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  #2326  
Old 12-13-2011, 11:41 PM
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This is an amazing thread. I look forward to reading more.
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  #2327  
Old 12-14-2011, 08:29 AM
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thank you Mrs. Duncan. I truly enjoy doing this, thanks to the Lords leading. we all need encouragement in our stormy days, building up when our faith seems to waver. God is good.

d'gal
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  #2328  
Old 12-14-2011, 08:34 AM
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The Manger of My Heart

"Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel." Isaiah 7:14 (NIV)

As the days get shorter in December, it seems the time I spend with God does too. I long for His presence. I know I need His perspective and peace. But as I prepare for the holidays, my heart can get so focused on planning and buying gifts that I forget to unwrap the most important gift—the gift of Immanuel—God with us.

In all the hustle and bustle, it's easy to fill our heart with everything but Him, and miss the calm hush His presence brings. I felt an unusual void around the holidays several years ago, and wrote this Christmas prayer to help me keep my heart where it needs to be. I display it where I'll see it often - to remind me of what matters most.


The Manger of My Heart
This Christmas, Lord, come to the manger of my heart.
Fill me with Your presence from the very start.
As I prepare for the holidays and gifts to be given,
Remind me of the gift You gave when You sent Your Son from Heaven.
The first Christmas gift, it was the greatest gift ever.
You came as a baby born in a manger.
Wrapped like the gifts I find under my tree,
Waiting to be opened, to reveal Your love to me.
Restore to me the wonder that came with Jesus' birth,
when He left the riches of Heaven and wrapped Himself in rags of earth.
Immanuel, God with us, Your presence came that night.
And angels announced, "Into your darkness, God brings His Light."
"Do not be afraid," they said, to shepherds in the field.
Speak to my heart today, Lord, and help me to yield.
Make me like those shepherd boys, obedient to Your call.
Setting distractions and worries aside, to You I surrender them all.
Surround me with Your presence, Lord, I long to hear Your voice.
Clear my mind of countless concerns and all the holiday noise.
Slow me down this Christmas, let me not be in a rush.
In the midst of parties and planning, I want to feel Your hush.
This Christmas, Jesus, come to the manger of my heart.
Invade my soul like Bethlehem, bringing peace to every part.
Dwell within and around me, as I unwrap Your presence each day.
Keep me close to You, Lord. It's in Your wonderful Name I pray.
Thousands of years ago God gave us the gift of His one and only Son, born in a humble manger. Making room in our hearts for Jesus through prayer during this busy season is a gift we give to Him, and ourselves. Right now, let's quiet our racing thoughts and take a moment to enjoy the hush of Immanuel—God with us. His presence in our lives is a gift we can open every day of the year.

Dear Lord, I'm so thankful for the gift of Jesus, Immanuel, my God with me. Help me be still when I feel frazzled and remember You are God. I want to make room for You in the manger of my heart this Christmas and unwrap Your presence each day. In Jesus' Name, Amen.


Application Steps:
When you feel anxious, empty or stressed, pause and pray each word of today's Christmas prayer. Why not print it and carry it with you?


Reflections:
Which part of this prayer resonates most with the desires and needs of my heart?


Power Verses:
Psalm 91:1-2, "Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, 'He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.'"(NIV)


Psalm 55:22, "Turn your burdens over to the LORD, and he will take care of you." (GW)


Renee Swope, Encouragement for Today devotions
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  #2329  
Old 12-14-2011, 08:34 AM
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sure do miss the EDIT button
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  #2330  
Old 12-14-2011, 08:51 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dutchgirl1 View Post
*I usually dont put a devotion in on weekends, but saw this one and decided to anyhow. love you moms.


Less Is More
“ . . . And they will call him Immanuel”—which means, “God with us.”
Matthew 1:23b, NIV

I put up my Christmas tree a couple weekends ago right after Thanksgiving. Perhaps you did, too.

This year, however, I only hung up about two-thirds of my ornaments. Also, many of the holiday knickknacks that I normally display I left remaining in their boxes. I didn’t even run to the store to replace two strands of twinkly, white lights that quit on me while I was wrapping them around the tree. No, I just made do with what I had. And I was okay with it.

In fact, I decided that I like seeing some more of the Christmas tree. Negative space is good, and I don’t need to cram ornaments and white lights into every nook and cranny where there’s some green showing. Know what I mean?

Up until now, I wouldn’t have believed that I would have been okay with the above two paragraphs. I was compelled to put out everything I owned that had a Christmas theme so it would all be on display. Then, I had to purchase several ornaments each year to augment my collection so that it was always growing and featured the latest and greatest in holiday decor.

But this year, something is changing inside of me. And I think I’m finally learning that Christmas is really more about less. It’s more about what God has given to all mankind.

The prophet Isaiah foretold it: “Immanuel . . . God with us.” And then Matthew quoted him years later in the New Testament. But what does knowing that God is “with us” really mean to me?

He lives in my heart, but I wonder how differently I would feel if God was sitting on his throne in my very own home—right there in my living room, where I could see him. If he was visible, in all of his splendor and blinding light, I would certainly take notice. I would live differently, wouldn’t I? My priorities would surely change. I probably wouldn’t care about anything else this holiday season: the decorations, the baking, the gifts, the parties. I would just want to sit at his feet and worship him.
I am reminded of Mary’s response to Christ in the story about Mary and her sister Martha in Matthew 10:38-42:
As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

“Immanuel . . . God with us.” What more does Christmas need to be to me? To you? All we need is Jesus. He is more than enough this Christmas. Let’s ask him to help us focus less on our holiday agendas, as we spend more time at his feet worshipping Christ our King.

Intersecting Faith & Life: Are you caught in the web of “more is more” this Christmastime? Meditate on “Immanuel . . . God with us.”

Further Reading:
And the years they come,
And the years they go,
Though we may forget somehow
That the child once born in Bethlehem
Is still among us now.
Emmanuel, God with us,
Emmanuel!
Emmanuel, God with us,
The son of Israel.
"Emmanuel, God With Us"

Laura MacCorkle, Crosswalk devotions
This is my favorite name for Christ. After my son's arrest I hung in our hallway 2 things . . .I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength and Emmanuel, God is with us. The Emmanuel, God is with us is still hanging there. a constant reminder when we leave our house, or as we enter in that God is with us.
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  #2331  
Old 12-14-2011, 09:05 AM
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I loved the manger of my heart - - - lately I have been overwhelmed in every area of my life -- I was in one of those "stop the world i want to get off" moods - the hardest thing for me was how hard it has been to concentrate. I do want you to know I have been reading - -your devotions are so inspiring, but I've been in a bad mood. I think some much needed quiet time will really help - -so I've told my family I am not available Saturday so I can hibernate . ..have some "me and God" time. Thank you, D'girl for remaining faithful to this ministry . .. you are a boost to my hurting soul!
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  #2332  
Old 12-15-2011, 08:17 AM
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sz. Amen to your first post. and it ties in w/your second. I am so thankful that He is with us all the time.
I too have been going thru a struggle lately.... barely come on here except to do this thread.

and we can quote Romans 8:28 And we know that all things work together for them that love the Lord and are called according to His purpose.

so no matter what struggle we are going thru... we know that it is part of whatever He has for us and will be ok in the longrun. we may not think so, but by trusting Him, we will eventually see whatever it was was for our good.
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  #2333  
Old 12-15-2011, 08:19 AM
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Gifts That Matter Part 2

Today’s Truth
If you give, you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full measure, pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, and running over. Whatever measure you use in giving—large or small—it will be used to measure what is given back to you (Luke 6:38, NLT).

Friend to Friend
Have you discovered the truth that we simply cannot “out-give” God? The more we give, the more we receive. And that truth does not just apply to financial giving. It is really all about the attitude behind the gift. Do you remember the Christmas gifts you received last year? How about the Christmas gifts you gave? What about the gift you gave Jesus? On Tuesday, we talked about several meaningful gifts you can give. Here are a few more for you to consider.

A gift of care Galatians 6:2 (RSV) “Bear one another’s burdens.”
Christmas is a time of empty hopes and fierce loneliness for many people. In fact, the holidays can be nothing more than a season riddled with pain. Every loss is magnified. Every wound is deepened. Pray that the Father will give you His eyes to see the broken lambs, crying out for help. This year, do something for someone who is hurting:

· Invite them over for a meal.
· Listen to them.
· Meet one need in their life.
· Include them in your celebration.
· Take them shopping with you.

Christmas is always hard for me because it is a time when I especially miss my mother who died many years ago. I don’t openly broadcast that fact but one Christmas, a precious older lady at our church somehow sensed that I was struggling and decided to meet a need in my life. Cards filled my mailbox. Every time I saw her, Miss Marion would hug me and tell me how much she loved me. She invited our children over to bake Christmas cookies and in doing so, became their adopted grandmother. Miss Marion died a few years ago, but her loving care and investment in my life lives on.

A secret gift Matthew 6:3-4 (TLB) “But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”
Give a gift to someone you know in secret without them knowing who it is from and with no hidden motive and no apparent benefit to you. Dan and I had been married for three years when we first discovered the joy that a “secret gift” can bring. Dan was in seminary, I was teaching elementary school, and we were both serving at a local church. It seemed as if we were always running, always tired and always broke. At one point, the financial picture was especially bleak. We had 10 days of life to go before the next pay day and not a cent to our name. We told no one but God -- and waited. One Sunday night, we pulled up to the mobile home where we were living and started in the front (and only) door. There on the top step was a small but heavy package wrapped in brown paper. It was a brick. Taped to each side of the brick was a hundred dollar bill. God had provided for our needs through a truly generous heart, someone who had chosen to give a secret gift. To this day, we still have no idea who “bricked” us, but we often think of them and ask God to bless their gift of encouragement.

A gift of forgiveness Colossians 3:13 (NCV) “Get along with each other, and forgive each other.”

The Christmas holidays have a way of resurrecting past hurts. The greatest gift we can give ourselves for Christmas is the gift of forgiveness because in choosing to forgive someone else, we set ourselves free. Every 60 seconds of anger displaces 60 seconds of joy. Let go of the hurts. Forgive the wrongs and find healing.
Dan sold one of our old cars to a man who worked in the church maintenance department. A payment plan was created, the title was transferred and the man drove away, never to pay a cent. For months, I was furious, thinking of the man who had stolen our car. To make matters worse, the man then left the church to work at the grocery store -- my grocery store. Every time I bought groceries, he was there and he was smiling. Just the sight of him drove my blood pressure higher as my stomach knotted up with anger. Dan finally decided to give him the car. I decided not to give him the car until I realized the only person being hurt in the deal was me. The next time I bought groceries I walked up to the man and said, “I hope the car is working well for you. Dan and I have decided to just give you the car as a gift.” I walked away, a free woman, while he stood, open-mouthed and in shock, now holding his own guilt in his hands.

A gift of teaching Romans 12:7 (NLT) “If your gift is serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, teach well.”

What skill, ability or talent has God given you? Each one is from His hand, meant to be given away in service to others. Is there a young believer in your life you can mentor? What better time to share your gifts and abilities than at Christmas? You may be able to sew or play the piano, cook gourmet meals or beautifully decorate your home. Each talent and ability is a potential gift. In high school, my choral director gave me a free voice lesson each week. Consequently, I attended college on an academic and music scholarship because one woman chose to share her gift with me.

Get creative! Give a gift from the heart this year. May this be a Christmas filled with the joy of the Lord as you celebrate His birth and life.

Let’s Pray
May God grant you the light in Christmas which is faith; the warmth of Christmas, which is love; the radiance of Christmas, which is purity; the righteousness of Christmas, which is justice; the belief in Christmas, which is truth and the all of Christmas, which is Christ.
In Jesus’ name,
Amen.

Now It’s Your Turn
Grab your Christmas list and set aside some time to pray for each person on that list this week. Do you need to rethink some of the gifts you are giving this year? It is not too late! Ask God how you can best honor His birth by the gifts you give to others.

More from the Girlfriends
No matter what your circumstances may be, you can celebrate the Christmas holidays because God is with you, girlfriend.

Mary Southerland, Girlfriends in God devotions.
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  #2334  
Old 12-15-2011, 11:17 AM
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Wow. That was a good reminder to change our focus to Christ and His loving acceptance. I will be sharing this with a dear friend who is grieving the loss of her child. Thank you!
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  #2335  
Old 12-15-2011, 01:30 PM
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d'gal - you are in my prayers. amazing how the holidays magnify the hurts. I know that isn't what God intended, so i keep trying to rebuke satan and ask God to fill me up and give me strength. Praying that for all of us,

Susan
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  #2336  
Old 12-16-2011, 09:25 AM
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The Thrill of Hope


May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13

"A thrill of hope; the weary world rejoices, for yonder breaks a new and glorious morn." ~~ O Holy Night

Does Christmas thrill you?
Children get excited at the coming of the season, and often we might feel a bit of a charge through experiencing their amazement, but the chores we go through to provide that for them are often the very things that rob us from knowing the wonder for ourselves. Plan the party, trim the tree, max out the MasterCard, wrap, ship, take a trip. And that's assuming we aren't one of the multitudes who find themselves with a case of the Holiday Blues.

So if Christ's coming into this world offers hope, and hope, as the song says, provides a thrill, how do we locate that experience amid the distraction and disillusionment of December?

Well that's the cool thing about Hope. Just as total darkness can't hold back the light of a tiny flame, so does even the smallest increment of Hope provide joy and purpose.

Here are a few scriptures I've been mulling over on the subject:
  • Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen" (Hebrews 11:1).
Notice the parallel between "things hoped for" and "things not seen." Talk about a paradox; try applying "assurance" to something your five senses can't detect. It's a challenge. The plus side is that hope, through Christ, is available to you no matter what you see, hear, or feel. It's above your circumstances.
  • "We also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance [brings about]proven character; and proven character [brings about] hope; and hope does not disappoint because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us" (Romans 5:3-5).
Do you ever hear people say, "I don't want to get my hopes up" because they're afraid of being disappointed? What would you make of Paul's claim that "hope does not disappoint"? Might the disconnect have something to do with what we're hoping for or expecting?
Max Lucado thinks so:
"Hope is not what you'd expect; it is what you would never dream. It is a wild, improbable tale with a pinch-me-I'm-dreaming ending… Hope is not a granted wish or a favor performed; no, it is far greater than that. It is a zany, unpredictable dependence on a God who loves to surprise us out of our socks and be there in the flesh to see our reaction." ([1] From God Came Near, page 89 )
  • "Love… hopes all things…but now abide faith, hope, and love; but the greatest of these is love" (1 Corinthians 13:7,13).
Ever wonder why faith, hope, and love are the greatest virtues, and apparently in that order?

Maybe hope isn't actually something we do, but something we receive, like grace. If it's true that "without faith it is impossible for us to please Him" (Hebrews 11:6), perhaps it's conversely true that without Hope it would be impossible for Him to please us. The same verse says that God is a rewarder of those who seek Him. Is hope that reward?

I mean, if faith is what we give to God, and hope is what He gives to us, then we have the dynamic of a relationship. With that in place, we can love. So love is built on hope, which is built on faith.

For hope to exist, unfortunately it looks like there has to be hopelessness first. A perfect world wouldn't have any need of hope. Deliverance arrives undeservedly and perhaps unexpectedly, just as in the unlikely way God came to earth to provide a once-and-for-all substitute for the sins of all men on the first Christmas. That's why things can look bleak, but that's where hope lives.

The good news is: you simply can't hope big enough, which goes back to the idea of our minds and senses being inadequate to judge God's design and methods, and hope being more a function of God's involvement than our desires. I readily acknowledge I could not have conceived of the plan of salvation or the virgin birth. I couldn't have imagined the plan for the walls of Jericho to crumble, for hungry lions to turn into Daniel's pet kittens, or the Red Sea to part and offer up dry land. So neither do I know how my problems will be solved, or what miracles I'll be blessed to see this Christmas.

Isaiah 9:6-7 concerns the hope of the prophecy being fulfilled that brought us a "Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, and Prince of Peace." The last sentence of verse seven says it's "the zeal of the Lord" that will accomplish this. God is excited! He's zealous (enthusiastic, passionate, obsessive even) to bring us this hope!

Romans 15:13 is my Christmas prayer: "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit."
Why is there hope? Because Jesus was born. O holy night. What a thrill. God is at work.

Intersecting Faith & Life: What does hope out of despair look like? There are lots of examples in any Christian's life, but in terms of contemporary cinema, I know of no better example than the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Go back and watch those movies again over the holidays, keeping an eye out for allusions to hope and hopelessness.

Further Reading
Isaiah 9:6-7


Shawn McEvoy, Crosswalk Christmas devotions


* Ever since I was a young girl, O Holy Night has been my #1 favorite Christmas song. d'gal
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  #2337  
Old 12-17-2011, 08:25 AM
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“For Thou Art With Me”

“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for Thou art with me; Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me.” Psalm 23:4

There’s nothing, my friend, that will bring you more face-to-face with God than going through the dark valleys of life. When you are there, you are going to cling to His garments and hold onto His hand. You won’t stray far from the fold in the dark.

Do you believe that He is with you? The ultimate Sovereign is your loving Savior. You will not have to cross Jordan alone. You will not appear before the judgment of the Holy God alone. You are not going to die alone.

What a joyful promise! You are not alone! Write these words on a card and post it in a place where you can see it all the time:

“I am not alone. God is with me.”

Recognize the Devil’s Lies and Claim the Promises of God

“And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work.” 2 Corinthians 9:8

The devil wants you to live your life from an empty cup. He wants you to think that God’s cup of grace has dried up for you. He wants you to be disenchanted with God. Most especially, he wants you to feel that God is a cosmic killjoy…that God is always thinking of ways to rob you of joy and peace. Satan knows that if you start to feel negatively about God, then he can have his way with you in other areas.

Take courage. Be strong. Jesus has won the victory for you! Send those lies back to the pit where they came from and claim the promises of God.

Wish someone the peace and joy of the Lord today.

Adrian Rogers, daily devotion.
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Old 12-17-2011, 08:51 PM
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We are not alone - God IS with us. Always. Sometimes even when i don't want Him to be (when i"m in a grumbly mood!)
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  #2339  
Old 12-19-2011, 07:23 AM
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You know there are several really good Christmas devotions this yr. It is really hard to know which one is the one to put in. today - well, when I read this one, I really liked it. I hope it ministers to you too. Christmas is about the birth of our Lord, and we need to fully concentrate on Him. but when I read this one, the thought popped into my head..... what was the reason of His coming? the answer is simple... us. He came for us. to reconcile us to the Father. hugs all.


Sometimes It Takes Two Christmas Trees


. . . He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. Phil. 1:6, NIV


If you want to put up your Christmas tree one more time again this year, raise your hand.

I didn’t think so. And I didn’t want to put up my trusty, artificial Christmas tree again this year either, but I had to. You see, when I put up my first tree right after Thanksgiving, I knew that the rigging I had done to make sure the top half of the tree stayed in place was on its last leg and that I would need to break down and purchase a new tree next year.

But then something funny happened on the way to December 25. A couple of days later, the top half just fell off. As in, completely toppled over and onto my living room floor. For a second, I thought about just abandoning having a Christmas tree at all this year. I was frustrated and had already put in so much effort. Why go through this whole rigmarole again in the very same week?

But something in me wouldn’t give up. I WILL have a Christmas tree, I thought. And I’ll find a way and the time to get a replacement tree bought and decorated this week!

So I regrouped, purchased another tree and started all over again. Now, what I don’t enjoy about putting up my tree is the unfurling of all of the branches that have been smashed up in the tree’s box. And then even more unenjoyable than that is when I have to wrap the lights around the tree. The fake needles and branches scratch up my hands as I’m pushing lights into all of the nooks and crannies. It stings my skin, but I do it so that there’s a beautiful glowy backdrop for all of my ornaments.

Once I get past all of that, then I actually do enjoy putting up my Christmas tree. First, I put the tree skirt in its place. Next, I lace around the sparkly garland. And then, since I have multiples of many ornaments (glass icicles, dangling bells, painted balls, etc.), I strategically place them first so that not all of one type of ornament is having its own holiday gathering on one branch of the tree. After I’ve done all of that, then I can place the one-of-a-kind ornaments here and there, pop the tree topper on the tree top and Christmas is good to go.

So then, there was great rejoicing when the Christmas tree was completed (and no, that’s not a Bible verse). I just love looking at this beautiful creation. And to see it sparkle and glow . . . well, it makes for something glorious in my home.

Perhaps that’s how the Father feels when he looks at us, his divine creations.
How many times has he had to pick us back up when we’ve toppled over our lives?

Or unwind the tangled mess we’ve made because of our disobedience to him?

Somehow, in his great love, he never gives up on us. Because Jesus made a way for us to come to the Father, God is faithful and continually works to make us radiant and pleasing to him.

I’m thankful God doesn’t tire of putting me back together each and every day of the year. In fact, if I know him, and I do, I think even if it took putting up a gazillion Christmas trees that he will never tire of working in our lives so that we might glorify him.

Intersecting Faith & Life: How has the Father shown you his kindness, his patience and the ways that he is long-suffering toward you this year? Thank him for the gift of his Son this Christmas and that because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed (Lam. 3:22).

Further Reading:
John 1:3-4, NIV
Rom. 2:4, MSG
Heb. 13:21, NIV

Laura MacCorkle, Crosswalk devotions
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Old 12-20-2011, 07:58 AM
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A Box of Socks


Today’s Truth
If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer (Matthew 21:22, NIV).

Friend to Friend
My sister loves socks! One day, we were shopping and happened to walk into a department store where neither one of us could afford to buy a single thing. We were just passing through, on our way to find the bargains we could afford. With a sigh and a wistful look on her face, Betty said, “I wish I could afford to shop in this store.” When I asked her what she would buy, she immediately replied with a smile, “Socks! I want a big box of socks. I would wear a different pair every day.” I could think of several things I would have liked to buy in that store and socks was not one of them. I guess it is a matter of perspective. What was important to her was not important to me.

I sometimes think my prayer requests are insignificant and unimpressive to God. After all, He is God. Does He really have the time or the desire to hear and answer my prayers? Yes! The truth is that if it is important to me, it is important to God.

Each Christmas, Operation Shoebox collects and sends over eight million shoeboxes stuffed with small gifts such as candy, school supplies, small toys, toothbrushes, soap, and shampoo to children across the world. In Mexico, hundreds of boys and girls gathered at the church in a small village, excitedly anticipating the arrival of their precious shoeboxes.

Delightful chaos erupted as bulging shoeboxes, wrapped in brightly colored paper and ribbon were passed into the small, eager hands of each child. Wrapping paper was hurriedly ripped into pieces and tossed aside, a smile spreading across the face of each child as their long awaited Christmas treasures were revealed. However, one little boy dissolved into tears as he lifted the lid of his box and peered inside to see what he had received for Christmas this year.

One of the Operation Shoebox volunteers spotted the little boy and hurriedly made his way across the church to see what the problem could possibly be. With the help of an interpreter, the volunteer asked the now sobbing little boy, “What is wrong? What is in your box?” With tears streaming down his face, the little boy said, “Socks!” The worker instantly understood and assured the little boy that he could trade his box of socks for another box that might have crayons, a toy or a piece of candy in it.

Alarm spread across the face of the child as he vigorously shook his head and quickly jerked the box away from the now somewhat confused worker. Clutching the shoebox to his chest, the boy began sobbing out an explanation to the interpreter who listened for a few moments and then, with tears spilling out of his own eyes, turned to the volunteer and said, “You won’t believe this!”

Taking a deep, steadying breath, the interpreter explained, “This little boy has a rare skin condition with which he was born. It seems to affect his feet more than any other spot on his body. The doctors have tried various medications and treatments but finally told the little boy that nothing will work and his feet will never heal unless he begins wearing cotton socks. His parents cannot even afford food for this boy; much less provide socks for their son. So, all year long, he has been praying for socks.”

Socks were at the top of the little boy’s prayer list. As a matter of fact, they were his list. The mere sight of ordinary cotton socks brought tears to his eyes as he stared in awe at the priceless gift in his hands – socks. You see, they were more than just socks. They were the profound answer from our extraordinary God to a child’s simple prayer. One unknown and seemingly insignificant boy in Mexico prayed. God heard him and said “Let me take care of you.”

No matter how small or trivial your prayers may seem, remember God’s perspective. If it is important to you, it is important to Him. And He will take care of you.

Let’s Pray
Father, thank You for the privilege of coming before You in prayer. I want prayer to be as natural to me as breathing out and breathing in. I refuse to believe the lie that my prayers are too small or unimportant for You to hear. You are my Father. You are my God and You long to hear my voice. I will bring every prayer of my heart to You.
In Jesus’ name,
Amen.

Now It’s Your Turn
Do you have your own “box of socks” for which you are praying? What is it?

Do you really believe that God will hear and answer your prayer?

Read Hebrews 11:6. How does your faith measure up to the faith described in this verse?

Today, pray in faith and see what God does!

Mary Southerland, Girlfriends in God devotions.

*now, you are probably wondering.... what does this have to do with Christmas?
simple. why did Jesus come to earth as a babe? to be the bridge back to God for a lost world. but also in His coming to save the world from sin.. He came to answer us, to give us our prayers. He doesnt want to have you hurting and needy. He wants to give you so much. all you have to do...... believe in Him, have faith, and ask. thats all.
d'gal
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  #2341  
Old 12-20-2011, 11:13 AM
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wonderful wonderful posts, dutchie!
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Old 12-21-2011, 08:36 AM
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Tell Everybody!

So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, “Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.” And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger. Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child. And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds (Luke 2:15-18).

Every December my church puts on an event called Bethlehem Walk, an interactive living nativity of sorts that takes people through a recreation of first-century Bethlehem and then through scenes of the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus. Thousands of people from the community and even all over the state come each year to hear about the real meaning of Christmas. I’ve been a cast member almost every year, but this year for the first time I played the part of a guide, who leads groups of people through the city and from one drama scene to the next.
If I thought it would get monotonous saying the same lines, hearing the same story and seeing the same things acted out on repeat for 20 hours in one weekend, I could not have been further from the truth. One of my favorite parts was seeing the reactions of people in my groups to each of the scenes, especially the kids.

After the group watches the angels appear to the shepherds in the field and tell them of Jesus’ birth, we hurry with the shepherds to the stable to see it for ourselves. After we learn that this baby really is the Messiah, the guide is supposed to tell the group, “Come, let us go tell others what we have seen!” (From there, the group stumbles upon the three kings and points the way to them.)

One night, however, I had a group of kids who were as enthralled with the whole story as anyone I’d ever seen. When we got to the manger, they crowded in close, eyes wide, like they’d never seen anything like it. They watched with awe as Mary sang “Silent Night” and rocked the baby Jesus in her arms. And just when she finished and I opened my mouth to speak my lines, I was upstaged – one little boy in the front jumped up and shouted, “It’s Jesus! We gotta tell everybody!”

Sure, we all crack a smile, but the little boy had it absolutely right. Tell everybody! The shepherds did just that after the angels pointed them to baby Jesus – they made it “widely known,” according to Luke 2:17. How could they keep quiet, having seen what they had seen? How can I keep quiet, having been redeemed by Christ?

If you, like me, ever feel unqualified or unworthy to share the Gospel, remember the shepherds. They were the most unlikely messengers of the Messiah’s birth – rough, poor, dirty; outcasts of society. God could have sent the angels to proclaim the news to anyone, but he chose the shepherds. He used them as the first-ever preachers of the Gospel.

Just as the shepherds could not keep quiet about what they saw when they found Jesus, so it should be for us. This Christmas season, share the good news – not just of Jesus as the baby in the manger, but of Jesus who came to save us from our sin.

Intersecting Faith & Life
Who can you share the good news of Jesus with?

Further Reading
Luke 2
Mark 16:15
Ephesians 6:19-20

Anna Kuta, Crosswalk devotios
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Old 12-21-2011, 09:12 AM
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awesome post, Dutchie! misty eyes reading the beautiful words. Where I live there is a Christmas parade that ends with three wise men in glorious robes leading three live camels. Everyone who has watched the parade then follows the wise men to the "star". When you get up close, the living nativity is in place. It brings such quiet and awe to everyone to see that live baby in the manger, with his devout parents watching over. Every animal in that live nativity behaves and is quiet...goats, sheep, calves, camels...

The word GOSPEL means Good news. When troubles come, we have to remember not to ask "God what I am going to do??" but more so..."God, what are YOU going to do?" God has all the power, answers and resources we need in tihs world. We only have to be childlike and surrender all our plans into His capable hands. We simply have to trust and obey. He can do great things.

He sent His only son to save us. What more do we need? Now, that makes for a Very Merry Christmas, Peace in our hearts and on earth. Hope dispels depression.
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Old 12-22-2011, 09:14 AM
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Wow Jancy. that sounds like an awesome parade. wish they did that here. so kewl.

what awesome inspiring words to share. thank you. and you are right. we should remember that old saying... 'dont tell God how big your problem is.... tell your problem how big your God is'. then wait and expect God to work a miracle. sometimes it is big sometimes it is a quiet whisper. But God is faithful and will always answer.

hugs.
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Old 12-22-2011, 09:17 AM
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From One Father to Another

This isn’t the way I planned it, God. Not at all. My child being born in a stable? This isn’t the way I thought it would be. A cave with sheep and donkeys, hay and straw? My wife giving birth with only the stars to hear her pain?

This isn’t at all what I imagined. No, I imagined family. I imagined grandmothers. I imagined neighbors clustered outside the door and friends standing at my side. I imagined the house erupting with the first cry of the infant. Slaps on the back. Loud laughter. Jubilation.

That’s how I thought it would be.

But now…Who will celebrate with us? The sheep? The shepherds?

The stars?

This doesn’t seem right. What kind of husband am I? I provide no midwife to aid my wife. No bed to rest her back. Her pillow is a blanket from my donkey.

Did I miss something? Did I, God?


When you sent the angel and spoke of the son being born—this isn’t what I pictured. I envisioned Jerusalem, the temple, the priests, and the people gathered to watch. A pageant perhaps. A parade. A banquet at least. I mean, this is the Messiah!

Or, if not born in Jerusalem, how about Nazareth? Wouldn’t Nazareth have been better? At least there I have my house and my business. Out here, what do I have? A weary mule, a stack of firewood, and a pot of warm water. This is not the way I wanted it to be!... Forgive me for asking but … is this how God enters the world? The coming of the angel, I’ve accepted. The questions people asked about the pregnancy, I can tolerate. The trip to Bethlehem, fine. But why a birth in a stable, God?

Any minute now Mary will give birth. Not to a child, but to the Messiah. Not to an infant, but to God. That’s what the angel said. That’s what Mary believes. And, God, my God, that’s what I want to believe. But surely you can understand; it’s not easy. It seems so … so … so … bizarre.

I’m unaccustomed to such strangeness, God. I’m a carpenter. I make things fit. I square off the edges. I follow the plumb line. I measure twice before I cut once. Surprises are not the friend of a builder. I like to know the plan. I like to see the plan before I begin.

But this time I’m not the builder, am I? This time I’m a tool. A hammer in your grip. A nail between your fingers. A chisel in your hands. This project is yours, not mine.

I guess it’s foolish of me to question you. Forgive my struggling. Trust doesn’t come easy to me, God. But you never said it would be easy, did you?

One final thing, Father. The angel you sent? Any chance you could send another? If not an angel, maybe a person? I don’t know anyone around here and some company would be nice. Maybe the innkeeper or a traveler? Even a shepherd would do.

Max Lucado, Upwords devotions.
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Old 12-22-2011, 09:23 AM
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just a note here. I am sure you have heard the song, Mary Did You Know? well did you think, really think, about the words.? my favorite verse is ''when you kissed your baby, did you know you kissed the face of God?'' wow.

at church last nite we were talking about that and about other things about baby Jesus.... Jesus. King of Kings, Son of God,, yet he was most probably a typical child.. a precousious 2 yr old. hey, he even had to have a diaper changed now and then. how human of our Lord. it truly amazes me how He left a Royal Glorious Throne with the Father, to come down and be a human - for love of us. to give His life out of that love. just so we could be re-established with the Father.

thank you Lord. I love you Lord.
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Old 12-22-2011, 01:39 PM
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Originally Posted by dutchgirl1 View Post
F


One final thing, Father. The angel you sent? Any chance you could send another? If not an angel, maybe a person? I don’t know anyone around here and some company would be nice. Maybe the innkeeper or a traveler? Even a shepherd would do.

Max Lucado, Upwords devotions.

just so you know - you are a angel sent here to help us through this terrible journey!

God Bless Us, Everyone!

Susan
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Old 12-23-2011, 08:55 AM
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susan, thank you for those kind words. it does mean a lot to me to know that God sent me to do this and that it does help and make some difference. it is indeed a hard journey. we all need hope and encouragement to make this journey to the end.

be blessed.
d'gal
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Old 12-23-2011, 08:59 AM
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The Reality of Immanuel

"How many observe Christ's birthday! How few, His precepts!" —Benjamin Franklin

I have to be honest, I really do love the holiday called Christmas. Our church is a beehive of activity. Our home is a menagerie of laughter and friends and family. I love the food. I love the decorations. I love the way Christmas smells. And who can argue with a couple of cool presents under the tree with my name on it!? Not a bad way to observe Someone's birthday.

Yes, the holiday works for me… IF I stay mindful of the core precept behind its observance AND if I'm willing to put that precept into practice. In that sense, Christmas is really just another day. It’s one more special day to revel in the wonderful mystery of Emmanuel, God with us.
The fact is, God is with us, and the command given to Joshua is the command to us as well:

"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go." —Joshua 1:9

So yeah, I’m looking forward to the holiday. It's another day to release my battles and my fears and my self-righteousness. It’s just another day to embrace the incredible love of God and celebrate the reality of His presence in my life. Yes, Emmanuel, “God is with us.” That truth makes every day a celebration!

Jesus, thank you for this holiday. I praise You for one more day to experience the promise of Your presence. Because You are in me, I trust You to be strong; I trust You to be my courage. Thank you that You are with me wherever I go. Amen

Pete Briscoe, Christmas devotions.

*and Lord I thank you for traveling w/us on this journey we are on. for staying by our side when we are in such need of hope and for the times when we dont want to continue down this road, You give us encouragement to go on. Light our path Lord to the end of this journey. In Jesus Name. Amen
d'gal
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Old 12-24-2011, 08:13 AM
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What Christmas Is About

Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this. —Isaiah 9:7

As we look at our world today, we realize that part of the promise of Isaiah 9:6–7 has not yet been fulfilled. The Son has been given. The Child has been born. But He has not yet taken the government upon His shoulders. We do not yet have peace with judgment and justice. But the good news is that there will come a day when Christ will return. He will establish His kingdom on this earth. And it will be the righteous rule of God himself.

Before Jesus could take the government upon His shoulder, He had to take the cross upon His shoulder. Before He could wear the crown of glory as King of Kings, He had to wear the shameful crown of thorns and give His life as a sacrifice for the sins of the world. The first time, a star marked His arrival. But the next time He comes, the heavens will roll back like a scroll, all of the stars will fall from the sky, and He himself will light it.

Christ came to this earth. God came near to you so you can come near to Him—to give your life purpose and meaning, to forgive you of your sins, and to give you the hope of heaven beyond the grave. Christmas is not about tinsel or shopping or presents. Christmas is not about the gifts under the tree. Rather, Christmas is about the gift that was given on the tree when Christ died there for our sins and gave us the gift of eternal life.

Summary sentence: What is Christmas about to you?

greg laurie, daily devotions.

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

Comfort

Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your GodIsaiah 40:1

Have you ever noticed that parental tendency to repeat important words or phrases to our children, especially in a moment of crisis? “It’s okay, it’s okay”… “don’t be scared, don’t be scared”… “be careful, be careful.”

It may be partially due to the assumption that the child is not at first listening to us, especially if some other loud or frightening object has temporarily captured his or her attention. But it may also result from our desire to plant our words firmly into their minds and hearts in the midst of the crisis.

Similarly, God speaks here in order to comfort His people in the midst of their otherwise frightening surroundings: comfort ye, comfort ye. He purposefully impresses upon us the fact that His message is not one of alarm, but of consolation.

And perhaps the most comforting words of all are found in the two phrases that follow: “my people” and “your God.” God assures us that we are no less His when we are trembling under some terrible trial, and that He is still our God when our feelings may betray us and tell us otherwise.

No matter the loud or frightening trial that you may be facing, no matter the fear or discouragement that you may be feeling, listen carefully to these comforting words from your heavenly Father: “you are still mine, and I am still yours.” It’s okay. It’s okay.

A Good Thing devotion from BBH devotions.
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