Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Wrapped Up for All the World to See

written by David Jeremiah, December 2011, Turning Points Magazine & Devotional, pages 18-21

The Power of Wrapping

At Christmas, why doesn’t each person just bring the presents he or she has purchased and hand them out to the recipients without wrapping?  No way! What does the wrapping add to the mix? …  anticipation, wonder and suspense!

The world apparently agrees: Presents without wrapping paper are just not an option. Although this would be hard to measure specifically, I read that $2.6 billion is spent annually on Christmas wrapping; that wrapping paper (for all occasions) accounts for half the paper produced in the U.S. annually; and that two billion trees are cut down annually to produce wrapping paper. As usual, those numbers are so big that it’s hard to grasp them. But this much is clear: We like to be surprised!

Don’t look now, but God has been in the wrapping and suspense business way longer than we have. Think about it: Every single prophecy ever uttered by a spokesperson for God is a promise wrapped puzzle. The very first prophecy in the Bible had to do with the coming Redeemer of mankind:

“And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed: He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.” (Genesis 3:15, God speaking to Satan.)

Seed? The serpent’s seed and the woman’s Seed? Who are they? “Bruise your head…bruise His heel?” What does that mean? And when will these things happen? The suspense about the coming Redeemer only increased with the passage of time and revelation of more clues. Perhaps no clues were more mysterious than those saying the coming Messiah would be born of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14) in the tiny town of Bethlehem (Micah 5:2) --- a village “little among the thousands of Judah.” How could a virgin give birth? And why in Bethlehem? Israel’s wisest guessed and speculated, but the wrappings were firmly in place. And only God could tear them off.

Even when the Messiah finally appeared, He was “wrapped in swaddling cloths” (Luke 2:12). Yes, Mary and Joseph and the shepherds could see Him --- His face was in plain sight. Yet the swaddling cloths still represented a wrapping --- part of the mystery. If this is the Christ child, why was He born as a peasant, wrapped in the common cloth of a carpenter’s family? Where were His royal wrappings? Where was His crown?

The Power Of Unwrapping

Every family has had the proverbial “box” experience on Christmas morning. You know --- where little kids have more fun playing with the boxes than with the toys that came inside them. They build forts with the boxes. They use them as sleds outside on a grassy or snowy hillside. They get inside the boxes and spring out like a jack-in-the-box. The boxes become just another toy to a creative child.

The truth is, it doesn’t take too long to explore the depths of many things in our world and look for other distractions --- especially a child’s toy at Christmas. But what about Jesus? The world has been exploring the mystery of His being for two thousand years --- and for several thousand years before His appearing --- and we still have not exhausted who He is. (And never will.) Getting to know the Son of God is like unwrapping a Christmas present concealed in an infinite layer of wrappings. The deeper we dig into His person, the more we discover what we didn’t know. And everything we find leads us to want to dig deeper still; to know more of Him than we did before.

Why did the crowds follow Jesus and say, “We never saw anything like this!” (Mark 2:12) Well, because they hadn’t! They had never seen a man heal the sick and give sight to the blind. They had never seen anyone confound the scribes and Pharisees with His teaching, catching the leaders of Israel in their own contradictions and hypocrisy. They had never heard anyone refer to Himself as the Bread of Life, the Door of the Sheep, the Way, Truth, and Life, or the Resurrection and the Life. The more they followed Jesus, watching and listening, the more they were able to see He was like no other. He was a gift from God; “…for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him” (John 3:2b).

The danger for those of us who have been Christians for many years is that we forget the wonder we felt when we first “unwrapped” Jesus as a gift from God. Even though we know the Bible stories about Jesus, “…there are also many other things that Jesus did, which if they were written one by one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written. Amen” (John 21:25).

As you unwrap your Christmas presents this year, remember the perfectly --- infinitely --- wrapped gift that has come to you from God, the best gift anyone could ever receive: Jesus Christ, God’s Son.


The Reason

Monday, December 23, 2013

We are definitely like cats

This was posted by Stan at Winging It

Christmas and Cats

I dutifully got out the Christmas tree and set it up this year. 
And then I kindly and lovingly left the decorations to my 
beloved bride who knows how to do that well and cares about it. 
So we have a lovely Christmas tree all set up and shining 
(you know -- when the timer turns the lights on at night).

Of course, one who is certainly more excited about it than I 
and likely more interested even than my wife is our cat. 
She's in heaven. There are all these shiny, dangling things 
there for the taking. They bob about when she bats at them 
and even, sometimes, fall onto the ground and roll about so 
well that she can make hours of fun out of it. At any moment 
at any time of the day or night we might hear some decoration 
hit the ground and skitter across the floor as our dear little cat 
has a blast with a ball from the tree. 
Oh, yes, my cat loves Christmas.

My wife, on the other hand, isn't so pleased with the kitty's 
version of loving Christmas. It isn't, in fact, Christmas that 
she loves. It is the fun. It is the decorations. It is the chance 
to play with what she likes to play with and obtain for herself 
the things she wants. She ... oh, wait  
this is starting to sound familiar ...

Isn't this an apt description of humans at Christmas? 
Is it about Christmas, or is it about the decorations and the gifts? 
Is it the trappings or is it the Incarnation that we celebrate? 
Aren't we closer to cats around a Christmas tree than shepherds 
around a manger? Well, aren't we?

Saturday, December 21, 2013


Oh, the comfort -- 
the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person,
Having neither to weigh thoughts,
 Nor measure words -- but pouring them
All right out -- just as they are --
Chaff and grain together --
Certain that a faithful hand will
Take and sift them --
Keep what is worth keeping --
And with the breath of kindness 
Blow the rest away.

By Dinah Maria Mulock Craik

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Sweet things to eat

Something made of nothing, 
Tasting very sweet, 
A most delicious compound, 

With ingredients complete.

By Mary E. Buell

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

We have lived and loved together

We have lived and loved together
Through many changing years;
We have shared each other’s gladness
And wept each other’s tears;
I have known ne’er a sorrow
That was long unsoothed by thee;
For thy smiles can make a summer
Where darkness else would be.

Like the leaves that fall around us
In autumn’s fading hours,
Are the traitor’s smiles, that darken
When the cloud of sorrows lowers;
And though many such we’ve known, love,
Too prone, alas, to range,
We both can speak of one love
Which time can never change.

We have lived and loved together
Through many changing years,
We have shared each other’s gladness
And wept each other’s tears.
And let us hope the future,
As the past has been will be:
I will share with thee my sorrows,
And thou thy joys with me.

by Charles Jefferys, The Best Loved Poems of the American People, 1936

Monday, December 9, 2013

It's our Response that matters

Since we are believers, we must be reminded that we are adopted as God's children.  We are brand new when we accept Jesus as our Savior.  
2 Corinthians 5:17  

While we live in this evil world, everything we do should glorify God.  We still have our old sin nature, so we do fail, but we also succeed as we walk with Him because we have the Holy Spirit in us.

But why am I important?

We can understand great Biblical teachers glorifying God, great Doctors, great leaders glorifying God, great “whoevers”, but we always should remember we are precious to Him no matter what part we play in our world.  Do not think less of yourself because you do not heal or lead or teach great groups of people; no matter your age, your position
You are so valuable to the LORD! Matthew10:29-31

If you are a mother cleaning up after your whole family, then do it for the LORD with all your might. If you are a single woman, a the same.  If you are ill, elderly, or unable to do anything, you can praise Him in your mind, you can smile at others, you can sing for Him in your own room, you can pray for everyone you know and those you do not know. 

No matter who you are, you ARE somebody to the LORD!


As we abide/live in the LORD everyday, we all know what will come next.  

“Life” is not easy-peasy, it is full of trials and tribulations; some of them are longstanding, others come and go, but never stop coming. 

So how do we glorify God in the midst of our pain, and what does this look like? Lots of these trials and tribulations in our lives are not caused by us. It can become very overwhelming and we can begin to cry out, “not fair!”

When this happens it looks like grumpiness, anger, jealousy, sassiness, bitterness….

Philippians 2:14-16

As we boil all this down, remembering we are His children, “it” all revolves around
 ~me~ choosing to respond rightly for the LORD.  It all is about me responding rightly for Him.  My desire should be to glorify Him even when I am so hurt.  

Ephesians 4:25-32

Yes, people will say and do hurtful, unfair, unrighteous things and do them to us, but how do we respond?  

Romans 12

We need to think through our options, we need to cry out to God for His wisdom, we need to seek godly counsel from those not in our “storms”, and then we need to respond kindly, diplomatically, lovingly, understandably 

Our whole aim is to glorify God in our responses, remembering it isn’t about us - it is about living and glorifying God with all our own being.  We can get out there and do this because of Him!

If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.

Romans 12:18

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Should You Go First

Should you go first and I remain,
to walk the road alone,
I’ll live in memory’s garden,
dear, with happy days we’ve known.
In Spring I’ll wait for roses red,
when fades the lilac blue,
in early Fall when brown leaves call,
I’ll catch a glimpse of you.

Should you go first and I remain,
for battles to be fought,
each thing you’ve touched along the way,
will be a hallowed spot.
I’ll hear your voice, I’ll see your smile,
though blindly I may grope,
the memory of your helping hand 
will buoy me on with hope.

Should you go first and I remain, 
to finish with the scroll,
no length’ning shadows shall creep in,
to make this life seem droll.
We’ve known so much happiness,
we’ve had our cup of joy,
and memory is one gift of God 
that death cannot destroy.

Should you go first and I remain,
one thing I’d have you do:
walk slowly down that long, lone path,
for soon I’ll follow you.
I’ll want to know each step you take 
that I may walk the same,
for some day down that lonely road,
you’ll hear me call your name.
by Albert Kennedy Rowswell

"But now he has died; why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I will go to him, but he will not return to me."
2 Samuel 12:23

"...we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope. 

For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus. 

For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. 

For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of thearchangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 

Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord. 

Therefore comfort one another with these words.
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

In honor of Janet's crown of life and Tom's love for her. Praising God!

Monday, December 2, 2013



My dear friend made these acorns for me.  These little acorns are made from Hershey's kisses, the tops are of mini Vanilla Wafers which are "glued" with small amounts of frosting, and a butterscotch chip "glued" on top. 

YUMMY!  They go fast, so if you make them, do the whole bag!

Acorns have always been special to me.  I love to collect them, display them, draw them, make them, buy things which look like them, and just look at them.

The symbolism is also special to me.  It just seems like they represent "hope" to me.  Like a tiny seed which can become important.

Our hope is in God who made heaven and earth.  

We can know He cares about our hopes.

Mighty oaks from little acorns grow:

The word acorn doesn't come from 'oak' and 'corn', as is popularly supposed, but from the Old English 'aecern', meaning berry or fruit. The tree genus Acer comes from the same root.

Before oaks were mighty they were first either great, tall, sturdy or even just big. 

Examples of early variants of 'mighty oaks from little acorns grow' are found in Geoffrey Chaucer's Troilus and Criseyde, 1374,
"as an ook cometh of a litel spyr" 
[a spyr, or spire, is a sapling]

An Abundance of Precious Promises

“Let me go to the fields and pick up the leftover grain.”  Ruth 2:2

Downcast and troubled Christian, come and glean today in the broad field of promise.  
Here is an abundance of precious promises which exactly meet your needs.  

Take this one:   

“A bruised reed He will not break, and a smoldering wick He will not snuff out.”  Isaiah 42:3, Matthew 12:20

Doesn't that suit your situation?  

A reed, helpless, insignificant, and weak, a bruised reed, out of which no music can come; weaker than weakness itself; a reed, and that reed bruised, yet, He will not break you

on the contrary, He will restore and strengthen you.  

You are like the smoldering wick: no light or warmth can come from you; but He will not quench you

He will blow with His sweet breath of mercy until He fans you to a flame.  

Won’t you pick up some grain?    

“Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”  
Matthew 11:28

What soft words! Your heart is tender, and the Master knows it, and therefore He speaks so gently to you.  Won’t you obey Him, and come to Him even now?  

Take more grain:    

“Do not be afraid, O worm Jacob, O little Israel, for I myself will help you, ‘ declares the LORD, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel.”  Isaiah 41:14

How can you fear with such a wonderful assurance as this?  You may pick up a ton of golden grain like this!  

“I have swept away your offenses like a cloud, your sins are like the morning mist.”   Isaiah 44:22

Or this,   

“Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.”  Isaiah 1:18

Or this, 

“The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come!’ And let him who hears say, ‘Come!’ Whoever is thirsty, let him come; whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life.”  Revelation 22:17
Our Master’s field is very rich; behold the handfuls.  

See, there they lie before you, poor timid believer!  

Pick them up, make them your own, for Jesus bids you to take them. 

Don’t be afraid, only believe!  

Grasp these sweet promises, thresh them out by meditation and feed on them with joy.

Morning and Evening, August 1, morning, by Charles H. Spurgeon, page 428

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Even Tyrannosaurus's have moms

Calvin & Hobbs
by Bill Watterson

The right path

Psalm  119:105
Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.

“Life” is sometimes difficult ~ to ~ chaos.  So how do we know which way to go?

We need to be in God's Word, 
listening to His words, 
savoring His words, 
remembering His words, 
repeating His words to ourselves and others as reminders, education, and encouragements.

We need to be drawing near to the LORD and He will draw near to us.