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Showing posts from December, 2010

An 11-Month Bible Study Journey

Starting tomorrow I'm going to correct a serious problem in my life, one day at a time. I'm ashamed to say that my Bible reading isn't what God expects from me. It's my earnest desire to spend more time delving into His Word and learning what He would have me be as a Christian and a woman.

These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so. Acts 17:11

Are we willing to schedule time each and every day to study and search the Scriptures? It's not just another chore to check off our to-do list, but a real opportunity to meet God face to face in His Word. The answers to our questions and our prayers are written right in front of us, and it's our responsibility and great joy to find them.

The other key to this verse is "all readiness of mind." If we're open to the miracles God can work in our lives through Bible reading time, anything…

A Life Of Faithfulness

What's the best gift you can give back to the Lord? Your faithfulness.

I don't mean gift as in, God should feel honored that I decided to be faithful. I mean gift as in, we have been blessed more than we deserve and our faithfulness is all we have to give in return.

Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;) Hebrews 10:23

God has been far more faithful to us than we could ever hope to be faithful to Him. He has provided everything we've ever needed and many of the desires of our hearts. He has answered when we called. He has simply been there when no one else was. The Lord has followed through on every promise ever made and our faith leads us to believe He will continue to do so throughout eternity.

And how often is our response one of doubt, laziness, stubbornness or guilt? Instead of clinging to our Heavenly Father and refusing to let go, we stray, argue, misunderstand and take others with us. All He asks is our faithfu…

Wishing You Balance And Moderation

On Saturday (or Monday if you're already procrastinating), many people around the world will make New Year's resolutions. They will decide this is the time to overhaul their eating, weight, home and life in drastic ways. It may last until this time next year, but chances are these off-the-wall decisions won't make it a week, let alone a month.

We should desire to make positive changes in our lives, and improve ourselves according to the Lord's standards. Any move in that direction is beneficial to ourselves and our families, but not the resolutions that we can't stick with more than a few days.

Losing an obscene amount of weight in a short period of time or exercising every day for all of 2011 is a resolution waiting to be tossed aside. At the very first sign of struggle or the first time we don't follow through with our self-imposed rules, we give up and wait until next January to try again. This vicious cycle is self-destructive and not the way God intended us …

A Time Capsule For 2010

In just a few days 2010 will be a memory and we'll have new goals and plans for 2011. Before the calendar page flips, why don't we take a moment to remember all of God's blessings during the past year. All right, that might take longer than a moment, but what you'll see is more than worth the time.

To make my remembrance walk last until this time next year, I'm using a small notebook to jot down my thoughts, recollections and some mementos from these past 12 months. You can make a similar scrapbook or you might want to use a jar or box to hold some precious memories.

So...what to include in your time capsule?

* How did you begin the year? A party? With family? At home or work?
* Think back on last winter. Pull out your calendar and make some notes about major events from the first part of the year. Work your way through the seasons, marking those special days God blessed you with.
* Print out some pictures that highlight the activities of the year. Tape them into your b…

Kinda Homesick

Celebrating Christmas far away from family can create some serious homesickness. Being on the east coast while my family is in the Midwest gives me incredible empathy for our missionaries serving on foreign fields. It's difficult to be separated, whether by a few miles or half a continent.

But lately I've been even more homesick for Heaven than Iowa. (Yes, there's a movie reference there.) The old song speaks of longing for a country you've never seen, but you're still desperate to be there. I've never met my God face to face, but part of me already knows the joy that exists in His presence. To have that intimate communion for all eternity is a precious gift that we get impatient for.

Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord: (For we walk by faith, not by sight:) We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord. Wherefore we labour, that, …

The Christmas Glow Continues

The space under the tree is empty and the presents are unwrapped. The food prepared yesterday is now leftovers packed up in the fridge. Company will soon be leaving and life will get back to normal.

But what will the next days hold for a Christian woman who just celebrated the birth of her Savior?

Does getting life back to normal mean that we lose the joy that this wonderful Christmas day brought? Do we return to complacency or do we surge forward with praise on our lips?

The choice is ultimately each individual woman's. I'm looking forward to my everyday routine starting tomorrow, but not the laziness I felt before this week. Setting aside the things of God like Bible study, journaling and prayer time is pure laziness, because we allow the things of the world to come before that precious time with the Lord.

Have you felt a resurgence of peace this week? Christ's birth revives our souls because we're reminded of our past, present and future relationship with Him. Do we tak…

The Birthday of The King

Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a publick example, was minded to put her away privily. But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins. Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us. Matthew 1:18-24

And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all…

1 Day Until Christmas

It's finally Christmas Eve! Just one more day and we'll celebrate the birth of our Savior! What glorious anticipation!

I'm sure your home is busy today preparing meals, wrapping gifts and attending evening services. In the midst of the hustle and bustle, I pray you'll take a few minutes alone with the Lord. Choose one of the following ideas and get charged up for the weekend with God's Word.

* Read Isaiah 9:6. Which name of Jesus Christ means the most in your life today?

* Read Matthew 2:1-12. What personal gifts does Jesus desire from us now?

* Read Luke 1:26-38. Meditate on what have been going through Mary's mind this day before her child's, and her Savior's, birth.

* Read Luke 2:8-14. Listen to "Hark The Herald Angels Sing."

* Read John 1:1-16. Light a candle and praise the Lord for sending us the Light of the World!

I pray you will enjoy this beautiful Christmas Eve and rest in the peace of Jesus Christ. Nothing else we have planned for today is…

2 Days Until Christmas

When the weekend has come and gone, what will you remember about your Christmas celebration?

Will it be the joy of Christ's birth or the headache of Christmas shopping?

Will it be the warmth of family by the fireplace or getting into a cold car every morning?

Will it be the peace of enjoying the still, cold, evening air or the anxiety of having a clean home, prepared meal and purchased presents?

Will it be the hope of the Savior's arrival or the disappointment of those who can't be with you?

Will it be the love of family around the dinner table or rushing to get the meal prepared?

Will it be the fun of Christian fellowship with believers of like faith or dealing with everybody pushing and shoving through the mall?

It's all about perspective, and I pray that with our eyes on Christ our perspective will be clear. I would hate to reach the end of the Christmas season and realize that I had been so focused on the negative that I had neglected all the positives.

The struggles of th…

3 Days Until Christmas

Guess how many people you will interact with between now and the end of Christmas Day. 10? 25? 50? 100? More? Each and every person you speak to, pass by, help and serve is a soul loved by the Lord. It may not be so apparent when we're all hurried, frazzled and snippy, but our words and actions all have a tremendous impact on how others perceive the birth of our Savior.

Even strangers can tell if you are a Christian - without you ever saying a word. The week is passing by with great speed, but will you take the time to smile at the checkout lady? Will you ask her how she is today? Will leave her with a "Merry Christmas" or are you so caught up in your to-do list that you don't even give her a passing thought? You may be the only Gospel she receives today, and wouldn't that be a wonderful Christmas gift?

The police in our area have reminded us that there will be many travelers passing through town over the next few days. They don't know the roads the way we do, …

4 Days Until Christmas

Do you have your menu for Christmas meals ready? Are you prepared to go grocery shopping? Is everything pulled out to decorate the table?

We put so much time and effort into preparing the dining table for holiday meals. Christmas may be the only time each year that we're surrounded by so many loved ones, so this is an important centerpiece of the day.

Once the linens have been spread, the flowers and candles are in place and the dinnerware is laid out, the people take their seats. Whether there are two of you or a table-full of family and friends, Christmas is complete around the edge of the table. Grace is spoken and God rests His hand on each in attendance.

Jesus saith unto them, Come and dine. And none of the disciples durst ask him, Who art thou? knowing that it was the Lord. John 21:12

Everything on your table this Christmas is a precious gift from God. He has provided in ways no one else can. The food, decorations, plates and trappings of the day are all supplied by a loving, gr…

5 Days Until Christmas

This Christmas season, we need prayer more than ever. Illness, depression, conflict, death and other personal concerns are threatening to steal our joy. In less than a week we celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior, but prayer is necessary at this very moment. Will you pray with me?

Pray for:
* the peace of Jerusalem
* peace for our soldiers around the world
* peace in the hearts of Christian women everywhere
* peace that begins in our homes and spreads
* peace among our loved ones

Pray for:
* a renewed sense of joy in our churches
* personal joy that will stir the soul
* joy that will change the attitudes of tired, cranky people
* God's joy in overflowing abundance

Pray for:
* a burden for lost souls
* a burden for the young people in our lives
* a burden for the sick, elderly and shut-ins
* a burden to bring new people to the house of God

Pray for:
* those in authority over you
* those in submission to you
* those you see every day
* those you rarely get to see
* those you love
* those you would l…

6 Days Until Christmas

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Can you even begin to imagine what that first Christmas carol must have sounded like?

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. Luke 2:13-14
With those glorious words in their hearts, the shepherds hurried off to find the babe, wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger. Perhaps, with joy and hope of hearing the Christ child had arrived, they were singing along the way.
Paul wrote to the Ephesians that they were to be filled with the Holy Spirit: Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Ephesians 5:19-20
What better time is there to make melody in your heart than at Christmas? The joy and anticipation of the birth of our Savior creates a feeling that can only be expressed in song.
And no…

7 Days Until Christmas

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In just a week we will celebrate the birth of the Christ child. We rejoice in the new life, the hope of His coming and the gift of salvation. The birthday of the King rejuvenates our love and faith in beautiful miracles.

Now let's fast-forward to a later chapter of the story. That tiny baby has grown up and is now the focus of hateful and evil men. He has been arrested, tortured and hung on the cross to die a humiliating death. He is mocked, scorned and hated from every side.
That's not the Christmas story...that's the Easter story! We don't want to think about the ugly and the brutal and the sin. Advent is about expectations and renewal. Christmas is about birth and life and joy. Thinking about Jesus' death doesn't fit into that pretty, pure picture.
But the end of the story makes us treasure the beginning of the story so much more. The Son of God was willing to give all just for me. He left His throne in Heaven for you. He gave every drop of blood He had for the…

8 Days Until Christmas

Over the past several days I've been scared to death by other drivers driving while talking or texting on their phones.

The man behind me in the grocery line yesterday informed someone very loudly through his hands-free device that he was waiting patiently at the grocery store. Then he changed lines so he could get done faster.

The woman in front of me at a different check out lane in another store was so consumed with her phone call that she didn't even hang up to interact with the clerk.

Technology is the quickest joy-destroyer there is. Yes, I use it daily and appreciate that I can communicate, work and entertain myself with it. It is a blessing in many ways, but in addition to connecting us with the world it is alienating us from the world around us.

This Advent season is a time to draw closer to one another and to the Lord. How can we do that with a computer in our lap? Can you really have quality time with family when the cell phone vibrates every other minute? Is it quality…

9 Days Until Christmas

The rush has ended momentarily. After a very busy few weeks I find myself with a whole day to myself. No Christmas parties, no planning, no deadlines and no errands. I can finally catch up on some writing projects, our etsy shop and the slightly neglected housework.

And then I realize...I am empty. I've given and written and crafted and sent and spoken and...I'm empty. My energy is drained and I think I'm coming down with a cold. The desire is still there, but I've run out of motivation. In a word, I'm human.

It is at these moments that I am blessed by God. It isn't a contradiction, but the beauty that is our Lord. We pack our calendars to tightly at Christmas time, and then run ourselves silly trying to accomplish it all. The source of all time, energy, love and courage, our God has an endless supply of everything we require to serve Him.

Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Gh…

10 Days Until Christmas

A decade ago I wrote a newspaper article about how much it would cost in the present day to purchase all of the gifts in the song, The 12 Days of Christmas. I contacted local merchants and added up all of the birds, jewelry and service providers - the total came to almost $50,000.

Today the gifts are equally outrageous. The price of technology has gone through the roof so we can have convenience at our finger tips. Entertainment is overly important and under-appreciated. If you send nothing at all, you are considered cheap and thoughtless.

But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money. Acts 8:20

The gifts of God, the true and precious gifts, are not found in packages or purchased in stores. This sounds cliche, but the flesh is so much more interested in the gift than the giving. It's a sad state of affairs when we allow our gift-buying and gift-giving to rule our thoughts. The money isn't the issue,…

11 Days Until Christmas

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Each woman who attended the Christmas party for our Ladies' Sunday School class this past weekend received a wonderful gift to take home. It was a folder full of holiday recipes collected from all the ladies of the class. We asked them to write them out in their own hand writing and we made enough copies for everyone to have one. They were collected in a folder and were waiting on the table when they arrived.

These are priceless recipes, each with a family story behind them. They ranged from main dishes to appetizers, side dishes to desserts. In this collection are tips and ideas that have now been passed on to new generations of cooks who want to bless their homes with delicious Christmas meals.
Food is such a central part of the holidays. We gather around the dining room table to eat. We go out to restaurants as a family. We shop together, we prepare together and we dine together. When we are hungry, we sit down to a plate full of these special treats, like those we shared on Satu…

12 Days Until Christmas

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I wonder what your tree topper is. It may seem like a silly thought, but work with me here. Is it an angel, watching over the holiday festivities? Do you have bows tied to the top with ribbons cascading down? Perhaps there are flowers or wreaths or bears or birds.
But more often than not, there is a star. It may twinkle. It may change colors. But it send out that warm glow over the whole tree, lighting up the balls and garland below.
The very basic reason for the star is the remembrance of how the visitors found the Christ child that precious, special night.
When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was. Matthew 2:9
That bright directional beacon led the wise men straight to the manger and right to the answer to their prayers. The moment of salvation was here and the star directed the way. Whether we're experts in charting the stars or not, we can still follow the lig…

13 Days Until Christmas

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As you worship the Lord today and celebrate the Advent season, I ask that you remember the missionaries serving God around the world. Many of them will not be able to return from their foreign fields to celebrate Christmas with their families. They may be on the other side of the world in two weeks, rejoicing alone or with a few immediate family members.

And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. Mark 16:15 There are no excuses or justifications here - go and preach. Our men of God on the mission field are preaching the Gospel to people who might not otherwise hear it. There is no weekend off or Christmas vacation. This is their calling, forsaking all. Pray this Christmas season for all of our missionaries in all countries around the earth. They are going into all the world in our place, and they need our prayers during the holidays even more. Beg the Lord to give them comfort if they are away from family, supply all their needs and give the…

14 Days Until Christmas

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This past week a woman made an observation that literally made me nauseous. I was showing her the nativity scene that Danny has made for our shop this season and she said:

You know, it's getting harder and harder to find nativities anymore. They're just taking the Christ out of Christmas.

Not at our house, was my quick reply. Others may turn to commercialization and the lure of large purchases, but there are still many families around the world that are centered on the true joy of Christmas - our Savior!

The nativity means joy: the angels brought that joy to the shepherds so they could pass it on to others. That's our joy, too.

The nativity means fulfillment: the wise men knew the Savior was coming and this lovely family scene was the answer to their prayers. It is the answer to our prayers, too.

The nativity means that God's promises are true. Throughout the Old Testament He promised a Savior, Redeemer and Lord would come to earth, and each promise has come to pass. His pr…

15 Days Until Christmas

What a joy yesterday was! I spent most of the day at the craft bazaar of a local Christian school. My table was full of Christmas cards, other greeting cards and all sorts of paper and wood crafts – all covered in Scripture and bathed in prayer. These creations are my heart, and it's such a pleasure to share them with students and their parents.

Each class had the opportunity to come through and shop the little Santa's Workshop area, and the little ones were the cutest. They practiced reading our “Stuff From Trees” sign, and many checked to make sure everything we had came from trees somehow. I got stumped, though, when one boy asked if the marker I used to write my price tags cam from a tree...what quick minds they have!

The best part of my job is being able to share my faith with everyone who stops to browse. All of our pieces have Scripture on them or in them, and have images that share God's love and grace. This is our ministry to our community through these shows and in…

16 Days Until Christmas

Over the next four days, I will only be in my house to sleep. It will be the busiest weekend of the Christmas holiday, and I pray I'll make it through with all my wits about me. I've squeezed everything I can into a finite number of hours and that would probably drive me insane any other time of year. The difference today is what I'll be busy with...

* Christian School Bazaar - I have the special opportunity to be part of an area Christian school's craft bazaar for two days. The children have a few dollars to spend, and the vendors provide items that are $5 or less. This way the students can purchase a few small gifts for their parents, siblings and other loved ones on their own. The school just asks that we return part of our profit, which we lovingly and willingly do. What a privilege to be able to supply my cards and gifts, all covered with Scripture, to children.

* The Funeral Home Christmas Gathering - My husband's boss opens his home each year to the employees …

17 Days Until Christmas

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You'd never know it is Christmas if you walked into our house right now. We have scheduled ourselves so tightly lately that there are only a scattering of decorations around our home. The occasional ornament and holly sprig don't seem to add a holiday feel to an otherwise ordinary day.

Some people feel that the decorations make it the Christmas season. Some hurry to get their decorations up so they'll be the first, the largest or the best. Others want to show off their talents, budgets and ideas. And the results can be glorious, lovely show pieces.

Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. John 14:23

The Lord wants our heart as His temple, a place where we worship Him constantly. Not suddenly at Advent and not with a show of tinsel and gold. If His abode, the very core of our being, isn't Christ-centered all year long, Christmas won't be a special time…

18 Days Until Christmas

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So...yesterday I was passed on the interstate like we were in a NASCAR race. People were in such a hurry that it didn't seem to matter some of us choose to do the speed limit. There was somewhere so important to be that weaving in and out of traffic became less of a threat and more of an importance.

Once I arrived at my destination, some other ladies shopping were in such a hurry that they pushed their way through crowds, cut people off and snatched product off the shelves to get it before someone else. Even as I was putting my change back in my purse at the checkout, the woman behind me was already pushing her way in.
During the Advent season this irritates me more than usual. I want the people around me to be as full of joy about Christmas coming as I am. For me it's not about presents or decorating or parties, but focusing on the anticipation of our soon-coming King!
And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let…

19 Days Until Christmas

This month is my busiest time of year. Many days I am at the mercy of other's people's needs and schedules as we plan parties, attend events and get things accomplished. This creates a full calendar, a full plate and an overly-full mind.

For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints. 1 Corinthians 14:33

All I want is a moment of peace. The confusion of the world says cram it full...try to do more...be busy and you'll be happy. But I don't want happiness. I want God's peace. That's the greatest gift of all time, and it won't be wrapped under a tree.

The peace of God passes all understanding, and that peace began in Bethlehem. When Jesus Christ came to earth, He brought a beautiful, perfect peace with Him. Nothing man-made can begin to compare with the peace that comes from our Savior.

With His arrival came peace.
With the teaching of the Gospel came peace.
With His perfect will came peace.
With the blotting out of our sins c…

20 Days Until Christmas

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Many places already have snow on the ground - we do not. In our area we may not see snow, or at least it will only be here for a day and then disappear. That's one of the trademarks of the South. A white Christmas would be picturesque this year, but it's probably not a probability here.

But that also means no shoveling, no tracking into the house and no scraping off the car in the morning. Preventing the extra work is a lovely thought, but sometimes it would be nice to watch a gentle snow fall from the window by the fireplace.

She is not afraid of the snow for her household: for all her household are clothed with scarlet. Proverbs 31:21

The snow fall reminds us of Christ's purity. The snow is completely clean and pure until it hits the earth. It is perfectly white until man and things man has created touch it and destroy it. The joy of the Christian woman is that Christ's purity never changed - He came to earth sinless, was perfect while He was on the earth and returned t…

21 Days Until Christmas

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Have you had many fires in the fireplace this winter season? Here in South Carolina it's only been cool enough for a couple of weeks, so we've had logs burning almost every day.

The joys of the fireplace are that warmth and glow that spill out of the flames. There's nothing more cozy than a crackling fire and the soothing heat it creates.

During the Christmas season many companies use fireplaces in their advertising to conjure up images of family time and togetherness. We associate the warmth of the fire with the warmth of our love and devotion.

The apostles had that same comparison in their personal interactions with Jesus Christ. In the very last chapter of Luke, Jesus met with His disciples again, telling them about Scripture and sharing a meal. His presence and attention had a profound impact on their hearts.

And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures? Luke 24:32

Compare that b…

22 Days Until Christmas

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Our Christmas cards are in the works. I say that at this time every year. Sometimes they get sent out and sometimes I am disappointed because they don't go out. Christmas cards are one of my lazy, procrastination problems in the December of every year.

And that is very sad. As Christian women we have been entrusted with the ability to share our faith through the written Word. With just a few scribbles of our pen, we can change the world with the story of God's love.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. John 1:1-4

Jesus Christ is the Word. Through Him words have power and meaning. Sharing the Word of the Word is offering an eternal gift that alter lives and brighten pathways wherever you send it. Are you willing to take the few minutes necessary to mail a card filled…

23 Days Until Christmas

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One of the joys of having my in-laws staying with us for a week is the opportunity to share and learn. We have several boxes of Christmas decorations that they used before they went to Mongolia as missionaries, and I never knew the story behind many of them. So they stayed wrapped up and tucked away.

But this week they all came out - the living room floor was covered with ornaments, garland, candles and bows. We cleaned, we laughed, we hung a few, sorted out a few and repacked a few. And the best part was the stories...




I got to learn about my husband as a child. I heard memories of a family I haven't been part of for very long. I caught up on family history, grew in my knowledge of world cultures and solidified my relationship with a precious Christian woman - all through a few boxes of Christmas decorations. Pieces that I thought were outdated and musty suddenly had a history and meaning to go with them.

Perhaps you have already finished your decorating for this holiday season. Or …

24 Days Until Christmas

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It is suddenly the first day of December - where has the year gone? Moment after moment has passed into the past, and I pray that you have used many of them to grow in the Lord.

Perhaps you've read your Bible through in a year. Or maybe you've done a personal study over a single book or a few chapters. Regardless, God's Word is the foundation of growth.

There is nothing in this life more important than studying God's Word - diving in, immersing yourself, drinking it in - and learning for yourself exactly what the Lord has designed you to be.

Between now and Christmas, over the next 24 days, read the story of our Savior's birth every day. Look through Luke Chapter 2. Marvel over Matthew Chapters 1 and 2. Join John in worshiping the Word in Chapter 1. Even Isaiah and the other books of the Old Testament speak to the coming of our Lord.

Find those special passages, read a different one each day and treasure the excitement of the impending arrival. God loved this world so …