Why Become a Member?

Soul Care/Family & Marriage Care

Then Moses summoned all the elders of Israel and said to them, “Go at once and select the animals for your families and slaughter the Passover lamb. 22 Take a bunch of hyssop, dip it into the blood in the basin and put some of the blood on the top and on both sides of the doorframe. None of you shall go out of the door of your house until morning. 23 When the Lord goes through the land to strike down the Egyptians, he will see the blood on the top and sides of the doorframe and will pass over that doorway, and he will not permit the destroyer to enter your houses and strike you down.

-Exodus 12:21-23

Day Eleven

December 13    

Remember on Day Three when we talked about how our faith walks encourage one another? And then on Day Six we talked about Mary’s humble and willing “be it done unto me according to God’s word” response to Gabriel? Well today, we’ll focus on how these two thoughts explode in a marvelous celebration from Elizabeth, for indeed “God is working all things together for good to those who love Him and are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).

Here’s a beautiful example of our win/win Father: Elizabeth’s words are blessing Mary, but Mary’s faith has blessed Elizabeth! Mary is blessed by Elizabeth’s faith-strengthening words, because only the Spirit of God could have told Elizabeth that Mary was carrying the Messiah. At the same time, Elizabeth is rejoicing in Mary’s faith, because Mary’s faith is aligning with God’s purpose in both women’s lives! Someone, please shout “hallelujah!”

11) I like to say that Christmas happens to men, and women make Christmas happen. Amen, ladies? As we engage in conversations about Christmas with our family and friends (and yes, our best buddies!), let’s remember that we can potentially be a source of great encouragement or mutual discouragement. Let’s compose a prayer asking the Lord to keep this uppermost in our thoughts today, so we don’t join in faith-dampening complaints about the stress of the season.    

Shellie Rushing Tomlinson is a Jesus loving, humor-gathering author, speaker, and radio host known as The Belle of All Things Southern. Shellie believes "The whole world stops for a story." She lives in Louisiana and stacks her stories up at All Things Southern.com

More of Shellie Rushing Tomlinson: http://www.allthingssouthern.com/

LYDIA'S CONVERSION -  

BY CHARLES HADDON SPURGEON

In Morning and Evening


"Whose heart the Lord opened." --Acts 16:14

In Lydia's conversion there are many points of interest. It was brought about by providential circumstances. She was a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, but just at the right time for hearing Paul we find her at Philippi; providence, which is the handmaid of grace, led her to the right spot. Again, grace was preparing her soul for the blessing--grace preparing for grace. She did not know the Saviour, but as a Jewess, she knew many truths which were excellent stepping-stones to a knowledge of Jesus. Her conversion took place in the use of the means. On the Sabbath she went when prayer was wont to be made, and there prayer was heard. Never neglect the means of grace; God may bless us when we are not in His house, but we have the greater reason to hope that He will when we are in communion with His saints.

Observe the words, "Whose heart the Lord opened." She did not open her own heart. Her prayers did not do it; Paul did not do it. The Lord Himself must open the heart, to receive the things which make for our peace. He alone can put the key into the hole of the door and open it, and get admittance for Himself. He is the heart's master as He is the heart's maker. The first outward evidence of the opened heart was obedience. As soon as Lydia had believed in Jesus, she was baptized. It is a sweet sign of a humble and broken heart, when the child of God is willing to obey a command which is not essential to his salvation, which is not forced upon him by a selfish fear of condemnation, but is a simple act of obedience and of communion with his Master. The next evidence was love, manifesting itself in acts of grateful kindness to the apostles. Love to the saints has ever been a mark of the true convert. Those who do nothing for Christ or His church, give but sorry evidence of an "opened" heart. Lord, evermore give me an opened heart.

Devotions.org, a division of Back to Bible has a daily source of devotions to keep you in touch with God and His word, written by some of today's top authors and Bible teachers. Browse the variety of resources completely on their website. 

More of Devotions.Org: http://www.backtothebible.org/devotions

The Real St. Nicholas -  

This devotional was written by Jim Liebelt

 

Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ. —1 Corinthians 11:1

 

Many families choose not to include Santa Claus as a part of their Christmas celebrations. The legend of Santa, the North Pole, flying reindeer, keeping naughty and nice lists, and coming down the chimney can seem as just too much distraction from the true meaning of Christmas for many Christian families. But, whatever your family chooses to do with Santa Claus, it may be worthwhile to consider the historical St. Nicholas.

 

“Nicholas lived long ago, in the third century, in a place called Asia Minor, what is now the country of Turkey. His parents died from an illness while Nicholas was a teenager and left him a large inheritance of money. Nicholas’ parents taught him about Jesus. As he grew older, he followed the teachings of Jesus and sold all his possessions, secretly giving money to those in need.

 

“Nicholas became well-loved by the people and later became the Bishop of Myra. He died on December 6, 343 A.D. The anniversary of his death became a day of celebration in his honor, called St. Nicholas Day. On this day, children would give and receive small gifts of candy, chocolate initial letters, or riddles hidden in baked goods or in elaborate packaging. Children also hung stockings by the fire or placed shoes filled with carrots and hay for the horse, eagerly awaiting gifts from St. Nicholas. Gold balls or oranges were given to represent the gifts of gold once given by St. Nicholas.”1

 

Influenced by St. Nicholas’ popularity in Europe, immigrants brought his story and tradition to America. Over the years, legend was wedded to historical elements and developed into our modern day Santa Claus.

 

While we celebrate Christmas as the birth of Jesus, we can have an appropriate appreciation for the lives He has touched. This includes those whose lives demonstrated compassion and selflessness out of their love for Jesus. St. Nicholas was such a person.

 

GOING DEEPER:

1. What is your family’s approach on Santa Claus as part of your Christmas celebrations? Why?

 

2. How might considering the historical St. Nicholas actually add to your family’s Christmas celebration rather than distract from it?

 

FAMILY TIME:

Even if Santa Claus isn’t part of your family’s Christmas celebrations, it’s certain that they will be exposed to images and messages of Santa (television, movies, stores, decorations, family traditions) during the holiday season. At an appropriate point, use the content above to engage your family in a discussion about the historical St. Nicholas and the wonderful example he set as a follower of Jesus. As a family, show some compassion and selflessness by choosing someone (perhaps someone needy) and decide on a meaningful gift you can give this person for Christmas. Together, deliver the gift to this person.

 

1The Real Santa Claus: The Wonderful Story of St. Nicholas by Jim Burns and Leslie Snyder.

This devotional originally appeared in “HomeWord with Jim Burns” on Crosswalk’s Family Devotional section. For more information about HomeWord with Jim Burns devotionals, please visit us online.

More of HomeWord with Jim Burns: http://www.crosswalk.com/devotionals/homeword/

LEARNING FROM SUFFERING

BY MRS. CHARLES COWMAN

In Streams in the Desert

"If I am in distress, it is in the interests of your comfort, which is effective as it nerves you to endure the same sufferings as I suffered myself. Hence my hope for you is well-founded, since I know that as you share the sufferings you share the comfort also" (2 Cor. 1:6, 7).


Are there not some in your circle to whom you naturally betake yourself in times of trial and sorrow? They always seem to speak the right word, to give the very counsel you are longing for; you do not realize, however, the cost which they had to pay ere they became so skillful in binding up the gaping wounds and drying tears. But if you were to investigate their past history you would find that they have suffered more than most. They have watched the slow untwisting of some silver cord on which the lamp of life hung. They have seen the golden bowl of joy dashed to their feet, and its contents spilt. They have stood by ebbing tides, and drooping gourds, and noon sunsets; but all this has been necessary to make them the nurses, the physicians, the priests of men. The boxes that come from foreign climes are clumsy enough; but they contain spices which scent the air with the fragrance of the Orient. So suffering is rough and hard to bear; but it hides beneath it discipline, education, possibilities, which not only leave us nobler, but perfect us to help others. Do not fret, or set your teeth, or wait doggedly for the suffering to pass; but get out of it all you can, both for yourself and for your service to your generation, according to the will of God. --Selected


Once I heard a song of sweetness,

As it cleft the morning air,

Sounding in its blest completeness,

Like a tender, pleading prayer;

And I sought to find the singer,

Whence the wondrous song was borne;

And I found a bird, sore wounded,

Pinioned by a cruel thorn.


I have seen a soul in sadness,

While its wings with pain were furl'd,

Giving hope, and cheer and gladness

That should bless a weeping world;

And I knew that life of sweetness,

Was of pain and sorrow row borne,

And a stricken soul was singing,

With its heart against a thorn.


Ye are told of One who loved you,

Of a Saviour crucified,

Ye are told of nails that pinioned,

And a spear that pierced His side;

Ye are told of cruel scourging,

Of a Saviour bearing scorn,

And He died for your salvation,

With His brow against a thorn.


Ye "are not above the Master."

Will you breathe a sweet refrain?

And His grace will be sufficient,

When your heart is pierced with pain.

Will you live to bless His loved ones,

Tho' your life be bruised and torn,

Like the bird that sang so sweetly,

With its heart against a thorn?

--Selected


The public domain version of this classic devotional is the unabridged edition of Streams in the Desert.

Devotions.org, a division of Back to Bible has a daily source of devotions to keep you in touch with God and His word, written by some of today's top authors and Bible teachers. Browse the variety of resources completely on their website. 

More of Devotions.Org: http://www.backtothebible.org/devotions

FaithHappenings Blogs