Friday, December 30, 2011


Matthew 17:20    I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.

We have the idea that God rewards us for our faith. It may be so in the initial stages, but we do not earn anything by faith; faith brings us into right relationship with God and gives God His opportunity. God has frequently to knock the bottom board out of your experience if you are a saint in order to get you into contact with Himself. God wants you to understand that it is a life of faith, not a life of sentimental enjoyment of His blessings.

Your earlier life of faith was narrow and intense, settled around a little sun-spot of experience that had as much of sense as of faith in it, full of light and sweetness; then God withdrew His conscious blessings in order to teach you to walk by faith. You are worth far more to Him now than you were in your days of conscious delight and thrilling testimony.

            Faith by its very nature must be tried, and the real trial of faith is not that we find it difficult to trust God, but that God’s character has to be cleared in our own minds. Faith in its actual working out has to go through spells of un-syllabled isolation. Never confound the trial of faith with the ordinary discipline of life, much that we call the trial of faith is the inevitable result of being alive. Faith in the Bible is faith in God against everything that contradicts Him – I will remain true to God’s character whatever He may do. “Though He kill me, yet will I trust Him” – is the most sublime utterance of faith in the whole of the Bible.

Monday, December 26, 2011


James 2:18-19      Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do. You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that – and shudder.

The story is told of a farmer whose harvest of corn was unusually large. All the bins of his barns were full. He was a Christian and would often pray. He prayed for the poor and needy, “O God, I pray that their wants will be supplied.”

One day an impoverished man who had several children asked the farmer for a bagful of corn, but the farmer said he didn’t have any to spare.

The next morning the farmer’s daughter heard him pray again for the poor and needy. She said to him, “Daddy, I wish I had your corn.” He surprisingly asked “Why do you say that?” She said, “If I had your corn, I’d use it to answer your prayers.”

Many people pray, “O God, I pray that somehow my neighbor will have the plan of salvation explained to him.” Others pray that the single mom down the street will have all her needs met. Why don’t you simply go and knock on their door and do the explaining or the helping.

May God move us to live out our faith with deeds and works that bring the light of Christ to those closest to us.

Sunday, December 25, 2011


Luke 1:35    The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.”

If the Son of God is born into my mortal flesh, is His holy innocence and simplicity and oneness with the Father getting a chance to manifest itself in me? What was true of the Virgin Mary in the historic introduction of God’s Son into this earth is true in every saint. The Son of God is born into me by the direct act of God; then I as a child of God have to exercise the right of a child, the right of being always face to face with my Father.

Whatever the circumstances may be, the Holy Innocent Eternal Child must be in contact with His Father. Is He getting His wonderful way in me? Is God realizing that His Son is formed in me, or have I carefully put Him on one side? Is the Son of God praying in me or am I dictating to Him? Is He ministering in me as He did in the days of His flesh?

Is the Son of God in me going through His passion for His own purposes? The more one knows of the inner life of God’s ripest saints, the more one sees what God’s purpose is – “filling up that which is behind of the affliction of Christ.” There is always something to be done in the sense of “filling up”.

My Utmost For His Highest by Oswald Chambers, August 8.

Saturday, December 24, 2011


Acts 17:24     The God who made the world and everything in it, is the Lord.

We take pleasure in answering at once and thus prominently the communication below, expressing at the same time our great gratification that its faithful author is numbered among the friends of the Sun:
Dear Editor! I am 8 years old.
Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus.
Papa says, “If you see it in the Sun it’s so.”
Please tell me the truth: Is there a Santa Claus?
Virginia O’Hanlon
115 W. 95th St.
Virginia, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men’s or children’s, are little. In this great universe of ours man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect, as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.
Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! How dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus. It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginias.
There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight.  The eternal life with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.
Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies! You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if they did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that’s no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and un-seeable in the world.
You may tear apart the baby’s rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived, could tear apart. Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernatural beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, Virginia, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.
No Santa Claus! Thank God! He lives, and he lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.
(This editorial, among the most famous written, was in the  New York Sun  in 1897.) 

Thursday, December 22, 2011


1 Thessalonians 1:11    …we constantly pray for you, that our God… may fulfill every good purpose of yours and every act prompted by your faith.  



Our God is looking today for pattern people, and when He gets a true sample, it is very easy to reproduce it in a thousand editions, and multiply it in other lives without limitation.

All the experiences of life come to us as tests, and as we meet them, our loving Father is watching with intense and jealous love to see us pass them well. If we fail, He is disappointed and our enemy is filled with joy. We are a watched continually by angels and principalities, and every step we take is critical and decisive for something in our eternal future.

When Abraham went forth that morning to Mount Moriah, it was an hour of solemn probation, and when he came back he was one of God’s tested men, with the stamp of His eternal approval. God could say that he knew Abraham and that He would fulfill the plan for his future. God did bring, in time, a son to Abraham and a Savior to us.

            God is looking for good examples of faithful men today. May we be ones that respond to Him in faith and realize the plan He has purposed for each of our lives.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011


Luke 12:19-21    I’ll say to myself, “you have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.” But God said… “You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?” This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God.


It was the night before Jesus, and all through the house, not a creature was praying, not one in the house. Their bibles were laid on the shelves without much care, in the hopes that Lord Jesus would not soon come by there. The children were dressing to crawl into bed, not once ever kneeling or bowing their heads. And mom in her rocker with baby in grasp, was watching the Late Show, while I took a nap.

When out of the East there arose such a clatter, I sprang to my feet to see what’s the matter. Away to the window I flew like a flash, tore open the shutters and threw up the sash! When what to my wondering eyes should appear, angels proclaiming that Jesus was now here. With a light like the sun sending forth a bright ray, I knew in a moment that this was The Day!

The light of Christ’s face made me cover my head, it was Jesus returning just like He said. And though I possessed worldly wisdom and wealth, I cried when I saw Him in spite of myself. In the Book of Life, which He held in His hand, were written the saved from every land. The people whose names had been written with love, Christ gathered to take to God’s Kingdom above.

In the words of this poem the meaning is clear, the coming of Jesus is now drawing near. There’s only one life and when comes the last call, we will find that the Bible was true after all.

Sunday, December 18, 2011


Proverbs 16:9              In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.

            We see the hand of God working in our lives no more clearly than when we reflect back on the years of our lives. Augustine said that if people had a choice of either dying or reliving their lives over again, they would certainly choose death because of all the danger and evil they so narrowly escaped. In one sense, this statement is certainly true.

            Looking back, people can see how much they have accomplished and suffered without trying or thinking about it, even against their wishes and wills. They gave such little thought to what they were doing before it occurred or when it was happening. Now, after everything has been carried out, they are amazed and say, “Why did these things happen to me when I never thought about them or thought something completely different would happen?” So Proverbs 16:9 is true: “In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps,” even against his plan and will. So we must agree that our own cleverness and foresight don’t guide our lives and actions. Instead, God’s wonderful power, wisdom, and goodness guide us. Only as we look back do we fully recognize how often God was with us when we neither saw his hand nor felt his presence at the time it was happening. Accordingly, Peter said, “He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7).

            Even if there were no books or sermons to tell us about God, simply looking back on our own lives would prove that he tenderly carries us in his arms. When we look back on how God has led and brought us through so much evil, adversity, and danger, we can clearly see the ever-present goodness of God, which is far above our thoughts, minds, and perception.

Faith Alone: A Daily Devotional, By Martin Luther. April 2.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011


Malachi 4:5-6    “See, I will send you the prophet Elijah before that great and dreadful Day of the LORD comes. He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers; or else I will come and strike the land with a curse.”

Very early one Christmas morning a small boy tiptoed downstairs. All night he had been dreaming of the gorgeously decorated tree groaning under the weight of presents. Imagine his shocked amazement at seeing none of these things, just the same old furniture arranged in the same drab way. Yet there was a different and uncanny atmosphere. It was like a fog, heavy and oppressing.

            The boy rushed out into the dark street. There the same gloomy atmosphere greeted him. No smiles on the faces of people passing by. No one called out to him, “Merry Christmas!” People silently plodded along wearily and aimlessly. He looked at the shop windows. The colorful lights and decorations of Christmas Eve had disappeared. Nothing was in the shops now but food and clothing and implements, the bare essentials.

            He came to the church, at least to the vacant lot where the church had once stood. No church now. No school either. Instead, a prison, the biggest, grimmest prison he had ever seen. “ What’s wrong?” he screamed.

            Dazed, he turned around and started for home. Suddenly he stumbled over something lying in the snow. It was a man, not dead, but unconscious, blue with the cold, lying there like an old bundle of rags. Excitedly the boy began running to the hospital for help. But, even as he ran, he knew that no hospital would be there. No Christmas tree, no cheeriness, no charity, no hope, no anything. Sick at heart, he stopped running and turned to trudge home.

Once home, he flung himself on a chair and reached for the Bible to read the story now become a mockery. He thumbed aimlessly through the Old Testament, suddenly remembering that Matthew and Luke were in the New Testament. But his Bible ended with the prophecy of Malachi. Nothing after that but blank pages and one quotation printed in a tiny footnote, the words of Jesus, “…if I had not come…” (John 15:22 NIV)

Monday, December 12, 2011


Deuteronomy 6:6-7    These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.

Did you know that the popular Christmas carol, The Twelve Days of Christmas, was written as a child’s catechism song? In the 1600’s when Roman Catholics in England were not allowed to practice their faith openly, the carol was written, embodying code words known only to church members. The song we know today was sung by children to teach them about Christ and the Bible.

The Partridge is for Jesus Christ.
The Two Turtle Doves are the Old and New Testaments.
The Three French Hens stood for Faith, Hope and Love.
The Four Calling Birds are Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, & John.
            The Five Golden Rings recalled the Torah, the first five books of the
Bible: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy.
The Six Geese are for the Six Days of Creation in Genesis 1.
The Seven Swans A-swimming represented the Seven-Fold Gifts of
the Holy Spirit found in Romans 12:6; prophesy, serving, teaching, encouraging, generosity, leadership, and mercy.
The Eight Maids are the Eight Beatitudes of Matthew 5:3-10.
The Nine Ladies Dancing shows the Nine Fruits of the Spirit found
in Galatians 5:22; love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.
The Ten Lords A-Leaping is the Ten Commandments, Exodus 20.
The Eleven Pipers represents the Eleven Faithful Disciples.
The Twelve Drummers symbolized the Twelve points of belief in
            the Apostle’s Creed.

Thursday, December 8, 2011


Luke 1:49-50    And Mary said: “From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me--holy is his name. His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation.”

            The crisis of Christmas in the Christian community, put bluntly, is a crisis of faith. Faith is a commitment to Truth, who is Jesus Christ. Faith is dedication to Reality, who is Jesus Christ. When my mind gives to things the importance they have in reality, I am living in the truth. But when the social conventions, artificial distractions and superficial claims of the unreal world, which is passing away, dominate my time, interest and attention, I am living in untruth.


            The primitive confession of faith “Jesus is Lord” is not an abstract theological proposition but a highly personal statement. It puts my integrity on the line and profoundly affects the way I celebrate Advent, the four weeks of preparation for the birth of Christ. If Jesus is Lord of my life and my Christmas, I am challenged to submit all the priorities of my personal and professional life to this primary fact. In gut-level honesty, what rules or lives as we prepare for Christmas? What has power over us?

            What rules in me is the kingdom of people, the kingdom of events, petty plans and personal interests. They stifle Jesus Christ, crowd Him out of my life. Who can understand how Jesus can be the Son of God and I can be so indifferent to Him? What shape would Advent and Christmas take if Jesus really ruled in me?

             The invisible world would become more real than the visible, the world of what I believe more real than the world of what I see, Christ more real than myself. Christmas would be more than a breathless finale to a frantic shopping season, more than sentimental music, tinsel on the tree, a liturgical pageant and boozy goodwill toward the world. Yes, life would be radically different if Jesus Christ ruled in me, if my faith had the force of a passionate conviction.           

The Relentless Tenderness of Jesus, by Brennan Manning, pgs. 167-169.   

Sunday, December 4, 2011


Luke 1:46-48       My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant.

It was the night before Christmas and not a creature was stirring on the pediatric floor of the hospital. I was the nurse on duty staring at a piece of holly on the wall, feeling miserable. I thought about the last-minute shopping I’d wanted to do, the cookies to decorate, the caroling, the Bowl game on television. It isn’t fair, I’m missing Christmas Eve!
There was only one child in the nursery, a tiny baby, a few weeks old with a respiratory infection, and a nursing assistant who observed him around the clock. As I walked in the assistant said “Merry Christmas”.
“Some way to spend Christmas Eve”, I muttered as I picked up the chart to scan. Across the room I heard an almost inaudible little gasp.
“My God! He’s stopped breathing!” cried the nursing assistant. I dashed toward the crib and leaned over to see the baby limp and blue. “Get a doctor and a respiratory therapist,” I yelled, “Fast!”
Seconds ticked as I cleared the baby’s throat with suction, pulled back his chin and inserted a tiny plastic airway. Placing the black breathing bag over his face, I squeezed, in and out, pushing air into his tiny lungs.
The nursery door crashed open as two doctors, a nurse, technician and respiratory therapist ran in. Frantically we worked in a blur of drugs, hissing oxygen and the blip of a heart monitor. Our pace slowed as everything that medicine could do had been done. The baby remained unmoving except for the mechanical rise and fall of his tiny chest. The room grew quiet. Nothing mattered except this baby boy breathe. “Lord, help him” I thought. “Breathe little guy, breath!” said one doctor. “Please God” whispered the nurse. I saw the same plea in every face.
Suddenly a gurgle drifted up from the crib, then a cough, then a tiny cry! Silence gripped us as the respirator was removed. Waiting, we watched as he curled his tiny fingers and waved his arms in the air cried louder. He was breathing. Tears welled up in my eyes, I witnessed a magnificent miracle. The precious gift of life had been given him by Someone other than this band of people. The presence of Christ seemed to fill the room.
In that moment my heart was drawn to Christ in some deep and holy way I cannot explain. This tiny baby had given us a gift. He had given each of us a living reminder of the heart of Christmas.

Ministry Scenes

Have The Homeless Become Invisible?