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Heavenly Father,

We are, once again, celebrating the most incredible birth to ever take place- the birth of the One who changes everything- the birth of Your Son who split history in two- the birth of the Savior who seems to bring more division than anyone else ever; yet who is the only one who can unite us with You. Christmas is the loud and flashy birthday party celebrated around the world by multitudes, many who don’t even know Your Son Jesus. It is the longest, most celebrated birthday party in the history of earth…yet Jesus was born in the quietest, most humble way possible.

 

He was born to a virgin mother who could have been stoned for her pregnancy (and surely had to bear an undeserved tainted reputation all her earthly life). He was born poor and homeless in a dirty stable surrounded by animals after being turned away from other shelter. Though He had lived with You in the glory of heaven and helped create all there is, He was willing to be born in the flesh in this sinful world just like each of us. The One who helped speak the stars and seas into place was willing to humble Himself to be born as a fragile newborn infant needing a mother’s care and a stepdad’s protection. This very birth had been predicted since the very first sin. Those who studied prophecy waited long for the coming promised Messiah and King. Who would have thought the King of kings and Lord of lords would come in such a quiet way?

 

It may have appeared to be a quiet birth…yet all of heaven was singing louder and in more amazement than ever before! All the angels and heavenly host couldn’t contain their awe of Your indescribable gift to mankind. Who would have thought or considered such a plan…but You, Father! All the joy of heaven was shared with those who were humble enough to hear and see for themselves. It is still like that! Jesus is born into the hearts of those who are humble and ready to receive Your Son. The world might not notice, but there is more joy in heaven than can be contained and it spills over into the heart of the one in whom Jesus is born again! It’s the loudest quietest birth ever!

 

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“Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom His favor rests.’ When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”   Luke 2:13-15

“He was in the world, and though the world was made through Him, the world did not recognize Him. He came to that which was His own, but His own did not receive Him. Yet to all who received Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God- children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or of a husband’s will, but born of God. The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”   John 1:10-14

“I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.”   Luke 15:7

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Prayer Prompt-

Father, Help me celebrate Jesus’ birth in a new way this Christmas. Let Him be born in my heart…

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Heavenly Father,

My granddaughter is expecting a new baby in March. It’s fun to watch her belly grow with a new life moving inside her. Though it was many years ago, I still recall the absolute miracle of a new person stirring around inside of me- separate from me yet in me. We have a beautiful painting of Mary holding her ripe belly while riding on a donkey to pay taxes in Bethlehem. She had been told that she would bear the Son of God…yet how she must have pondered what that would mean even before He was born. Very few on earth knew the most important birth to ever take place was quickly approaching.  Yet every being in heaven waited with great anticipation for the long-awaited Messiah. Little did anyone know how differently the birth of the King would play out than most expected.

 

It’s almost impossible to tell an expectant mother how much her life will change and how much love she will have for her soon-to-be-born baby.  It has to be experienced. Mary already loved Jesus before she ever saw or held him. She accepted and believed that she would bear the Son of God. As she traveled the road towards Bethlehem, there’s no way she could know, not only how her life would change, but everyone else’s life would never be the same. She traveled a hard road while expecting Jesus.

 

Father, it’s only a few days until Christmas when we celebrate our Lord’s birth. There is much anticipation. We all await Jesus still. We wait for Him to be born in us so we can have eternal life; we wait for Him to live in us through the Holy Spirit; we wait for Him to work in and through us in every situation. We wait for His return. We wait upon You, Lord, believing that Jesus is Your one and only Son, the King of kings and Lord of lords- given by You so we can experience Him living and working in us! We are watching for You and expecting You. Come, Lord Jesus, come!

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“Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished!”   Luke 1:45

“A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world. So with you; Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one can take away your joy.” John 16:21-22

“Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with Me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.” Revelation 22:12-13

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Prayer Prompt-

Father, help me watch with expectation for…

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Heavenly Father,

I am often struck with amazement as I wonder how You could love me! I understand Mary’s shock and bewilderment when the angel Gabriel appeared in her simple ordinary life and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.” What an astounding mystery that You would love me: for I am far more simple and messed up than the mother of my Lord! Why in the world would the Author, Creator and God of not only this universe but all that is care enough for me to send Jesus?

My unworthiness is always before me yet Your profound love for me swallows up my shame when I realize You love me far more than I can comprehend. Your plan to save me has been in motion since the beginning of sin. Through all the centuries of history, You waited for the perfect time to send Jesus to be born through Mary…so He could save each of us from our unworthiness. You not only sent Jesus to save the world- but to live in me… so I could have eternal life! How incredible is that!!

Though my unworthiness is great, You let me know how precious and valued I am to You. You sent Your holy and most precious Son from the safety and pureness of Heaven to be born as a humble and vulnerable tiny baby; to grow up in our dark and dirty world; to be tempted as one of us and yet remain pure without sin; to willingly be misunderstood, beaten, cursed and die a shameful death meant for the vilest criminal, carrying our sin (my sin) so I could realize just how much You love and value me. Who am I that You would love me so much?! I am Yours and You are mine. How I pray for others to realize their great unworthiness…and yet incomprehensible worth.

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“Mary was greatly troubled at his words(the angel Gabriel’s) and wondered what kind of a greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David, and He will rule over the house of Jacob forever; His kingdom will never end.’ ‘How can this be,’ Mary asked the angel, ‘since I am a virgin?’ 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. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. For nothing is impossible with God.’ ‘I am the Lord’s servant, ‘ Mary answered. ‘May it be to me as you have said.’ Then the angel left her.” Luke 1:29-38

“For God so loved the world (and me) that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.” John 3:16-17

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Prayer Prompt-

Father, help me realize my unworthiness before You…and yet my precious value to You…

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Heavenly Father,

My husband was watching me unbox all the Christmas decorations and put them up around the house this weekend. He said, “I just love watching you be so excited about Christmas.”  I didn’t even realize my excitement showed but I guess it did. I hope it brings You joy as well, Lord, to see me get ready to celebrate Jesus! There’s a lot involved. I have to pull all the boxes out of storage; put some things away to make room; clean the house before unpacking; clean it again after unboxing; hanging lights, ornaments and mistletoe; placing each figure in the nativity sets that I have collected.  What a joy to sit down late at night by the fire and savor the sounds, smell and beauty of Christmas.

Though there is so much to do to prepare for Christmas at my house- not only the decorating, but shopping and wrapping the gifts for my huge family, baking and making gifts for friends that I love, writing Christmas notes, planning Christmas caroling and celebrations and get-togethers…and of course, the annual Christmas Grandkids’ Night! There’s a lot of extra planning Christmas activities for the classes I teach and groups I’m part of. As busy as December can be, I don’t ever want to leave out the guest of honor, the reason for the season, the source of excitement and joy in my life!

Father, I am preparing room in my schedule, in my life and in my very soul for even more of Jesus this Christmas. I want to sit aside time to sit and enjoy the quiet still way You sent Your Son Jesus Christ into the world. Everything changed  (for the world and for me) when He came to bring us eternal life! Help me clear out some of the clutter that takes up room for Him. Help me make a way to receive more joy and strength in Him. Help me slow down and be still and savor my eternal life with You that comes quietly in the midst of all the chaos. I don’t want to miss the sweetness of time with You due to excessive celebration. I want to prepare for more of You. Maybe that’s also what You desire- more of me!

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“Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for Him.” Matthew 3:3

“A voice of one calling: ‘In the desert prepare the way for the Lord; make straight in the wilderness a highway for our God.’’ Isaiah 40:3

“As Jesus and His disciples were on their way, He came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to Him. She had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what He said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to Him and asked, ‘Lord, don’t You care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her to help me!’ ‘Martha, Martha,’ the Lord answered, ‘you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”   Luke 10:38-42

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Prayer Prompt-

Father, help me prepare to receive more of Jesus by clearing out…

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Heavenly Father,

My nurse daughter’s favorite cure for anything is a bath! If one of her kids (or even one of her critical care patients) gets a sniffle or a full-blown fever, her prescription is always a bath. I’ve had two short “bugs” in a row, first the upper respiratory crud going around, then before being fully recovered- a bout with a stomach virus. I’m not complaining because I have been incredibly healthy all my life (which I am most grateful for, Lord!) Yet having just stepped out of a shower, I feel like a new person! It seems all the germs and sickness have been washed away.  I feel refreshed and renewed. Though I didn’t think I had enough energy to even get in the shower, I came out ready to do almost anything…because I’m clean!

That’s just physical cleanliness…it’s even more powerful to be cleansed with the power of Jesus Christ! I see it happen before my eyes all the time. I am honored to work with a group of beautiful young women who feel incredibly dirty from years of substance abuse. Not only do they feel filthy from the stench of drugs, but from all the experiences that go with it, and from the things which cause them to start using in the first place. One young woman had been using drugs since she was 8 years old when her mom started giving her heroin to calm her down. She hadn’t known any other life. She never believed there was ever any other way to live except dirty. After several months of sobriety, she kept saying she was really enjoying learning to be clean. Yet it wasn’t just from being free from drugs; it was from living a life with Jesus.

Nothing else cleanses us like Jesus’ holy blood shed for us. You love us so much; You knew we could never be clean without Him. That’s why You sent Him to be born, to live, to die and be resurrected so we could have eternal life and cleanliness. We can never wash away our own sickness of sin. That’s why You prescribed Jesus’ holy blood for us to wash away our filthiness in. We may not all be coming from a life of heroin abuse; but we all have sin. We all need a bath. Father, when my sins are washed away by Jesus, I can do anything! I am fresh and renewed! Jesus not only cleanses me but lives in me! Nothing can be cleaner than from the inside out!

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“Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin…wash me and I will be whiter than snow…Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me….Restore me to the joy of Your salvation, and grant me a willing spirit to sustain me.”   Palm 51:2,7b,10,12 

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.”   Jesus’ words in Matthew 23:25-26 

“And now what are you waiting for? Get up, be baptized and wash your sins away, calling on His name.”   Acts 22:16

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Prayer Prompt-

Father, I want to be really clean. Wash me in the blood of Jesus for forgiveness for…

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Heavenly Father,

I’ve survived two major Oklahoma ice storms which sound like war zones when there are trees hanging over your house. As the trees freeze from heavy ice, the cracking of the wood begins. There is nothing you can do but wait for the branches to fall and pray they don’t come through the roof. With the extra weight, they shake the entire house like an earthquake. We thought for sure they were at least 3 foot diameter limbs only to find out later they were closer to 3 inches in diameter. There are very few sunny spots in our front or back yard. Someone let an elm tree grow up right next to our den where we spend the most time. Its trunk takes two grown adults to hug it all the way around. Some of its limbs are as large as most trees. It dropped bombs of limbs and ice on us for almost three days. There were many close calls but no major damage.

City-wide, falling tree limbs hit electrical, cable and phone lines and took out power with huge greenish blue flashes as transformers blew. In an instant, all power is gone. That’s when you begin to realize how much we all take power for granted. There’s no light, no heat, no news or weather, no computer, and no hot water. Food becomes an issue with limited ways to cook. Some stores are without power. Electric lines are on the ground. Traffic lights are out. Tree limbs block the roads. Ice is falling from overhead lines so you take a risk driving or walking around. Whole neighborhoods looked completely black at night. The most common question asked is “Do you have power?” Without thinking, we all still flip the switch every time we walk into a room even though we are fully aware there is no power. We begin to realize how much we take for granted… until it’s not available.

Father, forgive me when I take You and Your power for granted. It is You who makes the sun shine, the air we breathe, the water we need, the shelter we have. We take it all for granted that it will always be there for us. We don’t give it a thought. We don’t stop to praise You for Your unlimited, non-stoppable life-giving power. No storm, no trial, no challenge, no battle can take away Your power. You are faithful and dependable to give us life and all we need. We depend upon You for everything! Lord God, Your power never goes out!

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“His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness. Through these He has given us His very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.” 2 Peter 1:3-4

“Through Him all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made. In Him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.” John 1:3-5

“You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for You created all things, and by Your will they were created and have their being.” Revelation 4:11

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Prayer Prompt-

Father, help me trust Your power and not take these things for granted….

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Heavenly Father,

There are millions of reasons to be thankful…but there is a sly, slithering scheme to steal the joy that is meant to be shared between me and You, Lord. I could be basking in the blessings You continually bathe me in, but the enemy tries to block my awareness of those bountiful blessings by inserting little doubts, fears, and anxieties meant to take my focus off You and all You give me by distracting me with lies and deceptions. He tries to stir up trouble- especially when I am doing something for You. It will not happen without a fight! I will battle against this attack with extra thanksgiving and praise.

Lord God, I am eternally grateful that: You are always with me and will never ever leave me…You are closer to me than anyone else…You live in me through the Holy Spirit… I never have to fight alone…You have complete authority and power over all things…You have great plans for me, those I love and for all those who submit to You…You love me enough to send Jesus to give me eternal life…nothing can ever separate me from You or Your love…the enemy has to cower away at the name of Jesus Christ which I can proclaim loudly and confidently knowing He is mine and I am His!

Thank You for: the breath of life You gave me when You created me and each person I love…the newness of life breathed into me through the Holy Spirit…a husband who loves You and me…children who have grown to be brothers and sisters-in-Christ…grandchildren to love, play and pray with…precious friends and family who share my earthly and eternal life…amazing ways I see You at work every single day…this breathtaking world which is dull in comparison to the home You have waiting for me. Father, I will spend all eternity trying to thank You for everything and there will be no end to the list. The more I thank You, the more we can feast together on the love and joy in the midst of thanksgiving.

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“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:4-7

“Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before Him with thanksgiving and extol Him with music and song.” Psalm 95:1-2

“Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise; give thanks to Him and praise His name. For the Lord is good and His love endures forever; His faithfulness continues through all generations.” Psalm 100:4-5

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Prayer Prompt-

Father, let my gratefulness bless You and me both as I list things I am thankful for:

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Heavenly Father,

My sweet 5th grade granddaughter and I have developed a competition. When I drop her off at her house, we both try to be the last one to say “I love you more!” She tries to yell it quickly as she closes the door before I can get another word out. I’m sure we’re not the only ones who try to prove our love this way. I think I came up with a line she can never top… “I loved you first!” I pulled the grandma card. I settled the issue with the fact that I loved her before she was born …while she was still in her momma’s womb…before she knew who I was. BAM! There is no way she can top that! She still tries! And I love that she does.

Lord, I struggle often with how to express my love for You. I want so much to voice the ever-growing love and awe I have for You. No matter what words or actions I can ever come up with, Your love is always more. It always has been, is now, and forever will be. You loved me first. You created me. You breathed life and love into me. You sustain me. You are my life. You loved me way back when You sent Jesus to be born, live, die and be resurrected- so I could live with You forever. Your love is eternal with no beginning or end. There is no way to measure it and certainly no way to out-give it. Yet I never want to quit trying.

My love for You grows every day… because I can experience more of Your love as it expands my heart to make room for more…And the more I share it, my soul holds even more. Someday, my body won’t be able to contain it and I will burst out of this earthly shell to make room for an even greater measure! You loved me first. Yet through all eternity, I will be growing to love You more!

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“This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and His love is made complete in us.” 1 John 4:10-12

“How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” 1 John 3:1

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Prayer Prompt-

Lord, help me express my love for You by…