READY FOR CHRISTMAS?

This is from my childhood.  In fact I think I recited this poem at a Christmas Children’s Program:

 “Ready for Christmas,” she said with a sigh as she gave a last touch to the gifts piled high,

Then wearily sat for a moment to read, till soon, very soon, she was nodding her head.

Then quietly spoke a voice in her dream, “Ready for Christmas”, what do you mean?

Ready for Christmas” when only last week you wouldn’t acknowledge your friend on the street?”

Ready for Christmas” while holding a grudge?

Perhaps you’d better let God be the judge.

She woke with a start and cry of despair, ‘there’s so little time and I’ve still to prepare.’

“Oh, Father, Forgive me, I see what you mean:  To be ready means more than a house swept clean.

Yes, more than the giving of gifts and a tree.

It’s a heart swept clean that He wanted to see.  A heart that is free from bitterness and sin.

So Be Ready for Christmas – and ready for HIM.

Myrtle Haynes

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When You Don’t Know All the Facts

This came to my desk several years ago.  Whether it is true, I do not know.  However, the message is very relevant for all of us.

On the day before Thanksgiving, a young woman stood at the head of the checkout line with a meager order of groceries.  Her welfare card had been rejected several times by the scanner, and customers behind her were impatient.

One man loudly remarked, “People on welfare should get jobs like everyone else!”  When the woman abandoned her groceries and fled to her car, the store manager reacted with fury.  Turning to the offending customers, he shouted, “You should be ashamed of yourselves!  That young lady’s brother was killed in Afghanistan two years ago and she’s raising the three young children he left behind.

With tears in his eyes, he added, “I believe that welfare card may be the only thing keeping a soldier’s orphans from going hungry.”  The humiliated customers scrambled to pay for the young woman’s items.  They bought and delivered several additional carts of groceries and a freezer as well.

I’m convicted of how many times I have judged others when I did not know the story behind their actions and reactions.

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One Small Act of Obedience

I headed for church Sunday morning under a sky threatening rain.  One and a half miles from the grocery store I passed a middle aged woman with her groceries piled on the sidewalk, her wire cart overturned, trying to rewire a broken wheel.

I felt checked that I needed to go back and see if I could help.  But if I did I’d be late to church.

Now how important was that?

I returned to ask if I could help.  She said, “My wheel is broken. (Obviously not the first time she had tried to repair it.)  I don’t have a car.  I guess I need to break down and buy a new wire cart.”

I offered to take her home.  We loaded her, the cart, and the groceries into my car.  When all was unloaded at her door she profusely thanked me.

As I drove to church 10 minutes late, the Holy Spirit informed me that all the fasting, praying, Bible reading and studying I’ve been doing does not please Him like this one small act of obedience.

Maybe I’m also to be on the lookout for a new wire cart with wheels!!!

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In Honor of Veterans’ Day

I am sharing these “Reasons I Know Prayer Works for the Military” by Retired Chaplain General James Hutchens in Honor of Veterans’ Day.

 Reason # 1:  People get saved.  The military is where I came to faith in Jesus Christ. “After finishing basic training I met Chaplain Burt Hatch who led me to Christ.  I asked Jesus into my heart and life.”

Reason # 2:  Wounded soldiers are healed and preserved.  He gave examples of two soldiers: “Lieutenant Arnold and Sergeant Jose Martinez.  Lieutenant Arnold was unconscious with shrapnel lodged in his temple area.  Laying hands on him I prayed in Jesus’ name, that God would heal him.  God graciously answered.  Sergeant Martinez had suffered a ‘sucking chest wound.’  He was unconscious and not expected to live.  I ran along with the stretcher to the helicopter.  I knelt to pray in his ear asking God, in Jesus’ name, to restore him.  Two weeks later, I visited him in Saigon, alive and on the mend.”

Reason # 3:  The promises of Psalm 91 are based on the integrity of God Almighty. “In 1965, transporting my battalion to Viet Nam, I memorized Psalm 91 for myself and those entrusted to my spiritual care.  It remains one of the most powerful statements of God promises, especially for those in the military.”

From Intercessors for America, November 2017

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Characteristics of a BITTER Person ANGER + UNRESOLVED GRIEF OR LOSS = BITTERNESS

A bitter person . . .

  1. Finds it impossible to speak peaceably with others in their family.
  2. Speaks with barbed and cutting words, hurting others deeply.
  3. Uses language characterized by hostility and suspicion.
  4. Criticizes what others say or do.
  5. Disrespects others and is unthankful.
  6. Rehearses the past over and over again.
  7. Twists the motives and intentions of others when they try to come alongside to help.
  8. Resist change or help.
  9. Strives to keep past injuries fresh as though they happened yesterday.
  10. Exhibits indifference and numbness toward the hurts they inflict on others.

From Jim Velez – Feelings Unlimited

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A Greater Knowledge of God

This is from My Utmost for His Highest, by Oswald Chambers.

“If we will obey what God says according to our sincere belief:

  1. God will break us from those traditions that misrepresent Him.
  2. If we keep true to God, God will take us through an ordeal which will bring us out into a better knowledge of Himself.
  3. If we will remain true to God, God will lead us straight through every barrier into the inner chamber of the knowledge of Himself; but there is always the point of giving up convictions and traditional beliefs.”

Talking about Abraham, “He remained true to God and God purified his faith.”

I found this concept that Chambers is expounding; “giving up convictions and traditional beliefs  necessary to break through the barrier into the inner chamber of knowing God and achieving purified faith” so true in my own life.  Before I moved into ‘deeper knowledge and relationship with God’ I had to lay aside (reject) everything I had been taught about God and what was required for relationship with Him and thoughtfully and prayerfully put back in only what I could accept as from Him. The result was the beginning of a wonderful love relationship with God!

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Personal Spiritual Inventory Questions

  1. When was the last time God showed me something wrong in my life, and I took immediate and painful action to correct the error?
  2. When was the last time I asked God to show me how He could us something unique about me?
  3. When was the last time I made a plan to obey God in some special area of my life and then followed through?
  4. When was the last time my life was an example to others of obedience to God?

The enemies we face are most often within ourselves.  The battles we fight are not against others but against the power of sin. We need God’s help to battle against sin.  His help is the cause of each success, and his forgiveness is sufficient for each failure.

From Bible Notes

 

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Using ‘Fleeces’ for God’s Guidance

I have thought for a long time that ‘laying out fleeces’ was not the prime way to know God’s guidance.  This was verified in the ‘Bible notes’ from the story of Gideon.  We can live close enough to God to know His voice and understand His direction without demanding signs.

Fear often makes us wait for more confirmation when we should be taking action.  The greatest means of God’s guidance is His Word, the Bible.  If you want to have more of God’s guidance, don’t ask for signs, study His Word and develop a close relationship with Him.

“Putting out fleeces is a poor decision-making method.  Those who do this put limitations on God.  The results of such experiments are usually inconclusive and thus fail to make us any more confident about our choices.  Don’t let a ‘fleece’ become substitute for God’s wisdom that comes through Bible study and prayer.”

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Two Lessons from Children of Israel

The book of Judges said that God left the enemy nations in Israel unconquered as a test for the third generation of Israelites.  The first generation failed to trust God to give them the Promised Land.  They died in the wilderness.  The second generation failed to complete the task of conquering the land.  They died defeated.  The third generation did not even remember the mighty things God had done for Israel.  It was their job to complete the conquest of the land.  How they would handle these obstacles was a test of their faith.  Each generation had failed to teach the next generation to love and follow God.

Two important lessons come from this history:

  1. We must teach our children the acts as well as the ways of God.  Children learn so much by our example.  It is our job to pass the faith to the next generation.
  2. Perhaps God has left obstacles in our lives – hostile people, difficult situations, baffling problems – to help us develop faith and obedience.

We are all faced with these lessons.  How are we going to respond to them?  We cannot fail, the stakes are too high!!

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The Prayer of Relinquishment

By Catherine Marshall, from 1960 issue of Guideposts

 Why are some agonizingly sincere prayers granted while others are not?  Mysteries about prayer are always ahead of present knowledge – luring, beckoning on to further experimentation.  It’s a way of prayer that has resulted consistently in a glorious answer, glorious because each time, power beyond human reckoning has been released.  This is the Prayer of Relinquishment.

Catherine tells this story of a missionary who had been an invalid for eight years.  Constantly she had prayed that God would make her well.  Finally, worn out with futile petition, she prayed, All right.  I give up.  If you want me to be an invalid, that’s your business.  Anyway, I want you even more than I want health.  You decide.  In two weeks she was out of bed, completely well.

The lesson I learned was that a demanding spirit, with self-will as its rudder, blocks prayer.  God absolutely refuses to violate our free will; therefore, unless self-will is voluntarily given up, even God cannot move to answered prayer.

The Prayer of Relinquishment says, “This is my situation at the moment.  I’ll face the reality of it.  But I’ll also accept willingly whatever a loving Father sends.”  Acceptance, therefore, never slams the door on hope.  Giving up of self-will is the hardest thing we human beings are ever called on to do.

Sometimes the Prayer of Relinquishment requires us give up something or someone we really want.  Our pliability must be complete, from our wills right on through to our actions.

At the heart of the secret of answered prayer lies the Law of Relinquishment.

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