Monthly Archives: November 2021

Do Not Fear God Is With You


God’s Reminder to Us This Christmas Season

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By Debbie McDaniel,

“But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy the will be for all the people.” Luke 2:10

Four times in the Christmas story, angels appeared at appointed times to give a message to key individuals who were a part of Jesus’ life and birth. And every time, those to whom they appeared were greatly “troubled,” “afraid,” or even “gripped with fear.” And every time the angels said these powerful words, “Do not be afraid…”

To the shepherds: “But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy the will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you, he is Christ the Lord.” Luke 2:10-11

To Mary:“But the angel said to her, Do not be afraid Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son and you are to give him the name Jesus.” Luke 1:30-31

To Joseph:“…an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son and you are to give him he name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” Matthew 1:20-21

To Zechariah: “But the angel said to him, Do not be afraid Zechariah, your prayer has been heard, Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son and you are to give him the name John.” Luke 1:13

Just like these in the Christmas story so many years ago, we’re often people who can easily become fearful, troubled, even gripped with fear. It’s a natural human emotion, but God never intends for us to stay stuck there. And His powerful words and message to us is still the same, for He never changes. He says, “Do not fear,” over and over in His Word, reminding us that He is with us. And He made sure it was part of the message given to each of those to whom an angel appeared to announce His Son’s birth.

“Do not be afraid.”

For perfect love casts out all fear.

Jesus came bringing peace that the world could never give.

Jesus came bringing light that the darkness could never overcome.

Jesus came bringing freedom from the barrier of sin and brought victory over death, once and for all.

The opposite of fear is not really simply “courage,” but it is peace, faith, love, the assurance that we are held by a God who is Mighty and Sovereign and Strong.

Many of you have faced deep loss this year, the hurt of losing a loved one too soon, illness, cancer, financial troubles, or job loss. Others are struggling through the pain of broken relationships. Many are fighting depression and despair, facing addictions and giants that seem too big.

Whatever you might be battling this season, I pray that you will find deep peace in Him. The One who loves you so much and says, “Do not fear…”

He is greater. Always. He came to overcome it all. And He is with us.


Today’s Devotions

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November 30

Isaiah 40:25-27 25“To whom will you compare me? Or who is my equal?” says the Holy One. 26Lift your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one, and calls them each by name. Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing. 27Why do you say, O Jacob, and complain, O Israel, “My way is hidden from the LORD; my cause is disregarded by my God”?

What will you compare God to? What or who has always been? Who is unchanging throughout eternity? How ridiculous to think we could make some image of our infinite Creator! How arrogant to think that we could give Him advice or suggest a better way than that which He has chosen!

Look at the stars on a clear night sky. You know you can see only a small fraction of them, and yet, God has each one set just where he would place it. It is there at His command and exists for His purposes. Each one has a name given it by its Creator, just as He intimately knows each of the billions of people on earth. None can hide or go unnoticed. We have a hard time remembering all the names of our few friends. When you contemplate God, do not compare Him with finite and error prone men.

Considering His greatness, considering His omniscience, dare we complain that God is not acting on our behalf? Do we think that somehow our case slipped by Him? Do we really believe He isn’t concerned? He knows every detail. He knows a million details about your situation that you are unaware of. Trust Him. One day He will help you see why things happened as they did. The one who places his trust in God will never be disappointed. He is the Holy One. He makes no mistakes.

Meditation: The Eternal One knows what I need and can bring into my life anything He deems necessary.

Streams in the Desert – November 30

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And seekest thou great things for thyself? Seek them not: for, behold, I will bring evil upon all flesh, saith the Lord: but thy life will I give unto thee for a prey in all places whither thou goest (Jeremiah 45:5).

A promise given for hard places, and a promise of safety and life in the midst of tremendous pressure, a life “for a prey.” It may well adjust itself to our own times, which are growing harder as we near the end of the age, and the Tribulation times.

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What is the meaning of “a life for a prey”? It means a life snatched out of the jaws of the destroyer, as David snatched the lamb from the lion. It means not removal from the noise of the battle and the presence of our foes; but it means a table in the midst of our enemies, a shelter from the storm, a fortress amid the foe, a life preserved in the face of continual pressure: Paul’s healing when pressed out of measure so that he despaired of life; Paul’s Divine help when the thorn remained, but the power of Christ rested upon him and the grace of Christ was sufficient.

Lord, give me my life for a prey, and in the hardest places help me today to be victorious.
–Days of Heaven upon Earth

We often pray to be delivered from calamities; we even trust that we shall be; but we do not pray to be made what we should be, in the very presence of the calamities; to live amid them, as long as they last, in the consciousness that we are, held and sheltered by the Lord, and can therefore remain in the midst of them, so long as they continue, without any hurt.

For forty days and nights, the Saviour was kept in the presence of Satan in the wilderness, and that, under circumstances of special trial, His human nature being weakened by want of food and rest. The furnace was heated seven times more than it was wont to be heated, but the three Hebrew children were kept a season amid its flames as calm and composed in the presence of the tyrant’s last appliances of torture, as they were in the presence of himself before their time of deliverance came. And the livelong night did Daniel sit among the lions, and when he was taken up out of the den, “no manner of hurt was found upon him, because he believed in his God.”

They dwelt in the presence of the enemy, because they dwelt in the presence of God.


By: Charles Spurgeon

33 Bible Verses about Fear -

“Then Manasseh knew that the Lord he was God.” 2 Chronicles 33:13

Suggested Further Reading: Romans 1:18-25

It takes ten thousand times more faith to be an unbeliever than to be a believer in God’s revelation. One man comes to me and tells me I am credulous, because I believe in a great First Cause who created the heavens and the earth, and that God became man and died for sin. I tell him I may be, and no doubt am very credulous, as he conceives credulity, but I conceive that which I believe is in perfect consistency with my reason, and I therefore receive it. “But,” saith he, “I am not credulous—not at all.” Sir, I say, I should like to ask you one thing. You do not believe the world was created by God. “No.” You must be amazingly credulous, then, I am sure. Do you think this Bible exists without being made? If you should say I am credulous, because I believe it had a printer and a binder, I should say that you were infinitely more credulous, if you assured me that it was made at all, and should you begin to tell me one of your theories about creation—that atoms floated through space, and came to a certain shape, I should resign the palm of credulity to you. You believe, perhaps, moreover, that man came to be in this world through the improvement of certain creatures. I have read that you say that there were certain monads—that afterwards they grew into fishes—that these fishes wanted to fly, and then wings grew—that by and by they wanted to crawl, and then legs came, and they became lizards, and by many steps they then became monkeys, and then the monkeys became men, and you believe yourself to be cousin ape to an orang-utan. Now, I may be very credulous, but really not so credulous as you are.

For meditation: If Manasseh, the greatest of idolaters (2 Chronicles 33:3), could be converted and worship the one true God, your most ardent evolutionist neighbours or colleagues can be converted and worship the God who created them!

A Peaceful Holiday

An Unhurried Holiday

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by Karen Ehman,

So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger.” Luke 2:16 (NIV)

“Hurry up! We’re going to be late to the choir concert!”

“Come on kids. Help me unload these groceries right now. I’ve got to get these cookies baked before bedtime.”

“Is it 6 a.m. already? I gotta get to that door buster sale as soon as it opens so I don’t miss out on the deals!”

With the holiday season upon us, the music at the mall announces that folks are dreaming of a white Christmas. That may be true. But in reality, many women are dreaming of something else white: a little more white space on our December calendars!

Pageants. Parties. Shopping trips. Baking days. Wrapping nights. At every turn there are people to see, things to do, stuff to buy. The hustle and bustle of this supposed-to-be-happy season can knock the holly-jolly right out of our holidays and replace it with hurried-up headaches instead.

As a result, our calendars become overloaded, crowding out the spiritual significance of the season.

I wonder if the participants in the original Christmas story ever dreamed that the celebration of Christ’s birth would become so hassled and hurried. The shepherds? The angels? The wise men? Mary and Joseph too?

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Was hurriedness present the night Jesus was born? We might think that it was not. But actually, there was hurry present that night. However, it wasn’t to the mall or grocery store that people were rushing.

The shepherds were working in the fields when suddenly an ensemble of angels told them the Christ Child had been born. Luke 2:16 says they hurried off to find Him lying in a manger.

If I had been one of those shepherds, I would have been quiet and amazed once I got there. Being around a newborn baby makes me speak in a hushed tone and feel such awe as I see new life. In the presence of Jesus I wonder if those men too were settled and silent.

Maybe we could do the same today. In the midst of our holiday hustle and tasks, we could stop; leave our work. We could slow down long enough to hurry in another direction. We could put our activities on hold so we might quietly meet with our Lord. We could be settled and silent in the presence of Jesus.

As a result we just might discover an unhurried holiday: a season that will strengthen us spiritually instead of sapping our energy and joy.

How about it? Will we pause and purpose to hurry into His presence instead of rushing from task to task? Dare we linger long enough to be refreshed by the company of the One whom the holiday is really about? The tasks will wait while we do.


Saying “Yes” to God

38 Bible Verses about Peace -

by Debbie Holloway,

It seems like every day one hears about all kinds of troubling behavior from people who ought to know better. A family friend leaves his wife and children for his secretary. A pastor resigns from his parish after his drug addiction is discovered. A CEO is caught with his hands on company money. We see it in the news. We hear about it from friends. It invades our households. Destructive, self-centered, sin. And so often the guilty party seems completely blind to his error, or unable to fathom how he ever made such a huge mistake.

As a recent member of what most would consider the “adult” world, I have often pondered how seemingly well-adjusted, often God-fearing members of society can justify such actions in their minds. In fact, in my more panicky moments, I have had a fear of suddenly lapsing into some dreaded sin myself – like these perfectly capable people I see all around me.

After all, does my righteousness exceed that of the Pharisees? How can I claim to have more wisdom than my parents or my pastor? Do I know more about the world than my professors? Could I possibly have a better understanding of morals and truth than my government leaders? If I watch them stumble into seemingly obvious moral blunders, how could I possibly escape the same fate?

Aerses netfter recently confiding this dread to a loved one, I was reminded that drastic sin or
extreme lifestyle choices don’t just appear out of nowhere. Adultery doesn’t just happen. Divorce
doesn’t just happen. Heartless slander and libel don’t just happen. Sin must begin as a small seed,
creep in, take root, and grow. We can choose to feed it …or starve it.

The hard part is that often our sin nature is just as appealing as the prompting of Holy Spirit. Far too often we know right away what the godly course of action would be. Humility. Purity. Hard work. Compassion. Faithfulness. But we still get tired, exasperated, lustful, and proud. So we start making decisions which violate our consciences. Tiny decisions that seem meaningless. But those tiny choices grow and grow. Eventually, our life becomes a messy sin explosion and we cry out, “Where did I lose control?”

The comforting part is that it’s a process. I won’t wake up one morning and all of a sudden think it’s totally OK to steal someone’s car or send nasty, gossipy emails about people I don’t like. 1 John 1:7 says that,

“If we walk in the light, as [God] is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

If I say “yes” to God when he shows me how I can remain faithful to him in my lifestyle, in the little things, that will strengthen me to say “no” to life-wrecking choices.


Still Thankful

From: 2020 by Harvest Ministries

“For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, ‘Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.’” (1 Corinthians 11:23–24 nkjv)

If you knew bad things were about to happen, would you still give thanks?

Jesus did. He gave thanks, knowing that He was about to look into the throat of Hell and bear the sins of the world.

The Bible tells us, “The Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, ‘Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me’” (1 Corinthians 11:23–24 nkjv).

Jesus knew the future. He knew what lay ahead for Him would not be easy or pleasurable.

He knew that no one would deliver Him from the cross. In fact, He even knew that one of His own handpicked disciples, Judas Iscariot, would betray Him. He knew the others would go into hiding. And He knew that Simon Peter would openly deny Him.

Jesus knew the whole story. That’s because Jesus is God, and He is omniscient—all-knowing.

Then why did Jesus give thanks? It’s because He knew what His suffering would accomplish. The greatest good of all time came from the worst travesty of justice.

So if someone says they lost their faith because of a certain crisis, then I would say that’s good, because they need to get rid of that faith. It’s worthless. The faith that cannot be tested is a faith that cannot be trusted.

Anyone can praise God when the sky is blue and the sun is shining. But if you can praise God when the roof caves in, when the bottom drops out, and when things go wrong, it says to me that you’re a true follower of Jesus Christ.

We must remember that despite our immediate circumstances, God is always at work. And that’s a great reason to give thanks.

Hope In Christ Anchors The Soul

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Hope-filled Readings and Prayers


first candle lit for first Sunday of Advent

The first Sunday of Advent in 2021 will be Sunday, November 28th. After a tumultuous year, there is comfort to be found when we pause to read, pray, and reflect over the course of the Advent season in which believers eagerly anticipate the celebration of Christ’s birth.

The first Sunday of Advent gives us the opportunity to center our thoughts on hope.

It’s a beautiful chance to remember the hope God offers to our lost and dying world, and that He’s given us through Jesus.

Galatians 4:4-8 says:

But when the right time came, God sent his Son, born of a woman, subject to the law. God sent him to buy freedom for us who were slaves to the law, so that he could adopt us as his very own children. And because we are his children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, prompting us to call out, “Abba, Father.” Now you are no longer a slave but God’s own child. And since you are his child, God has made you his heir.

Paul, the writer of Galatians, articulates so perfectly the great hope we celebrate at Christmas! Without God’s intervention, we were all slaves…bound up by our sin nature and hopelessly headed to the grave. Because of God’s great love for us, He came down and rescued humanity by sending his Son as a sacrifice for our sin—so we could be free from the chains of sin and become fully part of God’s glorious eternal family.

On this first Sunday of Advent, as we prepare our hearts to celebrate Jesus’ arrival as a gift to all humanity; let’s stir up in our hearts and homes a sense of anticipation. Over this Advent, we pray that hope would rise up in our spirits in a tangible and life-giving way.

First Sunday of Advent Symbolism and Wreath Candle

The word “Advent” comes from the Latin word adventus, which means “coming.” Advent in the 4th and 5th centuries was a time of preparation for the baptism of new Christians. Christians would spend 40 days in prayer and fasting to prepare for the celebration that accompanied the baptism of new believers.

Over time, advent was connected to the coming of Christ. Originally Christians used this term to reference Christ’s second coming, but by the Middle Ages, Advent was connected to Christ’s first coming that we celebrate at Christmas.

Today, we celebrate Advent over the four weeks leading up to Christmas each year. This year we begin advent on November 29th and end this season of prayerful anticipation on December 24th.

Advent season is an invitation to set your mind off of the stresses of the year. We can take our focus off of the crazy hustle that can be associated with the Christmas season that often threatens to produce more hassle than delight. Advent is a chance to focus our thoughts on the gift God has given us in his son Jesus who stepped down from Heaven and took the form of a man so that we might believe.

The tradition for the first Sunday of Advent includes lighting the candle of hope.

When You Just Aren’t Feeling That Holiday Cheer – Encouragement for Today – November 26, 2021


“When the cares of my heart are many, your consolations cheer my soul.” Psalm 94:19 (ESV)

When I was a child, I could always count on three things being consistent during the holiday season.

The first was my mother’s delicious turkey roasted her signature way — in a brown grocery sack.

The second was my favorite chunky candy bar nestled deep in the toe of my stocking.

And the third was my mom and my aunt crying when all the festivities were over and it was time for everyone to go home. My little mind could never understand why someone would weep at the happiest time of year.

But now, sadly, I can say I get it.

My mom and aunt lost their mother — my Grandma Elsie, whose birthday was on Christmas Eve — when they were barely into their 30s. In the past two years, I have lost my father; my mother; two cousins; an aunt; two uncles; and my stepmom, who’d been part of my life since I was 13.

The cheer and sparkle of the holidays — with the accompanying “it’s the most wonderful time of the year” sentiment — is in such stark contrast to the chimney-sized hole of heaviness in my heart. Knowing that my loved ones are no longer a part of our celebrations drains my holiday joy.

Lost loved ones aren’t the only reason for lamenting. Maybe you have wayward children, poor health or fractured friendships. Maybe this is the first holiday season spent as a family stung by divorce. Or maybe it’s just a deep, dark loneliness. What do we do when we can’t find any holiday cheer?

Thankfully, our key verse shows us the remedy for our aching emotions. Psalm 94:19 declares: “When the cares of my heart are many, your consolations cheer my soul.”

In the original Hebrew language, the meaning of the English phrase “cares of my heart” (v. 19) comes from two words: sarappim and qereb. The first word means anxious and disquieting thoughts. The second term refers to that which is deep within your body, predominantly in your heart. So much of our sorrow at the holidays disquiets us. However, it isn’t always visible to others. It can remain hidden below the surface.

The phrase “cheer my soul” (v. 19) is a tethering of the Hebrew words sha’a’ and nephesh. Taken together, these words imply that God delights our dejected emotions by smearing them over. He takes the raw and tender places of our souls and smooths His healing balm over them, allowing us to be cheered again.

I find this happens through gut-wrenchingly honest prayer and a plea for renewed vision. I tell God how very much I will miss the crazy, Christmas Eve, “white elephant” gift exchange with my dad and stepmom, and I ask God to comfort me and give me hope. He prompts me to host such a gathering with foreign exchange students from church who cannot be home for the holidays.

When I can’t bear the thought of our first holiday season without my mom and her game of “how many chocolate snowman candies are in the jar?” I pray to God for comfort and perspective. He nudges me to keep the tradition going with all her grandkids, with the added action of each child telling one happy memory of Grandma before giving their guesses.

I recall how my own mom always made Christmas a reason to make someone else’s life better, often signing up to serve the less fortunate or offer financial assistance to local charitable organizations. I’m sure helping others helped her to deal with her own fresh grief that resurfaced each year.

Second Corinthians 1:3 refers to God as “the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort” (NIV). He comforts us so that we, in turn, can cheer and comfort others. When our hearts feel heavy at the holidays, God stands ready not only to soothe our sorrows but also to help us seek out the discouraged and do something to show them that we care — and He cares.

Maybe, then, the holidays really can be the most wonderful time of the year: a time for cheering others with the love of God, even despite our hurting hearts.

Today’s Devotions


November 28

Isaiah 26:3 3You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you.

Isaiah spent the previous chapters telling of all the destruction that was to come to Judah and the surrounding nations. Then he looked forward in time to when the nation of God’s people will enter their holy city. The walls and ramparts are salvation. God wipes away every tear from their eyes. It is the nation of believers who will not forsake their faith in God.

Because of that faith God keeps them in perfect peace. The world goes through changes and turmoil. Nations rise and fall. So much of our sense of security is in the flimsiest of things, but those whose minds are steadfast, seeing the sovereignty of God, and the love and faithfulness of God, have perfect peace. Perfect peace is not circumstantial. It is much deeper than passing things. They trust that God never changes. They trust that the love that He has shown them and His faithfulness and mercy will continue forever. There is no fear that He will change.

All else is fluid. All else is undependable. But the eye of faith looks past this temporal world and sees the unchanging God. The peace faith brings is perfect. It is deep and abiding. It is the peace He gives us. Do you know this peace? Where is your trust placed? If it is on something temporal, turn away from that today and learn to trust in the unchanging One.

Consider: Do you possess His peace?


The Advents Of Our Lives

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The Advents of Our Lives

family making an advent wreath together


“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10 ESV

When I was a kid, families signed up each week of December to light the Advent candle and read a special passage of scripture in front of the church. During week one, the scriptures spoke of the hope of the coming Messiah. Week two was about preparing for the King. Joy was the focus of week three, while week four was about loving our Savior. As I reminisced, I got curious about the meaning of the word advent and decided to look it up. According to The Oxford Dictionary, advent means “the arrival of a notable person, thing or event.” In the context of Christmas and waiting on the coming Messiah, that meaning makes a lot of sense. But what about all of the advents we experience in our everyday lives?

When I was young, I couldn’t wait for the advent of adulthood. I just knew turning 18 was going to be the best time of my life. I would have no worries, nobody telling me what to do. Then the advent of marriage; such a magical time in life that promised such hope. Or the advent of my first real job. I was ready to take on the world. I remember the advent of our first child. We were nervous, excited and terrified we would break the little guy. By the advent of the second one, we knew we wouldn’t break him, but we were terrified all over again. All of these advents were special times in my life. Hope, preparation, joy, and love were all easy to come by as I prepared for those advent seasons. When the advents were favorable, it was easy to anticipate the new season of advent.

But what happens when the advent isn’t favorable? What happens when we face the advent of depression, loss, fear, or addiction? What happens when the advent means deep emotional pain, suffering, grief, and mental anguish? What happens when we face the advent of cancer, death, job loss, and divorce? These advents are dark, scary, debilitating, and consuming. They sneak in and destroy, often leaving us hopeless and defeated. Our bodies get weary and our spirits are often broken. These aren’t the advents that we like to think about, but more often than not, they are the advents that end up staring us right in the face.

So what do we do when these advents come? We find hope. Hope in God. Hope in the people around us. Hope in the future. We prepare. Prepare spiritually. Prepare mentally and emotionally. Prepare safe places where we can be vulnerable and open. We embrace joy. Joy in our faith. Joy in the special moments of the day. Joy in the people who surround us. And we love. Love God. Love our family and friends. Love this life with every ounce of energy we can muster. And when we get through to the other side, we do it all over again and again and again. 

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you, and the rivers will not overwhelm you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, and the flame will not burn you. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, and your Savior.” Isaiah 43:2-3a CSB

The advents of life are coming whether we want them to or not. Sometimes they will be good but often they will rock us to the core. Whether good or bad, easy or hard, safe or scary, we already have a guide that we can follow. No matter what advent is looming in the distance, we know the prescription: hope, preparation, joy, and love.

Streams in the Desert – November 27

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For with God nothing shall be impossible (Luke 1:37).

Far up in the Alpine hollows, year by year God works one of His marvels. The snow-patches lie there, frozen with ice at their edge from the strife of sunny days and frosty nights; and through that ice-crust come, unscathed, flowers that bloom.

Back in the days of the by-gone summer, the little soldanelle plant spread its leaves wide and flat on the ground, to drink in the sun-rays, and it kept them stored in the root through the winter. Then spring came, and stirred the pulses even below the snow-shroud, and as it sprouted, warmth was given out in such strange measure that it thawed a little dome in the snow above its head.

Higher and higher it grew and always above it rose the bell of air, till the flower-bud formed safely within it: and at last the icy covering of the air-bell gave way and let the blossom through into the sunshine, the crystalline texture of its mauve petals sparkling like snow itself as if it bore the traces of the flight through which it had come.

And the fragile thing rings an echo in our hearts that none of the jewel-like flowers nestled in the warm turf on the slopes below could waken. We love to see the impossible done. And so does God.

Face it out to the end, cast away every shadow of hope on the human side as an absolute hindrance to the Divine, heap up all the difficulties together recklessly, and pile as many more on as you can find; you cannot get beyond the blessed climax of impossibility. Let faith swing out to Him. He is the God of the impossible.

A woman’s memorial

“Verily I say unto you, Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached in the whole world, there shall also this, that this woman hath done, be told for a memorial of her.” Matthew 26:13.

Suggested Further Reading: 1 Corinthians 1:26-31

The evangelists are of course the historians of the time of Christ; but what strange historians they are! They leave out just that which worldly ones would write, and they record just that which the worldly would have passed over. What historian would have thought of recording the story of the widow and her two mites? Would a Hume or a Smollet have spared half a page for such an incident? Or think you that even a Macaulay could have found it in his pen to write down a story of an eccentric woman, who broke an alabaster box of precious ointment upon the head of Jesus? But so it is. Jesus values things, not by their glare and glitter, but by their intrinsic value. He bids his historians store up, not the things which shall dazzle men, but those which shall instruct and teach them in their spirits. Christ values a matter, not by its exterior, but by the motive which dictated it, by the love which shines from it. O singular historian! You have passed by much that Herod did; you tell us little of the glories of his temple; you tell us little of Pilate, and that little not to his credit; you treat with neglect the battles that are passing over the face of the earth; the grandeur of Caesar does not entice you from your simple story. But you continue to tell these little things, and wise are you in so doing, for truly these little things, when put into the scales of wisdom, weigh more than those monstrous bubbles of which the world delights to read.

For meditation: God usually bypasses those who look great to the world and in their own eyes; he desires people who are after his own heart, however inconspicuous they are in the world’s sight (1 Samuel 16:7Luke 3:1-2).

Come To God And Receive Mercy

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Obtaining Mercy

woman with car trouble


“Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16)

Thump, thump, thump! Her car was handling like a tank as she pulled to the shoulder of the road. Stepping into the cold rain, Leann stared helplessly at the rear tire. The belts that had been showing for weeks had finally given way. It couldn’t have happened at a worse time.

She had worked late and left the kids with the babysitter a little while longer. Christmas was coming and her three kids were hoping Santa wouldn’t forget them. Little did they know Santa had just had a blowout. The extra money she’d made working overtime was gone with the wind when the tire blew out. She could do nothing but cry and pray as she stood helplessly on the roadside in the cold dark rain.

“Lord, why this and why now? I’m trying to raise my kids right and keep them fed and in church. I’m doing everything I can do.” Since their dad died in combat two years before, Leann had struggled to be both mom and dad. Now, cold, soaked, and alone, she was on the verge of giving up as she saw headlights come around the curve.

Brian Black pulled his rollback to a stop in front of her car. “Ms. Leann,” he said, “I’m no knight in shining armor, but I am a flunkie with a rollback. How about you get up in my truck while I load your car and I’ll take you home?”

“Thank you, Brian! I need to call the babysitter and let her know how late I’ll be.”

“There’s no need for that,” Brian replied. “We’ll swing by and get the kids on the way. They’d probably like riding in my truck. I’ll even put the car seats in the back seat.”

One long hour later and in dry clothes at last, Leann got the kids in bed and collapsed in her chair. Suddenly the door flung open! “Whew, that rain’s not letting up, but I got your tire changed.”

“How much do I owe you, Brian?” she asked.

“Well, if you can afford a cup of coffee, we’ll call it even, Ms. Leann.”

Moments later, as she watched the taillights fade in the distance, she thought about her night. She’d only seen Brian a few times at church but hadn’t spoken much more than hello. Yet, this caring stranger had come out of nowhere to rescue her in the rain. All it had cost her was a cup of coffee.

Two years later, as she’s preparing supper, she listens for the sound of Brian’s truck pulling in the drive. With the tap of his airhorn, three little kids come to life and light out the door, hollering, “Momma, Daddy’s home!”

A smile comes on Leann’s face as she brushes back a tear. She can’t help but remember that cold, miserable, rainy night on the roadside with a flat. Who would’ve ever thought it would be that night she obtained mercy? In her mind, Brian was wrong about one thing. He was definitely her knight in shining armor.

Sometimes God may let you hit bottom and experience utter hopelessness, but that doesn’t mean he’s forgotten you. He may have allowed you to get there so you can enjoy it more when you obtain mercy. Have a blessed day in the Lord!

Thank You, Lord!

Reginald Smith, today devotions

Scripture Reading — 2 Samuel 7:18-29

“Do as you promised, so that your name will be great forever.” — 2 Samuel 7:25-26

In the book A Grace Revealed Jerry Sittser tells about the ­tragic deaths of his wife, mother, and daughter in an auto accident. He wondered what could come out of such a horrific ­ordeal. He settled on redemption as the word that brought him hope: “[God] wants the harsh conditions [of life] to shape us and eventually the whole world into something extraordinarily beautiful. Redemption promises to transform, so completely.”

David endured family squabbles, death threats, and many military battles before he experienced a time of rest and peace as Israel’s second king. Through it all, he knew “the Lord was with him.” And now the Lord had made a promise that his kingdom would endure and his throne would be established forever. The king knew he had to obey God’s Word and seek to follow God’s will, reminding his people ­every step of the way. David knew that Israel was “the one nation on earth that God went out to redeem as a people for himself and to make a name for himself.” God was working to make something out of David’s life and out of this nation for his good purposes all the nations.

Similarly, we are never beyond the redemptive work of David’s descendant Jesus in his desire to make something out of us today.


Lord, may I trust your redemptive work of always pruning, encouraging, and molding me to serve your good purposes. In Christ’s name, Amen.

Streams in the Desert – November 26

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And Caleb said unto her, What wouldest thou? Who answered, give me a blessing; for thou hast given me a south land; give me also springs of water. And he gave her the upper springs, and the nether springs (Joshua 15:18-19).

There are both upper and nether springs. They are springs, not stagnant pools. There are joys and blessings that flow from above through the hottest summer and the most desert land of sorrow and trial. The lands of Achsah were “south lands,” lying under a burning sun and often parched with burning heat. But from the hills came the unfailing springs, that cooled, refreshed and fertilized all the land.

There are springs that flow in the low places of life, in the hard places, in the desert places, in the lone places, in the common places, and no matter what may be our situation, we can always find these upper springs. Abraham found them amid the hills of Canaan. Moses found them among the rocks of Midian. David found them among the ashes of Ziklag when his property was gone, his family captives and his people talked of stoning him, but “David encouraged himself in the Lord.” Habakkuk found them when the fig tree was withered and the fields were brown, but as he drank from them he could sing: “Yet will I rejoice in the Lord and joy in the God of my salvation.”

Isaiah found them in the awful days of Sennacherib’s invasion, when the mountains seemed hurled into the midst of the sea, but faith could sing: “There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God. God is in the midst of her: she shall not be moved.”

The martyrs found them amid the flames, and reformers amid their foes and conflicts, and we can find them all the year if we have the Comforter in our hearts and have learned to say with David: “All my springs are in thee.”

How many and how precious these springs, and how much more there is to be possessed of God’s own fulness! —A. B. Simpson

Today’s Devotions


November 26

Isaiah 8:19-20 19When men tell you to consult mediums and spiritists, who whisper and mutter, should not a people inquire of their God? Why consult the dead on behalf of the living? 20To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, they have no light of dawn.

One of God’s complaints against his people was their willingness to seek direction from mediums and spiritists. When people turn their heart away from God, they will want to know what the future holds so that they can prepare for it. Their fear is not their impending judgment, but circumstances they hope to avoid. They will not inquire of God because God would tell them to change their ways.

This fascination with knowing the future stems from a lack of faith and trust in God. If a person is walking in the Spirit, he trusts God for each day. If there is a need to inquire about direction in life, he waits upon the Lord. The Great Shepherd cares for His sheep today and in the future. Only those who are wandering from the sheepfold will be desperate to know what tomorrow will bring. King Saul was such a person. He dared not inquire of God for he would not repent, so he sought out a witch to act as a medium.

Evil sources of information will often contradict what God has said. In this passage Isaiah was told to be different from the people he lived among. He was told to continue to fear the Lord. The mediums will often bring up a person who will speak in contradiction to the Word of God. They had no light in life, and they have none in death. The dead have finished their time in this life. How can they help others where they failed? Jesus is the one that is victorious in life and death.

Consider: Wait upon the Lord. Seek Him. He will be our guide unto death.

Happy Thanksgiving Day

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Thanksgiving Traditions



What do you think of when you think of Thanksgiving? A table laden with turkey, dressing, and pumpkin pie? A break from work or school? Family gathered from far and near? Football? Sales the day after?

Many traditions make Thanksgiving special and memorable. However, we might also think of our history. In 1621, Governor Bradford declared a day to offer thanks for good crops and invited an Indian tribe to join the settlers for a three-day feast and games.

The second recorded American Thanksgiving, in 1623, actually began as a time of prayer and fasting. The settlers set aside a day to pray and fast because they desperately needed rain. While they were praying, a gentle rain began to fall. Prayer time turned into an impromptu time of giving thanks. (Do you know of anyone who thinks of prayer and fasting in connection with Thanksgiving? After all, it is part of our history of the holiday.)

Although various colonies celebrated harvest festivals, it was not until 1777 that all 13 colonies celebrated at the same time. In 1789, George Washington was the first president to declare a Day of Thanksgiving. However, it did not continue to be an annual celebration.

Finally, in 1863 Abraham Lincoln gave a proclamation, declaring a Day of Thanksgiving. He thought it might help to unite a divided nation. Since then, Thanksgiving has been proclaimed a holiday by every president. (Did anyone think of bringing unity in connection with Thanksgiving?)

About a month ago, I read a couple of articles that got me to thinking about this particular holiday. They were both about depression. Yes, depression—as unlikely as that seems.

One article suggested that one way to combat depression is to write in a notebook every morning, listing five things you’re grateful for—just five things, every morning. Evidently, practicing gratefulness helps change the mindset from a disheartened viewpoint to having a positive, hopeful outlook on life.

Another article suggested that throughout the day, if you feel down, to stop and think of three things that you are grateful for. It’s difficult to stay down or depressed while feeling grateful. As you focus on the positive—the things you’re thankful for—it drives out the doldrums.

I often get so busy just keeping up with life that I forget to be grateful. After reading those articles, I decided it was a good thing that we celebrate Thanksgiving so we will be reminded to be grateful.

But then I wondered if we get so busy with our traditions that we sometimes forget to give thanks on Thanksgiving. When I asked what you think of when you think of Thanksgiving, did anyone even think of giving thanks?

No other holiday spells out what it is all about—“Thanks-giving”—but we hear it as a noun, a name, a holiday—not an action. What would happen if we responded to the verb in the holiday? What if we celebrated by giving thanks?

Even in the worst circumstances, there are things to be grateful for. When we take our eyes off the problems and focus on the positive, it lifts our spirits and makes the difficulty easier to bear. When we go a step further and voice appreciation to those around us for blessing us, it encourages them and makes their lives easier—and brighter.

I’ve even seen relationships restored when words of appreciation were spoken. I don’t know whether the holiday brought unity between the North and South in Lincoln’s day, but gratefulness can bring unity between individuals, in families, and in groups—wherever people interact.

When I think of Thanksgiving, I first think of family because that is when we have our family reunion. And I’m all for turkey, dressing, gravy, pies, and all the bounty. Parades, football, and slashed store prices add to the fun. I love celebrating Thanksgiving.

However, except for fond memories and extra pounds, those things are soon past. Conversely, if we celebrate Thanksgiving with an attitude of gratitude, it could make a positive difference that would have lasting effect—in lives of others as well as ourselves. In George Washington’s words, Thanksgiving was to be “a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God.” What would it take to keep that tradition alive?

May you and those you love be blessed as you celebrate Thanks-giving this year!


Grateful Words

NOVEMBER 25, 2021

“Give thanks to the LORD and proclaim his greatness. Let the whole world know what he has done.” 1 Chronicles 16:8 (NLT)

Pinterest ImageThe conversation with my husband started out simply enough. I was sharing some frustrations I had regarding various projects I was involved with. He patiently listened, and then I patiently waited for him to agree with everything I had said.

Instead, he replied, “Sometimes, I wonder if you really like what you do.” I was confused, so I stated, “Well, of course I do! What would make you think that?”

His tone was gentle, but his words hit hard: “The way you talk about it.”


I knew I was grateful for each opportunity. In fact, I loved what I was doing, but apparently, my words were telling a different story. My husband was hearing more negativity than positivity. He caught more complaining than contentment in my conversation. He sensed ingratitude over gratitude.

But it wasn’t just about those projects.

One day, it’s the traffic. Another day, it’s work. I grumble about my overbooked schedule. I question how there are so many dishes in my two-member household. I groan when I have to put the toilet seat down … again.

In Numbers 11, we encounter the Israelites, who were en route to the promised land. Wilderness living presented its fair share of challenges, but God had provided every step of the way.

In spite of that, the Israelites repeatedly verbalized their dissatisfaction: “… again the Israelites started wailing and said, ‘If only we had meat to eat! We remember the fish we ate in Egypt at no cost—also the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic. But now we have lost our appetite; we never see anything but this manna!’” (Numbers 11:4-6, NIV, emphasis added).

Their cravings were clouding their memories. If you didn’t know the story, you would think Egypt was an all-inclusive resort paid for by someone else. But the Israelites’ time in Egypt had been anything but a vacation — they were slaves under the oppressive rule of an evil pharaoh. It hadn’t been that long since they had cried out to God to get them out of there. (Exodus 2:23)

I can’t be too hard on the Israelites, though. They aren’t the only ones who have chosen to complain about what they didn’t have rather than celebrate what they did have. I am just as guilty.

As I processed my husband’s observation, I realized: What if everything I complained about was taken away?

Driving in traffic means I have a car to take me places. And despite valid job frustrations, I have a healthy body that allows me to do my job. That job also provides an income to help me take care of my family. A full schedule is indicative of people in my life and a purpose I am pursuing. Household chores reveal that I have a home to take care of. Dishes in the sink mean there was food on my table. And even that raised toilet seat is a reminder of the wonderful (and insightful) husband I spent many years praying for.

Even if we don’t have everything we want, there is always at least one thing we can thank God for. Another day, another breath, the beauty of creation — the list goes on.

Of course, we all need opportunities to voice our frustrations in a healthy way. However, I don’t want my grateful heart to be overshadowed by my complaining words. The Bible instructs us accordingly: “Give thanks to the LORD and proclaim his greatness. Let the whole world know what he has done” (1 Chronicles 16:8).

In this verse, to “give thanks” means more than an internal attitude. The Hebrew phrasing implies a confession of thanks. This lines up with the rest of the commands in this verse to “proclaim” and “let the whole world know” what God has done.

In addition to that, we are expected to “Do everything without complaining and arguing, so that no one can criticize you. Live clean, innocent lives as children of God, shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people” (Philippians 2:14-15, NLT).

Our witness as Christ-followers is tied to what we do (and don’t) say. I’m still a work in progress, but my prayer is that my words would reflect my heart … and that there wouldn’t be any question about how grateful I really am.

A Prayer for Thanksgiving Day – Thanksgiving Devotional –

By Debbie McDaniel, author, crosswalk. com

“Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth. Worship the Lord with gladness, come before him with joyful songs. Know that the Lord is God, it is he who made us, and we are his, we are his people, the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise, give thanks to him and praise his name. For the Lord is good; his love endures forever, his faithfulness continues through all generations.” Psalm 100:1-5

All across our nation, Thanksgiving is a day that we set aside in order to do one thing.

Be thankful.


And usually what goes along with it, is lots of food, family and friends, laughter and fun, times of giving to others in need, maybe some football, or traditions that you’ve recognized through long years.

And sometimes too, there is also loneliness. And struggle. Or deep loss. Feelings of hurt and painful circumstances that you’re still trying to hurdle over.

Whatever you’re facing this Thanksgiving Day, in the midst of all of it, may we remember again that God gives us the opportunity each and every day, to give worship and thanks to Him. Every morning He gives us breath, is His invitation to come joyfully into His Presence. He reminds us that He alone is God and we belong to Him. He assures us that His plans in our lives are for good, that his love covers us securely, and His faithfulness extends from generation to generation.

No matter what, He’s given us so many reasons to choose thankfulness and joy this day. Let’s do what the Psalmist of this great chapter says:

– Shout for joy.

– Worship the Lord with gladness.

– Come before Him with joyful songs.

– Know that He is God.

– Enter His gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise.

– Give thanks to Him and praise His name.

– Recognize His goodness, love, and faithfulness, through all the generations of our family.

Dear God,
Thank you for your goodness and for your blessings over our lives. Forgive us for when we don’t thank you enough, for who you are, for all that you do, for all that you’ve given. We’re so grateful you for your amazing love and care, for your mercy and grace, for always working on our behalf, even behind the scenes when we’re unaware. Thank you that you are always with us and will never leave us, even through loss and the most difficult of times. Thank you for your incredible sacrifice so that we might have freedom and life. Help us to set our eyes and our hearts on you afresh. Renew our spirits, fill us with your peace and joy, this Thanksgiving Day and every day.
We give you thanks and praise, for You alone are worthy!
In Jesus’ Name,

Thank You God For Your Grace and Mercy

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Cultivating a Spirit of Thankfulness



“Where are the other nine?” (Luke 17:17b)

Even though we may stuff ourselves at the dinner table, celebrating Thanksgiving can actually make us healthier judging by recent research. Studies have shown that being thankful improves our physical and emotional health. Holding on to feelings of thankfulness boosts our immune system and increases blood supply to our heart. Daily guided exercises or the habit of keeping a weekly gratitude journal can increase our alertness, enthusiasm, and energy, and improve our sleep. People who describe themselves as feeling grateful tend to suffer less stress and depression than the rest of the population.

For all its benefits, gratitude doesn’t come naturally to us. As Jesus passed through a village one day, he was spotted by ten lepers who desperately longed to be healed (Luke 17:11-19). They kept themselves at a distance as required by law but cried out to him, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!” Instead of instantly healing the men, Jesus told them to go and show themselves to the priest. As the ten lepers walked off to obey, their skin disease disappeared.

One of the men turned around, shouting praises to God as he came back to Jesus. He threw himself at his benefactor’s feet. Jesus expressed amazement that only one man had thought to thank him. “Were not all ten cleansed?” he asked. “Where are the other nine?” He also pointed out that the only man who did respond was a Samaritan, a race despised by the Jewish people.

For Christians, cultivating a spirit of thankfulness is more than a good idea; it’s a direct command from God. In the Old Testament, God laid down specific guidelines for the Israelites to bring thank offerings. In the New Testament, believers are instructed to be thankful in all circumstances (1 Thessalonians 5:18). When we’re struggling with trials and difficulties, this sounds like a strange command, especially since we live in a culture that encourages us to act on the basis of how we feel. But God knows that when we focus on our blessings, it’s easier to keep our problems and concerns in the right perspective.

King David never lost his keen awareness of all that God had done for the nation of Israel and for him personally. Even though he experienced disappointment, pain, and heartache, David often poured out his feelings of thankfulness to his Creator and Lord. That gratitude became the foundation of his worship of God.

Cultivating a spirit of thankfulness honors God and strengthens our faith. It also strengthens our relationships with other people. We can’t be in a right relationship with God or with anyone without a spirit of thankfulness. No matter what problems we’re struggling with, we don’t want to be like the nine former lepers who forgot to say “thank you” to their Healer.

I will give thanks to you with all my heart, O Lord my God. I will honor you forever because your mercy toward me is great. Psalm 86:12-13 (God’s Word translation)

Ask yourself: How often do I express gratitude to God or to other people?


Today’s Devotions


November 24

Isaiah 1:18-20 18“Come now, let us reason together,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool. 19If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the best from the land; 20but if you resist and rebel, you will be devoured by the sword.” For the mouth of the LORD has spoken.

Any culture will express the value of its beliefs in the justice and compassion of their social life. Isaiah was prophesying to a culture that went through the motions of religion without sincerity of heart. Though they said they believed in God and justice, they lived lives that denied that claim. Greed was the driving force of the nation. Scales were not accurate. Justice was determined by bribery. The weak and poor were taken advantage of.

God allowed the enemies of Judah to rob and defeat them over and over again so that they would turn back to Him. They would turn back for a brief period and then would go right back to their idols that promised them the prosperity their greed desired. God’s arms still were open to them, and His voice called out to them to repent.

Your life expresses the value of your beliefs just as that culture expressed the heart of the people. In every action that God is dishonored, there is some kind of idolatry in our heart. God calls to us just as He called to them. Sit down with Him. Reason together with Him. He is willing to cleanse you and help you if you are willing. If you continue to be willing and obey what He shows you, then you will find the goodness of God in your daily life. If you rebel against His instruction, your sin will eventually destroy you.


Streams in the Desert – November 24

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Be still, and know that I am God (Ps. 46:10).

Is there any note of music in all the chorus as mighty as the emphatic pause? Is there any word in all the Psalter more eloquent than that one word, Selah (Pause)? Is there anything more thrilling and awful than the hush that comes before the bursting of the tempest and the strange quiet that seems to fall upon all nature before some preternatural phenomenon or convulsion? Is there anything that can touch our hearts as the power of stillness?

There is for the heart that will cease from itself, “the peace of God that passeth all understanding,” a “quietness and confidence” which is the source of all strength, a sweet peace “which nothing can offend,” a deep rest which the world can neither give nor take away. There is in the deepest center of the soul a chamber of peace where God dwells, and where, if we will only enter in and hush every other sound, we can hear His still, small voice.

There is in the swiftest wheel that revolves upon its axis a place in the very center, where there is no movement at all; and so in the busiest life there may be a place where we dwell alone with God, in eternal stillness.

There is only one way to know God. “Be still, and know.” “God is in his holy temple; let all the earth keep silence before him.”

“All-loving Father, sometimes we have walked under starless skies that dripped darkness like drenching rain. We despaired of starshine or moonlight or sunrise. The sullen blackness gloomed above us as if it would last forever. And out of the dark there spoke no soothing voice to mend our broken hearts. We would gladly have welcomed some wild thunder peal to break the torturing stillness of that over-brooding night.

“But Thy winsome whisper of eternal love spoke more sweetly to our bruised and bleeding souls than any winds that breathe across Aeolian harps. It was Thy ‘still small voice’ that spoke to us. We were listening and we heard. We looked and saw Thy face radiant with the light of love. And when we heard Thy voice and saw Thy face, new life came back to us as life comes back to withered blooms that drink the summer rain.”



Scripture Reading — 2 Samuel 6:16-23

“How the king of Israel has distinguished himself today, going around half-naked. . . .” — 2 Samuel 6:20

Michal had grown up in the house of Saul, Israel’s first king. Maybe she never saw her father acting in a way that seemed “unkingly.” Maybe she thought that royalty should distinguish themselves from the common people. Perhaps Michal wanted David to act like the father she knew rather than the man he was.

She seems to have been embarrassed that her husband the king was dancing in such an undignified way. After all, shouldn’t David think about her reputation as well?

David did not miss a beat in his response. Perhaps with a sparkle in his eye and a sly voice, he said, “It was before the Lord, who chose me rather than your father or anyone from his house when he appointed me ruler over the Lord’s people Israel—I will cele­brate before the Lord.” He also declared that he would become even more undignified—and even humiliated—if that’s what it would take to celebrate and honor the Lord while serving as king.

In this way David put the Lord first when even a close family member criticized him. Sometimes people do not know how to handle the joy of the Lord. David showed that he believed it was right to celebrate with all your heart in the worship of God. As the early church leader Irenaeus put it, “The glory of God is a human fully alive.”

Be Thankful For Your Riches In Christ

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Are You Thankful For Your Riches?



Sometimes, I annoy myself.

In fact, often times I annoy myself.

I’m a whiner. Sometimes to my husband, mostly to God.

Why don’t people like me? Don’t they appreciate my talent? Why does everyone else our age get to go on regular vacations, and we don’t?

The list is endless.

Makes me sick.

Lately, I have been doing a study titled, “The Battle Plan for Prayer.” The section covered last week was Locks and Keys of Prayer. Studying the Bible has been somewhat of a passion for me over the last few decades, so it didn’t surprise me when some of the locks were unconfessed sin, repeated words, and unforgiveness.

It was the third key that tripped me up — strive for contentment.

If you met me, you wouldn’t say I showed the signs of discontentment, that is why it was hard to diagnose — mostly because it generally doesn’t have to do with money.

But sometimes it does.

Mostly, I am discontent with my situation at any given time. Or can be. I complain to God about my husband and my husband about God. I murmur about my drive or car or job, when in truth I do not deserve any of those things, much less a caring husband who listens.

1 Timothy 6:6-10 says:

But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. (NIV)

So, I may not love money, but I am certainly not content with just food and clothing.

And yet, most of the world doesn’t have their basic needs met.

It’s like the illustration J.D. Greear gave when teaching on the book of Colossians. He talks about staying in a Holiday Inn Express for two nights. After the first night, you go down to the manager and say, “I think I’d like to add granite counters and expand the bathroom.” The manager would wonder why the big changes when you’re only staying one more night.

Those two nights are the time we spend on this planet.

During this Thanksgiving Season, I want to concentrate on today. Be content. Be truly grateful because we are rich. Look at this text found in 2 Corinthians 8:9,

“For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.” (NIV)

I would just like to pray for us, friend.

Our Great God.

Thank you for sending your son so that through His poverty, we might become rich. Thank you for salvation, for the Holy Spirit who lives within us, for eternity with you. Help us to invest in heaven now. Forgive us for when we spend our time and energy on fluff. Expand our horizons out of our comfort zone to share and to pray. And during this Thanksgiving season, give us your grace to not only be content but eternally grateful.

In the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.


Today’s Devotions


November 23

Song of Songs 8:5-7 5Who is this coming up from the desert leaning on her lover? Under the apple tree I roused you; there your mother conceived you, there she who was in labor gave you birth. 6Place me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm; for love is as strong as death, its jealousy unyielding as the grave. It burns like blazing fire, like a mighty flame. 7Many waters cannot quench love; rivers cannot wash it away. If one were to give all the wealth of his house for love, it would be utterly scorned.

The bride has lost her identity in her lover. As He approaches, she clings to Him and is not recognizable apart from Him. This is where Christ longs to draw us. It is a place where those who see us associate us with Christ. We frequently find our place alone with Him and give Him our love. There is time for corporate worship, but if you do not spend time alone with Him, how can you say you truly love Him?

She asks for Him to place her like a seal over His heart, like a seal on His arm. He has done both. The pierced side and arms will forever be a seal of His love for us. He is at the right hand of the Father with those marks that proclaim His love. We could call them love wounds. When He first met with His disciples He displayed those marks to ease their fears. It is a love as strong as death. No greater love has anyone than to lay down his life for the one he loves.

If He loves us like that, He will jealously guide us away from anything else that would compete for our affection and attention. That zeal for us is like a blazing fire. He would consume all else so we would be completely His. That is the picture we see as Jesus cleansed the temple with a scourge of cords. We are his temple, and He wants our hearts purely devoted to Him.

Meditation: What a love He has for us! You cannot purchase it. You cannot earn it. He has set His love upon you, and nothing can turn it from you. How will you respond?


Streams in the Desert – November 23

  • 202123 Nov

Thou hast shewed thy people hard things (Ps. 60:3).

I have always been glad that the Psalmist said to God that some things were hard. There is no mistake about it; there are hard things in life.

Some beautiful pink flowers were given me this summer, and as I took them I said, “What are they?” And the answer came, “They are rock flowers; they grow and bloom only on rocks where you can see no soil.” Then  I thought of God’s flowers growing in hard places; and I feel, somehow, that He may have a peculiar tenderness for His “rock flowers” that He may not have for His lilies and roses.
Margaret Bottome

The tests of life are to make, not break us. Trouble may demolish a man’s business but build up his character. The blow at the outward man may be the greatest blessing to the inner man. If God, then, puts or permits anything hard in our lives, be sure that the real peril, the real trouble, is what we shall lose if we flinch or rebel.
Maltbie D. Babcock

Heroes are forged on anvils hot with pain,
And splendid courage comes but with the test.
Some natures ripen and some natures bloom
Only on blood-wet soil, some souls prove great
Only in moments dark with death or doom.
God gets his best soldiers out of the highlands of affliction.

Spurgeon at the New Park Street Chapel: 365 Sermons

By: Charles Spurgeon

Love’s commendation

“But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8

Suggested Further Reading: Hebrews 2:5-9

I could almost conceive a parliament in heaven. The angels are assembled; the question is proposed to them: “Cherubim and seraphim, cohorts of the glorified, ye spirits that like flames of fire, at my bidding fly, ye happy beings, whom I have created for my honour! Here is a question which I condescend to offer for your consideration: Man has sinned; there is no way for his pardon but by someone suffering and paying blood for blood. Who shall it be?” I can conceive that there was silence throughout the great assembly. Gabriel spoke not: he would have stretched his wings and flapped the heavens in a moment, if the deed had been possible; but he felt that he could never bear the guilt of a world upon his shoulders, and, therefore, still he sat. And there the mightiest of the mighty, those who could shake a world if God should will it, sat still, because they felt all powerless to accomplish redemption. I do not conceive that one of them would have ventured to hope that God himself would assume flesh and die. I do not think it could have entered even into angelic thought to conceive that the mighty Maker of the skies should bow his awful head and sink into a grave. I cannot imagine that the brightest and most seraphic of these glorified ones would for an instant have suffered such a thought to abide with him. And when the Son of God, rising from his throne, spoke to them and said, “Principalities and powers! I will become flesh, I will veil this Godhead of mine in robes of mortal clay, I will die!” I think I see the angels for once astonished.

For meditation: Man had sinned; man must suffer. Only a real, yet sinless man could take his place; God the Son alone qualified for the task (Romans 8:3).

Thank You Lord For Protecting Us

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Thankful for Painful Detours?

construction worker holding detour sign


Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will travel to such and such a city 
and spend a year there and do business and make a profit.” Yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring — what your life will be! (James 4:13-14 CSB)

My life had taken a painful detour and I kept asking dark what-if questions. What if my husband had not begun to struggle with anxiety, depression, and suicidal thoughts? What if he had not retired from pastoring? What if his medication stopped working and suicidal thoughts came back? What if I couldn’t take this anymore? What if I just quit? Stopping my dark what-if questions was impossible. I was stuck and needed help.

My friend Kelly was in training to become a life coach. She reached out asking if she could work with me and I agreed thinking I was helping her. God had a plan to use her to help me stop seeing my journey as a detour and stop asking my what-ifs questions.

A few sessions in, she asked me to identify my goals and dreams.

I quickly answered, “I want to figure out my new identity as a retired pastor’s wife who’s now living on the other side of a pew. My dream is to stop asking what-if questions and understand the detour my life has taken.”

She followed up by asking, “If you could change anything about your life today, what would it be?”

Without hesitating, I said, “My husband would never have suffered anxiety, depression, or suicidal thoughts. We would not have retired or gotten so far into debt because of the medical bills. I wouldn’t live with the fear that the suicidal thoughts would come back. I wouldn’t have lost my identity as a wife or a pastor’s wife.” I fired my answers off, one after another.

Her next question caught me off guard. “What do you love about your life today?”

As I thought about my answer. I knew I was in trouble. My response to the second question was going to change my answers to the first one. I started to list all of the things I loved about my life:

  • my church
  • circle of friends
  • the two life groups and Bible study I led each week
  •  my cute apartment
  • my garden full of flowers and fruit trees
  • the hummingbirds in my yard
  • living so close to my children and grandchildren

All these things were in my life because of my husband’s breakdown.

I couldn’t change my painful experiences without losing the things I had come to love. My focus shifted from the painful journey to all the beautiful things I now had in my life. My response helped me move from living in the what-ifs to becoming thankful for what I have. What-if living is a mindset of dwelling on the loss. Living with a focus on what I am thankful for means I am right where God wants me.

Instead, you should say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” (James 4:15 CSB)

As I read this verse, I hear God say, “Be thankful and live in this moment, for it is all You are guaranteed. Stop asking what-if and ask me for direction.

I had been sharing about my life taking a detour because of my husband’s struggles with anxiety, depression, and suicidal thoughts. Now I understood it wasn’t a detour at all. God knew this would happen and had a plan. He is using me in the middle of my mess. I am finding joy and serving Him in ways I never would have had the opportunity to otherwise. I am not missing out on life because of the struggles I’m facing; I am living a richer, fuller life because of them.

Today’s Devotions


November 22

Song of Songs 2:14-15 14My dove in the clefts of the rock, in the hiding places on the mountainside, show me your face, let me hear your voice; for your voice is sweet, and your face is lovely. 15Catch for us the foxes, the little foxes that ruin the vineyards, our vineyards that are in bloom.

The Song of Songs is about a love relationship between Solomon and a young woman. In a type or shadow it is about Jesus (the Son of David) and His bride, the church. The church is a made up of many members, and this speaks to us all. But it also speaks to us individually. The Apostle Paul tells us in Ephesians 5 that marriage is a mystery that represents Christ and the church. As you read the Song of Songs, place yourself in the role of the beloved. Let the words of the Lover speak to your heart. We consider the love of Christ expressed on the cross, but we should also consider that relational love that made Him willing to go there.

In this passage He calls you His dove. He wants to see your face. Your face is lovely to Him. He longs to hear your voice, for He considers it to be sweet. Our flesh and blood body will pass away, and we will have new bodies that are a clearer expression of our spirit. (1Corinthians 15:51,52; 1John 3:2) He sees that in you now. He sees past what is passing and to the eternal. Take time to come out of hiding in all your busyness, and come and talk with Him face to face.

In this song the Lover and his beloved both have vineyards. It represents the fruit of their lives. Little foxes come in to spoil the fruit. They are going to see that whatever keeps their lives from being fruitful is eliminated. What is it that keeps your life from being fruitful? Are you planning to catch it?

Prayer: Lord, help me to be completely Yours. Help me see and catch whatever keeps our relationship from being fruitful.

Direction in dilemma

‘Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord.’ Exodus 14:13

Suggested Further Reading: Psalm 37:1–9

In what way are we to stand still, dear friends? Surely it means among other things, that we are to wait awhile. Time is precious, but there are occasions when the best use we can make of it, is to let it run on. If time flies, that is no reason why I am always to fly. Every experienced man knows that by being wrongly busy for one hour, he may make mischief which a lifetime would hardly rectify. If I run without waiting to enquire the way, I may run upon my ruin. Many who have been very busy in helping themselves, would have done better waiting upon their Lord. Prayer is never a waste of time. A man who would ride post-haste, had better wait till he is perfectly mounted, or he may slip from the saddle. He who glorifies God by standing still, is better employed than he who diligently serves his own self-will. Wait awhile then. Wait in prayer, however. Call upon God, and spread the case before him; tell him your difficulty, and plead his promise of aid. Express your unstaggering confidence in him; wait in faith, for unfaithful, untrusting waiting, is but an insult to the Lord. Believe that if he shall keep you tarrying even till midnight, yet he will come at the right time; the vision shall come and shall not tarry. Wait in quiet patience, not murmuring because you are under the affliction, but blessing God for it; never murmuring against the second cause, as the children of Israel did against Moses; never wish you could go back to the world again, but accept the case as it stands, and put it as it stands simply and with your whole heart, without any self-will, into the hand of your covenant God.

Undeserved Grace

Scripture Reading — 2 Samuel 6:1-11

The ark of the Lord remained in the house of Obed-Edom the Gittite for three months. . . . — 2 Samuel 6:11

Have you seen some of the Publishers Clearing House com­mercials on TV or the internet? A happy group of people jumps out of a van with flowers, balloons, smiles on their faces, and a huge fake check. They approach the home of an unsuspecting person with the news of winning large amounts of money for the rest of their lives. And the person responds with shock, surprise, and excitement.

Obed-Edom had no idea that the ark of the covenant would show up at his door. And the circumstances were sad and shocking. Uzzah had tried to make sure the ark would not fall from the cart when the oxen stumbled. But that vio­lated the holiness of the ark, and Uzzah paid with his life.

This puzzling event brought fear into the hearts of David and all the people. David halted the procession and took the ark to the house of Obed-Edom, where it stayed for three months. It must have taken Obed-Edom by surprise to have the ark of the presence of the Lord at his house.

As Obed-Edom and his family saw the blessings of God pour out on them like manna from heaven, his heart must have swelled with gratitude for the opportunity to be God’s servant. It was all by undeserved grace that he and his household were blessed.


Dear Lord, I am surprised by your gifts of undeserved grace. Help me not to take for granted the abundance of relationships and material blessings you have brought into my life. In Jesus’ name, Amen.