Friday, December 19, 2014

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Do We See Jesus?


Midst the twinkle of the Christmas lights,
Under the pile of presents,
Reflected in the silver of the baking sheets
Filled with cookies shaped like stars,
Do we see Jesus?

In the Christmas cards from family and friends,
In the carols playing loudly on the radio,
Behind the tree full of ornaments and tinsel,
Do we see Jesus?

In the wreath on the door, the candles flickering on the table,
The nativity set so nicely arranged;
In the "stockings hung by the chimney with care,"
Do we see Jesus?

At the office holiday party, the neighborhood buffet,
At the church musical, the school luncheon,
In the line at the post office, in the crowds at the mall,
Do we see Jesus?

In the Christmas books we read to our children,
In the cold and starry night sky,
In the faces of family gathered together
Celebrating the season of joy,
Do we see Jesus?

Let me not miss seeing Jesus this Christmas.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Abide with Me


Often great good comes out of difficult experiences.

I'm thoroughly enjoying reading through Then Sings My Soul:  150 of the World's Greatest Hymn Stories by Robert J. Morgan.  It's interesting that so many of the famous hymn writers went through severe trials, many of a physical nature.  The words they penned during those times continue to encourage Christians today.

I'm reminded that it's often in our times of trial and tribulation that we draw closer to God.  While we wouldn't ask for those days, yet it's often when we experience the sweetest and strongest growth in our spiritual life.  Looking back over 17 years ago to the loss of our first baby, I know that the lessons the Lord so lovingly taught us in those months are ones that have lasted these many years. 

Reading the hymn history of Abide with Me by Henry F. Lyte yesterday, I was encouraged by these words.

I need Thy presence every passing hour;
What but Thy grace can foil the tempter’s pow’r?
Who, like Thyself, my guide and stay can be?
Through cloud and sunshine, Lord, abide with me.

Whether or not we're currently facing a trial, how we need His presence, His grace, and His guidance each and every day of our lives.

Friday, December 12, 2014

To Simplify....Or Not?


"This realization leads to a different question than that suggested by all these tips on simplifying the holidays.  Namely, what are you saving your energy for?  This is all there is.  Anything could happen and you are not guaranteed another snowman.  So make a fuss.  Make a show.  Spend your energy now."  ~Laura Vanderkam in What the Most Successful People Do On the Weekend

This advice seems to go against most of what I read on blogs these days.  Everyone's into keeping it simple, making the Christmas season as easy on yourself as possible. 

Yet the more I thought about Laura's words, the more they rang true.  I'm not for burning ourselves out by attending every Christmas party, baking a dozen different types of cookies, or buying a gift for every acquaintance.

However, I think sometimes I'm just looking for an excuse to take it easy.  If I can do a little bit more to make the season special for those I love, then I want to do it.  If I can reach out and touch another soul in the midst of the "busy-ness," then I want to make the effort. 

Focusing on Christ's birth is the most important thing and I will never regret making that a priority in our celebrating.  Let me be thankful that I have this holiday in 2014 to celebrate with family and loved ones.  Then let me use the health and energy with which I've been blessed to bless others as much as possible during this Christmas season.

Are you able to strike a balance between simplifying and making the most of the season?

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Do We See the Need for Prayer?

 "True prayer, then, can be rooted only in the recognition of genuine need." ~Catherine Marshall in Christy

As I looked through my folder of potential blog posts, I noticed how many of the drafts that I have started have to do with prayer.  Perhaps this is fitting as I've been studying prayers in the Bible during my daily devotions.  In January, I hope to share some of what I've been learning - it's such good stuff!

Yet in order to pray effectively, I have to see in my heart the need for prayer, which is ultimately my need for God and for seeing His hand at work in my life.

I love my prayer journal that allows me to look back over answered prayers.  With only a couple of weeks left in the year, I'm already beginning to reflect about all that has happened over the past twelve months.  From big concerns to small, God has faithfully answered prayer.

When we admit that we need God to show Himself mighty, that we have no power to affect an outcome, then we open ourselves up to see Him at work.  It goes back to my word for 2014 - trust

I can trust that He hears my prayers.  I John 5:14 says, "And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us..."  Many times, He answers above and beyond what I expected.  Yet if God doesn't answer a request as I think it should be answered, I have another opportunity to trust.  I know He will answer in a way that's best. 

It's not just in the big situations that I recognize my need, but in the daily trials I face.  Romans 12:12 exhorts us to be "rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer..."

Today, let's recognize our need for God's guidance and goodness in our lives and strive, with the Holy Spirit's help, to take our every need to Him in prayer.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Keeping Perspective in the Christmas Season


As we struggle with shopping lists and invitations, compounded by December’s bad weather, it is good to be reminded that there are people in our lives who are worth this aggravation, and people to whom we are worth the same.” -Donald E. Westlake

As I dash into yet another store for a present, then gather scissors and tape to wrap those gifts, may I be thankful that I have people to whom I can show my love.

As I stand in lines and wait, may I share a smile and a kind word with my fellow man.

As I attend holiday events, may I be grateful for the health and strength to be there.

As I bake cookies for yet one more Christmas gathering, may I recognize the blessing of bountiful food and the ability to share it with others.

As I hear one more Christmas carol, may I remember the reason for the season and stop to thank God for the greatest gift that's ever been given.

I trust that amidst all the "busy-ness" that December holds, your heart is filled with the joy and true meaning of the Christmas season!