Monthly Archives: December 2022

Building Faith and Bearing Fruit

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Building Faith and Bearing Fruit

picking apples off a tree


Gordon Robertson – President and CEO, CBN

As we end one year and begin another, it’s good to consider how we can persevere in faithfully serving the Lord.

God tells us in Jeremiah 17:7-8:

“Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, and whose hope is the LORD. For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, which spreads out its roots by the river, and will not fear when heat comes; but its leaf will be green, and will not be anxious in the year of drought, nor will cease from yielding fruit.”

In stark contrast, verses 5-6 say:

“Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart departs from the LORD. For he shall be like a shrub in the desert.”

To be fruitful, we must put our faith in God.

In the story of Joseph, he had it all—his father’s favor and the coat of many colors. His jealous brothers pretended he was dead and sold him into slavery. When Joseph rejected the advances of his master’s wife, he went to jail. Even so, he still had God’s favor and the jailer let him run the prison.

While there, he interpreted the dream of Pharaoh’s jailed butler, predicting he would soon be restored. Joseph then asked that the butler mention him to Pharaoh, hoping to get out of prison.

When we start trusting in people and what they say they will do, we are in the wrong place. Remember that God always stands by His words, and He never forgets His promises.

The butler, however, forgot about Joseph for two long years—until Pharaoh had a dream no one could interpret. That’s when Joseph was finally freed, given great authority, and ultimately reconciled to the very brothers who had sold him into slavery.

And then Joseph told them something amazing:

“You meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to … save many people alive” (Genesis 50:20).

We need to have that same kind of trust—that God is working through everything. We may not know where to go or what to do, but God does. And when circumstances look bad, we can trust He is working all things together for good. When we have that faith, we are like a tree planted by the waters, unaffected by drought and never ceasing to bear fruit.

Ere Another Year Begins, Believe in Jesus – New Year Devotional – December 31


Jeremiah 8:20
The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved.

Not saved! Dear reader, is this your mournful plight? Warned of the judgment to come, bidden to escape for your life, and yet at this moment not saved! You know the way of salvation, you read it in the Bible, you hear it from the pulpit, it is explained to you by friends, and yet you neglect it, and therefore you are not saved. You will be without excuse when the Lord shall judge the quick and dead.

The Holy Spirit has given more or less of blessing upon the word which has been preached in your hearing, and times of refreshing have come from the divine presence, and yet you are without Christ. All these hopeful seasons have come and gone – your summer and your harvest have passed – and yet you are not saved. Years have followed one another into eternity, and your last year will soon be here: youth has gone, manhood is going, and yet you are not saved.

Let me ask you – will you ever be saved? Is there any likelihood of it? Already the most propitious seasons have left you unsaved; will other occasions alter your condition? Means have failed with you – the best of means, used perseveringly and with the utmost affection – what more can be done for you? Affliction and prosperity have alike failed to impress you; tears and prayers and sermons have been wasted on your barren heart. Are not the probabilities dead against your ever being saved? Is it not more than likely that you will abide as you are till death for ever bars the door of hope? Do you recoil from the supposition? Yet it is a most reasonable one: he who is not washed in so many waters will in all probability go filthy to his end. The convenient time never has come, why should it ever come? It is logical to fear that it never will arrive, and that Felix like, you will find no convenient season till you are in hell. O bethink you of what that hell is, and of the dread probability that you will soon be cast into it!

Reader, suppose you should die unsaved, your doom no words can picture. Write out your dread estate in tears and blood, talk of it with groans and gnashing of teeth: you will be punished with everlasting destruction from the glory of the Lord, and from the glory of His power. A brother’s voice would fain startle you into earnestness. O be wise, be wise in time, and ere another year begins, believe in Jesus, who is able to save to the uttermost. Consecrate these last hours to lonely thought, and if deep repentance be bred in you, it will be well; and if it lead to a humble faith in Jesus, it will be best of all. O see to it that this year pass not away, and you an unforgiven spirit. Let not the new year’s midnight peals sound upon a joyless spirit! Now, NOW, NOW believe, and live.


Ditching New Year’s Resolutions
By Laura Bailey,

“But as for me, I watch in hope for the LORD, I wait for God my Savior; my God will hear me.” – Micah 7:7 NIV

For as long as I can remember, the days between Christmas and New Year’s were spent evaluating the previous year and planning all the ways I would improve in the following year. I crafted a detailed list with goals, timelines, and rewards if I hit the target. Rarely did I just focus on one resolution. Instead, I filled every line on the paper with a new achievement. And every year around the first of February, exhausted, overwhelmed, and irritated, I threw my resolution in the trash and immediately penned another, this time, a more obtainable list–except it was just as ridiculous to maintain as the first one.

Last year, however, I decided to ditch the resolutions for good and focus on a word or Scripture for the year. Setting goals and working towards improving oneself isn’t a bad thing. But, we mustn’t let our identity be rooted in what we achieved ( or didn’t). This year I decided to focus on three words, Scripture, and prayer. My hope is to spend a few minutes each day to meditate and abide in Christ, using these words to prompt my quiet time.

Feel free to use the below phrases to encourage you this year, and remember, it’s not about what we do in 2023, but Whose glory we do it for.


“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.”  –Psalm 51:10 NASV

Every day I am bombarded with decisions that beg for my attention. What will I eat? Will the kids play soccer or baseball? Do I need to get the roof checked? As I go about slaying my to-do list, I often forget to address the most critical decision of my day: will I choose to live a godly life?

A part of living a godly life is seeking daily redemption and renewal of my heart and mind so that I can be steadfast in the Lord. God graciously gives His Children a heart that yearns to love Him and a spirit of steadfast obedience. Before I go about our day, l take time to call on the name of the Lord and ask for a clean heart that flees from evil and a right spirit that glorifies God in all I do.

Lord, I pray that you will give me a steadfast spirit that aches to choose to live for you faithfully. Amen.


“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.” –Romans 12:1

Growing up, one of my favorite restaurants had the slogan, “we aim to please.” It’s the service industry; shouldn’t they always aim to please? But I’d missed the point. The restaurant wasn’t desiring a one-and-done transaction but providing a pleasurable experience that would lead to a lasting relationship.

How often do I treat my relationship with God like a transaction to be completed before moving on to the next thing? God finds great pleasure in the relationships with His Children. I can worship and honor the Lord by simply abiding in Him.

Lord, may I live in a way that is holy and pleasing to you. Amen


“A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.” – Ephesians 6:10 NIV

During the last few weeks before the birth of my first child, the doctor encouraged me to prepare both physically and mentally for my daughter’s arrival. I began to tailor my workouts to focus on the muscles that helped deliver. However, mentally, I was anxious. I confessed to my husband, “I just don’t have the power to do this.”

And by myself, I didn’t have the strength.  But, as a child of God, I had the power of Christ living inside of me. My strength comes from a loving, all-powerful Father, and He graciously gives to those who call on His name.

Lord, help me be strong in you and rest in your mighty power. Amen

Today’s Devotions


December 31

Daniel 9:2-3, 19 2in the first year of his reign, I, Daniel, understood from the Scriptures, according to the word of the LORD given to Jeremiah the prophet, that the desolation of Jerusalem would last seventy years. 3So I turned to the Lord God and pleaded with him in prayer and petition, in fasting, and in sackcloth and ashes.

19O Lord, listen! O Lord, forgive! O Lord, hear and act! For your sake, O my God, do not delay, because your city and your people bear your Name.”

The prophet Daniel was reading the prophecies of Jeremiah and discovered that it was time for the captivity to be over. He didn’t run out and tell everyone to pack his bags. In his heart he knew the people were not spiritually ready, so he interceded for them in prayer. He discerned the need for repentance before they returned and ended up making the same mistakes. He was very earnest in his intercession even fasting and donning sackcloth and ashes.

What a heart this man of God had for the people of God! But even more than that, he had a heart after God. He closes his prayer by asking because the people and city bear the name of Jehovah. He was concerned about the reputation of the name of the Lord in the world. Have you ever prayed for the church you attend with that in mind? “God help us because we are a poor example of Christ. We need forgiveness and restoration because we are called Christians.” It is a new perspective for many of us. We pray about many things but rarely out of concern for the name of the LORD. May the LORD help us all to be a testimony of the great name of God in all we do and say.

The angel Gabriel came to speak to Daniel about his prayer. Gabriel told Daniel that he is highly esteemed. He is in heaven’s Hall of Fame. Tomorrow’s evening devotion (January 1) is on the incredible word the angel brought to Daniel about forgiveness and restoration.

Consider: May we all prefer the honor of heaven over the honor of men.

Hope for a New Life

Jeremiah 17:7 KJV Bible Verse Image
Lamentations 3:26 KJV Bible Verse Image
Romans 15:4 KJV Bible Verse Image
2 Thessalonians 2:16 KJV Bible Verse Image
Romans 8:24 KJV Bible Verse Image

Hope for a New Life

man with his arms raised


Kevin Franco Zuniga – cbn, com

I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” (Revelation 21:2-4 NIV).

In that passage from the book of Revelation, we are given the hope of seeing the presence of God dwelling among us—a promise to the overcomers who triumph with faith and set themselves apart for God.

And all the promises of the Word of God converge with the loving actions of Jesus to restore His people. However, God fills us with new promises and purposes so that we can bring hope to those who have none.

About two years ago, I asked God to guide me with His wisdom to start a life-changing journey and to use that process to change other people’s lives. In the midst of the pandemic, without job opportunities, and living in a very rural area, I thought it would be difficult to receive a promise from God. However, in less than a month, I would travel more than 200 miles to start the greatest challenge in my life: to bring the promises of God to others through my actions and by following in the footsteps of Jesus.

My hope in the fulfillment of God’s promises has grown so much in recent months. Not only do I achieve the blessings that He has planned for me, but in each project I work on, I know that I can send a message of God’s faithfulness—and testify that the Lord will freely give living water to anyone who thirsts.

“It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life” (Revelation 21:6).

On a recent visit to our Operation Blessing project, a single mother and her daughter joined us in a prayer of thanksgiving, because thanks to Operation Blessing’s humanitarian aid programs, they were able to start their own business. This mother had lost hope of recovering her well-being and suffered for not being able to give her daughter the basics. It was then that God used me to remind her of His faithfulness—and that He had made a covenant with us so that we could enjoy His presence every day because of an inexhaustible supply of mercy and forgiveness that is available to His children.

“On that day a fountain will be opened to the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, to cleanse them from sin and impurity” (Zechariah 13:1).

I always want to be the first in line among those who share the Good News that God will dwell among us one day, where the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple (Revelation 21:22).

God has promised to always be with us, and through His Holy Spirit, every day we can see His promises fulfilled in our lives. I long for when I can delight my eyes in seeing Him face to face.

Today’s Devotions


December 30

Daniel 7:21-22, 27 21As I watched, this horn was waging war against the saints and defeating them, 22until the Ancient of Days came and pronounced judgment in favor of the saints of the Most High, and the time came when they possessed the kingdom.

27Then the sovereignty, power and greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven will be handed over to the saints, the people of the Most High. His kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom, and all rulers will worship and obey him.’

Daniel has given us many prophecies relating to the end-times. Just as Nebuchadnezzar’s image ended with ten toes, the beasts of Daniel’s vision end with ten horns. A horn is a symbol of power. A little horn rises up and plucks up three of the ten horns. This is the Antichrist. He makes war with the saints for three and a half years (time, times, and half a time). The revelation of Jesus to John gives the same scenario. The saints throughout the world will be tortured and killed because they will not bow to the Antichrist and refuse to worship him. His freedom to do this is limited to a set amount of time.

When that time is up, the Ancient of Days (God) will come and pronounce judgment in favor of the saints. Then they will possess the kingdom. We are already in the Kingdom of God if we are in Christ. We already have the blessings of that kingdom in our hearts. The prophecy is speaking of the kingdoms of the world, as verse 27 makes so clear. Rule, power, and greatness will be given to God’s people. Yet it is still called “His kingdom.” That is because we are His. Just as we co-labor with Him now, we will co-labor with Him then.

Consider: This world is our training ground for learning to work with God. How are you doing? Remember the parable in which Jesus told the steward who was faithful with a certain amount of money that he was now to rule over a certain number of cities? (Luke 19) Be faithful to serve Him now and you will be prepared to serve Him as ruler over cities then.

Streams in the Desert – December 30

  • 202230 Dec

“Peter was kept in prison: but prayer (instant and earnest prayer) was made for him” (Acts 12:5, margin).

Peter was in prison awaiting his execution. The Church had neither human power nor influence to save him. There was no earthly help, but there was help to be obtained by the way of Heaven. They gave themselves to fervent, importunate prayer. God sent His angel, who aroused Peter from sleep and led him out through the first and second wards of the prison; and when they came to the iron gate, it opened to them of its own accord, and Peter was free.

There may be some iron gate in your life that has blocked your way. Like a caged bird you have often beaten against the bars, but instead of helping, you have only had to fall back tired, exhausted and sore at heart. There is a secret for you to learn, and that is believing prayer; and when you come to the iron gate, it will open of its own accord.

How much wasted energy and sore disappointment will be saved if you will learn to pray as did the Church in the upper room! Insurmountable difficulties will disappear; adverse circumstances will prove favorable if you learn to pray, not with your own faith but with the faith of God (Mark 11:22, margin). Souls in prison have been waiting for years for the gate to open; love ones out of Christ, bound by Satan, will be set free when you pray till you definitely believe God.
–C. H. P.

Emergencies call for intense prayer. When the man becomes the prayer nothing can resist its touch. Elijah on Carmel, bowed down on the ground, with his face between his knees, that was prayer–the man himself.

No words are mentioned. Prayer can be too tense for words. The man’s whole being was in touch with God, and was set with God against the powers of evil. They couldn’t withstand such praying. There’s more of this embodied praying needed.
–The Bent-knee Time

“Groanings which cannot be uttered are often prayers which cannot be refused.”
–C. H. Spurgeon

Canaan on earth

“For the land, whither thou goest in to possess it, is not as the land of Egypt, from whence ye came out, where thou sowedst thy seed, and wateredst it with thy foot, as a garden of herbs: But the land, whither ye go to possess it, is a land of hills and valleys, and drinketh water of the rain of heaven: A land which the Lord thy God careth for: the eyes of the Lord thy God are always upon it, from the beginning of the year, even unto the end of the year.” Deuteronomy 11:10-12

Suggested Further Reading: Psalm 139:1-12

We have come now, beloved, to the end of another year—to the threshold of another period of time, and have marched another year’s journey through the wilderness. Come, now! In reading this verse over, can you say Amen to it? “The eyes of the Lord thy God are always upon you, from the beginning of the year even unto the end of the year.” Some of you say, “I have had deep troubles this year.” “I have lost a friend,” says one. “Ah!” says another, “I have been impoverished this year.” “I have been slandered”, cries another. “I have been exceedingly vexed and grieved”, says another. “I have been persecuted,” says another. Well, beloved, take the year altogether—the ups and the downs, the troubles and the joys, the hills and the valleys altogether, and what have you to say about it? You may say, “Surely goodness and mercy have followed me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.” Do not pick out one day in the year, and say it was a bad day, but take all the year round, let it revolve in all its grandeur. Judge between things that differ; and then what will you say? “Ah! Bless the Lord! He hath done all things well; my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name!” And you know why all things have been well. It is because the eyes of the Lord have been upon you all the year.

For meditation: Are you glad that God sees you through and through every moment of your life? This should bring terror to the unbeliever (Hebrews 4:13) but great comfort to God’s people in the hour of distress (Genesis 16:13Exodus 2:25).

What Does Compassion Feel Like?

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Bible Quotes And Images Of Compassion. QuotesGram40 Bible Verses About Compassion | Bible Verse Pictures | Bible Study  Topic: Compassion

What Does Compassion Feel Like?
By Meg Bucher, Crosswalk. com

Jesus saw the huge crowd as he stepped from the boat, and he had compassion on them and healed their sick.” Matthew 14:14 NLT

Pictures of life jackets covering the ground came to my mind when my family started talking about a movie about the Syrian refugee crisis. As we watched, my daughter went through a gamete of emotions, imagining what it must have been like for the young girls featured in the movie. They were swimmers, just like her. They had a family and a home they had to flee. When other people hurt, we often hurt, too. Especially when those people are close to us or we relate to them on a specific level or shared experience. The closer the proximity, the more acute the empathy and compassion we feel for them. It’s a pit of the stomach feeling. A gut feeling. An emotion that brings forth physical symptoms.

Jesus was compassionate to the people He met while He walked the earth. Particularly for His apostles and for those who followed and listened to His teachings and asked for healing. The verse above prefaced the miracle made famous by the loaves and fish. Jesus already had compassion for the people and followed through in His care for them by making sure they had enough to eat, too. “But we only have five loaves of bread and two fish!” His disciples pointed out to Jesus. (Matthew 14:17 NLT) The apostle Mark records today’s verse this way:

“Jesus saw the huge crowd as he stepped from the boat, and he had compassion on them because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things.” Mark 6:34 NLT

There were many other times recorded in Scripture when Jesus had compassion enough to perform miracles. When asked by a leaper if Jesus was willing to heal him, the apostle Mark recorded His response: “Moved with compassion, Jesus reached out and touched him. ‘I am willing,’ he said. ‘Be healed!’ (Mark 1:41 NLT)

When a funeral procession crossed Jesus’ path, and He learned a boy, a widow’s only son, had died, he had compassion on the grieving mother enough to raise her boy from the dead! “When the Lord saw her,” Luke wrote, “his heart overflowed with compassion. ‘Don’t cry!’ He said. Then he walked over to the coffin and touched it, and the bearers stopped. ‘Young man,’ he said, ‘I tell you get up.’ Then the dead boy sat up and began to talk! And Jesus gave him back to his mother.” (Luke 7:11-15 NLT)

Compassion is compelling! It is love in action. The movement of our heart is connected to the will of our minds and the physical reaction to our bodies. We are propelled into action by the compassion we have for each other. Life within the love of Christ Jesus makes us especially sensitive to others when we are willing. Willing to listen, pray, give of our time and treasure, and support one another selflessly.

Get the Power to Go after Your Goals
By Rick Warren,

“We plan the way we want to live, but only God makes us able to live it” (Proverbs 16:9 The Message)

Proverbs 16:9 says, “We plan the way we want to live, but only God makes us able to live it” (The Message).

You get to plan the way you want to live, but only God gives you the power and energy to actually experience transformation. Why? Because God provides the three things you must have to reach your goal and change your life.

1. You need God’s Spirit to empower you.

You need God’s help to make changes you can’t make on your own. It’s not based on willpower. It’s based on God’s power. It’s not based on trying. It’s based on trusting.

Zechariah 4:6 says, “‘You will not succeed by your own strength or by your own power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord All-Powerful” (NCV).

2. You need God’s Word to guide you.

The Bible is the owner’s manual for life. The more you read it, study it, memorize it, and meditate on it, the more successful and fulfilled you’re going to be in life.

When Joshua was given the great dream of taking over the Promised Land—a goal that would take him the rest of his life—God spoke these words to him: “This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success” (Joshua 1:8 NASB).

3. You need God’s people to support you.

You will not be able to reach your goals on your own. It takes a team to fulfill a dream!

A crowd can’t support you, but a small group can. The people in your small group know when you’re sick, when you’re having a tough time, when you need a break. You can share your goals and successes and failures, and they will rejoice with you and encourage you to keep going. You’re going to need that when you make the right kind of goals and pursue them wholeheartedly.

Streams in the Desert – December 29

  • 2022 29 Dec

“Arise… for we have seen the land, and behold, it is very good; and are ye still? Be not slothful to go, and enter to possess the land: for God hath given it into your hands; a place where there is no want of anything that is in the earth” (Judges 18:9-10).

Arise! Then there is something definite for us to do. Nothing is ours unless we take it. “The children of Joseph, Manasseh and Ephraim, took their inheritance” (Joshua 16:4).

“The house of Jacob shall possess their possessions” (Obadiah 17).

“The upright shall have good things in possession.”

We need to have appropriating faith in regard to God’s promises. We must make God’s Word our own personal possession. A child was asked once what appropriating faith was, and the answer was, “It is taking a pencil and underscoring all the me’s and mine’s and my’s in the Bible.”

Take any word you please that He has spoken and say, “That word is my word.” Put your finger on this promise and say, “It is mine.” How much of the Word has been endorsed and receipted and said “It is done.” How many promises can you subscribe and say, “Fulfilled to me.”

“Son, thou art ever with Me, and all that I have is thine.” Don’t let your inheritance go by default.

“When faith goes to market it always takes a basket.”

Rise Up and Walk

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Rise Up and Walk

woman with her arms lifted


Wendy Griffith – CBN .Com

One day, when Peter and John were going to the temple to pray, a man who was lame from birth asked the two disciples for money. Day after day, the lame man was carried to the temple gate called Beautiful, where he begged strangers for a few coins.  But this wasn’t an ordinary day.  This day, instead of money, the lame man received something far more valuable when Peter said to him,

“I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!” (Acts 3:6 ESV).

Peter took the man by the hand and as he did,

“immediately his feet and ankles were made strong. And leaping up, he stood and began to walk, and entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God” (Acts 3:7-8).

I don’t know about you, but if this happened to me, I’d be jumping and praising God too. The temple goers recognized him as the man who used to sit begging at the temple gate, and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him (Acts 3:10).

And when Peter saw it he addressed the people: “Men of Israel, why do you wonder at this, or why do you stare at us, as though by our own power or piety we have made him walk?” (Acts 3:12).

Peter explained that it was “his name—by faith in his name—has made this man strong whom you see and know, and the faith that is through Jesus has given the man this perfect health in the presence of you all.” (Acts 3:16)

As we enter a new year, I believe God is calling us to rise up and walk! To leave behind the things that have crippled us, to put down the things that have hindered our walk with God, and to press forward for all that He has for us! As we take the first step, just like the lame man experienced, I believe God will strengthen us and so transform us, that others will be filled with “wonder and amazement” at what God has done in our lives. How was this man, who was lame from birth, now walking, jumping and completely healed? Is anything too hard for God? (Jer. 32:27) And I love that it says the temple goers recognized him as the man “who used to sit begging.” We don’t have to stay where we are!

Friends, God wants to transform us, and He loves to do it in a way that leaves us, and others astonished. He wants you and me to be healed, whole and strengthened so we can do great exploits for His Kingdom. But it all starts with faith. Faith in the name of Jesus and faith in God’s power that comes through Him.  As we enter 2023, take Jesus by the hand, rise up and  walk and get ready to jump for joy because what’s coming is so much greater than anything you’re leaving behind.

Setting Goals for Fruitful Living


2 Samuel 7:18-22

In the 70s, I experienced a turning point in my walk with Christ. It started with 2 Samuel 7, which inspired me to follow in King David’s footsteps. He spent time alone with God, offering praise and thanksgiving. He would also listen as the Lord revealed truth and offered insight about the future. Because of what he learned, David was able to set goals and stay aligned with them.

Desiring that kind of solitude, I spent several days alone in a camper at Georgia’s Stone Mountain. Most of the time, I was silent, listening intently for God’s voice. I asked Him to speak to me regarding my future, and He answered. Using a journal, I recorded the goals He inspired. The things He communicated so impacted my choices and so greatly blessed me that I continued the discipline every couple of months.

Let’s discuss how to establish aims in this manner. First, come before the throne of Almighty God with a repentant heart, praise, and thanksgiving. Then, ask Him for direction in areas such as spiritual life, career, and family. In silence, wait patiently and attentively—as you read and meditate upon God’s Word, He will speak. Most often, His guidance is experienced as a prodding or conviction in the heart. When that happens, be sure to write down what you’re “hearing” so you can review it later.

In order to stay on the path God intends for our lives, we should plan times to stop, ask, and listen for guidance. The world throws confusing messages at us all day long, and we need to check our course frequently. These conversations with the Lord are vital for a thriving life of godly impact.

Heavenly worship

By: Charles Spurgeon

“And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the Mount Sion, and with him an hundred forty and four thousand, having his Father’s name written in their foreheads. And I heard a voice from heaven, as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of a great thunder: and I heard the voice of harpers harping with their harps: And they sung as it were a new song before the throne, and before the four beasts, and the elders: and no man could learn that song but the hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth.” Revelation 14:1-3

Suggested Further Reading: Revelation 5:6-10

Why is the song said to be a new song? It will be a new song, because the saints were never in such a position before as they will be when they sing this new song. They are in heaven now; but the scene of our text is something more than heaven. It refers to the time when all the chosen race shall meet around the throne, when the last battle shall have been fought, and the last warrior shall have gained his crown. It is not now that they are singing, but it is in the glorious time to come, when all the hundred and forty and four thousand—or rather, the number typified by that number—will be all safely housed and all secure. I can conceive the period. Time was—eternity now reigns. The voice of God exclaims, “Are my beloved all safe?” The angel flies through paradise and returns with this message, “Yes, they are.” “Is Fearful safe? Is Feeble-mind safe? Is Ready-to-Halt safe? Is Despondency safe?” “Yes, O King, they are,” says he. “Shut the gates,” says the Almighty, “they have been open night and day; shut them now.” Then, when all of them shall be there, then will be the time when the shout shall be louder than many waters, and the song shall begin which will never end.

For meditation: The old year is about to be replaced by a new year, but that will soon grow old and fade away. Revelation speaks of the former things passing away (21: 4), and the old serpent being cast out and bound (12: 9 and 20: 2). All that remains is new and remains new throughout eternity—a new song, a new heaven, a new earth, new Jerusalem—all things new (21: 1-5).

God’s Great Grace Is Ours

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God’s Great Grace Is Ours

mountain climber with backpack heading to the mountains


Brenda Williams –

Sometimes I face challenges that are bigger than I can handle. So, I cry out to the Lord. I believe He told me once that a lot can be accomplished a little at a time. Going step by step is something I can work with.

I know from experience how challenges can seem like mountains, but God promises to direct our steps and give us His help and wisdom (Psalm 37:23, Psalm 51:6). He gives us the courage to keep going forward (Joshua 1:9).

My friend and her hiking companion are trained hikers. Recently they climbed the strenuous, steep, five-mile hike up the rugged terrain of Mount St. Helens in Washington State. They trekked through woods, a forest, large rocks, and big lava boulders. In places the trail was so narrow they could barely see where to place their feet, so it was important to stay focused on the path, pray and breathe with the goal of accomplishing their mission. Also, they quoted Scripture to encourage themselves knowing they would make it; God was for them (1 Peter 5:7).

This sounds like many of the issues we face! We see the challenge before us but navigating to the other side isn’t always within our immediate sight or close reach. And this is where we hold onto the hope that is in Christ Jesus who always leads us to triumph and keeps us in peace.

My friend said that during the hike up the mountain there were boulders to lean on or push or pull up on. Poles placed along the way provided direction and support. The Lord will provide signposts and support for our journey too.

“Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,” says the LORD of hosts (Zechariah 4:6).

Let’s face it, we can do nothing on our own, but by His powerful Spirit and with His great grace, all things are possible through Christ (2 Corinthians 12:9), even surmounting challenging mountains.

A coupling of the words  “Grace, grace” is found twice in Scripture:

What are you, O great mountain? Before Zerubbabel you will become a plain; and he will bring forth the top stone with shouts of “Grace, grace to it!” (Zechariah 4:7)

For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace (John 1:16).

Strong’s Concordance defines grace as God’s favor toward us and my pastor says grace is God’s “supernatural enablement at work in us.” By praying in faith and relying upon Him, God will do for us what we cannot do for ourselves. His grace is poured out to enable us to courageously press on through the mountain until we arrive victoriously on the other side.

When we can’t see our way through, just as God did with the mountain Zechariah faced, we too must speak “Grace, grace!” and watch God do a mighty work. In the process of going through each mountain, we choose to keep our eyes fixed on a higher mountain, God’s Mountain —  Mount Zion where His divine presence is our source of grace and strength to prevail. Amen!

The mountains will be brought low, and the crooked places will be made straight (Luke 3:5) because we are clinging to the One who is our life, our strength, and our way maker.

Today’s Devotions


December 27

Daniel 1:7-8 7The chief official gave them new names: to Daniel, the name Belteshazzar; to Hananiah, Shadrach; to Mishael, Meshach; and to Azariah, Abednego. 8But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way.

Daniel was one of the young men from the court of the king of Judah who was taken to be re-educated to serve as a eunuch for the king of Babylon. Daniel served the kings of Babylon and Medo-Persia as a government official until the return of the Jews seventy years later.

One of the first things Babylon did was to try to change the identity of these men. Daniel means “God is judge,” but his new name means ‘Bel will protect’. Hananiah means “the LORD is gracious,” but his new name is “inspired of Aku.” Azariah means “the LORD is my help’, but his new name is “servant of Nego.” Mishael means ‘who is like God,” but his new name is “belonging to Aku.” These incredible Hebrew names were changed to the names of idols! That is exactly what the world wants to do to you. A name meant the identity of the person, their destiny and heritage. It was a part of the program of Babylon to cause the youth to forsake their culture and beliefs and adopt those of Babylon.

Who are you in Christ? What is the name He has given you? Converts of the first century changed their names upon conversion to match with their new identity. In heaven the overcomers will receive a white stone upon which is written their new name, an identity in God. Babylon was doing just the opposite. Can you see how the world would like to change your identity to that of one who belongs among them?

Consider: You will influence your world, or your world will influence you. Maintain your identity in Christ with firm resolve.

The Simple Secret to a Great New Year – New Year Devotional – December 27


But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you.
Matthew 6:33

I have never been good at being a handyman.  Things that are a piece of cake to a handyman are like climbing Mt. Everest to me.

One time Debbie asked me to put in a doggie door.  She said, “You can do it, Jeff.  The box says, “Simple installation.”  “Simple is good,” I responded as I opened the box with gusto.

The very first instruction was to get out my electric drill.  That is when I knew their definition of “simple” and mine were quite different.  With “simple” instructions, I would have been told to get out my hammer. Now that is simple!  (Note: the doggie door installation was so NOT simple that I had to call my friend Gene over to help me before I completely lost my salvation).


If you like simple, you are going to love my simple secret to a great new year.  First, get out your electric drill (just kidding).

The simple secret is this: To experience a great year, just do what Jesus said, “Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness; and all these things [the things you and I worry about] shall be added to you” (Matthew 6:33).  If you will seek Him first, He promises to meet all your needs.


1.  It means that you spend time with Him at the first of each day, praying and reading His Word, asking Him for direction, guidance, help and insight … confessing your sins when you blow it, and seeking His grace to help in your time of need.

2.  It means you put His agenda above your agenda.  You pray, “Not my will, but Thine be done” (Luke 22:42).  You live your life to please Jesus, not to please yourself.

3.  It means you obey Him and do what He says in the power He supplies.  You don’t let your fleshly desires control you; you let Jesus control you.

4.  It means you invest your time, talent and resources in the kingdom of God, not the kingdom of self.

5.  It means you recognize that He is everything, and in Christ “are hidden all treasures of wisdom and knowledge”( Colossians 2:3).  The true treasures of life—love, joy, peace, fulfillment, true success—are only found in Jesus … so you spend your time seeking Him.


Don’t wait for the ball to drop in Times Square before seeking first the kingdom of God.  Start now!  Put Jesus first every day you are blessed to live… and He will bless your life abundantly in return.

One of my favorite Scriptures says, “For those who honor Me, I will honor” (1 Samuel 2:30).  If you want God to honor you, honor Him in all you do.  The best is yet to be… and the ball is in your court.

Iron Saints – Streams in the Desert – December 27

  • 2022 27 Dec

The shackles hurt his feet; his neck was placed in an iron collar, —Ps 105:18

Turn that about and render it in our language, and it reads thus, “Iron entered his soul.” Is there not a truth in this? That sorrow and privation, the yoke borne in the youth, the soul’s enforced restraint, are all conducive to an iron tenacity and strength of purpose, and endurance or fortitude, which are the indispensable foundation and framework of a noble character.

Do not flinch from suffering; bear it silently, patiently, resignedly; and be sure that it is God’s way of infusing iron into your spiritual life. The world wants iron dukes, iron battalions, iron sinews, and thews of steel. God wants iron saints; and since there is no way of imparting iron to the moral nature but by letting people suffer, He lets them suffer.

Are the best years of your life slipping away in enforced monotony? Are you beset by opposition, misunderstanding, and scorn, as the thick undergrowth besets the passage of the woodsman pioneer? Then take heart; the time is not wasted; God is only putting you through the iron regimen. The iron crown of suffering precedes the golden crown of glory. And iron is entering into your soul to make it strong and brave.
—F. B. Meyer

“But you will not mind the roughness nor the steepness of the way,
Nor the chill, unrested morning, nor the searness of the day;
And you will not take a turning to the left or the right,
But go straight ahead, nor tremble at the coming of the night,
For the road leads home.”


Peace In My Storm

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Peace in My Storm

praying with a cup of hot tea and a Bible


While in a deep, peaceful sleep shortly after midnight a couple of years ago, a blaring tornado alarm and a message saying to take cover startled me awake. My home was shaking and I heard howling winds and debris hitting the windows so I ran to my bathroom to take cover. I knelt on the floor and prayed for protection and peace as I waited for the EF-3 tornado to pass. Even with the thunderous winds intensifying, a calming peace overtook me.

As I continued to kneel on the bathroom floor, I remembered a rainstorm-induced flood that I survived in the city several years prior. Our neighborhood was evacuated as rising floodwaters quickly approached our area. Throughout the evacuation, God gave me peace by whispering to my spirit that His presence was with me, so I did not need to be afraid.

“My Spirit remains among you, just as I promised when you came out of Egypt. So do not be afraid” (Haggai 2:5 NLT).

Through the prophet Haggai, God reminded the people that His Spirit was with them—just as His Spirit was with them in the past when they came out of Egypt. God referenced His past record, indicating His current ability to perform a miracle while providing peace. He let them know they had no reason to fear because of His presence and ability.

Similarly, God brought me out of the local flood before and He was reminding me that He would also bring me out of the tornado, so I did not need to be afraid. Sometimes in our lives we face physical storms and sometimes we face spiritual storms. No matter the storm, if we are children of God, He is with us during any storm we face.

Exodus 29:46 states,

“And they will know that I am the LORD their God. I am the one who brought them out of the land of Egypt so that I could live among them. I am the LORD their God.”

When God’s presence lives with us, we can walk in faith and in peace knowing that His Holy Spirit guides us. As the psalmist said in Psalm 51:11-12, may our prayer also be,

“Do not banish me from your presence, and don’t take your Holy Spirit from me.”

Prayer: God, I am facing storms and trials in my life that threaten my peace. I choose to trust that Your presence is with Your children, and I ask for peace as You walk with me through my storms. I trust you, Lord. In Jesus’s name, amen.

Resolutions and Redemption – New Year Devotional –

by Anna Kuta,

“For by grace are you saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).

It’s that time of year again! I’m talking about New Year’s resolutions, of course. It’s still December as I’m writing, but I guarantee that by the time you read this, I’ll already be asking myself what possessed me to come up with such grand, unattainable plans the new year. (It seemed like a good idea at the time). Every year I tell myself it’ll finally be the year I keep all my resolutions. I mean, come on – how hard can it possibly be to finally set aside an hour for exercise each day, to stop consuming so much chocolate and coffee, and to never sleep for less than eight hours again?

Why are New Year’s resolutions so hard to keep? I don’t know, but it’s a lot like another area of life. Let me explain.

Before I became a Christian at the age of 17, I approached my life the same way I often approach New Year’s resolutions. I would try so hard to do the right things but I always ended up falling flat. I convinced myself that as long as I was the “good girl,” I’d be fine, so I tried really hard to live up to certain standards to please everyone, and hopefully God too. The problem, though, is that there’s nothing anyone can do in his or her own power to “earn” God’s favor.

As Ephesians 2:8 says, it’s by God’s grace that we are saved, not because of anything we could ever hope to attain or accomplish. God’s gift of His son Jesus Christ to save us from our sins through His death and resurrection is just that – a gift. Doing all the good, noble things in the world will never earn salvation, and like verse 9 says, nobody could ever think of boasting about such an undeserved gift.

Of course, the desire to do the right things is one result of making Jesus the Lord of your life, but we all continue to mess up because, after all, we are just sinners saved by grace. I still lose sight of it all sometimes and get caught up in the cycle of trying to “out-good” myself and others. This new year, however, in light of any New Year’s resolutions you may have made (or already broken), join me in remembering the assurance of one thing we never have to work to attain: God’s grace.

A God Who Hears and Listens

December 26

By Lynette Kittle,

“Because He turned His ear to me, I will call on Him as long as I live” – Psalm 116:2

Have you ever had times in your life when it seemed like God didn’t hear you? It can seem pretty discouraging when we feel like our prayers aren’t being heard and we aren’t sensing God’s presence and interventions in difficult situations. Sadly, feeling unheard often leads people to feel unloved, forgotten, and of little value to God.

Yet all those feelings aren’t based on truth but rather on we what we aren’t seeing or experiencing happening in our lives because God does hear us. “And if we know that He hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of Him” (1 John 5:15). Often, when we feel unheard, God is at work in ways we may not see or know at the time. Romans 8:28 assures us in all situations, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.”

But God not only hears; He also listens, which means, He pays attention and considers our words. Psalm 66:19 tells us, “But God has surely listened and has heard my prayer.” God hears and listens to our voices. “In my distress I called to the Lord; I cried to my God for help. From His temple He heard my voice; my cry came before Him, into His ears” (Psalm 18:6). As believers, we have God’s ear.

Examples of His Hearing Us
There are countless stories in the Bible of men and women who may have felt at times that God wasn’t hearing them. Individuals in situations where they really needed His ear, some of those caught in life-and-death situations where there was no hope for them if He didn’t hear and respond to them. Individuals like Joseph, Daniel, Paul, and more. Although we know how their stories ended, being human like us, they may have experienced a roller coaster of emotions in their circumstances.

Daniel 10:2 describes some of what he went through in wondering if God was hearing him, “At that time I, Daniel, mourned for three weeks.” Sometimes God goes to a great extent to let us know He hears us, like in Daniel’s situation where He sent an angel with a message. “Do not be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them” (Daniel 10:12).

Even Jonah, who was running away from God’s call on his life, describes how He heard him. “From inside the fish Jonah prayed to the Lord His God. He said: ‘In my distress I called to the Lord and He answered me. From deep in the realm of the dead I called for help, and You listened to my cry’” (Jonah 2:1,2). At the darkest, loneliest times in life, where we may even be running away from God, straying away, or turning our backs on Him, He hears and listens to us.

Where to Turn When Discouraged
When we feel like God isn’t hearing or listening to us, we can join King David’s voice throughout the Psalms to help encourage us through His ongoing confidence in God hearing him:

  • “I love the Lord, for He heard my voice; He heard my cry for mercy” (Psalm 116:1).
  • “The Lord has heard my cry for mercy; the Lord accepts my prayer” (Psalm 6:9).
  • “The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; He delivers them from all their troubles” (Psalm 34:17).
  • “He fulfills the desires of those who fear Him; He hears their cry and saves them” (Psalm 145:19).

As believers in Jesus Christ, we never have to wonder if God is hearing and listening to us. As Proverbs 15:29 reminds us, “The Lord is far from the wicked, but He hears the prayer of the righteous.”

Merry Christmas!

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Mighty to Save

lit Christmas tree and an open Bible


Jessica Teed – Well & Clean Water Coordinator – OB Headquarters

People around the world celebrate Jesus’s birth during the Christmas season with festive lights and hope in their hearts. The wonder of the Christmas season, the beauty of all the Christmas lights and decorations, and the precious memories made with the ones we love pale in comparison to the best gift that was ever given, Jesus Christ. Hope came to this earth in the form of a tiny baby who was predestined by God to change the world. He is the Light of the World, the Prince of Peace, our Savior, and Redeemer. (See John 8:12, Isaiah 9:6, Acts 4:12, John 3:16, and Isaiah 44:6)

When sin entered this world in the Garden of Eden through Adam and Eve’s choice to listen to the lies of the enemy and disobey God, their deep communion and daily fellowship with the Creator of the universe was broken and darkness entered the world. (See Genesis 3:2-6) Their relationship with the One who gave them the very breath in their lungs changed that day, and not because God changed (He never changes). How they perceived God, themselves, and the world around them changed. (See Genesis 3:7 and Genesis 3:22-24)

Mankind’s separation from God because of sin could not be fixed by following all the rules and laws set forth in the Old Testament, no matter how hard they tried. Jesus, the Messiah, was a part of God’s plan from the beginning. In fact, several verses in the Old Testament speak of the coming of the Messiah and the redemption He would bring to all who believe in Him. (Zephaniah 3:17, Isaiah 9:6. Isaiah 42:1-4, Numbers 24:17-19) In my own life, Zephaniah 3:17 has been one of those verses that brings hope in times of difficulty.

“For the LORD your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs” (Zephaniah 3:17, NLT).

This verse speaks of the coming Messiah and the end of judgment on the people of Israel. (See Zephaniah 3:14-16) God came to earth through His Son, Jesus. He lived, ate, and walked with the disciples; teaching them how to live. The communion that was broken in the garden of Eden was restored through the life and sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross.

It’s amazing to me that God lives among us, walks with us daily, and desires the very same communion with us that He had with Adam and Eve before the fall. He delights in us, loves us with an everlasting love, and rejoices over us like a bridegroom over his beloved bride. (Jeremiah 31:3, Zephaniah 3:17) When we trust in Him, His perfect love casts out and calms the fears of today and the worries of tomorrow. (1 John 4:18, Matthew 6:25-34) I don’t know about you, but I am blown away by the amazing gift we have been given through Jesus Christ. He truly is the best gift of all.

Father God, You are amazing. Thank You for loving me, delighting in me with gladness, and rejoicing over me with joyful songs. Help me to hear the songs You sing over me. I want to walk with You and talk with You daily. Help me to draw near to You even when it is hard. You are where my hope comes from. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.

Today’s Devotions


December 25

Ezekiel 37:3-5 3He asked me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” I said, “O Sovereign LORD, you alone know.” 4Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the LORD! 5This is what the Sovereign LORD says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life.

Ezekiel was prophesying to the people of Israel who did not have the life of God in them. They went into captivity a depraved people that were a horrible example of people in covenant with the one true God. What is needed to change our testimonies from disgrace to honoring the name we bear? What can bring life to our lifeless existence? Only the Spirit of God can make the difference.

The Word of God must be heard. “Breath” is the same in Hebrew as “wind” or “spirit”. The Spirit of God must be breathed into us. Do you remember that it was the breath of God that brought life to Adam (Genesis 2:7)? And do you remember that Jesus breathed upon His disciples and told them to receive the Spirit (John 20:22)?

In this passage God is dealing with His people Israel. It is by His command that the breath of God brings life. In the New Testament we are told that the Father longs to give the Holy Spirit to those who will but ask (Luke 11:13). If you recognize your spirit is lifeless, that it needs a power beyond yourself, if you need to be restored from scattered bones to a living breathing being, ask the Father. He longs to give good things to His children when they will but ask.

Consider: Will you receive the breath of God today!

Streams in the Desert – December 25

  • 2022 25 Dec

“Look! The virgin will conceive and bear a son, and they will call him Emmanuel,” which means “God with us.” —Matt 1:23

For a child has been born to us, a son has been given to us. He shoulders responsibility and is called: Extraordinary Strategist, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. —Isa 9:6

“There’s a song in the air!
There’s a star in the sky!
There’s a mother’s deep prayer,
And a baby’s low cry!
And the star rains its fire
While the beautiful sing,
For the manger of Bethlehem cradles a King.”

A few years ago a striking Christmas card was published, with the title, “If Christ had not come.” It was founded upon our Saviour’s words, “If I had not come.” The card represented a clergyman falling into a short sleep in his study on Christmas morning and dreaming of a world into which Jesus had never come.

In his dream he found himself looking through his home, but there were no little stockings in the chimney corner, no Christmas bells or wreaths of holly, and no Christ to comfort, gladden and save. He walked out on the public street, but there was no church with its spire pointing to Heaven. He came back and sat down in his library, but every book about the Saviour had disappeared.

A ring at the door-bell, and a messenger asked him to visit a poor dying mother. He hastened with, the weeping child and as he reached the home he sat down and said, “I have something here that will comfort you.” He opened his Bible to look for a familiar promise, but it ended at Malachi, and there was no gospel and no promise of hope and salvation, and he could only bow his head and weep with her in bitter despair.

Two days afterward he stood beside her coffin and conducted the funeral service, but there was no message of consolation, no word of a glorious resurrection, no open Heaven, but only “dust to dust, ashes to ashes,” and one long eternal farewell. He realized at length that “He had not come,” and burst into tears and bitter weeping in his sorrowful dream.

Suddenly he woke with a start, and a great shout of joy and praise burst from his lips as he heard his choir singing in his church close by:

“O come, all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant,
O come ye, O come ye to Bethlehem;
Come and behold Him, born the King of Angels,
O come let us adore Him, Christ, the Lord.”

Let us be glad and rejoice today, because “He has come.” And let us remember the annunciation of the angel, “Behold I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people, for unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:10, 11).

“He comes to make His blessing flow, Far as the curse is found.”

May our hearts go out to the people in heathen lands who have no blessed Christmas day. “Go your way, eat the fat, drink the sweet, and SEND PORTIONS TO THEM FOR WHOM NOTHING IS PREPARED.” (Neh. 8:10).

The Unbelievable Hope of Christmas

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The Unbelievable Hope of Christmas

Baby Jesus in a manger nativity set
Tori Troncone –

Growing up, my favorite Christmas tradition was displaying the nativity scene. My mom had several, and every year, I insisted on setting up each one. Now I do the same thing in my home. As I set up my nativity scenes around this holiday season, I held a wooden carving of baby Jesus in my hands and thought of John 1:14,

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us (NKJV).

I have always been amazed by the idea of our Savior as a child with tiny fingers, a gummy smile, and baby-soft, peach fuzz skin. The King of kings, came to us as a child, born to a teenage mother and a carpenter father. His family was rejected at the inn. His first bed was a feeding trough. His first roommate was likely a donkey. As cute as all the barnyard animals look in the nativity scene set up under my tree, I realize now how dirty the manger likely was and how bad it probably smelled.

This is how Jesus came to us. He did not choose to reveal Himself as a mighty warrior on a steed, or in a fiery blaze of glory. Rather, our Creator came to us as the very least of these. The Word became flesh as a small, vulnerable, helpless baby. The Hope of the world lay wrapped in swaddling cloth, sleeping in a dirty, stinky manger. It almost seems unbelievable!

These images of Jesus in the manger had always been familiar to me, but this year, while setting up my nativity scenes, I thought about how God’s plan rarely looks like our plan. Baby Jesus in a manger isn’t the only example of that throughout the Bible. When the Prophet Habakkuk cried out to the Lord for help, the reply he received was,

Look around at the nations; look and be amazed! For I am doing something in your own day, something you wouldn’t believe even if someone told you about it” (Habakkuk 1:5 NLT).

Our God has a history of doing the unbelievable, even in the most hopeless or unlikely circumstances.

This year may not have looked the way we had planned. But Christmas can remind us that we are able to walk in faith, knowing that God was not surprised by anything that took place this year (or the year before that, or even the year before that). He still is and always will be the King of kings, Lord of lords, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, our Redemption, our Salvation, and the Hope of the world. And although His plans may not look like our plans, Paul reminds us in Romans 8:28 that they always work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose (NLT). What a beautiful thing that is to be thankful for this Christmas!

Father God, as we near the end of a year that looked nothing like what we had planned, we pray that we would be encouraged by the hope of Christmas. Let the image of our Savior as a child remind us that You are the Author of life and that You are able to do immeasurably more than we could ever hope or imagine.

“Great and marvelous are your works, O Lord God, the Almighty. Just and true are your ways, O King of the nations.” Revelation 15:3 NLT

Silent Night

From: Today Devotions

Luke 2:1-7

She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger. . . .

—  Luke 2:7

“Silent Night” is a favorite Christ­mas song for many people around the world. Its gentle melody suggests a “heavenly peace” in which “all is calm.”

But our usual picture of Jesus’ birth is far from calm. Above the fields near Bethlehem, an angel army sings out, announcing the glory of God. Back in town, shepherds and wise men and sheep, cows, camels, and gifts are all crowded together in a stable. And somewhere in the midst of all that commotion is the baby Jesus.

But hold on. The wise men don’t show up until later. So let’s take them out of the picture, along with their gifts. And there’s no mention of a stable—just a manger, a feeding trough. So there might not be animals there either.

Now let’s back up to the first hour or two after Jesus’ birth. Commotion will come later, when the shepherds find “Mary and Joseph, and the baby . . . lying in the manger” (Luke 2:16). But for now, as lamplight flickers, all we can see is Mary and the baby and Joseph. Exhausted, Mary is fast asleep. Joseph might be able to rest too. Meanwhile, Mary’s snugly wrapped baby, content from his first feeding, sees light, shadow, and movement with his newborn eyes. Let’s stay right where we are, silent as night. And let’s take in the picture. The God of all creation is a newborn baby watching shadows sway.

Jesus, on that night long ago you came to be “God with us,” one of us. Thank you! Amen.

Streams in the Desert – December 24

  • 2022 24 Dec

He went out to relax in the field in the early evening. Then he looked up and saw that there were camels approaching.—Gen 24:63

We should be better Christians if we were more alone; we should do more if we attempted less, and spent more time in retirement, and quiet waiting upon God. The world is too much with us; we are afflicted with the idea that we are doing nothing unless we are fussily running to and fro; we do not believe in “the calm retreat, the silent shade.” As a people, we are of a very practical turn of mind; “we believe,” as someone has said, “in having all our irons in the fire, and consider the time not spent between the anvil and the fire as lost, or much the same as lost.” Yet no time is more profitably spent than that which is set apart for quiet musing, for talking with God, for looking up to Heaven. We cannot have too many of these open spaces in life, hours in which the soul is left accessible to any sweet thought or influence it may please God to send.

“Reverie,” it has been said, “is the Sunday of the mind.” Let us often in these days give our mind a “Sunday,” in which it will do no manner of work but simply lie still, and look upward, and spread itself out before the Lord like Gideon’s fleece, to be soaked and moistened with the dews of Heaven. Let there be intervals when we shall do nothing, think nothing, plan nothing, but just lay ourselves on the green lap of nature and “rest awhile.”

Time so spent is not lost time. The fisherman cannot be said to be losing time when he is mending his nets, nor the mower when he takes a few minutes to sharpen his scythe at the top of the ridge. City men cannot do better than follow the example of Isaac, and, as often as they can, get away from the fret and fever of life into fields. Wearied with the heat and din, the noise and bustle, communion with nature is very grateful; it will have a calming, healing influence. A walk through the fields, a saunter by the seashore or across the daisy-sprinkled meadows, will purge your life from sordidness, and make the heart beat with new joy and hope.

“The little cares that fretted me,
I lost them yesterday,
… Out in the fields with God.”

Good News, Great Joy!

From: Today Devotions

Luke 2:8-14

“Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.”

—  Luke 2:10-11

At the time when Jesus was born, life for shepherds was hard. Their days and nights were spent in the dreary routine of taking care of sheep. Society looked down on them as lowlifes and scoundrels. They had little reason to be joyful.

But shepherds were the ones to whom the angel brought the good news that would cause great joy: A Savior had been born! It was God’s way of saying that he identifies with the down and out, the outcasts of society, the undesirables. And on that night, whatever darkness they were facing was transformed into the most beautiful light they’d ever seen, as the angels of heaven joined in singing, “Glory to God in the highest. . . .” For those shepherds out in the fields of Bethlehem, life would never be the same.

Perhaps on this Christmas Day you are finding it difficult to feel joy. Perhaps there is an empty chair at your table. Perhaps you’re thinking about a family member who has turned away from the Lord or is no longer a part of your life. Perhaps you have been diagnosed with a terrible illness. Whatever the reason, you don’t feel like celebrating.

If so, the Christmas message is for you. There is good news with great joy also for you. Why? Because the Savior came to make things right. He came to heal the brokenhearted, to bring light into your darkness.

Father in heaven, help us to catch a glimpse of the light the Savior came to bring. We ask this in his name. Amen.

The Perfect Gift

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The Perfect Gift

christmas gift


Aaron M Little –

The search for the perfect Christmas gift cycles around every year. It’s just something we accept as part of our human experience. Everyone seems to get swept up in the season. Growing up, my family was no different.

My father used to do a fair amount of international business travel when I was younger. He would often bring back exotic Asian lamps or African crockery earmarked for my mother’s Christmas celebration. She was usually thrilled to unwrap the surprises from the faraway lands, until the Christmas of 1994.

Dad was riding high on a few years of successful giftings, so perhaps he felt the pressure to outperform this season. Somewhere in Asia, he came across a portrait painter and commissioned him to turn his wallet size picture of my parents into a two-foot by three-foot painting. On paper, it read like a thoughtful, even romantic gesture. On canvas, not so much.

Now up until this point, I had witnessed 16 years of my mother being dramatically overjoyed by my father’s unconventional gifts from abroad. Every streak must come to an end. You could feel the energy leaving the room as she peeled off the paper revealing what is best described as an international artist’s rendering of my parents.

I really didn’t think it was all that bad. It was a little interpretive, but it was not a train wreck. My mother felt differently and repeatedly exclaimed that her image looked nothing like her. The moment passed and thankfully the distractions of Christmas morning diverted our attention elsewhere. It wasn’t until my brother and I reflected later that afternoon that we realized we couldn’t find that portrait. It had vanished. For years—decades—the painting became part of Little family folklore. My father’s attempt at “the perfect gift” had backfired for the ages.

While my family’s experience showcases a failure of “the perfect gift” attempt, I am reminded that Christmas is the season of the ultimate perfect gift that will never disappoint us.

Today, in the city of David a Savior was born for you, who is the Messiah, the Lord. (Luke 2:11 CSB)

On Christmas Day we celebrate the arrival of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Jesus is God Almighty’s gift to all of mankind. Faith in Jesus and His ability, by His death on the cross, to forgive us of sin, enables an eternal reconnection with God. Talk about THE perfect gift of all time!

For God loved the world in this way: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)

In your busyness this season, in your quest for “the perfect gift” for everyone on your shopping list, don’t overlook THE perfect gift. Take time to receive from God. Meditate on His Word and His promises for your life. Experience the sweet fruits of His Spirit. Then turn around and give that perfect gift to all who cross your path. Let Christmas be a true season of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

In recent years, that old portrait of my parents was rediscovered in some dark recess of their home. It still has no place of prominence or display, but it has been recovered for posterity. Although it may represent “the perfect gift” gone wrong in our family history, to me it serves as a reminder to shift the focus from the unimportant aspects of the Christmas season towards the one perfect gift that will be remembered for all of eternity.

Christmas Proves Your Value


“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16 (NIV)

Some people believe it’s insulting to say someone is spiritually “lost.” But it’s not. It’s actually a great compliment to be called spiritually lost.

There’s a difference between losing something and misplacing something. If you misplace something, it means it wasn’t important to you. But if you lose it, it’s valuable enough for you to try to find it. You misplace a bobby pin; you lose your glasses.

People are only lost because they’re worth finding. Think of it this way: The value of a masterpiece doesn’t go down when it’s lost; it goes up.

When you aren’t connected to God, you’re lost in many ways. You lose your direction, God’s protection, your potential, your happiness, and your future home in heaven—just to name a few. But there’s one thing you don’t lose: your value.

You’re so valuable that, on the very first Christmas, God paid the price of his Son to find you. The most famous verse in the Bible says, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16 NIV).

You matter so much to God that he underwent a rescue mission to find you. He came to Earth as a little baby so that one day he could die on a wooden cross for your sin.

The Christmas story reveals your value. God loved you enough that, when you were lost, God sent his very best—Jesus—to get you back.

Never forget: You matter to God.

The Glory of Jesus

From: Today Devotions

Mark 10:35-40

They crucified two rebels with him, one on his right and one on his left.

—  Mark 15:27

When we think of the glory of God, we probably have something like Isaiah 6 in mind. The prophet Isaiah had a vision of God in a heavenly temple, “high and exalted, seated on a throne.” Seraphim (fiery creatures with wings) were flying about, singing, “The whole earth is full of his glory.” And the temple trembled and shook (Isaiah 6:1-4).

That’s glory. Glory is big. Glory is high. Glory is powerful. No doubt that’s what James and John have in mind when they ask to sit on either side of Jesus in his glory. They want the best seats in the house. They want to be where the action is. They want to be where power resides.

They have no idea what they’re talking about. Because Jesus is on a long mission that will redefine glory. Glory will not ­describe an untouchable God so high up as to be invisible, except in a vision. No. Glory will now describe God in human flesh, lifted a few feet off the ground and nailed to a cross. Glory will now ­describe the God available to be touched, to be spat upon, to be mocked. This is what it means for God to be human. And this is how glory is redefined when God becomes a suffering servant.

“We have seen his glory,” John says (John 1:14).

Jesus, we praise you for your glory. It’s a glory that overturns our expectations. Thank you for setting them right-side up. Amen.

Pain And The Promise

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Pain and the Promise

Christmas background with a cross and lit candles


One day while I was driving, something popped into my mind and I recognized the Holy Spirit speaking. This was the thought: even Mary, the mother of Jesus, wasn’t spared the pain of childbirth. She gave birth to the Savior of the world, our beloved Jesus, and even she experienced pain! [insert mind-blown emoji here] As I began to ponder this, I couldn’t believe I had never thought of that before. Of course, Mary experienced labor pains—every woman giving birth does to some extent!

So why was I shocked with the realization that even the mother of our Savior wasn’t protected from that type of physical pain? I think it’s because something much deeper was being revealed to me—sometimes pain gets you to the promise.

How many times do we see this in Scripture? Let me answer that question for you: a lot! Take the story of Joseph for example. In Genesis 37 Joseph had a dream that he would rule over his brothers and nations. His brothers didn’t like that very much and sold him into slavery. From there, Joseph lived a very trying life for years—he was accused of something he never did, put in jail, left for dead, and completely forgotten about. Until one day, everything changed.

In Genesis 41, we read that Joseph accurately interprets Pharaoh’s dreams and he then makes Joseph second-in-command over all of Egypt. But how did Pharaoh know to go to Joseph for his interpretation in the first place? Well, we read in the chapter before this while Joseph was in prison he accurately interpreted a dream for an imprisoned cupbearer, who then years later put in a good word to Pharaoh about Joseph’s gift of interpreting dreams.

Did you catch that? It was in prison—one of the most painful, uncertain seasons in Joseph’s life—that God chose to fulfill Joseph’s dream years before. God used Joseph’s pain to bring him to a position to save not only Egypt, but the entire nation of Israel. Joseph profoundly states in Genesis 50:20,

“You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people.” (NLT)

Fast forward hundreds of years and we see Mary, the mother of Jesus, exiled from her home, ridiculed by her community, and giving birth in a dirty stable to the heavenly promise of our Creator-Redeemer. I’m not only reminded of the physical pain she must have gone through while giving birth, but the emotional pain she might have experienced as she chose to believe and trust that God’s word would come to pass, while nay-sayers mocked and questioned her.

I’m also reminded of the cross—even Christ Himself was not spared the emotional and physical pain as He bore the sins of the world and died for you and me. He was the promise, and yet He experienced excruciating pain on the cross.

Friends, if you’re reading this and it’s been a painful season for you, my hope and prayer is that your spiritual eyes have been opened to see that God is working it all out for your good (Romans 8:28). The pain you feel right now will not last forever and I believe it’s being used for something greater. Your promise is on the other side of this valley and you have a Savior who will walk you through it, every step of the way.

This Christmas season, take heart knowing you are not alone in your pain—in fact, you are in good company.

Many Christmas blessings to you and your family.


Streams in the Desert – December 22

  • 2022 22 Dec

Lo, a horror of great darkness fell upon him (Gen. 15:12).

The sun at last went down, and the swift, eastern night cast its heavy veil over the scene. Worn out with the mental conflict, the watchings, and the exertions of the day, Abraham fell into a deep sleep, and in that sleep is soul was oppressed with a dense and dreadful darkness, such as almost stifled him, and lay like a nightmare upon his heart.

Do you understand something of the horror of that darkness? When some terrible sorrow which seems so hard to reconcile with perfect love, crushes down upon the soul, wringing from it all its peaceful rest in the pitifulness of God, and launching it on a sea unlit by a ray of hope; when unkindness, and cruelty maltreat the trusting heart, till it begins to doubt whether there be a God overhead who can see and still permit–these know something of the “horror of great darkness.”

It is thus that human life is made up; rightness and gloom; shadow and sun; long tracks of cloud, succeeded by brilliant glints of light, and amid all Divine justice is working out its own schemes, affecting others equally with the individual soul which seems the subject of special discipline.

O ye who are filled with the horror of great darkness because of God’s dealings with mankind, learn to trust that infallible wisdom, which is co-assessor with immutable justice; and know that He who passed through the horror of the darkness of Calvary, with the cry of forsakenness, is ready to bear you company through the valley of the shadow of death till you see the sun shining upon its further side.

Let us, by our Forerunner, send forward our anchor, Hope, within the veil that parts us from the unseen; where it will grapple in ground and will not yield, but hold until the day dawns, and we follow it into the haven guaranteed to us by God’s immutable counsel.
–F. B. Meyer

The disciples thought that that angry sea separated them from Jesus. Nay, some of them thought worse than that; they thought that the trouble that had come upon them was a sign that Jesus had forgotten all about them, and did not care for them.

Oh, dear friend, that is when troubles have a sting, when the devil whispers, “God has forgotten you; God has forsaken you”; when your unbelieving heart cries as Gideon cried, “If the Lord be with us, why then is all this befallen us?” The evil has come upon you to bring the Lord nearer to you. The evil has not come upon you to separate you from Jesus, but to make you cling to Him more faithfully, more tenaciously, more simply.
–F. S. Webster, M.A.

Never should we so abandon ourselves to God as when He seems to have abandoned us. Let us enjoy light and consolation when it is His pleasure to give it to us, but let us not attach ourselves to His gifts, but to Himself; and when He plunges us into the night of pure faith, let us still press on through the agonizing darkness.

A God Who Gives

By Lynette Kittle,

“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life” – John 3:16

Although the enemy of God is at work to deceive people into thinking He is a stingy, closed hand, withholder of everything good and wonderful thing life has to offer; it couldn’t be farther from the truth. It’s all a lie, just lying propaganda from the father of lies. John 8:44 describes who is behind these untruths. “You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”

As James 1:17 describes, God is the perfect giver. “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.”

He is the One who has given us His all, to the point of Jesus laying down His own life to save us. “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down His life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters” (1 John 3:16). As John 15:13 explains, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” John 15:13

What Does God Give Us?
When the enemy tells us God is keeping His blessings from us, we want to remind ourselves how He gives abundantly to us, as 2 Corinthians 9:8 describes, “And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.”

Below are ten ways God gives to us to help remind us of His generosity, especially when we’re struggling, thinking God is withholding good things from us.

  1. God gives His life. “Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being” (Genesis 2:7).
  2. God gives Salvation. “For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people” (Titus 2:11).
  3. God gives freedom from the penalty of sin and death. “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).
  4. God gives His Spirit without limit. “For the one whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for God gives the Spirit without limit” (John 3:34).
  5. God gives His peace. “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 14:27).
  6. God gives His friendship. “And the scripture was fulfilled that says, ‘Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,’ and he was called God’s friend” (James 2:23).
  7. God gives whatever we ask. “But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask” (John 11:22).
  8. God gives victory. “But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ”(1 Corinthians 15:57).
  9. God gives strength. “The Lord gives strength to His people; the Lord blesses His people with peace” (Psalm 29:11).
  10. God gives power. “You, God, are awesome in your sanctuary; the God of Israel gives power and strength to His people. Praise be to God!” (Psalm 68:35).

    Mary’s Wounds

    Luke 2:25-35

    From: Today Devotions

    “A sword will pierce your own soul too.”

    —  Luke 2:35

    We are wondering this month about the incarnation, about Jesus’ being divine and human. He is both, but sometimes we downplay his genuine humanity. Sometimes we imagine his divine nature overcoming the weaknesses and shortcomings of his flesh and blood. But that would make Jesus something other than human.

    I wonder what Mary thought about the genuine humanity of her son. When he was a cranky baby with teeth coming in, Mary would have comforted him. When he was a youngster with a skinned knee, Mary would have wiped away his tears and cleansed the wound. And when he focused on his mission and got too busy to eat, Mary worried and went with his brothers to find him. It seems they thought he might have gone out of his mind (Mark 3:20-21, 31).

    Hardest of all, when soldiers stripped him naked and flogged him, when they drove nails through his flesh and bone to pin him to a cross, when his closest friends abandoned him, when he cried out in anguish, and when a spear opened a gash in his side, Mary stood by helplessly. She saw every bit of it. And she felt it all in the depths of her being. As Simeon had warned her, a sword pierced her soul too.

    How human was Jesus? Hu­man enough for his mother’s heart to break.