Give Up

Jesus came to earth, giving up His reign and heavenly throne.
Jesus was born into the tribe of Judah, giving up the ability to serve in the temple.
Jesus was laid in a manger, giving up being crowned an earthy king.
Jesus trained as a carpenter, giving up wealth.
As an adult, Jesus had no place to call home, giving up the opportunity to be a land owner.
Jesus fasted and prayed, giving up food.
Jesus got up early, while it was still dark, to pray, giving up sleep.
Jesus focused on others, giving up marriage and a family of His own.
Jesus healed the sick, giving up time to hang out with friends.
Jesus taught truth, giving up being accepted by the religious leaders.
Jesus preached, giving up vacation.
Jesus performed miracles, giving up privacy.
Jesus refused to perform miracles, giving up popularity and praise.
Jesus made friends with those with bad reputations, giving up being respected.
Jesus washed His disciples’ feet, giving up being treated as the guest of honor.
Jesus was arrested and tried, giving up His right to defend Himself against evil.
Jesus was beaten, flogged, and crucified, giving up His life.
Finally, Jesus arose,… giving up death forever!

Jesus gave up everything for us. What are we giving up for Him?


“Freely you have received, freely give” (Matthew 10:8b).
“Any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:33).

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Leadership A, B, C’s

At a park recently, I watched siblings playing “Follow the Leader” while going down a slide. Forward, backward, feet first, head first, legs dangling over one side, even s-l-o-w m-o-t-i-o-n! As one led, the other followed.

An excellent example of leadership is found in the Old Testament after Moses passed his mantle to Joshua. Check out a few of Joshua’s leadership qualities.

Ageless. Even though advanced in years (90-100), Joshua continued his assignment of allocating the territories of the Promised Land to the tribes of Israel.

Believed God—no matter what! After receiving God’s battle plans, Joshua boldly marched forward, a behavior of obedience.

Called on God … whether confused or courageous.

Depended on the Lord for direction.

Encouraged others to follow the Lord. Joshua led by example.

Faithful. Joshua’s faith was greater than his fears. When spying out the land of Canaan for Moses, Joshua recognized the possibilities and knew the power of His God was able to lead them in victory over their enemies. 

As one of his last acts of leadership, before his death at age 110, Joshua instructed God’s people, “Now fear the LORD and serve him with all faithfulness… Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve… But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD” (Joshua 24:14-15).

We are all leading someone. How will we lead?

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Directions, Please

A few years ago, I made it clear, please do not give me digital gifts. Technology is not my forte. Well, this year I relented and asked for headphones, not realizing I would get a fancy Wireless Noise Canceling Stereo Headset, which meant (if you need interpretation, like me), it had Bluetooth capabilities that could connect with other digital thingies.

A little overwhelmed, I eventually inspected the box for directions. What I found was panels of pictures purportedly depicting each purpose ~ a puzzling predicament! Clearly, I was elated when I quickly located written step-by-step instructions online. (That, I know how to do.)

Directions, whether specific or general bring satisfaction and understanding, just like when I use a map app to help me arrive at a desired destination. The Bible similarly blesses us with guidance when we take time to read it. I am constantly amazed at how God uses Scripture I read in the morning to point me to specific activities and/or attitudes for the day. God knows our individual situations and His Word teaches, prepares, and encourages us in our daily walk with Him. Without direction, we are lost. I am so thankful He offers to show us the way.

“I am the LORD your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go” (Isaiah 48:17b).

Also, sincere thanks to my thoughtful husband for my headset which I successfully use regularly!

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Live Like a King

In the legendary time of King Arthur, the British king hosted his knights, including Sir Lancelot, around the famous Round Table. Of course, he also lived in a palace and defeated barbarians in numerous battles.

Real-life kings and queens have come and gone, some wise and well-loved, others infamous. Today, twenty-nine countries have royal families. While many monarchs merely reign, others wield political power.

When the nation of Israel asked for a king, after being led by a number of judges, God gave specific guidelines that may surprise you. The king was not to acquire large numbers of horses, take many wives, or accumulate large amounts of silver and gold (Deuteronomy 17:14-17).

What was the monarch to do? God instructed, “When he takes the throne of his kingdom, he is to write for himself on a scroll a copy of this law, taken from that of the priests, who are Levites. It is to be with him, and he is to read it all the days of his life so that he may learn to revere the LORD his God and follow carefully all the words of this law and these decrees and not consider himself better than his brothers and turn from the law to the right or to the left” (Deut. 17:18-20a).

While few of us need worry about multiple horses, spouses, or overflowing bank accounts, we can heed the wisdom of focusing on God’s Word and honoring Him. I would challenge you to find a verse or passage this week that touches your heart. Write it down and place it in a prominent place where you can read it again and again, thinking about its application and how it can change your life and/or thought patterns. I dare you, pick up your sword (the Scriptures) … and live like a king!

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REWARD Offered

Open your mail and find ads for rewards on credit cards. Turn on the news and hear rewards offered for those who help solve crimes or provide vital information on prison escapees. I receive reward points on groceries toward discounts on gas. But, did you know there are rewards promised in the Word of God?

Here are a few of my favs:
“And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him” (Hebrews 11:6).

“Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men, because you know that the Lord will reward everyone for whatever good he does …” (Ephesians 6:7-8).

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord God you are serving” (Colossians 3:23-24).

Living for the Lord may have its hardships, but it also comes with rewards in many forms. Seek Him, serve Him, and do the work He has given you to do. Watch for His rewards and always give thanks for them, for our Father loves us beyond measure and desires to give good gifts to His children.

Go forth and be blessed!

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Distrac … tions

It took a minute. I had been reading … and then I realized I was also scratching … and scratching the back of my hand. I stopped reading. Upon close examination, I found the tiniest red dot. Apparently, a no-see-um had taken a miniscule bite leaving a not-so-small itch!

Dang! Distracted again. For a person with an attention disorder (diagnosed by my family), distractions are a daily struggle. As a planner, I have a list of things I want to accomplish, but battle diversions that hijack my attention and steal my time. (Right now, heavy eyelids are calling me to a power nap and my growling stomach is demanding brunch.) FOCUS!

When Jesus and the disciples visited the home of sisters Mary and Martha, we are told, “But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made.” While that makes perfect sense, Jesus explained that “Mary has chosen what is better.” (Luke 10:40-42)

The key word, chosen, reminds me that I am constantly making choices as to what I will focus on. Although I may be distracted for an instant, I choose how long I will pay attention to that distraction, or how far I will follow that rabbit trail, or how many things I will browse on my phone. And, I have the option to choose to use self-control and call on the power of God to help me focus on the task at hand.

“For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline” (2 Timothy 1:7). So, throughout our day, may we focus on the better task and snub distractions.

(There, now I can have my egg muffin.)

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Whoever … Forever

Who ever heard
Of a builder
Becoming a building?
(That’s ridiculous!)

A writer
Becoming a word, a sentence, or book?
(That’s weird!)

A baker
Becoming a cake, cookie, or donut?
(Mmm.)

Then, why on earth
Would the Creator
Of the heavens and earth
Become
A created being?

Why would
The Almighty God,
King of kings and Lord of lords,
Surrounded by angels
Extoling Him with glory, honor, and praise …
Come
To become
A man
Surrounded by sinners,
Misunderstood by family,
Criticized by neighbors,
And mocked by religious leaders?

Why would God,
Who is absolute love,
Choose to live in a world
Filled with so much hate?

Why would God
Who created life
And breathed life into us
Show up at Christmas
As a baby
Only to die
Thirty-some years later
On a cross?

Why?

Because
Someone
Was missing
From heaven—
You.
Jesus came for YOU!

For God
So loved
The world
That He gave
His
One and only Son,
That whoever
Believes in Him
Would not perish
But
Have eternal life.
(John 3:16)

Jesus came
To pay for and forgive our wrongs
And to restore our relationship with the Father,
So that we could stand before Him
Holy and righteous
And one day hear Him say,
“Welcome home!
Welcome to My kingdom! Enter in.”

Because …
Whoever believes in Him
Lives forever with Him!

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Sound the Blast

Back in the day … of Moses, waaaaay before internet, long, slender, silver trumpets were used to call the community or leaders to gather. These instruments were also used to signal the tribes of Israel to move forward from their camping locations in the desert. When they went into battle, a different blast was sounded. The trumpets were also heard at times of rejoicing, during feasts and festivals, and when offerings were given to God. (Numbers 10:1-10)

With the recent arrival of a new year, ‘blasts’ of celebration were heard around the world. I thought we could imagine those fireworks and cheers as spark to motivate us to move forward in our pursuit of spiritual growth, to receive our marching orders daily determined to walk with the Lord. When enemies try to block our advancement, ‘sound the blast’ as a prayer, seeking God’s guidance, help, and protection. In remembrance of all His blessings, may we ‘sound the blast’ of praise, thankfulness, and worship as we bring Him our tithes and offerings.

Finally … and with great anticipation, we look forward to that last trumpet call! “For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17). May we be ready for that trumpet call.

Moving forward in 2021!

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Return to Sender

Wasn’t it delightful to give gifts this holiday season? Were they received with a smile, a twinkle in the eye, excited giggles, and/or joyful gratitude?

Or, was a gift handed back to you? Did anyone absolutely refuse to receive the treasure you took time to select and wrap? Was a gift shipped back to you, or, if you dropped it off due to Covid, did they request you come back and pick it up … unopened? Now that’s painful!

But, wait a minute! God sent His Son Jesus, the perfect gift, to all people. The intimate relationship God wanted with us upon creation was destroyed by sin. To make things right again, God sent Jesus so that we could have an opportunity to have a restored relationship with the Father. God’s greatest gift was His offer of salvation, forgiveness, and promise of eternal life with Him. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).

So, what have we done with this gift? Rejected it? Ignored it? Decided we’ll ‘open it’ when we get our lives together or when it’s convenient? Have we reasoned that the gift is not really for us or not the gift we wanted?

If you’ve never accepted this gift, Jesus, as your Savior, I pray you would believe and receive Him today. Truth is, there is no greater gift. If you have accepted Jesus as Lord, give thanks to the Father for the gift that cost Him everything!

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Hark!

“Hark, the herald angels sing …”
Hark? Listen carefully, pay attention, focus, hear and consider.

Listen up, shepherds:  Your Messiah was born today in Bethlehem. You will find Him wrapped in cloths in a manger. (Luke 2:11-12)

Listen, Mary:  You have found favor with God. You will be pregnant and give birth to a son. He will be called the Son of God. (Luke 1:30-35)

Listen, Joseph:  Take Mary as your wife. The child is from the Holy Spirit. Name Him Jesus because He will save people from their sins. (Matthew 1:20-21)

These real-life characters, not just figures in a nativity scene, actually heard a word from the Almighty God. And God continued to speak. When Jesus’ body was transfigured, appearing in a glorious state, God spoke from a cloud, “This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him!” (Mark 9:7b). Jesus spoke these encouraging words, “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27).

God continues to speak to us today. Whether your Christmas is noisy and hectic, whether you experience a calm, silent night, or perhaps, a blend of both, may you take time to listen to what God is saying. He has a message especially for you … if … you … listen.

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