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Thank you Bob!

He gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might He increases strength. Isaiah 40:29 NKJV

Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. Phillipians 2:4 NKJV


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Just thinking about children's giggles--- makes me smile-!! Such a sweet sound--
We do have miracles that we fail to appreciate each day. Just seeing a rainbow, a sunset, new snow, flowers,-- etc. gives us pause about God's majestic powers... Praise Him!
Thanks for this reminder---

God grant me the strength to reach my goal.


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5 Miracles It's Too Easy to Overlook

Rebecca Barlow Jordan

Amid broken relationships, marital difficulties, financial crises or simple question marks, is God still listening? Why doesn't He respond? Pray for healing... I need a miracle... terminal illness... deliverance from habits... a new job. Those requests and comments that have found their way to some of my blog posts vary, but they are alike in one way. They all represent needs. And most require miracles.

I tell these dear readers that I'm no counselor, only a writer and a Jesus Follower who loves to encourage others toward intimacy with God, but I will pray (I know I'm not a counselor because counselors will usually offer a succinct and helpful 3-step answer, not a 10-point offering like the teacher in me wants to). But I can and I do pray. Their names are on a growing list I take to Jesus often. He alone knows the intent and true need of the heart.
Some of us may have only seen one or two heart-stopping, mountain-moving miracles in our lifetimes—the ones that can only be explained by God. But we all want them, need them. Who doesn't crave intervention from Jehovah Rapha, the God Who Heals?

And God still does miracles. Do I believe in them? Absolutely. I've witnessed a few of them in my own life and in others. Like the angel told Mary, "Nothing is impossible with God." But I also trust His sovereignty. He alone determines who, when, where and what will honor Him the most.

But the more I listen, especially at Christmas, to prayer requests for the miraculous, the more I realize that because of our own human nature's craving for contentment, relief, and fairness, we may overlook or forget some of the most obvious miracles. I love C. S. Lewis's quote from God in the Dock: "Miracles are a retelling in small letters of the very same story which is written across the whole world in letters too large for some of us to see."


Here are five such miracles we may tend to overlook in our search for more:

1. The Miracle of Life

Hearing a baby's first cry signals the inhaling of its first breath. That's a miracle. And waking up morning after morning, just able to breathe, to inhale the fragrance of life, is not a treasure to ignore.

But to know life in all of its spiritual fullness? To know and experience eternal life—life that begins the moment you say "Yes" to Jesus, and continues forever? Can you name a greater miracle than the transformation of a hardened heart to soft putty in the hands of God? A miracle available to every person, regardless of age!

2. The Miracle of Laughter

The music of children’s giggles, the power of laughter to hasten healing and even prevent disease: "A merry heart does good, like medicine" (Proverbs 17:22). A daily dose of laughter might even alter the doctor's prognosis and shrink medical bills. Studies have shown that this happy habit sends out needed endorphins, the body’s natural chemicals, and helps release stress. Scrooge has no place here.

3. The Miracle of Learning

God gave us amazing brains. Once you stop learning you start leaving. We don't know how long our minds will keep functioning well, or, as in the case of Alzheimer's, what exactly causes them to stop. So grab a teachable spirit now, while you can still learn something new every day. Make it a goal, and you'll experience a daily miracle: creating new brain paths and the sheer joy of learning. And while you're at it, learn wisdom. God's Word gives you clues about how to start that process flowing: "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom" (Psalm 111:10) and "If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you" (James 1:5).

4. The Miracle of Leaning

“Two are better than one,” says Ecclesiastes 4:9 (NIV). No one functions well as an island; we all need each other. Good friends are both healthy and healing to our spirits. And God often uses us to help others as conduits of His miracles: our gifts, our love, our time, and our prayers.

But the true miracle of leaning comes when we lean on Jesus. Praying about everything, depending upon Him in every situation—and leaving the results to Him—is the key to experiencing this overlooked miracle. True dependency on God both relaxes worry in you, and releases the power of God to act on your behalf—however He chooses to do so. The real test comes with your “Thank You, God,” no matter which way He answers. Leaning on Him ushers in a miracle in itself—one which God designed all along: leaning requires drawing closer to the One on whom you are leaning.

5. The Miracle of Love

At no time are we more aware of this true miracle than at Christmas. God sent His perfect Son into an imperfect, unloving world to give us life. Why? John 3:16, the "verse heard round the world," says it simply: LOVE. And not just so we could experience the miracle of taking a fresh breath every morning (miracle number one above). No, this miracle takes us back on that circle of love to the miracle of life eternal.

At Christmastime, God, the true Miracle-Giver, put on flesh and came to earth so you and I could know Him—intimately, miraculously—and be perfectly forgiven, perfectly loved, forever.
It’s both a gift, and the greatest miracle of all. Never overlook it. And never stop thanking God for it.


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Bob Hook

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My last reflection for my Bible Study class for the year....enjoy.


Christmas

"Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High." (Lk 1:30-32)

Karl Rahner, S.J. was one of the most brilliant and holy theologians of the last century. (My opinion.) He wrote that if you want to experience what Christmas is really all about, you should go into a darkened room at night, sit quietly and comfortably, quiet your mind and go deeply within yourself, your own darkness.

You will become aware of your own longings, your deep desires to love and be loved, to know the truth and relish the beautiful, to be fully alive and to live forever. It's what it is to be human, to know our limits, our profound needs. Our God shares those longings and desires with us and so becomes one of us, a tiny, helpless infant. Now go and stare at the lights on your Christmas tree.


Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

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Advent Day 20 - What Can We Learn from the Magi?

The Magi are great Advent figures because they spend their time surveying the night sky. We don't know exactly who they were, but we know there was a tradition of stargazing in certain lands east of the Holy Land.

The Magi were what we would call both astrologers and astronomers. They were looking patiently for signs of God's purpose. We might think the way they're looking is funny, by searching for signs in the sky, but, nevertheless, they were looking, in a very patient and intentional way. That makes them Advent figures.

How many of us have become indifferent to the signs of God? How many of us stop wondering what God is up to? How much time do we spend searching out those questions? Prayer is the response to such questions, for that's what prayer involves: seeking the purpose and intentions of God.

By searching for signs of God, the Magi are captivating Advent figures.



Let Go and Let God!

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NO ESCAPE

Scripture Reading: Matthew 1:18-21

Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.
—Matthew 1:19

I used to believe that if I worked hard, treated people well, showed kindness, and made good decisions, I would be able to avoid all troubles. I was convinced that it was within my power to live in such a way that bad things wouldn’t happen to me. Even though I knew I would never be perfect, I thought I could be “good enough” to have a trouble-free life. But I was wrong.

God’s people can experience trouble even if they are living a faithful life. Joseph had learned that his fiancée, Mary, was expecting a child, and he knew he was not the father. This news left him in a no-win situation. If he married her, he would always know that he was not the father of her child. If he took a stand for his own righteousness, he would disgrace Mary and subject her to additional shame.

It is hard to know how best to respond when the difficulties of living in a sinful world slap us across the face. Joseph formed the best plan he could think of, until God made things clearer.

Wisdom to know how to respond in a sinful world is a gift from God, and even though Joseph’s plans seemed appropriate, we are thankful that God made his plans clearer, and this guided Joseph through many trials and struggles.

Prayer

Holy Spirit, give me wisdom so that I may know how best to respond to the difficult and trying times that I face in this sin-stained world. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Bill Sytsma

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12/19/14 7:11 A

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December 19, 2014 USING OUR TREASURES

We all have treasures. We all have things God has given us to use but we all don’t use them as we should. Some of us keep our treasures to ourselves and use them so no one else can. Some of us hide our treasures and never use them. Some of us use our treasures for the wrong reasons. However, God tells us what to do. He tells us plainly. We are to use our treasures to help others and build relationships and lead them to Him. If we aren’t doing that, we aren’t obeying God.

Luke 16:9 “Here’s the lesson: Use your worldly resources to benefit others and make friends. Then, when your earthly possessions are gone, they will welcome you to an eternal home.” (NLT)

Dear Lord, first of all thank You for our treasures and what You have given to us. Reveal to us how we are using our treasures and show us how to better use them to serve You. If we are using them only for us, if we are hiding them or using them for the wrong reasons, show us how to use them to help others. We want to be obedient to You and use our treasures wisely. Help us today to take action to do You will with our treasures. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

When we use our treasures to help others by making friends and creating disciples, we are pleasing God.

Keeping our treasures for ourselves will only make us lonely and unhappy.

Using our treasures to help others will give us joy and lead others to God.

Treasures are a gift from God that we should be grateful for and use wisely.

God wants us to use our treasures in a way that will lead others to Him.

When we use wisely the treasures God has given to us, more will be given to us so we can help even more people.

Luke 19:26 “‘Yes,’ the king replied, ‘and to those who use well what they are given, even more will be given. But from those who do nothing, even what little they have will be taken away.’” (NLT)

Focus: Doing only God’s will with what we have been blessed with will benefit everyone.

Today is the best day to begin making changes for yourself and others both inside and out!

Want motivational cards you can leave behind and make a difference in the lives of others? You can order a free sample at: www.leaveabreadcrumb.com

Need inspiriation on how to be a better person on the inside and deal with issues in your life? Follow my blog at: www.francescopelandlucas.wordpress.c
om


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12/18/14 11:48 P

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Thanks for sharing all these beautiful devotionals.

Darlene

I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills. From whence commeth my help? My help commeth from the Lord who made heaven and earth. flemidg

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12/18/14 6:20 P

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In Touch with Dr. Charles Stanley Devotionals

Reflecting upon and applying biblical principles


December 18


A Lifestyle of Obedience

John 14:15-21

According to John 14:21, we express love for Jesus by obeying His commands. To love Him wholeheartedly, we must develop a lifestyle of obedience. Let's look at four aspects of such a lifestyle.

1. Our trust in the Father grows. This confidence comes from believing that the Lord is who Scripture says He is. And God's Word tells us that He is good—as well as faithful to keep His promises (2 Cor. 1:20). Psalm 86:15 calls Him merciful, gracious, loving, and slow to anger. His character remains unchanged by difficult or hard-to-understand circumstances (Heb. 13:8).

2. We develop a deepening ability to wait on the Lord. Delays can be hard in our I-want-it-now culture. But we must resist temptation and wait on Him instead of running ahead.

3. We commit to obey God. Without such a resolve, we'll vacillate at decision time or allow fear to prevent us from choosing His way.

4. Our study of Scripture becomes consistent. The Bible reveals God's priorities, commands, and warnings. It acts as a light, illuminating His chosen path for us while revealing obstacles and dangers along the way (Ps.119:105). Without it, we are like a person who walks in the woods at night without a flashlight.

Becoming a Christian doesn't mean that obedience to the Lord is automatic. It's a lifelong process of growing in our trust and patiently waiting on Him before we act. This requires a steadfast commitment to obey so that we can say no to ungodly choices and yes to God.

For more biblical teaching and resources from Dr. Charles Stanley, please visit
www.christianity.com/devotionals/in-
to
uch-charles-stanley/


Edited by: SURVIVOR61 at: 12/18/2014 (20:16)
Jill "survivor61"
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Jesus said, "Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust in me." John 14:1


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Thank you, Bob- for posting this. It is really important to consider our spouse, and to keep our relationships high priority. All the other clutter just seems insignificant. This past summer my husband's mother passed away. She was elderly, however, her death was still a big shock because she was very healthy and very active. My husband grieves I know---
Recently when I came home from work, he had decorated the house for Christmas. Hung at the mantle were many family Christmas stockings my husband had attached. All the beautiful stockings were hand stitched and embellished with fancy beads and appliques---
by his mother's artful hands. I looked at those special stockings, and then I looked at my husband and I said----"Oh, you must miss your mom so much when you see those!"
He was so overwhelmed by emotions--- and filled with heartache.---
I just want to tell folks to --- please value the family members you have,,, and not get caught up in the trivial matters that really don't count for much. Nurture the relationships of family.
I need to keep this in mind, not only during holidays, but every day--
God bless everyone--and may He keep us focused on loving each other...as He commands.

God grant me the strength to reach my goal.


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He gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might He increases strength. Isaiah 40:29 NKJV

Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. Phillipians 2:4 NKJV


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5 Ways to Have a Merry Christmas in Your Marriage - April Motl

It’s wild how the holidays can bring out such intense sides to our personality. Right after we gather around a table with family and friends to thank God for His blessings in our life, we gather to malls and store aisles to wrestle one-another like gladiators for deals. Our displays make the news and from one breath to the next we move from gratitude to greed. The hustle and bustle continues for another six weeks, stretching over Christmas and finally to New Years. Yup. It’s a crazy time of year where, as a culture, we sacrifice to bless another one minute and indulge in almost every imaginable way the next.

In our marriages, the rush, the expectations, the schedule and the cookie induced sugar buzz can really make for some stressful—potentially explosive—situations. You might feel like your spouse turned magically into Mr. or Mrs. Clause and has a mission to give presents to the entire known world. Or perhaps you feel like your honey turns into the Grinch for Christmas and zaps the joy out of the celebrations. Or perhaps you feel like your wife turns into a real-life version of Frosty the snow-woman and has a melt-down at every holiday impasse. If this is anywhere near your Christmas family “traditions” then take heart; you aren’t alone! All families struggle with the extremes the celebrations bring out of and on us! Here’s a few tips to help you navigate the season:

1. Listen to each other. Whenever frustrations are bubbling near the surface, mentally slow-down and choose to engage in actively listening to one another. More often than not, the most frustrating part of a conflict is not that we see things differently, but that we feel un-heard and misunderstood. If she’s buying too many presents, listen to her heart and find out why. If he’s getting Grinchy, there is a reason. He hasn’t swallowed a magic potion and transported ya’ll to Whoville. Listen to each other and search out each other’s motivations and heart behind the issues.

Listening might actually help your spouse understand why they are doing certain things. One year at Christmas, I was pretty bent out of shape about a number of things. My sweet man listened to me recount the troubles of the day as I melted Frosty-the-snow-girl style into a puddle of woes. Then at the end of it all I said what was really bothering me—I missed my grandpa! My grandpa had passed away and it was the first Christmas without him. I was trying so hard not to let the grief swallow the happy things that I wasn’t letting myself see how much it was really bothering me. His listening provided a release and healing for me. So, go ahead and listen to your sweetheart!

This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God. James 1:19-21NASB

2. Be a team. Commit to being more committed to your spouse than to your plans, expectations or Christmastime dreams. Nope. She might never make the pies the way your grandma did. Nope. He might never hang the lights the magical way your dad did growing up. It’s ok. You married a one-of-a-kind person who can only be who God made them to be! And all our Christmas wishes don’t hold a candle to the value of our spouse and our relationship with them. Choose to not allow disappointments to come between you. Don’t misplace your treasure by valuing plans over people and relationships—especially your relationship with God!

For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. Matthew 6:21KJV

3. Make a plan together. While we want to avoid putting plans above people, we can steer clear of unnecessary headaches by coming to an understanding and agreement about holiday plans. If he expects to go skiing for New Year’s, that will impact the Christmas budget. If she thought Christmas Eve dinner was at her parents this year, then it’s good to know before you tell your mom you are coming to her house! Sounds simple, but it’s so easy for the hustle and bustle to begin and before you know it, the calendar is full and no one knows how it got that way! Sit down and make a prioritized list of time and budget plans.

After you’ve made your plans, consider and pray about the best way to guard those plans. Especially during Christmastime, my man is the social secretary. If it were up to me, we’d never sleep between Thanksgiving and New Year’s with all that’d I’d try to cram in! I know a couple who purchases one of those money-gift-cards and puts an agreed-on amount on the card for the wife to spend on Christmas presents. When the card is empty, so’s the budget. No using the credit cards, no accidental debit overcharges! No more disagreements over the Christmas spending—yeah!

Do two walk together unless they have agreed to do so? Amos 3:3 NIV

4. Keep your focus. Christmas isn’t Jesus birthdate, but if we are going to celebrate it as His birthday, then HE should be the highest priority in how we budget our time, finances and Christmas activities. So practically, if Jesus is my celebration and priority, then it is more important that I reflect His love, joy and peace than that my house is spotless, that the cookies turn out just perfect or that all my presents are wrapped to perfection. You know there’s even been years I told my family I was just going to have to give them some of their presents for New Year’s. Everyone lived through it! And I was able to keep Jesus more at the center of my focus than if I’d tried to accomplish the impossible. If any of your activities rob your daily devotion time, tempt you into anxiety or anger, or pull your heart away from Jesus then it’s safe to say those things need to get trimmed out of your life.

Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith. Hebrews 12:1-2 NAS

5. When disappointments come, look for the good, look for the redemption, look for God’s hand and practice letting go of the little things. At a recent ministry conference a pastor’s wife shared an insight I’ve been turning over and over in my mind. She reminded us (a group of pastor’s wives) that our relationship with Christ is built on redemption, that our marriage is built on the redemption of two people who hoped to see His redemption in the lives of others and that our ministry will also be built on redemption.

Disappointments come—whether they come to you or your pastor, are ministry related, or are in your family or marriage, career or calling, and it’s OK. We serve a big God and if all the rest of life is built on the redemption of our messiness, then our disappointments won’t kill us, ruin us or end us. They will simply become part of the bigger redemption story. If we won’t release small disappointments (like the potluck dish that spills all over the back seat or the family squabbles over who hosts Christmas), then how will we ever release the big disappointments to God’s redemptive hands? The Christmas season offers ample practice to release disappointments into God’s redemptive grip, doesn’t it?

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28 NAS

May your marriage shine bright with the love, joy and peace that comes from knowing the One we truly celebrate!

April Motl is a pastor’s wife who serves along side her husband, Eric, at their church in Southern California. For more information about their ministry visit www.MotlMinistries.com. You can also follow their ministry on facebook, twitter and April’s crosswalk blog.

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Advent Day 19 - Wait for the Lord

Waiting is very hard for most of us. I suppose we human beings have always been in a hurry, but modern people, especially, seem to want what they want, when they want it. We are driven, determined, goal-oriented, fast-moving. I, for one, can't stand waiting.

As a Chicagoan I find myself unavoidably in a lot of traffic jams, and few things infuriate me more. Usually stuck behind a massive truck, I have no idea when I will get where I want to be, and there is nothing I can do about it.

I hate waiting at doctors' offices; I hate waiting in line at the bank; I hate waiting for the lights to come back on when the electricity fails.

So when I'm told that waiting seems to belong to the heart of the spiritual life, I'm not pleased, for here, too, I want answers, direction, clarity - and I want them pronto. I desire to feel happy and to know what God is up to; I need my life to make sense - now. I'm pleased to live a spiritual life, but I want to be in charge of it and to make it unfold according to my schedule: Run Barron Run. All of this is profoundly antipathetic to the mood and spirit of Advent.

Throughout Advent so far, we've sensed a major theme: wait, but with the active expectation that God will move. The Psalmist had it right: "Wait for the Lord, take courage; be stouthearted, wait for the Lord!" (Ps 27:14).




Edited by: RHOOK20047 at: 12/18/2014 (12:09)
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WATCHING OVER US ALL

Scripture Reading: Luke 2:36-38

[Anna] had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, and then was a widow until she was eighty-four.
—Luke 2:26-27

God’s plans and purposes can seem so big that we might wonder if he has time for the “smaller” concerns that so often afflict our lives.

When Simeon met Jesus in the temple, his concerns seemed global. He longed for the consolation of Israel. He rejoiced in seeing salvation. He even spoke in a way that foreshadowed Christ’s mission to suffer for lost sinners. Simeon was focused on the big picture.

God rules the heavens and the earth. We might not understand the geopolitical implications of our nation’s economic policies, but God does. We may be baffled by scientific predictions of possible environmental catastrophes, but God is not confused.

When we consider the universal scope of God’s power, we may feel as if our personal concerns in our everyday family and community life wouldn’t matter much to him.

But the Bible shows that Jesus’ arrival addressed local concerns as well as global ones. Jesus’ coming brought joy to an aged widow in the temple who looked “forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.” Jesus’ presence met her concerns on that day and caused her to give thanks and to tell others.

God’s plan of salvation brings renewal to the entire world, and his plan responds to all our needs.

Prayer

King of heaven, thank you that your concern for all of creation does not keep you from being concerned for each of us. In your name we pray. Amen.

Bill Sytsma

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Thanks Herb and Frances for starting my day off on the right track with insightful reflections. What a way to start my day with a few moments with my Lord! Have a great weekend guys!

Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

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December 18, 2014 SERVING GOD

Whatever we think about the most is what we treasure the most. If our thoughts are always on money and things, well, that is where our treasure lies. If our thoughts are always on how good we can look and what we can buy to help us look better, then we are too focused on us. Scripture says, God says to obey Him. God says to love Him. God says to walk in His ways, stay close to Him and serve Him. We can’t treasure money and worldly things and serve God at the same time. It’s just not possible.

Joshua 22:5 “But be very careful to obey all the commands and the instructions that Moses gave to you. Love the Lord your God, walk in all his ways, obey his commands, hold firmly to him, and serve him with all your heart and all your soul.” (NLT)

Dear Lord, reveal to us where we are not serving You. We know we are to give You our time, our talents and our treasures. When spend too much time wrapped up in us or in the things of the world, we aren’t being obedient to You and we aren’t serving You. We want to serve only You, Lord. Give us the wisdom, knowledge and strength to do so today. We know we can find all You want us to do in Your word. Help us to seek and serve You today. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

God tells us to be careful to obey all of His commands. If we obey those who do not follow God, we will be led astray.

God tells us to love Him and walk in His ways. If we love and follow anyone else, we will be lost.

God tells us to hold firmly to Him. If we are holding on to anything else, we will soon be in sinking sand.

God tells us to serve Him with all our hearts and all our souls. How are we doing this today?

When we serve only God, obey Him, listen to His voice and cling to Him, we will find all the hope and peace we will ever need.

Deuteronomy 13:4 “Serve only the Lord your God and fear him alone. Obey his commands, listen to his voice, and cling to him.” (NLT)

Focus: If we don’t have peace in our lives, we aren’t serving God as we should be.


Today is the best day to begin making changes for yourself and others both inside and out!

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Thanking God for those who are faithful to Him and those who serve Him every day!

Today is the best day to begin making changes for yourself and others both inside and out!

Want motivational cards you can leave behind and make a difference in the lives of others? You can order a free sample at: www.leaveabreadcrumb.com

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A word from the Word

December 18 - - His name shall be Jesus

Luke 2:21 And when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the child, his name was called JESUS, which was so named of the angel before he was conceived in the womb.

“And His name was called Jesus” The father was always the one who named the child. So we see it was not Mary who named the child nor was it Joseph who named the child. It was God who selected the name that was given to the child born of a virgin in the stable at Bethlehem.

“His name is to be Jesus”. This was the name given to Mary by the angel and Jesus was the name given to the angel by God the Father. So in this scripture we see God the Father who is saying “His name shall be called Jesus”.

We see in this scripture proof that Jesus truly is the Son of God.

Pray for our Churches. If revival is going to come it will come through the believer. Pray for wisdom and leadership for the pastoral staff in dealing with the challenges of ministry, be they physical, emotional, or spiritual.


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In Touch with Dr. Charles Stanley Devotionals

Reflecting upon and applying biblical principles

December 17

Trusting in God's Faithfulness

1 Thessalonians 5:16-24

Is there something God has told you to do that seems just too difficult? You can be sure that if He has called you to carry out His will, He’s going to be faithful to accomplish it through His Spirit living and working in you. So if you tell Him, “I can’t do that, Lord—what if I fail?” you’re really saying, “God doesn’t keep His word.” And yet, our total expectation should be in Him—not in our own energy, ability, or experience.

When you doubt God’s trustworthiness, that unbelief becomes a gap in your spiritual armor, and you can be sure that’s exactly where Satan will attack you. You’ll begin to doubt even more about God’s character, such as His goodness—and that distrust will become a heavy load of baggage you’ll needlessly drag through every area of your life.

You might feel that you do not have enough faith to obey, but the Lord isn’t asking you to have faith in favorable circumstances. He’s asking you to trust that He is who He says He is.

Do you believe that God is a liar? It’s really that simple: either He is truthful or He’s not. But if you believe that faithfulness is His character, then you can do anything He requires. You’ll be strengthened by your dependence on Him—whether a deluge or trials or a flood of blessing comes.



It’s actually when life gets rough and rugged that the sweetness of God’s faithfulness makes itself real in your heart. As you walk through those storms in complete reliance on His strength, your trust in His character becomes part of who you are and strengthens from within.

For more biblical teaching and resources from Dr. Charles Stanley, please visit
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Jill "survivor61"
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Jesus said, "Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust in me." John 14:1


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This is inspiring to read about how you can renew faith and trust in God--- even when everything does not go as we would choose.
Last night I happened to change TV channels and found an excellent program on Public TV.
It was about a Pilgrimage to the shrine of the Blessed Mother in Lourdes, France. It was a pilgrimage for all soldiers, for all countries and for all branches of military service. These were the wounded warriors with all kinds of injuries, including post traumatic stress syndrome. In the days of this event-- there were personal statements about how faith was ignited, spirits restored, and above all-- the beautiful sense of peace had changed lives from hopelessness to genuine joy. It was a magnificent transformation for many soldiers.
The story of Saint Bernadette having a vision of the Blessed Mother at the grotto of Lourdes is the reason that many visitors come seeking healing. Although there are reported cases of physical miracles, there are those who believe the healing of their spirit-- is also a miracle.

There is a movie, "Song of Bernadette" -- about the steadfast faith of young Bernadette.

God grant me the strength to reach my goal.


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When You're Wandering in a Dry and Weary Land - Dena Johnson

It has been an incredibly dreary few days in Oklahoma. The skies have been gray. Light drizzle falling. The fog has been so dense I can’t see the house next door. It’s been a string of days where you just want to curl up with a blanket and sleep.

And, that’s actually what I have done. You see, on top of the dreary December weather, I am fighting my annual bout of laryngitis. I am locked in a prison of silence. The work of communicating is so exhausting that I find myself unable to continue. The energy required to get off the couch and do the normal activities of life is more than I can muster. My body cries out for sleep, rest, quiet…things that are almost impossible for a mother of three.
Sometimes I wonder why I have to battle laryngitis so frequently. I often say it’s because that’s the only way God can get me to slow down and rest, to be quiet and still. I tend to go non-stop until I crash. Unfortunately, as a single mom of three teen/pre-teen kids, I don’t know how I can possibly live any other way. My to-do list is never-ending, and life doesn’t stop when I get sick. My kids still have ball games and tumbling. They still need dinner and clean clothes. A mom’s job never ends, and a single mom has no one to share the burden.
But there are times when life comes crashing down and you just have to slip away to a quiet place and rest. And that’s where I have found myself this week.

If I’m honest, this gray, dreary exhaustion is also reflective of my spiritual life right now. I have come through a period of unbelievable intimacy with my Savior. I have heard his sweet whispers each and every day, reminding me of his tenderness and care for my every need. I have experienced his hugs, so real that I felt as if his presence was that of another human. I have seen him lead me and guide me, building my faith in ways I never dreamed possible.

But today, the skies are gray and dreary. It’s been months since I heard that sweet whisper of love. His hugs seemed to vanish. I long for the intimacy, the joy that punctuated my relationship with him. I feel as if I am wandering in a desert land, waiting for him to show me the direction I should go.

And yet, I hear nothing but silence. Deafening silence.
My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?
Why are you so far away when I groan for help?
Every day I call to you, my God, but you do not answer.
Every night I lift my voice, but I find no relief (Psalm 22:1-2).

David was familiar with the sense of abandonment. Can’t you hear his frustration? Where has my God gone? Why the distance? What have I done to cause the silence? Why can’t I seem to find him?

I completely understand his cries.

If I had intentionally begun to walk away from God, I would understand. If I was involved in some sin causing a rift in my relationship with him, I could accept the distance. If I had stopped seeking him—stopped my Bible reading and prayer time—I would gladly accept the responsibility.

However, I continue to give my mornings to God as I have for the last few years. I continue to carve out time to pray. I continue to flood my mind with sermons and music designed to keep my mind focused on him. I continue to seek him daily, longing for the closeness and intimacy I have come to enjoy.

Instead of the daily whispers, I feel the occasional tug to do something out of my comfort zone. Instead of feasting on the daily nuggets of his word enlightened by the Spirit, I catch a sporadic word that touches my heart. Instead of words flowing easily onto paper, I struggle for inspiration and motivation.

Yet you are holy,
enthroned on the praises of Israel.
Our ancestors trusted in you,
and you rescued them.
They cried out to you and were saved.
They trusted in you and were never disgraced (Psalm 22:3-5).

I find it interesting that David moves from his cries of frustration directly to reflecting on who God is, on his holiness. He begins to recall God’s faithfulness, his tender mercies to the Israelites.

I have found that reflecting on God’s attributes and his faithfulness over the years helps me tremendously in this time of spiritual dreariness. Where has God shown me his favor? How often has he poured out blessings on my life? What has he done to show his faithfulness to me? How has he provided for my needs?

My life has been blessed beyond measure. Yes, sometimes life is hard. Sometimes my relationship with God seems one-sided. Sometimes it is hard to see his hand at work around me. It is in these times that I must remember all the times God has come through for me in the past to give me the faith to know that he will come through for me again.

Yet you brought me safely from my mother’s womb
and led me to trust you at my mother’s breast.
I was thrust into your arms at my birth.
You have been my God from the moment I was born (Psalm 22:9-10).

God has spent the last few years teaching me faith, building up an unshakeable confidence in his ability to do anything. Now, he is teaching me to trust.

I can say that I have faith in something, but until I actually act on my belief I don’t truly trust. For example, I can say that I have faith in a chair, but until I actually sit in that chair I’m not actually trusting it to hold up my weight.

I almost feel as if I have come through a period of God giving me promise after promise. Now, he is testing me to see if I actually trust him to fulfill those promises—even in his silence. It’s one thing to trust when you hear his sweet voice reassuring you every single day; it’s another to trust when he is silent and you can’t see his hand at work all around you.

My life is poured out like water,
and all my bones are out of joint.
My heart is like wax,
melting within me.
My strength has dried up like sunbaked clay.
My tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth.
You have laid me in the dust and left me for dead (Proverbs 22:14-15).

David was an expert at expressing his feelings to God. He didn’t hold anything back. He didn’t hide behind a mask, pretending to be ok. He let God have it!

Too often we tell everyone—except God—exactly what we are feeling. Somehow, it doesn’t seem right to tell him we are angry. Or scared. Or frustrated. Or weak. Or weary.

The truth is, God already knows how we feel. He knows our fears and our frustrations and our doubts and our weaknesses. He would love for us to honestly tell him about it. He would love to wrap his arms around us and comfort us as only he can.

O Lord, do not stay far away!
You are my strength; come quickly to my aid!
Save me from the sword;
spare my precious life from these dogs.
Snatch me from the lion’s jaws
and from the horns of these wild oxen (Proverbs 22:19-21).

Again, David didn’t hide his feelings; he told God that he was desperate for his presence.
I long to have my Savior whisper sweet words of encouragement to me again. I long for his presence to be real to me again. I long to see his hand working around me, taking over my circumstances. I beg him daily to mold me, to make me more like him, to use me any way he sees fit. I need my Savior more than ever before.

When is the last time you or I told God we needed him? When is the last time we begged him to be close? Perhaps he’s just waiting for us to recognize our need for him.

I will proclaim your name to my brothers and sisters.]
I will praise you among your assembled people.
Praise the Lord, all you who fear him!
Honor him, all you descendants of Jacob!
Show him reverence, all you descendants of Israel! (Proverbs 22:22-23).

David clearly makes it a point to praise God and to share his goodness with those around him. However, I find it difficult to talk about God when I feel distant. It’s hard to talk about God when you feel spiritually dry, when you are living on the fumes from distant promises. It is difficult to pour out praises from my heart when I feel abandoned by him.

And yet, I’ve had several conversations recently with old friends. As we talked about our pasts, about how God has worked in our lives, I felt an intimacy with God. I walked away with a joy and brightness in my heart that has seemed gone for months.
There’s something about talking about God that just draws us closer to him. It renews our heart, our passion. It gives us a reason to praise.

I don’t know where you are in your walk with God right now. I pray that you are experiencing a deeper intimacy with each and every day. But, perhaps you are struggling right now. Perhaps, like me, the days seem dreary and gray. Keep pushing forward. Keep seeking him. Keep sharing your heart with him. Keep sharing his love with others. Let praises form on your lips.

The gray skies will soon fade into a glorious morning, and God will reveal his amazing purpose for this time.

Dena Johnson is a busy single mom of three kids who loves God passionately. She delights in taking the everyday events of life, finding God in them, and impressing them on her children as they sit at home or walk along the way (Deuteronomy 6:7). Her greatest desire is to be a channel of God’s comfort and encouragement. You can read more of Dena’s experiences with her Great I AM on her blog Dena's Devos.

Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

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AMEN Bob!

He gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might He increases strength. Isaiah 40:29 NKJV

Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. Phillipians 2:4 NKJV


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Advent Day 18 - A Waiting People

We've seen how Abraham and Joseph were compelled to wait on God, but today we turn to their descendants.

The people of Israel were miraculously delivered from slavery in Egypt, led across the Red Sea by the mighty hand of Moses - and then they waited. A journey that normally would have taken only a few weeks stretched to 40 years as they wandered rather aimlessly through the desert.

The book of Exodus frequently gives us indications of what this time of vigil was like: "The people grumbled against Moses, 'We are disgusted with this wretched food... Why did you lead us out into this desert to die? Were there not graves enough in Egypt?'" (Exodus 16:2-3) They were hardly models of patience.

Eventually, though, once their grumbling ceased and they developed a firm trust in God, their sojourn ended and they were welcomed to the Promised Land.

In the spiritual life, we often yearn to advance deeper in prayer or wisdom. Yet it's only when we cease grumbling about our shortcomings and difficulties that God answers our waiting with his presence.




Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

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DISAPPOINTMENT
By Bill Sytsma, Wednesday, December 17, 2014 12:00 AM

Scripture Reading: Luke 2:33-35
“A sword will pierce your own soul too.”
—Luke 2:35

Some people embrace an overly sweetened version of Christianity that suggests we will always be happy, never face conflict, and have a blissful existence because we believe in Jesus. I cringe when I hear someone say that if we have enough faith, we will never be sick, poor, or face struggles in life.

We can understand the appeal of such a message. The Old Testament prophets often looked forward to a time when justice would reign, harvests would be bountiful, and the poor would have plenty. God’s promises include the hope of an enduring joy that is free from sorrow and pain.

But the fulfillment of God’s plan does not come without pain. Even in the joyful time when Mary and Joseph were adjusting to parenthood, Simeon said there would be sorrow. His words foreshadowed the way of the cross that Jesus came to take up for us, to pay the price of our sin so that we could be saved.

We will experience disappointments as we strive to follow Christ in this world, and the sadness of those hardships should not be minimized. We don’t believe in a fantasy.

We do, however, believe that the promises of God will ultimately be fulfilled in Jesus Christ. We cling to Christ with the hope that his triumph will one day overwhelm the depth of the sadness we endure today.

Prayer:

Lord, comfort us with your presence in times of trial, and hasten the day when the Father’s promises will all be fulfilled. Come, Lord Jesus—come quickly! Amen.

Bill Sytsma



Let Go and Let God!

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Some People have a Job....

Some people have a JOB, others involve themselves in a MINISTRY. What's the difference?

If you are doing it just because no one else will, it's a JOB.

If you are doing it to serve the Lord, it's a MINISTRY.

If you quit because somebody criticized you, it was a JOB.

If you keep on serving, it's a MINISTRY.

If you'll do it only as long as it does not interfere with your other activities, it's a JOB.

If you are committed to staying with it even when it means letting go of other things, its a MINISTRY.

If you quit because no one praised you or thanked you, it was a JOB.

If you stay with it even though nobody recognizes your efforts, its a MINISTRY.

It's hard to get excited about a JOB.

It's almost impossible not to be excited about a MINISTRY.

Where do we fit in?

What about us?

If God calls you to a MINISTRY, don't treat it like a JOB.

If you have a JOB, give it up and find a MINISTRY.

God does not want us feeling stuck with a JOB, but excited and faithful to Him in a MINISTRY!

I believe we have man folks here who are serving a MINISTRY to us on SparkPeople!

Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

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A word from the Word

December 17 - - His name shall be Jesus

Luke 1:31 And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS.

In the Old Testament the name of God was considered to be so holy that they would not speak it or write it. For 1500 years, from Moses to Jesus, the name of GOD was never spoken throughout Ancient Israel except on Yom Kippur by the High Priest when he was alone in the innermost part of the Holy Temple.

When spoken it was referred to as "A-don-ai," meaning "Lord." When written a space was left open where the name was to be placed. Even today when a Jewish person writes the name of God the vowel is left out and is written "G-d"

I recall when I was a young boy I was taught that the name of Jesus was so holy that when it was spoken I was to bow my head. Nothing has changed the name of Jesus is still that holy.

Jesus, name above all names
Beautiful Savior, glorious Lord.
Emmanuel, God is with us,
Blessed Redeemer, Living Word.

Pray for our Churches. If revival is going to come it will come through the believer. Pray for a powerful anointing of the Holy Spirit upon our pastoral leadership.


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December 17, 2014 DO GOOD WORKS

It’s a busy time of year where we should be focusing on the birth of Jesus and giving to others but, if we are honest, we are focusing too much on ourselves. We are running around getting things done for Christmas. We are thinking about what we need to do, new ways to do them and how tired we are. We are missing out on opportunities to help those who are really in need because we are too busy buying gifts for those who may not really need anything at all. Let’s look for opportunities today to do good works for those who are really in need.

1 Timothy 6:17-19 “Teach those who are rich in this world not to be proud and not to trust in their money, which is so unreliable. Their trust should be in God, who richly gives us all we need for our enjoyment. Tell them to use their money to do good. They should be rich in good works and generous to those in need, always being ready to share with others. By doing this they will be storing up their treasure as a good foundation for the future so that they may experience true life.” (NLT)

Dear Lord, help us to trust You with our money. Help us to give to You and to others who are really in need. Show us how we can use our money to do good. Show us how to be generous to those in need and be ready to share with others. Help us to store our treasures as a good foundation for the future so we can experience the true life You have for us. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Let’s look for opportunities today to do good works for those who are really in need.

If we want to know what we can do differently this season that will make a difference, we can begin with prayer.

God has a plan for us to give what we have to others. Ask Him today and He will tell you.

Do something small today that will help someone. It’s a great feeling to give what we have to others.

When we give generously without a grudging heart; we will be blessed and so will those who receive the gifts.

Deuteronomy 15:10 “Give generously to him and do so without a grudging heart; then because of this the Lord your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand to.” (NIV)

Focus: When we open our eyes to Jesus, He will show us many ways to help others.


Today is the best day to begin making changes for yourself and others both inside and out!

Want motivational cards you can leave behind and make a difference in the lives of others? You can order a free sample at: www.leaveabreadcrumb.com

Need inspiriation on how to be a better person on the inside and deal with issues in your life? Follow my blog at: www.francescopelandlucas.wordpress.c
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What amazing devotionals today. Thanks so much.

Darlene

I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills. From whence commeth my help? My help commeth from the Lord who made heaven and earth. flemidg

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I love the verse where He give His Disciples them the Love and Hope in Him.. John 14
Jesus Comforts the Disciples
1"Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. 2"In My Father's house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. 3"If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.
One day the Trumpet and then Awesome...

Foggy Mountain Breakdown youtu.be/mmU6wELS4sc

Orange Blossom Special
youtu.be/eCBdiutb-50

Mississippi Squirrel Revival
youtu.be/K16fG1sDagU
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Awesome Jill!!

He gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might He increases strength. Isaiah 40:29 NKJV

Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. Phillipians 2:4 NKJV


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In Touch with Dr. Charles Stanley Devotionals

Reflecting upon and applying biblical principles


December 16

Spending Our Inheritance

Ephesians 1:11-22

The word “inheritance” usually brings to mind the money and real estate handed down from one generation to another. But God has an even greater legacy to share with His children—one that they are given the moment they enter His family.

Galatians 4:7 tells us that believers are God’s heirs. First among our priceless treasures is a living hope in Jesus Christ that cannot be taken away (1 Peter 1:3). What’s more, He pledged to supply our needs according to His riches (Phil 4:19). In other words, we already have all that we need for an abundant and victorious life.

However, some folks get stuck in spiritual poverty because they refuse to view themselves as adopted children. Failing to tap into their inheritance, they’re like a man who sees himself as a poor, sinful creature: he wanders through this big angry world hoping to hold on to his meager scrap of faith until he’s lucky enough to die and go to heaven. Of course that man misses the blessings available in this life, because he’s not looking for them.

How differently people see themselves when they look through the eyes of Jesus. Christians who live like the beloved, empowered heirs that they are will lavishly spend their inheritance of grace to benefit everyone they meet.



God gives all believers a pledge of inheritance out of the unsurpassed riches of His infinite grace. We are spiritually rich citizens of heaven who have nothing to fear in this world. Choose to live boldly for Christ, and see how abundantly God pours out blessing from the legacy already set aside for you.

For more biblical teaching and resources from Dr. Charles Stanley, please visit
www.christianity.com/devotionals/in-
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Edited by: SURVIVOR61 at: 12/16/2014 (14:27)
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Thanks for sharing, Cathleen. We have to remember to slow down and wait because our lives happen on His time, not ours. God Bless You and your husband.

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Considering divore and ending a very unhappy 10 year marriage, the Lord said nothing more than "Wait on the Lord" Psalm 27:14 While the courts also made me wait 2 months after my separation and the official filing for divorce, the Father has worked on both my husband and me and we have become better partners who seem to miraculously apply all that's important to the other, changes we've asked of each other for 10 long years, changes which stranghtn each of us as persons and both of us as marriage partnes,

YES, Wait on the Lord, no matter how long it takes!



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Advent Day 17 - Joseph's Wait

Yesterday we explored how Abraham was compelled to wait for the promises of God to be fulfilled, and today we turn to his great-grandson, Joseph, the wearer of the multi-colored coat.

Joseph saw in a dream that he would be a powerful man and that his brothers would one day bow down to him in homage. But the realization of that dream came only after a long and terrible wait. He was sold into slavery by those very brothers, falsely accused of sexual misconduct, humiliated, and finally sent to prison for seven years.

Imagine what it must have been like to endure years in an ancient prison - the discomfort, the total lack of privacy, the terrible food in small amounts, sleeplessness, torture, and above all, hopelessness.

This is what Joseph had to wait through before his dream came true in a most unexpected way. We've seen already this Advent how waiting is an "active" discipline in the Christian life, but it can also be a difficult one.



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CATCHING THE VISION
By Bill Sytsma, Tuesday, December 16, 2014 12:00 AM

Scripture Reading: Luke 2:25-32
“My eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all nations.”
—Luke 2:30-31

Simeon was waiting for God to act. Then one day, when he saw the child Jesus in the temple, the Spirit of God moved him to recognize that through this child God would do everything he had promised.

Simeon showed amazing trust in God. I’m not sure that I would have been as easily satisfied as Simeon seemed to be on that day. The concerns he had been praying about were not instantly addressed. Israel was still occupied by Roman soldiers and officials. The religious leaders in Israel had political agendas and did not care for disadvantaged people the way they should. How could Simeon say he had seen salvation?

In the past, God had performed miracles that made drastic changes. He parted the waters of the sea, healed diseases, and even raised dead people back to life. When we pray for God to act, we are often looking for immediate change. We want to see noticeable results that cannot be denied. But on the day Simeon met Jesus in the temple, God did not immediately change things. Instead, the presence of Jesus changed Simeon.

The Holy Spirit opened Simeon’s eyes. A man who had been waiting for consolation was able to praise God for salvation because he witnessed the presence of the Almighty. The peace that comes from knowing that God is already present may be a greater gift than any changed situation.

Prayer:

Lord, open my eyes to see your salvation today, that I may be encouraged as I wait for your plans to be fulfilled. In Jesus, Amen.

Bill Sytsma




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We should be focussing on heavenly treasures instead of earthly one, as they say you can't take it with you. But we can take our heavenly treasures sort of as they will be there when we arrive. Thank you Jesus. And you too Frances for sharing your wisdom.

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December 16, 2014 STORING OUR TREASURES

Many of us have a place where we keep our special things. We have somewhere we put them to protect them. However, there is no place we can put our earthly treasures that will truly protect them. Eventually they will be gone. That is why we are to store our treasures in heaven where they will last forever. Those treasures can’t be stolen or destroyed and they will never fade away.

Matthew 6:19-21 “Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.” (NLT)

Dear Lord, we know we need to realize our earthly treasures are nothing compared to Your treasures. We know we need to stop focusing on and trying to store our treasures on earth. Help us, today, Lord, to work toward storing our treasures in Heaven. We want to know You better, read Your word and be obedient to You. We want our treasure to be what You want in our lives rather than what we want. Help us, Lord. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

It is too easy to get caught up in the things of the world and store our treasures on earth. That’s why we need our focus to be on God.

When we realize our treasures on earth will soon fade away, we can begin storing our treasures in Heaven.

God wants us to focus on Him rather than the things of the world.

The treasures we store in Heaven will never, ever fade away.

If we take small steps every day to read God’s word, pray and obey Him, we will become a disciplined disciple.

1 Corinthians 9:25 “All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize.” (NLT)

Focus: Storing our treasures in Heaven requires us to be obedient to God.


Today is the best day to begin making changes for yourself and others both inside and out!

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Yes, we owe everything we are and possess to our Lord. He gave all for us to have Life. Praise Jesus and thanks Herb.

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A word from the Word

November 16 - - His name shall be Jesus

Matthew 1:21 - And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.

The name Jesus means salvation. The word salvation means forgiveness but is also means provision.

1 Samuel 2:1 - - - My heart rejoiceth in the LORD, mine horn is exalted in the LORD: my mouth is enlarged over mine enemies; because I rejoice in thy salvation.

This shows salvation as providing for our needs – God provides for all our needs – not just food for the table but also the job we work the rent or house payment, the car we drive and even the clothes on our back.

Salvation is God delivering us from troubles, insuring our welfare, providing for all of our daily needs and victory over trials in our lives and don’t forget forgiveness of our sin and eternal life in Heaven

All of this is found in the name of Jesus our salvation.

Jesus paid it all, all to Him I owe;
Sin had left a crimson stain,
He washed it white as snow.

What do you think?

Pray for our Churches. If revival is going to come it will come through the believer. Pray that members of the congregation will convey a strong witness of the gospel to their community, through integrity, love, and godliness.


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Thank you for the plentiful devotional readings! I enjoyed every one of them. I am grateful you have shared with me. emoticon

Slow but steady wins the race!
Alice
northern Wisconsin.


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One Christmas Eve and a Flock of Geese

One wintry evening somewhere in the Northern Hemisphere, as the sun slowly set on the horizon, its last rays tinting the snowy scene, one small cottage nestled in the rolling hills. Its chimney sent up a steady stream of smoke, mingling with the descending snow-flakes.
Inside, by the lit hearth, sat a silver-haired woman, a Bible on her knee. It was Christmas Eve, and she read a passage about the first Christmas night. Intermittently she muttered,
“I don’t understand, Lord...” I don’t understand…”

And again she bent over the weathered pages.

Presently, laying down the holy book on a side table, stoking the fire, and adding another log, she leaned back into the leather chair and closed her eyes, her mind reconstructing the scene: a lonely stable in an Oriental prairie, a clear, cold night, a dignified man, a princely maiden, an ox and a donkey, and, in their midst, laying in a troth, lovingly filled with fresh hay, a babe who was God.

“Why, o, why did You, Lord, who are the Almighty, the Creator, infinitely above your creatures, become a man like us? Wasn’t there some other way?” the good soul now asked aloud, as she looked up at the crucifix above her fire place.

Just then a noisy racket jolted her from her revelry. Looking out the window, in the waning light, she saw a flock of geese just landed in the back yard. They were obviously off-course and quacked in confusion.

“Those geese!” she thought with alarm, “they will freeze!” Of course, geese don’t freeze easily, but she didn’t know it.

Running into her old garage, she opened the door and began waving them in. But the more she beckoned the more the frightened creatures distanced themselves from her.
Finally in frustration she exclaimed, “If only I was one of you, you foolish creatures, you would trust me, and I could save you!”

It had stopped snowing. Just then the leaden clouds parted, revealing a patch of azure sky and a bright star twinkling down on the snowy earth. The woman smiled up into the night,
“I get it, Lord, I get it…Thanks for becoming a man like us so you could convince us to come in from the cold …”


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In Touch with Dr. Charles Stanley Devotionals

Reflecting upon and applying biblical principles


December 15

Contagious Joy

1 John 1:1-4

Jesus calls us to be His “witnesses.” When some Christians hear this word, they worry that they need exceptional skill or charisma in order to share the good news with others. Yet to witness is not to merely speak of the “plan of salvation” to someone. The word literally means to see, hear, or know by personal presence and perception; to testify; bear witness to; give or afford evidence of. When John wrote that he was sharing what he had experienced first-hand, he was saying, “I am full of joy because of the experience of knowing Jesus, and I want to invite you to share in that joy!”

When you’re in love with someone, you are excited about the relationship and time spent together. Likewise, when you’re in love with Jesus, you can’t keep to yourself the joy that comes from knowing Him—it just spills over, bearing witness and strengthening other believers. In fact, as you give testimony of who God is and how He’s working in your life, it makes no difference whether you speak quietly or with great exuberance: in their spirit, Christians will pick up on the deep, genuine gladness in your heart that goes beyond natural happiness. And people who don’t yet know the Lord will find themselves hungering for the relationship you have. In that way, they will be drawn to His Spirit in you.



Witnessing is not a matter of eloquence or talent. It’s an overflow of the personal relationship with Jesus Christ that is conforming you to His image. As you allow the Holy Spirit to increasingly express His life and power through you, contagious joy will be “fruit” of His indwelling presence.


www.christianity.com/devotionals/in-
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Edited by: SURVIVOR61 at: 12/15/2014 (15:56)
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December 13/14

Conviction for the Believer

Romans 1:24-25, Psalms 23

Recently I spoke to a heartbroken woman. Her father was dying, and he was cold toward his family and God. He desired no contact and refused to discuss any spiritual matter.

But God is able to reach anyone—even someone hostile to the faith. Consider the apostle Paul’s conversion! Yet Scripture also teaches that the Lord eventually gives people over to the hardness of their own hearts. There may come a point when He no longer draws them by revealing their need for a Savior.

The situation is different for believers, though. When we, in our humanness, continue to sin, the Holy Spirit convicts us so we’ll get back on track. At that point, we can humbly repent and follow Him or ignore His voice and continue to sin. If we persist in error, our Father will keep calling us back. But the danger is that our hearts may become desensitized and eventually we may cease hearing His warning.

Thankfully, we are children of God, and He loves us too much to let us remain in a sinful pattern. Though chastisement and conviction are never pleasant, He knows our travelling down the wrong road results in much greater heartache. The Lord is a shepherd, using His staff and rod to lovingly bring us to green pastures.



On the Christian journey, there will be temptations to stray, falsely promising to satisfy longings. Stay closely connected to Jesus through prayer and Scripture. Be listening so you can obey immediately when He calls you to change course. In the long run, living God’s way brings the greatest joy.

For more biblical teaching and resources from Dr. Charles Stanley, please visit


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"Wait on the Lord;
Be of good courage,
And He shall strengthen your heart;
Wait I say, on the Lord!
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Advent Day 16 - Abraham's Expectation

From the beginning to end of Scripture we discover stories of people who are compelled to wait.

The patriarch Abraham received the promise that he would become, despite his old age, the father of a son and through that son the father of descendants more numerous than the stars in the night sky. But the fulfillment of that promise took a long time. Through many years, as he and his wife grew older and older, as the likelihood of their parenthood became increasingly remote, Abraham waited.

Did he doubt? Did he wonder whether he had misconstrued the divine promise? Did he waver in his faith? Did he endure the taunts of his enemies and the pitying glances of his friends? Probably. But he waited, and in time the promise came true.

The season of Advent reminds us that God sometimes completes his will only after a long period of time. So, like Abraham, we wait.




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WAITING FOR SOMETHING BETTER
By Bill Sytsma, Monday, December 15, 2014 12:00 AM

Scripture Reading: Luke 2:22-26
There was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was on him.
—Luke 2:25

Traffic jams can bring out the worst in people. Some of us drive more aggressively when traffic gets heavy because we don’t want to be bothered by extra time on the road. Some of us vent our frustrations by honking our horns when people don’t drive the way we would like them to. Sometimes we become so irritated by the stress of driving that we snap at the people riding with us. We feel powerless to make our situation better. We usually just have to wait it out.

Simeon knew that he lived in a sin-stained world. The people of Israel were oppressed by Roman occupation, and Simeon longed to see the arrival of the Messiah, the promised deliverer who would change things. Simeon realized he was powerlessness to change the situation, so he was waiting for God to act. Simeon showed that he believed and trusted in the promises of God.

It is humbling to be in a position of waiting. When we realize we cannot correct all the problems that human sin has brought into our world, we can become frustrated and impatient. Faith in God’s promises offers a glimpse of hope that can help sustain us as we are forced to wait.

In what situations have you had to wait for something better? What have you learned in the process?

Prayer:

Lord God, be patient with us when we become frustrated and irritated by situations in our lives. Give us patience to wait for your good timing. Amen.

Bill Sytsma



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Finding the Holiday's inner Peace, Joy and Happiness

The days before Christmas can be very frustrating. The stores are crowded, the traffic is hectic, and the special gifts for family and friends can be hard to find. Gifts need to be wrapped, the cookies to be baked, cards to be sent, and the Christmas tree to be decorated. With these things to do before Christmas, where can one find the time for reflecting on the meaning of the holiday? Where will one find the holiday's inner peace, joy and happiness?

As a child my father gave me very good advice when he said to me, "Son, keep things simple in life" and "take time to reflect on the meaning of those things important to your life." For me, as I take time to reflect during the days before Christmas each year I find inner peace, joy and happiness by listening to holiday music, eating holiday cookies, lighting candles and reading again about the story of the birth of Jesus.

In music and in the written word, Jesus' birth is sung and read as a lowly birth in a stable in Bethlehem. It was humble shepherds in a field watching their flocks when angels announced a simple yet profound message to the shepherds. The angels proclaimed "For unto you is born this day, in the city of David, a Saviour which is Christ the Lord." It was wise men who observed a simple brilliant and sparkling star and followed this star to present their gifts to Jesus. Yes, thes are simple messages to the world and personally to me. In a simple way these messages of the angels, shepherds and wise men bring each year inner peace, joy and happiness to my life.

My prayer is for you to find time this holiday season to celebrate what brings you inner peace, joy and happiness.


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December 15, 2014 OTHER GODS

When our treasures are stored in the things of the world, it shows. People see us with things and hear us talk about everything in the world but rarely hear us talk about God. If our words are all about the things of the world rather than Jesus’ resurrection and God’s love, how are we going to be a godly example to others? When we talk mainly about the things of the world, it would appear we serve other gods rather than our Holy God.

1 Samuel 7:3 “Then Samuel said to all the people of Israel, ‘If you want to return to the Lord with all your hearts, get rid of your foreign gods and your images of Ashtoreth. Turn your hearts to the Lord and obey him alone; then he will rescue you from the Philistines.’” (NLT)

Dear Lord, help us to be a godly example to others today. We want to turn away from the things of the world. We want to stop focusing on the things of the world. We want to quit talking about the things of the world. We want to only serve and honor You. Help us to turn from the things of the world and worship You. We want to be a godly example to others and stop acting as if we are serving other gods rather than You.

We need to ask ourselves if our words and actions are showing we truly put God first in our lives.

If our actions are all about the things of the world, how are we going to lead others to Jesus?

When the things of the world consume us, others will not see Jesus in us.

If our words are all about the things of the world, how are we going to tell others about Jesus?

It is a commandment from God that we should not have any other god but Him.

Exodus 20:3 “You must not have any other god but me.” (NLT)

Focus: Think about who or what you truly serve today. If it isn’t God, turn from those worldly things and begin serving Him.


Today is the best day to begin making changes for yourself and others both inside and out!

Want motivational cards you can leave behind and make a difference in the lives of others? You can order a free sample at: www.leaveabreadcrumb.com

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A word from the Word

December 15 - - The Christmas Gift that was not received

John 1:11 and 12 “He came unto His own, and His own received Him not. But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name.”.

“But as many as received Him to them gave He power to become the sons of God”. The gift is there today waiting to be received. Jesus was the gift and is the gift that was given on that first Christmas morning. It’s not hard to receive a gift all a person need do is to reach out and take it.

There are many that believe in Jesus. Believe that He is the Son of God. Even believe that He died on the cross for their sins. There is a big difference in believing and receiving. Believing is head knowledge receiving is heart knowledge. To receive all a person need do is to open up their heart and allow Jesus the gift of Christmas to enter in.

Romans 10:9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. 10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

Your gift is ready to be received.

Merry Christmas

Pray for our Churches. If revival is going to come it will come through the believer. Pray for members of the congregation battling physical illness or emotional struggles, or facing spiritual needs. Ask God to minister to them in miraculous ways.


My name is Herbert but they call me Herb
I live in Louisville Kentucky the home of KFC. I think this may be why I am on SP now. LOL ---- Follow me on facebook @ https://www.facebook.com/herbert.augustine
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https://www.facebook.com/herbert.aug
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Thanks for sharing.

Darlene

I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills. From whence commeth my help? My help commeth from the Lord who made heaven and earth. flemidg

Co-Leader God's Amazing Grace Team
Co-Leader God Answers Prayer Team
Co-Leader Shining for Jesus Team


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