The Epiphany of the Lord

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Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee.

For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the Lord shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee.

And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising.

Lift up thine eyes round about, and see: all they gather themselves together, they come to thee: thy sons shall come from far, and thy daughters shall be nursed at thy side.

Then thou shalt see, and flow together, and thine heart shall fear, and be enlarged; because the abundance of the sea shall be converted unto thee, the forces of the Gentiles shall come unto thee.

The multitude of camels shall cover thee, the dromedaries of Midian and Ephah; all they from Sheba shall come: they shall bring gold and incense; and they shall shew forth the praises of the Lord.

Isaiah 60:1-6

 

We have celebrated Christmas with the manger, the angels, the shepherds and the star. We have read the story in the Gospel of Luke.

 

Today we read the story from the Gospel of Matthew. How wise men came from the east to worship. Upon seeing the child, they fell down and worshiped, and presented gifts of gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.

What will you give Him?

Will you worship?

The Twelfth Day of Christmas

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In the beginning was the Word,

and the Word was with God,

and the Word was God.

And the Word was made flesh,

and dwelt among us,

(and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,)

full of grace and truth.

John 1:1, 14

 

These are the images that come to mind when we think of Jesus’ birth in the stable.

I’ve heard them talk of the “sweet smelling hay” in the manger bed.

Have you ever been in a stable? One with animals in it.

A barn full of hay can be “sweet smelling” if it doesn’t make you sneeze.

But put a donkey in there and add a cow, a sheep, a horse and it isn’t going to be sweet.

I have a feeling that Mary and Joseph would have traded that stable for a clean bed.

But that was not God’s plan.

Jesus was born in a stable, in a manger, under the shadow of a cross.

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This is a stable.

img_6994  This is a manger.

On this last day of the Christmas Season remember that He was born to die.

 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son,

that whosoever believeth in him should not perish,

but have everlasting life.

John 3:16

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The Eleventh Day of Christmas

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 And it came to pass,

as Aaron spake unto the whole congregation of the children of Israel,

that they looked toward the wilderness, and, behold,

the glory of the Lord appeared in the cloud.

Exodus 16:10

 

This picture touches something deep within me.

It reminds me of the God I serve.

He is holy;

He is just;

He is merciful;

He is righteous;

He is all mighty;

He is all knowing;

He is ever present;

He is GOD

and

He loves me.

Psalm 103 reminds me of all that He is.

Bless the Lord, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name.

Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits:

Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases;

Who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies;

Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

The Lord executeth righteousness and judgment for all that are oppressed.

He made known his ways unto Moses, his acts unto the children of Israel.

The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy.

He will not always chide: neither will he keep his anger for ever.

He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.

For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him.

As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.

Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him.

For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust.

As for man, his days are as grass: as a flower of the field, so he flourisheth.

For the wind passeth over it, and it is gone; and the place thereof shall know it no more.

But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him, and his righteousness unto children’s children;

To such as keep his covenant, and to those that remember his commandments to do them.

The Lord hath prepared his throne in the heavens; and his kingdom ruleth over all.

Bless the Lord, ye his angels, that excel in strength, that do his commandments, hearkening unto the voice of his word.

Bless ye the Lord, all ye his hosts; ye ministers of his, that do his pleasure.

Bless the Lord, all his works in all places of his dominion: bless the Lord, O my soul.

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The Tenth Day of Christmas

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Nothing touches our lives but it is God Himself speaking.

Oswald Chambers

“My Utmost For His Highest”

God speaks to me through a sunrise.

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A sunset

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The beauty of a flower

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The promise of a rainbow

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The smile of a child

 

The lives of our animals.

We can easily see God in these things. Good things. Wonderful things.

But what about the hard things?

Are we looking for God in the difficult circumstances?

Nothing touches me that doesn’t go through God first.

That means He sent it or He allowed it – FOR HIS PURPOSE.

I believe that with all my heart.

When I find myself dealing with something that is hard I remind myself – God is in this.

I am learning to see God in the struggle to control my blood sugar.

He is teaching me to trust Him.

I have to do my part. Eat healthy foods. Get plenty of exercise.

Avoid the triggers.

But when I do everything right and the numbers still are off I trust Him.

Trust Him.

The Ninth Day of Christmas

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By faith Abraham,

when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance,

obeyed;

and he went out,

not knowing whither he went.

Hebrews 11:8


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Each morning we greet a new day.

We don’t know what awaits us, but God does.

Just like Abraham, God invites us to trust Him.

God invites us to “go out,” not knowing where it is God will take us.

Will you obey today?

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Lord, we thank You for this new day, for all of the possibilities it holds.

Help us to live with our eyes wide open.

Help us to see Your hand at work in every situation we encounter this day.

God is good!

All the time!

 

All the time!

God is good!

 

The Eighth Day of Christmas

It is of the LORD’s mercies that we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is Thy faithfulness.

Lamentations 3: 22-23

 

This first day of the year of our Lord twenty-nineteen began with gray skies and cold temperatures.

We are reminded that although we did not see the sun shining, it was shining above those gray clouds.

Just as there are times when we cannot see God at work in our lives, yet we are certain that He is working out His plan for us. Because God is faithful.

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We begin this new year with a clean calendar.

It may be a wall calendar . . .

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It may be a desk calendar . . .

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It may be a pocket calendar . . .

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It may be a calendar on your smart phone . . .

But each one has a space for each day of this new year.

Three hundred and sixty-five days to serve God.

And when we mess up – you know you will –

We confess, we repent, and we begin anew.

 

Great Is Thy Faithfulness
Thomas Chisholm – 1925

Great Is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father!
There is no shadow of turning with Thee;
Though changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not
As Thou hast been Thou forever wilt be.

Summer and winter, and springtime and harvest,
Sun, moon, and stars in their courses above,
Join with all nature in manifold witness
To Thy great faithfulness, mercy, and love.

Pardon for Sin and a peace that endureth,
Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide,
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!

Refrain
Great Is Thy faithfulness,
Great Is Thy faithfulness,
Morning by morning new mercies I see;
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided
Great is Thy Faithfulness, Lord unto me!

The Seventh Day of Christmas

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New Year’s Eve.

How quickly the year seems to pass. People used to tell me that time goes by faster the older you get. Well I can attest to that fact after 67 years, 9 months, and 2 days!

Olin and I both expected to have aches and pains as we aged and to not be able to do everything that we used to do. We just didn’t expect it to happen so soon.

I found myself having to take a break when mowing the yard this summer. It now takes me two days to do what I used to do in one. The same is true for him.

 

There are many things in this world that could be of concern but as the sign says, “Let your faith be bigger than your fears.” We don’t know what the new year holds for us but we do know the One in charge of our future and we trust in His plan for us.

 

The Sixth Day of Christmas

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom;

teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.

And whatsoever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.

Colossians 3: 16-17

 

Let us ponder these words as we come to the end of 2018. As we look ahead to what 2019 holds for us, we can purpose in our hearts to “do all in the name of the Lord Jesus.”

How would that change the way we live? Would you act differently if you knew that your actions would be seen as acts of Jesus? Would the reputation of our Lord suffer from your actions, your words, your thoughts?

Oswald Chambers writes in “My Utmost For His Highest” –

The sign that God is at work in us is that He corrupts confidence in the natural virtues, because they are not promises of what we are going to be, but remnants of what God created man to be. We will cling to the natural virtues, while all the time God is trying to get us into contact with the life of Jesus Christ which can never be described in terms of the natural virtues. It is the saddest thing to see people in the service of God depending on that which the grace of God never gave them, depending on what they have by the accident of heredity. God does not build up our natural virtues and transfigure them, because our natural virtues can never come anywhere near what Jesus Christ wants. No natural love, no natural patience, no natural purity can ever come up to His demands. But as we bring every bit of our bodily life into harmony with the new life which God has put in us, He will exhibit in us the virtues that were characteristic of the Lord Jesus. 

For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.

Galatians 3:26-28

 

That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; and be renewed in the spirit of your mind; and that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.

Ephesians 4:22-24

Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; and have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him: where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all.

Colossians 3:9-11

Dying to self daily and living for Jesus is what we are called to do if we claim the name of Christ. We cannot do this on our own but only the Holy Spirit working in us can accomplish this. Allow God to transfigure you, to form Christ in you.

Prayer.

Lord, I know that on my own I can do nothing but with Christ all things are possible. Guide me moment by moment. Show me when to act and when to stand still. Show me when to speak and when to keep silent. Show me when to question and when to trust. And whatsoever I do in word or deed, may I do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus. Amen

The Fifth Day of Christmas

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More Memories!

December 29, 2010 I attended my last choir Christmas Party. These events were some of the most memorable of my twelve years at Magnolia United Methodist Church.

Ms. Jane was our director and she did not put up with half way efforts when it came to our music. The Christmas Cantatas she put together were awesome! We were small in number but that lady could get amazing results. I was watching a group singing on television one night and saw one of the performers actually chewing gum! Ms. Jane would have straightened him out in a flash.

She worked us hard all year with the Christmas Cantata being our crowning moment. We also hosted a Christmas luncheon for the seniors with holiday music and lots of food and fun. But the best came the week after Christmas with the choir Christmas party. We always drew names but we couldn’t just buy a gift – NO – we had to compose a poem to go with it. Those were the most hilarious moments. Some wrote short poems but there were a few who really got into the spirit and had us all roaring. By the end of the poem we were supposed to figure out who the recipient was.

So as I sit here reminiscing I am carried back to those moments where people took the time to show how much they cared with words written with much angst. I dug out one of my own masterpieces to share this Christmas.

Another year has come and passed.

            My they do seem to go by so fast!

The Christmas traditions have all been kept.

            The Senior luncheon where no one slept.

The guests were too busy laughing with glee

            At Bob Lane and the chipmunks three.

The food was delicious, the party merry,

            The entertainment goofy, like Curly, Moe, and Larry.

But what a wonderful time it was,

            A time to gather “Just Because.”

Because we love Jesus and want to share

            Our joy in Him with others there.

 

And next came the night we all love – and dread.

            The Christmas Cantata, or Can-ta-ta, as Joe has said.

We love this night because of the magic.

            God takes our voices – sometimes tragic –

And makes them blend in love’s harmony

            With music that makes a glad melody.

But at the same time we can be filled with dread

            That Ms. Jane will hear mistakes we might “said.”

(I know the correct English is “say” but it doesn’t rhyme!)

Mistakes we all make with a slip of the tongue,

            Like man-GER instead of man-ga – we’ve all said that one!

Or singing when silent we should be

            That one is hard to hide you see.

Or not coming in on the proper beat,

            Then we’d see Ms. Jane coming up out of her seat.

“You’re not watching me.” She would admonish.

            But in the very next moment we would astonish

Because we would sing every note to perfection

            Bringing a smile from Ms. Jane’s direction.

And let us not mention the “Procession” we walked.

            When someone would hurry – or else they would balk

And hold up the line and make all out of step

            Or forget which side to hold their candle – LIT.

But at last the night would finally come

            When we stood before the people and our Cantata we sung.

 

And this is the very best part you see

            Because it didn’t really matter how good we might be.

For God took our offering of voice and heart

            And added His blessing and made us a part

Of something much bigger than our little choir

            It’s as if the angels had come from afar.

It must be the angels sent from above

            Sent by the Father in response to our LOVE

For our music is offered in love can’t you see.

            That’s what makes it so special to me.

And to all who come to listen – to hear

            Christmas music loud and clear,

Offered in love to the Father’s glory

            Telling once more the old Christmas story.

What this choir shares is much, much more

            Than just a beautiful musical score.

The love of God is what you give.

            The life of Christ you’re willing to live.

You give of yourselves again and again.

            And I myself – hope it never will end.

 

And now on this Epiphany night

            We are rewarded for all our fright.

We come to the final tradition you see,

            The choir Christmas Party – WHOOPIE!

We gather together to laugh out loud.

            We really are a boisterous crowd.

We’ll remember the triumphs and also the clinkers,

            The angelic voices and also the stinkers.

We’ll eat till we’re full; we’ll laugh till we cry.

            By the end of the night not an eye will be dry.

We’ll remember those who aren’t with us tonight.

            June and Bob have taken flight.

They’ve gone south with the geese –

            No longer needing mittens and fleece.

And Gwen and Brian – Donna and “Trouble”

            They’ve marched off on the double.

For they have been called. Their country they serve.

            All of our prayers they so richly deserve.

And some have gone home to sing in another choir.

            Listen, can you hear the music afar?

And though there are many not with us this year

            They are still a part of our choir – and dear

Dear to our hearts and forgotten – NEVER!

            For once a member – you are always – forever.

 

Oh dear! I seem to have gone astray.

            I’m supposed to talk about my “Name” today.

But all of this pertains to the name I drew.

            In speaking of the choir, I’m speaking of you too.

For you offer your gifts to family and friends.

            You give of yourself without an end.

Sometimes it seems you’re unappreciated – I know

            But never forget – God’s looking below.

And He sees the offering in secret made.

            And the reward in heaven is waiting to be paid.

This gift I got – I haven’t a clue

            Of how it works or what it will do.

I saw one word and said “That’s the one!”

            The word was GOLF – Bob, I hope it is fun!

 

           

 What wonderful times we had. what wonderful memories we made.

What memories are you making this Christmastide?

 

The Fourth Day of Christmas

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More Christmas Memories!

In December 2010 we were preparing to take my parents on a road trip to Las Vegas for my niece’s wedding.

We left Delaware on December 30th and arrived in Las Vegas on January 2nd, celebrated the wedding on the 4th, left Las Vegas on the 6th, and arrived back in Delaware on the 15th.

It was spending those seventeen days on the road with my parents that gave birth to the idea of taking them on an extended trip in a motor home. My parents were longtime RV’er’s and didn’t think spending every night in a different hotel was the proper way to travel. Dad was overheard making the comment “I never thought I’d see the mountains in New Mexico again except from the air. He felt that their camping days were over and that future travel would necessitate flying. After we returned home from that trip we began to think about this idea of a cross-country trip in an RV. So Christina is responsible!

We purchased a motor home in the spring and December 2011 found us preparing for a trip to Florida in the RV. Sort of a practice run. We left Delaware January 5th and headed south.

 

Our first stop was Hampton, VA for a visit with Jeff & Maria.

Then on to South Carolina for a visit with cousins. There was an unexpected delay in Savannah, GA. We spent three weeks in a motel while the RV was in the shop for a new engine.

Finally after 32 days we arrived in Florida

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We returned to Delaware in March to prepare for our cross-country trip.

Although these aren’t strictly Christmas memories. Both December 2010 and December 2011 found us preparing for an adventure.

We are always making memories. What memories will you make this day?