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Post  Admin on Fri 10 Jan 2014, 11:50 pm

Community Is Where You Find It
Laura MacCorkle

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to 
the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many 
wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. All the believers 
were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and 
goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet 
together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate 
together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and
enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number 
daily those who were being saved. Acts 2:42-47, NIV

You know what’s not so great about getting older? Well, for starters there’s 
the gray hair. And then the memory loss . . . no, let’s call that “a recall 

But another issue that really stood out to me as not so great as I’ve aged 
is community. Or the lack thereof. Community truly is the buzz concept these 
days. In churches, there are now “community groups,” otherwise known as 
small groups. And outside of the Christian bubble, it’s interesting to see 
that even Hollywood has covered the topic of community in several recent 
films—The Way,Seven Days in Utopia, The Help, Dolphin Taleandeven Winnie the 

The fact is: We were created for relationship, as we help one another and 
walk this journey together.

I remember how easy it used to be to find community when I was a younger. I 
was four years old on the first day of Sunday school at my new church, and I 
met Holli. She sat by me, and we started talking. By the end of the hour, we 
were buddies. And we’ve been friends ever since. How easy was that?

Continuing through elementary, junior high and high school, it was no 
trouble to find others who were likeminded or wanted to spend time with me 
and had my back. My community was bountiful—almost effortless—and I 
cherished every minute of it. Doing life together with my dear brothers and 
sisters in Christ yielded many meaningful and uplifting moments together, 
and I truly treasure those years.

After college, as people entered into the different life stages (career, 
marriage, parenthood) and some even moved away, it seemed like it wasn’t as 
easy to find community anymore. All of a sudden I didn’t have the community 
that occurred naturally and was readily available to me in structured 
settings such as school or youth group or social organizations.

Now that I was older, I realized I would have to do a little extra work to 
find community for myself.

1 Peter 4:10
we read: “Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, 
faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.”

I love that verse, because it reminds us of our responsibility as believers 
in the lives of others. We are instruments of God’s grace. That means we are 
to be proactive in reaching out, instead of waiting for someone to reach out 
to us. And when we do reach out to others, not only can we help one another 
tangibly, prayerfully and with our spiritual gifts, but we can also find 

In recent years, I’ve found it in some unexpected places, and if you looked 
at my list of friends I consider my “community,” you would find all 
different ages and shoe sizes. I’ve even found community with complete 
strangers. In fact, this past summer I met a lovely father and son while on 
a return flight home from a trip. I’m never afraid to chat up a stranger, 
and it didn’t take us long to get a great conversation going. Throughout our 
discourse, I found out that the father and son were also believers,
and so this added an even sweeter depth to our mile-high discussion.

As the flight prepared for landing, the father leaned over and told me that 
he felt that our meeting on the plane and time spent sharing with each other 
was providential, and that he and his son had been blessed. I wholeheartedly 
concurred and came home from that trip very much encouraged and felt like my 
spirit had been lifted. I didn’t have to reach out to them, and they didn’t 
have to reach out to me. But we did, and God was there in our midst during 
our two-hour conversation.

By God’s grace, I happened to find community on a plane one day. Which just 
goes to show: if you’re looking, community is where you find it.

Intersecting Faith & Life:

Today’s devotional verse describes what community looked like in the first 
Christian church. How does what you read apply to you today? Are you part of 
a thriving community? Do you long to be? Ask God to reveal how you can reach 
out to others and where you should be looking for community in your life 

Further Reading:

Galatians 6:2, NIV

Colossians 3:12-14, NIV

1 John 3:17-18, NIV

The Importance of Thanksgiving
Psalms 9:1

Thanksgiving should always follow answered prayer, just as the mist of 
earth's gratitude rises when the sun of heaven's love warms the ground.

Has the Lord been gracious to you and inclined His ear to the voice of your 
prayer? Then thank Him as long as you live. Let the ripe fruit fall upon the 
fertile soil from which it drew its life. Do not fail to sing in praise of 
Him who has answered your prayer and has given you the desire of your heart. 
To be silent about God's mercies is to incur the guilt of ingratitude; it is 
to act as poorly as the nine lepers who after they had been cured of their 
leprosy did not return to give thanks to the
healing Lord. To forget to praise God is to refuse to benefit ourselves; for 
praise, like prayer, is one great means of promoting the growth of our 
spiritual lives. It helps to remove our burdens, to excite our hope, to 
increase our faith. It is a healthy and invigorating exercise that quickens 
the pulse of the believer and prepares him for new enterprises in his 
Master's service.

To bless God for mercies received is also the way to benefit our fellowmen; 
"let the humble hear and be glad."1 Others who have been in similar 
circumstances will take comfort if we can say, "Magnify the LORD with me, 
and let us exalt his name together. . . . This poor man cried, and the LORD 
heard him."2 Weak hearts will be strengthened, and sagging spirits will be 
revived as the saints listen to our "shouts of deliverance. "3 Their doubts 
and fears will be rebuked as we teach and admonish one another
in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs. They will also "sing of the ways of 
the LORD"4 when they hear us magnify His holy name.

Praise is the most heavenly of Christian duties. The angels do not pray, but 
they do not cease to praise both day and night; and the redeemed, clothed in 
white robes, with palm branches in their hands, are never tired of singing 
the new song, "Worthy is the Lamb."5

1 Psalm 34:2
sup>2 Psalm 34:3,6
sup>3 Psalm 32:7
sup>4 Psalm 138:5
sup>5 Revelation 5:12

Family Bible reading plan

verse 1 2 Kings 11,12

verse 2 2 Timothy 2

Truth For Life
From Morning & Evening revised and edited by Alistair Begg copyright © 2003. 
Used by permission of Crossway Books, a publishing ministry of Good News 
Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187,

Burning Brightly for the Glory of God 
And the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the
midst of a bush  Exodus 3:2 

Major Ian Thomas has imagined Moses saying something like this when he
encountered God in the burning bush, “Would you look at that bush? It just
keeps on burning for God. I wish my life could burn for God like that and
keep on burning.Then Major Thomas imagined God replying, “Moses, you think
this bush is so wonderful? Do you see that bush over there? I could do the
same thing with it. Moses, it's not the bush it's God in the bush. Any old
bush will do.

It's not you! It's not me! We are only the vessels of God's anointing. As
you surrender yourself to God today, He will fill you and use you for His

Surrender yourself to God today. And as you do, He will use you. Allow His
flame to burn brightly for all to see. 

Devotions taken from the messages of Adrian Rogers. 
© 2013 Love Worth Finding Ministries | PO Box 38300 - Memphis, TN 38183-0300 

Lord, Send Someone Across my Path 
By Diane Pearson 
A good friend and experienced Christian (she was in her 90s) introduced me
to one of the simplest, yet most powerful prayers you can say: “Lord, send
someone across my path today that I can help.” 
It’s an exciting prayer and one which the Lord delights in answering. The
first time I ever said that prayer, soon after I became a Christian, God
answered in a dramatic way. I was praying in the car on my way to work in
Lafayette, Ind., where I was a teacher. I didn’t even have time to take my
coat off before my office door opened and a student walked in. She was
struggling with panic attacks and needed help. She had no way of knowing
that I, too, had been through the same struggle. God sent her to me because
He knew I could help her. I thanked God for the answer to prayer and that He
chose to use me in that way. 
In this case, the answer was immediate and very obvious. Four things
happened here: 
I prayed. 
I watched for an answer. 
I discerned it was from God. 
I thanked God for the answer. 
Other times, the answer is not so clear, but the same steps apply. After you
pray, go throughout your day in a state of watchfulness and anticipation
that God will answer. When you sense an answer, ask the Holy Spirit to help
you discern if God is acting. And, finally, always thank the Lord for using
A story in Genesis 24 demonstrates this pattern. Abraham was very old and
asked his chief servant to get a wife for his son Isaac “not from the
Canaanites, among whom I am living, but go to my country and my own
relatives.” (vs. 4) 
The servant traveled to a town where he stopped to water his camels. The
servant prayed: “O Lord, God of my master Abraham, give me success today
and show kindness to my master Abraham.” (vs.12) Before he had finished
praying, Rebekah came out with her water jar on her shoulder. The servant
“watched her closely to learn whether or not the Lord had made his journey
successful.” (vs. 21) In conversation with her, he discovered that she was,
indeed, a relative of Abraham’s through his brother Nahor. Then the servant
bowed down and thanked God: “Praise be to the Lord, the God of my master
Abraham. . . . The Lord has led me on the journey to the house of my
master’s relatives.” (vs. 27) 
Do you see the pattern here? Pray. Watch. Discern. Thank God. 
Start your day with that simple prayer: “Lord, send someone across my path
today that I can help.” 
He may seat you next to someone in a doctor’s office who needs encouragement
He may place someone in a check-out line in front of you at the grocery
store. The possibilities are endless, and exciting! 
There may be times when you need to change the prayer to: “Lord, send
someone across my path today to encourage me.” 
God is not averse to you praying for yourself. Encouragement may come from a
phone call, an unexpected knock on your door, or a kind word from a stranger
The steps are the same: Pray. Watch. Discern. Thank God. 
(Published in The Times, Frankfort, IN, February 16, 2008. Copyright
retained by Diane Pearson.) 
Related Links: 
Read more Daily Devotions on Spiritual Life 
Read other Devotions on Prayer 
Read more Devotions by Diane Pearson 
Get more Guidance from Spiritual Life 
Can God change your life? 
God has made it possible for you to know Him and experience an amazing
change in your own life. Discover how you can find peace with God. You can
also send us your prayer requests 
DIANE PEARSON earned a master’s degree in education and taught at Ivy Tech
State College in Lafayette, IN, for fourteen years. God called her to
full-time Christian writing, speaking, and teaching in 1997. Diane is a
published author with nine Devotion books and more than 500 articles in
various newspapers, magazines, and books. She writes a weekly newspaper
column for the religion page of The Times, Frankfort, IN, called “Real Life
Devotions,” true stories of God working in people’s lives. 
Contact Diane at dipearson@comcast. net or check her website at

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THE MASTERS LIST Dean W. Masters - Page 40 Empty Re: THE MASTERS LIST Dean W. Masters

Post  Admin on Thu 09 Jan 2014, 10:42 pm

Today's Reading

Though Christian charity sounds a very cold thing to people whose heads are 
full of sentimentality, and though it is quite distinct from affection, yet
it leads to affection. The difference between a Christian and a worldly man 
is not that the worldly man has only affections or ‘likings’ and the 
has only ‘charity’. The worldly man treats certain people kindly because he 
‘likes’ them: the Christian, trying to treat every one kindly, finds himself
liking more and more people as he goes on—including people he could not even 
have imagined him- self liking at the beginning.

This same spiritual law works terribly in the opposite direction. The 
Germans, perhaps, at first ill-treated the Jews because they hated them: 
they hated them much more because they had ill-treated them. The more cruel 
you are, the more you will hate; and the more you hate, the more cruel you
will become — and so on in a vicious circle for ever.

Good and evil both increase at compound interest. That is why the little 
decisions you and I make every day are of such infinite importance. The 
good act today is the capture of a strategic point from which, a few months 
later, you may be able to go on to victories you never dreamed of. An 
trivial indulgence in lust or anger today is the loss of a ridge or railway 
line or bridgehead from which the enemy may launch an attack otherwise 

Mere Christianity
Compiled in
A Year with C.S. Lewis

Mere Christianity. Copyright © 1952, C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. Copyright renewed 
© 1980, C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved. Used with permission of
HarperCollins Publishers. A Year With C.S. Lewis: Daily Readings from His 
Classic Works. Copyright © 2003 by C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. All rights 
Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers.

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Post  Admin on Wed 08 Jan 2014, 8:59 pm

Posted by: cakebake
Should Christians Use Their Imagination? 

18 while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at 
the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen 
are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal. 

Many Christians are afraid of using their imagination, equating 
it with evil. But God surely had a reason to make mankind with 
an imagination. Once, as I was thinking about this, the 
question came to me, "Why did God create man with an 
imagination? " I do believe He is the Creator, don't you? And 
God did make man with an imagination. 

When I asked God if there was any scriptural support for using 
our imagination, it occurred to me to look in Hebrews 11. As I 
began reading the chapter I was shocked at what I found, even 
though I had read it many times before! 

Right in verse 1, faith is defined as ". . .evidence of things 
not seen." I thought, "If it is something you can't see, then 
it has to deal with the realm of the imagination. " People would 
say we were believing something that is just imaginary if it 
couldn't be seen. In fact the dictionary says imagine means: to 
form a mental image of (something not present). What could more 
closely describe the Bible definition of faith in Hebrews 11:1! 

By this time I was excited, but the chapter was just beginning. 
Time and again, I saw that people in this chapter had used 
their imagination; that they had "seen" what was not visible to 
others. I began to realize that faith is linked with 
imagination like wet is linked with water. The two are 

Then I began to understand why the devil had stirred up such a 
fuss over this subject. No doubt one main reason the devil 
inspired eastern religions to utilize the imagination was to 
muddy the waters and make Christians afraid it might be wrong. 

As I read of Abraham I thought of Genesis 15:5 where God told 
him to "count the stars. . . So shall your descendants be." If 
God wasn't telling Abraham to use his imagination, I don't know 
what He was telling Him to do! 

So be Biblical without fear. Take what God has said in His 
Word, and imagine it that way in your life! 

5 Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth 
itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into 
captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; 

We must cast down imaginations that do not agree with God's 
Word, and keep and nurture the ones that do. 

SAY THIS: Imagination is part of faith, so I will imagine in 
agreement with God's Word.

Surrender Your Dream to Jesus

"I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with
a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything
through Christ, who gives me strength." Philippians 4:12-13 (NLT)

You'll never achieve your dream until you learn to give it up. It sounds
counterintuitive, but it's true.
Surrendering your dream to Jesus is always the safest decision you'll ever
make in regards to your dream. God typically takes your dream through six
different stages. I've seen him do it hundreds of times in my life and
thousands of times throughout the lives of others.
. God gives you a dream.
. You decide to go after the dream.
. Your dream is delayed.
. Your dream encounters difficulties.
. Your dream hits a dead end.
. God delivers your dream.
Throughout each of these stages, you're working on your dream while God is
working on you. More than anything else, God wants you to trust him. The
Apostle Paul says it like this: "I have learned the secret of living in
every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or
little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength"
Philippians 4:12-13 (NLT).
The Bible says emphatically that you can do anything - along with God's
help. You'll need much more than positive thinking as you pursue your
God-given dreams. You'll need the power of God.
Many people have read one motivational book after another and still haven't
made progress toward their dreams. We need the supernatural help of God.
Have you been trying to sail to your dreams on your own power? If so, I
guarantee you're getting nowhere - at least on the dreams that really matter
in your life. The wind is dead.
Surrender your dream to God. Let him empower them.
. Why is it so difficult to consider handing our dreams to Jesus? What
do you think we're afraid of?
. What does it mean to give Jesus our dreams?
. What area of your dream have you not given to Jesus?

Tracy Duffy
"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are you ways my ways," saith the Lord.
Isaiah 55:8
How Do We Pray?

Matthew 6:9

This prayer begins where all true prayer must start, with the spirit of 
adoption: "Our Father." There is no acceptable prayer until we can say, "I 
will arise and go to my Father." 1 This childlike spirit soon perceives the 
grandeur of the Father "in heaven" and ascends to devout adoration, 
"hallowed be your name." The child lisping, "Abba, Father" grows into the 
cherub crying, "Holy, holy, holy." There is but a step from rapturous 
worship to the glowing missionary spirit, which is a sure expression
of filial love and reverent adoration-" your kingdom come, your will be done, 
on earth as it is in heaven."

Next follows the heartfelt expression of dependence upon God-"Give us this 
day our daily bread."

Being further illuminated by the Spirit, the one praying discovers that he 
is not only dependent but sinful; so he cries for mercy, "Forgive us our 
debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors" ; and being pardoned, having the 
righteousness of Christ imputed, and knowing his acceptance with God, he 
humbly prays for holy perseverance, "Lead us not into temptation." The man 
who is really forgiven is anxious not to offend again; the possession of 
justification leads to an anxious desire for sanctification.
"Forgive us our debts"- that is justification; "Lead us not into temptation, 
but deliver us from evil"-that is sanctification in its negative and 
positive forms.

As the result of all this, there follows a triumphant ascription of praise, 
"For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory, forever. Amen." We 
rejoice that our King reigns in providence and shall reign in grace, from 
the river even to the ends of the earth, and of His dominion there shall be 
no end. So from a sense of adoption, up to fellowship with our reigning 
Lord, this short model of prayer conducts the soul. Lord, teach us then to 

11 Luke 15:18

Family Bible reading plan

verse 1 2 Kings 10

verse 2 2 Timothy 1

Truth For Life
From Morning & Evening revised and edited by Alistair Begg copyright © 2003. 
Used by permission of Crossway Books, a publishing ministry of Good News 
Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187,
www.crossway. org.

The Syrophoenician Woman

Her character: Though a Gentile, she addressed Jesus as "Lord, Son of 
David." Her great faith resulted in her daughter' s deliverance.
Her sorrow: That her child was possessed by an evil spirit.
Her joy: That Jesus freed her daughter from spiritual bondage.
Key Scriptures:
Matthew 15:21-28
Mark 7:24-30

Her Story

Her body jerked and twisted, arms thrashing the air. Wide-eyed, the little 
girl spoke to ghosts her mother could not see, her face changing as rapidly
as clouds in a sudden storm. Fear, surprise, and then a crazy kind of 
laughter, as though someone had stolen her soul. Dark hair stuck in gummy 
against her cheeks.

Her mother wondered what had become of the sweet child who had followed her 
like a puppy wherever she went. How she missed those soft kisses and the 
nose that had nuzzled her cheek. She had hardly slept these last few nights 
for fear of what her daughter might do to herself. Neither of them, she 
could stand much more.

Just that morning she had caught wind of a Jewish healer who, friends said, 
had come to Tyre hoping for relief from the crowds that mobbed him in 
It didn't matter that Jews seldom mingled with Gentiles. She would go to 
him, beg his help, throw a fit herself if necessary. She would do whatever 
took to get him to listen. It didn't take long to find him.

She approached Jesus, pleading, "Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My 
daughter is suffering terribly from demon-possession. "

But Jesus ignored the woman, making no reply.

Finally, his disciples said to Jesus, "Send her away, for she keeps crying 
out after us."

But Jesus knew it would not be that easy to get rid of her. The only way, in 
fact, would be to answer her prayer. He told them, "I was sent only to the
lost sheep of Israel."

Hearing him, the woman fell at his feet again, imploring, "Lord, help me!"

Then Jesus turned and said, "It is not right to take the children' s bread 
and toss it to their dogs."

But the woman would not give up. "Yes, Lord," she said, "but even the dogs 
eat the crumbs that fall from their masters' table."

"Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted," Jesus said.

So the Syrophoenician woman returned to her daughter, who was delivered from 
the evil spirit the very same hour that Jesus had spoken.

Scripture doesn't describe the little girl of this story in any detail; it 
says only that she was possessed by a demon. But judging from similar 
such as that of the Gerasene demoniac, whose story is told in
Luke 8,
or the little boy in
Matthew 17,
who kept throwing himself in the fire, the signs of demonic possession were 
probably both obvious and frightening.

But why did Jesus seem so rude to the poor woman, ignoring her request and 
then referring to her and her child as dogs?

His response may sound a little less harsh when you realize that the word he 
used for "dogs" was not the derisive one Jews ordinarily reserved for 
Instead, it was the term used for little dogs kept as pets. Jesus was also 
making it clear that his primary mission was to the Israelites. Had Jesus 
many healings and miracles in Tyre and Sidon, he would have risked the same 
kind of mob scenes he had just left behind in Galilee, thus inaugurating a
ministry to the Gentiles in advance of his Father's timing.

The woman couldn't have known the reason for his silence, however, and it 
must have tested her faith. But rather than give up or take offense, she 
her quick wit, revealing both a deep humility and a tenacious faith. It was 
a combination Jesus seemed unable to resist—fertile soil in which to grow a
miracle. The Syrophoenician woman must have rejoiced that day to see the 
daughter she loved safe and sane, grateful for the life-giving bread that 
fallen from the Master's table.

Her Promise

What possible promise can be found in a pagan woman whose little girl was 
possessed by an evil spirit? The Syrophoenician woman wouldn't have known 
to do about her daughter had she not heard about Jesus. Somehow, she was 
given the faith to believe that he was capable of saving her child.

Evil spirits, unfortunately, are not creatures of a former age. We, too, 
must fight the evil powers in own lives. The difference now is that Jesus 
won the ultimate victory on the cross. As believers, we share in his 
victory. He has given us authority over the evil forces that threaten us. We 
may still
be fighting the battle, but, strange as it might sound, the victory is 
already won!

Today's devotional is drawn from
Women of the Bible: A One-Year Devotional Study of Women in Scripture
by Ann Spangler and Jean Syswerda. Visit
AnnSpangler. com
to learn more about Ann's writing and ministry.

Today's reading is drawn from Ann Spangler and Jean Syswerda' s devotional
Women of the Bible: A One-Year Devotional Study of Women in Scripture.

Available at the Bible Gateway store!

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Post  Admin on Mon 06 Jan 2014, 7:03 pm


A missionary who works in a small mission hospital in Africa, travels every two weeks by Bicycle through the jungles to a nearby city for supplies of drugs and other necessities. And because the journey last two days it requires him to camp over the night in one of the jungles.

In one of his journeys, he met two men fighting and obviously one of them had been seriously injured. The missionary treated the injured man and spoke to them about Jesus.

The duo realising that the missionary had money and drugs in his possession called their other friends and trailed him to where he camped that night. They decided they will kill him and cart away his money and drugs. A plan the missionary was oblivious of.

Two weeks later, the missionary repeated his journey on his arrival; he was approached by the man whom he treated. The man told him that he and his friends went after him into the jungle with the intention to kill him and cart away his money and drugs. But as they entered the campsite they saw 26 armed guards surrounding him.

The missionary laughed and said "I was certainly all alone in that jungle campsite" . But the man insisted "No sir, we saw the guards, my five friends and I". We counted them they were 26 fully armed guards.

The missionary now back in the United States on furlough was sharing this experience when someone from the congregation interrupted him and asked the missionary for the exact date and time of the incident. The missionary told him then he said on the night of the incident in Africa, it was morning here and I was about to go play golf, when the Holy Spirit impressed it upon my heart to pray for you. The urge was so strong so I called other men in the church to join me in the sanctuary to pray for you. Then he asked all the men who join him on that day to stand to their feet and the missionary counted them they were 26 in number.

Your prayer could help spare the life of a missionary in danger in a far away land. Behind every successful work of God are bended knees says D. L Moody. Let's make it a point of duty to pray for missionaries daily.

Thanks for keeping watch.

Pastor Okpan O. Kingsley

To view all previous intercession for the nations postings on our facebook page

Evangelism and the Self-Disciplined Christian
Peter Beck

Okay, we all admit that the church isn't doing enough to reach the lost. 
Sure, there are libraries full of evangelism how-to books and enough 
training material to start a university, but those things aren't making much 
of a difference. Some people don't know which books are worth reading. 
Others have been trained in EE and CWT and any other acronym of your choice 
and it's still not helping. The art of personal evangelism is struggling 
these days.

If you're struggling, let me offer some practical suggestions:

Make sure that you're a believer yourself. Ask yourself the hard questions. 
Do I believe the Bible? Do I think Jesus is the only way to salvation? Have 
I trusted him implicitly with my soul? Does my life bear out my testimony? 
Am I living like a Christian?

Many who are sharing their faith, or trying to, are doing so without the 
benefit of a real faith. They come to church. They like the fellowship. It 
salves the wounds of their daily lives. They want others to know the joy 
they find in church. That's not evangelism. That's recruiting.

If you're find yourself in this predicament, don't panic. Church history is 
full of stories of "believers, " very often ministers, who came to the 
painful realization that they were not true believers even though they were 
engaged in the work of the Lord. If that's you, repent. Ask God to forgive 
you of your sins. Trust Christ as your substitutionary atonement. Then tell 
others about the marvelous work He's done in your life.

Make sure that you're reading the Bible. We cannot do evangelism without the 
Bible. You don't have to have it in your hand every time you're sharing your 
faith but you need to have it in your heart. You have to know it in your 
mind. The faith that we share is the faith that we find detailed in the 
Bible. You've got to know it to share it.

You need to be reading the Bible regularly. Start reading the Bible daily. 
In a few short weeks it will become a habit. In a few short months it will 
become an addiction. Challenge yourself. Read the Bible all the way through. 
There are plenty of reading plans available. Find one that fits your 
schedule and personality and stick to it.

Read the Bible but don't just read it. Make it your goal to understand it. 
I'm not saying that every Christian has to be a Bible scholar. I am saying 
that every Christian should be a person of the book.

(Three books that I would recommend for the novice are: Living by the Book 
by Howard and William Hendricks (a basic primer on how to read and interpret 
the Bible accurately); The Message of the Old Testament and The Message of 
the New Testament both by Mark Dever (these readable commentaries help the 
reader see the big picture of every book in the Bible).)

Make sure you know what you believe. One of the best evangelistic tools that 
you can use is your own testimony of God's work of grace in your life and 
your own beliefs.

You need to be able to engage unbelievers without notice, to answer their 
questions and challenges without a second thought. Tell your co-workers 
about what you believe. Be ready to explain why Easter is so important. 
Don't be afraid to defend the key tenets of the Christian faith. When you're 
equipped to explain your beliefs, you can challenge them on theirs.

This one requires some work on your part. You need to read the Bible. You 
need to struggle with sdifficult issues. You need to be willing to seek 
theological guidance when you hit a dead end. You need to do it because the 
lost person you're trying to share your faith with doesn't want to know what 
your pastor or the pope believes. She wants to know what you believe and 
why. Know what you believe and tell her.

(There are many wonderful resources to help you in this part of your 
journey. Several entry-level theology books are very helpful: Introducing 
Christian Doctrine by Millard Erickson; Christian Beliefs by Wayne Grudem; 
and Concise Theology by J. I. Packer. The most important tool, however, you 
need to create. Write down your confession of faith. Ask yourself what you 
believe about things like the Person and work of Christ, the doctrine of 
creation, and abortion. Don't stop there, however. Dig into
the Bible and see if you're beliefs are biblical and then write down the 
verses to back up your beliefs.)

Make sure that you're living the Christian life. Christians need to be 
discipled and they need to be disciplined. You can seek the former. You can 
control of the latter. See what the Bible says about Christian living and 
live it.

One of the biggest complaints aired against the church is that it's full of 
hypocrites. It sounds like a trite diversionary tactic offered by the 
unbeliever. Unfortunately, it's all too often true. Too many people in our 
pews live like unbelievers. When unbelievers hear them preaching the Gospel 
but living like world, they ask themselves why bother. They can live the 
same way and sleep in on Sunday. We need to practice what we preach. 
Unbelievers expect it. Christ demands it.

(In addition to the Bible, I would recommend Spiritual Disciplines for the 
Christian Life and 10 Questions to Diagnose Your Spiritual Health, both by 
Don Whitney. These books discuss Christian practices like prayer, Bible 
reading, and fasting and help you find ways to implement them in your 
Christian walk.)

You see, evangelism is about more than memorizing some polished presentation 
or inviting people to church. It's sharing the Gospel with your whole life. 
It's believing it, studying it, and living it. When you become a 
self-disciplined, Gospel-saturated Christian, you'll be evangelizing and not 
even know it.

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Today's Turning Point with David Jeremiah
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Today's Turning Point
Weekend, January 4 & 5

A New Year to Embrace Change

By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he 
would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was 

Hebrews 11:8

Recommended Reading
Jeremiah 29:11
A lot of us need a change of pace this year; but what we're really having 
trouble with is the pace of change. All change -- even the good -- is hard. 
involves adjustment, moving from the familiar to the unfamiliar, from the 
settled past into the unknown future. As Anatole France said, "All changes, 
the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we leave behind us is a 
part of ourselves; we must die to one life before we can enter another."

We can embrace change by knowing we serve an unchanging God. At the 
beginning of this new year, we confess with Joshua: "We have never been this 
way before."
But our faithful, changeless Lord will show us the way to go, guide us at 
every juncture, bless us at every step, and provide goodness and mercy every
day of our lives.

Let's not dig in our heels and cling to the past. Heed the words God gave to 
Joshua: "Sanctify yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do wonders among
you .... As I was with Moses, so I will be with you" (Joshua 3:5, 7).

Everyone is in favor of progress; it's change they don't like.
In The Mentor

Read-Thru-the- Bible
Genesis 13-20
David Jeremiah' s

Turning Point's mission is to deliver the unchanging Word of God to an 
ever-changing world.

Turning Point with Dr. David Jeremiah
Copyright © 2014 Turning Point for God. All rights reserved.
Turning Point, P. O. Box 3838, San Diego, CA 92163

Dean Masters, owner of the Masters List

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Dying Pastor's Letter to Editor 
Teresa Neumann (Oct 9, 2012) 
"I' ve known that life is brief, death is certain, and an appearance before 
the Judge of all the Earth is coming. Yet, my life is more of a 
disappearing vapor" than I imagined. Indeed, the one great thing in life is 
to be ready to die. It is simple, but big." -Pastor Robert C. Jennings 
(Sedalia, MO)On September 30, the Sedalia Democrat published the following 
letter to the editor by Robert C. Jennings, a pastor who is dying of 
pancreatic cancer. Our prayers go out to Pastor Jennings and his family, and 
also to the folks who read his poignant farewell. May they come to know the 
all-consuming love of Christ as a result. 

Dear Editor: 
Terri and I moved to Sedalia with one child in 1983 to pastor a new church 
which has met at Highway M Chapel since 1987. Alas, pancreatic cancer showed 
up two years ago. Apart from divine intervention, I'm near the end of the 
road. Permit a farewell to my dear community. 
In the almost 30 years we have raised our five children, lived our lives, 
gone in and out of the businesses, talked on the sidewalks, preached indoors 
and out, and I've written maybe 300 letters to the editor. This appears to 
be the last. The songwriter says, "Time, like an ever-rolling stream, bears 
all its sons away." 
Especially being a Christian, I've known that life is brief, death is 
certain, and an appearance before the Judge of all the Earth is coming. Yet, 
my life is more of a "disappearing vapor" than I imagined. Indeed, the one 
great thing in life is to be ready to die. It is simple, but big. 
Yes, I'd like to stay on with my family, with my church, and with the souls 
of men to try to serve. But God's will is sovereign. And, I am ready to die, 
in that I was saved from my sins by the grace of Christ 41 years ago. Heaven 
is OK! 
This world is passing away, ruined by sin. There is no fix to all the misery 
A new president cannot fix the land. Hospitals remain, law courts remain, 
the jail house remains, the military remains, and tears will continue to 
My closing exhortation to fellow-Sedalians is that Christ is the only hope. 
Make sure you have Him. That's all one can have, ultimately. All else is 
stripped away. He will fix you; He will fix it all. He conquered the grave. 
I go down with a glad shout, "O grave, where is your victory?" When the Lord 
Jesus returns I will rise again with all the Christians to a new heavens and 
new Earth. There is a Heaven to gain; there is a Hell to shun. 
Farewell to all. It has been a well-spent journey here in Sedalia. 
Robert C. Jennings 
Source: Sedalia Democrat 

Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV) "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD 
plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a 
Love Worth Finding Ministries
Let Your New Life Push Out the Old!

BIBLE MEDITATION:Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are 
passed away; behold, all things are become new.
2 Corinthians 5:17

Our eyes delight to see those trees in autumn which turn glorious colors, 
then drop their leaves one by one. But there are certain trees that hold 
leaves until spring. They wither and turn brown, but they don't drop. Not 
until spring do these trees lose their leaves—when the new leaves push out 
old leaves.

That's exactly what happens to our old habits and our old lives when we find 
the Lord Jesus. The new life pushes that old life off.

It's not a matter of plucking off this leaf and knocking off that leaf. The 
Christian life is not forged in that manner. Our new life replaces our old
life when we are born again.

View or Share online
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Today's Message
Devotions taken from the messages of Adrian Rogers.
© 2013 Love Worth Finding Ministries | PO Box 38300 - Memphis, TN 38183-0300

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The Lord Jesus Christ: Saviour of the World 

The Holy Bible gives God's Son manifold titles. However, the one that means
so much to all of us as poor, helpless sinners is "Saviour" - which
immediately instills hope within one's heart concerning salvation. The very
name Jesus means "salvation. " Matthew 1:21 states, Thou shall call his name
JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins. Multitudes today are
trusting in man-made rituals to get them inside God's heaven. Yet, there isn
t a ceremonial rite in all of Christendom&# 39;s churches that can save a man.
Jesus Christ alone is the only way to eternal life. 
Christ's saving power 

In that tremendous portion of Scripture often described as the "Magnificat, "
Mary, the mother of Jesus, cried out, My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my
spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour (Luke 1:46,47). In Luke 2, the angel
of the Lord appeared to the shepherds, saying, Behold, I bring you good
tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born
this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord (verses 10

Also in Luke 2, Simeon had been waiting for the consolation or hope of
Israel. He jubilantly exclaimed, Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart
in peace, according to thy word: For mine eyes have seen thy salvation
(verses 29,30). He was looking upon the Christ child as he spoke those words

Again in John 4, a wicked woman-who had five husbands and who was living
under common law with number six-turned to Jesus Christ for forgiveness.
Then she excitedly ran back to the city and told the people about her
newfound joy in this Saviour who had blotted out her sordid past. The men of
that city listened to the Lord's discourses for two days and exuberantly
stated, Now we believe, not because of thy saying: for we have heard him
ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world
(verse 42). 

In Acts 5, Peter and some of the apostles were threatened with punishment,
even unto death (verse 33). However, the great Apostle Peter so loved Jesus.
He believed so strongly in the fact that Jesus was the only way of salvation
and eternal life that he was willing to die in order that the message might
be proclaimed. I can almost hear this impulsive preacher saying, We ought to
obey God rather than men. The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye
slew and hanged on a tree. Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a
Prince and a Saviour (verses 29-31). 

Acts 13:23 calls Him a Saviour, Jesus. Ephesians 5:23 says, Christ is the
head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Compare this verse
with 1 Corinthians 12:13, For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one
body. The body of Christ, into which one is implanted at the time of
regeneration, is the Church, and Ephesians 5:23 states that Christ is the
Saviour of this body. Baptism, reformation, confirmation, works, creeds,
and human efforts cannot place one into the true Church because only the
Lord Jesus Christ is the Saviour of this body. Amen! 

The Apostle Paul stated that one of the reasons he was willing to endure
suffering, torture, and even death was because of his trust in the Saviour.
Death could only mean that the One who saved him would welcome him home to
heaven. Hear him in 1 Timothy 4:10. For therefore we both labour and suffer
reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men,
specially of those that believe. 

In 2 Timothy 1:9 and 10, Paul went on to say that it was not a system of
self-attainment through works that would place him eternally in the glory
land, but rather a precious Saviour whose name was Jesus Christ. Listen to
the simplicity of these instructive verses. [God] hath saved us, and called
us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his
own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world
began. But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ
who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light
through the gospel [or through the good news]. 

Again, He hath abolished death. What wonderful words! And [He] hath brought
life and immortality to light through the gospel. Immortality speaks of
eternal life-and it comes through the gospel or the "good news." Do you get
the impact? Eternal life is through the gospel andgospel means "good news." 

This good news is explained in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 where we find that
Christ died, was buried, and rose again the third day according to the
Scriptures. Put it all together and it simply says that everlasting life
does not come through one's denominational record or good works. It comes as
a result of one's acceptance of the Saviour' s death by the shedding of blood
and of His resurrection. Titus 2:13 speaks of Christ's return by stating,
Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God
and our Saviour Jesus Christ. Notice that it is not Buddha, Mohammed, or
Zoroaster who is the Saviour, but only the Lord Jesus Christ. There is no
other Saviour-Jesus is the only way. Second Peter 1:1 again calls Him our
Saviour Jesus Christ. 

Christ's earthly ministry 

"Saviour" is not some honorary title which was bestowed upon the Lord Jesus
Christ in recognition of His wonderful teachings. Rather, it depicts His
ministry upon earth and speaks of His saving power. 

Presently, we are living in a time of rebellion. Corrupted mankind is trying
to destroy all of our foundational structures. This trend can also be
witnessed in the religious world as apostate, liberal clergymen mock the
doctrines of the virgin birth, the deity of Christ, His blood atonement upon
the cross, and His bodily resurrection. Many laugh at the statement "Jesus
Saves" as if the word "saves" were an invention of some simpleton. 

Our God predicted this would happen, and it is one of the signs of the end.
Second Peter 2:1,2: But there were false prophets also among the people,
even as there shall be [one of the signs] false teachers among you, who
privity shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought
them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow
their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil
spoken of. 

There are two things one can do for these poor misguided souls: (1) pray for
them, and (2) thank God for their presence because it means that Jesus
Christ is coming soon to call Christians home. Let them laugh. The term
saved was placed in the Bible scores of times by a holy God. One had better
investigate and accept this truth if he is interested in eternal life. 

I could quote numerous verses proving that salvation is of God and that God
put this word in the Bible. However, let's limit our discussion to those
which speak exclusively about Christ being the way of salvation: Thou shalt
call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins (Matthew
1:21). For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost (Matthew
18:11). God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that
the world through him [Jesus] might be saved (John 3:17). 

Jesus said, I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved
(John 10:9). I came not to judge the world, but to save the world (John

Paul said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved (Acts
16:31). For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ [not rites, ceremonies,
rituals, the Sermon on the Mount, the Golden Rule, or the Ten Commandments,
but the gospel or the good news of Christ]: for it is the power of God unto
salvation to every one that believeth (Romans 1:16). We shall be saved from
wrath through him (Romans 5:9). If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the
Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from
the dead, thou shalt be saved (Romans 10:9). 

In 1 Corinthians 15:1,2 we find this statement, Moreover, brethren, I
declare unto you the gospel[the good news] which I preached unto you, which
also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved.
How? Verses 3 and 4: Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;
and...he was buried, and...he rose again the third day according to the
scriptures. This alone is the message of the gospel, the good news, the only
way of salvation. Christ died, shed His blood, and rose again. 

Christ's redeeming blood 

Christ's power to save all the world was wrought through His precious blood
shed on Calvary. Leviticus 17:11: It is the blood that maketh an atonement
for the soul. Acts 20:28: The church of God, which he hath purchased with
his own blood. First Peter 1:18,79: Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not
redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain
conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious
blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. Revelation
1:5: Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood.
Yes, without [the] shedding of blood [there] is no remission [of sins]
(Hebrews 9:22). 
It is not enough simply to state that Christ died-as so many intellectuals
do today in order to do away with the sacrifice of His blood. A bloodless
death on the cross would not have saved anyone. Let me repeat that. Had
Christ died of a heart attack or of suffocation upon the cross, mankind
would have been lost forever, for it is the blood that maketh an atonement
for the soul.Because of this fact, Christ came to earth to take upon himself
a body with blood so that He might shed that blood for our sins (see Hebrews
10:5). When one receives this sacrifice of the shed blood of Jesus Christ,
he is saved immediately. 

Christ's redemptive purpose 

If the Lord Jesus Christ is the Saviour and has saving power, we may
conclude that He came to earth because sinners need saving. This is exactly
what Paul said. This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation,
that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners (Timothy 1:15). Not
only does this statement include everyone we know, but ourselves as well.
Christ would have all men to be saved, including you and me (see 1 Timothy
2:4). [Christ] gave himself a ransom for all (I Timothy 2:6). 

The only reason some people will never get saved is that they do not realize
that they are lost. They think they were born into sainthood just like the
Pharisee in the temple. He said, I thank thee, that I am not as other men
are (Luke 18:11). However, Jesus said in Matthew 5:20, Except your
righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees,
ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven. 

Why? The Pharisees were so caught up in the admiration of their own goodness
that they were convinced they needed nothing from God-nothing at all! Yet,
God says in Isaiah 64:6, We are all as an unclean thing, and all our
righteousnesses are as filthy rags. Galatians 3:22: The scripture hath
concluded all under sin. Thus, God not only wants to save mankind from the
misery of sin in this life, but also from the eternal penalty into which sin
will drag those who reject Christ. He that believeth not the Son shall not
see life; but the wrath of God abideth [eternity] on him (John 3:36). Why?
Because he won't receive the Son. 

Oh, my friend, if you are lost, the Saviour longs to save you. You need
saving because all are sinners and only through His blood can you be washed
white. You may be whitewashed because you've had all the rituals of the
Church performed upon you, but you really need to be washed white to inherit
eternal life! Why not call on Him right now, saying, "Lord Jesus, come into
my heart." 

  Rev. Joe Diaz 111 
Boldly proclaiming the word of God 

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Post  Admin on Wed 01 Jan 2014, 7:39 pm

Posted by: "Dean Masters" 
 The Discipline of Scripture Reading

With each New Year that comes, it is time to rethink our plans and 
priorities. To help us settle in on what the Lord desires for each of us, we 
need to refresh our minds with God's plan. One key passage is I Timothy 4:7.

Paul says we are to discipline our selves towards godliness. What are the 
disciplines that encourage a godly life? The first and foremost discipline 
is the Discipline of the Scriptures.

Time alone with God in His Word, the Scriptures, is the great necessity of 
our spiritual lives. We need to be alone with God daily! We need to find 
times to get away alone. E. Stanley Jones once described time in the 
Scriptures as a "time exposure to God." He used the analogy of his life 
being like a photographic plate which, when exposed to God, progressively 
bore the image of God in keeping with the length of exposure.

Please open with me to the center of your Bibles and find Psalm 16.11. "You 
will show me the path of lif ; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your 
right hand are pleasures forevermore. "

The Lord wants you to discipline yourself to get in His Scripture each day 
(daily bread, not by bread alone) so He can arrange, accompany, and 
authorize your life. Is your life authorized by God? Do you live under His 
authority? Is he making the arrangements for you to have the best life there 
can be here on earth? Does He accompany you through every moment of every 
day - filling your days and nights with joy? That is what the Lord offers us 
in the Scriptures.

~If you will listen to the Lord speak to you through the Word you can rest 
in His arrangements for your life. "You will show me the path of life"

~If you will listen to the Lord speak to you through the Word you can enjoy 
His companionship through life. "In Your presence is fullness of joy;"

~If you will listen to the Lord speak to you through the Word you can rest 
in His authority over your life. "At Your right hand are pleasures 

How can we start cultivating time alone with God?

Continue reading

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Post  Admin on Wed 01 Jan 2014, 7:36 pm

Reach Out!
By Skip Heitzig

One time, a friend asked me to speak at his church in California. Lenya and 
I flew to Los Angeles International Airport, and as we waited for him by the 
curb she told me, "He is not coming. You're not speaking here this weekend." 
And then she pulled out some tickets to Hawaii and explained that she’d had 
him invite me because she knew she couldn’t get me to go on a vacation any 
other way. It was a pretty cool surprise.

Where are you going this next year? You might have plans already made, but 
God might have some surprises for you. He might be saying, "You' re not going 
to do that. You're going to do this. I have a whole new life, a whole new 
future in store for you."

In the New Year, we can either “veg out” or we can reach out. “Vegging out” 
is when we stop and just look back on what God has done. And that way we 
eventually become irrelevant. Instead, we should reach out and say, "Thank 
You for what You've done, but Lord, please do more in the future!"

Here are four principles from Philippians 3 that you can use in navigating 
the New Year.

Principle 1: "Don' t settle down, buckle up." By that I mean, anticipate 
great things in this next year from the hand of a great God! Even Paul the 
apostle said there was still room for him to grow (see vv. 12-13). So we’ll 
never reach perfection this side of heaven. And it's our sense of 
imperfection that drives us upward and onward. A growing Christian is never 
satisfied with his or her present spiritual state.

Principle 2: Don't do everything; choose one thing. Narrow your focus. Note 
the phrase "but one thing I do” in verse 13. Jesus called the rich young 
ruler to do the one thing that was missing from his life (Mark 10:17-21), 
and He pointed Martha to the one thing that was needed (Luke 10:38-42). So 
“keep the main thing, the main thing.” Concentrate on what God has 
specifically for you. Say yes to the right things and don’t get distracted 
by everything else.

Principle 3: Don't look backward, move forward. "Forgetting those things 
which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead” in 
verse 13 reminds me that some Christians are spiritual cripples who have 
been paralyzed by past hurts, bitterness, and grudges that they hold. 
Letting the past dominate the present puts a stranglehold on the future. So 
let it all go!

Principle 4: "Don' t travel alone, walk together." In verse 16, Paul says, 
"let us walk by the same rule, let us be of the same mind." In other words, 
don't isolate yourself, move forward together. Runners do better in packs; 
they encourage one another. And we as Christians do better when we move 
forward together.

If you’re just sitting in the bleachers: Be a participant, not just an 
observer! The church needs all of us. If you're not utilizing your gifts 
within the church body, you're robbing the rest of us of your participation! 
God wants you to be engaged in the process, with everything in you. So 
surrender your will to God and simply ask, “Where are we going, Lord? What 
do you want me to do?”

The expression “reaching forward” in verse 13 depicts an athlete straining 
to reach the finish line, putting everything into the race. If you were to 
put as much effort into pressing on in your spiritual life as you do on your 
hobbies, what would your life look like a year from now?

So walk boldly into the future, allowing Him to do something wonderful in 
and through you. Let Him give you the ticket to a new destination, a whole 
new adventure you never thought of and never planned on. Be open, and be 
excited to see what He will do!

Copyright © 2013 by Connection Communications. All rights reserved.

For more from Skip Heitzig, visit,
and listen to today's broadcast of The Connection with
Skip Heitzig at

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Post  Admin on Wed 01 Jan 2014, 6:23 pm

The Lift 

Off The Throne 
(By Steve Troxel, God's Daily Word Ministries, 

After the birth of Jesus, Magi (wise men) came to Jerusalem and asked, 
Where is the One who has been born King of the Jews?" (Matthew 2:2). When
King Herod heard about this he became greatly disturbed. Herod had been
appointed King of the Jews by the Roman government; but he was only
partially Jewish and not well accepted by the people. 

King Herod knew of the Jewish scriptures and how the people were waiting for
the Messiah; "The government will be on His shoulders" (Isaiah 9:6). He
heard the words of the prophet which told where the new ruler would be born;
"Out of you {Bethlehem} will come for Me one who will be ruler over Israel"
(Micah 5:2). Herod viewed the news of this new ruler as a great threat. How
would this affect his right to be king? Would he lose power? prestige?
control? ...comfort!? The potential harm was unbearable so Herod decided to
take action. 

Matthew 2:16 "He gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its
vicinity who were two years old and under." 

Many people today are not much different than Herod. Even when they
recognize Jesus and clearly see their need, they fear losing the ability to
direct their own path. They may not actually take steps to destroy Christ,
but the thought of releasing control seems unbearable. Somehow, they've been
taught that submission equates to failure. But the reality is that true 
success" is only found in Christ, and true comfort is only obtained by being
set free from the power of sin and the entanglement of this world. 

Jesus was, and always will be, very threatening to those who insist on
sitting on a throne. It's foolishness to think Jesus will accept the
position of Co-King. Those who attempt to enter a relationship with Jesus
while trying to maintain their "right to rule" will either give up their
right or end up absolutely miserable. 

Jesus will give Himself to "whoever believes in Him" (John 3:13). But in
return, He asks for our total devotion: "Love the Lord your God with all
your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your
strength" (Mark 12:30). We give Him proper worship - the worship He deserves
- only as we submit and exalt Him above all else; "He must become greater, I
must become less" (John 3:30). 

As we get ready to begin this new year, let's ensure our relationship with
Jesus is aligned with God's plan. He is the rightful Ruler and King - the
Savior and Lord! Let's trust and worship Him with all our heart, and refuse
to be threatened by His right to lead. Let's decide once and 
for all.

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Ten Questions to Ask at the Start of a New Year
Don Whitney

Once, when the people of God had become careless in their relationship with 
Him, the Lord rebuked them through the prophet Haggai. "Consider your ways!" 
(Haggai 1:5)
he declared, urging them to reflect on some of the things happening to them, 
and to evaluate their slipshod spirituality in light of what God had told 

Even those most faithful to God occasionally need to pause and think about 
the direction of their lives. It's so easy to bump along from one busy week 
to another without ever stopping to ponder where we're going and where we 
should be going.

The beginning of a new year is an ideal time to stop, look up, and get our 
bearings. To that end, here are some questions to ask prayerfully in the 
presence of God.

1. What's one thing you could do this year to increase your enjoyment of 

2. What's the most humanly impossible thing you will ask God to do this 

3. What's the single most important thing you could do to improve the 
quality of your family life this year?

4. In which spiritual discipline do you most want to make progress this 
year, and what will you do about it?

5. What is the single biggest time-waster in your life, and what will you do 
about it this year?

6. What is the most helpful new way you could strengthen your church?

7. For whose salvation will you pray most fervently this year?

8. What's the most important way you will, by God's grace, try to make this 
year different from last year?

9. What one thing could you do to improve your prayer life this year?

10. What single thing that you plan to do this year will matter most in 10 
years? In eternity?

In addition to these 10 questions, here are 21 more to help you "Consider 
your ways." Think on the entire list at one sitting, or answer one question 
each day for a month.

11. What's the most important decision you need to make this year?

12. What area of your life most needs simplifying, and what's one way you 
could simplify in that area?

13. What's the most important need you feel burdened to meet this year?

14. What habit would you most like to establish this year?

15. Who is the person you most want to encourage this year?

16. What is your most important financial goal this year, and what is the 
most important step you can take toward achieving it?

17. What's the single most important thing you could do to improve the 
quality of your work life this year?

18. What's one new way you could be a blessing to your pastor (or to another 
who ministers to you) this year?

19. What's one thing you could do this year to enrich the spiritual legacy 
you will leave to your children and grandchildren?

20. What book, in addition to the Bible, do you most want to read this year?

21. What one thing do you most regret about last year, and what will you do 
about it this year?

22. What single blessing from God do you want to seek most earnestly this 

23. In what area of your life do you most need growth, and what will you do 
about it this year?

24. What's the most important trip you want to take this year?

25. What skill do you most want to learn or improve this year?

26. To what need or ministry will you try to give an unprecedented amount 
this year?

27. What's the single most important thing you could do to improve the 
quality of your commute this year?

28. What one biblical doctrine do you most want to understand better this 
year, and what will you do about it?

29. If those who know you best gave you one piece of advice, what would they 
say? Would they be right? What will you do about it?

30. What's the most important new item you want to buy this year?

31. In what area of your life do you most need change, and what will you do 
about it this year?

The value of many of these questions is not in their profundity, but in the 
simple fact that they bring an issue or commitment into focus. For example, 
just by articulating which person you most want to encourage this year is 
more likely to help you remember to encourage that person than if you hadn't 
considered the question.

If you've found these questions helpful, you might want to put them 
someplace — in a day planner, PDA, calendar, bulletin board, etc. — where 
you can review them more frequently than once a year.

So let's evaluate our lives, make plans and goals, and live this new year 
with biblical diligence, remembering that, "The plans of the diligent lead 
surely to advantage" (Proverbs 21:5). But in all things let's also remember 
our dependence on our King who said, "Apart from Me you can do nothing" 
(John 15:5).

Since 2005, Don Whitney has been Associate Professor of Biblical 
Spirituality at the southern baptist theological seminary
in Louisville, Kentucky, where he also serves as Senior Associate Dean. 
Before that, he held a similar position (the first such position in the six 
Southern Baptist seminaries) at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in 
Kansas City, Missouri, for ten years. He is the founder and president of The 
Center for Biblical Spirituality.
Visit his website at

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Post  Admin on Sun 29 Dec 2013, 7:28 pm

Something Big Is Happening Here 
Sermon 2 of 3 from the Soul Food: Ephesians for the 21st-Century series by
Dr Ray Pritchard, Keep Believing Ministries 
Ephesians 3:10 
July 2010 Sometimes you discover a new truth by accident. 
That happened to me recently as I was reading through Ephesians. Actually
I've been reading and re-reading Ephesians for the last few months. When I
read David Powlison's advice that we should master Ephesians and be mastered
by it because in a pinch you could do all counseling from Ephesians and
It's all there: the big picture that organizes a myriad of details, I
decided to go back and make it the focus of my daily Bible reading. So
thats what I've been doing for the last few months. Sometimes I read a few
verses, sometimes a chapter or two, sometimes I read the whole book.
Occasionally I ponder a single verse. 
I've been struck repeatedly by how Paul emphasizes the cosmic dimensions of
God's plan. He does it in Ephesians 1 where he talks about God bringing all
things together under the headship of Christ (v. 10) and how Christ is now
seated far above all authority and power (v. 21). He does it again in
chapter 6 when he says that we wrestle against principalities and powers and
the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms (v. 12). Paul sees what
happens here on earth as being closely connected to events in the spiritual
realm. So with that in mind, I'm reading along in chapter 3 where Paul talks
about how in the church Jews and Gentiles stand on an equal basis, with the
same standing and the same privileges. That's a tremendous truth to think
about. Then you come to this verse: 
His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God
should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms
(Ephesians 3:10). 
That's the sort of verse you might read quickly and not think about. But it
deserves closer examination. Paul says that God has arranged things so that
the church of Jesus Christ displays the manifold wisdom of God. The word
means many-colored.Picture a bouquet of multi-colored flowers or a piece
of fabric with a vast variety of colors, red and pink and blue and brown and
green and yellow. I have seen computer programs that promise that they can
print pictures in millions of colors.That's the idea here. God's wisdom
has many hues, many varieties, and God intends to use the church (meaning
those of us in the church) to display that wisdom. 
Ray Stedman explains it this way: 
The word translated manifold here is literally the many-colored wisdom of
God. Why did the apostle choose this poetic adjective? It is because life
consists of many colors. We all have blue days. And red hours of anger and
passion. And golden moments of glory. And dark, somber valleys through which
we must pass. And lush, green pastures into which we are sometimes led.
God's love is manifest in all of these hues of life. So when you go through
a blue time, it is God's love that you are learning. When you go through a
dark and pressured time, the love of God is being manifested there. You may
not see it, but God knows how to make it clear. And even the joyful times
are manifestations of the many-colored wisdom of God. 
So far, so good. 
When you go through a blue time, it is God's love that you are learning. 

But then look at that last phrase. God intends to display his many-colored
wisdom to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms.That can only
be a reference to the angelic beings watching from heaven. When Ligon Duncan
preached on Ephesians 3:8-13, he painted this word picture: 
The Apostle Paul is saying that God has put you up on the stage of history
and that when you look up into the galleries and into those expensive boxes
you are going to see the angelic powers of heaven, good and evil, because
God is putting them in graduate school to learn from you of His wisdom and
glory. In other words, God is going to display His glory to good angels and
bad angels. He's going to display the wisdom of His plan to principalities
and powers through you as the church. 
Kenneth Wuest offers this succinct summary: 
The Church thus becomes the university for angels, and each saint a
The Church becomes the university for angels. 
Folks, that's a mind-blowing insight. It's telling us that what happens to
us on earth has a purpose that goes far beyond us personally. God intends to
use the events of this life, the good and the bad, the happy and the sad,
the positive and the negative, all of it together and each part individually
to make a display for all the universe to see. He does it so that the
angels scattered across the universe, in all their various ranks and orders
and levels, will see something of God's wisdom worked out through what
happens to us here on earth. 
Unanswered Questions 
I find this perspective helpful because so much of what goes on around us
seems to make little sense. I'm thinking of the heartaches of life, how one
person gets cancer and dies while another person is spared cancer and yet
another person gets the same cancer, goes through chemotherapy and survives.
Why does one child live and another die? Why is one family hit with a
seemingly endless series of trials? Why did this husband decide to walk away
from his marriage? Why did the car wreck leave this man crippled but the man
next to him walks away unscathed? The list goes on and on and on. 
Why was this person promoted and that one passed over? 
Why do some people want to get married but never find the right person? 
Ephesians 3:10 offers us a unique perspective that we need to consider. I
can say it in one simple sentence: 
Something big is happening here. 
Something much bigger than us. 
Bigger than our own personal agenda. 
Bigger than anything we've ever dreamed. 
If we are Christians at all, we know that life isn't about us. 
We've heard that for years. 

If we are Christians at all, we know that life isn't about us. 
We've heard that for years. 
But here is an insight that may bring light on some of those why questions

God intends to use us as a demonstration of his wisdom to a whole galaxy of
angelic beings who watch with great interest as we move through life on our
way to heaven. They see us struggle, they watch us grapple with tragedy,
they see us deal with setbacks, they pay attention when we cry out to our
Father for grace to helpin the nick of time. They see in ways we don't
see how God's plan is moving forward through our suffering and pain and
Now if this is and this seems to be exactly what Paul is inferring in
Ephesians 3:10, lots of things that happen aren't just about us. Something
much bigger is going through our struggles in this world. We wouldn't
understand it even if God tried to explain it to us. But we get little hints
of it in verses like this. 
As I pondered this some more, I remembered that Jonathan Edwards commented
that in heaven we will spend the vast stretches of eternity marveling with
other believers about how the wisdom of God was displayed in his plan to
save us and shape us into the image of his Son. When I first heard that, I
thought to myself, Well, fine. But I think after maybe 250 years or so,
I'll have fully covered all the mysteries of my own earthly journey. I
admit that's a very human way to look at it, but that's what I thought. But
suppose God intends to use our life journey as a canvas on which to paint
the richness of his wisdom for the angelic beings to study. Suddenly that
lifts us into a realm of cosmic purpose that will truly stretch across the
endless ages of eternity. 
Something much bigger is going through our struggles in this world. 

I think it means that at some point when we face hard times and when life
makes no sense whatsoever, we need to stop and say to ourselves, Something
big is happening here." God never wastes anything. Not even the tiniest tear
falls without a purpose. 
We are giving lessons to a heavenly audience. 
Sometimes we think that life should get easier as we get older. I doubt that
is the case for most people. If anything, the mysteries of life become more
profound as we realize how little we understand about why things happen the
way they do. 
Two people die every second. 
But you are not dead. 
Three Quotes 
As a means of helping us think about this a little deeper, consider these
three quotes gathered from very different authors in very different places. 
The first quote comes from a pastor who asked the following question, Where
in the Bible did God ever give someone an easy job to do? Now we may
quibble with the question, but I think the larger point is quite true. It's
hard to think of anyone in the Bible to whom God gave a truly easy job.
Now why is that? God puts all of us to the test so that we will be forced to
trust in him. If he only gave out easy assignments, we wouldn't have to
trust him very much. Maybe we would conclude we didn't need him at all. But
hard assignments drive us to our knees in prayer. 
Earthly prosperity tends to be no friend of spiritual growth. 

The second quote comes from a certain TV preacher. A few months ago, while
listening to a snippet of a program, I heard him offer this insight: God
will never bring us to the place where we no longer need him." 
And all God's children said, Hmmmm.
That'll make you stop and think. Down deep there is a part of us that would
like to come to a place where we don’t have to trust in the Lord so much.
Not that we don’t want to pray, but secretly we’d like to be in such a place
of earthly fulfillment where we didn’t have to pray desperate prayers to the
Almighty. It would be wonderful (or so we think) if things were going so
well that all we had to do was to praise the Lord all day long. 
Not going to happen. 
Not this side of heaven. 
God will never bring us to the place where we no longer need him. 

If all our needs were met, we'd end up forgetting God just like the children
of Israel did in the Old Testament. Earthly prosperity tends to be no friend
of spiritual growth. And total prosperity generally means total disaster. I
think that preacher was right on in what he said. God intends to bring us
again and again to the place where we are crying out to the Lord, begging
for his mercy and his grace. 
That's not a fun place to be. 
But it's where we need to be. 
Anything that drives us to our knees is good for the soul. 
The third quote comes from my friend Peter who pastors a house church in
China. Last month he and his wife came to the U.S. for a special seminar in
Dallas where they spent a week with leaders from other countries at a fancy
retreat center. Peter said it was a very good week, but there was one
drawback. We had a beautiful room, wonderful meals, and everything we
needed was provided for us. We didn't even need to pray. 
It's always easier to pray when we have a consciousness of our own need.
While we were with Peter, he prayed powerfully for us and for my wife in
particular who was going through some physical difficulties at that time. It
was a transforming moment to hear this Chinese pastor pray so fervently to
the Lord. 
So much faith! 
So much earnest desire! 
Later he told us that the Chinese church has no choice but to pray and ask
God for healing. Given the pressures of the last sixty years, the church has
learned to call upon the Lord fervently. I know I've used that word twice,
but then I think of James 5:16, which in the King James Version tells us
that the fervent prayers of a righteous man avail much with God. 
The end of the whole matter is clear. Do not lose heart when hard times come
Something big is happening here. 
Do not lose heart when hard times come. 

Something bigger than you can see. 
Something bigger than you can imagine. 
Something so big that you can't begin to figure it out. 
I believe God brings us back again and again to these times of desperation
so that we will see that it's not about us and our problems. God intends to
use our trials to teach us to pray and to trust him more so that (and this
is the point of Ephesians 3:10) the angelic beings will behold in us the
many-colored wisdom of God. 
When we see a fellow saint going through hard times for which there seems to
be no earthly explanation, let us erect over that spot a sign with these
Quiet: God at Work 
When I was a teenager, I used to attend country churches where they would
sing, We'll understand it better by and by.Back then I didn't appreciate
the depth of theology behind that song, but with the passage of many years I
see it more clearly now. And in this one verse Paul pulls back the curtain
to give us a peek at God's purposes that we would not otherwise know. As you
face the trials of life, keep this truth in front of you and make it a
bedrock of your faith: 
Something big is happening here. 
Why Did This Happen to Me? 
At least once in your life, something so difficult and painful will happen
to us and we will ask God, why is this happening to me? Find God's
strength through life's greatest heartaches. 
Get more details 
God bless you! 
Rev. Joe Diaz III 
Founder, His love Extended Ministries, International (Circa 2000) 
May the Lord bless and keep you. May the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious unto you. May the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace. Numbers 6 24-26

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Post  Admin on Sun 29 Dec 2013, 7:03 pm


“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 1:21

Chinese evangelist, Brother Xi, was travelling one very cold Christmas Eve 
in the rugged province of Gansu. As he came to the next village he sensed 
was wrong. He introduced himself as a bearer of good news. A small man 
interrupted, “Well we have only bad news here right now. A couple has just 
had their
baby stolen.” In the poorer areas of China, where couples are restricted to 
one child, it is not uncommon to have child snatching, even stealing babies
for wealthy childless couples in the cities.

He stepped inside the house to find both husband and wife staring quietly at 
him. The couple’s grief hung heavy in the air. He said, “I’m so sorry to 
about your plight, but I know someone who may help...God. Let me pray to 

There was no reaction on the couple’s faces, so he went into prayer, feeling 
very uncomfortable indeed. “Dear Father, many years ago at this same time
of year you sent a child into the world and rescued us all; we ask today 
that you will send back this child to us, and deliver this village from the 
which grips it, Amen.”

Suddenly the young husband spoke, “Shut up and go away. We have prayed to 
our gods and nothing has happened. Why should yours be any different?” He 
grabbed from behind by the other villagers and propelled out of the village. 
“Don't you dare come here again!” they bawled.

He wandered the hills in a daze of humiliation, tears, and crying to God. 
Then he thought l went to that village expecting a hero’s welcome, or at the
very least, I relied on being a curiosity, quizzed and entertained by people 
who live very dull and isolated lives. Instead, I had only been treated a
little like Christ was treated.

Kneeling there in the snow, he knew what he had to do—go back to that 
village, knowing for sure he would be despised. This was to follow in the 
footsteps. With a pounding heart he turned and began to walk slowly back 
towards the village. Suddenly, across the still late afternoon air, he heard 
baby’s cry coming from what appeared to be an old well shaft.

Sure enough six feet down was a little baby, wrapped in a thick blanket, 
lying at the bottom of the dry-well. He climbed down to hug some warmth back 
it. It was a baby girl. Those who snatched it did not know it was a girl, 
and finding later that it was, left it in this old well to die.

He walked back to the village with the precious bundle of life. The 
villagers came running. They were amazed and overjoyed as they led him to 
the cottage
of the poor couple, and the smile on the mother’s face as he placed her baby 
into her lap was unforgettable. “Come, warm yourself by the fire” said the
husband. They drew up a chair for him, and as the other villagers crowded 
round, he asked, “Who was that God you prayed to?”

What an invitation. Here he was, the honored guest, looking at thirty eager 
people, waiting with bated breath to hear the Gospel. “Well,” he began, “He
came to earth in the form of a little baby, just about this time 2000 years 

RESPONSE: Today I will praise God that He is truly in control and can work 
out all situations for good.

PRAYER: Thank God today for the coming of His Son to earth in humble yet 
powerful glory!

Standing Strong Through The Storm (SSTS)
A daily devotional message by SSTS author Paul Estabrooks

© 2011 Open Doors International. Used by permission

Dean Masters, owner of the Masters List
You Who Are Troubled—Rest! 
“And to you who are troubled, rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be
revealed from heaven with His mighty angels…” 2 Thessalonians 1:7 

Are you troubled today? Listen: “And you who are troubled rest with us.”
That is, be at ease. Quit your worry. It is not over yet. There is an
unfinished story. If you are troubled, rest with us. 

You say, “Pastor, it’s so dark.” Yes, it’s gloriously dark, because the
darkest hour of the night is just before the sunrise. Our hope is not in
politics, our hope is not in sociology, our hope is not in science. The only
sure hope for our world is the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. 

Think about who is coming again. Underscore this: “when the Lord Jesus shall
be revealed.” The Lord Jesus is who is coming again. We’re not looking for
some event in history. We’re looking for Jesus Christ to be revealed. And
when He’s revealed, He’s going to be revealed as the Lord Jesus. Today He is
despised. He is rejected. He is mocked. But He is coming as the Lord Jesus
to be glorified and admired. 

If you are unsaved, if you’re not one of His saints, His coming will strike
stark terror in your heart. But if you are saved, you’re going to say, “Oh
glory to the Lamb. Isn’t He beautiful?” Say this aloud if you can say it and
mean it: “Lord Jesus.” The Lord Jesus is coming. 

Devotions taken from the messages of Adrian Rogers. 

© 2013 Love Worth Finding Ministries | PO Box 38300 - Memphis, TN 38183-0300

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Post  Admin on Sat 28 Dec 2013, 5:54 pm

A Christmas Devotional
After Christmas, brand new articles from Mel Lawrenz.

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 2:20

At the birth of Jesus, amidst the dirt and straw of a stable, millennia of 
promises, prophecies, and hopes were fulfilled. In the birth of a child, 
that happens every single day all over the world, something happened that 
would change the world. Everything the faithful were anticipating took 
It was the alignment of all that was meant to be. But the birth of Jesus has 
that power and significance only if he really is who he said he was.

The shepherds heard, they saw, and it was all just as they had been told. In 
a perfect conjunction of heaven and earth, God came to earth, connecting the
two for his eternal purposes. Years later, Jesus would tell us in so many 
different ways, I have come into the world as a light (John 12:46); I 
come that they may have life and have it to the full (John 10:10); For 
this reason I was born and for this I came into the world, to testify to the 
truth, (John 18:37).

When we are sensing the dirtiness of life in this world, we can focus on the 
purity of Christ.

When we feel weak, we can lean on the power of Christ.

When we are ill, we can remember that he is the great physician.

When we are confused, we can turn to his words to get our bearings.

When we are damaged, we can remember that he said that he would not break a 
bruised reed nor snuff out a smoldering wick.

When we know we have sinned, we can know his forgiveness.

When we are wayward, we can remember he called himself the way.

When we have been lied to, we can remember he called himself the truth.

When we feel like our energy and our enthusiasm is waning, we can remember 
that he called himself the life.

And so, we can pray:
Thank you Lord Christ for humbling yourself and taking the form of man. 
Thank you for pushing back the darkness of this world and of my life. Thank 
for fully living before us so that we can see just how much life we can 
have. Let me live for the next 52 weeks in the light of your ongoing 
presence and
power in this world. And then let me celebrate Christmas again with joy.

About The Author - Mel Lawrenz serves as minister at large for Elmbrook 
Church and leads The Brook Network. Having been in pastoral ministry for 
thirty years, the last decade as senior pastor of Elmbrook, Mel seeks to help 
Christian leaders engage with each other. Mel is the author of eleven books, 
the most recent for church leaders, Whole Church: Leading from Fragmentation to 
Dean Masters, owner of the Masters List

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Post  Admin on Fri 27 Dec 2013, 8:01 pm

The Fir Tree
By Hans Christian Andersen

Hans Christian Andersen was a Danish writer in the nineteenth century who 
penned many stories like the one below. His most famous was "The Ugly 
While the reality of this particular story is questioned even by the author, 
the truth revealed by the tale cannot be questioned. See if you agree.

In a small cottage on the borders of a forest lived a poor laborer, who 
gained a scanty living by cutting wood. He had a wife and two children who 
him in his work. The boy’s name was Valentine, and the girl was called Mary. 
They were obedient, good children, and a great comfort to their parents.

One winter evening, this happy little family was sitting quietly round the 
hearth, the snow and the wind raging outside, while they ate their supper of
dry bread, when a gentle tap was heard on the window, and a childish voice 
cried from outside, "Oh, let me in, I pray! I am a poor child, with nothing
to eat, and no home to go to, and I shall die of cold and hunger unless you 
let me in." Valentine and Mary jumped up from the table and ran to open the
door, saying, "Come in, poor little child! We have not much to give you, but 
whatever we have we will share with you."

The stranger-child came in and warmed his frozen hands and feet at the fire, 
and the children gave him the best they had to eat, saying, "You must be 
too, poor child! Lie down on our bed; we can sleep on the bench for one 

Then said the little stranger-child, "Thank God for all your kindness to 
me." So they took their little guest into their sleeping-place, laid him on 
bed, covered him over, and said to each other, "How thankful we ought to be! 
We have warm rooms and a cozy bed, while this poor child has only heaven for
his roof and the cold earth for his sleeping-place. "

When the father and mother went to bed, Mary and Valentine lay quite 
contentedly on the bench near the fire, saying, before they fell asleep, 
"The stranger-child
will be happy tonight in his warm bed."

These kind children had not slept many hours before Mary awoke, and softly 
whispered to her brother, “Valentine, dear brother, wake, and listen to the
sweet music under the window.”

Then Valentine rubbed his eyes and listened. It was sweet music indeed, and 
sounded like beautiful voices singing to the tones of a harp:

Oh holy Child, we greet thee! Bringing
Sweet strains of harp to aid our singing.
Thou holy Child, in peace art sleeping,
While we our watch without are keeping.
Blest be the house wherein thou liest,
Happiest on earth, to heaven the nighest.

The children listened, while a solemn joy filled their hearts, then they 
stepped softly to the window to see who was singing.

In the east was a streak of rosy dawn, and in its light they saw a group of 
children standing in front of the house, clothed in sparkling garments and
holding golden harps. Amazed at the sight, the brother and sister were still 
gazing out the window when they heard a sound behind them. Turning they 
the stranger-child standing before them. "I am the little Christ child," he 
said. "I wander through the world bringing peace and happiness to children.
You took me in and cared for me when you thought I was a poor child, and now 
you shall have my blessing for what you have done."

A fir tree grew near the little house; and from this the Christ-child broke 
a twig and planted it in the ground. He looked directly at Valentine and 
and said, "This twig shall become a tree, and shall bring forth fruit year 
by year for you."

No sooner had he done this than he vanished, and with him the choir of 
angels. The fir-branch grew and became a Christmas tree, and on its branches 
golden apples and silver nuts every Christmas.

Such is the story told to German children concerning their beautiful 
Christmas trees, though we know that this is only a fable. The real 
Christ-child can
never be wandering cold and homeless in our world, because he is safe in 
heaven by his Father’s side; yet we may gather from this story the same 
which the Bible plainly tells us--that to anyone who helps another person, 
it will be counted to them as if he had done it to Christ himself. "In as 
as ye have done it unto the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto 

Family Moment

Kindness. When you think of that word, what picture comes to mind? Who or 
what do you think of? What have they done or said that has made you feel 
and that you mattered?

Every day, we have the chance to represent Jesus to anyone God brings our 
way. We can be kind in what we do, what we say, even in our body language 
eye contact) to others who may just want to see if their lives matter to 
other human souls.

Ask family members how they best express kindness.

Now, ask them how they can improve a little bit more in being kind to 

An Advent Prayer

Dear kind Lord, thank you that kindness is part of your character from which 
we can learn. You were kind to everyone who needed kindness. You reached out
to touch those who needed your touch; you said the right words to those who 
were hurting; you showed by every action in your life that people were more
important than anything else on earth. Help us to learn from the examples 
you set for us, but help us to learn this lesson best. We want to be kind to
others, for in doing so, we show we are being kind to you. In Jesus’s name, 

Today's Advent reading is from
25 Days of Christmas
by Greg Johnson. Greg Johnson is the author of more than 20 books. He is 
President of WordServe Literary Group, a Denver-based literary agency that 
servesmore than 100 authors (

Hark! The Herald Angels!

Are they [the angels] not all ministering spirits sent forth to minister for 
those who will inherit salvation?
Hebrews 1:14

Recommended Reading
Hebrews 1:10-14
Angels appear six times in the biblical story of Christmas. First, Gabriel 
visited Zacharias in Luke 1. Then he paid a visit to Mary. An angel appeared
three times to Joseph. And the sixth (and perhaps most awesome) angelic 
appearance was over the shepherds' field when an innumerable multitude of 
assembled the greatest mass choir in history.

Listen to Today's Radio Message
But don't think angels are limited to the Christmas season. The Bible 
contains 234 passages about angels, and there are references to angels in 39 
of the Bible. The range of angelic activity spans the Scripture from Genesis 
3:23 to Revelation 22:16. Nor is angelic activity limited to Bible times.
The Bible teaches that angels are active today in the lives of God's 
children, transporting blessings to our lives, delivering us from judgment, 
us in danger, guiding us in unseen ways, and watching over the events of our 
world. So in addition to all the carols you'll sing about angels this 
don't forget another song -- the old African-American spiritual that says, 
"All night, all day, angels watching over me

David Jeremiah' s Website
Turning Point's mission is to deliver the unchanging Word of God to an 
ever-changing world.
Turning Point with Dr. David Jeremiah
Copyright © 2013 Turning Point for God. All rights reserved.
Turning Point, P. O. Box 3838, San Diego, CA 92163

Dean Masters, owner of the Masters List

The Unfinished Story of Christmas 
¦when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels
When He shall come to be glorified in His saints, and to be admired in all
them that believe 2 Thessalonians 1: 7, 10 

The Jesus who came the first time is coming again, and Christmas is not
complete without the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. The incarnation without
the coronation would be like east without west. It would be like an
engagement without a marriage. The story is not complete until Jesus comes

You may have thought that this was a good Christmas for you but, friend, I
want to tell you the best is yet to come! The Heavenly Father has so much
more in store for us when Jesus comes again. 

You see, we get all wrapped up in the little baby, the baby that was born,
and we then go beyond the birth of the baby, saying, Yes, He came to die
for our sins†(thank God He did that), but I want to remind you that the
First Coming of Jesus and the Second Coming are linked together. 

The Christmas Story in Luke 1 and 2 speaks not only of the Jesus who
redeemed, but the Jesus who reigned. Not only Jesus who came the first time,
but Jesus who is coming the second time to sit upon the throne of His father
David, to rule over the house of Jacob forever and ever. 

Imagine for a moment what your life would be like without the Resurrection,
the Rapture, and the Second Coming of Jesus. The most glorious fact of the
past is that Jesus came the first time. The most glorious fact of the future
is that this Jesus is coming again. The one sure hope of this jittery old
world is the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. 

Devotions taken from the messages of Adrian Rogers. 

© 2013 Love Worth Finding Ministries | PO Box 38300 - Memphis, TN 38183-0300

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Post  Admin on Thu 26 Dec 2013, 11:46 pm

The Innkeeper
Lori Ciccanti
Luke 2:7 “ And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in 
swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for 
in the inn. (KJV)

Although Scripture does not specifically mention him, the manager of the inn 
was responsible for turning Mary and Joseph away on the first Christmas 
Have you ever wondered what type of person he was? For years, I pictured him 
as a mean, cold-hearted, and worldly sort of individual. Then one day, while
reading through my Bible study lesson, I was challenged by the following 

"What do Christians have in common with the Bethlehem innkeeper?"

Now I had to re-evaluate my judgment of the innkeeper' s character. It is 
certainly feasible that he did not refuse Mary and Joseph, but sent them to 
barn; it was just a simple case of "no room". My previous impression that he 
was not even concerned about a young mother about to give birth may have 
quite wrong.

Yet in one way or another, I think that we can all relate to the innkeeper' s 
story. Many times, we also shut God out in the cold without ever realizing
it. We become so preoccupied with trivial matters; even as we celebrate the 
Lord's birth, He sometimes gets left out. Unfortunately for the innkeeper,
he never knew that it was God's Son whom he turned away.

Christmas or not, it is business as usual for most of the world. 
Nevertheless, as for the innkeeper, this special day may come to those who 
are not seeking
it. Hence, how can we, as believers, take this opportunity to share the glad 
tidings of our faith with others? Moreover, in what ways can we make more
room for Jesus in our personal lives?

Prayer: Father, we thank You for the precious gift of Your Son Jesus. May we 
always have room for Him in our hearts so that others will see His love 
in us. In Christ's holy name, we pray. Amen.

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Post  Admin on Tue 24 Dec 2013, 1:30 pm

A New Thing – Magi

Isaiah 43:18-19 (NIV)
18 “Forget the former things;
do not dwell on the past.
19 See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the desert
and streams in the wasteland.

Matthew 2:9-11 (NIV)
9 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. 10 When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. 11 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.

In this part of the Christmas story, one new thing is a star that moved to 
show the magi where to find Jesus, the King they were looking for. Another 
new thing is the magi bringing expensive gifts to a child who was not of 
noble birth.

The magi brought their gifts but what can we give to Jesus? He wants us to 
give him our lives. He wants us to surrender our lives to Him as our gift to 
Him. The magi brought their gifts one time. We must have that one time we 
give our lives to Him but then we are to give ourselves to Him every day. He 
has told us how we can do that:

Matthew 25:34-36 (NIV)
34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed 
by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the 
creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, 
I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you 
invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you 
looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

Many people think of helping people especially around Christmas time but 
these people are around us all the time. By helping them out during the rest 
of the year we are also giving to Jesus. So our gift to Him isn’t just once 
a year but day by day. May we live as David Grayson who is quoted here:

I sometimes think we expect two much of Christmas Day. We try to crowd into 
it the long arrears of kindliness and humanity of the whole year. As for me, 
I like to take my Christmas a little at time, all through
the year. And thus I drift along into the holidays- let them overtake me 
unexpectedly- waking up some fine morning and suddenly saying to myself: 
"Why, this is Christmas Day!"

By Dean W. Masters

Owner of the Master's List.
We would love you to join us. Just send a blank message to:


If you would like to receive only the messages that I write, please send a 
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Post  Admin on Sun 22 Dec 2013, 6:36 pm

What I Want for Christmas

“So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a
new moon or sabbaths, which are a shadow of things to come, but the
substance is of Christ.” - Colossians 2 :16-17 NKJV

I have always believed in the promise of Christmas. There has always been
something special to me about this time of the year, going back to my
earliest days of childhood.

What is it that we love about Christmas, once we get past the initial

I think it is the sense of wonder, beauty, and anticipation. It is the
music, the look of surprise on a child’s face, and the amazing food. It’s
the companionship of family and good friends. It is also the absence of
strife and meanness (that is, with the exception of the crowds on “Black

But how often does Christmas really deliver on its promises? A little bit
here and there, but by and large, it ends up being the endless drone of
mind-numbing ads on TV. It is the friction and pressure that comes when we
are obligated to purchase gifts for people we barely know. It is the
expectation put on us by others and sometimes even ourselves.

Then there is that big post-Christmas letdown—the letdown of expectations
that can never really be met. We were not able to give what we really wanted
to give, or what they really wanted to receive. Or you yourself did not get
what you had hoped for. Then there are those bills that come due . . .

So what is Christmas at its worst? It is a crass, commercial, empty,
exhausting, and very expensive ritual that drags on endlessly for months at
a time.

What is Christmas at its best? It is a glimpse of things to come–the beauty,
the worshipful music, the adoring angels, the love, the warmth, the promise,
the hope…all things promised to us in a life to yet come.

You see, Christmas is a promise. It is a promise that has not yet been fully

Christmas cannot be all that we want it to be. It’s only a holiday.
Christmas cannot bring harmony to your home. Christmas cannot bring peace on
earth. Christmas cannot bring happiness.

But Christ Himself can do all of this and more. That is really what we are
longing for deep inside.

list of 4 items
• Not Christmas, but Christ.
• Not merriment, but the Messiah.
• Not goodwill, but God.
• Not presents, but His presence.
Anything or anyone short of this will disappoint. But God never will.

That’s what I want for Christmas–Jesus Christ.
Copyright © 2011 by Harvest Ministries. All rights reserved.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas
Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

December 16, 2013
The Giving Gift
Amy Carroll

"They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to
share, thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the
future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life."
1 Timothy 6:18-19

It was time to decorate for Christmas. As I set up my new artificial tree, I
pondered what to do with the old one. It still had lots of life in it and
rather than donating it to an organization, our family wanted to add a
personal touch and show love to a specific family.

We wanted to put into action what we're told to do in
1 Timothy 6:18-19,
"They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to
share, thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the
future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life." (ESV)

When I went to my volunteer job at the domestic violence shelter the next
week, I asked the manager for a suggestion. "I' d like to donate our
Christmas tree to a mom who has just completed the shelter' s program and moved into
her own home," I explained. The manager gave me a woman's name, and my
husband Barry and I made plans with her for delivery.

On the night we were to meet Robin* and her children, Tasha* and Nathan*,
Barry and I loaded the car with anticipation. We drove to her neighborhood
and hauled the tree and bags of lights onto the porch. Before we could fully
knock on the door, it was flung open to reveal the twinkling eyes of excited
"I didn't expect a big tree!" Robin exclaimed. "I just thought it would be a
little one to set on the table!"

Tasha and Nathan literally danced around the room as Barry set their tree up
and showed them how to put lights on it for the first time. While they
decorated, Robin told me about her hopes and dreams for a safe future for her and the

As we drove away, my husband and I reflected on this truth; it truly is more
blessed to give than to receive. It's a glimpse of God's image in each of
us. We are created by a Father who delights in giving to His children.

That night, we didn't just give a Christmas tree and some lights. We shared
an evening of friendship, laughter, and joy. And gave the gift of time. We
brought the love that only Jesus can give us for those we don't know.

The Christmas season is a time we focus on giving gifts and doing good to
others, but I want to emulate God's giving and goodness all year long. That
starts by focusing on the way He gives. It's an overflow of His character and an
example of how He calls us to share what we have with others.

God gives lovingly. (Exodus 34:6)
God gives freely. (James 1:17)
God gives abundantly. (Psalm 132:15)
God gives wisely. (Romans 16:27)

As you're running errands, look to see who you can bless with a kind word or
a cup of coffee. As you're putting up your decorations, think about whose
home you could bring some festivity to. And as you pause during your day,
remember who you can give the gift of prayer and encouragement to. Let's all
develop our giving gift by giving more like our Father and by being a
blessing to others!

Lord God, You are my example for how to give good gifts. Please give me Your
heart to be generous and a blessing to others. Help me be mindful of the
and to give carefully to ensure my gift is a blessing. In Jesus' precious
Name, Amen.
elated Resources:
Amy Carroll's blog
for some practical tips and creative ideas for giving good gifts to those
who need it this holiday season.

The gift of God's Word and devotions by women living in the trenches
alongside you is always the perfect gift. Order a copy of the NIV Real-Life
Bible for Women for a friend or family member by
clicking here.

Reflect and Respond:
What do you have that you could share this Christmas season?

What steps do you need to take before you give to make sure the gift is a

Power Verses:
Matthew 7:11,
"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 good gifts to those
ask him!" (NIV)

2 Corinthians 8:7,
"But just as you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in
complete earnestness and in the love we have kindled in you—see that you
excel in this grace of giving." (NIV)

*The names are fictitious in order to protect the safety of our friend and
her children.

© 2013 by Amy Carroll. All rights reserved.
Proverbs 31 Ministries
630 Team Rd., Suite 100
Matthews, NC 2810


He is - Father to the orphans
He is - Comfort in the storms
He is - Hope to the Hopeless
He is - Shelter to the worn!

He is - Help for the helpless
He is - Seeking for the lost
He is - Healing to the hurting
He is - Our Saviour at great cost!

He is - Bearer of our burdens
He is - Strength for the weary
He is - Gentle with the anguished
He is - Close to the teary!

He is - Kind to the friendless
He is - Shepherd of the sheep
He is - Gentle with the frail
He is - Keeper of the meek!

He is - The Word of God
He is - Home for the homeless
He is - Peace in the Storm
He is - Our hope in distress!

He is - Deliverer of the captives
He is - with us from the start
He is - Soon Coming King
He is -The Song in our hearts!

He is - My Intercessor
He is - Everlasting Father
He is - Drawing us closer
He is - The Living Water!

He is - Rescuer of the Dying
He is - Captain of the Host
He is - The Resurrection and the Life
He is - To those who love Him most!

He is - My refuge and Strong Tower
He is - The Bright and Morning Star
He is - The Lily of My Valley
He is - With me from afar!

Mary Ann Trott
September 30th, 2012

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Post  Admin on Fri 20 Dec 2013, 11:22 pm

Ron Hutchcraft Ministries - A Word With You

A Word With You Daily Devotional
Bare Feet, Boots and a Man In Blue - #7026

Like most Americans, I just about O.D. on the news. No matter what it's
about! It could be news about elections, some economic cliff, or eruptions
in the
Middle East. It's all important, but it's not exactly in the "joy to the
world" category.

So I absolutely loved the feel-good story out of New York City that went
viral across Facebook last Christmas. It was about the friendly policeman
the freezing homeless man. And it had "Christmas Story" written all over it.

I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Bare
Feet, Boots and a Man In Blue."

In case you missed it, a young police officer, on patrol in Times Square,
came upon a homeless man, sitting barefoot on the sidewalk. It was a "two
of socks" night for the officer and even then his feet were freezing. He
couldn't imagine a man sitting there barefoot all night. So the man in blue
inside a nearby store and bought the homeless man a $100 pair of boots with
his own money. When he gave those boots to that barefoot man, well, you can
imagine the joy.

It would have been one of life's invisible acts of kindness except for a
tourist with a cell phone camera. She was so moved with what she was
she snapped a picture, which has now been seen by millions of people. Maybe
because it was the Christmas season, that poignant scene triggered a
to something my personal Hero did over and over again. It's one of the many
things that makes me love Him. That would be Jesus.

The incident I remember took place when Jesus was entering a town,
surrounded by crowds anxious to see Him. The Bible says there was a blind
beggar who
had heard that "Jesus of Nazareth is passing by." Much to the aggravation of
the people around Jesus, he started shouting loudly, "Jesus, have mercy on

A lot of annoyed people there told him in no uncertain terms to shut up. Or
"shutteth up" (sounds more Biblical). So he just shouted louder. The blind
man was a nuisance. He was an embarrassment; they had a "celebrity&quo t; in town.
Then two little words that tell me so much about Jesus, and they're our word
for today from the Word of God. Two words: Luke 18:40; "Jesus stopped" .
Nobody else stopped, but Jesus did. Not for the mayor. Not for the
Not for the ministers, but for the miserable. The guy everyone else walked
by or walked over. That's who Jesus stops everything for. And the first
that blind man ever saw was the face of Jesus. Because Jesus did what only
He could do; He gave that man his sight.

The Bible's filled with stories of people nobody would stop for except
Jesus. Marginalized people like blind Bartimaeus. Obnoxious people like
Condemned people like the woman caught in the very act of adultery. Even the
hardened criminal on the cross next to His, in His agony Jesus answered the
thief's cry for mercy and guaranteed him heaven.

For 2,000 years, Jesus has been stopping for the lonely, the losers, the
lost. And letting them know that someone knows their name. Someone hears
cry. Someone really loves them. And it's God's one and only Son. He sees me;
He sees a world lost in sin, away from God, headed for an awful eternity.
And He does what no one else could do. What no religion could ever do. He
pays for my sins with His blood. In the words of the Bible, "He was wounded
bruised for our sins. He was beaten so that we might have peace; He was
lashed and we were healed!" (Isaiah 53:5).

You know, Jesus stopped for me when my soul was destitute, when my soul was
doomed. Like the hymn says, "Once I was lost, but now I am found. I was
but now I see." Look, He might be passing your way today. He knows your
name. He knows your scars. He knows your sin, and He died for it. He's
your direction. Why don't you grab His hand today to begin your personal
relationship with the man who loved you enough to die for you.

Listen, if you want to know how; if I could possibly help you, would you
check out our website and join me there? Let Jesus do for you
only He can do.
Creative Commons License
© Ronald P. Hutchcraft • Distributed by Ron Hutchcraft Ministries, Inc.
"A Word With You" by Ronald P. Hutchcraft is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution- Noncommercial- No Derivative Works 3.0 United
States License.
Based on a work at
www.Hutchcraft. com/A-Word- With-You.

Ron Hutchcraft Ministries, Inc. · P.O. Box 400 · Harrison, Arkansas 72602 ·

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Post  Admin on Thu 19 Dec 2013, 10:10 pm

My Most Memorable Christmas
By Catherine Marshall. Marshall (1914 - 1983) was a noted Christian writer
perhaps best known for her novel Christy.

We spent Christmas 1960 at Evergreen Farm in Lincoln, Virginia--the home of
my parents. With us were my sister and her husband--Emmy and Harlow
their two girls, Lynn and Winifred. It meant a typical family occasion with
our three children, Linda, Chester, and Jeffrey, along with Peter John who
was then a senior at Yale. Five children can make an old farmhouse ring with
the yuletide spirit.

For our Christmas Eve service, Lynn and Linda had prepared an improvised
altar before the living room fireplace. Jeffrey and Winifred (the youngest
lighted all the candles. Then with all of his family gathered around him, my
father read Luke’s incomparable account of the first Christmas. There was
carol singing, with Chester and Winifred singing a duet, "Hark, the Herald
Angels Sing," in their high, piping voices. Then my mother, the storyteller
of the family, gave us an old favorite, "Why the Chimes Rang." She made us
see the ragged little boy creeping up that long cathedral aisle and slipping
his gift onto the altar.

Then she said, "You know, I’d like to make a suggestion to the family. The
floor underneath the tree in the den is piled high with gifts we’re giving
one another. But we’re celebrating Christ’s birthday, not each other’s. This
is His time of year. What are we going to give to Jesus?"

The room began to hum with voices, comparing notes. But Mother went on, "Let’s
think about it for a few moments. Then we’ll go around the circle and each
of us will tell what gift he will lay on the altar for Christ’s birthday."

Chester, age seven, crept close to his father for a whispered consultation.
Then he said shyly, "What I’d like to give Jesus this year is not to lose my
temper anymore."

Jeffrey, age four, who had been slow in night training, was delightfully
specific. "I’ll give Him my diapers."

Winifred said softly that she was going to give Jesus good grades in school.
Lynn’s was, "To be a better father, which means a gift of more patience."

And so it went... on around the group. Peter John’s was short but
significant. “What I want to give to Christ is a more dedicated life.” I was
to remember
that statement five years later at the moment of his ordination into the
Presbyterian ministry when he stood so straight and so tall and answered so
"I do so believe.... I do so promise...." Yet at Christmas time, 1960, the
ministry was probably the last thing he expected to get into.

Then it was my father’s turn. "I certainly don’t want to inject too solemn a
note into this,” he said, “but somehow I know that this is the last
I’ll be sitting in this room with my family gathered around me like this."

We gasped and protested, but he would not be stopped. "No, I so much want to
say this. I’ve had a most wonderful life. Long, long ago I gave my life to
Christ. Though I’ve tried to serve Him, I’ve failed Him often. But He has
blessed me with great riches--especially my family. I want to say this while
you’re all here. I may not have another chance. Even after I go on into the
next life, I’ll still be with you. And, of course, I’ll be waiting for each
one of you there."

There was love in his brown eyes--and tears in ours. No one said anything
for a moment. Time seemed to stand still in the quiet room. Firelight and
played on the children’s faces as they looked at their grandfather, trying
to grasp what he was saying. The fragrance of balsam and cedar was in the
The old windowpanes reflected back the red glow of Christmas lights.

Father did leave this world four months later--on May first. His passing was
like a benediction. It happened one afternoon as he sat quietly in a chair
in the little village post office talking to some of his friends. His heart
just stopped beating. That Christmas Eve he had known with a strange
that the time was close.

Every time I think of Father now, I can see that scene in the living
room--like a jewel of a moment set in the ordinary moments that make up our
For that brief time real values came clearly into focus: Father’s gratitude
for life; Mother’s strong faith; my husband’s quiet strength; my son’s inner
yearning momentarily shining through blurred youthful ambitions; the eager
faces of children groping toward understanding and truth; the reality of the
love of God as our thoughts focused on Him whose birth we were

It was my most memorable Christmas.

Family Moment

Think of all the memories we’ve had as a family during Christmas through the
years. What memories do you count as the best? Why?

How could this family make our memories even sweeter than they already are?

An Advent Prayer

Father God, show us how precious each family member is this season. Teach us
to number our days so that we might honor you and love others. Give us anew
appreciation of how unique and beloved each of us is to the others. Amid the
things that bother us the most, let us not lose sight that you have made
family what it is. Help us rest in your wonderful plan that we should go
through life together for all of the days we have breath. We’re grateful,
our hearts are filled with love for you and each other. Amen.

Today's Advent reading is from
25 Days of Christmas
by Greg Johnson. Greg Johnson is the author of more than 20 books. He is
President of WordServe Literary Group, a Denver-based literary agency that
more than 100 authors (

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And Joseph went up from Galilee, from Nazareth, to the city of David, in
order to register, along with Mary, who was with child. And it came about
that while they were there, the days were completed for her to give birth.â€
Luke 2:4-6

Caesar Augustus gave a decree that a census was to be taken. The law touched
the most common of people in the most obscure places. It reached Joseph and
Mary at a most inopportune time, tucked away in Galilee. Mary was nine
months pregnant. Nonetheless, a journey to Bethlehem became necessary so
that they might comply with the law and register for the census. Did they
strain against such news? I would think so. Was God in it? Absolutely.

Prophetic words from ages past foretold that a Savior would arise out of
Bethlehem. God used Caesar’s mouth, a census, and a difficult journey for a
pregnant woman to fulfill prophetic words.

God is in the ordinary events of my day, too. When I am hit with
unemployment, sickness, an unexpected move out-of-state, I can despair
thinking that God has turned His back momentarily and that I am just being
tossed by the wind. Little do I know that these events are like the ‘census’,
steering me on to the next thing God has for me. The seemingly catastrophic
event is a rudder “ getting me to Bethlehem. I can't see it at the time but
I need to remember that my trust in God need not be shaken.
Not then, not ever.

Oftentimes, I have cried out, I can't believe this happened to me!Yet,
where I am, and who I am today, have depended on those unexpected events. I
have absolute confidence in You, God. In Jesus name, Amen

For more from Christine Wyrtzen and Jaime Wyrtzen Lauze, please visit

Welcome to the Illustrator
Today's Bible Verse:
"For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon
his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting
Father, Prince of Peace." ( Isaiah 9:6)

By Answers2Prayer

Christmas Through A Zimbabwean Child's Eyes

Children in Zimbabwe are no different from their counterparts around the
world when it comes to Christmas. They are full of anticipation and hope.

As children from the city, we spent most of our Christmas holidays in our
ancestral village, having travelled a long distance to be with extended
and to partake of all the good food prepared for us. Christmas was also a
time to wear new clothes to church.

I remember as a child meeting a young village boy on Christmas morning while
I walked home from church with my aunt and sister. He lived with his mother,
grandmother, and two younger siblings and attended the village school. He
was barefoot but running really fast, and as he approached us, he slowed
and we exchanged Christmas greetings. He stopped, and with a great deal of
excitement, he shared his Christmas story with us. They had run out of salt
on Christmas Day! So he had been sent to borrow some salt from a neighbour
for his grandmother. It is common in Zimbabwe for families to send their
to a neighbour for a cup of sugar, corn meal, or salt.

We girls from the city marvelled at the simple joys of Christmas that
brought forth such excitement in him. His daily chores on Christmas Eve were
no different
from any other day. He let out the cows from the cattle pen, fetched
drinking water from the communal well and gathered firewood before joining
other children
for a bath in the river. Come evening, they went around the village sharing
the joy of Christmas through song. On Christmas Day, he helped his mother
grandmother prepare an elaborate Christmas dinner. He always wished for
relatives from the city who would bring all sorts of goodies for him and his
to enjoy.

On the other hand, Christmas in the village for my sister and me was a mere
adventure that was quickly forgotten once we were back in the hustle and
of the big city. This young village boy, who had very little, looked
content, happy, and bubbling with energy and joy. He was to us the real face
and spirit
of Christmas.

One congregation that I know of has started an initiative that aims to
replace consumption with compassion by urging its members to consider
donating one
quarter of their Christmas budget towards the building of a village well.

Jesus reminded us of our responsibilities towards each other when He said:

"You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its
saltness be restored?" (Matthew 5:13a NRSV)

Prayer: Gracious Lord, create in us a new heart for You to dwell in. Bless
all the children around the world now and at Christmastime. May Christ's
a gift of life to mankind, remind us of Your unconditional love and grace.
In Jesus' name, we pray, Amen.

Margaret Zondo
Toronto, Ontario, Canada

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Post  Admin on Mon 16 Dec 2013, 9:21 pm

A New Thing – The Shepherds

Isaiah 43:18-19 (NIV)
18 “Forget the former things;
do not dwell on the past.
19 See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the desert
and streams in the wasteland.

Luke 2:10-17 (NIV)
10 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. 11 Today in the town of David a
Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. 12 This will be a sign
to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” 13
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel,
praising God and saying, 14 “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace
to men on whom his favor rests.” 15 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.” 16 So
they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in
the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what
had been told them about this child,

It was not a new thing for an angel to appear with a message but one thing
was new in the message that the single angel brought to the shepherds. The
message an angel had brought in the past had been for one person or one
group of people. This message was the Good News for all the people. Another
new thing in this account is the baby being found in a manger.

What did the shepherds do when they heard what the angel said? They trusted
the message and did what the angel told them to do. They looked in the
mangers of Bethlehem until they found a baby. After that, they went out
praising God and telling everyone what they had seen and Who they had seen.
They did not know any theology but just what had been told to them and what
they had seen. That is what they told others

This message is a message for all peoples. Like the shepherds, we need to
tell all peoples the Good News of Jesus Christ. WE need to tell them just
what we know. WE don’t have to know all the whys and wherefores, we just
need to tell them what we have been told and what we have experienced.

I saw the results of a survey on a Christian web site of atheists about what
might reach them. The one thing they thought might turn them to Jesus Christ
was testimonies of Jesus and how He has worked in someone’s life.

Jesus commands us to go teach disciples. This may be a new thing god wants
you to do.

May we obey what the psalmist has told us to do:

Psalm 9:11 (NIV)
11 Sing praises to the LORD, enthroned in Zion; proclaim among the nations
what he has done.

By Dean W. Masters

Owner of the Master's List.
Unedited redistribution approved

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Post  Admin on Sun 15 Dec 2013, 9:42 pm

by David Wilkerson
[May 19, 1931 – April 27, 2011]

The disciples had no idea what was in their hearts but Jesus did, and He
brought them to a place of testing that exposed it all. He told the twelve to
get into a boat and cross the sea, knowing full well that a storm would soon
envelop them.

Now, these men thought they were trusting followers of the Master. After all,
they had seen thousands fed with just a handful of fish and a few loaves of
bread. So, as they stepped into the boat, they probably thought they would
never doubt Jesus again.

It is one thing to see miracle-working power in your pastor’s life, and quite
another to experience it for yourself. Now, as the winds began blowing and the
waves rose higher, the disciples’ test came. Soon the boat filled with water,
and the men started bailing as fast as they could. In just minutes, however,
they knew their ship was going to sink.

Listen to what emerged from these men’s hearts in their time of testing:
“Lord, don’t You care that we’re all about to die? We’re going down!
Help us, Jesus. Are You God or not? Don’t You care about us?"

Jesus’ very own disciples were tempting Him! Indeed, they spoke almost the
very same words to Jesus that the Israelites had spoken to Moses: “They
tempted the Lord, saying, Is the Lord among us, or not?” (Exodus 17:7).

Yet, all along Jesus knew what He was doing. He could have commanded the winds
and waves to cease long before they did. Such power was always present in Him.
But, instead, He allowed His disciples to be tested in a literal, life-or-death

“His disciples went down unto the sea, and entered into a ship, and went over
the sea toward Capernaum. And it was now dark, and Jesus was not come to them.
And the sea arose by reason of a great wind that blew. . . . They see Jesus
walking on the sea . . . and they were afraid. But he saith unto them, It is I;
be not afraid. Then they willingly received him into the ship: and immediately
the ship was at the land whither they went” (John 6:16-21).
Isaiah 2:11 Human pride will be brought down,
and human arrogance will be humbled.
Only the LORD will be exalted
on that day of judgment.

Welcome to the Illustrator
Today's Bible Verse:

"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 guest room available for them." (Luke 2:6-7)
By Answers2Prayer
No Room 4 You. Christmas for the Broken-Hearted, Part 1

In our day and age, especially in the Western world, pregnant women don't
need a reservation to deliver their baby. They are welcomed to a special
of a hospital, and are well cared for. Imagine being in Mary's shoes. No one
had room for her and the delivery day was imminent! Jesus truly was not
on our planet. At His birth, or even throughout His entire life (See John
1:11). Instead of a sanitary room, delivery had to take place in a manger,
animals being the only witnesses.

But then, in life there are many places that make us feel unwelcome. Some
places only welcome us if we have the necessary funds, like amusement parks
kids. Have you ever noticed how small the layout of the admittance gate is?
Narrow is the road to admittance! Notice also the fence with barbwire on the
top that surrounds the entire park, just like a prison. And we are supposed
to have fun in such circumstances!

Scrutiny is tough as well: no ticket, no entry, no matter how desperate you
are. If you have a ticket, you still have to go through security. First a
detector, followed by a manual security check. Are we truly welcome in
amusement parks?

On the other hand, Jesus did not come to earth to have fun, but to save, so
that we could experience eternity in true peace and happiness. No fence and
barbwires required! Still to be born in a manger was his only reception in

How different Bethlehem is today. It now has about six large, comfortable
hotels, which are a low-priced alternative to lodging in Jerusalem. There is
now room in Bethlehem!

But even though the rooms are much less expensive than in Jerusalem, there
is a hidden cost: Bethlehem is completely enclosed by the ill-famed security
fence, a bit like the Western amusement parks. No taxi will drive you there.
You have to disembark and walk through on foot in hot, sweltering weather.
Luckily the checkpoint is operated by bored young soldiers who seem more
interested in their phones than anything else. No one has any trouble
through, especially tourists.

Once through, you find yourself surrounded by men offering their services as
tour guides and taxi drives all at the same time. That's where we become
confused. It's true that a ride is the best way to get to know Bethlehem,
but if you don't know where you are going, you may end upon a very long,

Like anywhere in the Middle East, prices have to be negotiated before taking
services. If you have no experience with that, you are in big trouble!

One of the thrills of taking a ride is that the driver will tell interesting
stories of his own. That's where you start to appreciate the culture.
a visit to the Church of Nativity is a must, an impressive edifice
containing a peculiarly small door (Maybe in reference to Matthew 7:14),
where a gold
star is embedded on the floor to indicate the exact spot where Jesus was
born. It seems the stable has changed into an immense church! Unless this is
the right spot . . .

Outside the church you find yourself in Manger Square where you will find
restaurants, cafes, guesthouses, an information centre, and let us not
a mosque. Beyond Manger Square is the Old City, typified by cobblestone
streets (My favorite!), lined with numerous souvenir shops, and eventually
end up in the bustling Arab market.

Interestingly enough, many Palestinians are concerned about having a
negative reputation abroad. But truly they have nothing to worry about. Most
are eager to give a warm welcome to anyone they encounter. Quite often
tourists are invited for tea or coffee (Sorry no Sprite!) By shopkeepers,
you can truly get to know the friendliness of these people who love to chat,
or if you so desire, to entertain deep discussions. True it's good for
but more often than not, tourists find themselves invited at the homes of
these shopkeepers and are introduced to other friends as well.

Strange that in a place where there was no room for Jesus, hospitality is
the norm today. Anyone would feel right at home there. Maybe they have
something from the One who was born in a manger . . .

Rob Chaffart
Who will you invite for Christmas?
©Copyright 2011 Answers2Prayer | Matt 10:8 "Freely you have received, freely

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Post  Admin on Thu 12 Dec 2013, 9:14 pm

What Day Was He Born?
The Day Jesus Was Born

Someone has said, "This coming December 25th most parents will be lying to
their children about old St. Nick. Some of us will be celebrating the birth
of our Savior. But was he really born on this day? Was Jesus really born on
December 25th? Virtually every month on the calendar has been proposed by
biblical scholars. So why do we celebrate his birth in December?

The tradition for December 25th is actually quite ancient. Hippolytus, in
the second century A.D., argued that this was Christ's birthday. Meanwhile,
in the Eastern Church, January 6th was the date followed. But in the fourth
century, John Chrysostom argued that December 25th was the correct date and
from that day till now, the Church in the East, as well as the West, has
observed the 25th of December as the official date of Christ's birth.

In modern times, the traditional date has been challenged. Modern scholars
point out that when Jesus was born, shepherds were watching their sheep in
the hills around Bethlehem. Luke tells us that an angel appeared to "some
shepherds staying out in the fields [who were] keeping watch over their
flock by night" (2:8).

Some scholars feel that the sheep were usually brought under cover from
November to March; as well, they were not normally in the field at night.
But there is no hard evidence for this. In fact, early Jewish sources
suggest that the sheep around Bethlehem were outside year-round. So you can
see, December 25th fits both tradition and the biblical narrative well.
There is no sound objection to it.

Now admittedly, the sheep around Bethlehem were the exception, not the rule.
But these were no ordinary sheep. They were sacrificial lambs. In the early
spring they would be slaughtered at the Passover.

And God first revealed the Messiah' s birth to these shepherds--shepherd s who
protected harmless lambs which would soon die on behalf of sinful men. When
they saw the baby, could they have known?

Continue reading

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Post  Admin on Thu 12 Dec 2013, 9:12 pm

'In the Accessible Church'

By Tait Berge
Special to ASSIST News Service

COLORADO SPRINGS, CO (ANS) -- When someone using a wheelchair shows up at
church, how do you respond? Do you know what to do, how to act, what to say?
Do you feel awkward? My pastor at International Anglican Church in Colorado
Springs, felt awkward. Now he says his congregation wouldn't be complete
my being part of our body.

Tait Berge with his service dog

I was born with cerebral palsy. However, in many respects, my life story
really began when I was 23. I had been living in an apartment two years and
community college for a journalism degree. Whatever obstacles my disability
presented I overcame with hard work and determination.

But 1996 was different. I started to ask questions such as "Why am I here?"
"What&# 39;s the purpose of my life?" and "Why did God give me this disability?"

Through Bible study and prayer, I discovered my disability wasn't a mistake.
My first major encounter happened after reading Exodus 4:11: "The Lord said
to him, 'who gave human beings their mouths? Who makes them deaf or mute?
Who gives them sight or makes them blind? Is it not I, the Lord?'"

I cried when I read those words. When realizing God knew me before I was
born (Psalm 139) and had a plan for my life (Jer. 29:11), I began letting go
my tough guy, get-through- anything attitude and gave my life to Him. That
was when I knew beyond any doubt He had ordained my disability.

I use a wheelchair, my speech is difficult to understand, and yet Jesus says
I'm supposed to give glory to God. This blows my mind. I often struggle
a physical disability, and have depressive episodes and anxieties. Yet God
uses my disability for His glory?

I don't understand it, yet my friends at church tell me it's true. When
hearing me sing, they say they sense the Lord's presence. When seeing me in
for communion, my priest says God is with me and thinks the church wouldn't
be the same without me. The church is more complete when people with
become part.

Book cover

This is the back-story of my latest book, "In the Accessible Church." At the
urging of my wife, I wrote it to show how my church not only accepts my
but also encourage me to live my faith.

I write about my earliest memories of attending church with my family and
finding a new church home after several years attending a larger church. I
my years at the larger church, but wanted something fresh. It had been the
hardest and best decision of my life.

What I have is a community who loves Jesus, worships authenticity, and
serves faithfully. The people at International Anglican Church from the
start accepted
me with open arms as their own. I'm able to be the man God made me to be.
There's nothing I can't do there. I'm a reader. I teach Sunday school. My
is not the issue-the Lord Jesus is.

My readers say they love the last two chapters where I write about the nuts
and bolts of having someone affected with disability attend a church. It's
always a partnership. The disability should always be secondary. That
person-in a wheelchair, blind, or has a developmental disability-is a child
of God.
He or she needs the love of Jesus Christ and is affected by the same disease
you have, which is sin.

Because of their need for a savior, people affected by disability need
access to churches. That doesn't mean buildings or programs or a perfect
I'm perfectly happy parking my chair by the pew or reading from the pulpit.
I also don't advocate for big disability programs. A successful disability
ministry is where people affected by disability serve.

This book is for church leaders who believe the Lord loves people with
disabilities, but might not be aware people with disabilities have so much
to offer.
I am sharing my experience to encourage and teach churches how to
incorporate people with disabilities into the workings of church. It is
important for
people with disabilities to serve and not just be served. This book will
help leaders see how the body of Christ is more complete when including
The body of believers at my church has not only taken me in as one of their
own, but also encouraged me to become a better disciple. They don't see my
disability. They see a fellow Christian. My friends don't help me out of
duty. They do it out of love.

My book is available in print though Amazon and Lulu or as an eBook on the
Barnes and Noble's Nook and iBook formats. The read is quick. The message is
simple. Yet, hopefully this message will inspire you and your church family
to help fulfill the Great Commission to an extremely overlooked people
the disabled
------------ --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- -
Tait Berge is the Church Relations Director for Mephibosheth Ministry (
www.mephiboshethmin ,
an organization that encourages churches to include people with special
needs in their congregation. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in
Leadership and
Ethics from Nazarene Bible College. Born with cerebral palsy, Tait believes
the Lord ordained his disability. He knows the Lord is using it to glorify
Him and prays He will continue to use Tait in mighty ways. Tait lives in
Colorado Springs and attends International Anglican Church ( .
He has written three books. Please visit
www.taitberge. com
for more information about Tait and his ministry. He can be contacted by
e-mail at
See all ASSIST News articles at
------------ --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- -
This story is the personal opinion of the writer and does not necessarily
reflect the views of the ASSIST News Service or ASSIST Ministries.
------------ --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- -
** You may republish this story with proper attribution.
Dean Masters, owner of the Masters List

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