Tuesday, December 31, 2013

A Few Thoughts for New Year's Eve

As we close out yet another year, I just want to share a few thoughts. I'm not going to encourage you to write your resolutions (although I do think having goals for the year can be helpful). I am going to encourage you, however, to do one thing:

Pray for a keyword for 2014.

I'd never done this before, but last year at this time, the Lord seemed to speak one word to me: FOCUS.

I wrote that word on a sticky note and put in my journal, and it seemed that—all year—that word kept popping up. In verses I read. In books I studied. In moments of prayer.


Now that I look back at the year, I see that one simple word drew me closer to the Lord. I meditated on verses that spoke of trusting Him fully. Surrendering to Him fully. Seeking to serve Him fully. Seeking to love others fully.

Having my focus on Him pushed everything else into the background, and I have experienced tremendous blessings this year. Relationships have strengthened. Wiser decisions have been made. I've found great peace even through the painful days.


God has given me a new word for 2014. It's between Him and me for now, but I'm very excited to see what He brings in 2014.

So ... what's your word for 2014? If you find the Lord has given you one, let me know. I'd love to pray for you even more this year!

Have a blessed and fruitful year!

Monday, December 30, 2013

Peace ... (Psalm 29:11)

Today's scripture: Psalm 29:11

As 2013 winds down (and since I'm starting a new "year of psalms" on Wednesday), today, I'm going to share an excerpt from a devotion book I wrote a few years ago:

Often, I feel very, very weak—emotionally, mentally, spiritually. The world seems to be closing in, and I can’t seem to dodge the boulders being tossed at me, right and left.

Often, I try to take on the world and its challenges on my own, and I feel the weight crushing me, pushing me down until I lie prostrate on the ground.

I can’t do this, I think.

And I’m right. I can’t do this—on my own, that is.

We humans are fleshly, fallen, frail creatures, and we don’t have the strength to combat what this world throws at us. We truly are incapable.

But we do have Someone who can give us all the strength we need: our heavenly Father. He promises strength to us. In fact, as the apostle Paul wrote, we “can do all things through Christ who strengthens” us (Philippians 4:13 NKJV).

And along with that strength, He promises peace. He will bless us with peace.

Yes, we may be incapable, but He is more than capable. We can trust in His strength; we can trust in His peace.

When was the last time you tried to handle the world’s challenges on your own? How did it go? Maybe you’re trying to dodge those boulders right now. Ask God to give you His strength to help you through.
From Peace: Devotions to Lead to God's Peace © 2006 Sauni Rinehart

Friday, December 27, 2013

Abundant Blessings (Ephesians 6:21-24)

Today's scripture: Ephesians 6:21-24

Some of my favorite words are in these verses. Faithful. Comfort. Peace. Love. Grace.

And as children of God, we experience all of these from our Father. 

God is faithful. Utterly, completely faithful. He is unchanging and constant. He has always been and will always be. He will complete His work in His time.

He offers comfort. He promises to never leave nor forsake us. He is our refuge and our strength, a very present help in times of trouble. When we hurt, He carries us.

He offers peace. We know we don’t need to worry or be afraid. Even in the midst of the storm, He’ll reach out a hand to pull us from the waves. And when we come to Him with our anxious thoughts, He’ll fill our hearts with that pace that surpasses human understanding.

He offers love. He loves us with an everlasting love. He loves us so very much that He sent His Son, part of Himself to save us from our sins, and to bring us back into relationship with Him.

He offers grace. Salvation isn’t about what I do. It’s about what He has already done. Because of His love for me, He grants me unmerited favor. He gives me something I don’t deserve: Eternity with Him.

All because He’s faithful, loving, gracious, and the Giver of peace and comfort.

He’s so very, very good!!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Happy Boxing Day!

Citizens of the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, and some other commonwealths are celebrating Boxing Day today. For most, it’s a banking or public holiday. From my research, “its origins are found in a long-ago practice of giving cash or durable goods to those of the lower classes” (snopes.com). Wikipedia adds that gifts were also given to those who provided service.

What a lovely practice!

What if we do something similar? Give a little financially to those less fortunate than we.

Or even better, give a little kindness to those who serve us. Today, say a heartfelt “thank you” to those who serve in your church. If you go out to lunch or dinner, recognize the hard work of your server. If you go to a store, give the clerk a sincere smile and let him know how you appreciate his help.

Let today be one of thankfulness and sincere giving in love. And let tomorrow—and all the days after—be the same.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

A Christmas Prayer ...

Dear Jesus,

Words truly cannot express my gratitude for Your willingness to leave heaven and come to earth. You chose to …

Put on flesh.

Be born to a poor carpenter and a teenage bride.

Experience scraped knees and stomach aches.

Grow into awkward adolescence.

Sweat sawing and sanding wood.

Be tempted by the enemy—Your enemy.

Be ridiculed as You started Your ministry.

Be betrayed … arrested … denied … beaten … spat upon … scourged.

You chose to carry a cross.

You chose to die …

And You chose to forgive.

Words cannot truly express my gratitude. For Your love and grace and mercy.

But I do thank You.

Happy birthday, Jesus.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Twas the Day Before Christmas ...

Twas the day before Christmas and all through the land
All the creatures were shopping–a bit out of hand.
Vying for parking spots and cutting in line,
A theme was recurring, "It's mine, mine, MINE!"

On Santa's lap, the children did sit.
"I want a doll." "I want a mitt."
"An x-Box, an iPad, oh yes, and a Wii.
"Now that I think of it, give me all three!"
The grown-ups, too, they all wanted their own.
More jewelry, more gadgets to fill up their home.

In all of the rushing, one thing we forgot.
The one thing, the main thing, that we should have not.
Tomorrow is Christmas, a day most important
To honor the birth of our Savior God sent.

It's not about presents or music or lights;
No, none of that matters on this night of nights.
Jesus, the Messiah, came with a free gift for us
We must remember in the midst of the fuss.

The gift of salvation from sin us does save;
It's that greatest gift He so lovingly gave.
From manger to hilltop to cross He did go
All because of the way that He still loves us so.

As you revel in the fun and the sights and the sounds,
Remember, dear friends, this thought so profound:
Your Savior, your Lord, came to give you His light,
So have a truly Merry Christmas and a most blessed night.
© 2012 Sauni Rinehart