How It Began…

Remember1

 

 

PrayerHolyFamily1

 

 

Daily Prayer for December 30
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Christoph Friedrich Blumhardt
And Mary said: “My soul praises the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me – holy is his name.” Luke 1:46–49, NIV

O Lord God, in exultation our hearts go out to you and your revelation of heaven, your revelation of the

Spirit, who can fill our hearts so that we remain steadfast throughout our earthly life. It is still dark on earth. Sin and death hold sway, but we stand unafraid and seek repentance. In spite of all our failures we look to you and know you are our Savior. You send us Jesus Christ in your own glory. The world will be filled with light. Everywhere on earth, even among those who do not know you, the sincere-hearted will come to acknowledge that you, the Father of Jesus Christ and our Father, are God over all the world. You will show your glory to all people so that they may come to you, worship you, and walk in the light, to the everlasting glory of your name. Amen.

 

 

The Sixth Day of Christmas – Feast of the Holy Family

Holy Family by Goya

The Feast of the Holy Family is dedicated to the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, commemorating their life together in Nazareth and calling us to focus on Catholic family life.

The feast is celebrated on the first Sunday after Christmas, unless Christmas falls on a Sunday, in which case it is celebrated on December 30. According to The Fisheaters this feast is placed where it is on the calendar “(B)ecause in Old Testament Law, a child wasn’t a son of Abraham or a true part of the family until his circumcision at 8 days of age, an event of Christ’s life that we celebrated on 1 January (from 25 December to 1 January are 8 days).” The feast was placed on the general calendar of the Roman Rite on October 26, 1921, by the Congregation of Rites under Pope Benedict XV.

The Church presents the Holy Family to us as a model for our own family life. Joseph was the head of the Holy Family and provided for Mary and Jesus with the work of his hands. He was obedient to the angel who told him to take Mary as his wife, what to name the new child and again when told to flee with them to Egypt. He taught Jesus the carpentry trade and what it was to be a man in the society in which they lived.

Mary took care of her family in the home. It was she who would have taught Jesus the Scriptures and prayers of their people when he was very young. It was through her example of managing the home that Jesus would formulate many of the examples he would later use in his teaching. Jesus saw work sanctified through the example of his earthly parents, who did all things well in the ordinary circumstances of daily life.

The feast was placed on the general calendar of the Roman Rite on October 26, 1921, by the Congregation of Rites under Pope Benedict XV.

 

 

Homily for Sunday after Christmas: Holy Family

First Reading
Genesis 15:1-6; 21:1-3

The word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision, saying: “Fear not, Abram! I am your shield; I will make your reward very great.” But Abram said, “O Lord God, what good will your gifts be, if I keep on being childless and have as my heir the steward of my house, Eliezer?” Abram continued, “See, you have given me no offspring, and so one of my servants will be my heir.” Then the word of the Lord came to him: “No, that one shall not be your heir; your own issue shall be your heir.” The Lord took Abram outside and said, “Look up at the sky and count the stars, if you can. Just so, ” he added, “shall your descendants be.” Abram put his faith in the Lord, who credited it to him as an act of righteousness. The Lord took note of Sarah as he had said he would; he did for her as he had promised. Sarah became pregnant and bore Abraham a son in his old age, at the set time that God had stated. Abraham gave the name Isaac to this son of his whom Sarah bore him.

Second Reading
Hebrews 11:8, 11-12, 17-19

Brothers and sisters: By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance; he went out, not knowing where he was to go. By faith he received power to generate, even though he was past the normal age—and Sarah herself was sterile—for he thought that the one who had made the promise was trustworthy. So it was that there came forth from one man, himself as good as dead, descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sands on the seashore. By faith Abraham, when put to the test, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was ready to offer his only son, of whom it was said, “Through Isaac descendants shall bear your name.” He reasoned that God was able to raise even from the dead, and he received Isaac back as a symbol.

Gospel Cycle Cycle B
Luke 2:22-40

When the days were completed for their purification according to the law of Moses, They took him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord, just as it is written in the law of the Lord, Every male that opens the womb shall be consecrated to the Lord, and to offer the sacrifice of a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons, in accordance with the dictate in the law of the Lord. Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon. This man was righteous and devout, awaiting the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he should not see death before he had seen the Christ of the Lord. He came in the Spirit into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus to perform the custom of the law in regard to him, he took him into his arms and blessed God, saying: “Now, Master, you may let your servant go in peace, according to your word, for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you prepared in sight of all the peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and glory for your people Israel.” The child’s father and mother were amazed at what was said about him; and Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted—and you yourself a sword will pierce—so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.” There was also a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years, having lived seven years with her husband after her marriage, and then as a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple, but worshiped night and day with fasting and prayer. And coming forward at that very time, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were awaiting the redemption of Jerusalem. When they had fulfilled all the prescriptions of the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favor of God was upon him.

The readings that are used today are optional in the new collection of readings for the Roman Catholic Mass of the Feast of the Holy Family. But they are strong and they can touch on many aspects of the life of the Holy Family and our own lives.

The first reading, from the Books of Genesis, speaks bout the desire of Abram (Abraham) and Sarah to have a child. This is normal desire of a young couple and here we see it as a deep and almost anguished desire of an ancient couple. There are lots of reasons and prominent among those reasons is the desire to see one’s own family continue in one’s own children. This old couple had not given up their desire but had realized that it was impossible in their old age.

At a spiritual level, this should remind us all that if we have good desires, we should hold on to them, even when they seem impossible. Good desires do not necessarily mean desires that are so spiritual that anyone would agree with them! The desire of this old couple was, at one level, a purely natural desire—not so spiritual. We have to be careful not to think of our good natural desires as somehow less than spiritual.

We can hope until our dying breath for the good things of this world. Sarah and Abraham also desired to be faithful to God in the midst of these normal human and good desires. This is an “incarnate” spirituality—that is, a way of seeking God within our human condition.

None of us can escape being human. The desert monks used to joke about the young monks who wanted to come and be angels: grab them by the foot and pull them back to earth! And there are many other stories of that type in the early monastic literature.

The second reading, from the letter to the Hebrews, continues to reflect on Sarah and Abraham: God can accomplish his promises even when at a natural level they seem impossible.

This should help us understand and accept God’s promise to us in our Baptism that He will save us and redeem us. For many of us, who try to serve the Lord year after year and who strive to do God’s will, our lives still look so broken and impossible. But we must trust that God is at work. Our task is not to strive to create ourselves in what we think is God’s image, but to place ourselves in the hands of the Living God each day and simply strive to do what we can. When we fail, we ask pardon; when we sin, we ask forgiveness; when life seems okay, we give thanks.

The Gospel is about the Presentation of Christ in the Temple, one of the events in the life of the Child Jesus. It teaches us again about waiting for God’s promises to be fulfilled and trusting that somehow God will transform us if we strive to the best of our ability each day to live in His love.

Simeon, the old man, also points out that true love will involve suffering. Mary is there with her infant child and Simeon points out that this child will bring suffering and pain to her heart. This is true for anyone who tries to love. Every mother and father experiences suffering and pain in the lives of their children. Everyone who loves another person experiences suffering and pain in the commitment of love.

Let us pray today for a deepening of our relationships of love and commitment to others. Let us pray that we may accept the sufferings and pains of loving. Let us ask God to bring healing and peace to our world through the commitment of love.

 

 

Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening Devotional
Ecclesiastes 7:8

12/30/AM

“Better is the end of a thing than the beginning thereof.”
Ec 7:8

Look at David’s Lord and Master; see His beginning. He was despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. Would you see the end? He sits at His Father’s right hand, expecting until His enemies be made his footstool. “As He is, so are we also in this world.” You must bear the cross, or you shall never wear the crown; you must wade through the mire, or you shall never walk the golden pavement. Cheer up, then, poor Christian. “Better is the end of a thing than the beginning thereof.” See that creeping worm, how contemptible its appearance! It is the beginning of a thing. Mark that insect with gorgeous wings, playing in the sunbeams, sipping at the flower bells, full of happiness and life; that is the end thereof. That caterpillar is yourself, until you are wrapped up in the chrysalis of death; but when Christ shall appear you shall be like Him, for you shall see Him as He is. Be content to be like Him, a worm and no man, that like Him you may be satisfied when you wake up in His likeness. That rough-looking diamond is put upon the wheel of the lapidary. He cuts it on all sides. It loses much—much that seemed costly to itself. The king is crowned; the diadem is put upon the monarch’s head with trumpet’s joyful sound. A glittering ray flashes from that coronet, and it beams from that very diamond which was just now so sorely vexed by the lapidary. You may venture to compare yourself to such a diamond, for you are one of God’s people; and this is the time of the cutting process. Let faith and patience have their perfect work, for in the day when the crown shall be set upon the head of the King, Eternal, Immortal, Invisible, one ray of glory shall stream from you. “They shall be Mine,” saith the Lord, “in the day when I make up My jewels.” “Better is the end of a thing than the beginning thereof.”

 

 

Sacred Christmas

SUNDAY, DECEMBER 30
The Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph

The Presence of God

“Be still, and know that I am God!” Lord, may your spirit guide me to seek your loving presence more and more for it is there I find rest and refreshment from this busy world.

Freedom

By God’s grace I was born to live in freedom, free to enjoy the pleasures he created for me. Dear Lord, grant that I may live as you intended, with complete confidence in your loving care.

Consciousness

How am I today?
Where am I with God? With others?
Do I have something to be grateful for? Then I give thanks.
Is there something I am sorry for? Then I ask forgiveness.

The Word

God speaks to each of us individually. I need to listen, to hear what he is saying to me. Read the text a few times; then listen.

Luke 2:41–52
Now every year his parents went to Jerusalem for the festival of the Passover. And when he was twelve years old, they went up as usual for the festival. When the festival was ended and they started to return, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but his parents did not know it. Assuming that he was in the group of travelers, they went a day’s journey. Then they started to look for him among their relatives and friends. When they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem to search for him. After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers. When his parents saw him they were astonished; and his mother said to him, “Child, why have you treated us like this? Look, your father and I have been searching for you in great anxiety.” He said to them, “Why were you searching for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” But they did not understand what he said to them. Then he went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them. His mother treasured all these things in her heart. And Jesus increased in wisdom and in years, and in divine and human favor.
  • “In my Father’s house.” Do I believe that the Father’s house may be found within myself? If I do, I can perhaps open myself to an even greater wonder: “Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them” (John 14:23).
  • Let me take in this scene slowly. Jesus is coming of age, entering his teens, and is an eager student questioning his teachers. To his mother’s query—“your father and I”—he points gently to another paternity: “I must be in my Father’s house.” No Gospel scene shows more clearly the gradual process by which he grew into a sense of his mission. Let me savor it.

Conversation

How has God’s word moved me? Has it left me cold?
Has it consoled me or moved me to act in a new way?
I imagine Jesus standing or sitting beside me.
I turn and share my feelings with him.

Conclusion

I thank God for these moments we have spent together and for any insights I have been given concerning the text.

Christmas Action

►  Learn more about today’s Gospel reading with the Sunday Connection.
►  Read a reflection on The Holy Family by Tim Muldoon.
►  Pray with the 3-Minute Retreat: The Heart of It All.
The Word of Their Testimony
 The courtroom is silent as the witness takes the stand. He is sworn to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth! What will the witness say? Will he be a useless witness, one who is afraid to speak what he has seen and heard? Will he be a faithful witness? Or will his testimony change to please the expectations of those around? This is important because someone’s life hangs in the balance, and it will be determined based upon word of this man’s testimony!

The apostle John was exiled to “the isle that is called Patmos, for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ. Revelation 1:9. For over sixty years he had been a faithful witness concerning Jesus Christ. He wrote, “For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;” I John 1:2. The word of John’s testimony was the gospel of Christ that he preached. It was “the truth” that Jesus said, “shall make you free.” John 8:32. If John stood faithful as a witness, then even more people would be delivered from the bondage of sin and Satan. If he gave false testimony, then “truth would be fallen in the streets” and “justice would stand afar off,” Isaiah 59:14 therefore the people would look for judgment and salvation, but find none. Isaiah 59:11.

The saints of God are his witnesses in this present world. God said, “Fear ye not, neither be afraid: have not I told thee from that time, and have declared it? ye are even my witnesses. Is there a God beside me? yea, there is no God; I know not any.” Isaiah 44:8. Jesus spoke to those gathered the day of his ascension, saying, “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” Acts 1:8. Jesus empowered and sent these “witnesses” to give “the word of their testimony” before all nations, peoples and tongues.

The “word of their testimony” is the gospel of Christ they preached everywhere they went. It is how they overcame the dragon, Satan. Revelation 12:11. This “testimony of Jesus Christ” Revelation 12:17 was in fact the great “weapon of their warfare” II Corinthians 10:4 that God gave to the church. Everywhere this “testimony” was given, the chains of sin and oppression were broken because when “the truth” is lifted up, justice and equity enter.Isaiah 59:14.

God’s witnesses always hold “the testimony of Jesus Christ.” Revelation 19:10. It can be no other way. Many call themselves “God’s witnesses,” but they do not and cannot bring you the testimony of “the Lord from Heaven” I Corinthians 15:47, Jesus Christ, who was “made in the likeness of men” Philippians 2:6 in order to shed blood that could destroy Satan and wash every sin from your heart and nature. Revelation 1:5. If the “heart, soul, and body” of their “testimony” is not “Jesus (the) Christ, and him crucified,” I Corinthians 2:2 they ARE NOT God’s witnesses!

God himself was the first to give “testimony” of Jesus Christ. In fact, John says, the person who does not believe the truth, makes God to be a liar “because he believeth not the record (testimony) that God gave of his Son.” I John 5:10. God told us Christ is “the seed of the woman” who would bruise the head of the serpent. Genesis 3:15. He would be born of a virgin, and his name would be called “Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 7:14, 9:6. Christ would be “wounded for our transgressions,” Isaiah 53:5 and he would “make an end of sins, make reconciliation for iniquity, and bring in everlasting righteousness.” Daniel 9:24. When this “seed of the woman” was conceived in a virgin, God even sent an angel to say “thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.” Matthew 1:21. This is the testimony God gave!

There are two promises of a great working of God shorty before the second coming of Jesus Christ. Both are so “the testimony of Jesus Christ” will be heard in all the earth. The first is found in the words of Jesus concerning the end. He said, “And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come. “ Matthew 24:14. I believe this has hardly even begun in our generation. The modern church has been highly successful in convincing multitudes around the world that Jesus came to give you earthly wealth, or, to take you to heaven in your sinfulness. Both of these messages are “false witnesses” of Christ. The “false prophet” has given his testimony. Revelation 13:11. Soon it will be time for God to give his witness; and he will give it in all the world!

God gave another promise. He said, “And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth. These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth.” Revelation 11:3-4. This promise is very similar to what Jesus told those gathered the day of his ascension. He said, “…ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me…” Acts 1:8. I do not believe these “two witnesses” are literally two men. Let me explain.

The Revelation John saw gives us pictures or “imagery” to express greater truth.  Jesus is a portrayed as “a lamb …having seven horns and seven eyes.” Revelation 5:6. Satan is portrayed as a “red dragon” Revelation 12:3, and the “false prophet” is portrayed as a beast that “had two horns like a lamb, and he spake as a dragon. .” Revelation 13:11. There are seven great kingdoms that either have, or shall, rule upon earth, which are portrayed as heads on a scarlet colored beast. Revelation 17:10. Even the church, “the bride, the Lamb’s wife,” is portrayed as a city built of precious stones. Revelation 21:9.

The “two witnesses” is also imagery portraying those who carry the gospel of Christ. God has always required “two or three witnesses” for any testimony to be established as truth. II Corinthians 13:1. God’s “two witnesses” are those who in any generation give the“testimony of Jesus Christ” in truth. On the day of Pentecost, the one hundred and twenty were his “two witnesses,” as was also the church at Antioch. Paul and Barnabas were certainly God’s “two witnesses,” but when they left a city it was often filled with many of God’s “two witnesses.” I believe the promise to “give power unto my two witnesses” is a promise of a great outpouring of the Holy Ghost upon those who carry“the testimony of Jesus Christ.” This great outpouring of God’s Spirit will come so that“the testimony of Jesus Christ” will be given in all the earth. This testimony will be accompanied by a great harvest of souls. Satan will not be able to do anything unto these faithful witnesses until “they shall have finished their testimony!” Revelation 11:7.

Verse of the Day

Inspirational illustration of John 16:33

Thoughts on Today’s Verse…

This world is a place of struggle. Yes, we can live above the struggle for awhile. We can find a way to simply ignore or re-label the struggle for a time. But in the end, the struggle will find us. But in the midst of struggle, we can remind ourselves that our victory is secure. Jesus has won! We will share in his great triumph. In case you didn’t know, the final outcome is already determined and Christians “win big” through Jesus. And this victory is a forever win!

My Prayer…

Thank you, God, for giving me the victory through Jesus Christ my Lord. I greet the future with anticipation because I know each day brings me closer to you and the glorious future you have planned for all of your children. Until then, I pray that I may never lose sight of that victory and yearn for the day of its arrival! In the name of Jesus, the triumphant Rider on the white horse, I pray. Amen.

 

 

 

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Daily Dig for December 30

Alfred Delp

How many of us, in our good-hearted way, have ridden past the stable on the high horse of our opinions and convictions, leaving the Child behind, not realizing he was there? How many of us have stood up for what we believed, even in defiance, but were not awake to the fact that we were riding past a miracle – the miracle of life and love?

Source: When the Time Was Fulfilled

 

 

God spoke through an ass ( donkey ) once to one of His prophets and then an argument started between them. I believe the prophet missed something important. Read the message today to learn more.

Arguing with an Ass

Yahweh opened the mouth of the donkey, and she said to Balaam, ‘What have I done to you, that you have struck me these three times?’ Balaam said to the donkey, ‘Because you have mocked me, I wish there were a sword in my hand, for now I would have killed you.’ The donkey said to Balaam, ‘Am I not your donkey, on which you have ridden all your life long until today? Was I ever in the habit of doing so to you?’ He said, ‘No.’ Numbers 22:28 WEB

Balaam was riding his donkey down the road one day when it suddenly sat down under him and would not get back up. Balaam became angry and started to beat it with his staff, then the donkey started talking to him. That was when their disagreement started, and Balaam found himself arguing with an ass. He overlooked the fact that it was an intelligent donkey, very articulate, and that it was trying to save his life.

We have all had people in our lives that have suddenly became very annoying for an unknown reason. The Lord sometimes uses the strangest people, or apparently even animals to speak to us. These will get under your skin and reveal the real you that you try and hide, but it comes out with a little coaxing, or prodding.

Don’t start arguing with an ass today. Don’t let them incite you. It is quite possible that God is using this to show you what is really inside of you. It is always something in you that causes you to become upset, not them. You have a trigger and they simply found the switch. When you resist the temptation to flare up, it will become easier. Just like sandpaper, the ass is there to help polish you up and knock off those rough edges.

Prayer: Heavenly Father help me deal with the things in my life. Cleanse me from the bad attitudes and help me control my emotions. Make me stable and secure in who I am in You. Help me see the big picture and know that this tiny incident is nothing to be upset about, in the name of Jesus Christ I pray.

Bible Fun Fact: God was a whistler (Isaiah 5:26 and 7:18).

 

 

 ‘Extravagant Gifts’

Note from Jesus

Dear Friend,

Can you remember your Christmas gifts from last year? … five years ago? … ten years ago? You probably don’t remember most of your gifts over the years, unless you thought they were extravagant gifts or were gifts with some special connection to the giver.

There were three gifts — gold, frankincense, and myrrh — that were given to Me at My birth by the magi. These gifts have been remembered throughout the centuries. They were extravagant gifts — because of their value, because of the great effort required for the magi to bring them, and because they were presented with heartfelt worship.

Toward the end of My earthly ministry, I was given another extravagant gift to prepare Me for My suffering — a woman came into the house of Simon and anointed My head with expensive and precious ointment. She was criticized for the waste of her extravagance. But her gift was not wasted! Her gift is still precious to Me.

The gifts of the magi and the woman are responses to God’s most extravagant gift — sending Me to redeem them!

Verses to Live

The magi’s extravagant gifts were given at My birth:

The wise men left Herod’s chambers and went on their way. The star they had first seen in the East reappeared — a miracle that, of course, overjoyed and enraptured the wise men. The star led them to the house where Jesus lay; and as soon as the wise men arrived, they saw Him with His mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped Him. They unpacked their satchels and gave Jesus gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
(Matthew 2:9-11)

The woman’s extravagant gift was given at the end of My ministry, preparing Me for My burial:

The Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread were two days away. The Jewish leaders — the chief priests and the scribes — gathered to discuss how they might secretly arrest Jesus and kill Him.

Jewish Leaders:

We can’t do it during the festivals. It might create an uproar.

While Jesus was eating dinner in Bethany at the house of Simon the leper, a woman came into the house carrying an alabaster flask filled with a precious, sweet-smelling ointment made from spikenard. She came to Jesus, broke the jar, and gently poured out the perfume onto His head.

Some of those around the table were troubled by this and grumbled to each other.

Dinner Guests:

Why did she waste this precious ointment? We could have sold this ointment for almost a year’s wages, and the money could have gone to the poor!

Their private concerns turned to public criticism against her.

Jesus:

Leave her alone. Why are you attacking her? She has done a good thing. The poor will always be with you, and you can show kindness to them whenever you want. But I won’t always be with you. She has done what she could for Me — she has come to anoint My body and prepare it for burial. Believe Me when I tell you that this act of hers will be told in her honor as long as there are people who tell the good news.

 (Mark 14:1-9)

All true giving should be in response to God’s gracious gifts — especially His greatest gift — given to you!

Praise God for this incredible, unbelievable, indescribable gift.
 (2 Corinthians 9:15)

Response in Prayer

Thank You God for Your extravagant gift of Jesus. May my life reflect Your generosity in the way I treat others and share the gifts You have shared with me. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

 

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Christmas Eve…

Pray9

 Daily Advent Prayer:

SUNDAY

Celebrating Christmas

Return to Praying Advent

“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, 
and the Lord God will give him 
the throne of David his father, 
and he will rule
over the house of Jacob forever, 
and of his kingdom
there will be no end.”

But Mary said to the angel, 
“How can this be, 
since I have no relations with a man?” 
And the angel said to her in reply, 
“The Holy Spirit will come upon you, 
and the power of the Most High 
will overshadow you. 
Therefore the child to be born 
will be called holy, 
the Son of God. 

And behold, Elizabeth, your relative, 
has also conceived a son in her old age, 
and this is the sixth month 
for her who was called barren; 
for nothing will be impossible for God.” 

Mary said, 
“Behold, I am the handmaid 
of the Lord. 
May it be done to me 
according to your word.” 
Then the angel departed from her.   Lk 1, 28-38

 

TODAY’S DAILY PRAYER

a brown pineconeBut the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord”…Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.” Luke 2:10–11, 13–14, NIV

Lord God, our Father in heaven, you have sent us the Savior, who was born to bring great joy to all people. Glorify your name, we pray. Give the world the peace you alone can give, the peace that wells up in our hearts. Let your favor rest on us so that we may hold out under our sufferings on earth. We need your loving help to remain inwardly steadfast until everyone can be reached by the message, “Be strong in the grace of Jesus Christ.” Amen.

 

 

Verse of the Day

Inspirational illustration of Luke 2:10

Thoughts on Today’s Verse…

Don’t be afraid! What can cast away all fear in the presence of God’s glorious messengers? The joy of knowing that God has come to earth to bring an end to sin and Satan’s curse and to bring salvation to all people! Fear must not master our hearts when we know that God has broken through every barrier to reach us with his overwhelming grace.

My Prayer…

I praise you, Almighty God, for the gift of joy that chases away all fear. Fill my heart with that joy and fill my mind with wonder as I try to comprehend your love for me. Stir me to greater concern for those who have not heard, or who have not yet accepted, your offer of grace in your Son Jesus, in whose name I pray. Amen.

 

 

BIBLE STUDY BUDDY

Image result for Romans 6:1-14.

I’m A Present!

A few days before Christmas, the 3-year-old daughter of Pastor Jeff Callender was caught up in the excitement of gifts and giving. He writes, ”One morning she was picking up, examining, shaking, and guessing what was inside every package. Then, in a burst of inspiration, she picked up a big red bow that had fallen off one present and held it on the top of her head. She looked up at me with twinkling eyes and beamed a smile as she said, ‘Look at me, Daddy! I’m a present!”’

Every child of God should say that to the heavenly Father. In view of all He has done for us, we are to offer ourselves to Him freely, including our bodies. Doing that, we will ”put to death the deeds of the body” (Rom. 8:13). And we will present ourselves to the Lord as a living sacrifice (Rom. 12:1). Those who truly surrender their all to the Lord can say with Paul, ”Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death” (Phil. 1:20).

Christmas is the time when we commemorate God’s greatest gift to mankind- His Son Jesus Christ. As we contemplate the love that prompted such giving, may our response be one of yielding our lives to Him for His glory.

Let’s echo the words of that little girl, ”Look at me, Father! I’m a present!”

 

Light of God's Love ecard, online card

 

 

One Thing God Wants You to Remember at Christmas
Sharon Jaynes

Today’s Truth

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

Friend to Friend

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

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

1 Corinthians 13 Christmas Style

©By Sharon Jaynes

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

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

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

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

Love stops the cooking to hug the child.

Love sets aside the decorating to kiss the husband.

Love is kind, though harried and tired.

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

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

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

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

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

Let’s Pray

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

In Jesus’ Name,

Amen.

Now It’s Your Turn

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

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

 

December 23/24

Christmas Memories

Luke 2:1-20

The first Christmas I remember was when I was three years old. My aunts and uncles came to visit, and when they opened the trunk of the car, I discovered that it was full of presents–and all of them were for me! I’m sure you, too, can recall memories from past Christmases, whether good or bad. There’s just something about that day that sticks in our minds.

You can be sure that all of the people who experienced the first Christmasnever forgot it. Joseph remembered the weight of responsibility on his shoulders as he cared for Mary during their journey and searched for a place where she could give birth. And we can imagine that the shepherds often replayed in their minds the scene of glorious angels and the sight of the newborn Messiah. But Scripture mentions only one who “treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart” (v. 19). Mary had carried this baby in her womb for nine months, but now she saw what no one else had ever seen–the face of God!

What was it like to see deity displayed in the body of a newborn baby? Though we can never see what Mary saw, we can each remember when we first recognized our Savior–the moment we realized He died for us.

This Christmas, take time to remember when you first met Jesus. What was going on in your life? How did you feel after accepting His offer of forgiveness? How has your life changed since that day? Now imagine what it will be like when you finally see Him face to face in heaven.

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

Used with permission from In Touch Ministries, Inc. (c) 2016 All Rights Reserved.
Devotionals Daily: A Year with Jesus

From Hope for Each Day: Morning and Evening Devotionsby Billy Graham

A Healing Word

“I have called you friends.”

—John 15:15

Christ came into a world that had problems much like the ones we grapple with today. Life was short, disease was rampant, nations chafed under the heel of Roman rule, slavery was universal. Widows, orphans, the disabled, and the chronically ill had no social safety net to see them through the rough times.

To those people without the joy of living, Jesus said, “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly” (John 10:10). To those who bore sin’s burden of guilt, He said, “Be of good cheer; your sins are forgiven you” (Matthew 9:2).

To the friendless He said, “No longer do I call you servants . . . but I have called you friends” (John 15:15). Jesus had a healing word for everyone.

On the surface the world has changed radically since that first Christmas. But deep inside, our problems are the same—for they are problems of the heart. And Christ still comes to us to cleanse our guilt, give us hope for the future, and heal our hurts with His love.

©Hope for Each Day 2002, 2012 by Billy Graham

 

 

Studying God’s Word

Come, O house of Jacob, let us walk in the light of the Lord. – >Isaiah 2:5

When I receive a letter from a close friend I usually find myself doing two things: first, I read the letter with interest–hanging on every word; and second, I read the letter a second and in some cases a third time–hoping each time to gain insight or catch something I might have missed previously.

Who wants to be closer to us than God? The same should be true with regard to God’s Word, and by reading that message intently and repeatedly, we can get to know Him truly and more accurately.

In Psalm 119, David likens Scripture to a lamp for our feet and a light for our path. You need to keep God’s Word close by and read it often. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself walking in darkness. And if that happens, you’re sure to stumble and fall.

Remember, God’s Word, the Bible, is a series of letters from your closest friend. Read them closely. Read them often. And after you read it once, read it again!

“You can’t have a light without a dark to stick it in.” – Arlo Guthrie (1947-    )

 

The Daily Word of Hope Devotional

Bible Fun Fact: The spies that Moses sent into Canaan returned with grapes, figs, and pomegranates (Num 13:23).

The Runaway

Moses answered, But, behold, they will not believe me, nor listen to my voice; for they will say, ‘Yahweh has not appeared to you.’ Yahweh said to him, ‘What is that in your hand?’ He said, ‘A rod.’ He said, ‘Throw it on the ground.’ He threw it on the ground, and it became a snake; and Moses ran away from it. Exodus 4:1 WEB

Moses had a staff that he carried around with him. It was nothing special at the beginning, but after a meeting with God, the staff transformed into an object of power. At the same time that it grew in power, it also grew into something scary, and Moses ran away from it.

After Moses ran away, the Lord calmed him down, called him back, and taught him how to handle it properly. Moses then took the staff and set out to free his people from slavery. This time he knew how to handle it, and it was no longer a thing of fear to him.

Sometimes the Lord will take something that you already have, and turn it into something powerful, but at the same time it gets scary. The risks, the responsibilities, and the pressure can make you want to run away from it, but only staying with it will cause the victory will come. The Lord rarely takes you around an obstacle, He will take you straight through the middle of it.

If there is something in your life today that you want to run away from, be sure to pray about it first. God was able to tell Moses what to do, and He will tell you as well. If He does not answer, then it must not be important, but sincerely give Him the chance to. Don’t run away from what could be your calling without first asking His advice about it. Do not let fear rob you of what could be.

Prayer: Heavenly Father I look to You today and ask for clear guidance in my life. I want Your will to be done and to have a closer relationship with You. Calm my fears as You did with Moses and teach me what I need to know, in the name of Jesus Christ I pray.

 

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He Became Poor

For your sake he became poor. 
2 Corinthians 8:9

The Lord Jesus Christ was eternally rich, glorious, and exalted; but “though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor.” As the wealthy believer cannot be true in his fellowship with his poor brethren unless from his wealth he ministers to their needs, so (the same rule holding with the head as between the members) it is impossible that our Divine Lord could have had fellowship with us unless He had given to us from His own abounding wealth and had become poor so as to make us rich.

If He had remained upon His throne of glory, and we had continued in the ruins of the Fall without receiving His salvation, fellowship would have been impossible on both sides. Our position by the Fall, apart from the covenant of grace, made it as impossible for fallen man to communicate with God as it is for Satan to be in communion with Christ. In order, therefore, that communion might be enjoyed, it was necessary for the rich relative to bestow his estate upon his poor relatives, for the righteous Savior to give to His sinning brethren from His own perfection, and for we, the poor and guilty, to receive of His fullness grace for grace, so that in giving and receiving, the One might descend from the heights, and the other ascend from the depths, and in this way be able to embrace each other in true and hearty fellowship.

Poverty must be enriched by Him in whom are infinite treasures before it can begin to commune; and guilt must lose itself in imputed and imparted righteousness before the soul can walk in fellowship with purity. Jesus must clothe His people in His own garments or He cannot admit them into His palace of glory; and He must wash them in His own blood or else they will be too defiled for the embrace of His fellowship.

Believer, herein is love! For your sake the Lord Jesus “became poor” that He might lift you up into communion with Himself.

 

The High Places
TGIF Today God Is First Volume 1 by Os Hillman
December 24, 2017

“Blessed are you, O Israel! Who is like you, a people saved by the Lord? He is your shield and helper and your glorious sword. Your enemies will cower before you, and you will trample down their high places.” – Deuteronomy 33:29

One of the most successful movies of our time has been Star Wars, a futuristic movie where the forces of good battle the forces of evil in a far-off galactic solar system. In order for the forces of good to win their battle, they must enter the airspace of their enemies and find the central power source inside the enemy space station. Their fighter jets must locate this central nervous system and fire a laser missile into its heart in order to destroy the power source. The final scene shows the hero sending a last-minute laser missile into the power source and blowing up the space station and all the evil characters who live on it.

Throughout history, cultures have recognized idols on the high places, on the tops of hills or mountains, as their power sources. God said these high places are an abomination to Him. When God brought the people of Israel into the Promised Land, He instructed them to destroy all the high places. Many times through history, God had to judge Israel for their failure to destroy the high places.

Today, every major cult or evil spirit has its own high place that must be destroyed first before a righteous foundation can be laid. It may not mean you can physically destroy this high place, but you can tear it down through spiritual warfare and intercessory prayer.

High places are anything that is elevated above God and is worshiped. Are there any high places that take the place of God in your life? Are there any high places where you live that must be dealt with through spiritual warfare to allow the Kingdom of God to reign? You must destroy the high places in order for God to reign completely. Ask God to show you the high places so that you can elevate the one true God.

 

 

Passion for Praise: ‘He Has Set His People Free’

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Then Zachariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied, “Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel; he came and set his people free.”

Restore1
How long will this take?
Dont Dare1
This Christmas Season, I am praying for restoration…….of my crippled relationship with Duane……He doesn’t yet truly realize how hurt I have been and he goes about his daily life as if everything is normal……..he hasn’t even once defended ME……
Darling, I love you, but I don’t think this is enough anymore……
Merry Christmas……
Image result for Christmas Eve

 

New Beginning…

Pray6

TODAY’S DAILY PRAYER

a holly twig with three red berriesSince you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come on the whole world to test the inhabitants of the earth. I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown. Revelation 3:10–11, NIV

Lord our God, strengthen our hearts today through your Word. You are our Father and we are your children, and we want to trust you in every aspect of our lives. Protect us on all our ways, and grant that we may always watch and wait for the coming of your kingdom, for the future of our Lord Jesus Christ. Keep us from becoming confused by present-day events. Help us to remain free, that we may serve you and not be led astray, no matter what happens in the world. Grant us your Holy Spirit in everything, for without your Spirit we can do nothing. Help us, and accept our praise for the many ways you have given us help. Amen.

Daily Dig

Reflections for Advent and Christmas

yellow straw starIf we want Advent to transform us – our homes and hearts, and even nations – then the great question for us is whether we will come out of the convulsions of our time with this determination: Yes, arise! It is time to awaken from sleep. A waking up must begin somewhere. It is time to put things back where God intended them. It is time for each of us to go to work – certain that the Lord will come – to set our life in God’s order wherever we can. Where God’s word is heard, he will not cheat us of the truth; where our life rebels he will reprimand it.

 

 

Verse of the Day

Inspirational illustration of Romans 1:16

Thoughts on Today’s Verse…

Are you ashamed? Culture tries to make us ashamed about our faith, portraying people of faith as stupid, insensitive, judgmental, and hypocritical. Are you ashamed? Are you willing to share your faith humbly and gently with those who do not know Jesus as their Lord? Are you ashamed? Your hero left heaven to come to earth and risk everything so that you could come home to heaven with him. This Gospel is powerful. This Gospel is transformational. This Gospel, and the salvation it brings, are for all people. So let’s not be ashamed; let’s be joyous and generous with this incredible gift that we have received.

My Prayer…

Father in heaven, please give me wisdom, sensitivity, and courage to share your wonderful story of grace with those around me who do not know Jesus as their Lord and Savior. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

 

BIBLE STUDY BUDDY

Read Jeremiah 17:5-11.

This is what the Lord says: ”Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who draws strength from mere flesh and whose heart turns away from the Lord. 6. That person will be like a bush in the wastelands; they will not see prosperity when it comes. They will dwell in the parched places of the desert, in a salt land where no one lives. 7. ”But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. 8. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.” 9. The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? 10. ”I the Lord search the heart and examine the mind, to reward each person according to their conduct, according to what their deeds deserve.” 11. Like a partridge that hatches eggs it did not lay are those who gain riches by unjust means. When their lives are half gone, their riches will desert them, and in the end they will prove to be fools.

Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary
Jeremiah 17:11

v5-11 He who puts confidence in man, shall be like the heath in a desert, a naked tree, a sorry shrub, the product of barren ground, useless and worthless. Those who trust to their own righteousness and strength, and think they can do without Christ, make flesh their arm, and their souls cannot prosper in graces or comforts. Those who make God their Hope, shall flourish like a tree always green, whose leaf does not wither. They shall be fixed in peace and satisfaction of mind; they shall not be anxious in a year of drought. Those who make God their Hope, have enough in him to make up the want of all creature-comforts. They shall not cease from yielding fruit in holiness and good works. The heart, the conscience of man, in his corrupt and fallen state, is deceitful above all things. It calls evil good, and good evil; and cries peace to those to whom it does not belong. Herein the heart is desperately wicked; it is deadly, it is desperate. The case is bad indeed, if the conscience, which should set right the errors of other faculties, is a leader in the delusion. We cannot know our own hearts, nor what they will do in an hour of temptation. Who can understand his errors? Much less can we know the hearts of others, or depend upon them. He that believes God’s testimony in this matter, and learns to watch his own heart, will find this is a correct, though a sad picture, and learns many lessons to direct his conduct. But much in our own hearts and in the hearts of others, will remain unknown. Yet whatever wickedness there is in the heart, God sees it. Men may be imposed upon, but God cannot be deceived. He that gets riches, and not by right, though he may make them his hope, never shall have joy of them. This shows what vexation it is to a worldly man at death, that he must leave his riches behind; but though the wealth will not follow to another world, guilt will, and everlasting torment. The rich man takes pains to get an estate, and sits brooding upon it, but never has any satisfaction in it; by sinful courses it comes to nothing. Let us be wise in time; what we get, let us get it honestly; and what we have, use it charitably, that we may be wise for eternity.

No Regrets…

A thief overlooked a crucial detail in his plans for a getaway. According to police, the suspect approached an occupied car, pulled open the door, and tried to rob the driver. When the driver resisted, the thief ran to the other end of the parking lot where his car was parked. When the robber got there, though, he discovered a problem: His keys were locked in the car! Within minutes he was captured.

The prophet Jeremiah said that people who try to profit by doing wrong end up being fools (17:11). Their own actions rule out the possibility of an escape. They fail to see that the trouble with doing wrong is that it never turns out right. Jeremiah put it like this: ”I, the Lord, search the heart, I test the mind, even to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his doings” (v.10).

Why do we add foolishness to foolishness by thinking we can get away with wrongdoing? It makes so much more sense to trust in the Lord (v.7) and seek His mercy. To keep relying on ourselves only leads to the discovery of details we had overlooked in our attempt to escape undetected.

The best plan for our lives is to take God at His Word and always do what’s right. Only then will we have a life with no regrets.

 

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Prayer for When You’re Facing Battles
By James MacDonald

Sing to the Lord, for he has triumphed gloriously… – Exodus 15:1, ESV

Long before the cross, the Israelites who escaped the bondage of slavery witnessed one such victory. Imagine their joyful shouts when they looked back and saw the miraculously-parted Red Sea close over the Egyptian army in hot pursuit. “Sing to the Lord, for he has triumphed gloriously . . . ” (Exodus 15:1, ESV).

Some two-thousand years later, after what looked like a devastating defeat by the enemy, came the ultimate triumph: “He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay” (Matthew 28:6). Neither death nor the grave nor Satan’s plans stood a chance against the risen Savior!

Today, Jesus lives to further His victory through the lives of His followers. In fact, “we are more than conquerors through him who loved us” (Romans 8:37). In Christ, we aren’t just conquerors, we’re super conquerors—because God doesn’t just win, He crushes the enemy (Romans 16:20). That’s why you don’t want to take on this battle yourself. It is the reason the transaction at the cross was entirely out of our hands.

Jesus took on your debt, your sin, your condition, and defeated the condemning, eternal hold those things had on you. Because of His death and resurrection, all who trust in Christ for salvation are granted a place in the conquering band that will rejoice in His victory forever!

Consider your battles in light of this truth. Express your heart to the Lord and pour out your adoration. Every day we have the ultimate reason to celebrate.

Pray
Heavenly Father, I don’t usually feel much like a “super conqueror.” But the more I focus on what You have done, rather than worrying about what I have done or need to do, the more I sense the freedom to feel victorious. Thank You for being the decisive factor in every battle. I place the battles I’m facing today in Your mighty hands. Help me to keep trusting You, my Savior and King. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

 

Christmas Hope1

This is what I try to have….after all, this is the season of Hope and Love!  Jesus came and He surely conquered!!  Praise God!!!

 

There are1

 

Life Could Be1

 

Good Morning1

Sorry I have to be brief right now…..I’m losing my Internet soon for awhile and I’ll try to write more later!!

 

God bless you all!!!

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