"Busy" is becoming the universal response to "How are you?" in today's fast-paced world. People seem to rate their worth and recognition on the relentless busyness of their schedules. Who has time for a contemplative thought when every moment is filled with activity? And who would ever consider the idea of rest?
The finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross makes it possible for you to enter his rest. There's no need to struggle, no need to fill your life with busywork. You can rest in Christ.
Does the state of the world discourage you? Are you tired of struggling with sin? There is hope. You will live in a kingdom of perfection - for all eternity. But even now you may taste that kingdom during times of spiritual communication with Jesus. When you experience and enjoy God, you taste the glory to come.
Times spent in prayer can be a taste of heaven. Sit quietly for a few minutes. Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal anything that is holding you back from knowing God and the measure of kingdom life that is possible here on earth. Allow Jesus to refresh you and give you strength. Thank him for your taste of heaven and that you will be with him eternally to know him even better.
"Ruth was as welcome in Bethlehem as a roach raiding the pantry. Naomi, Ruth's mother in law, had tried to dissuade Ruth from follwoing her, convinced that Ruth had a more promising future in Moab.
Ruth was aware of the initial resentment against her in Bethlehem, but she refused to accept rejection. Instead, she placed herself in the Lord's hands as she went out to glean in the fields of any "in whose eyes I find favor" (Ruth 2:2). By chance "she chose the fields of Boaz, a relative of Naomi's late husband, by Israelite law a kinsman-redeemer and one Israelite with a heart big enough to overlook he Moabite heritage.
When Ruth decided to give her life to the God of Israel, she also decided to trust his people. And God blessed her. He placed her with trustworthy people who had her best interest at heart - and who feared God.
What can we find in Ruth's character to emulate? Everything. We too can refuse to accept the rejection that the world uses to keep us from following hard after God. We have a kinsman-redeemer far greater than Boaz. The Lord Jesus Christ will advise, protect and provide for us for the rest of our lives. Count on it."
"I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see him with my own eyes-I,and not another. How my heart yearns within me!"
"A highway will be there; it will be called the Way of Holiness...Only the redeemed will walk there, and the ransomed of the Lord will return. They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads. Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away."
"Jesus is waiting for us. He wants to talk to us in our everyday activities - putting on make up, changing diapers, driving to work or taking a walk. He'll listen to all our questions and opinions and put up with our attitudes.
Then-when we stop our chatter for just a moment,-he'll reveal our deepest need-and meet it.
Some of us think that the Lord has so many important things to do that our problems can wait. The truth is, we don't need an appointment with Him. He is always available. Our faith blesses Him, and His foremost purpose for us until He returns is to make us His "pure, spotless bride." Don't hold back. Press in. He wants to make us clean and whole.
Meditations On Prayer
Jesus said, "I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it."
This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us-whatever we ask-we know that we have what we asked of Him.
I John 5:14-15
Whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.
Jesus said, "If two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them."
"And when you come before God, don't turn that into a theatrical production either. All these people making a regular show out of their prayers, hoping for stardom! Do you think God sits in a box seat?
Here's what I want you to do: Find a quiet, secluded place so you won't be tempted to role-play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense his grace.
The world is full of so-called prayer wariors who are prayer-ignorant. They're full of formulas and programs and advice, peddling techniques for getting what you want from God. Don't fall for that nonsense. This is your Father you are dealing with, and he knows better than you what you need. With a God like this loving you, you can pray very simply. Like this:
Our Father in heaven,
Reveal who you are.
Set the world right;
Do what's best-
as above, so below.
Keep us alive with three square meals.
Keep us forgiven with you and forgiving others.
Keep us safe from ourselves and the Devil.
You're in charge!
You can do anything you want!
You're ablaze in beauty!
In prayer there is a connection between what God does and what you do. You can't get forgiveness from God, for instance, without also forgiving others. If you refuse to do your part, you cut yourself off from God's part.
When you practice some appetite-denying discipline to better concentrate on God, don't make a production out of it. It might turn you into a small-time celebrity but it won't make you a saint. If you go into training inwardly, act normal outwardly. Shampoo and comb your hair, brush your teeth, wash your face.
God doesn't require attention-getting devices. He won't overlook what you are doing, He'll reward you well."
"Betrayal. It is ugly and has devastation as its constant companion. It produces shock, then questioning, anger, numbness and finally, deep excruciating pain. Betrayal causes such pain because it is the act of someone trusted and loved. Usually, the relationship between the betrayer and the betrayed is forever damaged because betrayal results in the loss of faith and trust.
Have you been betrayed? If so, you need to know that there is, indeed, someone who is faithful, someone you can always count on. Meet Jesus, who is also called "Faithful and True" (Rev. 19:11).
If you have been betrayed, you may feel that no one truly understands your pain. But Jesus does. He is betrayed by one of His closest friends.
If you are in that dark place of betrayal, you know that Jesus understands. You can share your pain, confusion and doubts with Him. His arms are open wide, waiting to embrace you and ease your pain."
When in sorrow, call JOHN 14
When men fail you, call PSALM 27
If you want to be fruitful, call JOHN 15
When you have sinned, call PSALM 51
When you worry, call MATTHEW 6:19-34
When you are in danger, call PSALM 91
When God seems far away, call PSALM 139
When your faith needs stirring, call HEBREWS 11
When you are lonely and fearful, call PSALM 23
When you grow bitter and critical, call 1 CORINTHIANS 13
For Paul's secret to happiness, call COLOSSIANS 3:12-17
When you feel down and out, call ROMANS 8:1-30
When you leave home for labor or travel, call PSALM 121
When your prayers grow narrow or selfish, call PSALM 67
For a great invention/opportunity, call ISAIAH 55
When you want courage for a task, call JOSHUA 1
How to get along with fellow men, call ROMANS 12
When you think of investments/returns, call MARK 10
If you are depressed, call PSALM 27
If your pocketbook is empty, call PSALM 37.
Of all the beautiful traditions of Christmas, few are so ancient in the meaning and so rich in symbolism as the Candy Cane.
From the beginning of the tradition of the Christmas tree, it was customary to decorate the tree with symbols of the newborn Christ. Candles represented the Light of the world, the star recalled that first Christmas night, and the shepherd's crook symbolized the humble shepherds in the fields near Bethlehem who were first to receive the news, "Unto you is born a Savior."
Christmas tree decorations in Europe, from which our tradition comes, were customarily made of food - principally cookies and candy. This symbolically expresses thanks for "our daily bread" as well as providing a Christmas treat for the children. Thus, the shepherd's crook became the candy cane.
As time went on, many ornaments took on a more permanent nature, but the candy cane retains the original use and meaning of Christmas tree ornaments.
Candy canes on the Christmas tree symbolize the Shepherds in the field on that Christmas night - shepherds who heard the angel chorus and came to worship at the crib of the newborn King. They are also a sign of our thanks to God for the food He has given us all during the year, and, not least of all, they are an inexpensive and delightful Christmas treat for the family.
The old man sat in his gas station on a cold Christmas Eve. He hadn't been anywhere in years since his wife had passed away. It was just another day to him. He didn't hate Christmas, just couldn't find a reason to celebrate. He was sitting there looking at the snow that had been falling for the last hour and wondering what it was all about when the door opened and a homeless man stepped through.
Instead of throwing the man out, Old George as he was known by his customers, told the man to come and sit by the heater and warm up. "Thank you, but I don't mean to intrude," said the stranger. "I see you're busy, I'll just go." "Not without something hot in your belly." George said.
He turned and opened a wide mouth Thermos and handed it to the stranger. "It ain't much, but it's hot and tasty, "Stew ... made it myself. When you're done, there's coffee and it's fresh."
Just at that moment he heard the "ding" of the driveway bell. "Excuse me, be right back," George said. There in the driveway was an old '53 Chevy. Steam was rolling out of the front. The driver was panicked. "Mister can you help me!" said the driver, with a deep Spanish accent. "My wife is with child and my car is broken."
George opened the hood. It was bad. The block looked cracked from the cold, the car was dead. "You ain't going in this thing," George said as he turned away.
"But Mister, please help ..." The door of the office closed behind George as he went inside. He went to the office wall and got the keys to his old truck, and went back outside. He walked around the building, opened the garage, started the truck and drove it around to where the couple was waiting. "Here, take my truck," he said. "She ain't the best thing you ever looked at, but she runs real good."
George helped put the woman in the truck and watched as it sped off into the night. He turned and walked back inside the office. "Glad I gave 'em the truck, their tires were shot too. That 'ol truck has brand new ........" George thought he was talking to the stranger, but the man had gone. The Thermos was on the desk, empty, with a used coffee cup beside it. "Well, at least he got something in his belly," George thought.
George went back outside to see if the old Chevy would start. It cranked slowly, but it started. He pulled it into the garage where the truck had been. He thought he would tinker with it for something to do. Christmas Eve meant no customers. He discovered that the block hadn't cracked, it was just the bottom hose on the radiator. "Well, shoot, I can fix this," he said to himself. So he put a new one on.
"Those tires ain't gonna get 'em through the winter either." He took the snow treads off of his wife's old Lincoln . They were like new and he wasn't going to drive the car anyway.
As he was working, he heard shots being fired. He ran outside and beside a police car an officer lay on the cold ground. Bleeding from the left shoulder, the officer moaned, "Please help me."
George helped the officer inside as he remembered the training he had received in the Army as a medic. He knew the wound needed attention. "Pressure to stop the bleeding," he thought. The uniform company had been there that morning and had left clean shop towels. He used those and duct tape to bind the wound. "Hey, they say duct tape can fix anythin'," he said, trying to make the policeman feel at ease.
"Something for pain," George thought. All he had were the pills he used for his back. "These ought to work." He put some water in a cup and gave the policeman the pills. "You hang in there, I'm going to get you an ambulance."
The phone was dead. "Maybe I can get one of your buddies on that there talk box out in your car." He went out only to find that a bullet had gone into the dashboard destroying the two way radio.
He went back in to find the policeman sitting up. "Thanks," said the officer. "You could have left me there. The guy that shot me is still in the area."
George sat down beside him, "I would never leave an injured man in the Army and I ain't gonna leave you." George pulled back the bandage to check for bleeding. "Looks worse than what it is. Bullet passed right through 'ya. Good thing it missed the important stuff though. I think with time your gonna be right as rain."
George got up and poured a cup of coffee. "How do you take it?" he asked. "None for me," said the officer. "Oh, yer gonna drink this. Best in the city. Too bad I ain't got no donuts." The officer laughed and winced at the same time.
The front door of the office flew open. In burst a young man with a gun. "Give me all your cash! Do it now!" the young man yelled. His hand was shaking and George could tell that he had never done anything like this before.
"That's the guy that shot me!" exclaimed the officer.
"Son, why are you doing this?" asked George, "You need to put the cannon away. Somebody else might get hurt."
The young man was confused. "Shut up old man, or I'll shoot you, too. Now give me the cash!"
The cop was reaching for his gun. "Put that thing away," George said to the cop, "we got one too many in here now."
He turned his attention to the young man. "Son, it's Christmas Eve. If you need money, well then, here. It ain't much but it's all I got. Now put that pee shooter away."
George pulled $150 out of his pocket and handed it to the young man, reaching for the barrel of the gun at the same time. The young man released his grip on the gun, fell to his knees and began to cry. "I'm not very good at this am I? All I wanted was to buy something for my wife and son," he went on. "I've lost my job, my rent is due, my car got repossessed last week ..."
George handed the gun to the cop. Son, we all get in a bit of squeeze now and then. The road gets hard sometimes, but we make it through the best we can."
He got the young man to his feet, and sat him down on a chair across from the cop. "Sometimes we do stupid things." George handed the young man a cup of coffee. "Bein' stupid is one of the things that makes us human. Comin' in here with a gun ain't the answer. Now sit there and get warm and we'll sort this thing out."
The young man had stopped crying. He looked over to the cop. "Sorry I shot you. It just went off. I'm sorry officer."
"Shut up and drink your coffee." the cop said.
George could hear the sounds of sirens outside. A police car and an ambulance skidded to a halt. Two cops came through the door, guns drawn. "Chuck! You ok?" one of the cops asked the wounded officer.
"Not bad for a guy who took a bullet. How did you find me?"
"GPS locator in the car. Best thing since sliced bread. Who did this?" the other cop asked as he approached the young man.
Chuck answered him, "I don't know. The guy ran off into the dark. Just dropped his gun and ran."
George and the young man both looked puzzled at each other.
"That guy work here?," the wounded cop continued. "Yep," George said, "just hired him this morning. Boy lost his job."
The paramedics came in and loaded Chuck onto the stretcher. The young man leaned over the wounded cop and whispered, "Why?"
Chuck just said, "Merry Christmas boy ... and you too, George, and thanks for everything."
"Well, looks like you got one doozy of a break there. That ought to solve some of your problems."
George went into the back room and came out with a box. He pulled out a ring box. "Here you go, something for the little woman. I don't think Martha would mind. She said it would come in handy some day."
The young man looked inside to see the biggest diamond ring he ever saw. "I can't take this," said the young man. "It means something to you."
"And now it means something to you," replied George. "I got my memories. That's all I need."
George reached into the box again. An airplane, a car and a truck appeared next. They were toys that the oil company had left for him to sell. "Here's something for that little man of yours."
The young man began to cry again as he handed back the $150 that the old man had handed him earlier.
"And what are you supposed to buy Christmas dinner with? You keep that too," George said, "Now git home to your family."
The young man turned with tears streaming down his face. "I'll be here in the morning for work, if that job offer is still good."
"Nope. I'm closed Christmas day," George said. "See ya the day after."
George turned around to find that the stranger had returned. "Where'd you come from? I thought you left?"
"I have been here. I have always been here," said the stranger. "You say you don't celebrate Christmas. Why?"
"Well, after my wife passed away, I just couldn't see what all the bother was. Puttin' up a tree and all seemed a waste of a good pine tree. Bakin' cookies like I used to with Martha just wasn't the same by myself and besides I was gettin' a little chubby."
The stranger put his hand on George's shoulder. "But you do celebrate the holiday, George. You gave me food and drink and warmed me when I was cold and hungry.
The woman with child will bear a son and he will become a great doctor.
The policeman you helped will go on to save 19 people from being killed by terrorists. The young man who tried to rob you will make you a rich man and not take any for himself. "That is the spirit of the season and you keep it as good as any man."
George was taken aback by all this stranger had said. "And how do you know all this?" asked the old man.
"Trust me, George. I have the inside track on this sort of thing. And when your days are done you will be with Martha again."
The stranger moved toward the door. "If you will excuse me, George, I have to go now. I have to go home where there is a big celebration planned."
George watched as the old leather jacket and the torn pants that the stranger was wearing turned into a white robe. A golden light began to fill the room.
"You see, George ... it's My birthday. Merry Christmas."
George fell to his knees and replied, "Happy Birthday, Lord."