Thursday, December 31, 2015

A New Year's Prayer

A great way to start the new year is by praying Scripture. This devotional is a prayer for New Year's based on verses from Psalm 90, written by Moses.

“Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom”.  Lord, I will need Your wisdom for so many things in this new year, whether they are related to my health, relationships, circumstances, or simply life in general.  Help me to seek Your guidance daily and trust You for the outcomes.  Help me also to be wise in the use of my time, staying focused on what is truly important in this life, rather than being caught up in the priorities of the world.

“Have compassion on your servants”.  Lord, you know my struggles with pain and problems.  You know how much I can bear.  I pray for your compassion and mercy through any difficult times that lie ahead.

“Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days”. Father, as I begin each new day, open my eyes to Your presence around me. Remind me that no matter how intense my pain or problems may be, I can rejoice in knowing that You love me and will carry me through all things.  Make me aware of the countless ways that You show Your love and presence to me each day.

“Make us glad for as many days as we have seen trouble”.  Lord, You said this world would be full of trials, but to rejoice for You have overcome the world.  Thank you for the assurance that even if my circumstances or health do not improve in this life, the glad days of eternal health and happiness are coming soon.  Help me persevere until then, and make me thankful for the blessings and gifts You give now.

“May your deeds be shown to your servants”.  O God, make me aware of opportunities to display Your glory in the coming year.  May I be a testimony to others of Your power and strength in my weaknesses.

“May the favor of the Lord our God rest upon us; establish the work of our hands for us”.  Lord God, may pleasing You be the greatest desire of my heart this year.  Whatever plans You have for me to accomplish, I pray that You would bless me through them.  Let me remember that no matter what my limitations are, I can still be used by You and am important to You and Your kingdom work.

I pray these things in the mighty name of Jesus. Amen.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

A Christmas Note to Readers

Dear Readers,

I have posted the following devotional in previous Christmas seasons, but of all my holiday writings, this one always speaks to me the most, so I am posting it again.

Whatever you are struggling with this Christmas, remember that with His first coming, "Jesus did not come to explain away suffering or remove it.  He came to fill it with his presence" (Paul Claudel).  He is with you now.

His second coming will remove our suffering - and He IS coming again! So stand firm and don't lose heart.  I pray that you will be filled with Christmas peace and joy now and through the coming year.

Merry Christmas,


Christmas Peace and Joy

“My spirit rejoices in God my Savior” (Luke 1:47).

As I prepare for Christmas, at times I am filled with conflicting emotions.  I praise God for the celebration of Christ’s birth and for loved ones with whom to share it. Yet my heart is also heavy for those who suffer.  Life is full of struggles - grief over the loss of loved ones, hurt from broken relationships, loneliness due to separation from family, and discouragement with physical limitations during the season’s activities.

There have been moments when I have wondered how I can possibly be joyful and peaceful when this world is so full of pain, yet I also realized that if the world were not hurting, there would be no need for a Savior.  I reflected on that first Christmas.  That time was far from peaceful and pleasant.  Roman rule was oppressive and life was a struggle to endure.  Mary and Joseph faced ostracism, pain, homelessness, and separation from family.  Those who anticipated the birth of the Messiah were expecting to see a conquering king, which was not the case. 

Yet we on the other side of the cross know the significance of that first Advent, and because of it, we anticipate the second one.  With the second coming, all pain, suffering, and disappointment will end.  We will truly be able to rejoice without sorrow, and perhaps my joy this year will be more in anticipation of Christ’s future coming than in His past one.  Whatever we are facing this Christmas, may we remember the victory and eternal life that Christ’s birth and subsequent death and resurrection bring.  May that knowledge bring us peace, and may we rejoice. “I will say it again: Rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4).

Prayer:  Lord Jesus, thank you for coming to this earth so that I may one day live with You in heaven.  May I truly rejoice in and celebrate Your birth this Christmas season, even as I long for Your return. Amen.


Friday, December 11, 2015

Finding Signs of Hope, Encouragement, and Joy in the Sights and Sounds of Christmas

“This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger” (Luke 2:12).

When my girls were young, they enjoyed the I Spy books.  The Christmas book was one of their favorites.  Each page contained a delightful scene filled with objects hidden in various ways, along with a list of specific ones to find. The girls were persistent, but many times I gave up in frustration!

Health challenges may keep us from experiencing many of the traditional sights and sounds of Christmas, but there are hidden signs of hope and encouragement that can bring us joy in the midst of our pain and problems.  Think about the following “hidden” messages.

Candles and lights: “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).

Celebrations and decorations: “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind conceived what God has prepared for those who love him” (I Corinthians 2:9).

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

Christmas tree:  “I am like a green pine tree; your fruitfulness comes from me” (Hosea 14:8).

Food:  “He satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things” (Psalm 107:9).

Gifts:  “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten son” (John 3:16).  “Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!” (II Corinthians 9:15).

Star:  I am the Root and Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star” (Revelation 22:16).

If your pain and problems are limiting your enjoyment of the season or you are feeling hopeless and discouraged, why not play your own I Spy game?  See what verses of hope, encouragement, and joy you can find hidden in these and other signs of Christmas.  Don’t give up!  Keep looking.  Scripture is full of these hidden treasures – a perfect gift from God to you this Christmas!

Prayer:  Lord Jesus, thank you for the way you reveal Yourself through the sights and sounds of Christmas.  These are treasures I can find and enjoy regardless of poor health or difficult circumstances.  Fill me with hope and joy as I seek and find the gifts of Your presence and Your promises to me. Amen.



Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Redefining the Perfect Holiday

See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ”
(Colossians 2:8).

Have you ever thought about how today’s culture portrays the perfect holiday?  Magazines and movies depict a perfectly decorated house inside and out, perfectly wrapped gifts under the perfectly decorated tree, perfect gourmet meals with not a dirty dish in sight, and perfectly shaped bodies wearing the perfect seasonal outfits while attending perfectly enjoyable social events and family gatherings.

I find these hollow, deceptive, and unrealistic ideas of the holidays tempting.  There is nothing wrong with enjoying the traditional trimmings of the season, but when I become depressed because my pain or circumstances keep me from having or doing all that the world says I should, I lose sight of the true meaning of Christmas.

In her book, Jesus Calling, Sarah Young says:

“Remember that you live in a fallen world: an abnormal world tainted by sin.  Much frustration and failure result from your seeking perfection in this life.  There is nothing perfect in this world except Me.  I have planted longing for perfection in ever human heart.  This is a good desire which I alone can fulfill.  But most people seek this fulfillment in other people and earthly pleasures or achievements.  Let Me fulfill your yearning for perfection.”

The only perfection I should be seeking is to be perfect as my heavenly Father is perfect (Matthew 5:48) – a goal I will never reach until heaven, but one that I should be striving for out of love and obedience to Christ for all He has done for me.

The truly perfect holiday doesn’t require perfect decorations, fancy food, beautiful clothing, or a full social calendar.  All it needs is a heart that rejoices in the significance of Christ’s birth, thanking and praising Him for His blessings, and showing His love to others - all of which can be done with imperfect health.

Prayer:  Lord Jesus, I pray that my celebration of Christmas will not be based on worldly philosophies or perfections, but rather on Your birth and what that means to me, both now and eternally.  Let that be enough – because it is.  Amen.