjoying it too, that you haven’t stopped to consider the reason for the
celebration.

Now, I am not talking about the “reason for the season.” You have no doubt
seen and heard that. People have been wearing pins with that on it for two
weeks
and you know that it is to celebrate the birth of a Savior, but why did He
need to be born?

Here’s why (and, please, don’t miss this point this Christmas season): We
need Christmas because without it we are going to Hell! Now you’re thinking,
“What does Hell have to do with Christmas?”.

Without Christmas, without the baby in a manger, the virgin birth, the
shepherds in the field at night, the presents wrapped, the bills to be paid,
the
parties to attend, the expanded waistline…. Okay… you get the idea… without
all the neat things that make Christmas what Christmas is, we would be
eternally
lost. See, all of us are lost, without hope, because we all have sin in our
life. We are born into sin and can do nothing to rid ourselves of the sin
habit.

God is Holy, as you know, and so He cannot tolerate any sin. None! He will
not hear us through our sin, and so, if we remain in our sin, we remain
forever
separated from God.

But then there is Christmas, Praise God! Jesus did come on that dark night
some 2000 years ago! He came so that through Him we can be saved, completely
forgiven of our sins, and enter the presence of a Holy God!

There is a Christmas! We need Christmas! Thank God for Christmas today!

A Remarkable Advent: Day 18
By shauna on Dec 18, 2016 06:00 am

Reflection based on Matthew 1:24 .

----------------------------------------------------------

How many questions must have kept Mary wondering at night? Would she be a
single mother to God’s son? What would Joseph do?

With so much uncertainty in front of her, she undoubtedly placed her life,
and the life inside her, in God’s hands every night. The best confirmation
that
she had not made the entire thing up was the fluttering and stretching in
her tummy which proved God had spoken. He had done what He’d said, and it
was
Mary’s job to trust Him to continue to work His wonders no matter where they
led her.

Mary surely knew the Psalm, “ Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to
my path
.” When Joseph, by some means, communicated that God had given the word,
“Don’t be afraid to marry her,” it must have been a great light of relief to
Mary’s
uncertainty. It was as if God’s grace was shining a little lamp on just the
next step of her journey, showing how He would continue to care for her and
His son.

In our bright world blinding, blinking lights are never far away. When we
think of God’s word being a light to our path, we hope for sunlight, street
lights,
head lights, or spotlights. We want piercing brightness that shines far into
the distance so we can see what’s up ahead.

So we know the dangers.

So we can see where the road turns and where it ends.

But God doesn’t promise floodlights blazing into the uncertain darkness. If
we could see all the obstacles at once, we’d be tempted to wriggle free of
our Father’s tender grasp and run ahead or run away.

To make sure it’s easier for us to keep our trembling hand in His, He’s
given His word as a lamp, lighting just the next step at our feet.

We do well to stay close to Him, listening for His words of caution and
direction. He sees the whole way to the end, even if we can’t. He’s told us
where
He’s going. He’s bringing us along with Him, and He knows how to get there,
because actually, He
is the way.
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rights reserved.

One Thing God Wants You to Remember at Christmas
Sharon Jaynes

Today’s Truth

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these
is love
(1 Corinthians 13:13
NIV).

Friend to Friend

With Christmas just around the corner, it’s easy to get so busy with the
cooking, decorating and shopping that we forget why we’re doing all this in
the
first place. Sometimes, the very people we love get lost in the hustle and
bustle of packed schedules, holiday parties, and Christmas musicals.

Several years ago I wrote a Christmas version of 1 Corinthians 13
to help me keep my focus on what Paul deemed most important of all...love.
As part of our family tradition, I pull it out and post it somewhere in our
home as a reminder of what’s really important during the holiday season. And
since you are now part of the family, I’m pulling it out for you.

1 Corinthians 13 Christmas Style

(c)By Sharon Jaynes

If I decorate my house perfectly with lovely plaid bows, strands of
twinkling lights, and shiny glass balls, but do not show love to my family,
I’m just
another decorator.

If I slave away in the kitchen, baking dozens of Christmas cookies,
preparing gourmet meals, and arranging a beautifully adorned table at
mealtime, but
do not show love to my family, I’m just another cook.

If I work at the soup kitchen, carol in the nursing home, and give all that
I have to charity, but do not show love to my family, it profits me nothing.

If I trim the spruce with shimmering angels and crocheted snowflakes, attend
a myriad of holiday parties, and sing in the choir’s cantata but do not
focus
on Christ, I have missed the point.

Love stops the cooking to hug the child.

Love sets aside the decorating to kiss the husband.

Love is kind, though harried and tired.

Love doesn’t envy another home that has coordinated Christmas china and
table linens.

Love doesn’t yell at the kids to get out of your way.

Love doesn’t give only to those who are able to give in return, but rejoices
in giving to those who can’t.

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures
all things.

Love never fails. Video games will break, pearl necklaces will be lost, golf
clubs will rust. But giving the gift of love will endure.

Let’s Pray

Heavenly Father, thank You for sending Your Son, Jesus, on that starry night
in Bethlehem. I am still amazed at Your great love for me. May I never lose
sight of the true meaning of Christmas, but celebrate Jesus’ birth with joy!
Help me to give as You gave--with love.

In Jesus’ Name,

Amen.
Now It’s Your Turn

What are some ways that you can make sure to love your family well this
holiday season?

Are there any activities that you need to eliminate from your busy schedule
in order to alleviate over commitment? If so, what are they?

More from the Girlfriends

It is hard not to get caught up in the pre-Christmas swirl of activity and
lose focus on what’s really important. If you would like ways to keep Jesus
the focus of your holiday season, check out my book,
Celebrating a Christ-centered Christmas: Ideas from A-Z
. It’s packed with helpful ideas and inspiration. And what could be better
than giving the gift of prayer? For you married gals, check out
Praying for Your Husband from Head to Toe.

Seeking God?
GirlfriendsInGod.com
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Re: THE MASTERS LIST Dean W. Masters

Post  Admin on Wed 21 Dec 2016, 11:08 pm

Welcome to the Illustrator
Today's Bible Verse:
"They'll see that you take care of the poor, that you take care of poor
people in trouble, Provide a warm, dry place in bad weather, provide a cool
place
when it's hot. Brutal oppressors are like a winter blizzard " (Isaiah 25:4,
MSG)

By Answers2Prayer
Warm Socks on a Winter's Day

When I was a boy the one Christmas present me and my brothers never wanted
but always got was socks. Every year under the tree there would be a package
of thick, white tube socks for each of us. They were always quickly stuffed
in a drawer and forgotten about while we played with our real presents and
enjoyed Christmas day.

In time, however, the lights were taken down, the Christmas tree was thrown
out, and only Winter was left. It was during the cold, dark, long, snowy
Winter
months that those socks began to take on a new importance. On those bitter,
windy mornings in January me and my brothers would be huddled by the stove
in my Nana's drafty old house hopping around while we pulled on those thick
socks to warm our icy toes. Nothing felt better than feeling them thaw our
frozen feet. It was then that I was thankful to Mom and Dad for spending
what little money they had on not just what we wanted but also on what we
needed.

As I sit here 40 years in the future on a cold, Winter's day with warm socks
on my feet I can still smile back on those childhood days so full of simple
joys. I realize too that my Mom and Dad provided not just warm socks for my
feet but warm socks for my soul as well. In this often cold world they
showed
me the warmth of love. They showed me that giving is better than getting.
They showed me that hard work can fill the heart as well as the wallet. They
showed me that laughter and smiles are more valuable than stocks and bonds.
They showed me that what is important isn't what you accumulate in this
world
but what you take with you into the next.

May all of your days be full of warm socks and warm hearts. May they be full
of smiles, laughter, kindness, goodness, peace and joy. May they be full of
God's love for you and your love for others. May they feel like Summer even
in the midst of Winter.

Joseph J. Mazzella
Announcement:
Do you know someone who is not saved? Are you not sure how to approach this
individual? Why don't you encourage that person to
subscribe to our newsletter
and watch the Lord work on that individual via our newsletter? Doors will be
opened and you will receive the opportunity to share Jesus with that person.

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

"First Words"
December 19, 2016
(Zechariah said) "Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for He has visited and
redeemed His people" (Luke 1:68).
Read Luke 1:67-70.

As a child I had no problem going to church Christmas Eve, because I knew
the presents wouldn't come before midnight. My problem came Christmas
morning,
after opening our presents and playing with them, then to have to go to
church again. Obviously, at that time presents were the biggest part of
Christmas
to me.

Did Zechariah have that same problem? After all, he had been silent nine
months, and finally got his speech back. If it was you, what is the first
thing
you would talk about? Wouldn't it be your child -- the one you had waited
and prayed about for so long?

But Zechariah said nothing about his child; all he could talk about was that
other Child, who stayed in his household the last three months -- the Baby
still growing in Mary's womb. Zechariah shared his wife's amazement at how
God has come to visit His people, and this visit is not the way an angel
appears
and then leaves. Instead, God remains, becoming one of us, ready to spend a
lifetime living with us.

But there's even more to the story. Not only has the Christ Child come to
live with us, He has come to redeem or ransom us -- to buy us back from our
slavery
to sin, death and hell. Zechariah spoke of the ransom payment that still lay
more than 30 years in the future. It was then when Jesus would be nailed to
a cross, on a hill outside of Jerusalem. It is there that He will give His
life to free us from God's wrath and the eternal punishment of hell that we
deserve.

THE PRAYER: Heavenly Father, Christmas is about far more than presents,
decorations and parties. It is about Your Son coming into our world to buy
us back
with His own life, death and resurrection. Fill my mouth with praise to You.
In Jesus' Name. Amen.

Today's Bible in a Year Reading: Ezra 5-7; Revelation 11
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Subscribe to this Podcast
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rights reserved by the Int'l LLL (LHM).

Ron Hutchcraft Ministries - A Word With You
A Word With You
----------------------------------------------------------
That particular Christmas I saw something I would not soon forget. I was
visiting a theme park that has a wonderful Christmas festival, including a
service
in their old log chapel. We sang some of the old carols and then there was a
short time when we had our eyes closed in prayer. As I opened my eyes, I
noticed
that someone had slipped in to the old wooden bench across from me - Santa
Claus. Yep, there he was red suit, real white hair, real white beard -
except
for his Santa hat which he had removed to pray. There was Santa Claus, eyes
closed and head bowed on his folded hands praying. Look, I've seen a lot of
Santas. I've never seen one praying before. As I visited with him
afterwards, he told me how he tried to remind each boy and girl who sat on
his lap of
the Savior who came on Christmas to die for us. That's one amazing Santa!

I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Even
Santa Knows."

In this memorable Christmas encounter, even Santa knew what Christmas is
for. Christmas is the time to be telling people about Jesus. Yes, Santa and
shopping
and social demands can monopolize this season and marginalize Jesus, but
it's when we celebrate His birthday. And it's the time of year when the
hearts
of the lost people you know are softer toward Jesus and more aware of Jesus
than any other time of the year.

Christmas has been time to tell about Jesus since the day He arrived on
earth. The shepherds must have understood that when the angels said this was
"good
news" and it was "for all the people" (Luke 2:10), that it was up to them to
tell the news. In Luke 2:16-18, our word for today from the Word of God, the
Bible says, "They hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who
was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word
concerning
what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed."

It was clear from day one of Jesus on earth. When you've met Jesus, you're
supposed to tell about Jesus. There's some research that shows that up to
90%
of those who know Jesus never tell anyone about Jesus. Now, they live a good
Christian life and that's important because it shows the difference Jesus
makes. But someone could watch you for the next fifty years and they're not
going to figure this out. They're not going to say, "Oh, you know, Charlie
is such a nice guy. I'll bet Jesus died on the cross for my sins." They're
not going to figure that out! You have to tell them! From the shepherds to
the
Santa in the chapel, Christmas has been the time to tell what you know about
Jesus.

The shepherds weren't trained, professional God-salesmen. They were, at
best, everyday guys with an extraordinary story to tell, and that's who you
are.
And they'll listen to you like they listened to the shepherds because you're
an ordinary person like the lost people you know. Your ordinariness is your
best qualification to be the one to tell them about Jesus. And you have the
information on which their eternity depends. Silence is a sin that could
cost
them heaven.

Take advantage of this season when Jesus is more on people's minds than any
other time. Write that letter to someone you love, thanking them for what
they
mean to you and telling them what Jesus has done for you. Have those lost
neighbors or friends over, and pray for open doors to speak about your
personal
relationship with Jesus Christ.

Give something special to people in your world - something nice that helps
point them to Jesus. Be intentional about sharing Jesus in these days before
Christmas. It may be the best - and in some cases, the last - opportunity
you will have with some of those people. And there is no greater gift you
could
give to your Savior this Christmas than the life of someone He died for!

Ron Hutchcraft Ministries, Inc. · P.O. Box 400 · Harrison, Arkansas 72602 ·
USA
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Re: THE MASTERS LIST Dean W. Masters

Post  Admin on Tue 20 Dec 2016, 11:27 pm

The Best Christmas

The Christmas party was over. Several of the men were sitting at a table
reminiscing about the Christmas days of their childhood. The conversation
turned
to the best Christmas of their lives. As they went around the table, they
noticed one man hadn't said anything. They asked, "Come on.. Frank, What was
your best Christmas?"

Frank said, "The best Christmas I ever had was when I didn't even get a
present." The others were surprised. They had to hear the story. Frank began
to
talk.. "I grew up in New York. It was the great depression and we were poor.
My Mother had died when I was just eight years old. My Dad had a job but he
only worked two or three days a week and that was considered good. We lived
in a walk up and we just barely had enough food and clothes. I was a kid and
didn't really notice."

"My Dad was a proud man. He had one suit. He would wear that suit to work.
When he came home, he would take off the jacket and sit in his chair still
wearing his shirt, tie and his vest. He had this big old pocket watch that
had been given to him by my mother. He would sit in his chair, the chain
from
watch hanging out, connected to the fob in his vest buttonhole. That watch
was his proudest possession. Sometimes, I would see him, just sitting there,
looking at his precious watch. I bet he was thinking of my mother."

"One year, I was about twelve, chemistry sets were the big thing. They cost
two dollars. That was big money but every kid wanted a chemistry set
including
me. I began to pester my Dad about it a month or so before Christmas. You
know, I made all the same kid promises. I would be good. I would do my
chores.
I wouldn't ask for anything else again. My dad would just say, 'We'll see.."

"Three days before Christmas he took me to the carts. There was this area
where all the small merchants keep their street carts. They would undersell
the
stores and you could get a good buy. He would take me to a cart and pick out
some little toy. "Son, would like something like this?" I, of course, would
tell him, 'No, I want a chemistry set.' We tramped to nearly every cart and
him showing me some toy car or toy gun, and me refusing it. I never thought
that he didn't have the money to buy a chemistry set. Finally, he said, we
better go home and come back the next day."

"All the way home, I pouted and whined about the chemistry set. I repeated
the promises. I said I didn't care if I never got another present. I had to
have that chemistry set. I know now that my Dad felt guilty about not being
able to give me more. He probably thought he was a failure as a Father and
I think he blamed himself for my mother's death. As we were walking up the
stairs, he told me, that he would see what he could do about getting me the
chemistry set. That night I couldn't even sleep. I could see myself
inventing some new material. I could see the New York Times.. 'Boy wins
Nobel Prize!"

"The next day after work, my Dad took me back to the carts. On the way, I
remember, he bought a loaf of bread, he was carrying it under his arm. We
came
to first cart and he told me to pick out the set I wanted They were all
alike, but went through them, like I was choosing a diamond. I found the
right
one and I almost yelled. 'This one.. Dad!'"

"I can still see him, reaching into his pant's pocket, to get the money. As
he pulled the two dollars out, one fluttered to the ground, he bent over to
pick it up and as he did, the chain fell out of his vest. The chain swung
back and forth. 'No watch.' In a flash, I realized that my Dad had sold his
watch.
He sold his most precious possession to buy me a chemistry set. He sold his
watch, the last thing my mother had given him, to buy me a chemistry set."

"I grabbed his arms and I yelled, 'No.' I had never grabbed my Dad before
and I certainly had never yelled at him. I can see him, looking at me, a
strange
look on his face. 'No, Dad, you don't have to buy me anything.' The tears
were burning in my eyes. 'Dad, I know you love me.' We walked away from the
cart
and I remember my Dad holding my hand all the way home."

Frank looked at the men. "You know, there isn't enough money in the world to
buy that moment. You see, at that moment, I knew that my Dad loved me more
than anything in the world."

That is the way that God loves us. He didn't just say it. He showed it. He
gave the most precious thing anyone could give. He gave His Son. John 3:16,
says, "For God so loved the world (you and me) that he gave his only
begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him, should not perish but have
everlasting
life."

He gave His Son, Jesus, That you and I might have everlasting life. If you
haven't accepted that great gift.. Accept it now.. Just ask him to forgive
you
of your sins and to come into your heart and be your Lord and Savior. It is
that easy to receive the greatest gift ever given.

Author Unknown

A Remarkable Advent: Day 16
By shauna on Dec 16, 2016 06:00 am

Reflection based on Matthew 1:19 .

----------------------------------------------------------

We’re told that Joseph was righteous. He wasn’t a perfect human, but his
life was characterized by seeking obedience to God. And for his
righteousness
and waiting, he was rewarded with an announcement of what appeared to be
scandalous infidelity.

His girl was pregnant.

According to God’s laws, which he tried to obey, marrying an unfaithful
woman would make him unfaithful too. So to avoid further disgracing his
family
and his bride, he meant to break it off quietly.

He’d swallow the embarrassment, follow God’s law, and endure a heartbreaking
obedience–a disturbing reversal that would not go unnoticed.

But in the face of what appeared to be an epic betrayal, Joseph was anchored
by God’s word and carried along by God’s compassion. It would have been
inconsistent
with his upright character to cast Mary, vulnerable as she was, into the
public eye to be the subject of a hundred disgusted dinnertime
conversations.

But no matter how quietly it was done, in a small town like Nazareth, the
whispers would be loud.

Difficult obedience sometimes appears to make a mess of things.

In that same synagogue in Nazareth where Joseph was headed to quietly obey
God, just 30 short years later, Jesus would stand and read from Isaiah. He
would
announce that He himself was the Promised One who would give a crown of
beauty in exchange for the ashes of grief, and the oil of gladness in
exchange
for mourning. And his obedience would also make a mess of things there in
his home town.

Sometimes God’s blessings begin in the most unlikely and unwanted ways.
Ruinous circumstances. Life-altering events. People who upend our lives. And
none
of it feels like blessing at the outset.

With the ashes of well-laid-plans scattered at our feet, we may be inclined
to run away from the mess or shake our fists at God for ruining our plans.

But our job is not to reassemble the pieces. Our job is to do what He asks.
We can present to God the unmet expectations, the betrayal, the sadness, and
the whole slew of emotional debris, and let Him do what He does best.

In the middle of a smoldering mess, God can exchange a crown of beauty for
the ashes of grief, for those who seek to obey even while standing in a heap
of broken beginnings.
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Recent Articles:
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A Remarkable Advent: Day 12
A Remarkable Advent: Day 11

Copyright © 2016 Shauna Letellier--Rest & Relief for Ragged Souls, All
rights reserved.

Will the Darkness Win?

December 16

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

>John 1:5

Every single person, at some point in his or her life, goes through a time
of darkness. Whether it be a darkness of failure, darkness of sin, or the
darkness
of sorrow, there’s no escaping the fact that darkness is all around us. This
darkness causes many to wonder, “Will the darkness win? Will evil prevail?”

The answer to that question was given over 2,000 years ago when Jesus Christ
was born into the world. To many in that day, it looked like the darkness
was going to win. And while most people were afraid of the darkness of
oppression by the Roman Empire, Jesus opened their eyes to the reality of
something
even darker... the darkness of their own sin.

But in the midst of that darkness, God sent Jesus into the world to shine a
great light... a light so bright and so overwhelming that those who
experienced
it were forever changed.

God sent a bold answer all those years ago that while the darkness may
sometimes seem overwhelming, goodness will ultimately triumph over evil.
Jesus was
the light of the world, and whoever believes in Him already has victory over
sin and death. Trust Him for that victory today.

IN CHRIST, YOU CAN OVERCOME THE DARKNESS AND HAVE VICTORY OVER SIN AND
DEATH. TRUST HIM TODAY!

----------------------------------------------------------
For more from PowerPoint Ministries and Dr. Jack Graham, please visit
www.jackgraham.org
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Re: THE MASTERS LIST Dean W. Masters

Post  Admin on Tue 20 Dec 2016, 12:16 am

A New Thing – Magi

Isaiah 43:18-19 (NIV)
18 “Forget the former things;
do not dwell on the past.
19 See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the desert
and streams in the wasteland.

Matthew 2:9-11 (NIV)
9 After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they
had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped over the place
where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. 11 On
coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed
down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him
with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh.

In this part of the Christmas story, one new thing is a star that moved to
show the magi where to find Jesus, the King they were looking for. Another
new thing is the magi bringing expensive gifts to a peasant child.

The magi brought their gifts but what can we give to Jesus? He wants us to
give him our lives. He wants us to surrender our lives to Him as our gift to
Him. The magi brought their gifts one time. We must have that one time we
give our lives to Him but then we are to give ourselves to Him every day. He
has told us how we can do that:

Matthew 25:34-36 (NIV)
34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed
by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the
creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat,
I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you
invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you
looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

Many people think of helping people especially around Christmas time but
these people are around us all the time. By helping them out during the rest
of the year we are also giving to Jesus. So our gift to Him isn’t just once
a year but day by day. May we live as David Grayson who is quoted here:

I sometimes think we expect two much of Christmas Day. We try to crowd into
it the long arrears of kindliness and humanity of the whole year. As for me,
I like to take my Christmas a little at time, all through
the year. And thus I drift along into the holidays- let them overtake me
unexpectedly- waking up some fine morning and suddenly saying to myself:
"Why, this is Christmas Day!"

by Dean W. Masters


Throwing Stones

What Are You Waiting For?

Do you expect to see God at the end of your life? What in the world will
that be like? Many times, especially during bedtime stories, my children
would
ask me to describe heaven for them. I would always say that I could not give
them specific details, but I did know that heaven will be the most peaceful
place they could imagine, and that Jesus will be the central figure in
heaven waiting for them. The Jews waited 2000 years for Jesus to appear as
the long-anticipated
Messiah. Since the birth of Jesus in the First Century, Christians have
waited another 2000 years for Him to return. Muslims, too, are waiting for
Jesus
to return, something I never knew until I befriended a Muslim. In other
words, over half the population of the world today is waiting for Jesus to
return.
Christmas is all about celebrating the fact that Jesus came to earth as God
had promised. But, if He came once, why can't He come again?

The Bible asks us to live our lives in anticipation of Christ's return. We
are to be vigilant and prepared to see Jesus face-to-face -- either when we
die or when he returns to govern over a new heaven and a new earth. Either
way, we will be seeing Him soon. Are you prepared for that? One of the best
ways to prepare for His return is to help the Gospel message be spread
throughout the earth. In fact, the Bible gives us clues that His return will
be
in response to the Gospel being spread first throughout the world. Matthew
24:14 reads, "And the Good News about the Kingdom will be preached
throughout
the whole world, so that all the nations will hear it; and then the end will
come."

There is great reward for those who live their lives in anticipation of
Christ's return. At the beginning of the New Testament, we are told a story
about
a simple, everyday person named Simeon. Simeon had no particular position,
rank or file with the Jewish hierarchy of the time. He was more like you and
me, no one special, other than the fact that he had a deep faith in God and
God's anticipated Messiah. I believe that Simeon's life was highlighted as
an inspiration for us to do the same - prepare for Christ's return with
vigilance and prayer. Listen to the story: "At the time there was a man in
Jerusalem
named Simeon. He was righteous and devout and was eagerly waiting for the
Messiah to come and rescue Israel. The Holy Spirit was upon him and had
revealed
to him that he would not die until he had seen the Lord's Messiah.
That day the Spirit led him to the Temple. So when Mary and Joseph came to
present the baby Jesus to the Lord as the law required, Simeon was there. He
took the child in his arms and praised God, saying, 'Sovereign Lord, now let
your servant die in peace, as you promised. I have seen your salvation,
which
you have prepared for all people. He is a light to reveal God to the
nations, and he is the glory of your people Israel.'" (Luke 2:25-32)

Last month, I was in the United Arab Emirates at a conference for Christian
workers who have a heart for the people in the Arabian Peninsula and Iran.
We heard exhilarating story after story concerning the phenomenal growth of
the Gospel in this particular area of the world. During one lecture, I sat
next to a man I consider to be a modern day Simeon. He was with three other
men from China. They sat humbly and reverently along with me and many others
in the room listening to the speaker explain the history of the Church in
the Arabian Peninsula. The speaker eventually noticed this particular
Chinese
man; he asked him to introduce himself. The man rose from his seat, and
said, "I am here to be in solidarity with the persecuted Church on the
Arabian
Peninsula and in Iran. I was put in jail for four years by the Chinese
authorities because of my Christian faith. They threatened and beat me and
asked
that I stop preaching the Gospel. But, I told them I could not do that.
Eventually, they let me go. The Gospel is growing so fast in China today
that there
is nothing anyone can do to stop it. God told me to help the underground
Church in the Middle East. We are part of a Chinese missionary movement
called,
Back to Jerusalem. We were told that the Gospel is now growing faster in
Iran than in China. We have come to see what Jesus is doing here, and to
help
the suffering new believers because we suffered, too." By the time the man
had finished talking, the rest of us in the room were moved deeply by the
sincerity
of his words.

At the conference, my friends and I met another man, an American, who also
reminded me of Simeon. He was giving a lecture on Yemen. He, his wife, and
four
children, had worked in Yemen for a number of years. In fact, in recent
years, they were one of the last foreign-born workers to be asked to leave
the
country because of their Christian affiliation. This humble, faithful and
brave man told us what it was like to go to work every day in Yemen during
his
last years, not knowing if he would be assaulted or killed. Other Christian
workers in his area had been murdered by radical Muslims in broad daylight.
The painful stress was still evident on his face. Eventually, he and his
family were forced out of the country. But, rather than return to the
comforts
of life in the United States, they relocated to Djibouti, an even poorer and
more economically challenged country than Yemen. Civil war is now raging
through
Yemen. Iran and Saudi Arabia are feverishly supporting the opposing sides of
the conflict. Shiites and Sunnis are killing each other at unprecedented
rates.
It is a tragedy, leaving so many lives and homes in shambles. There are now
millions of refugees and displaced people within Yemen, unable to escape.
Children
are starving. One of the few places a Yemeni refugee might be able to escape
to is Djibouti, just across the Arabian Sea. And, the American and his
family
are now in Djibouti receiving and loving these new refugees. At the close of
his presentation, the American said that the most amazing thing of all is
that the underground Church in Yemen is now exploding with growth. The seeds
of the Gospel that had been planted by these brave missionaries are now
taking
root. The new believers in Yemen are actively offering medical,
psychological and spiritual help to their fellow countrymen caught in the
ravages of war.
As radical Muslims kill more innocent Muslims in our world today, an
increasing number of Muslims are leaving Islam all together, choosing
instead to follow
the Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ, the Lord and Savior of the world.

As I mentioned, Muslims are waiting for Jesus to return to earth, just as we
Christians are doing the same. But, Islam teaches that Jesus will descend
back to earth at the end of time in order to help God complete the ultimate
task of making the whole world Muslim. In fact, the holy books of Islam
teach
that Jesus will return for 40 years, smash all the crosses in the world,
kill all the swine, help everyone become Muslim, then return to God. By
contrast,
Christians believe Jesus will return to earth, live forever, wipe away every
tear, sin and death, in order to rule over a most peaceful kingdom now and
forever more. The prophet Isaiah said it beautifully, "The Messiah shall
judge between the nations and shall arbitrate for many peoples; they shall
beat
their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning-hooks; nation
shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war
anymore."
(Isaiah 2:4). "In that day the wolf and the
lamb will live together, the leopard will lie down with the baby goat. The
calf and the yearling will be safe with the lion, and a little child will
lead
them all.' (Isaiah 11:6) And, the Apostle John expanded further when he
wrote, "I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, 'Look, God's home is
now
among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God
himself will be with them. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and
there
will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone
forever.'" (Revelation 21:3-4)

It makes a big difference when we know what we are waiting for. By
anticipating the Lord's return, our lives become full of hope, love, purpose
and faith.
By contrast, our lives are incomplete if we are waiting for nothing in
particular at the end of our days on earth. This Christmas, seize the
opportunity
to join Simeon in waiting, working, and praying for Jesus, our Savior, to
appear. When our Lord does return, don't be caught idle with your hands in
your
pockets serving only yourself and your own interests. There is so much good
work to do to prepare for God's kingdom to come fully to earth, whether in
Yemen, China or down the streets in our neighborhoods. Join the chorus of
the ages who continue to sing, "Joy to the world, the Lord is come! Let
earth
receive her King; Let every heart prepare Him room, and Heaven and nature
sing, and Heaven and nature sing, and Heaven, and Heaven, and nature sing."

My family and I wish you a most joy-filled and peaceful Christmas.
Rev. Daniel McNerney
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Re: THE MASTERS LIST Dean W. Masters

Post  Admin on Sun 18 Dec 2016, 5:15 pm

4 Ways to Honor Your Lost Loved Ones at Christmas
Lori Hatcher

This past Thanksgiving was our family’s second without my mother-in-law,
sixth without two sisters and a brother, and thirteenth without my
grandmother.
We felt the ache, mourned the loss, and wished with all our hearts they were
still with us.

Christmas is coming, and with it a slew of family gatherings. Unless you’ve
been unusually fortunate, you’ll have an empty chair or two at your dining
room table. It’s unrealistic to think you won’t miss your loved ones, but
holidays are for celebrating, not for grieving. As you prepare for Christmas
without your precious loved one, here are a few ways you can honor him or
her:

1. Do something your loved one would approve of.

My grandmother loved to dig in the dirt and make things grow. Wherever she
lived, she always planted dianthus. I remember visiting her shortly after
she
moved to an independent living facility. She no longer had a place to
garden, but as I walked into her new building, I saw evidence of her green
thumb.
She’d tucked a tiny patch of dianthus into a square of dirt near her
doorway. To honor her, one year I planted dianthus in my flowerbed. Every
time it
bloomed, it reminded me of her.

One friend and his family are facing their first Christmas without their
father/grandfather. Knowing that his dad loved Italy, my friend is taking
his
family on a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Rome in his honor.

Your memorial activity will probably be less extravagant, but it can be
equally memorable. One friend honors her daughter’s memory every season by
watching
her favorite Christmas movie, the Patrick Stewart version of
A Christmas Carol. Another friend and her family meet at Waffle House at
midnight on Christmas Eve to continue a long-standing tradition their late
father
began.

2. Be sure to include your loved one’s favorite food in your holiday meal.

My mother-in-law and I shared a love for lemon crème pie. She’d often tell
the story of how she and a friend of hers liked it so much that they’d buy a
pie, draw a line down the middle, and eat every bit of it. My mother-in-law
liked her pies extra tart, and if I made the recipe just right, she’d nod
her
approval. “Mmm,” she’d say, “that’ll lock yer jaws.”

Lemon crème pie was one of the last foods I fed her before she passed away.
Confined to a hospital bed and pumped full of medicine, she hadn’t eaten
much
in days. We wracked our brains trying to think of foods that might stimulate
her appetite. My brother-in-law brought her a hot dog from her favorite
greasy
spoon. I brought a bowl of juicy watermelon. The day I brought her a slice
of lemon crème pie, however, was a day to remember.

“Good?” I asked as I spooned bites into her eager mouth.

“Mmm,” she said, nodding her approval. “That’ll lock yer jaws.”

I ate a piece of lemon crème pie at Thanksgiving in her honor. It wasn’t
quite tart enough, but I think she’d still approve.

Like eating my mother-in-law’s lemon pie, “sharing” our loved one’s favorite
foods helps us feel connected with them. This Christmas we’ll eat sweet
potato
casserole to honor my sister Cindy and deep-fried turkey in my
brother-in-law Luther’s name. And with every bite of lemon pie, I’ll feel my
mother-in-law’s
smile.

3. Donate to an organization, charity, or cause your loved one felt
passionate about.

If your mother had a soft spot for children, adopt a
Compassion International child in her name. If your father loved baseball,
donate a scholarship to a local league to help a needy child play ball next
spring.
If your aunt had a soft spot for animals, give to a nearby no-kill shelter.

Remember, too, that donations of time are infinitely valuable and honoring
to a departed loved one. One friend I know helps serve Christmas dinner at a
homeless shelter in memory of her father. Another fills a two-hour slot as a
Salvation Army bell-ringer. (For information on volunteering, visit
http://www.salvationarmy.org/
) Yet another honors her mother, a former school librarian, by reading to
children in an underprivileged school in her city.

4. Talk about your loved one, shed a few tears, but don’t let grief steal
the joy from your family celebration.

Remember that the greatest way we can honor a loved one who has passed away
is to live every day in thanksgiving and JOY. Reflect on the happy memories.
Talk about the fun times and shared experiences. Thank God for the time you
had instead of mourning the time you’ve lost.

Holidays can be hard, but with God’s grace and a little intentionality, we
can celebrate in ways that honor and include our loved ones, even when they
are no longer with us. If you’re facing the holidays without someone
special, ask the Lord to wrap you in his love and help you feel the joy of
his presence.
Take comfort in the promise of
Psalm 30:5 :
“Weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.”

Lori Hatcher is a blogger, inspirational speaker, and author of the
Christian Small Publisher’s 2016 Book of the Year,
Hungry for God ... Starving for Time, Five-Minute Devotions for Busy Women .
A Toastmasters International contest-winning speaker, Lori’s goal is to help
busy women connect with God in the craziness of everyday life. She
especially loves small children, soft animals, and chocolate. You’ll find
her pondering
the marvelous and the mundane on her blog, Hungry for God. . . Starving for
Time
. Connect with her on Facebook , Twitter
(@lorihatcher2) or
Pinterest (Hungry for God).

Will The Christ Child Come?

Halfway through December we were doing the regular evening things when there
was a knock at the door. We opened it to find a small package with a
beautiful
ceramic lamb inside. We looked at the calendar and realized that the 12 days
of Christmas were beginning!! We waiting excitedly for the next night's
surprise
and only then, with the gift of a matching shepherd, did we realized that
the lamb was part of a nativity set.

Each night we grew more excited to see what piece we would receive. Each was
exquisitely beautiful. The kids kept trying to catch the givers as we
slowing
built the scene at the manager and began to focus on Christ's birth.

On Christmas Eve, all the pieces were in place, but the baby Jesus. My 12
year-old son really wanted to catch our benefactors and began to devise all
kinds
of ways to trap them. He ate his dinner in the mini-van watching and
waiting, but no one came.

Finally we called him in to go through our family's Christmas Eve
traditions. But before the kids went to bed we checked the front step - No
Baby Jesus!
We began to worry that my son had scared them off. My husband suggested that
maybe they dropped the Jesus and there wouldn't be anything coming. Somehow
something was missing that Christmas Eve.

There was a feeling that things weren't complete. The kids went to bed and I
put out Christmas, but before I went to bed I again checked to see if the
Jesus had come-no, the doorstep was empty. In our family the kids can open
their stockings when they want to, but they have to wait to open any
presents
until Dad wakes up. So one by one they woke up very early and I also woke up
to watch them.

Even before they opened their stockings, each child checked to see if
perhaps during the night the baby Jesus had come. Missing that piece of the
set seemed
to have an odd effect. At least it changed my focus. I knew there were
presents under the tree for me and I was excited to watch the children open
their
gifts, but first on my mind was the feeling of waiting for the ceramic
Christ Child.

We had opened just about all of the presents when one of the children found
one more for me buried deep beneath the limbs of the tree. He handed me a
small
package from my former visiting teaching companion. This sister was somewhat
less active in the church. I had learned over time they didn't have much for
Christmas, so that their focus was the children. It sounded like she didn't
get many gifts to open, so I had always given her a small package - new dish
towels, the next year's lesson manual - not much, but something for her to
open. I was touched when at Church on the day before Christmas, she had
given
me this small package, saying it was just a token of her love and
appreciation.

As I took off the bow, I remembered my friendship with her and was filled
with gratitude for knowing her and for her kindness and sacrifice in this
year
giving me a gift. But as the paper fell away, I began to tremble and cry.
There in the small brown box was the baby Jesus. He had come!

I realized on that Christmas Day that Christ will come into our lives in
ways that we don't expect. The spirit of Christ comes into our hearts as we
serve
one another. We had waited and watched for him to come, expecting the
dramatic "knock at the door and scurrying of feet" but he came in a small,
simple
package that represented service, friendship, gratitude, and love.

This experience taught me that the beginning of the true spirit of Christmas
comes as we open our hearts and actively focus on the Savior. But we will
most likely find him in the small and simple acts of love, friendship and
service that we give to each other. This Christmas I want to feel again the
joy
of knowing that Christ is in our home. I want to focus on loving and
serving. More than that I want to open my heart to him all year that I may
see him
again.

Don't forget the reason for the Season.
By Gaye Willis
"Will The Christ Child Come?"

A Remarkable Advent: Day 15
By shauna on Dec 15, 2016 06:00 am

Though Mary didn’t know it yet, her heart was already being pierced by the
blessed burden of being the mother of the Messiah. God had not promised her
a husband, or a house, or a long life. The angel had said nothing of Joseph.

It would seem to us that if a person was highly favored, and if the Lord was
with her as the angel said, that God might be obliged to give her a husband,
a house, and a reasonably smooth life.

But he didn’t. And still she obeyed.

What a tumultuous time for the favored mother of Jesus. The scripture says
she was “found to be with child.” Did she tell her family, or was she “found
out?” There are so many questions that come to mind, and yet God in his
wisdom gives us no details about her family’s reaction.

Still, Mary was willing to be thought a fool, ready to have her morals
called into question, and willing to forego the familial comforts of
marriage and
home because she was the Lord’s servant.

This goes to show the transformative power of God’s call on a person’s life.
When God undeniably calls you to a task, your readiness is quick, your
willingness
is eager, and your certainty may cause you to appear plain crazy.

The irrevocable call of God still has those effects in the lives of
believers who say, “I am the Lord’s servant.” And after declaring our
commitment, we
must not waver, even if it means being considered a mad fool.

Because God delights to choose the “ foolish
” in order to showcase His power to those the world considers “wise.”
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rights reserved.

The Right Reason
By Skip Heitzig

For those of us who have been raised in the church, there's an understanding
that Jesus is the reason for this season. In fact, He's the reason for
everything.
We like to tell people, "Just look to Jesus; He's the answer to it all." In
reality, most people don't take the time to understand the message of
Christmas.
A lot of people simply like the beautiful trappings, the trees, the lights,
even the scene of the manger, not realizing that all the while God was
sending
us a gift.

The past couple weeks, we've considered Christmas in light of the right time
and the right person, but what was the reason? What was the purpose of it
all?
Galatians 4:5
tells us: Jesus came "to redeem those who were under the law, that we might
receive the adoption as sons." That's the reason--
redemption.

First of all, I want to consider the history of this reason. When did
Christmas really start? We have to go all the way back to the beginning: God
created
man and woman and had fellowship with them, but in Genesis 3 , everything
changed. They rebelled against their Creator, and fellowship was broken.
What
would God do to fix this? In Genesis 3:15 , He announced to Satan, "I will
put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He
shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel."

I don't have the space here to mention every place in the Bible
where this promise is repeated, but you can trace it all through the Old
Testament and into the New Testament, when Jesus Christ was finally born as
a
fulfillment of that promise, sent to engage in conflict with Satan, be
killed on the cross, and then rise again from the dead. Our bondage was long
and
hard, as the Christmas carol says--"Long lay the world in sin and error
pining"--but then Jesus came at just the right time, and our fellowship was
restored,
paradise regained.

This leads to the second point--the centrality of the reason--summed up in a
single phrase: "To redeem."
Redeem means to buy back. Picture somebody going to a slave market, laying
down cold hard cash to give a slave their freedom, then taking them home and
saying, "I'm adopting you as my own, and one day, I'll give you everything I
own." God went to the slave market of sin, saw us in our condition,
purchased
us, brought us to Himself, and adopted us as His sons and daughters.

This means you never have to be in the bondage of trying to earn your way to
heaven by your own good deeds. The fact of the matter is you'll never earn
it, so you don't have to grit your teeth and try harder, because you're a
son; you're a daughter. You don't have to live in that slavery anymore,
because
you're His child.

Finally, there is the reality of the reason for Christmas--the confirmation
that we have indeed become children of God: "And because you are sons, God
has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, 'Abba,
Father!' Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then
an
heir of God through Christ"
(Galatians 4:6-7
). When you invite Christ in, the Holy Spirit is also sent in, and He
produces in you an instant knowledge and confirmation that you're right with
God.
It's an overwhelming, subjective feeling that proves God's objective
declaration that you are His child, and you can cry out, "Abba--Daddy!"

That's what Christmas is about: what was lost in Genesis 3
is restored because of redemption through the death and resurrection of
Jesus Christ.This is the side of Christmas that's usually not told. We
marvel
at little baby Jesus, forgetting that His hands were destined to have a
Roman spike driven through them, that His little feet would trod the road of
sorrows
to the place of execution, and that His head was destined to wear a crown of
thorns.But that's Christmas: the blood of Jesus Christ, God's Son, cleanses
us from all sin (see
1 John 1:7
)--the right time, the right person, and the right reason coming together so
that we might be redeemed and adopted as children of God.

Copyright (c) 2016 by Connection Communications. All rights reserved.

Inspiration Ministries Daily Devotion

Worried Shepherds

Thursday, December 15, 2016

"In the same region there were some shepherds ... an angel of the Lord
suddenly stood before them ... When the angels had gone away from them into
heaven,
the shepherds began saying to one another, 'Let us go straight to Bethlehem
then, and see this thing that has happened which the Lord has made known to
us.'"
Luke 2:8-15 NASB

Who were these men to whom the angels announced the birth of Jesus? Not
powerful politicians or religious scholars but simple shepherds. Real men
living
real lives. Men with a range of personalities. Some strong and confident.

Others timid.

At the moment they encountered the angels, we can imagine how some might
have been filled with worry. After all, their world was an unstable place.
Roman
soldiers were everywhere, and in many ways these were oppressed people.

How dark the night could have seemed. How easily they could have felt
discouraged and hopeless. They had every reason to doubt. Even the faith
inherited
from their fathers might have failed them.

They might have felt that God had forgotten them.

Then, suddenly, the angel appeared out of the night. In that moment, they
experienced a jolt of resolve and were determined to believe the message and
seek the child.
But the message might have seemed too good to be true. They may have paused
to consider who would believe their story.

Leaving their duty keeping flocks to see a baby? What would others say?
Would they say if they stumbled into soldiers, or could not find the baby?
What
would happen if any sheep were lost? If they could not find the baby?

We can see how some might have wanted to stay behind. But only in going did
their lives change.
Today, how will you respond to the message of the angels? The call of God?
Stay behind? Give in to skepticism and doubt? Or risk everything to follow
God?
To worship and serve the King?

Today's Inspiring Prayer

Father, I commit these issues to You: ___________. I cast my cares on You.
Thank You for loving me. I trust in You. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Further Reading: Luke 2

Inspiration Ministries - PO Box 7750 Charlotte, NC 28241 - Inspiration
Ministries UK - Admail 3905 London - W1A 1ZT - UK Charity No 1119076 -

© 2016 Inspiration Ministries, All rights reserved
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Re: THE MASTERS LIST Dean W. Masters

Post  Admin on Fri 16 Dec 2016, 11:43 pm

Heartfelt Soul Winning Brings a Bountiful Harvest

BIBLE MEDITATION:
“He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless
come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.”
Psalm 126:6

DEVOTIONAL THOUGHT:
Do you know what you’re doing in the morning when you have a quiet time?
Weeding your garden. You’re weeding the garden of your mind, so that the
good
seed of the Word of God can multiply. Now, the next step is to plant the
seed and cultivate His harvest. And when you go out to win souls, water the
crop
with your tears. Read how the Lord’s heart broke over the people He longed
to embrace and love unto Himself (see John 17). Learn this same sort of
compassion
in the garden God has given you to harvest for His kingdom.

ACTION POINT:
Ask God to put you into His fields of service today. Ask Him to make you
bold, yet compassionate and wise to share His Good News.

Devotions taken from the messages of Adrian Rogers.
Copyright © 2016 Love Worth Finding Ministries, All rights reserved.
You are receiving this email because you indicated at www.lwf.org that you
wanted to receive these devotions from Love Worth Finding Ministries.

Our mailing address is:
Love Worth Finding Ministries
2941 Kate Bond Rd
Memphis, TN 38133

Short pithy gems from Arthur Pink

~ ~ ~ ~

The nature of Christ's salvation is woefully misrepresented by the
present-day evangelist. He announces a Savior from
Hell--rather than a Savior from sin. And that is why so many are fatally
deceived, for there are multitudes who wish to escape the Lake of fire--who
have
no desire to be delivered from their carnality and worldliness.

~ ~ ~ ~

The Bible is no lazy man's book! Much of its treasure, like the valuable
minerals stored in the recesses of the earth, only yield up themselves to
the
diligent seeker. No verse of Scripture yields its meaning to lazy people.

~ ~ ~ ~

Prayer is not so much an act as it is an attitude--an attitude of
dependence, dependence upon God.

~ ~ ~ ~

It is not the absence of sin, but the grieving over it--which distinguishes
the child of God from empty professors.

~ ~ ~ ~

Instead of a river, God often gives us a brook, which may be running today
and dried up tomorrow. Why? To teach us not to rest in our
blessings--but in the
Blesser Himself!

~ ~ ~ ~

We have posted a choice selection of short pithy gems from Arthur Pink.

~ ~ ~ ~

Feel free to FORWARD these gems to others who may be encouraged or profited
by them!

Grace Gems (choice ELECTRONIC books, sermons & quotes)
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Re: THE MASTERS LIST Dean W. Masters

Post  Admin on Thu 15 Dec 2016, 11:22 pm

PresbyCan Daily Devotional

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Today's Devotional

Glory To God In The Highest

Isaiah 9:6a – For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given. (NKJV)

Some years ago, we were on a tour to Israel with a group of fellow believers
and a pastor as the leader. Among many places that we visited, we did some
extensive sightseeing in Bethlehem by bus as well as on foot. We visited the
Church of the Nativity, the Grotto of the Nativity, St. Catherine's Church,
and Manger Square, and we walked through the Old City. To be honest, I found
it all very overwhelming. I felt that the importance of the place was
overshadowed
by the man-made places of worship, and some of the tourist attractions
seemed to me to be of questionable origin or importance.

One day, we were having lunch just inside the city, and as there was some
free time before we were to go to the next place of interest, my wife and I
went
for a walk down the street. Almost immediately, we were out of the town, and
there was a sign that said, "Shepherds' Fields". There were some benches
there,
and we sat down to gaze at the rolling hills in front of us. My mind
wandered back 2000 years to the time when Christ was born in that place.

I imagined the shepherds and their sheep in those very same hills, and the
Scripture came to mind:

Luke 2:8 – Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the
fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. (NKJV)

After some quiet contemplation, we were called back to the bus to continue
our sightseeing tour, but that sight of the shepherds' fields was on my mind
all day. In the evening, I looked up the passage which describes it so well.

Luke 2:9-14 – And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the
glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. Then the
angel
said to them, "Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of
great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in
the
city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to
you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger."
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host
praising God and saying: "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace,
goodwill
toward men!" (NKJV)

Immediately the shepherds left their flocks and found and worshipped the
Christ Child.

Luke 2:17 – Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying
which was told them concerning this Child. (NKJV)

Likewise, may we leave behind the glitter and commercialism of Christmas,
and in our minds and hearts, visit the Christ Child as well, and then tell
others
about Him, each one of us in our own way.

Prayer: Our Father in heaven, we thank You for Your Son Jesus, Whose birth
we celebrate each year. We thank You for the shepherds and for all others
who
have brought and continue to bring the good news about Jesus. In His name,
we pray. Amen.
Joel Jongkind


5 Ways to Experience Christmas Joy When You’re Unhappy
Whitney Hopler

The Christmas season is supposed to be the happiest time of year – at least
according to popular culture. Carols like “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of
Year” proclaim Christmas cheer, while advertisements show happy people
enjoying seemingly perfect holidays. People post their good news (but not
their
bad news) on Facebook and cheery Christmas card letters
idealize families’ lives.

But ironically, right when our culture says people should feel happiest,
they actually feel the unhappiest. A lot of that unhappiness comes from
realizing
that their lives are far from the blissful state so often portrayed in
cultural ideals of Christmas magic. The images of smiling people on
Christmas cards
and the overly effusive social media posts remind those going through tough
times about how unhappy they feel and pressure them to feel better. When
they
don’t, frustration about missing out on Christmas cheer makes them feel even
worse.

Yet, on the first Christmas, the angel who announced Jesus’ birth declared:
“...I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people...”

( Luke 2:10 ). Great joy? For everyone?

Even when you’re unhappy, you can still experience joy this Christmas. That’s
because happiness and joy are different – even though the two terms are used
interchangeably in pop culture. Happiness is based on circumstances, so you
can only feel happy in good situations. Joy, however, doesn’t depend on good
circumstances. It’s based on your relationship with a good God, which you
can rely on even during bad circumstances. You can experience Christmas joy
even
in the midst of unhappiness. Here’s how:

1. Learn from those who experienced the original Christmas.

Life wasn’t exactly going well for the people in the biblical Christmas
story. Joseph and Mary were away from the comforts of their Nazareth home,
obligated
to go to Bethlehem for a government census, which forced them into crowded
and unsanitary conditions. Since there was no room for them to stay in
Bethlehem’s
inn, they had to sleep in a stable with animals – and Mary had to give birth
there. The shepherds who would witness the angel make history’s most joyful
announcement were also dealing with tough circumstances. Working long hours
yet still living in poverty, the shepherds had to endure mistreatment from
other people who considered them less important just because of their humble
profession. Experiencing all of that stress surely made these biblical
people
unhappy.

Yet in their unhappiness, they still trusted God. It was their choice to
keep relying on God during unhappy circumstances that opened doors in their
souls
to experience joy. Through trust, they kept their connections to God strong
so they could receive the joy that only comes from God. You can do the same!

2. Give and receive forgiveness.

Carrying around bitterness in your soul will make you unhappy. Thankfully,
forgiveness frees you from bitterness, making it possible for you to
experience
the joy God wants to give you. God calls everyone who truly loves him to
give and receive forgiveness . “Forgive as the Lord forgave you,”
Colossians 3:13 urges.

It’s vital to accept God’s forgiveness, forgive those who have hurt you, and
ask those whom you have hurt for their forgiveness. Only then will the
burden
of bitterness go away, freeing you to receive the full amount of joy God is
hoping you’ll discover. Keep in mind that God will empower you throughout
the
forgiveness process if you’re willing to forgive. Think about people with
whom you have unresolved conflict or against whom you’re currently holding a
grudge.

Forgiveness doesn’t mean forgetting or excusing what happened, but it does
mean trusting God to handle the situation from now on. Pray about it,
letting
it go into God’s care. If you can communicate with the person, tell him or
her that you’ve chosen to forgive. Now think about your own mistakes and
pray
about those, receiving God’s forgiveness and forgiving yourself because God
has forgiven you. Contact people who you’ve hurt through your mistakes,
asking
them to forgive you, as well.

3. Do something creative.

Creativity promotes joy. A plethora of research studies have linked creative
activities to happy feelings. For instance, a 2014 study from the University
of North Carolina-Greensboro revealed that people were most likely to be
doing something creative like cooking meals or drawing pictures when they
felt
happy.

Beyond feelings of happiness, creativity leads to joy because it points you
toward the Creator who gave you the ability to be creative. Which activities
help you express your God-given creativity the most? Play Christmas music on
the piano, saxophone, or guitar. Bake an elaborate Christmas dessert. Write
a Christmas love letter to your spouse. Design a new ornament for your
Christmas tree
. Build an original toy to give your kids for Christmas. Choose some kind of
creative project to do this Christmas season.

4. Pursue wonder.

Nurturing a sense of wonder will often bring you into contact with joyful
moments. Wonder enlarges your perspective so you can notice more of God’s
work
in your life, which gives you reasons to celebrate!

Jesus declares in Luke 18:17 that “...anyone who will not receive the
kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” Children pursue
wonder by
learning with open hearts and minds. Start each day with openness, eager to
learn what God wants to teach you. Stay in frequent contact with God during
each day and night, through
prayer
. Then you’ll discover lots of wonder this Christmas that will bring joy
into your life.

5. Serve others.

Turn your struggle with unhappiness into service to people in need
this Christmas season. In the process, your focus will change from a
preoccupation with your own problems to joy as God works through you to
change the
world for the better.

Isaiah 61:3 promises that God will “provide for those who grieve” by turning
bad situations around to something good: “to bestow on them a crown of
beauty
instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of
praise instead of a spirit of despair.” God can use your sorrow to develop
more compassion in you – and when you act on that compassion by helping
others, you open doors for joy to flow into their lives and your own!

No matter how unhappy you may feel this Christmas, God wants to give you the
gift of joy. So let God hand it to you. Then rip off the wrapping paper,
open
the box, and enjoy celebrating with your loving heavenly father!

Whitney Hopler, who has written for Crosswalk.com since 2001, also writes
for
Thrive Global
and works as Writer-in-Residence/Communications Coordinator at George Mason
University’s Center for the Advancement of Well-Being
. She regularly blogs about well-being

KenBible.com

New Post on KenBible.com - Rejoice in Your Destiny
----------------------------------------------------------

Rejoice in Your Destiny

Posted: 04 Dec 2016 09:55 PM PST

God made him who had no sin to be sin for us,
so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
(2 Corinthians 5:21, NIV)

The Christmas story is so simple that a child can enjoy it, yet so broad and
deep that no human mind can grasp it all. A Being so magnificent that He
spoke
the universe into existence from nothing—He merely expressed His will and it
appeared—this Being became entirely human and lived among us.

We could see and touch the One who transcends all matter. What we saw, what
we touched was love—pure, complete, compassionate love, in a world soaked
with
fear and selfishness.

This Being became humble. How could the sovereign source of all be humble?
The immense God became small for us. Perfect wisdom, perfect peace, perfect
love became small and simple enough for us.

In this One, our mortality took on immortality. The human has become divine.
Humility glows with Majesty. Weakness is now strength. Our darkness now
shines
with the splendor of Almighty God.

Look at Jesus Christ. He has become what we can be:

• a creature one with our Creator;
• a child of man and a child of God;
• thoroughly human, yet holy and divine.

Look at Jesus Christ and rejoice in your destiny.

O God, for me make
the waiting and hoping of Advent
no longer just a season,
but a constant hunger for You.
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Re: THE MASTERS LIST Dean W. Masters

Post  Admin on Wed 14 Dec 2016, 1:03 pm

What is the Hope of the Nations?
Tim Chester

“Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, ‘Where is the one who has
been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to
worship
him
.’”
Matthew 2 v 2

Storyline

>Genesis 11 v 1-9; Matthew 2 v 1-12 and Luke 2 v 22-35

Santa Claus is a Dutch version of St. Nicholas, who was a Turkish bishop.
Decorated trees come from Germany, supposedly introduced to Britain by
Prince
Albert, Queen Victoria’s husband. The date of December 25th was probably
chosen to replace Roman mid-winter festivities.

The tradition of wrapping a red ribbon round an orange and sticking a candle
in the top to create a “Christingle” was invented in 1747 by John de
Watteville,
a Moravian pastor. The British can take the credit (or blame) for Christmas
cards, created to promote the postal service.

Our contemporary Christmas is a truly international affair.

Now the whole world had one language and a common speech. As people moved
eastward, they found a plain in Shinar and settled there.
Genesis 11 v 1

So begins Genesis 11
. Adam and Eve were sent east out of Eden. Their son Cain was exiled east of
Eden. And here humanity was still moving eastward, away from God.

God commanded humanity to fill the earth. Had they done so, then a diversity
of cultures and languages would have developed. But instead, humanity comes
together on the plain of Shinar. They refuse to scatter (v 4). So instead of
diversity, there is just “one language and a common speech”. It’s the first
declaration of empire, and empires ever since have tried to impose
uniformity on their subjects.

Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that
reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves.” v 4

Humanity was made in the image of God to reflect God’s glory in the world.
But instead, the whole world comes together in defiance of God for its own
glory.

Meanwhile, the Lord “came down to see the city and the tower the people were
building” (v 5). Humanity says, “Come, let us ... [reach] to the heavens”.
In response the triune God says, “Come, let us go down” (v 7). God comes
down to judge humanity. He confuses their language, forcing them to scatter.
The
place is called “Babel”, which sounds like “confused” in Hebrew. Think of
the word “babble” and you get the idea. As a result, God accelerates the
command
to fill the earth and develop diverse cultures.

Today we live with this wonderful diversity of cultures. Just think of the
food you enjoy. Italian pasta. Indian curry. French casseroles. Mexican
fajitas.
British cakes. What’s not to love?!
But along with this diversity we get division: racism, discrimination, war.

At the first Christmas, the triune God again says, Come, let us go down. But
instead of God coming down to judge humanity, he comes down in the person
of Jesus to save humanity. And to unite us in a new humanity.

That’s the meaning of the Magi. Matthew’s Gospel tells their story:

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod,
Magi from the east came to Jerusalem.

Matthew 2 v 1

Where do they come from? From the east! At Babel, humanity was moving
eastward, away from God. Now humanity (represented by the Magi) are coming
from the
east, back to God. Matthew has just told us that the baby Jesus is
“Immanuel”—God with us (1 v 23). The Magi come, not to make a name for
themselves, but
to bow down and worship God-in-Christ (v 11).

Jew and Gentile were divided by bitter centuries of hostility. But here in
Bethlehem Mary, Joseph and the Magi stand together around God-in-the-manger.
Here in miniature is a picture of the empire of Jesus. The peoples of the
world are united in the worship of Christ.

So Matthew’s Gospel begins with the nations coming to worship Jesus. And it
ends with Jesus telling his disciples to “
go and make disciples
of all nations” (28 v 19). Instead of
coming together, Christians are sent out into the world. We are scattered
throughout the earth to gather in the nations.

Jesus reverses the curse of Babel. Instead of the nations being scattered,
they are brought together around his manger and around his throne. And that
process is taking place through the mission of the church.

Simeon expresses the same message in Luke’s Gospel. Simeon was a “righteous
and devout” man
(Luke 2
v 25). He was waiting for “the consolation of Israel” and the Holy Spirit
had revealed to him that he would not die “before he had seen the Lord’s
Messiah”
(v 25-26).

When Mary and Joseph brought Jesus to be consecrated in the Jerusalem
Temple, Simeon took him in his arms. He was, Luke tells us, “moved by the
Spirit”
(v 27). He realised that this was the child who would fulfil the promise of
God. As he held the infant Jesus close, Simeon described him as “a light for
revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel” (v 32).
Simeon was echoing
Isaiah 49
v 6. The word “Gentiles” is the word “nations”. Jesus is the light not only
of Israel, but of the world.

The empire of Jesus does not impose uniformity. This is not an empire of
“one language and a common speech”. Instead there are people from every
tribe,
language, people and nation. It’s an empire that celebrates diversity. The
Magi bring with them “treasures”— “gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh”.
The
diversity of the nations is presented to God-in-the-manger just as one day
“the glory and honour of the nations will be brought into” the city of the
Lamb
(Revelation 21 v 26).

Christmas is a great opportunity to invite people from other cultures to
share your family Christmas, especially those, like refugees or
international
students, who feel far from home. Or perhaps this Christmas you could
explore a Christmas tradition from another culture. But whatever you do and
whoever
you are, remember and marvel that brothers and sisters from every corner of
the planet will be celebrating with joy the light of the world.

Meditate

Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has
been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to
worship
him.”

I cannot tell why he, whom angels worship, Should set his love upon the sons
of men.
Or why, as Shepherd, he should seek the wand’rers To bring them
back,
they know not how or when. But this I know, that he was born of Mary, When
Bethl’hem’s manger was his only home, And that he lived at Nazareth and
laboured,
And so the Saviour, Saviour of the world, is come.

I cannot tell how he will win the nations,
How he will claim his earthly
heritage,
How satisfy the needs and aspirations
Of east and west, of sinner
and
of sage.
But this I know, all flesh shall see his glory,
And he shall reap
the harvest he has sown,
And some glad day his sun shall shine in splendour
When he the Saviour, Saviour of the world, is known.

(From “I cannot tell” by William Fullerton)

Prayer

Thou, whose almighty word
Chaos and darkness heard,
And took their flight;
Hear us, we humbly pray,
And, where the gospel day
Sheds not its glorious ray,
Let there be light!
Amen.

(From “Thou, whose almighty word” by John Marriott)

Content taken from The One True Story: Daily Readings for Advent from
Genesis to Jesus by Tim Chester. ©2016 by Tim Chester. Used by permission of
The Good
Book Company,
thegoodbook.com .

Tim Chester is a pastor at Grace Church, Boroughbridge, North Yorkshire, and
a tutor with the
Acts 29
Oak Hill Academy. He is the author of over 30 books, including Exodus For
You, You Can Change, and The One True Light.

Welcome to the Nugget

December 10, 2016

The Best Christmas Gift Ever
By Answers2Prayer
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Devotionals
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"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

Announcement:

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next week for "Decorating for Christmas", a mini-series by Lynona Gordon
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©Copyright 2011 Answers2Prayer | Matt 10:8 "Freely you have received, freely
give."

Adoption into God's Family
Monday, December 12, 2016

"When the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a
woman, born under the Law so that He might redeem those who were under the
Law,
that we might receive the adoption as sons. Because you are sons, God has
sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, 'Abba! Father!'"
Galatians 4:4-6 NASB

The giving of gifts at Christmas remains a dominant tradition. It is the
norm for people young and old, rich and poor, in nations throughout the
world.
One recent poll revealed that the average shopper in America spends an
average of $830 on Christmas gifts. But thirty percent plan to spend more
than $1,000.

It often is assumed that the first Christmas gifts were the gold,
frankincense, and myrrh the Magi gave to Jesus (Matthew 2:11). Yet, from
another perspective,
the fact is Jesus Himself was the first gift. He was God's gift to men and
women everywhere.

Paul wrote that God sent Jesus "so that He might redeem those who were under
the Law." He was talking about each one of us. We are lost in our sins, and
separated from God. By ourselves, we could not be restored to a relationship
with Him.

But God wanted us to be freed from sin and to live in harmony with Him. So
He sent Jesus "that we might receive the adoption as sons."
This season remember that God sent Jesus because He loves you, and wants a
personal relationship with you. He wants you to be part of His family, to
think
of Him as your Father! It is His gift, and it is available to each of us.

What is your attitude toward God? Do you think of Him as a distant deity? Or
do you think of Him as your Father! Celebrate His gift to you: You have been
adopted into His family through Jesus Christ, the greatest gift of all.

Today's Inspiring Prayer

Father, thank You for sending Jesus. Thank You that I could be adopted into
Your family. Thank you for being my Father. In His name. Amen.

Further Reading: Galatians 4

Be a life changer!Adoption into God's Family
Monday, December 12, 2016

"When the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a
woman, born under the Law so that He might redeem those who were under the
Law,
that we might receive the adoption as sons. Because you are sons, God has
sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, 'Abba! Father!'"
Galatians 4:4-6 NASB

The giving of gifts at Christmas remains a dominant tradition. It is the
norm for people young and old, rich and poor, in nations throughout the
world.
One recent poll revealed that the average shopper in America spends an
average of $830 on Christmas gifts. But thirty percent plan to spend more
than $1,000.

It often is assumed that the first Christmas gifts were the gold,
frankincense, and myrrh the Magi gave to Jesus (Matthew 2:11). Yet, from
another perspective,
the fact is Jesus Himself was the first gift. He was God's gift to men and
women everywhere.

Paul wrote that God sent Jesus "so that He might redeem those who were under
the Law." He was talking about each one of us. We are lost in our sins, and
separated from God. By ourselves, we could not be restored to a relationship
with Him.

But God wanted us to be freed from sin and to live in harmony with Him. So
He sent Jesus "that we might receive the adoption as sons."
This season remember that God sent Jesus because He loves you, and wants a
personal relationship with you. He wants you to be part of His family, to
think
of Him as your Father! It is His gift, and it is available to each of us.

What is your attitude toward God? Do you think of Him as a distant deity? Or
do you think of Him as your Father! Celebrate His gift to you: You have been
adopted into His family through Jesus Christ, the greatest gift of all.

Today's Inspiring Prayer

Father, thank You for sending Jesus. Thank You that I could be adopted into
Your family. Thank you for being my Father. In His name. Amen.

Further Reading: Galatians 4

Be a life changer!
© 2016 Inspiration Ministries, All rights reserved
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Re: THE MASTERS LIST Dean W. Masters

Post  Admin on Tue 13 Dec 2016, 10:48 pm

The Gift of Angels
December 6, 2016

Read: Luke 1:26-45

And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor
with God.” (v. 30)

Mary was about to become an unwed pregnant teen, in danger of stoning,
rejection, and separation from those she knew and loved. She was about to
travel
a hard 70 miles at full term. She was about to give birth under
less-than-favorable circumstances and lay the child from God in an animal
trough. Some
might say, “If this is favor with God, I’m not sure I want it!”

But Mary gave her willing consent, and never seemed to waver. When the angel
Gabriel told her to not be afraid, she listened, and Joseph trusted the
angelic
messengers that visited him as well. Ponder for a moment what might have
happened if either had allowed their fears to overwhelm their trust of God.

We learn from the angel’s announcement that “favor with God” does not always
equal good news for our own carefully constructed reality. The story God is
telling is so much bigger than we can imagine. When he makes his advent, we
often don’t know what to do with it, but we have a part to play in the big
story too, and are told over and over in Scripture we don’t have to be
afraid. The “mighty ones who do his bidding” are near (Ps. 103:20 NIV).

—Amy Clemens

Christmas Lights
by Ryan Duncan, Crosswalk.com Editor

Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the
test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who
love him. –
James 1:12

When I was still a child living in Illinois, my father drafted me into his
yearly Christmas decorating. Every December, with the snow heavy on the
ground,
the two of us would bundle up and tramp outside to begin putting up the
Christmas lights. I hated putting up Christmas lights. The process always
took

forever, robbing me of my well-deserved break from school. To make matters
worse, my father had a fondness for those icicle-styled lights that were
supposed
to drip down from the rooftop in merry "winter-wonderland" fashion.

Except the high winds always blew the strands of light up into the gutters,
so once again we would have to go outside and set them right. It got to the
point where I would do anything to avoid putting up Christmas lights. I hid,
I threw tantrums, I’d sulk, and eventually my father decided dealing with
both me and lights was too much work and set me free. Looking back now, I
regret how short-sighted I was. I was so upset at having to do a few hours'
work
that I never realized how beautiful our house looked when it was all lit up,
or how fulfilling it was to know I had helped my father make it that way.

It’s funny how our Christian walk can mirror the experience of setting up
holiday decorations. At times it can be difficult, and we can resent what we
believe we're being denied, but take a look at what Paul says in 1
Corinthians 9
:

"Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the
prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the
games
goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but
we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like
a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I
beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I
myself will not be disqualified for the prize.” –
1 Corinthians 9:24-27

Life offers us plenty of easy roads, and when it comes to living out the
Christian life, these paths can be especially tempting. The world will tell
us
to go with the flow of the current of culture, to follow the past of least
resistance, but God calls us to do differently. Christians are meant to
reflect
Christ’s glory on Earth, and this cannot be done without hard work,
sacrifice, and grace. So whether you serve God through ministry, or simply
through
your everyday life, remember to live in a way deserving of the prize.

Intersecting Faith and Life: Consider whether you are running in such a way
as to win the prize.

Further Reading

Matthew 6:19-21


Welcome to the Illustrator
Today's Bible Verse:

"If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how
much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that
ask him? Matthew 7:11 (KJV)

By Answers2Prayer
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Christmas on Francis Street

Christmas of 1965 my Dad was not home. He was a world away in the jungles of
Vietnam. I was seven. Mom was pregnant with my little brother Kevin. He
would
be born in March. My sister Melony was about nine years old. I lay in my bed
on a December night a few weeks before Christmas in our little bungalow at
1917 Francis Street in Grand Rapids.

My bedroom was the best bedroom in the house. It was a porch in the back of
the house re-purposed into a wonderful boy's bedroom, complete with a wall
of three or four casement windows looking out on the back yard. There was a
bed--really a small cot. There was a narrow dresser. (I still have the
dresser
in my basement) There was an old one-armed school chair. Mom refinished the
wood frame of the bed, the dresser, and the chair to match and she made
curtains
and a bedspread from blue fabric with an antique train print. I think she
and aunt Sue worked on the project together. I loved the room. It was my
very
own cozy place.

That night I was awake and my mind was active. Mom was listening to
Christmas music. I could see the lights from the Christmas tree reflecting
on the paneled
wall of my room. Mom had read all the child-development books and knew how
many hours of sleep a boy of seven would need, but I was unusually
high-energy
and did not go to sleep quickly at 7:30 at night. Mom was talking on the
phone to her friend Joyce Lloy. I could hear every word. I didn't pay much
attention
until I could tell she was talking about what I was getting for Christmas. I
lay perfectly still and held my breath to listen.

"Ken bought a transistor radio for Kenny," I heard her tell Joyce. My heart
raced. I let out my breath. A radio. My own transistor radio. Had I heard
right?
Could it be?

Christmas morning I opened my gift. It was not a dream. It was a real radio
of my very own mailed all the way from Vietnam. I feigned surprise and felt
guilty but I loved my radio. It was a white radio with a nice leather cover.
It was one of the first times in my life I had the sensation of "the
embarrassment
of riches." I felt very privileged to have such a nice radio in my
possession. Still it didn't really seem like Christmas without Dad there.

Shortly after the first of the year Dad came home to stay. That spring we
made a trip to Meijer's Thrifty Acres on 28th Street for a new ball glove.
Dad
taught me to throw and catch out in the thin strip of grass between our
drive and the neighbor's in the shade of a fine old Maple. At night I slept
with
the glove under my pillow to break it in and I listened to the Detroit
Tigers on my own transistor radio.

When Dad left for Vietnam my little heart was broken. We drove him to the
bus station and I cried all the way home in the back of my Grandpa's
International.
My uncle Jim tried to comfort me. Night after night I lay in my bed and
longed for him to be home with us. On Christmas I would gladly have gone
without
a present if I could have had my Dad with us.

Maybe it was then that the conviction began to form in my heart that people
are infinitely more valuable than things. Just to have a loved one present
is a priceless gift. Sustained, unhindered conversation is a rare and
wonderful treasure. Our souls long for eye contact and meaningful touch for
the very
smell of the people we love. There is nothing you can buy, no gift you can
give, that can satisfy your longing for that.

I could never have put it in words then, but that is what was happening in
my little seven-year-old heart lying in my bed listening to Christmas music
on a winter night just before Christmas in 1965.

Ken Pierpont , Riverview, Michigan

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Re: THE MASTERS LIST Dean W. Masters

Post  Admin on Mon 12 Dec 2016, 10:00 pm

Mary: Portrait of a Woman Used by God
by Nancy Leigh DeMoss

One of my favorite biblical role models is Mary of Nazareth. In her life I
have found a wealth of wisdom for my own walk with God. Her story
illustrates
many of the characteristics of the kind of woman God uses to fulfill His
redemptive purposes in our world.

An ordinary woman

There was nothing particularly unusual about Mary. She was not from a
wealthy or illustrious family. When the angel appeared to this young teenage
girl,
she was engaged to be married and was undoubtedly doing what engaged girls
do—dreaming of being married to Joseph, of the home they would live in, of
the
family they would have. I don’t believe she was expecting her life to be
used in any extraordinary way.

The significance of Mary’s life was not based on any of the things our world
values so highly—background, physical beauty, intelligence, education,
natural
gifts, and abilities. It was Mary’s relationship to Jesus that gave her life
significance. “The Lord is with you,” the angel told her (
Luke 1:28, NIV
). That is what made all the difference in this young woman’s life. And it
is what makes all the difference in our lives.

An undeserving woman

God did not choose this young woman because she was worthy of the honor of
being the mother of the Savior. The angel said to Mary, “Greetings, you who
are
highly favored!” ( v. 28
, emphasis added). That phrase could be translated, “You who are graciously
accepted.” If any of us is to be accepted by God, it will be because of
grace—not
because of anything we have done.

It’s all because of grace. Over and over again in Scripture
, we see that God chooses people who are undeserving. God didn’t look down
from heaven and say, “I see a woman who has something to offer Me; I think I’ll
use her.” Mary did not deserve to be used by God; to the contrary, she
marveled at God’s grace in choosing her.

The moment we cease to see ourselves as undeserving instruments, chances are
we will cease to be useful in the hand of God.

A Spirit-filled woman

We, too, must be filled with the Spirit if we are to fulfill the purpose for
which God has chosen us. When the angel said to Mary, “You’re going to have
a child,” Mary responded, “How can this be? I’ve never been intimate with a
man!” God had chosen her for a task that was humanly impossible.

The task for which God has chosen you and me is no less impossible. We can
share the Gospel of Christ with our lost friends, but we cannot give them
repentance
and faith. You can provide a climate that is conducive to the spiritual
growth of your children, but you can’t make them have a heart for God. We
are totally
dependent on Him to produce any fruit of eternal value.

In response to Mary’s expression of weakness and inadequacy, the angel
promised her God’s strength and adequacy: “The Holy Spirit will come upon
you, and
the power of the Most High will overshadow you” (
v. 35 ).

Don’t ever forget that you cannot do what God has called you to do. You
cannot parent that child, love that husband, care for that elderly parent,
submit
to that boss, teach that Sunday school class, or lead that small-group
Bible study .

God specializes in the impossible so that when the victory is won and the
task is complete, we cannot take any credit. Others know we didn’t do it,
and
we know we didn’t do it. We must always remember that we can only live the
Christian life and serve God through the power of His Holy Spirit. As soon
as
we think we can handle it on our own, we become useless to Him. We have to
be willing to get out of the way, let God take over, and let Him overshadow
us.

An available woman

Equipped with the promises of God, Mary’s response was simply, “I am the
Lord’s servant.... May it be to me as you have said” (
v. 38
). In other words, “Lord, I’m available. You are my master; I am Your
servant. I’m willing to be used however You choose. My body is Yours; my
womb is
Yours; my life is Yours.”

In that act of surrender, Mary offered herself to God as a living sacrifice.
She was willing to be used by God for His purposes—willing to endure the
loss
of reputation that was certain to follow when people realized she was with
child, willing to endure the ridicule and even the possible stoning
permitted
by the Mosaic law, willing to go through nine months of increasing
discomfort and sleeplessness, willing to endure the labor pains of giving
birth to the
Child. Mary was willing to give up her own plans and agenda so that she
might link arms with God in fulfilling His agenda.

A praising woman

When God puts challenging circumstances in our lives, we either
worship or we whine. I’m ashamed to say I’ve done more than my share of
whining—even about ministry. “Oh, Lord, I’m tired of traveling. Do I have to
go
there? This is so hard! Why do I have to deal with that person?” I am
reminded of the children of Israel in the wilderness who murmured
incessantly. “If
only God had just let us die in the wilderness,” they whined. One day God
finally said, in essence, “You want to die in the wilderness? Okay, you’ll
die
in the wilderness!” (see
Num. 14:2, 28–30
). Be careful what you say when you murmur—God may take you up on it.

But when Mary’s world was turned topsy-turvy, when she was faced with a
drastic change in plans, she responded in worship and praise. “My soul
glorifies
the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior” ( vv. 46–47 ). So begins
her Magnificat—one of the greatest hymns of praise ever lifted up to heaven.
She worshiped God for His wonderful acts, for His mercy, and for choosing
her to be a part of His great redemptive plan.

A woman of the Word

Her prayer in Luke 1:46–55
includes at least a dozen quotations from the Old Testament Scriptures. In
those days women did not have a formal education; Mary was probably
illiterate.
But she had listened to the reading of the Word and had hidden it in her
heart. Her life and her prayers were filled with Scripture.

One of our greatest needs as women is to become women of the Word so that
our prayers, our responses, and our words are saturated with God’s way of
thinking.
The world does not need to hear our opinions. When friends approach us for
advice about dealing with their children, their boss, their finances, their
fears, their depression, or other issues, they don’t need to hear what we
think. We should be able to take them to the Word and say, “I don’t have the
answers you need, but I know Someone who does. Here’s what God’s Word has to
say about this situation.”

A wounded woman

Eight days after Jesus was born, Mary and Joseph took the infant to the
temple (
Luke 2:21–35
). Simeon, who had been waiting for the appearance of the Messiah, took the
Christ-Child in his arms and blessed Him. Simeon spoke of how the Child
would
be a sign that would be spoken against—foreshadowing the cross and the
suffering He would undergo. Then Simeon looked at Mary and spoke words that
she
would not fully understand until she stood beneath the cross of her Son 33
years later. On that day she surely remembered Simeon’s words, “A sword will
pierce your own soul too” (
v. 35 ).

There at Calvary I believe that sword pierced Mary’s soul in more than one
sense. First, as a mother she was losing her Son. She was giving up His
life.
Even as He laid down His life, she gave up her Son for the salvation and the
redemption of the world.

Mothers, have you laid down your children for the sake of Christ and His
kingdom? How sad it is on occasion to see Christian parents stand in the way
of
their children laying down their lives for the sake of Christ. And what a
joy to see parents who gladly release their children to the will of God.

Another wound pierced Mary’s heart—this one even more deeply than the first.
You see, she understood that her Son was dying not only for the sins of the
world, but for
her sins. Even before He was born, she had recognized Him as “God
my Savior” ( Luke 1:47
, emphasis added). As good as she was, Mary was not good enough to get to
heaven on her own. As is true with each of us, she had to place her faith in
the crucified Son of God, who died in her place. As she stood beneath that
cross, perhaps she recalled the words of the prophet Isaiah: “He was pierced
for [my] transgressions, he was crushed for [my] iniquities... and by his
wounds [I am] healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has
turned
to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all (
Isa. 53:5–6 ).

Mary was a wounded woman–wounded not only by her suffering, but by her sin.
As she gazed upon her crucified Son, she realized that He was taking her
wounds
upon Himself. And as she believed, she was healed—cleansed of her sin. Three
days later when she learned that He had conquered death and was alive,
knowing
she had been made whole by His death, she joined the other disciples in
taking the Good News of His atonement to a wounded, sinful world, that they,
too,
might know His healing salvation.

For more than 2,000 years her life has provided a portrait of godliness for
women who, like Mary, long to be used of God.

© Revive Our Hearts. Used with permission. Excerpted from Portrait of a
Woman Used by God
by Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

A New Thing – The Shepherds

Isaiah 43:18-19 (NIV)
18 “Forget the former things;
do not dwell on the past.
19 See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the desert
and streams in the wasteland.

Luke 2:10-17 (NIV)
10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of
great joy that will be for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a
Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. 12 This will be a sign
to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” 13
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel,
praising God and saying, 14 “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace
to men on whom his favor rests.” 15 When the angels had left them and gone
into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and
see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” 16 So
they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in
the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what
had been told them about this child,

It was not a new thing for an angel to appear with a message but one thing
was new in the message that the single angel brought to the shepherds. The
message an angel had brought in the past had been for one person or one
group of people. This message was the Good News for all the people. Another
new thing in this account is the baby being found in a manger.

What did the shepherds do when they heard what the angel said? They trusted
the message and did what the angel told them to do. They looked in the
mangers of Bethlehem until they found a baby. After that, they went out
praising God and telling everyone what they had seen and Who they had seen.
They did not know any theology but just what had been told to them and what
they had seen. That is what they told others

This message is a message for all peoples. Like the shepherds, we need to
tell all peoples the Good News of Jesus Christ. WE need to tell them just
what we know. WE don’t have to know all the whys and wherefores, we just
need to tell them what we have been told and what we have experienced.

I saw the results of a survey on a Christian web site of atheists about what
might reach them. The one thing they thought might turn them to Jesus Christ
was testimonies of Jesus and how He has worked in someone’s life.

Jesus commands us to go teach disciples. This may be a new thing god wants
you to do.

May we obey what the psalmist has told us to do:

Psalm 9:11 (NIV)
11 Sing praises to the Lord, enthroned in Zion; proclaim among the nations
what he has done.

by Dean W. Masters

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PresbyCan Daily Devotional

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Today's Devotional

Be Of Good Cheer

John 16:33 – These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have
peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have
overcome
the world. (NKJV)

One of my brothers-in-law has had some serious health issues this year. He
has spent many weeks in hospital, endured innumerable tests, and undergone
several
surgeries. After many attempts at resolution, all of which were ultimately
futile, he had to have a leg amputated. He has borne uncertainty, anxiety,
and
extreme pain.

And yet, when I visit him now, I don't encounter a morose or sombre
individual, moaning or feeling sorry for himself. Instead, I encounter a
funny, vibrant
man who seems determined to overcome his difficulties and live a full and
happy life regardless of the circumstances. The nurses and other healthcare
professionals
who are attending him have remarked that his attitude isn't just good for
him, it's rubbing off on other patients, who are now also taking a more
positive
outlook on their own situations. Visiting with him and my sister isn't an
obligation — though it is an obligation I would gladly undertake — but a
joy.
It's fun!

God calls us to be cheerful. He calls us to face life with hope and with
joy, buoyed and supported by our faith. When times are difficult and life
looks
bleak, let us look into the Word of God. Let us look to our faith. For
whenever we face life with hope and good cheer, we are doing as God has
commanded
us. And let us be assured that by doing so, we will not only feel better
ourselves, but also be an inspiration to others.

Prayer: Thank You, God, for the gift of faith and for the gift of joy. Help
us always to be cheerful and to face our future with hope and confidence.
Help
us to find inspiration in others and to inspire them in return. In Jesus'
name, we pray. Amen.

Scott Williams
Positive Prayer Makes Strong Relationships
By Rick Warren

“And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge
and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and
may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of
righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ -- to the glory and praise of
God”

(Philippians 1:9-11
NIV).

I want you to think of somebody who irritates you -- maybe somebody you’ve
got a strained relationship with or someone who just rubs you the wrong way.
I have two questions for you: Do you pray for that person? Or do you just
complain and grumble and nag and nitpick? If you prayed more, you’d have a
lot
less to grumble, complain, nag, and nitpick about. It’s your decision.

Does nagging work? No. Does prayer work? Yes. So why do you do more of the
thing that doesn’t work than the one that does?

Paul says in Philippians 1:4 , “Whenever I pray, I make my requests for all
of you with joy”
(NLT, second edition).

Paul didn’t just pray for people in his life. He prayed with joy!

Positive praying is more effective than positive thinking. All the positive
thinking in the world isn’t going to change your husband or your wife or
your
child or your friend or your situation. Positive thinking can change you,
but it won’t change somebody else. But positive prayer can make a difference
in someone else.

Do you want to know the quickest way to change a bad relationship to a good
one? Start praying for the other person! It will change you, and it can
change
the other person.

Paul even told us how to pray for others: “And this is my prayer: that your
love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you
may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the
day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through
Jesus
Christ -- to the glory and praise of God”
(Philippians 1:9-11 NIV).

From these verses, we can learn to pray for the people in our lives in four
ways:

Pray that they will grow in love: “This is my prayer: that your love may
abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight.”

Pray that they will make wise choices:“... so that you may be able to
discern what is best ...”

Pray that they will live with integrity:“... and may be pure and blameless
for the day of Christ ...”

Pray that they will become like Jesus:“... filled with the fruit of
righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ -- to the glory and praise of
God.”

Pray these for yourself and anyone in your life, and watch how God turns
around the relationship you thought was hopeless. Nothing is impossible with
God!



Daily Devotions from Lutheran Hour Ministries
By Rev. Dr. Gregory Seltz, Speaker of The Lutheran Hour
Use these devotions in your newsletter and bulletin! Used by permission;
all rights reserved by the Int'l LLL (LHM).

"Living a Deliverance Life"
November 21, 2016
For God the Father has delivered us from the domain of darkness and
transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have
redemption, the forgiveness
of sins. Colossians 1:13-14
In Chuck Swindoll's book, The Finishing Touch, there's a story told about
how hard it is to live in deliverance and freedom when you've been in
bondage
for a long time.

The scene is a marketplace in northern India where people brought their
wares to trade and sell. One old farmer brought in a whole covey of quail he
had
caught. He hoped to get the attention of passersby by tying strings to a
ring fastened to a stick in the ground, which was then tied around the leg
of
each bird. With all that secure, the birds just walked in a circle, minute
by minute, hour after hour.

Sadly, his PR ploy didn't attract much attention. It seemed nobody wanted
these birds at all. But then along came a devout Hindu man, who believed in
the
idea of respect for all life, and his heart literally went out for these
birds that were confined and were now merely walking in a monotonous circle
when
they were meant to fly.

He told the farmer, "I want to buy them all." So he did, and right after
that he said to the farmer, "Set them all free. You heard me. Cut the
strings
from their legs and turn them loose. Set them free."

But a strange thing happened. Cut loose, you'd have thought those birds
would have joyfully flown away, but they didn't. They simply continued to
march
around and around in a circle.

A little frustrated, the Hindu man shooed them off, but they only landed
some distance away and they resumed their predictable march.

Freed from their bonds they just kept going round and round in circles as if
they were still tied to the stake!

I sometimes think that in life, we Christians are a bit like these birds.
When the Bible says we have been set free -- delivered from the domain of
darkness
and transferred to the kingdom of the Father's beloved Son -- we seem to
keep walking in the circles of our own wisdom and strength. In the sermon
yesterday,
I talked about the rescue of those Chilean miners in 2010. What an
incredible story! But the rest of the story is that after that magnificent
rescue many
of the miners went back to very destructive patterns in their lives, which
prevented them from making the most of this miraculous deliverance.

So here's a thought for today: you have been delivered from sin, death and
the devil himself. Your eternal deliverance is sure in Jesus Christ. The
strings
have been cut; the strings that have kept you bound to your guilt, your sin,
your fears -- they're gone. You have a Savior who wants you not just to be
free, but free to follow Him in all things. Take a moment today and think
about what it means to live in forgiveness, to live in grace, to live in
mercy,
and act towards others the way Jesus has acted on your behalf. That's a way
of life that doesn't walk in circles but walks in purpose towards an eternal
destiny that Christ assures for all who trust in Him. That's pretty amazing
stuff.

Wouldn't you agree?

Take a chance today. Quit walking in circles and follow the Lord, who has
given you wings to fly!

THE PRAYER: Dear Jesus, because of Your life and Your death and
resurrection, You have given me real freedom, real deliverance,
wings to fly. Help me soar in obedience to You as I trust in You each and
every day. Amen.

In Christ,

Rev. Dr. Gregory Seltz
Speaker of The Lutheran Hour
Lutheran Hour Ministries
Today's Bible in a Year Readings: Ezekiel 16-17; 2 Timothy 2
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