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December 2009 Archives

Printable Issue 1707  Today is Tuesday, December 1st, 2009; Karen's Korner #1707
A daily devotional email from Joel and Victoria Osteen to begin our day:
 

He Still Opens Doors

“I know all the things you do, and I have opened a door for you that no one can close” (Revelation 3:8, NLT).

 

God is ready to present you with new opportunities. He wants to open new doors before you. It doesn’t matter what’s happening in the world around you, in the economy, the housing industry, or with job reports; God’s Word still remains true. He rewards the people who seek after Him. He’s not the least bit concerned about how He’s going to supply your needs. There is no recession in heaven. He has His eye on you, and He still opens doors that no one can shut! In an instant, He can bring the right people into your life, the right opportunities, and the right resources to take you to a new level.

But in order to go to a higher level, you have to have a higher way of thinking. You can’t stay focused on what’s happening in the natural nor allow worry and fear to fill your thoughts. Remember, God’s ways are higher than our ways. He is working on your behalf behind the scenes in the supernatural realm. Choose to keep an attitude of faith and expectancy. As you do, you’ll move forward through the open doors of blessing God has prepared for you.

 

Father in heaven, I bless Your holy name. Thank You for opening doors for me that no one can close. Fill me with Your peace and joy today as I wait on You. In Jesus’ Name Amen.

Printable Issue 1708  Today is Wednesday, December 2nd, 2009; Karen's Korner #1708
Today's 'korner' is taken from one of 365-Greek word studies, published in a book titled "Sparkling Gems" by Rick Renner. We used the writing in our Sunday School class on Sunday  Often we have to be reminded who we are and what we possess (given here in part):
 

Royal Ambassadors for Christ

 

“Now then we are ambassadors for Christ….”

2 Corinthians 5:20

 

Did you know that you have a high-ranking, esteemed, celebrated, impressive, and influential job in the Kingdom of God? It’s true! You are so important to the Kingdome of God that all of Heaven is standing behind you, just waiting to back you up, defend you, provide for you, help and assist you, and join forces with your actions of faith! In short, Heaven is just waiting to act on your behalf! Why? Because you are an ambassador for Christ to the whole world!

 

The word ‘ambassador’ comes from the Greek work presbeuo. It describes an ambassador or one who fulfills the duties of an ambassador. How wonderful that Paul would use this word to describe you and me!

 

In New Testament times and in today’s world, the word ‘ambassador’ has the same meaning. An ‘ambassador’ can be defined as:

·        an envoy sent to represent a nation to a foreign land;

·        a diplomatic agent of the highest rank accredited to a foreign government or king;

·        a representative temporarily sent to a foreign country to represent the king or country that sent him;

·        an authorized messenger who has the power to make decisions and to represent the will of the government, nation, or king he represents;

·        an official representative who is authorized to speak on behalf of his sender.

 

According to Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 5:20, we are heavenly delegates—‘ambassadors’ who have been sent forth as Heaven’s representatives to planet earth! As ambassadors for Christ, we are the voice of Heaven. As His representatives, we are authorized to speak and act on behalf of the Lord. And as Heaven’s ambassadors, we are fully backed, fully funded, fully defended, and fully assisted by the authority and resources of Heaven!

 

Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 5:20 therefore mean:

 

“We are sent forth and temporarily stationed here as the fully authorized representatives of Jesus Christ! As His ambassadors, we are here to be His voice and His will—a true representation of who He really is. As His official representatives sent here to do His business, we are fully backed up by all the power and resources of Heaven……”

 

Don’t ever think that you are unimportant to the plan of God. You are an ambassador. You represent Jesus Christ to your family, to your place of employment, and to your neighborhood. You have been invested with royal powers, including the name of Jesus and the authority of His blood, and you may call upon Heaven to assist you at any given moment! All angelic powers and all the vast resources stored in the treasury of Heaven are available for your use when you are representing Heaven to this world!

 

As your day gets started, stop for a moment and think about who you really are in Jesus Christ. You are a royal ambassador for the King of Kings Himself?

 

Lord, I thank You for the tremendous privilege of representing You on the this earth! Please forgive me for the times I have overlooked the honor of being a child of God. I am sorry for the moments when I’ve been negative about myself, talked badly about myself, and did not acknowledge who You have made me to be in Jesus Christ. Today I am asking the Holy Spirit to help me see and truly perceive that You have made me to be an ambassador in this world! I pray this in Jesus’ Name!

 

MY CONFESSION FOR TODAY:

 

I confess that I am important to the plan of God. I am an ambassador! I represent Jesus Christ to my family, to my place of employment, and to my neighborhood. I have been invested with royal powers, including the name of Jesus and the authority of the blood, and I may call upon Heaven to assist me at any given moment! All angelic powers and all the vast resources stored in the treasury of Heaven are available for my use when I am representing Jesus to the world!

 

I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!

 

~~

Printable Issue 1709  Today is Thursday, December 3rd, 2009; Karen's Korner #1709
Something shared by Shirley Choat, at Christmas time:
 
"When the righteous cry for help, the LORD hears, and rescures them from all their troubles. The LORD is near to the brokenhearted, and saves the crushed in spirit. Psalm 34:17-18
 
      Preparing for Christmas is a happy time, but what if we're feeling a little sad at this time of year? What if we're missing someone who is not with us, does that mean there is something wrong with our faith? Not at all. No holiday stirs up more feelings, memories, and emotions than Christmas, and many of our strongest feelings have to do with loved ones in our family and among our friends. Memories and emotions remind us of what is important, and sometimes we are reminded that we are missing someone we love very much.
     God draws near to us in our sadness, the Scripture says. Just as we turn to God in gratitude when we are happy, so can we turn to God in our sadness. We can rely on God's presence within us to provide the strength and consolation we need.
     Such brokenness attracts God. If you think yourself in the dark and deserted, it is not so. God is there; call on Him. Even a whisper will bring a response, especailly if it comes from a broken heart.
 
**
 
God wants to bind the broken heart
And wipe each teardrop dry;
He'll calm and soothe the troubled soul
Who looks to God on high.
 
**
 
THOUGHT FOR THE DAY:
'Broken things can become blessed things if you let Christ do the mending.'
 
**
Printable Issue 1710  Today is Friday, December 4th, 2009; Karen's Korner #1710
Mary's Prayer
 
    God. O infant-God. Heaven's fairest child. Conceived by the union of divine grace with our disgrace. Sleep well.
 
    Sleep well. Bask in the coolness of this night bright with diamonds. Sleep well, for the heat of anger simmers nearby. Enjoy the silence of the crib, for the noise of confusion rumbles in your future. Savor the sweet safety of my arms, for a day is soon coming when I cannot protect you.
 
    Rest well, tiny hands. For though you belong to a king, you will touch no satin, own no gold. You will grasp no pen, guide no brush. No, your tiny hands are reserved for works more precious:
 
    to touch a leper's wound,
    to wipe a widow's weary tear,
    to claw the ground of Gethsemane.
 
    Your hand, so tiny, so tender, so white---clutched tonight in an infant's fist. They aren't destined to hold a scepter nor wave from a palace balcony. They are reserved instead for a Roman spike what will staple them to a Roman cross.
 
    Sleep deeply, tiny eyes. Sleep while you can. For soon the blurriness will clear and you will see the mess we have made of your world.
 
You will see our nakedness, for we cannot hide.
You will see our selfishness, for we cannot give.
You will see our pain, for we cannot heal.
 
    O eyes that will see hell's darkest pit and witness her ugly prince...sleep, please sleep; sleep while you can.
 
Lay still, tiny mouth. Lay still mouth from which eternity will speak.
Tiny tongue that will soon summon the dead.,
that will define grace,
that will silence our foolishness.
 
    Rosebud lips--upon which ride a starborn kiss of forgiveness to those who believe you, and of death to those who deny you---lay still.
 
    And tiny feet cupped in the palm of my hand, rest. For many difficult steps lie ahead of you....
 
    Do you feel the cold sea water upon which you will walk?
 
    Do you wrench at the invasion of the nail you will bear?
 
    Do you fear the steep descent down the spiral staircase into Satan's domain?
 
    Rest, tiny feet. Rest today so that tomorrow you might walk with power. Rest. For millions will follow your steps.
 
    And little heart...holy heart...pumping the blood of life through the universe:  How many times will we break you?
 
    You'll be torn by the thorns of our accusations.
 
    You'll be ravaged by the cancer of our sin.
 
    You'll be crushed under the weight of your own sorrow.
 
    And you'll be pierced by the spear of our rejection.
 
    Yet in that piercing, in that ultimate ripping of muscle and membrane, in that final rush of blood and water, you will find rest. Your hands will be freed, your eyes will see justice, your lips will smile, and your feet will carry you home.
 
    And there you'll rest again---this time in the embrace of your Father.
 
GOD CAME NEAR
~ Max Lucado
 
**
Printable Issue 1711  Today is Monday, December 7th, 2009; Karen's Korner #1711
 
I received this email from Bev Kester, forwarded to her from Jill Ford. I must be in the Christmas Spirit, as this one said a lot to me:
 
Fictional Christmas Letter from Jesus:

Dear Children,

It has come to my attention that many of you are upset that folks are taking My name ouf of the season. Maybe you've forgotten that I wasn't actually born during this time of the year and that it was some of your predecessors who decided to celebrate My birthday on what was actually time of a pagan festival....although I do appreciate being remembered anytime.

How I personally feel about this celebration can probably be most easily understood by those of you who have been blessed with children of your own. I don't care what you call the day. If you want to celebrate My birth, just GET ALONG WITH ONE ANOTHER.

Now, having said that let Me go on. If it bothers you that the town in which you live doesn't allow a scene depicting My birth, then just get rid of a couple of Santas and snowmen, put in a small Nativity scene on your own front lawn. If all My followers did that, there wouldn't be any need for such a scene on the town square because there would be many of them all around town.

Stop worrying about the fact that people are calling the tree a holiday tree, instead of a Christmas tree. It was I who made all of the trees. You can remember Me anytime you see any tree. Decorate a grape vine if you wish:  I actually spoke of that in a teaching, explaining who I am in relaton to you and what each of our tasks were. If you have fogotten that one, look up John 15:1 - 8.

If you want to give Me a present in remembrance of My birth, here is my wish list. Choose something from it:

1. Instead of writing protest letters objecting to the way My birthday is being celebrated, write letters of love and hope to soldiers away from home. They are terribly afraid and lonely this time of year. I know, they tell Me all the time.

2. Visit someone in a nursing home. Not just during Christmas time but all through the year. You don't have to know them personally. They just need to know that someone cares about them.

3. Instead of writing the president complaining abou the wording on the cards his staff sends out this year, why don't you write and tell him that you'll be praying for him and his family? Then follow up. It will be nice hearing from you again.

4. Instead of giving your children a lot of gifts you can't afford and they don't need, spend time with them. Tell them the story of My birth and why I came to live with you down here. Hold them in your arms and remind them that I love them.

5. Pick someone who has hurt you in the past and forgive him or her.

6. Did you know that someone in your town will attempt to take their own life this season because they feel so alone and hopeless? Since you don't know who that person is, try giving everyone you meet a warm smile; it could make the difference.

7. Instead of nit picking about what the retailer in your town calls the holiday, be patient with the people who work there. Give them a warm smile and a kind word. Even if they aren't allowed to wish you a "Merry Christmas" that doesn't keep you from wishing them one. Then stop shopping there on Sunday. If the store didn't make so much money on that day, they'd close and let their employees spend the day at home with their families.

8. If you really want to make a difference, support a missionary--especially one who takes My love and Good News to those who have never heard My name.

9. Here's a good one. There are individuals and whole families in your town who not only will have no "Christmas" tree, but neither will they have any presents to give or receive. If you don't know them, buy some food and a few gifts and give them to the Salvation Army or some other charity which believes in Me and they will make the delivery for you.

10. Finally, if you want to make a statement about your belief in, and loyalty to Me, then behave like a Christian. Don't do things in secret that you wouldn't do in My presence. Let people know by your actions and words that you are one of Mine.

Don't forget; I am God and I can take care of Myself. Just love Me and do what I have told you to do. I'll take care of all the rest. Check out the list above and get to work; time is short. I'll help you, but the ball is now in your court. And do have a most blessed Christmas with all those whom you love. And remember:

I love you,

JESUS

Printable Issue 1712  Today is Tuesday, December 8th, 2009; Karen's Korner #1712
It must be the time of the year; I am getting some nice forwards from people. This one comes from Sherri O'Brien via her daughter Molli:
 

"How does one become a butterfly?  You must want to fly so much that you are
willing to give up being a caterpillar"
 --Trina Paulus.



A man found a cocoon of a butterfly. One day a small opening
appeared. He sat and watched the butterfly for several hours as it
struggled to force its body through that little hole. Then it seemed to stop
making any progress. It appeared as if it had gotten as far as it could, and
it could go no further.

So to help the butterfly he took a pair of scissors and snipped off the
remaining bit of the cocoon. The butterfly then emerged easily. But it had a
swollen body and small, shriveled wings. The man continued to watch the
butterfly because he expected that, at any moment, the wings would enlarge
and expand to be able to support the body, which would contract in time.

Neither happened! In fact, the butterfly spent the rest of its life crawling
around with a swollen body and shriveled wings.

It never was able to fly.

What the man, in his kindness and haste, did not understand was that the
restricting cocoon and the struggle required for the butterfly to get
through the tiny opening were God's way of forcing fluid from the body of
the butterfly into its wings so that it would be ready for flight once it
achieved its freedom from the cocoon. Sometime struggles are exactly what we
need in our lives. If God allowed us to go through our lives without any
obstacles, it would cripple us. We would not be as strong as what we could
have been. We could never fly!

Remember...what we struggle with makes us strong!
 
**
Printable Issue 1713  Today is Wednesday, December 9th, 2009; Karen's Korner #1713
Most of us have heard the song "Christmas Bells", but did we know the words were written by American author Henry Wadsworth Longfellow? Or did we know that he penned them as he sat at the bedside of his young son who was wounded while fighting in the Civil War.
 
Read the lyrics and sense what a dad must have been feeling as he sat and waited:
 
Christmas Bells
by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along
The unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Till, ringing, singing on its way
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime,
A chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Then from each black, accursed mouth
The cannon thundered in the South,
And with the sound
The Carols drowned
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And in despair I bowed my head;
‘There is no peace on earth,’ I said;
‘For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!’

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
‘God is not dead; nor doth he sleep!
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men!’

***

Printable Issue 1714  Today is Thursday, December 10th, 2009; Karen's Korner #1714
Several entries from the small book "Little Whispers of Inspiration for Friends":
 
**
 
"I always felt that the great high privilege,
relief, and comfort of friendship
was that one had to explain nothing."
~ Katherine Mansfield
 
**
 
"The better part of one's life
consists of his friendships."
~ Abraham Lincoln
 
**
 
"If one falls down,
his friend can help him up.
But pity the man who falls
and has no one to help him up!"
~ Ecclesiastes 4:10 NIV
 
**
 
"Always forgive your friends,
because we all make mistakes."
~ Unknown
 
**
 
"When a friend is in trouble,
don't annoy him by asking if there is anything you can do.
Think up something appropriate
and do it."
~ Edgar Watson Howe
 
**
 
"Friends are relatives
you make for yourself."
~ Eustache Deschamps
 
**
 
"Greater love has no one than this,
that he lay down his life for his friends."
~ John 15:13 NIV
 
**

"Truly great friends are hard to find,
difficult to leave,
and impossible to forget."
~ Unknown
 
**
 
"I thank my God every time
I remember you."
~ Philippians 1:3 NIV
 
**
 
"Every gift from a friend is
a wish for your happiness."
~ Richard Bach
 
**
Printable Issue 1715  Today is Friday, December 11th, 2009; Karen's Korner #1715
What a time of the year! I am receiving emails from people about Christmas; many times with the note, "This could make a good Karen's Korner."
 
This one was forwarded to me by Florine Swanson:

The Christian Origin of the Twelve Days of Christmas

On the 1st day of Christmas my true love gave to me... A Partridge in a Pear Tree. 

The partridge in a pear tree is Jesus Christ, the Son of God, whose birthday we celebrate on the first day of Christmas. The tree itself represents the cross on which Jesus died.

On the 2nd day of Christmas my true love gave to me... Two Turtle Doves. 

The Old and New Testaments, which together bear witness to God's self-revelation in history and the creation of a people to tell the Story of God to the world.

On the 3rd day of Christmas my true love gave to me... Three French Hens. 

The three Theological Virtues: 1) Faith, 2) Hope, 3) Love (1 Corinthians 13:13).

On the 4th day of Christmas my true love gave to me... Four Calling Birds. 

The four Gospel evangelists: 1) Matthew, 2) Mark, 3) Luke, 4) John.

On the 5th day of Christmas my true love gave to me... Five Gold Rings.

The first five books of the Old Testament, known as the Pentateuch:1) Genesis, 2) Exodus, 3) Leviticus, 4) Numbers, 5) Deuteronomy, which gives the history of humanity's sinful failure and God's response of grace in the creation of a people to be a light to the world.

On the 6th day of Christmas my true love gave to me... Six Geese A-laying. 

The six days of creation that reveal God as Creator and Sustainer of the world. (Genesis 1)

On the 7th day of Christmas my true love gave to me... Seven Swans A-swimming. 

The seven gifts of the Holy Spirit: 1) Piety, 2) Fortitude, 3) Knowledge, 4) Understanding, 5) Counsel, 6) Wisdom 7) Fear of the Lord.

On the 8th day of Christmas my true love gave to me... Eight Maids A-milking.  

The eight Beatitudes: 1) Blessed are the poor in spirit, 2) those who mourn, 3) the meek, 4) those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, 5) the merciful, 6) the pure in heart, 7) the peacemakers, 8) those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake.

On the 9th day of Christmas my true love gave to me... Nine Ladies Dancing.  

The nine Fruits of the Holy Spirit: 1) Love, 2) Joy, 3) Peace, 4) Patience, 5) Kindness, 6) Generosity, 7) Faithfulness, 8) Gentleness, 9) Self-control (Galatians 5:22-23)

On the 10th day of Christmas my true love gave to me... Ten Lords A-leaping.  

The Ten Commandments: 1) You shall have no other gods before me; 2) Do not make an idol; 3) Do not take God's name in vain; 4) Remember the Sabbath Day; 5) Honor your father and mother; 6) Do not murder; 7) Do not commit adultery; 8) Do not steal; 9) Do not bear false witness; 10) Do not covet.

On the 11th day of Christmas my true love gave to me... Eleven Pipers Piping.  

The eleven faithful Apostles: 1) Simon Peter, 2) Andrew, 3) James the Greater, 4) John, 5) Philip, 6) Bartholomew, 7) Matthew, 8) Thomas, 9) James the Less, 10) Simon, 11) Jude (Luke 6:14-16) The list does not include the twelfth disciple, Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Jesus to the Romans.

On the 12th day of Christmas my true love gave to me... Twelve Drummers Drumming. 

The twelve points of doctrine in the Apostle's Creed: 1) I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth. 2) I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord. 3) He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary. 4) He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended into hell [the grave]. 5) On the third day he rose again. He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. 6) He will come again to judge the living and the dead. 7) I believe in the Holy Spirit, 8) the holy Catholic Church, 9) the communion of saints, 10) the forgiveness of sins, 11) the resurrection of the body, 12) and life everlasting.

© St. Paul’s Monastery 2009

***

Printable Issue 1716  Today is Monday, December 14th, 2009; Karen's Korner #1716
 
GOD IS FULLY PRESENT
 
"The Lord is near to all who call upon
Him, to all who call upon Him in truth."
~ PSALM 145:18
 
On Christmas Eve, 1968, Frank Borman, James Lovell, and William Anders, while orbiting the moom in Apollo 8, were so aware of he Presence of God in space that they publicly read the first ten verses of Genesis to the listening world thousands of miles away. When James B. Irwin, an astronaut with Apollo 15, actually walked on the surface of the moon, he said he looked out into the inky blackness, saw our planet looking like a blue marble suspended in space, and was overwhelmed with the conscious awareness that God was present on the surface of the moon! And God was! And God is! He is not bound by space.
 
Whom are you praying for who is separated from you? A child? A spouse? What comforting encouragement to know that God is not only fully present with you but also with those from whom you are separated.
 
~ Anne Graham Lotz
God's Story
Printable Issue 1717  Today is Tuesday, December 15th, 2009; Karen's Korner #1717
A Christmas thought by Billy Graham, taken from "Hope for Each Day":
 
The Night of Light
 
"I am the light of the world.
He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness."
~ John 8:12
 
"This month the birthday of Jesus Christ will be celebrated all over the world. It will be celebrated in various ways all over the world. It will be celebrated in various ways, in many languages, by people of all races. For a few hours many in the world will stop talking satellites, rockets, and war. For a few hours they will talk of peace on earth and good will toward men. People will exchange gifts and talk about the Prince of Peace.
 
"Imagine the scene in Bethlehem two thousand years ago. It was the night of nights, and yet it had begun as every other night had before it.
 
"But it was to become the greatest, most significant night of history. This was the night that would conquer darkness and bring in the day when there would be no more night. This was the night when those who sat in darkness would see a great light. This was the night God brought into the world the One who is 'the light of the world'.
 
May His light shine in your life this Christmas season!"
 
***
Printable Issue 1718  Today is Wednesday, December 16th, 2009; Karen's Korner #1718
I have never received so many Christmas emails, short thoughts, booklets and books about Christmas. And they are too good not to share!
 
The Strength of God's Love
 
"God shows His great love for us in the way
Christ died for us while we were still sinners."
 
~Romans 5:8 NIV
 
 
"'Can anything make me stop loving you?' God asks. 'Watch me speak your language, sleep on your earth, and feel your hurts. Behold the maker of sight and sound as he sneezes, coughs, and blows his nose. You wonder if I understand how you feel? Look into the dancing eyes of the kid in Nazareth; that's God walking to school. Ponder the toddler at Mary's table; that's God spilling his milk.
 
"'You wonder how long my love will last? Find your answer on a splintered cross, on a craggy hill. That's me you see up there, your maker, your God, nail-stabbed and bleefing. Covered in spit and sin-soaked.
 
"'That's your sin I'm feeling. That's your death I'm dying. That's your resurrection I'm living. That's how much I love you.'"
 
Max Lucado
~In The Grip of Grace
 
***
Printable Issue 1719  Today is Thursday, December 17th, 2009; Karen's Korner #1719

Some good words by Joel and Victoria Osteen:
 

Speak Life

"The tongue has the power of life and death…"
(Proverbs 18:21, NIV)

"God has given every person incredible power through the use of our words. Maybe you aren't where you want to be in life today, but could it be because of the words you've spoken in the past? Have you spoken words of death by saying things like, 'I'll never rise any higher; I've gone as far as I can go'? Or maybe you've said, 'I'll never break this addiction. I've had it too long. It's too hard.' And now you are eating the fruit of your words. You're still in the same place.

"If you are ready to change your situation, then it's time to change what you say about your situation. If you want a different harvest in your life, you have to change the seeds you are sowing. It's time to speak life over your future. Our attitude should be, 'This may be the way it's been in the past, but this is not the way it's staying. I'm coming up higher. I may feel weak, but my declaration is that I am strong.'

"Remember, when you sow words of life, you will reap life and move forward into the victory the Lord has in store for you."

Father in heaven, I repent for speaking words of death and sowing defeat in my own life. I ask that You uproot any negative crop from the past and help me speak words of faith so that I can walk in victory in every area of my life. In Jesus' Name.  Amen.

Printable Issue 1720  Today is Friday, December 18th, 2009; Karen's Korner #1720
Do you ever why someone from a well-known family commits suicide? A wealthy person loses their fortune? Someone who 'has it all' risks it all with an illicit affair? We watch and we wonder, "Why?"
 
Something written by Eugene H. Peterson and taken from "A Long Obedience":
 
THE ABUNDANCE OF GOD
 
"The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, and peace...."
Galatians 5:22 RSV
 
"We come to God....because none of us have it within ourselves, except momentarily, to be joyous......
 
"We try to get it through entertainment. We pay someone to make jokes....sing songs.....but that kiind of joy never penetrates our lives, never changes our basic constitution. The effects are extremely temporary.....
 
"We cannot mke ourselves joyful. Joy cannot be commanded, purchased, or arranged. But there is something we can do. We can decide to live in response to the abundance of God and not under the dictatorship of our own poor needs."
Printable Issue 1721  Today is Monday, December 21st, 2009; Karen's Korner #1721
Perfect Peace
 
"During the First World War, on Christmas Eve, the battlefield was strangely quiet. As the soft snow fell, the thoughts of the young men were of home and their families.
 
"Softly one lad began to hum 'Silent Night'. Others took up the chorus until the trenches resounded with the Christmas song. When they finished they were astonished to hear the song echoing from the trenches across no-man's land:  In their own tongue the other soldiers also sand 'Silent Night.' That night they were thinking of the Prince of Peace, the Christ of Christmas.
 
"How different this world would be if we could unite together around that 'Holy Infant so tender and mild.' Earth can be as Heaven with Christ. Discord can be as peace when Christ is near. Midnight gloom can be transformed into noonday brightness when He abides with us.
 
"Full peace will come only when Christ returns. But until that day we can know His peace in our hearts and can be mesengers of His peace in the world, as we commit our lives to Him."
 
Billy Graham
~Hope for Each Day
Printable Issue 1722  Today is Tuesday, December 22nd, 2009; Karen's Korner #1722
...and another Billy Graham Christmas thought, from "Hope for Each Day":
 
GOD WITH US
 
"Behold, the virgin shall conceive
and bear a Son,
and shall call His name Immanuel."
~ Isaiah 7:14
 
"I never come to Christmas without thinking of the thousands of people who are lonely and troubled at this time of year. I have had psychiatrists tell me their schedules are overloaded with people who find the Christmas season almost more than they can bear because of their loneliness and isolation.
 
"Christmas is God's reminder that we are not alone. God revealed in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus a reconciling love that rescues us from separation and loneliness. We are not alone; God has come down from Heaven to tell us He loves us!
 
"At this Christmas season you can be assured that Jesus Christ is here. He is here to give us hope, to forgive our sins, to give us a new song, to impart faith, and to heal our spiritual wounds if only we will let Him.
 
"The Christmas message has not changed after two thousand years. Christmas still reminds us that God is with us. If you are lonely this Christmas, welcome Christ into your life. Then ask Him to help you reach out to someone else who is lonely, and show that person His love."
Printable Issue 1723  Today is Wednesday, December 23rd, 2009; Karen's Korner #1723
"So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. 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 room for them in the inn."
~ Luke 2:4-7 NIV
 
**
Bible Commentary (in part):  "Stables were often caves with feeding troughs (mangers) carved into the rock walls; surroundings were dark and dirty.This was not the atmosphere the Jews expected as the birthplace of the Messiah King. They thought their promised Messiah would be born in royal surroundings. We should not limit our expectations. He is at work wherever he is need in our sin-darkened and dirty world.
 
"Although our first impression of Jesus is a baby in a manger, it must not be our last. The Christ child in the manger makes a beautiful Christmas scene, but we cannot leave him there. This tiny, helpless baby lived an amazing life, died for us, ascended to heaven, and will come back to this earth as King of kings. He will rule the world and judge all people according to their decisions about Him.
 
"Do you still picture Jesus as a baby in a manger--or is he your Lord? Make sure you don't underestimate Jesus let Him grow in your life."
 
***
 
Dear Father in Heaven, there was no room for you in the inn that first Christmas. Forgive us when we don't make room for You in the 'inn of hearts'. We ask You to come in and make Your Home in our each of our lives. Not only because You are worth it and make all things new, but because we can't make our own lives as complete with love, peace, hope, and joy......as we can with You as a part of them. Thank You, Jesus, for coming to earth that first Christmas. Amen.
Printable Issue 1724  Today is Thursday, December 24th, 2009; Karen's Korner #1724
I received this forwarded email of a story featured in the Mason City Globe Gazette. It speaks of healing by the power of prayer. Does praying for healing of a loved one always produce these kinds of results? Not always. We pray to an all-knowing, all-powerful God who knows what is best in every situation. We need to ask God for exactly what we want; then we need to believe and trust Him for the best answer. Sometimes it isn't what we asked for because He knows better than we do what is the best answer in each situation.
 
Read on:
 
 
Woman sees prayer’s power in granddaughter
 

MASON CITY - Lois Awe recalls the day doctors in Des Moines told her the bad news. It was Feb. 17, 2004, the day she was told her granddaughter, born just 27 days earlier, would not live through the night.

The child was born with an omphalocele, a birth defect in which the intestines are outside the body, covered by only a thin layer of tissue.

“As family joined us, the doctors said we could go in and say good-bye,” said Awe. “I said, ‘No, you don’t have the final say. God does.’ And we believe in the power of prayer.’ ”

The baby’s skin had a purplish color and her little body was bloated amid a mass of tubes that didn’t seem to be doing much good.

Now, the child, aptly named Miracle, will celebrate her sixth birthday next month, surrounded by a family that believes deeply in the power of prayer.

“There’s no doubt in my mind that her condition changed when we began praying. There is simply no other explanation for it,” said Awe, who is raising the grandchild.

She and her husband Allen have legally adopted Miracle, who is the daughter of Awes’ daughter, Brandi.

Miracle was a patient at Mercy Hospital in Des Moines for five months and underwent two surgeries in her first year and a half of life.

In September she was leading the life of a typical 5-year-old, giggly and wiggly and full of pep and energy when a freak accident nearly took her life again.

Miracle and her family were attending a middle school football game in Forest City on Sept. 29.

With 6.9 seconds left in the game, she fell through the opening between the seats at the top of the bleachers and landed head-first on the concrete pavement below.

Her aunt, Jennifer Awe, was standing nearby when the accident happened.

“I heard someone shout ‘Oh, my God’ and I turned and saw Miracle fall to the pavement. I knelt down and tried to find a pulse and couldn’t find one,” said Jennifer.

Several people attending the game had cell phones. “Everyone called 911 at once so nobody got through right away,” said Cindy Pike, a great aunt who was at the game.

As an ambulance sped to the scene, Lois shouted to the crowd in the bleachers, asking everyone to pray.

“I looked around and everyone had their heads bowed. I couldn’t believe it,” said Pike.

Miracle was rushed to Mercy Medical Center-North Iowa and then University of Iowa Hospitals in Iowa City where she underwent surgery for a blood clot near her brain.

Her grandmother sought prayers through the prayer chain at First Covenant Church and made contact with two other churches as well.

As the days passed, she learned many churches in Mason City had started prayer chains for a child they had never met.

Miracle survived her second near-death experience — and Lois Awe has no doubt as to what made the difference.

As she told Miracle’s story, she opened her Bible to James 5:15 and read, “And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up.”

Pointing to Miracle, playing gleefully on the floor nearby, she said, “And there you have it.”
 
 
***
Printable Issue 1725  Today is Friday, December 25th, 2009; Karen's Korner #1725
Merry Christmas!
 
Where is Your Heart?
 
Where is your heart at Christmastime?
Is it safe in the hands of God's Son
Who came to earth in Bethlehem
And loves us everyone?
 
He waits for each as though they were
The only one on earth...
And cares if we love Him in return
And celebrate His birth.
 
No heart can be complete until
We ask Him in to stay.
Come make a manger of your heart.
This Holy Christmas Day.
 
~~ Margaret Peterson
 
**
Printable Issue 1726  Today is Monday, December 28th, 2009; Karen's Korner #1726
Received ealy this a.m. from Shirley Choat (in part):
 
DECEMBER 25 IS ONLY THE FIRST DAY OF CHRISTMAS.
 
The Christmas celebration continues for twelve days, after which we celebrate the arrival of the kings who followed the star to find the holy babe.
The awaited event is here!
Don't put away the celebration just yet,
but instead, follow the Christmas journey all the way to Epiphany.
 
**

Ah! Dearest Jesus, Holy Child

Ah, dearest Jesus, holy Child,
Make thee a bed, soft, undefiled,
Within my heart, that it may be
A quiet chamber kept for Thee.

My heart for very joy doth leap,
My lips no more can silence keep,
I too must sing, with joyful tongue,
That sweetest ancient song,

Glory to God in highest heaven,
Who unto man His Son hath given
While angels sing with pious mirth.
A glad new year to all the earth!

~Martin Luther

***

Printable Issue 1727  Today is Tuesday, December 29th, 2009; Karen's Korner #1727
We received this forwarded email from Al Winter on Christmas Day. Al is the leader of our church congregation and enjoys the outdoors This email is from some Christian outdoors daily devotional writer. It's a Christmas one, but good:
 

Luke 1:38:
"I am the Lord's servant," Mary answered. "May it be to me as you have said." Then the angel left her. (NIV)

Merry CHRISTmas
 
Submission: a concept with which many of us struggle--submission to God, our spouses, the government, or the church. In the wild, we see submission happen every day. Cub bears or lions submit to their mamas; fawns submit to the does; calves to the cow elk. They submit or they die. But, with us humans, submission is a major issue.

Paul wrote words regarding submission that have fueled debate between men and women for ages. Submission to God's ways is called obedience and it proves our love for Him. But, many have hardened their hearts and have said "No" to God; they will not submit to Him. They are hell bent, literally, on earning salvation their own way instead of accepting God's free gift. The interesting thing: what we see in nature, submission or death, is the same between men and God. We either submit to Him, or we die.

Mary set the example when she said "Yes" to God. We remember her, perhaps more than any other woman in history, because of this one simple act of submission, this one simple act of unconditional love and obedience to God.

 
Merry Christmas. May you submit to God this Christmas day and give your heart to Him in obedience as Mary did so many years ago.

Sportsmen's Tip of the Day
Submission to nature is not an option. When the weather turns off bad, you will submit or die. Be prepared for what the weather is, but always plan for what it can be.
 
****
Printable Issue 1728  Today is Wednesday, December 30th, 2009; Karen's Korner #1728
A thought from Anne Graham Lotz, Billy Graham's daughter. It's a reminder of how much Jesus loves us, in spite of the silly things we think, say, or do - and some of the things we could be doing but don't:
 
Jesus Cares for You
"Casting all you cares upon Him, for He cares for you."
I Peter 5:7
 
"Did you think Jesus only cares about things like heaven and hell? About forgiveness and sin? About holiness and wickedness? About truth and lies? About salavation and judgment? Jesus does care about those things. But He also cares about your job, about whether your child makes the sports team, about your children's college tuition, about your budget now that you are unexpectedly pregnant, about the roof that leaks, about the cranky transmission in the car, and abou all the other physical problems and needs we face.
 
"Jesus cares even if the physical problem we face is largely of our own making. He cares if we are having car trouble, even if it was caused by our not having taken the time to change the oil regularly. He cares if we are having financial struggles, even if they were caused by our having run up debts on our charge accounts for things we wanted but we did not necessarily need. Jesus cares about your physical needs today."
 
**
 
Heavenly Father, thank You for taking care of my every need. Help me to believe and to trust You........just for today. Thank You for being my Heavenly Caretaker. In Jesus Name, Amen
 
**
Printable Issue 1729  Today is Thursday, December 31st, 2009; Karen's Korner #1729
Today's guest Karen's Korner writer is former Clarion resident Chris Lousias; she refers her to David and Goliath with David not being able to use the protective armor suggested to him for his use in the battle against the bigger, stronger opponent:
 

That’s not My Armor!

 

1 Samuel 17:38-40 “Then Saul dressed David in his own tunic. He put a coat of armor on him and a bronze helmet on his head.  David fastened on his sword over the tunic and tried walking around, because he was not used to them.
      "I cannot go in these," he said to Saul, "because I am not used to them." So he took them off.  Then he took his staff in his hand, chose five smooth stones from the stream, put them in the pouch of his shepherd's bag and, with his sling in his hand, approached the Philistine.” (emphasis mine)

 

 

Who are you counting on to build your faith in God? A pastor, a friend, SkyAngel T.V.?  In Samuel 17 David had come to the Israeli camp to visit his brothers as they were facing the Philistines.  David had taken up the challenge of fighting Goliath, not by confidence in himself, but because of the confidence in the God he served. 

 

Saul had offered David his armor.David knew he couldn’t use Saul’s armor because God had given David his own purposes in life that God had specifically planned out for him.  David, during his time in the sheep fields got to know God in his own way, not Saul’s way. 

 

Saul’s way, on the surface, may have looked spiritually sound, but Saul had his own struggles:  compromising his intimacy with God.  Saul was dead on the inside.  As Matthew 25:8 says, the foolish virgins’ oil was low and their lamps were going out.  Had David counted on Saul’s love for God, he would have run out of oil so to speak and the situation may not have turned out the way it did.

 

David knew where he stood in his faith with God, because David took the time to be with God. Do you?  The only way to refuel your own oil lamps, like the wise virgins, is to spend time with God and learn how He intends to use you for His Holy purposes.  The only way to fight your Goliaths is to use the tools God gives you, not your friends’ tools, not your pastors’.

 

Once you walk with your own lamps full, that is when you can walk with the rest of the “Israelite” army of friends, pastors and others used by God to storm the enemy together, but you first must know your “what you are used to” and what tools God has given you to approach “the Philistines”.

 

 

Father, Heavenly King, teach us Your ways, Lord.  Guide us to the supply of Your Holy Oil so we can keep our lamps lit while we wait for our Bridegroom.  Move us to desire to plunge into Your Holy Word.  Holy Spirit, guide us in the ways to pray to our God and King in a way that will praise Him and worship Him.  Open up our ears to hear His instructions; His love murmurings to us.  Build Your army, God, with servants who know Your voice.  Make us desperate for You God, we pray this in the name of Your Beloved Son, Jesus, Amen.