In His Loving Presence

You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand. Psalm 16: 11

Thank you for visiting my 2014 Daily Devotional blog site called “Living in His Loving Presence”. If you would like to begin reading this past year’s devotions, please go to the Archives on the right side of this page and click January. You can scroll down from January 31st to the 1st and find each day’s entry. (Or you can click on the Daily Devotional Archives at the top of the page and do the same.) Of course, the holidays and Sundays won’t match up since they were written for 2104, but the message will be the same.

I pray each verse will speak to your heart as it has mine. And may God bless you for spending time in His Word.

May the Grace, Love, and Presence of God Be With You

May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. 2 Corinthians 13: 14

Happy New Year! As I sit here writing my last devotional, I can’t express to you how much my heart is filled with gratitude and joy. I end this journey with this last verse, praying that the grace and love of Jesus Christ will always be upon you. I am so grateful for the opportunity to have spent this time with God and to have had the chance to share my faith and His Word with you. I hope each and every verse has been a source of strength, comfort, assurance and love, as they have been for me.

I pray that in the coming year you will have good health, much happiness, peace, and much love, but most of all, it is my prayer that all of us will seek to know our God more. I pray we will see Him in every part of our day and be aware of His presence with us.

May we spend time with Him and worship Him, giving Him much praise for the goodness in our lives – for all the wonderful gifts He provides each and every day – the provisions we need for life, the gift of family, friendship, love, laughter, comfort, strength, hope, healing, the assurance of His love, the beauty of His creation, and the beauty of the people around us. And above all, I pray we will always be in awe of His love and grace.

As many of you have already discovered, amazing things happen when we open our hearts to Him and let Him fill our world with His presence. Life becomes much richer and more joyful than we could ever imagine.

Happy New Year! May it be a wonderful one, and may God bless you for remaining in His Word and for “Living in His Loving Presence”.

(Some of you have written comments that you began reading these devotionals late in the year and you would like to read earlier entries. They will continue to be available. Of course, since they were dated 2014, many of the holidays and Sundays won’t match up, but the message will be the same. Just simply go to as you have been, click on January under the Archives on the right hand side of this page, or go to the Daily Devotional Archives and January’s entries will be listed first, and then each month following. Hope this will make them easier to locate.)


Our most gracious and loving God, we cannot give you enough honor, glory, and praise for the love and blessings you have bestowed on us and our families in the past year. Thank you for your presence with us, for all the smiles and laughter and for all the many ways you have kept us in your loving care. We ask your continued blessings upon us as we enter this new year and ask that you open our hearts in a way that brings us closer to you. Thank you for the gift of your Son, for your Spirit that lives within us, and for your grace that is always upon us. Amen

To Love More

“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.” Mark 12: 29 – 31

The year is coming to a close and it’s time to think about the next one – 2015! And what about those New Year’s Resolutions? For the most part, they can be pretty useless, can’t they? If making them happen could only be as easy as saying them! I’ve found that I have to really want whatever it is I make a vow to do. I have to be 100% committed – body, heart, mind, and soul.

And this year I know what I have to do and want to do. I want to become healthier – with more exercise, a better diet, and much more rest. And January 1st is my kickoff date! A new year, a new me – fully committed and ready to go. I pray I can do it. I pray for strength, patience, determination, and a love for myself that will make me motivated to carry it through, and hopefully it will pay off, give me more energy, and enable me do all those things I hope to do!

But there is another resolution I have this year and that is to follow this verse and His command – to love Him with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength, and to love others. Through writing these devotions, I have learned so much about God’s love for us – for each of us individually – and that He deserves nothing less than our full love and devotion in return.

The only way to truly know Him is to love Him with everything in us. And to love Him for the God He is, we have to believe in His promises, to trust in His sovereign care, and to have the assurance of His abiding presence with us. Loving Him and seeing Him in everything we do can make life so much more worthwhile and fulfilling. It takes the focus off of ourselves and those anxieties and concerns that can take up so much space in our hearts and minds, and helps us to see His grace.

I pray we will spend time with Him and show our gratitude for all the many blessings He has given us and our families. I pray we will make Him a part of every day and not let our thoughts drift away from Him. May we know that only He can give us true rest instead of always searching for something to fill our hearts and to satisfy our longings. I pray we will know Him even more and love Him with a greater love than ever before.

As we love Him, His love will radiate to those around us and make us more accepting and loving of others. Others will see Christ in us through our words, our deeds, and the way we live our lives.

To love more. “There is no commandment greater than these.”


Dear God, as this year comes to a close and another one begins, we pray you will fill our hearts with a longing to know you more and love you with all our hearts, minds, and bodies. And we pray that in loving you, our hearts will be more open to loving and serving others. We thank you for the blessings of the past year and for the gift of your love and grace. Amen

The Glory of the One and Only

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.  John 1: 14

Our worship service yesterday reminded us that Christmas may be over, but its message lives on. The choir sang the most beautiful song with the words, “Beautiful Savior, I am in awe of you! You are the wonder of my heart, the wonder of my soul, the wonderful One.”

If only we could keep those words in our hearts and look at our Savior and Lord in those terms and continue to marvel at the life He gives us and of His saving grace.

The song had to have been chosen to prepare us for the message that followed for it was a loving reminder to not forget what this Savior who came to us as a child means to our world. The excitement over His birth is over, Christmas has been put away until next year, and our hearts probably won’t be quite as grateful, loving, and giving. But yet, we were reminded that Christmas is not the end of God’s plan for sending His Son to earth to live among us, but only the beginning.

This beautiful passage from John is an invitation for us to keep our hearts and minds focused on God’s glory each and every day, not just during the Christmas season. He reminds us that Christ was with God from the beginning of creation, and it was God’s plan for Him to become the Savior of the world. Since the fall of man in the Garden of Eden, the world has waited for His arrival on earth and with His birth, came the light in the midst of the darkness.

Before His coming, God had revealed Himself through His creations, through His works among men, and through His Word, but when Christ came to live among us, God revealed His glory in person through His Son. Jesus didn’t just tell about the glory of God or merely demonstrate it, He came to reveal God and His glory to the world, for He was and is God.

Christ came to earth to dwell among us to fulfill His purpose and the will of His Father. He came to teach us, to show us how to love, and He gave His life for us. He came to feel our pain, to realize the temptations we face, and to understand what it is like to be us. And then He paid the ultimate sacrifice and died on the cross to save us and to give us eternal life.

What an inconceivable love our God has for us to give us such a gift of His Son. May Christmas live on in our hearts as we remember to give Him all glory, honor, and praise.


Dear God, thank you for the gift of your Son who came to dwell among us and to give us His saving grace. May we continue to marvel at the depth of your love, power, and glory, and be in awe of such a beautiful Savior, Lord, and King. Amen

Finding Quiet Rest in Him

This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says: “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength . . . ”  Isaiah 30: 15

Hopefully, we’re all beginning to feel the calm after the busyness and excitement of the Christmas holidays. We know there are many who couldn’t wait to take down their decorations and have probably already done so, while there are others who plan to enjoy them a little longer. Others are saddened that the season is over, while some are much relieved that it has come and gone, and they’ve returned to their daily routines. And then, New Year’s is only a few days away and some of you may be looking forward to having or attending parties or celebrations, and there is still a feeling of excitement in the air.

Whatever you’re feeling, or however, you’re spending these last few days of the year, hopefully on this Sabbath Day, we can all find time to sit back, rest in the quietness, and reflect on the time that has passed over the holidays and in the past year. What did we learn from our life experiences and our relationships with others? What will we do with those feelings of gratitude, peace, and joy that we experienced over the birth of the Christ child? Only God can help us see more clearly into our own hearts and souls and redirect us -if needed – as we go forward into the new year.

Quiet rest. Something that is much needed for all of us, and a gift God desires to give us as we rest in Him. This verse from Isaiah reminds us that if we turn our hearts to Him, we will find peace in His saving grace. As we rest in His stillness and trust in His faithfulness to us, we will find strength in His presence. What gifts that can be ours throughout the year if we will graciously receive them.

Now that Christmas is over, a different kind of busyness seems to take over our lives as we begin to focus on our daily schedules, our challenges, and our concerns. But when we go to Him in quiet rest, we can hear His calming voice. And it is His words of love and assurance that will make us strong. If we could only remember that we are the strongest when our reliance on Him is the greatest. And because we are His, we can trust in Him and have the confidence of knowing that He is always with us and that we can depend on His love and goodness.

As we prepare to enter the new year ahead, may we think about our lives, our hopes for the future, and especially about the time we spend with God. As we commit our hearts to Him, may we look forward to the new year with hope, purpose, and the assurance of His love and grace.

And may we always find quiet rest in Him.


Our most gracious and loving Father, we thank you for the rest and strength we can find in you. As we look to the new year ahead, may our hearts be filled with love and gratitude for your goodness to us and may we trust in your sovereign care. Amen 

God, the Giver of All Gifts

If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit (to give to you) to those who ask Him?  Luke 11: 13

With all I have seen and heard, there are some happy boys and girls on these days after Christmas! I know our two little guys are! Santa was very good to them!

Isn’t that what we as loving parents do – if at all possible, we try to give our kids those things that will make them the happiest! It may not always be exactly what they asked for, but we hope it will be something they will appreciate.

I always think of how much Kelly wanted a trampoline when she was young, and her dad just couldn’t get over the fear of her getting hurt. For a few years we really had to get creative! I think she grew to understand that the reason she didn’t was simply out of his love and concern for her, and she accepted it. And I am sure she understands it even more now that she is a parent!

Scripture tells us that God loves us with an even greater love than any earthly parent ever could! It is a love so deep, so unconditional, so compassionate and tender that it is almost inconceivable for us to understand. But what comfort it brings to know that He is just as willing to give those of us He calls His children all that we could possibly need, just as we do our own. And in His wisdom, He knows when to give us what we truly desire and when to deny it for our own good.

This verse from Luke 11 comes from a passage in which Jesus has been praying and His disciples asked Him to teach them to pray as He did. Jesus gave them the Lord’s Prayer and assured them that in asking, they could always expect to receive. And so can we. Maybe not in the way we hoped, but in the way that is best. And when it isn’t what we had wanted, He will give us the strength and peace to trust in Him.

In this verse, it’s almost as if Jesus is saying to us, “I know you can’t understand the difference. Your heart as a parent is to give good gifts to your children, but our Father’s heart gives so much more. He knows each of us. He knows exactly what we need and He knows how to make all things work together for our good. He has the power to do all things and in His love for us, we can have the assurance that He will always give us His best for our lives.

God loves us with a perfect love. How much more He can give us than any earthly father ever could because of His perfect wisdom, perfect compassion, perfect mercy, grace, and understanding of our situations. He longs to give us His goodness in the way that will be perfect for our lives.

This is the love and generosity of God. When we ask, He will give us Himself. For when He sent His Son to earth, He sent His Spirit to live in us. And through His Spirit, we are given His guidance, His love and comfort, His joy and His peace. What loving gifts from the Giver of all Gifts!


Dear God, as we reflect on the Christmas season and the gifts of your love and grace, may we be mindful of your presence with us always and of the many blessings of life you give us. Thank you for hearing our prayers and giving us what is best for us. And if it isn’t what we had asked and our hearts are disappointed, give us the strength and grace to trust in you. Amen

How Great a Love

For great is your love, higher than the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the skies.  Be exalted, O God, above the heavens, and let your glory be over all the earth.”  Psalm 108:  4 – 5

For most of us, the Christmas festivities are over – even if we aren’t quite ready to let the season go. I hope yours was everything you hoped it would be and that it brought you much joy. I wonder how we’ll remember Christmas 2014 and what memories our children and grandchildren will share with each other years from now.

As Bob and I rode home from spending Christmas Day with Kelly and her family last night, we talked about all the Christmases we have shared through the years (42 in marriage and 3 while dating) and so many memories came to mind. We laughed as we remembered a story that the other had forgotten and some even brought a few tears – for me, at least – especially about those years when Kelly and Scott were young, and even now, the ones when Miles and Cole were small. How quickly the years pass by.

We talked about how most of our memories of all those Christmases were happy ones, although some were so busy and stressful that they seemed to have passed by in a blur. And then, of course, like we all have, we remembered those that brought sadness as we felt the absence of a loved one we had lost. But most of all, we felt so blessed to be able to say that each one has brought sweet memories and was filled with the love of family and good friends. It was the people in our lives that made each Christmas memorable – not the gifts or the decorations or the number of special things we did to celebrate. It was the presence of their love and laughter that brought us joy.

But we realized even more, that our greatest gift of these many Christmases that we have spent together has been the knowledge that we know this Savior whose birth we celebrate. From the church services to the Christmas plays to the caroling to the candlelight services to the hearing of the manger story through the years, Jesus Christ has been our reason for celebration. And through His presence and love, we have felt an even greater peace and joy.

How grateful we are to God for His great love, a love that flows through us to others. A love that is revealed throughout Scripture. For no matter what book or chapter we turn to, it is as if He is sending His love from His heart to ours. But nowhere do we find it expressed more than when He sent His Son to be born on earth.

In this beautiful verse from Psalm 108, David reminds us of how grateful we should be for God’s goodness and faithfulness to us and how we should exalt His most holy name. How great His love is. “A love higher than the heavens and a faithfulness that reaches to the skies.”


Dear Lord, thank you for this Christmas season and for the time we have had with those we hold dear. Your love and goodness to us blesses us beyond anything we could ever imagine for ourselves. May we honor you by showing the world the joy and happiness that is in our hearts because of you.We exalt your most holy name above all others and give you all praise and glory. Amen

To Us a Child Is Born

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders.  And he will be  called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever.  The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this. Isaiah 9: 6 – 7

Merry Christmas!  It is the day of our dear Savior’s birth. The angels must be singing and all of heaven rejoicing in celebration of this wonderful day!

Could there be a more beautiful or more fitting Scripture passage for this Christmas Day?  For we, too, rejoice in the news that a child has been born to us, a Son has been given. He came into the world to fulfill this divine prophecy made by the prophet Isaiah in the Old Testament 700 years before His birth. It was a prophecy given to God’s people to bring them hope, and what a message of hope He brings to our hearts today.

We know Him as Jesus, the name given to Mary by the angel of God before His birth, but even more, we know Him as the Son of God. He is our Immanuel, the promise of God’s presence with us. He is everything Isaiah promised He would be, and more. He is “our Wonderful Counselor, our Almighty God, our Everlasting Father, and the Prince of Peace”.

Jesus Christ was the fulfillment of God’s promise and the revelation of His great love for us. Through the gift of His Son, we can rest in His presence with us and have the peace and joy of knowing we belong to Him.

May we hold this special time in our hearts and remember the love with which He came into the world – for each of us. What a gift to remember on this Christmas Day! 


Our most loving and gracious Father, thank you for this wonderful day to celebrate the birth of your Son. What a beautiful season it has been to reflect on your love for us and what this gift means to each of our lives. May we look forward with hope and be the light to show others the way to you.  Amen

O Holy Night

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”  So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. . . The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.  Luke 2: 15 – 18; 20

‘What a night it was when the angel of the Lord appeared before the shepherds with the news of our Savior’s birth.

Do you, like me, wonder if they could even begin to fully comprehend what they had seen in the heavens that night? Can you imagine the angel telling them that when they saw the infant wrapped in swaddling clothes that they would be looking at the face of Jesus Christ, our Lord – the Anointed One, the Messiah, the King?

Do you ever wonder if we, too, truly understand what it meant to have the Son of God come to earth as a child, born in a manager – for each of us?

On this day, may we marvel at God’s love for us, the miracle of the birth of His Son, and the beauty of these Scripture passages. What a gift of His grace. What a sacrifice of His Son to us because He loved us so deeply that He wanted to give us the gift of eternal life with Him. May we glorify and praise Him for all these things we have heard and seen this Christmas season – just as the shepherds did.

May the words of this beautiful song, “O Holy Night” fill our hearts with joy, peace, and gratitude.

O Holy Night, the stars are brightly shining. It is the night of our dear Savior’s birth!  Long lay the world in sin and error pining. Till he appear’d and the soul felt its worth.  A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices. For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn! Fall on your knees.

O hear the angel voices. O night divine. O night when Christ was born. O night divine. O night, O night divine.

Truly He taught us to love one another. His law is love and His gospel is peace. Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother. And in His name all oppression shall cease. Sweet hymns of joy, in grateful chorus raise we.  Let all within us praise His holy name.


Our Heavenly Father, we thank you on this day for the gift of your Son and the message of love He brought to our world. May we continue to marvel at the beauty of the Christmas story and let it fill our hearts with peace. We give you all honor, praise, and glory for your saving grace and love.  Amen

Star of Wonder

After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother, Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route. Matthew 2: 9 – 12

“Where’s the star?”

These were the first words Miles spoke when he walked in over the weekend and saw our Christmas tree! I reminded him that last year I began decorating the tree differently, and instead of putting a star on top, I put bunches of holly with red berries, and then I added other branches throughout the tree.

He just stood there staring as in total disbelief, looked at me, and said as gently as he could, “But you’re supposed to have a star!”

I showed him all the different star ornaments I had near the top and throughout the branches, but he still wasn’t satisfied. His reply – as if I really needed to understand was, “ Nan, the star is really important. I think you need one.”

I’ve thought about what he said, and I agree. Next year, I will have a star.

What significance the star of Bethlehem holds – that bright, luminous body of light visible in the night sky that led the Magi to find the Christ child. We wonder at the miracle of its brightness, but even more, it reminds us of the wonder of the miracle of His birth and of the light He brought to a world lost in darkness.

It’s a beautiful story, and one made even more remarkable by the idea that it wasn’t the religious leaders or long time believers that God first chose to come to worship Jesus, but it was the lowly shepherds and the unlikeliest of visitors, the Magi, sometimes referred to as “The Three Kings” or “The Three Wise Men.” Biblical scholars tell us they were actually scientists, astrologers – men of great knowledge and prominence who traveled a long distance to seek Him.

How these men knew about Him, or the star, we don’t know, but we do know they must have known this wasn’t just any ordinary star. Perhaps they had heard rumors or stories coming out of the East about the birth of a Savior and King, or out of curiosity they may have studied the early prophecies such as this one from Numbers 17“I see him, but not now;  I behold him, but not near.  A star will come out of Jacob; a scepter will rise out of Israel.”  Or they may have researched the prophecies of Daniel  about the birth of the Messiah to come. Possibly they had been waiting and watching for years for such a supernatural event in the skies and were eager to see this King, of which they had heard.

They had no map, no destination in mind, not even news of anyone else who had ever made such a journey before, yet they were compelled to follow the star. They even stopped off in Jerusalem to ask King Herod, “Where is the one who has been born King of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship Him.”

Herod was disturbed by the news and when he learned that prophecy had predicted He would be born in Bethlehem, he told the Magi to go and find Him, and return to Him so He might go and worship Him, as well. ( His motive was later made known and why they were told in a dream not to do as he asked.)

The Magi continued on their journey following the radiant and brilliantly, shining star, leading them to the Christ child. Night after night they checked their progress by the light of the star, spurred on by the promise of what they would find. Some believe the journey may have taken months, and they may not have found the newborn in a manger, as often portrayed in nativity scenes. But whenever they did find Him, they bowed down and worshiped Him, and lay before Him expensive gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh – gifts fitting for a king. It was almost as if they couldn’t help themselves from worshiping, for certainly they realized the divine nature of such a star leading them to the site of this child.

The story reminds us that God will reach out to everyone, and He will come to us in whatever way we will most understand. We, like these men, seem to be searching for something to fill our emptiness. These wise men came because perhaps they, too, realized they needed a promise of something more. Hope kept them going, just as it does us today. And there’s only One who can fill that longing and give us the assurance we need.

May the star of Bethlehem and His light shine brightly in our hearts and show us the way.


Our most gracious and loving God, what hope and joy we find in You. How grateful we are for your sovereign grace over our lives and your love for us, as shown in the birth of your Son.  May we seek Him and His light, just as the Magi did, and live in His loving presence. Amen

May We Sing And Proclaim His Love

It is good to praise the Lord and make music to your name, O Most High, to proclaim your love in the morning and your faithfulness at night, to the music of the ten-stringed lyre and the melody of the harp. For you make me glad by your deeds, O Lord;  I sing for joy at the works of your hands. Psalm 92:  1 – 4

I awoke this morning to the sweetest sound! It was Cole beside my bed whispering, “Nan! Nan! Are you awake?”  Even if it was 5:40, I didn’t even mind! We crawled into his bed, talked, and read many of his favorite Christmas books. Miles joined us for a few minutes before we went down for chocolate chip pancakes, and then everyone else soon woke too!

What simple, little gifts these were during this Christmas season. What blessings God gives us and how grateful I am for the gift of life and all His faithfulness and goodness to us.

Kel and her family have been with us for a few days so we could spend some time together with other family members. There was a spirit of Christmas in the air and the boys were excited to get the festivities started! And it has been such a blessing to see others whom we don’t get the opportunity to see very often.

There were a few loved ones missing, but they weren’t forgotten. Among them were Scott and Emily who won’t be with us this year as they join her family in Texas, but we know they will have a wonderful time and will be with us in spirit. And thankfully, we will be able to send messages and videos back and forth to each other over the next few days!

What a blessing it is to be with those we love and, how nice it was to have our home filled with the smell of good food, hot spice cider, the sounds of laughter, and Christmas music playing softly. And  every now and then, Cole had us all go to the basement as he played on his Uncle Scott’s drum set and we sang along to Bruce Springsteen’s version of “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” which played in the background. That definitely livened things up a bit! (Yes, it was like the Grisworld’s family Christmas!)

What is it about this time of year that just makes us smile, want to sing, and have those feelings of true joy and happiness?  I know much of it has to do with family, friends, decorations, lights, music, trees, candles, good food, and presents. But there is much more, and that is knowing that God has sent His Son to earth to give us the gift of eternal life. Through Him we have hope. Hope that gives way to joy. He through His magnificent power and glory has given us all we could ever need or hope for.

And in return we want to celebrate, praise and give Him much glory. We can celebrate that we are a part of the Holy Family of God. He loved us enough to make a way for us to be His children. Because of this gift, we can sing as the angels did that first Christmas – “Glory to God in the highest and on earth, peace to men on whom his favor rests.”  We can praise and worship God as we celebrate who He is and what He has done through His Son, Jesus Christ.

“It is good to praise the Lord and make music to your name, O Most High, to proclaim your love in the morning and your faithfulness at night . .  I sing for joy at the works of your hands.”    


Our most kind and gracious Father, we give you all honor, glory and praise for the gift of life and especially for life with our Savior, Jesus Christ. Thank you for the gift of family and friends and for all your goodness to us. May our hearts be opened to those who are less fortunate than we are or who are experiencing sadness and difficult situations during this season of Christ’s birth. May we share your love and faithfulness with them in the hope that we can bring a song to their hearts and a renewed hope for the future. Amen

Waiting With Anticipation

When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required (in the temple), Simeon took him in his arms and praised God. Luke 2:  27 – 28 

Coming up to them at that very moment, she (Anna) gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem. Luke 2: 38  

It’s the Sunday before Christmas and anticipation is in the air of what is to come! We have been waiting for this special day to celebrate the birth of Christ with our family and friends.

As the Christmas story unfolds and we try to imagine all that took place, there are two characters that we read about in Luke that we probably aren’t as familiar with. We may not find them in a Christmas play or see them pictured on any Christmas card we might receive, but what lessons they can teach us about trusting in God’s promises to us.

In Luke 2: 22, we read that according to the Law of Moses, Mary and Joseph took Jesus to the temple in Jerusalem when He was 40 days old to be dedicated to God. While there, they met two elderly individuals who had been waiting patiently for this event in time on God’s eternal calendar.

One was Simeon, believed to be a priest, and the other, a woman named Anna, who is referred to as being a prophetess. Both had been waiting for many years with hope, anticipation, and expectation of God’s promise of a Messiah who would come to change the world with His redeeming grace.

Simeon was known as righteous before men and devout in His relationship with God. He was troubled by the conditions that the people of Israel were living under with Roman rule and knew that many were questioning whether the Messiah would ever come. But Simeon eagerly awaited His arrival on faith, for Scripture tells us that it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Savior, and He believed and trusted in God’s promises.

On the particular day when Mary and Joseph brought the 6 week old infant to be dedicated, Simeon was in the temple courts. When he saw the Christ child, he knew that God had kept His promise. He believed that this child truly was Immanuel, “God is with us”, and that He would make all things right in the world. He was comforted by His presence and finally felt peace in His heart.

Simeon lovingly reached down, took the baby out of Mary’s arms, began to praise God for sending the One that he had been waiting for, and blessed these parents. We can only imagine how Mary and Joseph felt as we read that they “marveled at what he said about Him.” 

Then soon Anna appeared and believed as Simeon had. At the age of 84, she also was known for her devout faith in God. We are told that after her husband’s death, she remained in the temple, worshiping day and night, fasting and praying. And when she saw the Christ child, she immediately knew that He was the Messiah, She felt that at last the Savior had come with His saving grace, and she gave thanks to God and spoke to all who would listen about what His coming would mean to the world.

What a story of these two faithful believers. They had waited patiently on God with absolute trust, and God kept His promises. He sent His Son to them, and just as Jesus, our Savior and Lord, came to Simeon and Anna, He comes to us. We can trust and believe in Him.  He lives in our hearts and we can rest in the assurance of His love and presence with us now and forevermore.

This Christmas, may His light shine in us as we show the world the love, hope, and joy He can bring to our lives.


Our most loving Father, we thank you for this Christmas season and for the gift of your Son. May we anticipate and marvel at His coming over and over again as we celebrate His birth and may we share with others the good news of His love and presence with us. Amen

Mary Did You Know?

But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. Luke 2: 19

Tucked away in the middle of the Christmas story is this beautiful verse about what Mary must have thought as she held her newborn child in her arms.

After an angel visit, prophecies, promises, an unexpected pregnancy before she and Joseph married, a long, tiring journey, labor and birth in a stable, and after the shepherds came and told them of what they had heard from the heavenly host, what could have possibly been in her heart?  It must have all been too much to even think about or understand as the time passed. But now as she held Him in her arms, all she can do is” ponder” in wonder of who this child will be.

This version of “Mary, Did You Know?” by Pentatonix is beautiful, but as many times as I have heard this song through the years, it was the words that stood out to me even more than the music. What a message they bring of that baby boy born so many centuries ago in the town of Bethlehem and of who He would become.

Mary, did you know that your baby boy would someday walk on water? Mary, did you know that your baby boy would save our sons and daughters?  Did you know that your baby boy has come to make you new? This child that you’re delivered, will soon deliver you?  Mary, did you know that your baby boy would give sight to a blind man? Mary, did you know that your baby boy would calm a storm with his hand?  Did you know that your baby boy has walked where angels trod?  And when you kiss your little baby, you have kissed the face of God. 

Oh, Mary did you know? The blind will see, the deaf will hear, the dead will live again. The lame will leap, the dumb will speak, the praises of the lamb. Mary, did you know that your baby boy is Lord of all creation? Mary, do you know that your baby boy would one day rule the nations?  Did you know that your baby boy is heaven’s perfect Lamb? This sleeping child you’re holding is the great I am. 



Our Heavenly Father, we thank you for the gift of your Son and what He has meant to each of us and to our world.  We thank you for the blessings of His love and His saving grace. Amen

Good News of Great Joy

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 

But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: “You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” 

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests. ”  Luke 2:  8 – 14

It’s always nice getting those phone calls from afar, isn’t it? Scott called on his way home from work last night, and we enjoyed catching up on his and Emily’s news. But more importantly, he wanted news from us. He knew “Charlie Brown Christmas”  had aired the night before, and he wondered if we had talked to Miles and Cole, and if they had told us they had seen it. He was anxious to hear what they had to say!

This brought back so many memories of him and his Charlie Brown days. He loved those TV shows, the comic strips, the characters, and all it entailed.  What fun they all brought him as a child and what lessons he learned about life. No matter how many years go by, I don’t think he’ll ever tire of reading them!

And nothing would please him more than for the boys to love these characters as much as he does. It made me smile to remember him watching the show over and over during the Christmas season, and even all year, and of course, I would have to stop and watch too!  I especially remember Linus reciting these beautiful verses from Luke in their Christmas play about the shepherds and “the good news of great joy” they had to tell all who would listen.

What a wonderful image this passage gives us, and what good news it was to share! God Himself had come down to earth to live among us in the form of a baby to be our Savior and Lord. As you read these passages, it’s almost as if you can sense the excitement among the angels, as they proclaim the birth of our Messiah to the shepherds. Their words are filled with rejoicing, wonder, and awe as if what was happening was almost beyond human understanding.

It was then, and it still is today. What an amazing story of God’s love and hope. The angels must have understood what was taking place and why God was sending them to bring these good tidings to a group of lowly shepherds sleeping out in the fields with their sheep rather than to dignitaries or royalty. They were bringing a message of hope, peace, and light to a world that was filled with darkness and despair.

We can imagine that night after night these shepherds must have gazed up at a magnificent, star-filled sky, and had seen little out of the ordinary. But on this night, they became an audience to the glory of God shining about them with the most radiant host of angels praising Him. How astonished they must have been at the sight before them and to hear the news of our Savior being born in a manger.

The shepherds immediately left for Bethlehem to see this miracle child that had been proclaimed to them. And when they had found Mary and Joseph and had seen the baby for themselves, “They spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. . . The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.”  Luke 2: 17 – 20

What a lesson we can learn from the shepherds and that is to keep pursuing the good things God has ahead for us. And may we capture some of those things in our hearts, just as they did, that make Christmas so special. May we appreciate – not just the sights and sounds  – but the awe, wonder, and joy of a Savior who has touched our lives with His love and grace.


Dear God, we are still in awe of the story of Christmas and the miracle of our Savior’s birth. May we, too, be like the shepherds and long to tell others of “the good news of great joy” and continue to seek your presence and love. We praise you, and give you all honor and glory for the peace and hope the gift of your Son brings to a lost world.  Amen

No Room in the Inn

In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. And everyone went to his own town to register. So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.  Luke 2: 1 – 7

If there is a visual image of the Christmas story that stands out among all the rest, it would most likely be the manger scene in the stable where the newborn Christ child lay.  And the first words that probably come to mind are the ones in which we imagine the innkeeper saying to Mary and Joseph, “There is no room for you in the inn!”

Imagine how many times we have heard these words through the years and been humbled by the thought of baby Jesus lying in a manger – the king of kings, the Lord of Lords, the Creator of all creation, the long-awaited Messiah – in a wooden manger filled with hay and with animals all around. Could there be a more simple or humble beginning for the Son of God?

Scripture passages in Luke tell us that Mary and Joseph were required to travel from Nazareth to Bethlehem, which was a distance of about 80 miles, to register for the census. We can only imagine how long and difficult a journey this must have been during the cold, winter months, especially for Mary in her condition.  Normally the journey would have taken 4 days by donkey, but, it could have taken up to a week, depending on how much Mary needed to stop and rest.

To go so far and then to be told there was no lodging must have been difficult for Mary and Joseph to hear. Surely they must have wondered why God would not have provided for them. Even though the inn itself would have been very primitive with dirt floors, at least it would have been a place for them to lie down with a blanket on the floor with shelter from the cold. But without a room, they were sent to the stables and when it came time for her baby to be born, Mary improvised the best way she could.

She wrapped her newborn in swaddling clothes and lay him in a manger, a feeding trough lined with hay.  There is no doubt that as frightened and alone as she must have felt without the presence of her mother or another relative, she trusted God and knew that this was where they were supposed to be. She knew they would be safe and under His care. She brought her newborn infant into the world knowing that God’s grace was upon them both and all would be well.

God in His sovereignty brought His Son into the world – not with power and majesty – but with humble beginnings. The stable, the manger, and the harsh surroundings were symbolic of a Savior who came to earth poor, weak, vulnerable, even small, but who took His place in a manger so we might have a home in heaven. He came to live among us, to give us a more abundant life, and to give us eternal life.

What a beautiful story of grace. God gave us His best. He gave us His Son, and He did so out of His great love for us. What a gift and one we so often take for granted.

God would have us to ask ourselves, “Have we made room for Him in our lives?”  Or do we push Him aside and place Him in small corners until He is needed? God wants more than just a small space in our hearts. He wants all of us, fully committed to Him. As we think of the Christ child lying in a manger who came to earth to live among us,  may we open our hearts to Him and make room for all the love He has to give.


Dear God, as we approach this special day and time that Christ came into the world, may our hearts be opened to Him.  May we make room for Him, show His love to others, and tell of His saving grace.  Amen

You Alone Are God

 Among the gods, there is none like you, O Lord; no deeds can compare with yours. All the nations you have made will come and worship before you, O Lord; they will bring glory to your name. For you are great and do marvelous deeds; you alone are God. Psalm 86: 8 – 10

Isn’t it sad that just as we have heard in the last few years, there is much criticism and controversy over using the words, “Christmas”, “Christ”, “Jesus“, and even “God“.   To be “politically” correct, it is believed that these terms should be totally eliminated from our vocabulary.  Even more sad is to read that the belief in the virgin birth of Christ is evidence that some Christians are becoming “less intellectual” than their secular, more open-minded neighbors.

One writer even stated, “The evidence of the virgin birth is so shaky that it pretty much has to be a leap of faith to believe in its occurrence.”  I think the second part of that statement is probably the wisest thing this author has ever said. Yes, believing in God requires faith.

Our faith in God is the core of our Christian faith, for Scripture tells us: “We live by faith, not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7). Believing in the very essence of God and in His divinity depends upon our faith. Christianity is filled with mystery and awe, and we know that “God’s ways are not always our ways” and that we may never understand this all knowing, all powerful, ominipotent being, but for those of us who truly seek Him, know Him, and trust in Him, there can be no doubt of His existence and presence in our lives.

We don’t have the answers of how or why things occur, but we do know that our God is bigger than we could ever imagine. Only God knows what is in our hearts and what will happen to our souls. But I can’t help but think, if we don’t have a place for a God who is capable of performing miracles, who can create life, and sustain it, how can we possibly even believe in God, His Word to us, or even Jesus Christ’s divine nature as the Son of God?

The early Christians came to believe in God based on what He did and said in light of the Old Testament prophecies concerning His people, His promises, and those about our Savior and Lord to come. Most Christians accept this story on faith, but we also believe because of what He has done in our own lives.

I have a deep and abiding knowledge of God’s presence in my life. I have experienced it. I have seen and felt His comfort, love, peace, hope, and grace, and I have the assurance that He will never leave us.

It is the core of our Christian faith that God has entered our world as a human life in the body. It was a divine event that we may never be able to comprehend or understand, but in knowing God’s essence –  his power, glory, and sovereignty over our world, we can accept it on faith.

It is indeed as the angels said in announcing His birth, “We bring you good news”, for what could be more comforting than knowing that the God of the universe fully understands what it is like to be us, to be human and to feel the emotions we feel. When we struggle with the challenges and discouragements of life, we have the assurance that our God understands.

Because of the Christmas story, we have the story of the cross and the gift of salvation and His grace. It is a story of what God has done for us and promises to do for all eternity. May we glorify Him and praise his most holy name this Christmas season. “For He alone is God.”   


Our most sovereign Creator and sustainer of life, may we never become so wise and worldly that we fail to see the miracles of your presence on earth and in our lives. We thank you for the wisdom and understanding you give us to know by faith that you alone are our God. Amen

Fill Our Hearts With a Song

And Mary said, “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me – holy is his name. His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation. He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. He has filled the hungry with good things, but has sent the rich away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful to Abraham and his descendants forever, even as he said to our fathers. Luke 1 : 46 – 55

Do you ever feel on some days that you just don’t have any reason at all for praising God? I think we all have those days! Our spirits become so weary and burdened by the cares of life, by the challenges we need to overcome, by the circumstances of those around us, and by the constant turmoil and chaos in our nation and in our world. Sometimes it all just seems too overwhelming and hopeless, and there seems to be little reason for joy or praise.

When we have these days, perhaps we need a song. A song of praise to God. We need to take a breath and remind ourselves of all the many blessings we have been given – even in the midst of our circumstances. This is what Mary did. Immediately after the verses in which we read Elizabeth’s words to Mary about the blessing of carrying God’s Son, we see the title, “Mary’s Song”.  And the above passage is her song of praise.

As we think about her life, it seems that she, too, must have felt burdened by her circumstances  – experiencing the oppression of her people through Roman rule, living a humble and simple life with just the bare necessities, and then hearing the news about an unexpected pregnancy out of wedlock. There were so many plans in place, but in just a short time, everything had changed.

Mary understood the ridicule and shame she would have to endure going forward. She understood how difficult it would be for Joseph who loved her and wanted to make her his wife. Their world had been turned upside down, but yet, she knew their faith in God was strong. In her heart, she still had a song –  her song – a very personal and heartfelt one – about all the great things God had done in her life, in the lives of those before her, and in the world around her. Believing in His goodness, she trusted and believed that He would continue to do great things in the future.

Mary came from a family of deep faith, one of worshipers and singers of God’s praise. They believed in God’s love and providence, and that He often intervened in people’s lives to do great things.

“Mary’s Song” is her beautiful and enduring legacy of hope for us. Even in her circumstances, she could still find reason to give her God praise. Her words are an expression of her thankfulness as she glorifies Him and His greatness. Her praise came from deep within – an abiding place where God lives and a place where she could always find reason to have hope in Him.

We, too, each need such a song of hope, praise, and joy. May our minds and hearts be filled with the memories of all the great things God has done for us, the love He has shown us, the goodness He continues to give us, and the assurance of His presence with us now and forevermore.


Dear God, what mercy and love you have shown us. Help us not to become so burdened by the cares of the world that we lose sight of your goodness and glory. Fill our hearts with a song for you. Amen

Blessed Are Those Who Believe

Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished! Luke 1: 45

Isn’t it the greatest blessing when we have someone in our lives who understands what we are going through? Perhaps it is someone who has been through the same situation, who has known our joy, our feelings of accomplishment, or even our challenges, heartache, and grief. Or maybe it’s someone who is going through the same life experiences that we are and shares our concerns and fears. It gives us much comfort to know we have someone who will  listen, understand what we are feeling, and give us encouragement.

Feeling as overwhelmed as Mary did when the angel told her that she would be giving birth to a child who was God’s Son, we can understand why she might have chosen to immediately make the almost 100 mile journey from Nazareth to her cousin Elizabeth’s home in Judea. We remember that when Mary questioned the angel on how this could be, the angel replied that “Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. For nothing is impossible with God. (Luke 1: 36 – 37)  Mary needed someone who could understand what she was feeling.

A 9 or 10 day journey, we can only speculate that Mary must have joined up with other travelers to make the journey. With the few details we are given in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, we are left to wonder if Joseph may have arranged the trip or accompanied her there himself. Or perhaps he visited her during her 3 month stay with Elizabeth, and he too was encouraged by the visit.

And as to why she made the trip, we can’t help but think that Mary needed this older woman’s loving counsel and strength. She also may have been concerned for her cousin’s welfare, or she wanted to see for herself if the angel’s words were indeed true. But even more, she must have realized that Elizabeth was the only person who could understand what she was going through – that God Himself had reached down to bless both of them and to use them for His glory.

We can only imagine the thoughts Mary must have had along the way, and how she must have rejoiced with Elizabeth when she saw she truly was with child. But Elizabeth had no way of knowing that Mary was also pregnant, and how in awe of God Mary must have been when she heard Elizabeth’s words upon their embrace: “Blessed are you among women, and blessd is the child you will bear! But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished.” 

Perhaps this visit was just what Mary needed. In her hometown, she would have been misunderstood, shamed, and rejected, but here she was accepted and protected, nurtured and loved. Three times Elizabeth used the word blessing to Mary. Perhaps Mary’s uncertainties and fears began to subside as she heard Elizabeth’s loving words to her. Perhaps as she listened to her beloved cousin refer to her child as “My Lord”, it was the first time that she truly understood the magnitude of the gift God was giving her – not just for herself, but for all of mankind. Perhaps Elizabeth’s encouragement and love gave her even more resolve and strength to go forward in faith to follow God’s plan for her life.

Amazingly, God will do the same for us. When circumstances in our lives seem impossible, overwhelming, and scary, He will assure us of His presence and give us the guidance we need. And He will place loving people in our lives to encourage us with their strength and comfort to help us along the way. He only asks that we believe and trust in Him, and when we do, He will bless our lives with His goodness.


Our most gracious and loving God, we thank you for the beauty of the Christmas story and for the faith of those you chose to carry out your eternal plan. We thank you for the grace to believe – to know that you will always be with us and will give us the strength and assurance we need. We thank you for this Christmas season and for the hope you bring. Amen



O Come to Us

But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.  Micah 5: 2

This morning our alarm clock woke us to the sounds of “O Little Town of Bethlehem”.  What a nice way to begin the day with one of my favorite Christmas songs.  But then I love them all!  I listened to the words and the last verse especially made me think about the blessing of His presence with us.

O holy child of Bethlehem, descend to us, we pray. Cast out our sins and enter in. Be born in us today. We hear the Christmas angels. The great glad tidings tell. O come to us, abide with us, Our Lord Emmanuel.”

What a gift to have His presence with us. “Descend to us. Cast out our sin and enter in. Be born in us. O come to us, abide with us, Emmanuel”.

God is with us. He comes to us when we seek Him with our hearts. He lives in us. What a gift of His love and grace.

In the same way, God’s wondrous gift of His Son quietly and unassumingly came to Bethlehem, He comes to us. He comes because of His overwhelming love for us and He comes to show us the way and to give us abundant life. God chose His Son to come as a weak and frail infant, and not as a powerful king who was coming in power or in might. God has no desire to bestow His blessings of salvation on us on the basis of our greatness, merit, wealth, or on our achievements. He gives His grace to us out of His tender love and mercy when we humbly come to Him. And when He does, we see His power and His glory.

Still, we may wonder why God sent His Son to the little town of Bethlehem. But just as He chose Mary and Joseph of humble background, God desired the same for the town in which Jesus would be born. His plan was for a place that was small, quiet, and out of the way, It was just a few miles south of Jerusalem and one in which no one ever imagined that the Son of God would come.  Yet, God chose this small town to be the birthplace of Jesus, as announced by the prophet Micah, 7 centuries before Christ was born in Bethlehem, and there God came to earth, and changed the course of history for all eternity.

The good news of great joy is that God has come to be with us. He watches over us with His sovereign, all consuming, and everlasting love.


Our most gracious and loving God, we thank you for the gift of your Son who was born in Bethlehem. Thank you for coming to us with your abiding love and Spirit and for keeping us in your care. Amen 

Burst into Song!

Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth, burst into jubilant song with music. Psalm 98: 4

I like to think we’re active people. We try to exercise. We stay busy, but for some reason, we both are having more and more trouble getting going every morning. We usually wake early, but getting moving – especially out the door if there is something we need to do – is a different story. Yesterday morning, we were both dragging, complaining, and trying to find every excuse we could for just staying put a little while longer.

Yet, there was so much to be done before the Christmas get-togethers with family and friends begin, and we needed to get going. With these thoughts, the phone rang, and we both answered at the same time. We were so happy it was our boys, and we heard those sweet voices calling out to us on the speaker phone:  “Good Morning, Nan and Granddad!  We’re singing on the way to school!  Would you like to hear us?

Of course we did! Then they sang ever so enthusiastically Cole’s favorite “Ten Little Angels”!  I can still hear those sweet words!

“There was 1, there was 2, there were 3 little angels – continuing until “there were 10 little angels in the band. OH, wasn’t that a band on Christmas morning, Christmas morning, Christmas morning. Oh wasn’t that a band, Christmas morning, 10 little angels in the band.” 

It was great!  We loved it, praised them both, and thanked them for sharing their song with us. What a way to start the morning!

I hung up the phone and thought about all the angels celebrating with joy as Christmas nears. Such a simple song made me realize then that I was already getting away from the promise I had made to myself. I had vowed to keep my mind and heart on the true meaning of Christmas, and to not give in to the busyness, stress, focus on myself, or on the preoccupation with the things that make up the Christmas season. The rest of the day I had “10 Little Angels“, playing in my head. I hummed along, and all day long, I had a thankful attitude and a bounce in my step!

Every day should begin as this one did – by praising God for the gift of His Son. We have so much to be thankful for and this should be our mindset each and every day as we prepare for the celebration of our Savior’s birth. It should begin in our hearts with true gratitude and praise for our God who loves us more than we could ever imagine.  It should show on our faces, in the tone of our voices, and in the steps we take. Others should see and hear our honor, glory and praise to our Father.

What a sweet reminder our boys gave us to make this a day of praise and rejoicing for the gift of Christ. What a Christmas it will be! The world may not see it or recognize it, but I have no doubt that “the whole earth will be filled with His glory.”  May we “shout for joy, burst into song”, and give Him praise.


Dear God, thank you for the sweet voices of children to remind us that Christmas is not about us, but about you. May we praise your most holy name for the gift of your Son, Jesus Christ. Thank you for His love and saving grace, for the gift of life, and for your goodness to us. Amen

When God Has Other Plans

This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly. But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.  She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”  Matthew 1: 18 – 21

No matter our age, we still imagine how we want our lives to be in the years to come, don’t we? We make our plans, look forward to them, and work to make them happen. But we’ve learned that life and our situations don’t always turn out the way we had hoped, do they?  Often our best made plans get interrupted, or changed completely, and we have to accept and move forward. Sometimes small or big things come along that we could have never anticipated, and we may be left with disappointment and even sadness.  And every now or then, something so major occurs that it changes our lives forever.

The Christmas story with Mary and Joseph is certainly an example of how God sometimes has plans for us other than our own. Can we even imagine how this young couple, who were anxious to begin their lives together, must have felt when they learned that their world had been turned upside down! They were betrothed, engaged to be married and how they must have dreamed about their futures as husband and wife and starting a family. But God had something bigger in mind.

Mary had been approached by the angel of God and knew what God was asking of her. But then she had to  share the news with Joseph and she must have known how difficult this would be for him to understand and accept. His first thoughts must have been of betrayal and unfaithfulness. What emotions he must have felt – disbelief, sadness, jealousy, frustration, and perhaps even anger. He loved Mary. He thought he knew the young woman she was, but now. . .

In their culture, being betrothed meant that they were already legally married, but not living together. Their relationship had not been consummated and these same arrangements might be in place for a few months or a year. And the only way to break the engagement was to get a divorce.

We can understand why this might have been Joseph’s first reaction, but because of his love for Mary, he had in mind to do it quietly. According to tradition, he could have embarrassed Mary, disgraced her socially as an outcast, or even had her killed, but while he was considering these things, the angel of the Lord came to him in a dream and confirmed Mary’s story. He chose to obey and trust God, and he took her home to be his wife.

What an unimaginable situation for Mary and Joseph. How they must have questioned their circumstances, wondered about God’s plans, and tried to understand what was to come. They must have asked themselves over and over. . . “How can this be?  How will the people around us react?  Where do we go from here?”

What fear and anxiety over the unknown they must have had. But yet, they were strong in faith and they felt God’s presence as they went forward trusting in Him. And what a difference His plan for Mary and Joseph made in the lives of all of us, and in our world.

God often comes to us in ways we could never imagine. When He disrupts ours plans, He may be trying to accomplish His own, and in the process, He may be giving us opportunities for Christian growth as we learn to trust Him more fully. How grateful we can be for the assurance that He is always with us as we go through uncertain and difficult times – giving us His strength, love, and grace to do His will. For with God, nothing is impossible.


Dear God, how often we don’t understand what you ask of us or why, but help us to lean not on our own understanding, but to trust in your wisdom and grace. Thank you for the gift of your Son, our Savior.  Amen

Finding Joy

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12: 2

Some days can bring such special blessings, can’t they? We have been to visit our boys, and we had the opportunity to watch Cole perform in his first play with his kindergarten class, entitled “The Runaway Tortilla.”  He played the part of the tortilla, and of course, he was the best little tortilla you could ever imagine! He spoke with such confidence and enthusiasm, and we were so proud of him. Even Miles was impressed with his little brother’s performance!

We are so grateful that we get to experience these times with the boys, and on the way home we had the absolute joy of talking about how cute and adorable they are! Ah, the blessings of being a grandparent!

And we also did another one of my favorite things. We quietly listened to Christmas music – many of those old classics and hymns about the birth of Christ that I love! What joy they can bring as we listen to the words and let the music fill our hearts.

What is this thing called “joy” and how do we find it? One biblical scholar described it as “marking the difference between existing and living life to the fullest. Its presence changes survival to being. Joy is our enjoyment of God and the good things that come from Him.”

When we think back over our lives and remember those times of greatest joy, we’ll probably discover that they were the times when our hearts were the most filled with thanksgiving. For true joy comes from within – when we know from where our blessings come – and not from the things around us. Those “things” may make us happy for a short time, but true joy lasts. It is a state of mind that we have to claim for ourselves through faith and not something we can hope will come to us through our circumstances. As we live a life in Him, we know that difficult and sad times may come, but gratefully, we have the assurance of knowing our God is always with us.

The Christmas season is a time for joy – ours to receive and ours to give – as we look at the wonder of God’s love and presence. We find it in the message of Jesus’s birth and in the hope we find in His grace. And we find it in sharing His love with others. This is the responsibility and privilege God has given us to do – to serve Him by loving others.

This verse reminds us of how Jesus finished the work that God, our Father, sent Him to do. He taught God’s message of love and His truths. He made the glory of God known through His life and through the miracles He performed in His Father’s name. But most of all, He “endured the cross and suffered its scorn and shame” to fulfill the purpose and will of His Father. And then the Son of God returned to His heavenly home to sit “at the right hand of God’s throne” to await His return to earth to bring us to Him for all eternity.

God loved us enough to send His Son. He makes it possible for our hearts to be filled with love and joy – a joy that nothing in this world can ever compare or surpass.  How grateful we are for His grace, the gift of life, and all its many blessings.


Our most gracious and loving God, thank you for the joy that we find in you, especially during this Christmas season. May we focus our eyes on Jesus and His message of hope as we celebrate with family and friends. Thank you for your love and goodness to us. Amen

The Lord is With You

In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored!  The Lord is with you.”

Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.”

“How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”

The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.  So the Holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. . .  For nothing is impossible with God.”   

“I am the  Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May it be to me as you have said.” Luke 1: 26 – 35; 37

There are so many parts of the Christmas story that we love, that I don’t think we could ever choose a favorite. But this exchange between the angel of God and Mary, the young woman who was told that she has been chosen by God to bear His Son, has to be one of the most beautiful and profound statements of love and faith found in all of Scripture.

God favored Mary among all the rest. Why would He have chosen such a young, ordinary, peasant girl – possibly as young as 13 or 14 –  who came from the small town of Nazareth with an insignificant background and from a modest family? In a worldly sense, there was nothing really special about her, but she must have had an inner beauty with her humble, gentle, and quiet spirit that impressed God. And her deep faith and obedience must have been so pronounced that He chose her to become the mother of the Son of God.

What an honor and a blessing to be chosen. Yet, her first reaction when the angel Gabriel approached her with the news was understandable and predictable. She was troubled, confused, and perplexed at how such a thing could be. She was being asked to believe in a miracle that had never occurred before or since. How her mind must have turned to her family, her town of Nazareth, but most of all to Joseph. How could he ever understand and accept such news? And even if he did, what shame and heartache she knew that she would have to endure.

Yet, even with these thoughts, after hearing Gabriel’s answer that the Holy Spirit would come upon her and that “Nothing is impossible with God,” she accepted the news with grace and was ready to do what she was being asked to do.

Her simple response says it all:  “I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as you have said.”

Mary believed in Her loving God. She accepted the news on faith that she would bear His Son. She had no need to question Him further for she had received the only answer she needed – and that was the assurance that God was with her and His favor was upon her.  She was ready to trust in Him.

God would show His glory through a young peasant girl who was willing to follow Him and His will for her life. What a beautiful story that demonstrates what can happen when we allow our faith to reach beyond what we understand. If only we could be like Mary and trust in Him wherever He takes us.  For we, too, have His promise that He is always with us and  that “nothing is impossible with God”.


God of heaven and earth, our Creator and Sustainer of life, fill us with your loving assurance and strength so that we too might be more like Mary and stand ready to accept what you bring before us and go forward trusting in you.  How grateful we are for the gift of your Son and His amazing, saving grace.  Amen

He Graciously Gives Us All Things

He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all – how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Romans 8: 32

There are only 15 shopping days until Christmas and I’m starting to get a little anxious! There’s very little under our tree, and I seem to be having more trouble than ever finding just the right gifts!

Don’t we all spend so much time and thought on trying to choose the perfect one for those special people in our lives? We want to find the gifts they want, or need, – or what we really desire, is that we could give them something that would really make them happy and excited. And when they aren’t, sometimes we’re the ones who are the most disappointed.

But is there really a perfect gift for everyone? Probably not. We have to realize that in giving a gift to those we love and care about, we’re just offering a token of our love and appreciation, and if they don’t like it,then it’s ok if they take it back or store it away to re-gift! We gave of ourselves and now they can do with it what they choose. (Now I need to convince myself of this and go shopping!)

But there is one gift too important for any of us not to accept graciously! And hopefully we embrace it with much gratitude and praise.

When God gave us the most wonderful gift ever given, He was saying to us, “I not only give you my Son, but I give you the gift of life if you will only accept it.  And with that gift comes the opportunity for you to live a better, more peace-filled and joyful life than you could ever imagine.”   

How he must desire that we won’t reject Him, but will willingly receive Him with thanksgiving and acknowledgement of how much we need our Savior in our lives. But once given, God will stand back and wait to see how we will accept His gift. He does so because He won’t force Himself, His love, or His saving grace upon any of us. He gave us free will to choose Him or to reject Him. He waits to see what we will do with the gift of His Son, because the way we receive Jesus is the way we will receive Him.

So many fail to accept our Savior and they treat Him with indifference and total rejection. Others may acknowledge Him, but place Him aside until they truly need Him. But what benefits they miss out on by not lovingly accepting what He has to give. For when we do, we are graciously given all the goodness He has to give – His presence with us, His love, grace, comfort, peace, and His hope for all eternity.

It’s difficult to understand why God would want to give us such a miraculous gift until we understand the depth of His love for us. The world may not care about our pain and despair, but God always will. He made a covenant with us the day we committed to following Him and we know He keeps His promises. And one way He expresses His love for us is through His Son. Salvation is His ultimate gift to us and receiving it is the greatest gift we can give ourselves.  If He loves us enough to give His Son to die for us, will He not “graciously give us all things”?  How grateful we are for such a loving God.


Our Heavenly Father, what a loving and gracious gift you have given us through your Son, Jesus Christ. May we gratefully and lovingly accept His grace and let Him transform our hearts and our lives. May this Christmas season be filled with a renewed sense of love and praise for Him.  Amen

Proclaim the Good News

How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, “Your God reigns!”  Listen!  Your watchmen lift up their voices; together they shout for joy. Isaiah 52: 7

Is there anything better than receiving good news? News that we have been waiting so long to hear?  And how grateful we are for the messengers who bring it!

The imagery of this verse from Isaiah is clear. Can you imagine a messenger or watchman on a mountaintop waiting for a sign to deliver the news that the people below have been waiting to hear? Imagine how they would lift their voices with the good news they have to share and shout with joy. And how happy the people would be to receive it! Is it any wonder that Isaiah, the prophet, would choose to describe it in this way: “How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news”? 

The news he had to bring to his people gave them hope, joy, and a promise of God’s faithfulness, and it is the same message he has for us today.

Isaiah had long been prophesying about the coming Messiah, the king who would change their world and bring about peace and hope in their lives. Yet, his people had been in captivity, and they were feeling forsaken by God. But with these words, Isaiah is proclaiming to them that God keeps His promises – that He still reigns – and that God is with them. He assures them that the messengers, the watchmen, who have been waiting, will bring them the good news that they can return home, restore their land, and once again live in peace.

Just as Isaiah was offering encouragement to his people all those centuries ago, his message gives us the assurance that we too are not forgotten and that we can have that same hope and promise that our God is with us.

This verse has been referred to as “a 2500 year old Christmas greeting to us from God” to remind us of the good news we can still find in Jesus Christ. For there are still “watchmen” and messengers who desire to bring us the good news of our Savior’s saving grace and love. They still lift their voices to assure us of His presence, and they sing, and shout for joy as they remind us that “Our God Reigns!” – now and forevermore.

How privileged we are to hear some of those beautiful voices as they bring us the good news of our Savior’s birth and the life we can have in Him. I attended a Christmas pageant called “The Story of Christmas” at a large, area church recently, and I saw the wonder and glory of God. The spirit of Christmas and His love filled that huge sanctuary in a way that I could have never imagined, and  it was truly a time of praise and gratitude.

May we take the opportunities before us this season to experience all the simple and magnificent ways that God makes Himself known to us, and may we too be messengers of His love and grace to the world as we wait in anticipation for His return.


Our God of glory, we thank you for the wonders of your love and your blessings to us. How grateful we are for those who continue to bring your message of hope and peace to our world. We give you all glory, honor, and praise for the gift of your Son, and for the eternal hope He brings.  Amen

Praise His Glorious Name

Praise be to the Lord God, the God of Israel, who alone does marvelous deeds. Praise be to his glorious name forever; may the whole earth be filled with his glory. Amen and Amen. Psalm 72: 18 – 19

Don’t we so enjoy worship services during the Christmas season? The sanctuaries are always decorated so beautifully with wreaths, hanging greenery and red ribbons. The candles will be burning, we will sing those old, familiar hymns we love about the birth of Christ, and there will be a spirit of anticipation and joy in the air.

It will be a time for giving God our most heartfelt praise and gratitude, but most of all, it will be a time to glorify Him and to exalt His name on High. Isn’t that what true worship is all about – giving Him the glory He so deserves?

And isn’t that the true meaning of Christmas, as well?  In celebrating the season of His birth, we are giving God the glory for the gift of His Son. For Jesus came to earth as a newborn child to show the glory of God to the people then and to all generations to follow. Through the miracle of His birth the evidence of His power, grace, and love of our Almighty, sovereign God was seen.

From the Old Testament prophecies about the coming of the Messiah, to the angel’s words to Mary about giving birth to the Son of the Most High, to her reply about being blessed and favored by God, to baby Jesus being born and wrapped in swaddling clothes in a manager, to the angel of the Lord appearing to the shepherds with the good news on how to find the Christ child, to the star appearing in the heavens to show the wise men where to find Him – all were about believing in God’s promises and seeing His glory.

Through the life of Christ, we saw the love with which He transformed hearts, the power with which His touch brought about miracles, and the grace with which He endured the cross and redeemed our lives. And through His death, we saw the power of His resurrection, the love with which He placed His Spirit in our hearts, and the grace to trust that He will always be with us and keep us in His care. Through it all, we have seen the glory of God.

We give Him glory because He deserves our praise for the gift of His Son. But we also give Him glory because we see His power, His grace, and His love all around us –  in our world, in those we love, and in our own hearts. In this prayer, David called upon His people to praise God’s glorious name forever, and may we do the same each and every day. For God has done great wonders among us, and He has promised that there is more to come. What a promise that “one day the whole earth will be filled with His glory.”


Our loving God, we give you praise for the wonders you have done. May we glorify your name, in this season of Christ’s birth, and every day for the gift of your love and grace. Amen 

Simply Indescribable!

Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!  2 Corinthians 10: 15

Have you ever read a Scripture passage or verse that you knew you have read before, but yet this time you saw something totally new? Reading God’s Word often seems to work that way. He continues to amaze and teach us no matter how many times we read it!

This verse was one of those times for me. The word “indescribable” caught my attention as it never has before, and the exclamation point did so even more! It’s not something we see very often in Scripture, and I had to look again to make sure I wasn’t mistaken.

Since I’m such a frequent user of adjectives and exclamation marks myself, I appreciated this simple, beautifully written statement of praise!  I’m sure you’ve noticed that I struggle with overuse of descriptive words and exclamation marks. I tend to be slightly dramatic at times and show my emotions when I write  –  which I usually think deserves that extra little mark!  Yet, the rules of grammar tell us that exclamation marks should be used very rarely – only when issuing a command, or showing strong emphasis, emotion, passion, or excitement. I know I overuse it. It’s definitely become a habit I need to work on.  (Oh, how I wanted to put an !)

Paul had no problems expressing his emotions either, and if we know anything about him and his writings, we know how passionate he could be about Christ and carrying  his message to the world. Perhaps the writers of the NIV version of the Bible wanted us to feel the emotion Paul was feeling as he wrote to the early believers of Corinth. With extra emphasis, they chose to use the word “indescribable!” To them, it must have been the perfect word translation for describing how Paul felt about our amazing God and the gift of His saving grace.

Interestingly,the KJV translates it this way: Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift.” And in the ESV, we find: “Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!”

Whichever version we follow, we can have no doubt that Paul felt as if Jesus Christ and His saving grace were just too wonderful for words. He was at a loss to describe such a gift of love and sacrifice, but yet, His meaning came across clearly as He gave Him the praise and glory he felt the Son of God deserved.

But sadly, most gifts – no matter how magnificent they are or how lovingly they are given – often become “under appreciated” over time. We sometimes begin to lose sight of their value, forget the manner in which they were given, and take them much too much for granted. Hopefully, we could never forget or lose sight of God’s “indescribable” and most wonderful gift to us.

There is no better reminder of His great love for us than to read the Christmas story as found in the gospels of Matthew and Luke on this day. And as we do so, may we once again feel the awe and wonder of His birth. For no matter how many times we read it, we can’t help but marvel at the beauty, simplicity, and significance to the world of such a glorious event. May reading it open our hearts to Him in a way that we haven’t experienced before and make this the best Christmas ever!


Dear God, how humbled we are by the “indescribable” gift of your love. We are in awe of your goodness and grace and the fullness of life we can find in you. May this season fill our hearts with joy as we share your love with others.  Amen

The Blessing of Family

How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!  And that is what we are!  The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.  1 John 3: 1

Do you have memories of family Christmas traditions from your childhoood?  Have you created your own with your children and grandchildren that you look forward to and enjoy?

This week we had the opportunity to think about some of those special times in the life of our family. Miles called his granddad, Uncle Scott, Aunt Emily, and me, and asked us to send an email to him about our favorite Christmas traditions so he could make a booklet for a class assignment. He had already asked other family members, and of course, we were eager to help!

It brought back sweet memories to think back to our childhood and remember those favorite things we did with our loved ones during Christmas. Of course, just like with all families during the holidays, there were a few, little squabbles, some disappointments, and much chaos, but it’s nice to remember the good times!

For me, I will always remember going with my dad and brother through the woods to look for a Christmas tree, usually a fir pine, and trying to find just the right one!  My dad would chop it down, we would drag it home, and my mom and I would decorate it in anticipation of my 2 other brothers, 2 sisters, and their families coming home for Christmas.

Bob remembered with great fondness the excitement of all his cousins coming to his grandmother’s house, and how much fun they had opening presents and playing together – especially the year when he and his brother got Roy Rogers hats, holsters, and guns!

Kelly loved going to her Granny’s house on Christmas Eve, and then coming home, lighting the candles, sitting in front of the tree, and giving our small gifts to each other!  It makes me smile to remember when we started this tradition!  She was around 3 or 4 , and she asked why we didn’t give gifts to each other when we gave them to everyone else. So we started doing so, and how fun it was every year to see what she and Scott would come up with for each other and for us!

Drue especially enjoyed the special times he had with  his grandmother, as they rolled out the dough, baked cookies, and spent time together.

Scott’s favorite was building small Lego objects and then hiding them in the Christmas tree! Ever since he was a little boy, he has always loved the smell of a fresh, green tree, and he would spend hours playing around it and had so much fun placing the Legos in just the right spot!  How I remember finding a few of those as I took down the tree each year!

Emily’s was taking her new games and toys she had gotten from Santa to her grandmother’s house where her cousins did the same. What fun they had sharing and playing together!

Cole said his favorite is going to the Nutcracker each year, and Miles, that he likes sprinkling reindeer food on the lawn on Christmas Eve. And just like many kids these days, they love finding  Michael Snowball – “the Elf on the Shelf” each day.

There’s so many more – annual Christmas church plays, hot chocolate and toasted marshmellows, Christmas Eve candlelight services, caroling together, toy drives, etc. The memories go on for all of us, don’t they? How quickly the years go by and then with each new generation, new traditions are made. Whatever special times they are, they unite us together.

I am sure you have your own that bring a smile and fond memories. How blessed we are and have been to share these special times together at Christmas and all year long. It’s reassuring to have these constants in our lives. Besides giving us the anticipation and joy of such experiences, they strengthen the bond of family, and give us comfort, and security.

As great a blessing as our families are, may we never fail to recognize the wonderful, amazing blessing of being in God’s family, as well. What a privilege it is for us to be called “His children” and to know the joy of being able to call Him our Father. How we remember those times when we have felt His love and presence and have kept those memories in our hearts – just as we have those with our own families. He created us, He sustains us with His grace, and with His love, He brings us into His eternal family.

Those who don’t know Him can’t begin to understand what it would be like to live in the fullness of His presence. What blessings of His assurance and love they miss. May others see our loving God  in us and desire to have the contentment and joy that we find in Him.

May we always be in awe of His great love and goodness to us, and this Christmas season, may we give Him all our love, honor, and praise for making us His own.


Our most loving, gracious Father, thank you for the gift of family this Christmas and for all the joy and blessings they bring. But even more we thank you for your presence in our lives and for the privilege of being called “children of God”.  May we be ever mindful of your love for us and for the gift of your Son.  Amen

The Light in the Darkness

When Jesus spoke again to the people, He said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12

If someone were to ask, “What are the things you love most about Christmas?”, what would your answer be? For many, regardless of age, one of the top answers would probably be, “the tree all decorated with lights!”

It would definitely be one of my favorites! There’s something about those lights shining in the darkness that brings joy to the heart! I especially enjoy those mornings when I wake really early and can’t fall back asleep, and I go to the den, and turn on the gas logs and Christmas tree lights. It brings such peace to spend some quiet time with God in the stillness of those early morning hours and to be reminded of the light Jesus brings to our lives.

How He changed the world when He came with His light! For over 400 years the people of Israel had been living in darkness. They had been conquered by foreign nations and had lost their way. With no direct word from God through the prophets since Malachi all those years earlier, there was only silence. And even though they had turned away from God, they began to realize they needed Him, and they felt abandoned. It was against this backdrop of darkness and despair, as they were being oppressed by the great and powerful nation of Rome, that God sent His Son to bring “light” and hope to the world. Our Savior had come to bring hearts back to God with the promise of a brighter tomorrow – with a new life in Him.

Just as it was then, our world in the present time seems to be filled with much darkness – evil, wickedness, hatred, and violence. Christians around the world are being oppressed and persecuted for their beliefs more and more. Even the darkness in our own lives can feel overwhelming at times as we face difficulties and painful circumstances. But if we have Him in our hearts, we know that there will always be His light to fill our lives with love, peace, comfort, and the assurance of His presence. His light will always illuminate the darkness, show us the way, and bring hope and life.

May the shining lights this Christmas remind us of His love and the light He brings to our lives.


Dear God, thank you for the beauty of the Christmas season, but most of all, thank you for the gift of your Son. What light He brings to a world of darkness and despair. We thank you for the gift of His saving grace and the hope He gives to all those who will receive it. May we too be your light in the world to show others the way to you.  Amen

He Gives the Breath of Life

 The Spirit of God has made me; the breath of the Almighty gives me life. Job 33: 4

As we think about Christmas and the miracle of the birth of Christ, we can’t help but think of the miracle of life itself. I think each time we see or hold a new born child, we realize the wonder that has taken place. Yet, we can’t begin to understand how much God loves, values, and cherishes each life until we look at His Word and read about the love with which “the Spirit of God made us and breathed life into our bodies.”

We read in Psalm 139 that “when He created us, He wove us together in a fearful and wonderful way”, and cradled us in our mother’s body. And the most wonderful part, “He breathed life into our unformed bodies and His eyes watched over us as we grew into the beings He would have us be.”

Yet, there is so much about God and life we don’t understand, such as why some bodies don’t seem perfect or “wonderfully made”, or why some that were formed never develop well enough to sustain life but for a short time. But we know our sovereign God knows why and maybe someday we, too, will understand.

But for those whom He has given life, how humbling to think of Him forming us in His mind, carefully planning every detail, and we can only imagine the love and care He put into every aspect of our being as He molded us into His image. Imagine the pride He must have felt as he breathed life into us and thought of the future He had planned for us.

Can we begin to comprehend  that He knew us before we were even conceived, and that He began getting us, and those whom He has entrusted our care, ready for our arrival? He had a personal, intimate, and divine involvement in our conception and in our development. In all our medical technology, man can’t create a soul and neither can a random process in nature. Only God can create such a masterpiece of design, and only He deserves our honor and praise for the gift of life.

Our sovereign, divine, and loving God knew who He wanted us to be. As He created us, He knew every aspect of our appearance, personality, and character. He knew how we would think and feel, how the world would change us, but He also knew  who we could become with His grace and love if we would look to Him.

God has never made anyone just like us. Each of us is unique and precious in His eyes, and Scripture tells us that He has a purpose  for the time in which we were born. No one can fill the place He has planned for us, or do the things we individually were meant to do. We were “fearfully and wonderfully made” – every one of us – beautiful and unique in our own right. If only we could see ourselves as God sees us and be grateful for the breath of life He has given us.

God is the Creator of all things. Everything that exists comes from Him. God gives life, and may we never forget how precious a life is in His eyes. As we celebrate the miracle of the Christ child this Christmas, may we celebrate our own gift of life and the lives of those we love.


Dear God, our Creator and Sustainer of life, may we never take for granted the precious gift of life that you have given each of us. And as we begin this Christmas season, may we be in wonder of the birth and life of our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ, and give Him praise for the love, light, and hope He brings to our world. We give you all honor and glory. Amen

He Came to Us As a Child

Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign:  The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel. Isaiah 7: 14

Christmas is definitely in the air around our house!  Last night I decorated the tree in our den in the basement!  Unlike the one upstairs, it’s a real one, and the smell is so fresh and green. This one has a more warm, Christmas feel to it, and I love that it’s decorated with so many old ornaments that have become worn over time and each one holds a special meaning. All of them are valuable and priceless – some made by Kelly and Scott in preschool, school, or at church. Others were given to me by former students in my 31 years of teaching, and some were hand-me-down gifts from our mothers right after we married. Each one seems to have sweet memories of its own.

As I hung them on the tree, I began thinking about the stories Bob and I have told our kids and grandkids about these ornaments, about Christmases in our past and about the ones we have passed down from our parents and grandparents. Some of those told to us long ago have also become “faded” with time as we have forgotten many of the details. But how much we all enjoy hearing those stories that have been handed down through the years from generation to generation.

In thinking about these stories of the past, I wondered what God’s people must have thought as they heard the prophecy of the promised Messiah and the Savior of the world who was to come. How they must have cherished its telling, wanted to hear it over and over, and passed it on to their children and grandchildren with such hope and anticipation through the years.

At the time Isaiah first gave them this prophecy from God – 700 years before the Christ child was born –  the nation of Judah was being attacked by other nations.  Isaiah gave God’s promise to His people that He would overthrow the king and send them a “Savior”.  To seal His promise, he offers the king a sign. This sign would prove that God would continue His covenant with His people to save and deliver them from their enemies. It was a promise that He would send a Savior in the form of a newborn child and the child would be named “Immanuel”, meaning “God is with us.”

But how the story must have changed as it was told and retold by the time such a baby was born into the world. The child came to us as the Son of God, our Savior and Messiah. Many parts of the story had been forgotten and He was not recognized by His own people. All they could remember was the promise that God would send a King to reign over them and to bring them freedom from oppression and justice for their enemies. They were looking for a Messiah – a great political, military, and spiritual leader – not a baby born in a lowly manger.

Sometimes what God has in mind for us is quite different than from what we want or expect. How grateful we are for the beautiful Christmas story of how Jesus, our Savior, came to us as a humble, newborn child.


Dear God, help us to keep our eyes focused on what this season truly means – that it’s not all about gifts, decorating, or feasting, but it’s about making room in our hearts for your Son, Jesus Christ. Thank you for this time to remember your gift of love and grace. Amen