Divided

In high school, I was on a debate team. One question sticks firmly in my mind:

“Who said, ‘A house divided against itself cannot stand?’ “

I wanted to answer: “Jesus Christ in Mark 3,” but that was not the answer they were seeking. I gave them the answer they wanted – “Abraham Lincoln.”

Mark 3:24, 25, “A kingdom divided by civil war will collapse. Similarly, a family splintered by feuding will fall apart.” New Living Translation

My family is gathering to celebrate Christmas today. (We postponed everything after my father-in-law’s death.) This was the perfect day to read Mark 3:25.

Satan hates families. A comment today could hurt or offend another family member. We can refuse to accept the hurt or offense. We can forgive.

There may be an awkward moment. Awkward moments pass and they don’t kill us. We cannot let anything divide us. We have to forgive and ask for forgiveness when unintentional hurts happen.

Dear Father God,

Thank You for sending Your Son. Put a guard over my mouth. Don’t let me say anything that will hurt others. Put a filter over my ears. Don’t let me hear anything and take it the wrong way. Bless our time together.

In Jesus Name,

Amen

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Listening

The scariest part about blogging is there is always someone reading it. Even when you do not have a lot of comments or “likes,” someone will read the post. You never know when you will get a “like” on an old post.

Luke 5:17, “One day while Jesus was teaching, some Pharisees and teachers of religious law were sitting nearby. (It seemed that these men showed up from every village in all Galilee and Judea, as well as from Jerusalem.) And the Lord’s healing power was strongly with Jesus.” New Living Translation

When Jesus spoke, the experts of religious law were always nearby listening.

Dear Father God,

I know others are listening. Please let the words I type, be the words you want. 

In Jesus Name,

Amen

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Miracles

Miracles happen every day, but we don’t recognize them. As I look back on 2016, I see the miracles.

We replaced a furnace, central air, washer, and computer without depleting our emergency fund. God provided in miraculous ways.

Our health insurance premium went up 50% and I had emergency surgery! Yet, we paid each premium on time and have paid almost one-fourth of the hospital bill. Those were a few of our miracles this year.

John 3:2, “After dark one evening, he came to speak with Jesus. ‘Rabbi,’ he said, ‘we all know that God has sent you to teach us. Your miraculous signs are evidence that God is with you.’ ” New Living Translation

I need to believe, pray for and expect miracles. Jesus promised them to us!

John 14:12, “I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the father.” New Living Translation

Dear Father God,

Thank You for the miraculous ways you met our needs in 2016. I know you will continue to take care of us. I look forward to the miracles you have in store in 2017.

In Jesus Name, 

Amen

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Every

My father-in-law was tough. He started working in a foundry when he was 17 and a junior in high school.

He was in the hospital with a blood clot, COPD, and emphysema.They sent him home and readmitted him a day later with pneumonia. It was painful just watching him try to breathe. We prayed for him and believed for a miracle.

Then he had a stroke and slipped away peacefully that night. The odds were against him but we prayed anyway because Jesus heals every kind of sickness, disease, and illness.

Matthew 4:23, 24, “. . . And he healed every kind of disease and illness. News about him spread as far as Syria, and people soon began bringing to him all who were sick. And whatever their sickness or disease, or if they were demon possessed or epileptic or paralyzed – he healed them all.” New Living Translation

 

Luke 4:40, “. . . No matter what their diseases were, the touch of his hand healed every one.” New Living Translation

I added these verses to my prayer list. I have one page with names of those who are battling sicknesses and diseases. I am not discouraged even though my father-in-law died because the day of his death was written before he was conceived.

Psalms 139:16, “You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.” New Living Translation

Dear Father God,

Thank You for the life of my father-in-law. Please comfort his wife and children. Thank You for the work ethic he passed on to his children and grandchildren.

In Jesus Name,

Amen

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Prove

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

When I read today’s verse, I thought God was directing me to get that box of clothes to Goodwill. God was directing David to do that. (Insert laughs here.)

Luke 3:8, “Prove by the way you live that you have repented of your sins and turned to God. . . .” New Living Translation

How do you prove it?

  1. Give to the poor, 3:11.
  2. Share food with the hungry, 3:11.
  3. Don’t extort money, 3:14.
  4. Don’t make false accusations, 3:14.
  5. Be content with your pay, 3:14.

God wanted me to deal with our stuffed refrigerator. Last week we had a few meals brought in from our church family. We had a two meals with my sister-in-law’s family, but she brought food, too. We also had food brought in by our kids. (Yeah, I know they are all adults now.) 

Being “Frugalfish,” I know how to stretch food. I froze a little, (we don’t have a deep freezer), and alternated the leftovers between lunches and suppers. I cooked on Christmas Eve but that was the only time. I had cooked hamburger and a cake that needed eating today.

My daughter goes to her Aunt Melinda’s every Tuesday. Melinda feeds her and they watch a show they both like. She told me Melinda was making nachos for supper. I gave them the hamburger and started to send the cake – but David objected! I saved 4 pieces of the cake and sent the rest with my daughter.

Dear Father God,

Thank You for my church family, family, and friends. When grief made our appetites disappear, a lasagna appeared and restored them! Give me the words to thank them properly.

In Jesus Name,

Amen

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Star

A Christmas Story

Her mother told her conception felt like someone lit a candle deep inside your belly. No one could see it or feel the tiny spark, but you knew it was there. Love for your husband, who planted the seed, overwhelms you and you can’t stop smiling about your shared secret.

Mary thought about that conversation as she lay on her pallet looking at the stars. She remembered being surrounded by the greatest love she had ever felt when the angel appeared. It was as if she were walking on air, wrapped in a cloud of light.

She also felt a spark. She knew what the angel told her had come true. But in the darkness, she felt alone. She knew the consequences of becoming pregnant before marriage.

That’s when she noticed it. A star that was brighter than all the others. She had never seen this star before. She recognized the familiar constellations and this star was not part of them. She felt reassured that God was watching over her.

Meanwhile, far to the east, 3 separate men noticed the same star. It confounded the astrologers because they had not seen it before. It was not notated on any of their charts. They got together to compare notes.

When Mary learned cousin Elizabeth was pregnant, she traveled to visit her. Elizabeth amazed her when she told Mary her baby jumped for joy when they hugged. She knew her child was the Son of God. God had a special plan for Elizabeth’s child too.

Before retiring, Mary stepped outside and looked up. Her star had moved with her! It seemed over her head. God was still watching over her.

It astonished the astrologers; the star they had been carefully adding to their charts had moved! All three of them had placed it exactly in the same place on their charts. They started making new charts.

After 3 months, Mary returned home. Her pregnancy was showing now, but she trusted God and Joseph. The same angel visited Joseph after she shared her news. He told her he would marry her after the child was born. They were legally engaged and it could only be broken through a divorce.

The wise men were stumped. They worked so hard on those new charts and the star seemed to have moved back! How can this be?

There were Jews still living in the east. They were descendants of the ones who decided not to return to Jerusalem after the exile to Babylon. The wise men met with a few of the trusted Rabbis and asked about the star. The Rabbis told them that a Messiah would be born who would become the King of the Jews. The wise men decided to go to Jerusalem to meet this king.

It was a long journey and they were only a few weeks away from Jerusalem when the star started moving again. Discouraged because they had come so far, they decided to keep following the star.

Meanwhile, Mary and Joseph had to leave Nazareth and travel to Bethlehem. Joseph had to go there for the census Caesar Augustus ordered. They traveled slowly. Joseph let Mary rest every few hours because she was near the end of her pregnancy.

The day they reached Bethlehem, Mary could no longer pretend she was aching from the trip. She knew she was in labor. She looked up and the star was still there, directly overhead. God was still overshadowing her.

She longed for a warm place to lie down. But Bethlehem was a small town with only one inn. She could see families camping along the side of the road.

When Joseph led her into the cave she welcomed the waves of heat. There were many animals in the cave and hay stored in the back of it. She gratefully stretched out on the hay mow.

The wise men had enough of following a star that kept moving! They decided to go to the reigning king to see if his heir had been born. King Herod was old and his wife was not pregnant. The wise men asked to speak to some Rabbis. The Rabbis knew the scriptures and told them the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem.

The wise men set out for Bethlehem, relieved that the star had stopped and stayed. It shone brighter than it ever had before.

They found Joseph, Mary, and Jesus under the star. They presented three gifts: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. They camped on the edge of Bethlehem and marveled at the brightness of the star. It was as bright as morning. They had met Jesus, the Bright Morning Star, (see Revelation 22:16).

Matthew 2:2, “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star as it rose, and we have come to worship him.” New Living Translation

Dear Father God,

Thank You for enabling me to conceive three times. Thank You for being with me during the months of bed rest. Thank You for the three gifts you gave to me: Luke, Laura, and Derek. 

In Jesus Name,

Amen

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Fiancee

My sisters believed in long engagements. One sister planned to marry on 11-11, but God had other plans; she married on 9-3. (She was not pregnant.) We all love weddings and look forward to a committed couple taking the next step. But they will take that step when God ordains it and not sooner.

I think of Mary’s mother. As soon as it was obvious Mary was pregnant, I’m sure her mom wanted the wedding to take place now! But God had other plans.

Luke 2:5, “He took with him Mary, his fiancée, who was now obviously pregnant.” New Living Translation

Matthew 1:25, “But he did not have sexual relations with her until her son was born. And Joseph named him Jesus.” New Living Translation

The engagement was for a year, but it was as binding as a marriage. You could not break an engagement, you had to get a divorce. They were not supposed to have sex until after the wedding ceremony.

If Joseph had married Mary before going to Bethlehem, then people could deny Jesus was born of a virgin. Joseph told everyone the truth: 1) they were not married, and 2) he did not have sex with her until after Jesus was born. That wasn’t the first time a wedding took place after the baby was born.

Dear Father God,

Forgive me for bugging my sisters about their weddings. I know they will marry when You ordain it. I pray my future brother-in-law will forgive me for pressing him. Thank You for the men You sent to share their lives with my sisters.

In Jesus Name,

Amen

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Husbands

My husband has always showered me with compliments. He tells me I’m beautiful. He calls me “hot.”

This year, I learned the true meaning of “hot.” It came in a flash. He refers to them as “flashes of hotness.” He is a wise husband. Zechariah was also a wise husband.

Luke 1:18, “Zechariah said to the angel, ‘How can I be sure this will happen? I’m an old man now, and my wife is also well along in years.’ ” New Living Translation

Zechariah called himself old but referred to Elizabeth as middle-aged. That’s funny because verse 7 said they both were very old.

I will always look younger than my age because my husband tells me I am!

Dear Father God,

Thank You for giving me a man I can grow old with. We are grateful that You brought us together when we were young. It hasn’t always been easy. Some days he called me other words, like stubborn, not beautiful. But as long as we purposely draw closer to You, we find ourselves closer to each other. Bless our marriage.

In Jesus Name,

Amen

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Daughter-in-Law

Ruth was the best example of a daughter-in-law. Back then, she would have lived with her mother-in-law. Ruth took care of Naomi.

I try to be a good daughter-in-law, but the best I can do is to check up on her. (Her “fur-babies” make my allergies go nuts.) She’s probably ready for me to stop “mothering” her.

“Did you sleep last night?”

“When was the last time you ate?”

If the way you treat your mother-in-law is the way your daughter-in-law is going to treat you, then I must be doing something right!

Ruth 2:11, “Yes, I know,” Boaz replied. “But I also know about everything you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband. . . .” New Living Translation

When Mahlon died, Ruth’s dream of children died. But God gave her children in spite of her circumstances. When all hope is lost, is when God does his best work.

“But death is just a hook behind the door. Where I’ll leave my dirty clothes.” Perfector by My Epic

 

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Told

I don’t like taking Prednisone. In fact, I vowed I wouldn’t take it unless I absolutely had to. When my dad died, the doctor told me I had to take it because my emotions are reflected in the hives around my mouth. But that was 6 years ago. I’m doing so much better now.

When I opened my Bible, it fell open to this verse:

Judges 21:23, “So the men of Israel did as they were told.” New Living Translation

The men of Israel did not want to let the men of Benjamin marry their daughters. They vowed to never give their daughters to them. The men of Benjamin kidnapped their daughters; they wanted to take them back!

Their daughters moved to another tribe. It’s possible they never saw them again and they didn’t get to watch their grandchildren grow up. They didn’t like the consequences but they did as they were told.

************

The visitation for my father-in-law was a happy time. There was a lot more laughter than tears. It was full of hugs, smiles, family, friends, and good memories. I didn’t have a problem with hives. . .

. . . Until the next morning.

I woke up with red, burning hives from my nose to my chin. The closer we got to the funeral the worse they got! (I thought it was something I drank that had red dye in it, but when I checked the ingredients list later, that wasn’t it.)

I was grateful they left the keyboard in a side room and I was able to play and sing from there. I kept my head down. I was to read the memories written by his granddaughter; David had to do it. Instead of being a comfort, he had to cover for me.

I felt like the world’s worst wife. It was awkward. But awkward moments pass. They don’t kill you. And they don’t change you. I’m still David’s wife and he still loves me. But I wish I had paid attention to what God was trying to tell me and done as the doctor told me to do.

Dear Father God,

Thank You for loving me even when I don’t listen. I am grateful that You did not leave when I didn’t do what you wanted. Thank You for getting me through the awkward moments. 

In Jesus Name,

Amen

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