Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Revelation 21:5-6 “And the one who was seated on the throne said, ‘See I am making all things new.’  Also he said, ‘Write this, for these words are trustworthy and true.’  Then he said to me, ‘It is done!  I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end.  To the thirsty I will give water as a gift from the spring of the water of life.’”

I hear myself saying “where does the time go” more and more often.  Christmas day was here and gone before I could even blink an eye and now we are at the end of another year.  I have not heard anyone lamenting that this year is over but there are likely some people who do.  It can be hard to move forward when we are not feeling ready.  The calendar waits for no one.  Tomorrow is a new year and we all get to face the challenge of remembering to write 2014 on our correspondences.  God’s calendar is not the same as our Gregorian calendar.  God has his time and I say the only true time.  As I look back over the year of 2013 I see the work of God in our lives; in my life.  It is easier to see His hand in things when I am not huddled in the trenches of those battles anymore.  I know He is still making all things new, He has not completed His work in me yet.  As I prepare to put the new calendar on the wall, I try to remember He is making me new and just as we have an end of the year and a beginning, He is the true beginning and the true end of all things.  In this I am able to say to you all, Happy New Year!

Thank you for a new lease on life.  Thank you for allowing us to grow and change and to turn the page on the old and embrace the new through your grace.  Bless this coming year for each of us; help us also be a blessing to you.   Amen.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Ephesians 3:14 “For this reason I bow my knees before the Father,”

Paul’s prayer in this passage is beautiful and powerful.  He prays for the readers of the letter to be strengthened in Spirit and faith, rooted in love...I encourage you to read through verse 21 to get the fullness of this scripture.  Why do I bow my knees before the Father?  This is the question I asked myself when I read this verse.  I have mentioned in the past that I have a prayer journal and I am the prayer coordinator for my home schooling group.  You know I get up each morning and spend time in devotion and prayer but why?  I get asked that question when people find out what I do.  They look at me like I am strange and a little crazy to give up my sleep regularly and there are days I have that argument with myself.  I do it because I need it.  I get up early so I have uninterrupted time with the Father.  I pray for the needs and blessings of other people, I pray for the needs and blessings of myself.  I pray for the earth and I pray for His kingdom.  I pray because I have seen the power of prayer work in myself and in others.  My prayers may not be as eloquent as Paul’s prayer is in this letter but that is not important to me.  I pray to talk with God, my Father, Creator and Savior, this is the reason I bow my knees.

Thank you for the blessing of prayer.  Thank you for the trust and knowledge that we can come on bended knee or standing tall, we can come crawling in brokenness or dancing for joy.  Thank you for wanting us to come to you, our Father. Help us feel your Spirit moving us to talk with you more often until we pray in all we do.  All glory and honor to you.  Amen.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

John 17:4 “I glorified you on earth by finishing the work that you gave me to do.”

Jesus spoke these words in a prayer to God just before his arrest, according to John.  He came; the Word made flesh, and glorified God with all he did while he was here.  I pause on this verse in the prayer because I wonder if I am finishing the work He gave me to do.  Scripture tells us we all have purpose in the kingdom of God and so during these last few days of the year it seems fitting to review the year and ponder whether I am finishing the work I have been given by God.  I look at the lives of some and see that they do great works.  Mother Teresa, Billy Graham and Pope Francis all come to mind when I think of people who are doing or have done great works.  I am not a person that follows the news or media much so I am sure I am missing some.  When I look back at my year, I see teaching, making music and sharing the Word of God with those around me.  I wonder about the coming year.  Is my work to remain the same or does He have something new on the horizon for me?  This year has brought us all joy and sadness, suffering and healing, growth and rest.  I pray that the coming year will allow us more of what draws us close to God.  I pray we will all be doing the work we have been given to do to the glory of God.

I hesitate to line myself up with icons of this world that serve you.  Jesus came to all of us though and so I know my work is important in your kingdom.  I pray that you continue to guide us all in our work so that it only glorifies you and furthers the work of your kingdom.  In this we will be fulfilled.  Thank you for your Word.  Amen.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Psalm 35:3 “Draw the spear and javelin against my pursuers; say to my soul, ‘I am your salvation.’”

My little boy still believes in monsters.  Occasionally I need to look under the bed and in the closets, check every nook and cranny to insure that there are no monsters in his room before bedtime.  I have told both of my young children that monsters are not allowed in our house so they needn't worry about it.  Recently I heard an older child tell mine that monsters aren't real and I will allow them to believe that but we know differently as we grow up don’t we?  Monsters may not have green glowing eyes and purple horns but they might as well.  Grown up monsters are real.  They have names like fear, anxiety and depression.  There are monsters named addiction, distraction and diversion.  The list is long but they are real.  When David writes this Psalm to the Lord, he is speaking of mortal enemies; people are pursuing his life.  I am not king of Israel or President of this country and I am glad I do not have those enemies pursuing me.  When the enemies that I have search for me and pursue me this verse speaks to my heart.  The Lord will fight for me.  He takes aim with his weapons and he will be my salvation in all battles.  Call on the Lord to lay waste to your enemies.  Then we will truly rejoice in the Lord and his salvation forever!

Here we are at the end of another calendar year.  I praise you for the enemies that have fallen due to your hand.  Help us see that people are not our enemies but the true battle is with our spirits.  Protect our spirits Lord; help us seek you and your salvation today and tomorrow.  Amen.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Revelation 21:3 “And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying ‘See, the home of God is among mortals.  He will dwell with them; they will be his peoples, and God himself will be with them’”

As I read this passage these words were so beautiful to me.  God will make his home with us.  In the new Heaven and the new Earth God will live among us.  Yesterday was a day of celebration and love, family and friends gathered together in feast and fellowship.  Doorbells rang and happiness greeted those who came.  This is bliss, a joy filled time of love.  As I drove to see my family I passed a terrible accident on the road and I couldn't help praying for that family.  Someone was waiting for them and they never came.  They never answered their cell phone to say why they weren't there yet.  Many families grieve lost ones on this special holiday and mourning creeps in on joy.  In this time, while we wait for the fulfillment of the vision in Revelation we can take comfort in knowing God is already with us.  Through the birth of Jesus, God has come to dwell with us.  He gives us whatever we need in each moment and so I continue to pray, rejoice, cry, mourn, curse and wonder in His presence, for He is Emmanuel – God with us.

Your presence brings us comfort, peace and love.  We have joy, love and grace because you are here.  I pray for those struggling to feel these things today.  Help us all see you among us whatever we are doing, wherever we are because we know you are Emmanuel.  Amen.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Luke 2:30-32 “for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.”

I confess I have been caught up a bit in the game of what I want or need during this season of gift buying.  Each year I am asked to make a list of what I want and it really is hard to think of anything right away.  As I think on it little things come to mind and then a couple of bigger things and then it grows from there if I let it.  The same thing happens when I am buying gifts for others.  I want to give them more than they expect or surprise them with something they don’t have but would really appreciate.  This can be a very time consuming proposition.  What do we really need for Christmas?  In Luke Simeon sees the baby Jesus at the temple on the day of his presentation.  He has waited, a servant of God, all his life to see the fulfillment of prophecy and when he lays eyes on Jesus He praises God.  I can die happy and in peace now for I have seen...  what more could we want for Christmas?  These words from Simeon draw me back to the true meaning of Christmas.  As I bow to worship the Christ child I lay down my earthly desires and revel in the gift of salvation and redemption the God sent and I know I have everything I could ever want.

Please forgive my lack of focus.  I know in my heart that this holiday, this Holy Day, is a celebration of you.  Draw my eyes and my heart away from packages and presents and focus them on the one true gift of Christmas, you.  Thank you for coming to earth for us.  Thank you for this gift!  Amen.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Psalm 96:11-13 “Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice; let the sea roar, and all that fills it; let the field exult, and everything in it.  Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy before the Lord; for he is coming...”

Can you hear it?  If you listen very carefully with your whole soul can you hear the songs?  The heavens and the earth, the sea, the fields and the trees along with everything living within them; they all sing and rejoice!  Listen to their voices, hear their songs.  Listen to the praise and worship that all of creation brings to the Lord.  I can almost hear heaven and nature singing in joy.  As the song begins to seep deeper into my soul, I cannot keep silent any longer.  My heart joins in the song and I am transported to a new and beautiful place.  Listen until you hear it.  Listen for the angel songs, the roar of the sea and the exultation of the fields.  Listen for the rejoicing of the trees in the forest and when your soul is filled with their rejoicing join in with all creation singing praises to the God of gods; the Lord of lords for salvation has come to all through a babe in Bethlehem.  Joy to the world!

There are many sounds we hear each moment of our days.  There are moans of sadness and pain; there are cries of suffering and death.  We cannot ignore those sounds but we also must listen for the sounds of joy and love, peace and hope for they are there as well.  Help us bring those sounds and songs that rejoice in you into our souls and give us a song to join into.  As our heart grab hold of the joy in this season, let our voices share that joy with the world.  All glory to you forever and ever.  Amen.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

John 14:27 “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.  I do not give to you as the world gives.  Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.”

These words of Jesus before his death echo the words of angels at his birth.  Do not be afraid, peace on earth... Last night my husband and I were talking about the latest shooting victim who died yesterday.  My husband’s statement was that the bad guys won again.  It sure seems that way, doesn't it?  Henry Wadsworth Longfellow writes “and in despair I bow my head, there is no peace on earth I said...”  The world is filled with bad things and wrong minded people impacting our lives regularly, yet I still hear the words of the angels and the words of Jesus saying do not be afraid and peace.  God continues to bring the peace of heaven to us even in the midst of strife.  His peace, given to us by the Prince of Peace, will prevail.  So I continue to seek his kingdom of peace.  Take time today to sit in peace.  Allow the peace to flow over you and into you and fill you up.  Let it replace all the fear or worries or tension or sadness, whatever you hold in your heart instead.  I leave you with this: May the Peace of Christ be with you.

Lord God,
Turmoil rocks our world and we feel worn and battered.  Sometimes we are afraid.  I ask, in your mercy, that your peace, peace beyond our understanding would fill our souls, calming the turmoil and calming us.  Help us be agents of peace through your Spirit, I pray through Jesus.  Amen.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

John 8:12 “Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, ‘I am the light of the world.  Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.’”

It is the shortest day of the year today, the winter solstice.  We will see light less today than any other day of the year.  The world around us sleeps, hibernates or is dormant because of the lack of light and warmth.  This time of day in mid-summer the sun would have peeked over the horizon almost an hour ago but today, it is still dark.  The verse John 1:5 resonates in my heart “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.”  I am not enjoying the thought of the shortest day and the longest night, I am trying to embrace the need for rest and the reality of seasons of darkness but I am not enjoying it at all.  I cling to the words in John 8.  I follow the light of the world and so I know I will never walk in darkness as long as I follow His light.  I know he placed the light of life in my soul and it warms me on these long winter nights.  I rejoice that even though winter is the season in my world, it is not the season in my heart and I pray for those hearts that are in a season of winter and darkness. 

Thank you for your promise to keep the light of life in us if we walk with you.  Whether the life glows brightly or we only feel embers, help us stoke it up and feel the warmth bringing us closer to you.  Do not let the darkness overcome us but keep us close in your arms that we may continue to live in your light and shine your light through us into the world.  Thank you for the promise of spring.  Amen.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Micah 7:6 “With what shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before God ho high?  Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old?”

As I read through passages in Micah this verse kept coming back to me.  It isn't talking about Jesus the newborn king but I couldn't help but make the connection because Jesus the newborn king and God on high are one and the same.  What do we bring to God, how do we present ourselves to the Most High?  I see the shepherds after being terrified in the fields running as fast as they can to find the baby lying in a manger.  They didn't take time to wash their hands, faces and feet.  They came to see with no regards as how to present themselves.  The urgency in them, the desire to see what they had been told overrode any thought of who they were coming to see.  I think this is how God would love for us to come to him still today.  Through the life and sacrifice of Jesus we can come running to God without regard of what we look like.  He wants our hearts to be filled with desire to see what we have been told; to be filled with an urgency to run as fast as we can to see Him.  There is nothing we can bring to the babe lying in a manger and there is nothing we can bring to God on high; nothing but ourselves.  It is all He wants.

We are like the little drummer boy, we have nothing to offer but a song and our hearts.  Help us realize that you ask for nothing but our hearts.  Soften us to your desires as we come once more to remember the babe in a manger.  Let the tenderness of that love break through to the tenderness in us so that we feel your love in a whole new way.  Amen.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Luke 2:2-4 “All went to their own towns to be registered.  Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the City of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David.”

As an adult, I have only participated in a couple of censuses.  These days we receive a document in the mail that has questions to complete and data to fill in so our government can count and register us.  I remember the last time I had to do it I thought it was kind of a hassle.  I hope I think of these verses the next time I have to do it.  Emperor Augustus lay down a decree that “all the world should be registered”.  This was the first registration, according to Luke.   I find it amazing to read this passage knowing what we do about the story and the scriptures?  It might seem random that the emperor decided to count and register everyone and that they had to go to their home towns to do it, but God has a plan and He causes it to unfold as He has designed it.  Scripture foretold of a babe in Bethlehem that would rule Israel.  If it weren't for the decree, would Mary and Joseph have traveled so far with a baby on the way?  God shows us again how he works in the lives of each of us to fulfill His plan.  Did Joseph hear the words of Isaiah and Micah echoing in his heart as they journeyed to Bethlehem?  Did he make the connection?  Do we?

Lord God,
I am excited to read your word today.  Thank you for the blessings and the clear message that you are with us and you guide us to do your will even with mundane tasks and sometimes troublesome ones.  Thank you for scripture, thank you for prophets and thank you for your Son, Jesus.  Amen.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

John 1:29 “The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him and declared, ‘Here is the Lab of God who takes away the sin of the world!’”

I am a city slicker.  The only sheep and lambs I have seen close up have been at the stock show when it comes to town.  I think lambs are cute and soft and cuddly but I know lambs meant something different and much more to the Hebrew people that John was speaking to.  First, lambs were taken care of by the shepherds and provided much of their livelihood with wool and meat.  Even more so they were a symbol of the Passover sacrifice and each year they would remember the lamb sacrifice and blood that saved them from death in Egypt.    I cannot begin to imagine what went through the minds of the people gathered to hear John speak and maybe be baptized by him.  I know what goes through my mind when I read this passage in John now.  A small baby in a manger came to us innocent and untainted.  He was born in a stable filled with hay and animals, noises and smells of a barn.  He came, a pure and holy child to be the sacrifice for us all.   Was he cute and cuddly – maybe at first, but he was also powerful and kingly, gentle and loving, the Lamb of God.

Let us not forget the reason this small babe in a manger, you, came to earth to begin with.  The wise men knew to pay you homage.  Mary and Joseph were told your destiny but when we see the little babe, just a lamb, it is easy to forget you are King of all and Rule of my heart.  Thank you for coming, we celebrate as we wait for you to come again.  Amen.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

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.

Monday, December 16, 2013

John 1:8-9 “He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light.  The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.”

Are we like reflectors or do we glow from inside like a lamp? Are we like the sun or are we like the moon?  We are not the light, just as John says, but we are called to testify to the light.  We have the light within us because the true light, Jesus, enlightens us.  His light shines in us and through us so what metaphor can I find to help us?  We are not just reflectors like the moon reflecting the sun’s light.  We are not like the sun, our own source of light.  Maybe the lamp is the best metaphor I can come up with today.  We are built to hold the light and shed light to the world around us but we must receive the light first.  Without light, a lamp is dark and useless.  When the lamp receives its energy and light source it will glow and illuminate the area all around it.  As we prepare to celebrate the coming of the Light of the world, I am reminded to dust off my lamp shade, polish the lamp base and check the connection to the power source.  It is time to renew and strengthen the connection to the true light, the one who enlightens you and me and everyone; the One coming into the world.

As the sun breaks open a new day let it be a reminder to us all of your Son, Jesus, the one true and everlasting light of the world.  When we flip the switch to light a room in our home, let that also remind us of the light we hold in our hearts to share with the world around us.  Encourage us to be the lamps you designed us to be.  To your glory I pray, Amen.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Luke 2:10 “But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid’ for see – I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people:’”

What are the sounds of joy to you?  I think of Carillon bells pealing from every tower and birds singing at the top of their lungs in the early morning, I hear laughter and squeals from small children and belly rolling laughter with tears of joy streaming down grown up faces.  I hear streams flowing and splashing over the rocks in its bed and trees whispering songs with the wind through their leaves.  I cannot imagine what the sound was that the shepherds heard that night in their fields.  I can almost see them sitting quietly in the dark night with only a neighbor shepherd to talk with, an occasional bleat of the sheep; just the usual watching of the flock with an ear listening for predators.  “An angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them and they were terrified.”  I can imagine that!  In an instant the dark night turned brighter than day right in front of their eyes, the angel illuminating the field and their flocks; their robes and their faces.  The message was not lost on them though.  They heard it: “I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people:” Let the joy of the angels fill your heart today and join mine in songs of praise to God!

I sing joy to the world in my soul because of this wondrous gift of Love you sent to us.  Lift our hearts in joy to you; allow us to step away from the hurts and troubles of today and just bask in the joy the angels sang of in the shepherd fields.  I lift our hearts up to you this morning Lord.  Thank you.  Amen.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Luke 1:78 79 “By the tender mercy of our God, the dawn from on high will break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.”

These are the last two verses in a passage called Zechariah’s prophecy.  This man had a lot of time to contemplate what the Lord was doing and saying to him and to all his people during his time of being struck dumb.  Are these some of the things he discovered during that time?  Where these things revealed to him during his season of quiet?  Verse 67 says he was filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke these words.  I love the vision of gentle love being poured out over God’s people.  He has sought our love since the beginning and now His plan to break through to us is coming into being.  He is giving us a part of Him to gaze upon, to live with on earth, to physically watch and learn from.   As I watch the break of dawn on the east horizon this morning I am struck with the tenderness of the light.  It starts slowly by lessening the darkness in the sky bit by bit until it cannot be contained any longer and the break of the sun beams over the edge of the earth, light become a bright beacon to us all.  It dispels the darkness and allows us to see clearly the path before us.  Jesus is this tender blessed light to our souls.

Thank you for your Light, thank you for sending Jesus.  Thank you for John who paved the way and thank you for your words given through Zechariah.  I pray these verses will fill our days with hope and a peace that comes from You alone. Amen.

Friday, December 13, 2013

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.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Luke 1:64 “Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue freed, and he began to speak, praising God.”

I have, at times, wished for the luxury of a silent retreat... someday.  I hesitate to call what Zechariah experienced a silent retreat though.  He was struck dumb by an angel after he questioned the message delivered to him.  If the story is written in chronological sequence, he would have been unable to speak for several months.  I can only begin to imagine the thoughts and feelings that Zechariah might have experienced during those months of silence.  Being able to hear conversations but not being able to easily share your thoughts on them.  Conversation in the home would be nil between husband and wife.  There are other methods of communication beyond speech and I imagine Zechariah became an expert at those.  I also imagine he used these months for much introspection.  When God steps into your life in such a big way, it is often a good thing to step back and contemplate it.  Just as God stepped into Zechariah and Elizabeth’s lives he still steps into our lives today.  He has not struck us dumb but it would be good for us to sit and be silent and really hear what he has to say to us today.

We live in a world of constant noise.  Help us quiet the noise from the outside and the noise from the inside so that we can come and be silent in your presence.  Thank you for your words to us.  Help us receive them and grow closer to you through them.  I pray in the name of our Lord, Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Matthew 1:19-20 “Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace planned to dismiss her quietly.  But just when he had resolved to do this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream...”

Our best laid plans sometimes just aren't lined up with God’s plan.  When I read this passage this morning I couldn't help but feel the sorrow and pain Joseph must have been experiencing.  The torment he went through coming to this decision is something we cannot see on the pages but we can easily imagine.  He was a righteous man and he was betrothed to a young maiden.  He had likely been spending time getting to know her and maybe even falling in love with her.  Suddenly he finds that she is with child! It does not say he was angry and he did not lash out in judgment.  He decided to let her avoid the deathly judgment of the law and quietly send her away so she could live.  God had other plans for Mary and Joseph and when He spoke to Joseph in a dream, it was powerful enough to change Joseph’s heart and mind.  God has a way of getting His message through to us doesn't He?  He speaks to us in many ways but do we listen?  When I hear him loud and clear, do I brush it off or do I listen and allow him to change my heart and my mind?  Maybe we could all learn a lesson from Joseph.

It is as clear as the ink on the page that you speak to us, you seek us out and give us guidance for our lives.  Forgive our callous hearts and our deaf ears.  Open us to your word and let us truly hear what you have to say to us this day.   Move us into obedience as we seek you and your kingdom.  Amen.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Jeremiah 29:11-12 "'For surely I know the plans I have for you', says the Lord, 'plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.  Then when you call upon me and come and pray to me, I will hear you.'"

It is easy for me to look at my children and know that God has great plans for them.  They are precious, intelligent people placed on this earth to make a difference in whatever way God has planned.  I can see it easily.  When I look in the mirror, knowing the good and the bad, the beauty and the ugliness in me, it is much harder for me to see that God would have a plan for me.  Yet, I know God guides me.  When I close off the noise in my mind and in my world, when I focus on His voice, when I ask for His help, I hear His voice and I see his help.  All of the ugliness I see, God has already made beautiful; all of the wounds and hurts have been healed.  When I look through the eyes of God, the scars from my wounds only give me experience, compassion and mercy to share with others who struggle.  God has not harmed us, but He uses us in all of our weakness, for with Him, we can serve Him.  What a blessing to know He waits to hear us call upon him and pray!  He will pour hope into our future.

Let us feel your presence without doubt today when we are in prayer to you.  Your presence brings peace beyond all understanding and in the present darkness, we need your peace.  Speak to us, give us hope, and help us to trust in your divine plan.  I ask all this in the name of Jesus Christ, my Savior.  Amen.

Monday, December 9, 2013

John 1:6-7 “There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.  He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him.”

Here we catch a glimpse of the baby Zechariah and Elizabeth were blessed with.  He has grown up and found his calling.  I wonder what drew people to him.  He lived in the wilderness and dressed in camel fur; he ate locusts and honey.  Did people come out to see John because he was a spectacle?  Did they stay because of what he had to say?  Was it because of his oddities that he gained such a following or was it in spite of his oddities?  One thing is for sure, he got people’s attention.  Everything about him draws attention toward him so he can testify and share his message.  John did his part, he walked the path he was given.  His message has been passed down through the generations even to this day.  We are all called to continue the witness to the light that started so long ago with John.  I don’t dress strangely (although my kids might disagree at times) and I don’t draw people attention to me on purpose.  How do I witness to the light?  How do I spread the Love that came to us on Christmas long ago?  These are the questions I will keep in my heart as a reminder to spread the good news in whatever way God calls me to.

The story of John is a call to each of us.  John is not alone in being given the task of witnessing to your Light.  Help our actions and words testify to the Light you have placed in our very souls.  Your Light came so long ago yet it still remains in him and continues in us forever.  Hallelujah and Amen.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Luke 1:32-33 “He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David.”
What dreams do you hold for the children you know and love?  I remember beginning to wonder about them before they were even born.  What would the look like, who would they become?  It seems likely our parents held these same questions in their hearts about us and their parents before them.  There is a plan for each of us.  Ours may not be announced by an angel of the Lord so we muddle through seeking to follow the plan of our lives.  Mary was clearly told the plan for her child’s life but she probably still wondered about him, just as all parents do.  The angels words would echo in her heart and soul whenever she pondered the future of her son: “He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David.”  Let the awe and wonder of this baby, this king, fill your hearts this season.

We know the plan you held for Jesus, babe in the manger, from the very beginning.  He is your Son, the Beloved and we are blessed to know Him.  Help us believe you have a plan for us as well.  We are not born to be King of Israel or of all people but we are born to serve in your kingdom.  Open our hearts to seek your path as we journey toward the birth of the Christ child.  Let this season fill us with new wonder and hope that we can carry forward into each new day.  Amen.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Luke 1:30-31 “The angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.  And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus.’”

Have you ever had a dream that seemed so far-fetched and out of the realms of reality that you wondered what instigated it?  I wonder about my dreams when I remember them but sometimes I can’t make any sense out of them.  I set them aside and move on.  Mary didn't dream this visitation from an angel but I wonder if she wished she had.  I wonder if she thought she imagined this crazy scene.  Did she ponder it and then set it aside until she could no longer deny the truth of it?  The bible doesn't tell us that Mary had any doubts but as a young teenage betrothed to a kind Jewish man I cannot imagine she didn't have her doubts.  It would be hard to forget an angel visitation based on what I read about them.  Angels are a force beyond our understanding and yet they come to us on occasion to assist us in some way.  God used them in the bible to help his people and I believe He still uses them for his people.  This story of the angel and Mary is so tender to me.  What a loving message from God “you have found favor with God.”  Through His gift of Jesus we can all claim that message today.  Hallelujah!

Thank you for sending your son and thank for the lowly servants you chose to use.  Help us see how you can use us and open our hearts to serve you as you call us to.  Let the Love of Christmas fill our souls so we may go out into the world singing with joy for the Lord has come!  Amen.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Ephesians 2:5-6 “He destined us for adoption as his children through Jesus Christ, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace that he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.”

During this season of Advent I look at Joseph while I ponder these verses.  Joseph has his betrothed Mary and much to his dismay she is found to be with child.  After a dream he received from God, he obeys the directions and keeps Mary as his wife.  He watched this baby grow in her belly and I cannot even fathom the questions and struggles he went through during those months.  He chose to adopt this baby as his own.  He raised Jesus and taught him everything he knew as his own son.  I wonder if he realized, somewhere deep inside him, that this boy, his boy was the Beloved that Paul writes about here.  From the beginning of time, the Christ was destined to break the barriers between God and his children.  Through his birth, life, death and resurrection we can come to the stable and celebrate the birth of our brother and Lord; our King and Savior.  This Christmas I kneel at the manger to gaze upon the one who brings me to God.  He is Emmanuel, God with us!  Amazing grace, indeed.

You sent Jesus because you love us.  You know our needs and brokenness and Jesus willing came to heal and bind us to you forever.  Help us embrace the joy of Christmas like children because we are your children.  Through Christ, Amen.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Luke 1:37-38 “‘For nothing will be impossible with God.’  Then Mary said, ‘Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.’  Then the angel departed from her.”

Does it take an angel of the Lord in all its glory to make me an obedient servant of the Lord?  I get so frustrated with myself sometimes.  I love the Lord, I want to be obedient and follow him in all ways and then my human selfishness creeps in.  Before I am even truly aware, I have stopped listening and followed my wishes instead of God’s commands.  As I think about God’s servants and their stories in the Bible, I am reminded that we all fall short.  We are all human and cannot live perfectly; we are not and will not be perfect in this lifetime.  These verses renew my spirit and call me to strive forward because I believe them to be true.  I believe that nothing is impossible with God.  Amazing things happen when I walk in his path; when I am with God and not against him.  So I come to him on my knees.  I picture Mary, dirty and dusty from her work, young and naive in the world.

Bring my heart to the humble place of Mary’s.  Fill it with trust and wonder.  I come filled with humility and your grace to offer myself again.  I am your servant, dusty and dirty from my work, truly naive in the world.  I offer myself to you; use me according your will, for nothing is impossible with you God.  You give me amazing grace and amazing love; thank you!  Amen.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Luke 1:19 “The angel replied, ‘I am Gabriel.  I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news.”

How we receive our news has changed over the years.  Today we get text messages, email and phone calls.  Letters were a great tool of communicating news and occasionally we might still get one, but they are unexpected.  I am certain Zechariah was not expecting anyone while he was performing his duties at the temple.  He was simply going about his task of offering the incense to the Lord in the sanctuary which is a solitary task when he is surprised and frightened to see someone there.  He receives the good news that he and Elizabeth will have a baby.  I wonder as I think about this passage, how much news we miss because we are not looking for the unexpected.  If the message doesn't come through on our computer, phone or TV, how often do we miss it?  God is a god of relationships. He might use technology to speak to us but He prefers face time.  As we enter this day in December, I encourage us to keep our eyes and ears open for the unexpected.  God has something to say to us too.   Let’s listen and look, ready to receive what He has for us.

Thank you for seeking us out.  Thank you for sending messengers, people and whatever you can to get our attention and hear your messages for us.  Help us be open to receive what you have to say to us today.  Amen.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Habakkuk 1:5 "Look at the nations and watch - and be utterly amazed.  For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe, even if you were told."
Habakkuk the prophet was frustrated with all the injustice, violence, and evil in his world.  He wondered why God didn't step in and so he went to the Lord to voice his questions.  There are only 3 chapters in this little book but so much to contemplate.  As my children dance and leap around the Christmas tree, they show such excitement for this season of joy.  I want to reach deep into my soul and find that same joy, joy that makes me leap and dance for Jesus. I need to look beyond the injustice, violence and evil in this world. All those years ago, God had not forgotten his people and today He is still amazing us.  There are stories, every day, of unbelievable mercy, love, care ... God is with us.  Emmanuel.
As I move my home into the season of Christmas, move my heart to be there too.  It is such a busy time of year that I tend to forget the reason I am busy.  My music, church, baking, teaching my kids, all I do is in honor of you, in celebration of your love and your unbelievable gift.  Thank you for Christmas God.  Thank you that I can celebrate the birth of Jesus freely and openly, shouting and singing at the top of my lungs.  Fill the hearts of those who cannot so they can exude your love and joy in actions.  Amen. 

Monday, December 2, 2013

1 Corinthians 13:4-5 “Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude.  It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful”

I confess that my patience has run thin the last week or two with almost everything.  I have things to do, places to go and people to see and when those are not happening in what I think is a timely manner, I grow impatient.  I see how my kids are with each other and when my eyes are really opened I know they learn some of those behaviors from me.  When I step back in the moments of impatience and frustration and breathe in a breath prayer to the Lord, I am instantly calmer; more peaceful.  If I breathe a few more times, I feel His Love filling me up and I am able to come back to the world in Love.  When I am walking in love, I am patient and kind, I am understanding and humble.  I listen to the voice of others and take their ideas and wishes into my heart.  I release frustration and anger and embrace light and love.  During this Christmas season, keep the hustle and bustle to a minimum and take moments to breathe in Love.  This is the season of Love and when we walk with Him fully, we are love.

Please quiet our hearts in your presence this morning.  Let the stillness calm our souls and bring us to a place of deep love.  When we step into the daily routines, help us live in love so we are patient, kind, humble and understanding of all.  Help us spread love and joy in a world of darkness and hopelessness.  I ask all this to your glory Lord.  Amen.