Monday, December 31, 2012

Romans 22-23 “For I  delight in the law of God in my inmost self, but I see in my members another law at war with the law of my mind, making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members.”

This passage of Romans was written just for me, I am sure of it!  When I am in full conflict between my flesh and the Spirit I cannot imagine that anyone else could be so self-tortured as me.  I started this morning in Chapter 40 of Ezekiel where the tables and vestibules for sacrifices are described.  There are tables for the burnt offering and tables for the sin and guilt offering.  I am certain I would be at that temple every day if I were completely honest with myself.  As it described the pegs that go all around the table for the flesh to lay on I could only picture Jesus, the one sacrificial lamb for all, lying on that table.  He willingly sacrificed his life, a lamb led to slaughter, for my sins and guilt.  It is by this gift of life that I can continue to delight in the law of God without cowering in the corner or really getting blood on my hands.  As I seek escape from the torment I realize that true freedom is at my fingertips.  Nothing will free me but Christ and his Spirit.  As I step closer to releasing the old self and embracing the new, it is only in his Holy Grace that I can find the strength to do this.  He is my redeemer and my sustainer.  Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!

You know our hearts and yet you desire a deep and true relationship with us.  Thank you for sending your son to show us how to be in relationship with you.  Thank you for destroying the barrier through Jesus ultimate sacrifice.  As we seek freedom, help us find it in you.  Amen.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

1 Thessalonians 5:6 “So then let us not fall asleep as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober”

Winter is a season of waiting.  So many things are resting, sleeping and dormant during winter.  Animals burrow down and sleep deeply.  The trees, grass and flowers are all “dead” for the season.  We were just waiting for the Christ child to be born and now we wait for the story to continue in the wise men’s visit.  Waiting can be tiring in its own right.  It is tempting to rest and close our eyes, to lay back and take a nap while we wait.  This verse reminds us that we are to stay alert and ready.  Whether you are waiting for the story to continue, waiting on the Lord for direction or waiting for the Lord to come again, we are to wait in a state of readiness.  There is time to sit and be still, but even then we are not idle.  We listen with all our hearts and with deep intention.  Know and trust that in the midst of winter, far beneath the frozen cold ground, life is still unfolding.  The seeds that were planted by the wind or by hand are doing what they need to do, preparing to burst forth in the warmth of spring.  Wait with me.  While we wait let us stay awake, let us pray for each other and let us remember that life is unfolding even now.  Let’s be ready to take hold when it bursts forth.


Winter has just started but in you, life is eternal.  There is no death, only a time of waiting.  Help us stay awake, help us see you and do what you guide us to do each day while we wait.  May our words and our deeds give glory to you.  Amen.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Psalm 37::40 “The Lord helps them and rescues them; he rescues them from the wicked, and saves them, because they take refuge in him.”

Life is filled with choices.  As I raise my children I try to narrow the choices for them without taking choices away completely because they need to learn how to make wise choices.  I hear myself reminding them occasionally “make wise choices” when they are about to make a choice that is not so wise.  The parallel of my relationship as a parent to my children and God as a parent to me as his child is not lost on me.  As I look back on my life it is crystal clear to me how many times God stepped in and rescued me from mayhem when I finally called on him.  The excitement of stepping out of bounds as a youth, of bending the rules a bit always led to trouble I did not foresee.  Inevitably, after a bad choice, I ended up broken and battered, seeking refuge in my heavenly parent.  God is faithful to those who seek him.  What I am just beginning to realize is that He is faithful to us in whatever moments we seek him, knowing we will stray again.  I cannot imagine the freedom I will rejoice in when I shed this earthly body and begin to shine in true and holy righteousness when I am joined with the Almighty.  Until then, I take refuge in him, and he continues to rescue me and save me from myself.

It seems the battle of the wills never ends.  Please forgive me.  I cannot promise to never to it again, I know that would be a lie.  I do promise to seek you, to abide in you and to pray without ceasing as much as I possibly can with your help.  Each day is one day closer to glory beyond words.  Until then, help me be the person you created me to be.  Amen.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Luke 24:49 “And see, I am sending upon you what my Father promised; so stay here in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”

Scripture tells us the Holy Spirit is our guide and our comforter. This is the power from on high that Jesus instructed his disciples to wait for.  This Spirit calls us into action for the Lord and warns us to stay true to the straight and true path of God.   As we close out another year and get really to start a new one it is common to review our past and set goals for the future.  I don’t know what God has in store for me but I ponder it.  The path He has led me on is nothing I would have ever guessed and so I am in a time of waiting, just as these disciples were instructed to wait.  How often have I made plans that are, in hindsight, laughable?  I cannot count them!  I cannot count the times I have prayed for a map or a blueprint so I could just follow that.  I am learning, very slowly, to wait on the Lord.  I am learning, slipping and sliding, to hear and follow the guidance of the Spirit.  I trust that the power from on high will keep me from harm and will guide my steps, my actions and my words to bring glory to the Kingdom of God. 

You know waiting is hard for me.  I know you call me to wait.  Please send word to me soon and open my eyes and my heart to see the works you do in me every day.  I know you have plans for each of us, help us hear and follow those plans you have made.  I seek to serve you Lord.  Amen.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Galatians 6:2 “Bear one another’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”

I know there have been a few opportunities in the last weeks for me to hold a door for someone whose arms were full or carry a package or box for someone trying to balance so many things.  I see people helping elderly or disabled people across icy parking lots and supporting them as they walk on uneven ground.  Cooking meals for someone who is ill or taking their kids for a day so they can rest is a simple way to lift a burden from another person.  There are so many tangible ways to fulfill the law of Christ by bearing another’s burdens.  I have found that praying for them is as powerful as any tangible assistance I give.  The power of prayer not only changes the person I am praying for but it also changes me. Being in the presence of the Almighty is always renewing and healing and when I move out of prayers for others I feel burdens lifted from my heart as well.  I want to encourage all of us to reach out and ease the burdens of others.  Open the door for someone; help someone with their heavy bags of groceries.  Give some groceries to someone who does have any.  Most of all lift those you love and those you don’t love in prayer.  I will pray for you and I ask that you pray for me.  As we bear each other’s burdens, we abide in Christ’s love your neighbor as yourself.

You call us to look for the least of these and serve them.  Help us to see the burdens we can bear for others and encourage us to step forward in assistance.  Teach our hearts to pray for those we do not know as well as our neighbors and friends so that the power of your love is spread to all through prayer.  Amen. 

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Matthew 1:12 “And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road.”

The wise men that come from afar intrigue me.  They are men of mystery.  I have read a lot of conjecture about where these men came from and who they might have been but does it really matter?  We know they are foreigners who study the stars.  They have some understanding of scripture; they ask Herod “where is the child who has been born king of the Jews?”  Regardless of their beliefs, the desire and need to come and see this king draws them in.  They open themselves to the divine presence of God from wherever their journey brings them. Verse 11 says they knelt down and paid him homage.  They present precious gifts to a king who does not rule their nation.  These foreigners hear our Lord, the God of Israel, the God of all, speak to them in a dream and they listen.  Throughout the bible God uses dreams to guide and speak to people.  How does God speak to you?  Are you open to receive and hear the Divine?  We have come to the stable and seen the precious babe but what do we do now?  As the days of Christmas begin to fade away, let us remember the guidance of God never fades.  Seek him and when you find him, open your heart to hear what he will say to you.

Help us not only hear but truly listen to you.  You step into our lives and take our hands and hearts to lead us safely home, if only we would follow.  Close our ears to the voices of deception so we can clearly hear your true voice.  Thank you for guiding the wise men.  Thank you for guiding us.  Amen.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

1 Corinthians 13:13 “And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.”

This morning I sit in humble gratitude for the abundance of blessings I have in my life.  I am surrounded by a circle of family and friends that astound me.  I am surrounded by joy, peace, support and love.  I have the freedom to grow and challenge and question.  I have a warm home and I lack for nothing.  All these things are visible and tangible to me because of love.  Without love how would I view my family and friends?  What difference would my freedom make if I have no love?  This Divine Love that came to a manger in Bethlehem so many years ago changed our world forever.  Love came to dwell among us, to live with us and to draw us into a gentle embrace that never ends.  There are struggles and hardships in many homes and places today.  My heart lifts the love of God to those places, those homes and those hearts.  I simply hope in the love of God.  I have faith that He will spread his love throughout every land, every time and every space.  I hear his call to me and to others to know his love.   We are the bearers of this torch.  We, who hold his love in our hearts, are called to share his love.  Empty the anger, sadness, envy, selfishness from your heart and allow those spaces to be filled with Divine Love.  On this day of gifts, receive the greatest gift and then share it with others so we may all abide in Love.

Without love I know I am nothing.  Without love I cannot do anything.  Remove the seeds of apathy and mistrust.  Weed out selfishness and discontent so that I have more room for your love.  Help me be a torch bearer of love shining your light and life, your love for all to see.  Amen.

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Luke 2:6-7 “While they were there the time came for her to deliver her child.  And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.”

Are you all set for your “Hallmark” Christmas Eve and morning to unfold?  There is the beautifully decked tree bursting with beautifully wrapped presents underneath.  A scrumptious baked breakfast waiting and enticing the taste buds as the children kindly help each other and share in the excitement of each other’s gifts.   Is it more like this?  The needles of the tree lay strewn among the hastily wrapped presents that are then hastily torn open in a rush of chaos.  Breakfast is slightly burned because that family picture took longer than it should have.  The kids are now comparing what they got and who received the better gift or more gifts in the game of one-up-manship.  As Mary lay in the throes of child birth I am confident in saying she wasn’t feeling beautiful and pleasant.  As Joseph watched and helped in whatever way he could, I would guess he struggled to find the blessing in that moment.  Was there a shadow of doubt in their minds and in their prayers as they laid that sweet baby in a food trough?  In the middle of chaos and brokenness this precious gift from God was given.  However you experience Christmas this year, allow this precious gift from God to remain in the center of it.  This gift of love shines a most beautiful light on everything.

You came into this broken world to bring love and grace and you are still here, still giving to us.  Let your love and grace seep into every crack and crevice of our Christmas so that despite anything else, we are filled with the true gift of Christmas.  Amen.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Matthew 6:10 “Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven”

Do you ever get all tingly when you read a scripture passage or verse?  It doesn't always happen to me but this morning when I read this verse, I could feel it.  I woke up yesterday and today asking the Lord why my dreams were what they were.  What was I putting in front of Him?  As I began my quiet time it became clear that selfishness and pride had crept in like a virus.  Even when I am doing good deeds and serving to the betterment of His kingdom, there is a part of me that seeks reward or a pat on the back.  This verse brings me back to my knees and to the foot of the throne of God.  I come in humility seeking forgiveness and a new start again today.  As we celebrate Christmas this week, I remember that Jesus came to this earth so that I could come to the throne of God asking forgiveness.  Jesus came to teach us about His will and His kingdom so that we could reach toward the goal of heaven while here on this broken earth.  I am reminded once more that it all comes down to Love.  God loves us.  Love God and love our neighbors.  Love our enemies, love our brothers and sisters.  When we live in Love, we are living in His kingdom; His will is being done here on earth just as it is in heaven.

Forgive my focus on me and pull that pride out of me.  Refocus my eyes and my heart on you.  Guide me every step of the way so that I stay true to you in everything I do and say.  Let me be a servant of Your kingdom, not mine.  Help me see glimpses of heaven that are here on earth for I know they are right before my eyes.  Draw me in to worship the newborn King.  Amen.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Isaiah 6:8 “Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ’Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?’ and I said, ‘Here am I; send me!’”

I must admit when I read this passage I said a prayer of thanks that I am not called to prophecy.  I would be so much like Jonah, running away from my task, than like Isaiah who is jumping up and down raising his hand.  Can you picture it?  There is a group of kids and the teacher is trying to choose one student to do something.  There are kids sulking low hoping they don’t get chosen and there are some that can barely remain in their seats, bouncing on their bottoms while raising their hands as high as they possibly can.  They are eager and full of hope that they will get a chance to shine.  What if we came to this passage with that same eagerness and hope?  Just a few verses back, in verse 5, Isaiah laments that he is not worthy to gaze upon the Lord of hosts.  Yet he is cleansed and at that moment he is an eager and willing servant.  In just a few days we celebrate Christmas.  If we can muddle through all the wrapping paper and candy and get to the real meaning, it will be a holy day.  This is a perfect time to come to the Lord.  With eagerness and hope we can step into the stable and see the King of kings.  In that moment I want to whisper in his tiny ear “here am I, send me!”

You have given and given and... It never stops.  I take and take and do I ever give back?  Thank you for this passage of scripture today.  Thank you for the reminder that I am here to serve you above anything else.  Help me keep focused on you and keep my eyes, ears and heart open to your love.  As I hear you, give me the courage to leap up and say “here am I!”  It is for you that I live.  Amen.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Luke 2:8 “In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flocks by night.”

Shepherds sit in a field quietly watching the flocks of sheep, keeping them safe from harm.  The stars overhead would have been magnificent in such dark skies.  Did they notice a different star gleaming a little more brightly than the others? If they did I am sure it would have been dismissed or just enjoyed a little more.  The nights would have been pretty quiet most of the time.  Maybe they would hear the bleat of a sheep or the scuffle of a nearby animal but not much more than that. This quiet night was about to be rocked.  An angel, shining in the glory of God came and announced the birth of the Messiah!  He tells them where to find this sweet babe and then a “multitude of the heavenly hosts” join him in singing praises.  I know when I sit in darkness any light can seem pretty bright.  I cannot imagine how bright the glory of God shines but I bet the shepherds had to shield their eyes for a moment.  After the angels visit the shepherds leave their flocks of sheep to go see the Lamb.  As they gazed upon that tiny newborn did any of them imagine the life he would lead?  As we gaze in, do our hearts remember the sacrifice this babe, this little lamb, is making on our behalf?

When I celebrate your birth I don’t like to think about your death at the same time but I often do.  Those events are so tied together in the gift you brought to us.  You came for us.  You lived here for us and you died for us.  Speak to our hearts today so we step ever closer to giving back to you.  I want my songs of praise to tell others about you so they can find you and join in the songs of praise with me.  Amen.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

1 Corinthians 10:3-4 “and all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink...”

I have done a lot of baking in the last few days.  There are all kinds of cookies and sweets just begging to be eaten.  My family, my daughter especially, has a sweet tooth issue.  Not a day goes by without numerous requests for a sweet and now it is even worse.  I do my best to give healthy foods in greater portion and make sweets minimal.  I know I have eaten too many cookies in the last few days and my body makes sure to remind me.  When I eat well, I feel well and when I eat poorly, I feel poorly.  If my physical body is like this how much more is my spirit?  It is easy and yummy to eat only spiritual sweets but those tidbits will not help my spirit grow healthy or strong.  If I try to sustain my spirit on Sunday school and church with no other “meat and vegetables” prayer and study, I will fare poorly.  I need good spiritual food every day at least as much as I need good healthy food for my stomach every day.  What I ingest; what I take in and believe does change me.  It is those things I believe and “eat” that cause me to think and say certain things.  It is those things that cause me to act and do as I do.  Join me in the search for a little more protein and roughage to offset all the sweets.  The Lord will feed us; He will feed us well.

Help me remember my body is a temple unto you.  Let me live as an example in savoring the sweets as well as the healthy sustenance you provide.  Guide my heart and my mind in healthy eating habits so that I treat my body and my soul as they deserve to be treated.  Guide me into health and growth and let it be for your glory always.  Amen.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

John 10:10 “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.  I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”

In this country we know abundance.  I have heard stories of the amazement people from foreign countries experience when they see an American grocery store for the first time.  We have department stores, home improvement stores and specialty stores.  We have restaurants of every type on just about every corner.  The lists go on and on.  Oh, we do know abundance... or do we?  Does the thief use all these things to distract us from true abundance; from real life? The King of kings and Lord of lords came to us wrapped in swaddling cloth, lying in a food trough.  He was raised by a carpenter and his wife in a small village.  In his ministry he called his followers to leave everything behind and follow him.  Leave the possessions and things, bring what you have on your back and follow... yet he came to bring us an abundant life?  I know it is true for me and many others as well that things, possessions can distract me from the true life.  TV programs and the newest DVD are calling out to be watched.  Connecting with friends and others on social networks can pull us away from our family and real life journey.  Let’s take some time to look around us and within us and see if we live a truly abundant life or if we are trying to complete ourselves with stuff.  Do not let the thief come to steal, kill or destroy your life.  Come to the Lord and allow him to free you and give you abundance beyond imagination.

Thank you.  You are all I need and really, you give me so much more than I could imagine.  Help me see in truth and love so that I am not deceived to death.  Amen.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Matthew 1:21 “She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”

We don’t really know much about Joseph.  As I sat this morning I tried to imagine what this time was like for him.  He had established himself and was ready to take a wife.  Mary, a young maiden, would be his wife and they were both making preparations for that.  Then Joseph finds out she is with child so he decides to “dismiss her quietly” according to verse 19.  God steps in and sends an angel to speak to Joseph in a dream.  History is written as it is because Joseph listened to the message in the dream and followed the instruction he received.  How would our lives be different if we were as open to listening and following as Joseph?  Scripture says he was a righteous man.  He followed the laws given so long ago but he followed more than just the law.  His faith in God went deeper than going through the steps simply because it was the law.  He was open to listening and following through guidance not written in a book of rules.  I know I am on a path that I cannot see much beyond where I am.  Where am I being led, what is in store for me?  I would not be a bit surprised if Joseph was asking those very questions as he took Mary as his wife.  God is faithful.  Just as he guided Joseph and Mary, he guides us.  Do we hear him?  Do we listen and follow in trust, as Joseph did?

It is easy to follow when the path seems clear.  When you ask us to do something out of the ordinary we often balk.  Give us the courage we need to follow you even when we cannot see the path you lead us on.  Just as you guided Joseph and Mary, guide us too.  Open our hearts to the everlasting love you sent in the form of a babe, lying in manger.  Amen. 

Monday, December 17, 2012

Isaiah 61:10 “I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my whole being shall exult in my God; for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation, he has covered me with the robe of righteousness...”

Another day begins but what has changed?  I look around and within and I see broken hearts and weeping souls.  I see sickness and desolation everywhere.  This verse was not easy to begin with this morning.  It is not easy to greatly rejoice when my vision is filled with all this.  As I muddled through all that to try and bring my soul into rejoicing I realized I needed to release those visions to Him before my soul could truly sing.  When we get ready for a new day, we often cleanse our bodies, wash our hair and dress in clean clothes.  We wash away the dirt of yesterday and begin each day clean and fresh.  As I visualize that process I turn that picture to my soul.  God sent Jesus to be our salvation.  He came to this earth that we could receive cleansing and renewing for our souls.  When we receive his amazing gift of love, he clothes us in the garment of salvation.  There is not a spot of dirt on this garment.  It gleams with his love and purity.  We have been washed by his blood and cleansed by his redemption.  Nothing else in this world can touch that blessing.  I see this gift wrapped around my soul and I cannot help but praise and rejoice in God.  He reigns forever and ever.

Your light shines and never ends.  You sent Jesus to guide us and teach us and redeem us.  It is because of him and the gift he brought, that we are clothed in salvation.  As we step a little closer to the babe in Bethlehem, let our hearts sing in praise and rejoicing at the gifts of hope, peace, joy and love that you sent to us through Him.  Amen.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Psalm 112:4 “They rise in the darkness as a light for the upright; they are gracious, merciful, and righteous.”

With all that is in the news and all that goes on in this world today, it is easy to see the darkness.  If we are not careful the darkness can overtake us just as it is attempting to overtake the world.  This battle between darkness and light has been going on since the beginning of time and will continue until the end of time as we know it.  We all play a role in it; we all take part in it.  In the color spectrum there are shades that blend between each color, bleeding from one to another.  In this darkness there is no gray area.  It is like standing in a shadow or standing in the sun.  There is a distinct line and whether you consciously choose where you stand or not you are either in darkness or you are in light.  When there seems to be darkness all around it is hard, sometimes, to keep searching for the light.  Search, and keep searching for the light is true and it is here.  In the midst of darkness people who bring love and healing, care and prayers, nurture and rebuilding are all agents of light.  We can be God’s light in this dark world.  Allow God to fill your heart with his love today.  When you are glowing with love, go out into your world and be gracious, merciful and righteous.  All this will dispel any darkness that lurks.  Be an agent of His divine love and light!

Give us what we need to seek your light.  Do not let the darkness take over even one more of your children.  Help us be the light and love that brings people to you and draws people away from darkness.  You sent your Son to bring light to the world.  Help us spread that light and love everywhere to your glory.  Amen.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Philippians 4:6-7 “Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your mind in Christ Jesus.”

Violence and tragedy hit us and we are wounded.  Acts of war against innocent people happen and we cannot understand it.  When horror becomes real to us, how do we move past it?  I can barely allow myself to even think about it lest it overwhelm me completely.  I came to God this morning with verse seven already on my heart.  There, in verse six, it tells us how we begin to move forward.  Whatever we feel, wherever we are emotionally and spiritually He calls us to bring our requests to him in thanksgiving.  I can bring my anger and hurt, my lack of understanding to him.  I can even bring it to Him in thanksgiving because I am truly thankful that He will receive what I have.  He already knows our hearts and when we bring all that to Him we can begin to receive His peace that surpasses all understanding.  This peace guards our hearts and our minds in Christ, according to His word.  As I attempt to grapple with my emotions, I long for His peace to heal.  I urge you to bring it all to the Lord.  Thank Him for receiving it and give it all to Him.  When we receive his peace, we are able to share it with others and we can begin to spread peace instead of strife.  “Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me...”

Thank you for listening to us, whatever we have to say.  Heal the broken hearts that weep in mourning this day.  Let your peace and love prevail in us and in the world.  Amen.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Hebrews 4:1 “Therefore, while the promise of entering his rest is still open, let us take care that none of you should seem to have failed to reach it.”

Oh, how I wanted to stay in bed this morning.  I was trying to compromise with God as I lay there telling him all the things I had to do today and asking why I couldn't just have my meditation right there.  I saw a picture in my mind then: a lady weighed down with gifts, her hands were full with no room for anything else.  The Lord offered a morsel of food to her but she couldn't figure out how to take it with all those bags.  Then she realized she needed to set down all those things and accept the free gift given to her by the Lord.  You better believe that got my fanny out of bed in a hurry.  How much more indignant can I be?  Each day I come before the Lord and He is faithful in meeting me where I am.  He gives me food from the His word.  Of course He does not stop there.  If we are willing to set aside our burdens, our distractions and our selfish pride, He will fill us with His love, peace, rest... He will fill us with what we truly need.  Take a few minutes this morning and join me in setting down all those things we carry that weigh us down.  Release those things and open your hands as I open mine so we can receive life and love, grace and mercy, wonder and awe.

Thank you for your faithfulness.  I am so ashamed that I put all those things at a higher priority than you and I am so grateful for the nudge to remind me of what is truly important.  Help us all feel and see those nudges that keep us on the path to entering in your rest.  Amen.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Matthew 5:8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.” 

I began my quiet time this morning asking for cleansing.  I need cleansing in my body to rid it of the toxins, I asked for cleansing of my mind and my soul of all the things that are darkness, even those I have forgotten about or do not recognize.  I know this prayer is likely to stir up dirt and muck but I want to be rid of it.  When I came to the time where I seek His word I was led to this verse.  At first I thought I must have heard wrong.  I had a different passage in mind when I was led to this text.  As I sat in meditation again it didn't take long to see how this verse tied in with my prayer.  It is moments like this one, where the presence and guidance of God are glaringly apparent to me that I can claim without hesitation, God is Emmanuel.  He came to us as a babe so that we could learn the true nature of the Almighty and he has never left since.  I know I see glimpses of him just like I did this morning in my quiet time.  When I look back at my path over the last few years, His presence and guidance are obvious.  The impurities in me will not cease to exist in this lifetime so I know I will not see God in all truth and glory yet.  I will continue to seek purity and to seek God in the meantime.  Will you join me?

I thank you with all that I am and all that I have been given.  To realize once again that you are Emmanuel is humbling indeed.  You come seeking us.  You come to redeem and rescue us.  I am humbled.  I am yours.  I offer my days, my nights, and my life to you.  Help me see you more clearly each day until the day I stand at your throne in glory.  Amen.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Isaiah 60:3 “Nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn.”

I love this time of year.  I love the lighted trees and the music and the spirit of love that spreads, truly, throughout nations.  Gifts will be given to loved ones in just a couple of weeks, all in the spirit of love and giving.  Santa Claus, an icon in so many parts of the world, will visit homes everywhere leaving presents for girls and boys, all in the spirit of giving and love.  Presents are being flown to the far reaches of the world to bring love and joy to children everywhere.  Long ago, a star shone and Magi, or kings, men of importance and knowledge came from another part of the world.  They came to the light, seeing the brightness shining in the sky and knowing this was something worth seeing.  They brought gifts and so as we busily shop and wrap, let us also bring something to honor this gift of heaven.  We were created in His light and through our journey in this life we are called to follow His light.  Whether our path is easy cruising on a smooth paved road, stumbling along in a barren desert or in a forest so thick with trees we struggle to even see the sky, we can come to his light.  Look deep within your soul; it is our souls that will find the true light.  He sent Jesus to be among us so that His redeeming light could shine for the entire world to see.  Trust and know that he brings the brightness of his dawn for all nations; he brings it for you and me.

Sometimes your light seems to be so far away and then I remember to search with my heart and not my eyes.  Help me set aside differences and division and open my arms to embrace in love and light.  Use me to share your light with others so that all nations, all people will come.  Amen.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Luke 1:41-42 “When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leaped in her womb.  And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and exclaimed with a loud cry, ‘Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.”

What I wouldn't give to sit at the kitchen table in Elizabeth’s home and have a cup of coffee with these ladies.  Can you imagine the stories they could tell?  Elizabeth was beyond child bearing age when an angel came and told her and her husband that they were going to have a baby.  Mary who was still a virgin was visited by the very same angel!  He tells her that she will bear a son and he will be the Son of God.  If you are a woman you know that once they received their angelic visit they never stopped thinking and wondering and questioning how this could and would be.  When Mary comes to visit Elizabeth, John leaps in Elizabeth’s womb!  It seems that he already knows to proclaim this child.  Having a baby is a time filled with anticipation.  Sometimes it seems it has been forever since the baby started growing inside the womb and sometimes, as the birth grows closer, the parents are wondering if they are ready for this to happen.  I can only imagine the wonder and anticipation Elizabeth and Mary had compared to those of us with babies announced by doctors rather than angels of the Lord.  Now we all wait in anticipation.  We wait for the angels to sing.  We wait for a cry in the wilderness.  We wait for the Lord.

Waiting is hard for us, just look at my kids.  They can barely contain themselves.  You call us to wait and so we try.  Thank you for your words that tell us the story.  We do not wait without knowing what; we only wait not knowing when.  O come, O come Emmanuel.  Amen.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Psalm 37:23-24 “Our steps are made firm by the Lord, when he delights in our way; though we stumble, we shall not fall headlong, for the Lord holds us by the hand.”

My little boy loves to run.  He has so much energy and zest for life, it seems he just has to get wherever he is going in a hurry.  When he gets in too big a hurry, running faster than he can really manage, he stumbles and falls.  Then, of course, he comes running to me for comfort and kisses.  When I read this passage I almost laughed.  How long will it take for me to learn not to run faster than I can really manage?  I have learned to hold the hand of the Lord most of the time and I know he has kept me from falling headlong more times than I can count.  Yet, the temptation to run ahead is still there.  As we move forward closer to the stable on Christmas night, I am tempted to let go and run as fast as I can to see the newborn king.  Am I ready?  Am I truly prepared to receive the king of my heart?  These verses gently remind me to stay the course.  Keep my steps firmly guided by the Lord on my journey to Bethlehem.  God is delighted that I want to go; that I am headed in that direction but I need to hold his hand lest I get ahead of myself again.  Will you join me in the journey, step by step, to see the small babe wrapped in swaddling cloth and lying in a manger?  Hold my hand; hold His hand and we can walk there together.

I want to delight you.  I want to make you beam with pride in the steps I take.  Thank you for the reminder that I need to hold your hand every step of the way.  It is you that keeps me from falling and I thank you and praise you for this blessed assurance.  Prepare my heart as I journey with you to the stable in Bethlehem once again.  Amen.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Isaiah 58:11 “The Lord will guide you continually, and satisfy your needs in parched places, and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters never fail.”

There is a lot of talk about water right now.  Where I live we saw snow on November 10th and then not again until the trace amount last night, in mid-December.  People are talking once more about a drought.  We see the lack of water in our part of the world but do we see the lack of living water in our souls?  We get so busy looking outward; do we take the time to look inward as well?  Our souls cry out for the living water to quench our thirst so much more than our grass and trees cry out for their water.  As I sit on this bitter cold morning reading this verse it is like a breath of spring to my heart.  It brings hope to my soul.  It soothes me, bringing God’s love and peace to me once again.  He has never failed me and I know without doubt that He will continue to guide me and satisfy my needs.  His word and His guidance make me strong in faith; in my bones.  It is through all this that I am refreshed like a watered garden.  I can almost hear the rushing of the waters; His living water flowing through me in a never ending spring.  In the midst of this cold and wintery day, I have spring, Oh, joy and praise to my God!

Thank you for the incredible blessings that you have given me today.  Help me bring your refreshing, living water to others so that they may also receive the renewing spring of your living water in them.  In the midst of drought, you bring abundance.  You give us everything we could ever need.  Lord God, you are so gracious!  Thank you!  Amen.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Ephesians 5:8 “For once you were darkness, but now in the Lord you are light.  Live as children of light”

Each day is getting a little bit shorter.  The sun rises later in the morning and sets earlier in the evening. We are quickly coming upon the shortest day of the year.  The earth goes through cycles of light and darkness, so do we.  We all have seasons in our lives filled with light and seasons where we are stumbling in darkness.  During this season of Advent, we are called to prepare ourselves to receive the Christ child once again.  I have written about God’s light many times in the past.  Do I have anything new to say? The message is not new; it has been announced for thousands of years now. Tomorrow morning it is my turn to teach Sunday school to the young elementary kids and we are learning about John the Baptist.  John came to prepare the way for the Lord.  It was his task to announce the blessed gift of salvation that God, in His mercy, was sending.  Jesus came all those years ago “to give light to those who sit in darkness... to guide our feet into the way of peace.” (Luke 1:79) This is the light Paul is talking about here.  Take a moment with me this morning and picture the Christ child, lying in the manger with radiance beaming from his holy face.  As we come closer to the celebration of his birth, let us search our hearts for darkness that lurks and allow the Spirit to renew and refine us.  When we come to the holy night of Christmas, may we be a reflection of his radiant light throughout the world.

Through your Holy Spirit, we have been given the gift of Light and Love.  Help us shine your light and announce it to the world around us until no one lives in darkness anymore.  Amen.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Colossians 3:18-19 “Wives, be subject to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.  Husbands, love your wives and never treat them harshly.”

I was led to these verses at 2:00 in the morning and even then I knew I was in for trouble.  Other translations use the word submit instead of subject but either way it comes to me, at first glance, as a control issue.  Maybe I see it this way because I have control issues anyway but I know I am not alone in struggling with verse 18.  I sat and meditated (long and hard) and I came to realize this is a verse about relationship, not about control.  The buck always has to stop somewhere, in any relationship.  Whether it is a spousal relationship, a work relationship or a friendship, there is always someone with the last word.  The best boss I ever had made me feel like a teammate and collaborator rather than a subject under their control.  The building of the relationship and honoring it was so important.  As I learn to let go of control, I am able to embrace and celebrate the gifts and strengths of others that the Lord has placed in my life.  As I learn to build relationships with others, so I learn to build my relationship with God.  Sometimes I am called to bend to the needs and wishes of others.  I am also called to bend to the guidance of the Lord.  As I prepare to worship the new born King, I must prepare my heart to come on bended knee.

Thank you for bringing me through this passage unscathed.  I have always shied away from it; yet, in your grace you guided me and taught me.  Help me see the gifts that others bring, enhancing my life.  As I let go, reassure me that I am only letting you in where you belong.  When all is said and done, I bend to you Lord.  You are my Lord and my King.  Amen.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

2 Corinthians 3:15-16 “Indeed, to this very day whenever Moses is read, a veil lies over their minds; but when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed.”

I have a bit of a problem when it comes to hearing on the phone.  I actually went and had my hearing tested because I thought there might be something physically wrong with me but my hearing was just fine.  I think it is my listening that lacks.  Being the visual person that I am, I rely on facial expression and physical presence as a big part of communication. Back in the story of Moses, he used to hide his face with a veil so the people would not be frightened by the glory shining in him from talking with God.  This passage in Corinthians says the people’s minds were hardened; a veil hid the meaning of the scripture from them.  I cannot tell you how many years I would open my bible, skim over a passage thinking I was really reading it and then go off to live my life.  The true meaning was not coming through to me. There was a veil over my mind.  Just as I must block out all other distractions when I am on the phone, so must I be intentional to truly hear the word of the Lord.  When I turn to the Lord the veil is removed.  “Let those with ears hear” resonates clearly in me today.

Open my ears and quiet the constant noise in the background that distracts me from hearing the truth you guide me to.  Your Spirit is my guide but unless I listen, I cannot follow.  Help me hear what you are saying clearly so that I do not feel lost or confused.  Remove the veil, the block from understanding so I can go forth a changed and blessed person.  Help me share these blessings with those I see and talk to each day.  Amen.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Romans 8:15-16 “For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption.  When we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’ it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God.”

I remember back when my kids were just tiny babies.  At first they didn’t focus on anything really.  Even though their eyes were open they gazed around at things but it took a few weeks before they would really focus on my face.  It brought a sweet moment of love the first time I saw them really looking at me.  Then they started babbling and making sounds but no words.  I can still feel the joy I felt when they finally connected the sound “Mama” to me.  It takes no time at all after that for them to call Mama and Dada whenever they want something.  This is how it is with children.  They need us for everything at first and even as they grow into their own independence we hope they will continue a loving and deep relationship with us.  We are children of God.  When we first begin to see and recognize him as our Father, I imagine he feels joy and love too.  As we grow into our independence, he longs for us to continue a loving and deep relationship with us, just as we do with our children.  Seek the arms of your heavenly Father.  Call on him and grow a deeper, more loving relationship with Him.  His Spirit calls to us reminding us of Him.  He desires a relationship with us and the blessings He shares with us are beyond measure.

Just as our earthly parents always remain our parents so you always remain our heavenly Father.  Pull us into your arms of love during this season of preparing to receive your ultimate gift of love.  Guide our hearts into relationship with you in our everyday lives.  Speak Spirit and let us hear.  Amen.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

John 1:9 “The true light, which enlightened everyone, was coming into the world.”

I have a story to share about light.  I recently bought several really cheap book lights for a music gig I had with one of the handbell groups I ring in.  We were ringing outside at night so I knew we would need more lighting and we just didn't have it.  The lights worked; sort of.  Some of them flickered on and off the whole time, others didn't work at all. A few worked well and others died shortly after the 2 hours of use.  I did say they were cheap, right?  The cost of the batteries for these lights is at least 4 times as much as it is to buy new lights!  Since then, we have purchased much better and more expensive lights to help us read music in the future.  As I read this passage and this verse, the book lights came to mind.  Every light we have at our disposal is needed to help us see, but they will all fade away eventually.  We replace bulbs and lights occasionally because the old ones no longer serve our needs.  Even the sun, the moon and the stars are not eternal.  All sources of light will eventually die but one.  The true light, which will enlighten everyone has come, is coming and will come again.  He is eternal and His light will never fade.  Come and seek the one true light with me.

We live in darkness or dim light most of the time and we just squint to make do with what we have.  As we move into a time of preparation and celebration, prepare our hearts to receive all the light of your glory.  My heart leaps at the vision of the skies filled with angels, shining in the eternal light.  Fill us with this light so we may shine for this world, glorifying your holy name.  Amen.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Psalm 25:9 “He leads the humble in what is right, and teaches the humble his way.”

Did you ever wonder why God chose Mary and Joseph to be the earthly parents of the Christ child?  These two people were simple, quiet folks just doing the best they could to get by.  They were humble.  As I started my morning, rolling out of bed with my mind already trying to organize my time and my day, I had moved past my quiet time before I had even started.  My day has so many “important” tasks to be accomplished!  I have a doctor appointment, school and a field trip along with the normal daily cleaning and cooking.  When I stop and sit still, I realize that when I am wrapped up in my busy schedule, I am not feeling very humble.  I come to sit in the presence of the Lord, humbly asking for Him to lead me and teach me despite my schedule.  My schedule will wait.  This intentional time in the morning needs to be my first priority.  We are not kings or noblemen.  We are not celebrities or big politicians.  Most of us are just simple, everyday people; quiet folks just doing the best we can to get by.  Let’s be humble and open our hearts and minds to the voice of God.  He speaks to those who will listen, like Mary and Joseph.  Let Him speak to you, He will lead you in what is right, he will teach you His way.

I am lowly and I thank you.  It is in the acceptance of my lowliness that I realize I need you.  Keep my heart humble and keep my ears open to hear your guidance.  Remind me of the beginning days when the Christ child began his life on earth in a stable...humble beginnings for the King of salvation.  Amen.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Psalm 138:3 “On the day I called, you answered me, you increased my strength of soul.” 

In case you were ever in doubt, God is good.  I am currently participating in a bible study working through the book of James.  Part of today’s lesson was talking about receiving what we ask for.  After I closed my study and started my mediation time, this is the verse I was led to.  I have come to realize that the things I wish for most of all, deep peace and contentment, are not to be given in lifetime chunks.  Growth and change occur more in the battle grounds and struggles.  As I look back on the petitions I have brought to the Lord I can see that He has answered me.  I have come asking for the spiritual equivalent of sweets or dessert without eating my vegetables first.  I have asked to be a full grown flower blossoming in beauty without planting my roots deeply in the ground.  In His infinite grace, God hears my requests and grants them in His divine knowledge, giving me what I need to move one step closer to my hearts deepest desire.  Each gift He has given has, in fact, strengthened my soul.  Today, with this truth, my soul sings songs of thanksgiving and praise. 


You tell us to ask and we shall receive.  So often we feel ignored by you only to later realize you are right there all the time, answering and giving us what we truly need.  We are short sighted; thank you for seeing through what we think we need and giving us what you know we need.  Prepare our hearts as we prepare once again to celebrate your greatest gift of all.  Amen.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

2 Timothy 3:7 “who are always being instructed and can never arrive at a knowledge of the truth.”

I remember sitting in many a math class feeling just this way.  I cannot tell you how many years I struggled through math managing to pass the class but never feeling like I gained any knowledge or understanding of it.  To this day I do not believe I can do geometry or algebra beyond a remedial level.  How can this be?  I studied it, I was instructed in it over and over yet I never really got it.  My spiritual journey was similar to this for many years.  I went to church and Sunday school growing up.  I read my bible verses and grew up in a Christian home but the truth never really sunk in.  I learned and studied but did not really gain knowledge in the truth; I was blind.  It is only by the true grace of God that He keeps trying and never stops calling to his sheep and it is by His grace that I finally heard his voice, allowed him to lead me and began gaining knowledge in the truth.  When I look back at the path my journey has taken, the grace that covers it is overwhelming to me.  I cannot grasp the depth of it but I know it is real.  This much I know and understand.

Thank you for opening my eyes and helping me to finally see in truth.  We all walk around blind, thinking we can see only to find we are deceived and blindly stumbling in darkness.  Through your divine grace, help us see and allow us to learn and live in you.  Amen.