Christmas in February?

Father, thank You for the wake-up call, Your love for me is amazing! I am so undeserving but You love me anyway… I pray that I can love You back today. May my life reflect that love to You and to everyone that crosses my path. Amen.

Lord, of all things Christmas has been on my mind. I know we are only a couple of months out from the day we celebrate Your birth but… Now I’m not thinking about gifts, or decorations, or music or anything like that but what’s been occupying my mind is the fact that we don’t give You the praise You rightly deserve.

My birthday was last month and I received cards and well wishes from lots of people. I was given several nice gifts and more than one special meal. People expressed their love for me in many ways. I had a very nice birthday. But…what if on my birthday, I had been for the most part ignored? What if people had referred to me but not really spoken to me or wanted to spend time with me? What if gifts had been given but not to me but only to each other, with very little thought of me whatsoever? What if lavish meals had been prepared and extravagant parties had been thrown but I had been left off the guest list? Woohoo, Happy Birthday to me! Right? WRONG! That would have been absolutely, positively awful! The worst birthday ever!

But isn’t that what we do every year to You? I realize that many of us strive to give You the love You so rightly deserve, acknowledging Your birth but also Your life and the sacrifice You made for us in giving of Yourself for us – taking upon Yourself the iniquity of us all. Isaiah 53:6

Even with those acknowledgments, we fail You. We think of ourselves way more than we think of You. You deserve our love and adoration – our worship – not just at the time of Your birth but with every breath we take. It is all a gift from You.

And now, two months out, we continue to do the same thing. We thought of you some then but is it any better now? Lord, help me to praise You today by living my life for You. May I honor our relationship by loving others as You love me. May I give of myself to those around me as You gave of Yourself to me. Amen…

Feb. 24th, Fri, 5:18 am

Beauty in the Dreariness

This morning as I look out my office window, Father, I think of You as my great Creator God. Yes, it is towards the end of February in Ohio. The trees are barren except for the last of the beech tree leaves clinging brown to their branches. The grass is a green of sorts but with patches of earth tones (and earth as well) throughout. Clouds rule this day and waves of light rain continue to fall. It may seem lifeless and dreary from a human perspective but it is nothing of the sort!

Each tree is readying itself to burst forth with life. Even now many in our area are harvesting the running sap from sugar maples and syrup will soon be the result. Our warm “winter” has already caused daffodils and crocuses to begin to push through the earth. Our noses aren’t overly pleased but our healthy population of skunks has been scurrying about for a couple of weeks now. The rain continues to fill ponds that were beginning to get low. Aquifers are being rejuvenated.

Life is everywhere; it’s just a little less obvious. It is not dreary; it is vibrant! The world is just shrouded in its winter cloak biding its time until God calls it to shed its covering and amazingly come into view.

Lord, You have created a beautiful, intricately designed world! Each piece meshed perfectly with the others – each tree unique, each creature different in some way, even within a given species. “Everything is beautiful in its own way,” as Ray Stevens used to sing.

“But ask the animals, and they will teach you,
    or the birds in the sky, and they will tell you;
  or speak to the earth, and it will teach you,
    or let the fish in the sea inform you.
Which of all these does not know
    that the hand of the Lord has done this?
In his hand is the life of every creature
    and the breath of all mankind.” 
Job 12:7-10

May I see the world for what it is. It is now beautiful in its own way but it will soon shine forth in even more dazzling beauty. Each season has its offering, may I savor each for the bounty it has to offer. Amen!

Feb 22nd, Wed., 8:41 am

Big Enough

Father, I am grateful that You are a big enough God that I, and everyone else for that matter, can come to You anytime, anywhere, and you are there for us. You want us to come to You. You want us to ask questions. You want us to not be afraid to vent – You are big enough to handle our anger and frustrations. We can’t alienate you. We can’t turn You away. Because we are Your children – even for those who may be checking You out to see if You are the real deal – we can come to You at any time. Thank You, Father, for being more than big enough to handle it all.

And, Lord, that is what I feel compelled to do this morning. I read a passage, I’ve thought on it some but…it will wait. This morning we just need to talk. Lord, “Speak, your servant is listening.” 1 Samuel 3:10

Feb. 21st, Mon, 6:30 am

Stay Alert!

Father, another chance to come before you at a later time but today was a good day! Funerals are not necessarily the highlight of our days but Karen and I had the opportunity to take part in a service remembering the life of a wonderful lady from one of my congregations today. After we returned home we spent the afternoon going through things in the office. Thank you for a very nice day together. What a blessing!

1 Peter 5:8-9 (<<click here)

“Stay alert!” That is some of the best advice that we can adhere to! When Massey was growing up one of the things I pressed upon him was to be aware of the world around him. Too many people pay too little attention – in traffic, in stores, walking, you name it!

I remember one time at work. I, like many employees at Kohl’s, was moving at a pretty fast clip and as I was going past the greeting card section a woman, who wasn’t looking where she was going, stepped right out in front of me. I have pretty good brakes but there simply was no time this time to stop. So instead of bowling her over, I wrapped my arms around her. It was a little awkward but nobody got hurt. If we had been in cars the outcome would have been totally different! I pray that she doesn’t drive like she shops!

As Christians, Lord, we have to remain alert to the spiritual world around us! Our “great enemy, the devil…prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.” And if we not paying attention, that someone might very well be us! Truly the only way to “stand firm” and remain “firm in [our] faith” is to keep our eyes on You.

I am so grateful that we can trust in Your word found in Isaiah 40:28,

Have you never heard? Have you never understood? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of all the earth. He never grows weak or weary. No one can measure the depths of his understanding.

You, Lord, are always alert! You don’t get distracted. You don’t grow weary. We are weak but You are not. If it’s left up to us – and it’s not always intentional – but we have a great aptitude for not looking where we are going. Quite often, before we know it, we are smack dab in the middle of somewhere we never intended to be. And way too often the devil is ready to pounce and we are caught.

Lord, help me to “stay alert” by keeping my eyes on You. I am better off all the way around when I do so! Amen!

Feb 20th, Mon, 8:12 pm

Don’t Play the Fool

Good morning, Father. I am grateful that today is a new day. Yesterday is now behind me. I give this day and myself to You. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” Proverbs 3:6 KJV

1 Peter 5:7 (<<click here)

Lord, what a wonderful passage You have for me today. It is just what I need after yesterday! My study Bible’s* note on this verse is apropos.

“Carrying our worries, stresses, and daily struggles by yourself shows that you have not trusted God fully with your life. It takes humility, however, to recognize that God cares, to admit your need, and to let others in God’s family help you. Sometimes we think that struggles caused by our own sin and foolishness are not God’s concern. But when we turn to God in repentance, he will bear the weight even of those struggles. Letting God have Your anxieties calls for action, not passivity. Don’t submit to circumstances but to the Lord who controls circumstances.”

Lord, there are times – far too many times – when I am a fool…I seek Your forgiveness and ask for Your strength to move forward. So many times when I am down is when the devil pounces. Help me to keep my armor at the ready at all times. Ephesians 6:10-18

Lead me this day and every day, oh my Captain! Amen.

Feb. 17th, Fri, 6:37 am

Doing it right for once.