December 1, 2003

Father,

It seems I’m behind times. All the stores began celebrating Christmas a month ago! I just got through with Thanksgiving!

Lord, I want to ask You to help me keep returning to You during these Holy days. I want more than tinsel and lights and shopping mania. I want to search for YOU in the middle of all the rush. I want to seek You out in the stillness of my heart. Help me to slow down often and listen for the angelic host singing of the greatest birth ever! Let me come to You in the quiet stable of my heart and bow down and adore You.

Father, this month is for You. Let me concentrate on worshipping my Immanuel (God with us!)

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***A personal note: I’d like to invite each one of you to our “Journey To Bethlehem” this week. It’s a Christmas reality experience. Wear warm coats and gloves and bring family and friends to load up on a tram (or as my son calls it- a motorized donkey) and ride to the woods where you’ll take a guided walk to Bethlehem searching for the rumored “baby King.” It’s very moving and brings home the reality of Christmas to everyone. It’s FREE! It takes about an hour all together. Look for me by the hot chocolate afterwards!

Forest Hill Christian Church

2121 N. MacArthur

495-0439

Thurs, Dec. 4 through Sun, Dec. 7

anytime between 6:00 & 9:00PM

Prayer- my Christmas gift

December 2, 2003

Father,

You know that every year, I have to make a long Christmas list for all the people I want to give a gift to. It seems that over the years Christmas gifts don’t mean as much to me, yet they also mean more!

I think about the people in my life who have already passed on, my Dad being the most recent. Since we knew he was dying soon, there was a dilemma. What do you give someone who soon will have no need for anything? What kind of gift will express the love in your heart?

Father, I have seen material gifts come and go. The bike my son once desired more than anything sits idle in the garage. The gift that stands the test of time is my time. The most precious gift I could have given my Dad or my son is my time. Now that my kids are grown, I love getting their gifts, but the most cherished thing is to just be with them.

Father, You are always here. Always willing to share Your time with me. This Christmas season, I want to give You a gift. I am going to spend time with You every day. I never want to be too busy to stop and just be with You.

Prayer- simply Christmas

December 3, 2003

Father,

Once again You answered my prayer! Last night, after spending two days decorating for Christmas, I sat down to relax in the chair after everyone else had gone to bed. I started dozing off after admiring the Christmas decor and listening to the sound of meaningless babble on TV. When I awoke, You brought to my attention the need to just turn the TV off. It was so very quiet. Above the television is the most simple nativity scene with one plain tiny light illuminating it in the darkness.

I asked You to keep reminding me what Christmas is all about and You did it again! It would be so easy to get sidetracked by all the bright lights, noise and bustle of the season… when it all boils down to this one simple ordinary scene.

In the quiet stillness of the night, in the middle of the crazy bustling town of Bethlehem, You sent Your only Son to be born as one of us, yet not one of us. Jesus, alone is pure and holy and our Savior. You sent Him to be born in simple surroundings without much fanfare (except all Heaven knew!) You sent Him to be born as a fragile infant (yet King of all!) with the express notion of His death on the cross for us… for ME!

Father, thank You for letting me see the simplicity, yet life-changing power of Jesus’ birth.

Prayer- the impact of one infant!

December 5, 2003

Father,

What amazing, life-changing power there is in the simple birth, life and death of Jesus Christ! Last night, I witnessed it as over 650 people went through the Journey To Bethlehem in small, intimate groups.

Who would think that the simple birth of a tiny infant would impact the world and every single individual so much? God, You work in the strangest, most ordinary ways. What other baby (or man) causes grown prideful men to bow down before Him? Who else brings unexplainable and unstoppable tears to women’s eyes? Who else can make young people’s hearts burn with a passion that makes them desire to be bold for You? Last night, I saw children wide-eyed with the same wonder that caused elderly people who could barely walk bow down before a tiny infant.

It was not the baby before them in a cold, dark stable that they worshipped. It was Jesus Himself! Father, I thank You for the journey that leads to You. Thank You for Jesus who is the Journey; who is the WAY! May 650 or more people tonight bow down and worship You from the depths of their hearts tonight and the rest of the week as the Journey To Bethlehem continues!

Prayer- all because of Jesus!

December 9, 2003

Father,

A fairly young woman I prayed with is haunting me. She was so moved by going through the “Journey to Bethlehem” that she was desperately ready to accept the new life that Jesus offers. She stood before a tiny baby in a cold dark stable and fell helpless before Him.

Like many before her, she knew Jesus was no ordinary baby. He was sent with love from You for the specific mission to die so we could be holy. She had tried to live her own life and was sick of it. Nauseated by the sin, the dirtiness, the shame. There was no way she could make herself clean. She had tried. She’d even tried church. She looked like a wonderful person. I’m sure anyone who saw her would never believe the heaviness of shame she had been carrying.

She could not take another step in her old life. She was ready for a new one. She was ready for a clean start and she knew the ONLY WAY was through that tiny baby that came to face temptation the same as us and yet live sinless and holy. The only one to ever be pure and holy on this earth, died so she could be pure and clean and holy!

Father, I’m so thrilled for this woman to have a fresh new start all because of Jesus! Every dirty spot is completely gone! Never to be held against her again. Father, I am so thrilled for her and for me… for I am just like her. We can both live pure and joyful lives only because of Jesus!

Prayer- like Mary!

December 10, 2003

Most Holy Father,

I want to be like Mary- mother of Jesus! On some ordinary day long ago, You let Mary know that she would bear Your Holy Son into this world.

I want to be like Mary! You have sent Jesus to live in my heart! I want to bear Him to this world…to everyone I come into contact with! May I sing Your praises forever!

I feel like Mary! It’s hard to believe that You think so highly of ME that You would send Jesus to me. I am nobody…yet I am somebody to You! More than that, You have asked me to carry Jesus to everyone around me. Yes! I will do it! With Your Holy Spirit…nothing is impossible.

Let me be like Mary- Your handmaiden, willing to let Jesus live in me.

Prayer- let the seeds of good character grow!

December 12, 2003

Father,

You are so faithful! Yesterday I headed up the Character Counts Assemblies at my son’s school. Much work and several committee meetings had gone on to prepare the assemblies.

About 2 months ago, my son surprised me at the dinner table by praying for You to help things go well for the first meeting that evening. At the end of the meeting at school, everything went so well that I felt like we should pray to thank You. I even said so, but then told the other parents that I guessed we shouldn’t since it was school-related.

Father, I felt like I let You down. At the next meetings, I prayed before and after each meeting asking You to help us truly teach good character to the Middle school and high school students. I even asked You to take our little human effort and fill it with Your supernatural power so the students would learn more about good character than we could ever teach on our own.

Lord, You did! At yesterday’s assemblies, You arranged a supernatural “coincidence” that no one else could have planned– just to reassure me that You indeed were working Your powerful way in students hearts. Father, I ask You to continue nurturing those seeds which were planted yesterday in each young person’s heart to grow and flourish. Let them have ears to hear when You bring it back to their attention.

Father, raise them up to be young people who are willing to live out Your good character in this world which so desperately needs it.

Prayer- You bring down rulers!

December 15, 2003

Most Holy & Powerful Father!

I join in with Mary’s praises to You as she exalted You in Luke 1:46-45…

 

My spirit rejoices in God my Savior…for You, the Mighty One have done great things! Holy is Your name!! Your mercy is upon generation after generation toward those who fear You and show You reverence. You have scattered those who were proud in the thoughts of their hearts. You have brought down rulers from their thrones, and You exalt those who are humble.

Mary sang this song to You while Your Son was still in her womb! In her heart she knew her little baby Jesus would be Prince of Peace and King of kings! Yet she also knew he would be a king like no other king. The government would be upon His shoulders.

Father, You are King of all! You brought down the “proud and mighty Saddam Hussein”. You might allow those who are proud and evil for a while, but they all fall before You. Every knee must bow before Jesus in one way or another. Father, thank You for bringing down this evil ruler. I pray that You raise up leaders who are humble before You. I pray that everyone come to know that ALL true power comes from You alone.

Joy to the world! The Lord has come! He rules the world with truth and grace!!

Prayer- I want to be like Joseph!

December 16, 2003

Father,

I want to be like Joseph- earthly father of Jesus!

The shock of his life punched him deep in his heart when he discovered his beloved Mary was pregnant and it was not by him. Even when he thought she had been unfaithful to him— he wanted to do the right thing and not add to her disgrace. As he was planning to send her away in secrecy, an angel in a dream encouraged him to take Mary as his wife, for the baby in her had been conceived by Your Holy Spirit.

Father, I am so glad he awoke from his sleep and obeyed! The Bible doesn’t say he argued or asked a lot of questions. He believed and he did just what You asked him to do.

Lord, please forgive me when I wait too long to obey You. I’m sorry for the times when I must know more information so I can make a calculated choice, instead of immediately saying, “Let Your will be done.”

Father, help me be more like Joseph. I want to desire to do the right thing- even if it may not make logical sense in the world’s eyes. Let me obey You… even when I don’t fully comprehend all Your ways…even if others may not understand. I desire to do Your will!

Prayer- the journey

December 17, 2003

Father,

I wonder what Mary and Joseph went through when they heard they would have to go to Bethlehem for a government census right when Jesus was to be born. Did they have moments when they questioned why You would allow the treacherous journey when Your Son was coming? Did they talk to You about it? Did You reassure them that You knew exactly what was going on and to trust You?

Having been nine months pregnant several times before and enduring a bumpy car ride, I wonder if they had to pray a lot along the way as the donkey jolted Mary on the rough path. Were they tempted to challenge the way You were bringing the Messiah into the world? I’m sure they had the normal protective parent rationale. Did You have to remind them that You were Jesus’ parent even above them, and that You had Your reasons?

Father, help me to talk to You all along my journey…no matter how rough the way gets or how unclear the path seems. Help me to continually come before You at every step. May I be reminded as Mary and Joseph were, that You indeed are God Almighty and You know the plans You have for me. Let me follow Your lead in my journey, trusting You as I go.

Prayer- the true Christmas Light

December 18, 2003

Father,

How can I ever thank You for sending the Light of the world? Last night as my family drove through a park filled with Christmas lights, I noticed the huge contrast of the dark night to the brilliant cheerful lights. I remember how dark and dreary my life seemed before I asked Jesus to be my Lord. Though I still face the darkness of this world, my heart is illuminated with the joy of Jesus’ presence!

How lost and scary everything seems without Jesus. I pray for a friend whose husband passed away suddenly. Right now, all her life seems dark and hopeless. Father, let her find Jesus in the darkness. Let her discover the Light of her life. Soften her heart and spirit so she can see the bright hope that pierces the darkness. Let her see for herself!

Father, I’m so grateful that You loved the world so much that You sent the true Light…Jesus…to the world. Jesus, alone, is the Light that enlightens every man. May more eyes which are straining to see in the darkness, be enveloped by the absolute brilliance of the Light of the world…Your Son Jesus Christ!

Prayer- the homeless

December 19, 2003

Father,

Your ways far exceed our ways. Your plans are perfect and filled with eternal wisdom.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the homeless lately. Our women’s group delivered Christmas gifts to the City Rescue Mission. It was heart-warming to see the joyful looks of hope on usually hopeless faces. Grown men reacted like little children over receiving new underwear and socks. Little children were playing in their temporary “home” not knowing how long they would be there. But at least for a while, they were provided hot meals, a bed and plenty of love in Jesus’ name.

Many live in true poverty in this world- both right here in America, but especially in third world countries. Thousands of children, left without parents due to the Aids epidemic in Africa, are forced to raise themselves and younger siblings on their own. They scramble to find shelter wherever they can.

I know it was no accident that You arranged for Jesus to be born in a stable. He wasn’t born in a comfortable home, a hospital or a palace. His first bed was an animal’s feeding trough. To escape the murderous King Herod, his parents had to flee their own country. Even as a grown man, Jesus acknowledged that he had no home here on earth. He knew His only true home was in heaven with You. Father, it is just like You to have the King of kings be born without a home. Every homeless person can know that You are with them. And after all, aren’t we all truly homeless in this life? My true home awaits in Heaven with You– my Heavenly Father.

Prayer- in swaddling clothes!

December 22, 2003

Father,

I bow down in wonder and adoration of You! It’s the strangest thing to think that You would send Your Son- our Savior- in the form of a tiny helpless baby. The Word was with You in the beginning and was there to create all things: things as massive as the Rocky Mountains, as delicate as a butterfly, as unexplainable as space, as unknown as the bottom of the ocean.

You could have chosen to send Jesus on a flashing comet, or with a loud earthquake, or out of a F-6 tornado. You could have demanded everyone’s attention with a simple flip of Your wrist. Yet, You chose to send Jesus to be born to an unknown virgin in a smelly stable. Only a very few paused in their lives to worship the long-awaited Messiah. How many of us do today?

Father, thank You for Your beloved Son who was sent out of love to die for our sins for the sole purpose of providing a way for us to have a relationship with You. What life-changing power…It’s Your eternal Love wrapped up in swaddling clothes!

Prayer- more than a baby!

December 29, 2003

Most Holy Father,

Just as all history waited for the time for the Messiah to be born, all of us are not complete until Jesus is born in us. We long for Him…we long for You, even when we don’t realize it. In fact, all creation groans in anticipation of His return. I can remember the time when I didn’t have enough room in my heart for Him, just as the innkeeper from long ago. I thought I would find contentment from just living the life in front of me.

I am so happy and fulfilled to have answered Your knock on my door and asked Jesus to come in. At first, he was born as a little baby in my heart, but as time has gone on…and I have submitted even more of my life, He is the full-blown King and Lord of my life. Absolutely NOTHING could ever replace or take Him away. Jesus is my way to You!

Jesus is my joy, my life, my peace, my very reason for living. Jesus is my present, my future, my hope! I want more of Jesus and less of me. Let baby Jesus continue to grow up in me!

Prayer- out with the old year & the old life!

December 31, 2003

Father,

I sit here on this last day of the year knowing I will never go through 2003 again. It is history! It’s over. Finished. It’s an old year now.

Just as certainly as this year is over, so is my old life. All my mistakes, every single one of my sins, every time I’ve messed up, every hurtful thing I’ve said or done, my stubbornness against You…it’s all gone! Not because it’s an old year…but because I know Jesus died for my sins! You have reassured me that all my wrong-doing is as far away from You as the east is from the west!

It is very humbling to think that Jesus being so pure and without any fault willingly followed Your will and died for every one of my sins. I can now come right here into Your Magnificent pure presence…only because Jesus paid my price.

He cleansed me and made me holy and pure. I don’t want the old year or my old life back. My desire is to go forever forward with You…in Your Holy presence…and to sin no more.