Desire of Your Heart

 

 

On this New Year’s Eve, what could we hope for as a blessing?

 

Psalm 20:1-5

May the Lord answer you when you are in distress;
    may the name of the God of Jacob protect you.
 May he send you help from the sanctuary
    and grant you support from Zion.
 May he remember all your sacrifices
    and accept your burnt offerings.
 May he give you the desire of your heart
    and make all your plans succeed.
 May we shout for joy over your victory
    and lift up our banners in the name of our God.

May the Lord grant all your requests.

 

 

 

 

 

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Eternal Life

 

 

 The rain was drizzling in the late afternoon.

My husband and I were bringing Christmas flowers to our son’s grave.

We walked silently through the Resurrection Garden until we came to the place we now know so well.

Adjusting the red poinsettias in the vase of the gravestone, we looked at the familiar pictures embossed there.

I spoke three words to my husband–"He isn’t here."

Bringing flowers to the cemetery serves only as a reminder of the great love we have in our hearts for our teenaged son.

It is also a reminder of who he was here on earth–playful, funny, smart.

In the years previous, his funny and playful side would become evident at Christmastime.

Having a little brother who was nine years younger, our son decided to purchase some "cowboy" western items and place them under the tree for him.

Were they signed with his name as the giver?

No.

Instead, he would write, "From the Cowboy of Christmas Eve."

Since this was such a meaningful thing to us, we had it written on the gravestone.

The Cowboy of Christmas Eve is not with us here, anymore.

The pain of missing him can spring up at any moment, yet it is always met head-on with the assurance that he is with God in Heaven.

1 John 5:13 says, "I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life."

 Our son believed.

When he died, the Cowboy of Christmas Eve recieved the greatest gift possible from his Heavenly Father–eternal life with Him.

 

Do you believe?

 

 

 

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How Often I Pray

 

 

There is a room in the church that is used for various things.

Specific areas can be transformed in moments to accommodate a Bible study or an indoor ball game.

With the proper technology in use, multimedia presentations are even possible.

There is one area in particular that is used as a platform or altar.

Pillows line the floor, ready to be filled with knees bowed in prayer.

How many petitions and words of praise have been uttered from there?

How many people have knelt with hearts longing to connect with God?

I will never know, but God knows.

In Paul’s letter to the Romans in the New Testament, he says,

God knows how often I pray for you. Day and night I bring you and your needs in prayer to the one I serve with all my might, telling others the Good News about his Son.  (Romans 1:9)

Like Paul, God knows how often we pray.

He knows how often we pray and He knows what we have prayed for.

He never forgets.

Those who have knelt on the pillows may not remember in years to come what they prayed about.

Their prayers, however, will be remembered by God for eternity.

 

Your prayers will be, too.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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When I Open a Door

 

 

 

In one of the letters to the churches in the book of Revelation, Jesus speaks to the one at Philadelphia:

This is what you must write to the angel of the church in Philadelphia:

I am the one who is holy and true, and I have the keys that belonged to David. When I open a door, no one can close it. And when I close a door, no one can open it. Listen to what I say. –Revelation 3:7

Although I understand that Jesus was speaking to a specific group in this passage, I find that the idea of an open door and a closed door is reassuring.

If Jesus is opening a door for us to walk through, who is there who can get in our way and shut it?

If Jesus is closing a door so that we may not enter, who is there who can open it?

A popular Christian song states,

"And if our God is for us, then who could ever stop us?
And if our God is with us, then what could stand against?
And if our God is for us, then who could ever stop us?
And if our God is with us, then what could stand against?"
1

 

We can rest in knowing that God wants what is best for us.


1 Chris Tomlin "Our God"

 

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Sing Praises

 

 

 

God goes up to his throne,
    as people shout
    and trumpets blast.
 Sing praises to God our King,
    the ruler of all the earth!
    Praise God with songs.

–Psalm 47:5-7

 

What will choirs in Heaven be like?

I’ve seen small choirs in a church before.

I’ve seen large choirs in churches, too and in secular settings, as well.

The actual sound of many voices uniting together is a wonderfully unique thing.

The fact that many voices can choose to unite together to sing praise to God allows me to consider that doing so is an ordained act.

There will surely be choirs in Heaven singing praise.

What will they be like?

With human voices free from sin being joined by angels’ voices, the sound will certainly be the most glorious blend of praise we could ever have imagined!

 

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What Are The Names?

Then Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel and Joshua son of Jozadak set to work to rebuild the house of God in Jerusalem. And the prophets of God were with them, supporting them.

At that time Tattenai, governor of Trans-Euphrates, and Shethar-Bozenai and their associates went to them and asked, “Who authorized you to rebuild this temple and to finish it?”  They also asked, “What are the names of those who are constructing this building?”  But the eye of their God was watching over the elders of the Jews, and they were not stopped until a report could go to Darius and his written reply be received.

—Ezra 5:2-5

 

Can God make a way for you even in the midst of opposition?

When you are ridiculed?

When it seems that you do not have the talent, the education, the funds or the wisdom to move ahead?

Can He make a way when those in authority seem to be against you?

What if the opposition is unseen–like a heavy discouragement within?

For the last couple of nights, I have been reading the account in the book of Ezra of the rebuilding of the house of God in Jerusalem.

Zerubbabel and Joshua were doing the construction.

Tattenai, governor of Trans-Euphrates, and Shethar-Bozenai took exception with this:

 

At that time Tattenai, governor of Trans-Euphrates, and Shethar-Bozenai and their associates went to them and asked, “Who authorized you to rebuild this temple and to finish it?”  They also asked, “What are the names of those who are constructing this building?” But the eye of their God was watching over the elders of the Jews, and they were not stopped until a report could go to Darius and his written reply be received. (Ezra 5:3-5)

 

There is a very important statement in this scripture passage: But the eye of their God was watching over the elders of the Jews, and they were not stopped…..

 

Later in the book of Ezra, we find that God has given them the favor of the king as he gives these orders:

 

Now then, Tattenai, governor of Trans-Euphrates, and Shethar-Bozenai and you other officials of that province, stay away from there.  Do not interfere with the work on this temple of God. Let the governor of the Jews and the Jewish elders rebuild this house of God on its site. (Ezra 6:6-6)

 

God has not changed.

He is the same today as He was when these events occurred long ago.

If He wants to make a way for you to move forward in any situation, He will.

Nothing is too difficult for Him.

And when He makes the way, you will know that it was God who did.


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All These Things

Christmas Day is almost over.

In just over an hour from now, it will be "the day after" Christmas.

There will be "after Christmas" sales at stores around the world.

Long lines of customers will wait to return gifts on this day "after Christmas."

There will even be "after Christmas" parties planned.

But what will it mean to us?

Will we forget the meaning of Christmas Day quickly and revert back into our previous mindset, or will the fresh reminder of the greatest gift to all mankind stay with us and linger on?

 

 

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
    and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

 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.  But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.

—Luke 2:13-19

 

 

 

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They Saw the Child

 

 

 

We had already made our plans–

A family dinner out and a Christmas movie to watch at the theater in another city.

As we drove down the highway, we passed through a town that had a beautiful display of Christmas lights at their welcome center.

Later on in the evening on the way home, we stopped to visit and look around.

Thousands of lights graced every tree and bush, it seemed.

Walking around the myriad of glowing bulbs, I noticed an area that was different than the rest.

Right in the front, in full view from the highway, was a nativity scene.

Pausing to look at it, I decided to photograph the illumined figures.

Silently, they told a story.

A true story.

A testament to the birth of Jesus.

Shepherds came to see Him.

Wise men came to see Him.

They were blessed to look upon the newborn Savior of the world.

This Christmas, will we seek Jesus in our hearts?

Will we show kindness and love to others, as He would have us to?

 

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, frankincense and myrrh.

–Matthew 2:11
 

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Now Faith is Confidence

 

 

 

The Messiah would someday come to Earth.

The people of God longed for that day.

They hoped for that day.

The magi from the east believed the prophecy.

With their hope and faith alive in their hearts and the star in the sky to lead them, they traveled to see the newborn Messiah.

Jesus will one day return to the Earth to gather His own.

Many long for that day.

Many hope for that day.

Will you be ready……

for that day?

 

 Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.

–Hebrews 11:1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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For To Us A Child Is Born

 

 

 

For to us—you, me, your parents, your grandparents, your great-grandparents and your entire family line–a child is born.

And not only to our family lines but to everyone else’s, too.

A child is born–He will reign forever.

Is there comfort for you this Christmas, realizing that a child, Jesus, was born to live on Earth and one day purchase a place in Heaven for you?

 

 

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 greatness 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

 

 

 

 

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A Sign

 

 

The Advent candles remind us of Jesus and how He came to Earth.

Leaving Heaven, He came here—to live among us and to save us.

There is much to distract our minds from contemplating this most wondrous of gifts this season–

The gift of redemption offered to all.

 

 

 

 

Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.

Isaiah 7:14

 

 

 

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Stringed Instruments and Horns

 

 

 

The horn lay still on the chair after the Christmas program at church.

Moments before, a young lady had placed her lips upon the mouthpiece, filling its many tubes with air.

Her fingers pressed the valves as she chose the appropriate notes to play in praise with the rest of the musicians.

As each person sang, spoke or played an instrument, it was done with love for God.

 

 

Hallelujah! Yes, praise the Lord!

Praise him in his Temple and in the heavens he made with mighty power.  Praise him for his mighty works. Praise his unequaled greatness.  Praise him with the trumpet and with lute and harp.  Praise him with the drums and dancing. Praise him with stringed instruments and horns.  Praise him with the cymbals, yes, loud clanging cymbals.

Let everything alive give praises to the Lord! You praise him!

Hallelujah!

—Psalm 150:1-6

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Welcome Me

 

 There is a pond down the highway from my house.

I guess it’s just habit to turn and look at it when I am driving by.

This time, I noticed a flock of birds that had settled into the water.

The scene drew me back and I found myself taking in the view a little closer with my camera in hand.

Not really knowing social protocol for these particular birds, I can’t say that my thoughts about them are a hunded percent correct.

It seems to me, though, that they were all getting along quite well during their little visit to the water.

After all, if you were one of them—long orange beak, etc.—you were one of them.

No questions asked.

Is that how it should be with Christians?

We should love all people, because God loves all people, but all people may not love us in return.

But what of the relationships between Christians and Christians?

Psalm 119:74 reads,

All those who fear and trust in you will welcome me because I too am trusting in your Word.

As Christians, are we always open to welcoming others who trust also in God?

As we share a common love for God and a common salvation, should we not also share a common unity?

After all, if we’re one of those—those forgiven, dearly loved, adopted back into the fold children of God—we’re one of those.

And if you’re one of those, too, don’t we belong together, welcoming each other?

 

 

 

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time

 

 

 There is a pond down the highway from my house.

I guess it’s just habit to turn and look at it when I am driving by.

This time, I noticed a flock of birds that had settled into the water.

Turning around,

 

 

 

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Waves

 

 

 

 

Are you in the midst of a storm right now?

Just look at the size of those waves!

With fear welling up in your heart, you may doubt that you’ll reach the shore.

What if the boat capsizes?

The flashes of lightning streak across the sky as the thunder rumbles around you.

God is aware of the storm you are in.

No GPS could track you like He can.

He is totally aware of your location and your situation.

God can calm the storm.

He’s the only One who can.

 

He calms the storm and stills the waves.

–Psalm 107:29

 

 

 

 

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Your Beauty and Love

 

 I was just standing there, looking past the lawn chairs on the grass at the hotel.

Suddenly, a little bird came to rest on the top of one of the chairs.

An unexpected photo shoot took place in the next moment as I clicked away, capturing him in one pose and then another.

How delicately yellow he was, mixed with feathers of tan and ivory!

Sometimes God places His marvelous works right in front of me, calling my attention to the beauty and detail in it all.

Those times are gifts from Him, bringing joy to my heart.

 

 

Your beauty and love chase after me every day of my life.

–from Psalm 23:6  The Message

 

 

 

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The Face of the Full Moon

 

 

 

 The sun and the moon were visible at the same time as I strolled on the boardwalk at the lake.

As the greater of the two made its way past the western horizon, the lesser rose higher and higher.

With complete perfection and mathematical accuracy, the earth and the moon move to a dance set in place by their Creator as the sun spotlights the performance.

How great and awesome is our God!

 

He covers the face of the full moon,
    spreading his clouds over it.
 He marks out the horizon on the face of the waters
    for a boundary between light and darkness.

—Job 26:9-10

 

 

 

 

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He Will Be Great

 

 

God sent the angel Gabriel to Mary.

As he greeted her, to addressed her as one who was highly favored.

He told her that the Lord was with her.

Mary was troubled—-

 

But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God.  You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him 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 Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”

—Luke 1:30-33

 

Can you imagine what it would have been like?

From these moments on, Mary’s life was filled with the knowlege of the presence of God.

An angel from Heaven visited her.

All that he foretold came true.

Jesus was born and she watched as He matured into a man.

She watched as He began His ministry.

She watched as He healed the sick and delivered others from demons.

She watched as He suffered and died on the cross.

The plan of God to save the world, beginning with the birth of a baby boy…..

Can you imagine what it would have been like?

 

 

 

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Only To Be Still

 

 

 

This past week, my family experienced a miracle.

An act of God.

A mighty work.

We had been praying for about a month with a specific concern on our hearts.

What was the concern?

Finances?

Health?

Job?

Relationships?

Transportation?

Let’s just say that it was too big for us to just "take care of" ourselves.

During the past month, I was looking online for a scripture and happened to see a verse about being silent.

It seemed to jump out at me.

I stared at the computer screen as I pondered its meaning—

The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.

It was Exodus 14:14 from the English Standard Version of the Bible.

This week, God answered our prayers and wiped the concern away.

Our hearts have been rejoicing ever since!

Today, as I walked through a store, my eyes were drawn to a wall hanging on display.

I struggled to choke back immediate tears.

There before me were similar words to what I had seen online.

Checking it out later, I found that it was just a different translation of the same verse in the New International Version:

The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.

God reminded me, once again, of His great power.

Nothing is too difficult for God…..

 

 

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Out of You Shall Come

 

 

 

 

Jesus came to Earth right on time.

Exactly when He was supposed to come.

The time and the place had already been selected.

As the wise men came to see baby Jesus, King Herod was disturbed.

He even instructed the wise men to let him know when they found Jesus so that he could go and worship Him.

This was not Herod’s intention at all.

Joseph was warned in a dream to take Jesus and His mother, Mary, to Egypt until he received another message, because Herod would want to find Jesus and destroy Him.

Joseph obeyed.

 

Nothing surprises God.

Time is in His hands.

As it was two thousand years ago, what He has determined to happen will happen.

 

 

 Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem,  saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.”

 When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.  And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born.

 So they said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it is written by the prophet:

‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
Are not the least among the rulers of Judah;
For out of you shall come a Ruler
Who will shepherd My people Israel.’

 Then Herod, when he had secretly called the wise men, determined from them what time the star appeared.

—Matthew 2:1-7

 

 

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At the Door

 

 

 

 

While changing out some light bulbs in a lamp, my eyes were suddenly drawn to a picture hanging on the wall nearby.

It was a framed picture of Jesus, standing at a door, knocking.

I smiled…

I smiled because He was smiling.

Many years ago, I had given the picture to my youngest son when he accepted Jesus as His Savior.

In this depiction, Jesus’ face looks kind and happy—expectant.

Jesus knows the wonderful things He has to give to the person on the other side of the door.

Eternal life forever with Him.

A life on Earth filled with the knowledge of His love and the direction of His guidance—

and so much more.

Is Jesus knocking at the door of your heart today?

Why don’t you let Him come in?

 

 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.

—Revelation 3:20

 

 

 

 

 

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We Will Certainly Be Saved

 

 

The bridge was tall and strong.

Cars passed freely on its pavement, high above the water below.

Jesus is, in a way, like that bridge.

We are separated from God because of our sin.

Sin is like the water, creating a gulf between us and God.

When Jesus came and died for us on the cross, He became a bridge–a passageway to God.

Our sins can now be forgiven and we can pass freely to God, high above the condemnation we deserve.

 

 

For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of his Son while we were still his enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of his Son.

—Romans 5:10

 

 

 

 

 

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Beside Quiet Waters

 

 

I hadn’t planned on stopping at the park.

It had already been a busy day and it wasn’t even noon yet.

Even so, I made a snap decision and parked my car on the side of the road.

Grabbing my camera, I walked to the water’s edge and simply took it all in.

A family was walking together on the other side of the lake.

Another group of people were eating at a picnic table nearby.

Birds flew almost effortlessly across the water, creating a mirror image of motion and color.

All that I experienced was a gift from God.

Taking a few moments to stop and enjoy His gift before going home, I had accepted a blessing that I coud have easily missed.

Sometimes God leads us to quiet places.

He restores our souls…………

 

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
    He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
    he refreshes my soul.

—from Psalm 23:1-3

 

 

 

 

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