BEFORE TOMORROW HERE IS THE LAST BUT FIRST DEVOTIONAL OF TODAY!

A Prayer for Christmas Day – Your Daily Prayer – December 25

A Prayer for Christmas Day: Celebrating Our Savior
By Debbie McDaniel

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6

In a time of deep darkness, God promised to send a great Light. Isaiah prophesied these words long ago, and time went by…700 long years.

And then at just the right moment, Jesus came.

Miracle birth.

Light-bringer.

Hope-instiller.

Savior and Lord.

Given to “us.” To you. And to me.

He came to dwell among us.

He came to set us free.

He came that we might have life, more abundantly.

If you have big needs today, be assured, He is a big God. Nothing is too difficult for Him to handle. And He cares about all that concerns you. Maybe you’ve experienced deep loss this year, or you feel all alone this season, and fear or despair have gripped your heart…you can bring it to Jesus. All of it, the brokenness, the questions, and the pain.

When we’re troubled and hurting, when we feel lonely or afraid, He is our Wonderful Counselor.

When we need to see a miracle in life, when we need someone to fight for us, He is our Mighty God.

When we forget who we belong to, when we need to be reminded that we’re greatly loved and cared for, He is our Everlasting Father who loves to give good gifts to His children.

When we feel anxious and worried, when we need a reminder that our future is secure no matter what swirls around us, He is our Prince of Peace.

His very presence in our lives gives us such great reason to celebrate. For amidst the chaos and busyness of the season, in the loss and brokenness that many have experienced this year, in both the joys and struggles of daily life, or the uncertainties that tomorrow holds, we can find rest and peace in Him.

In His Presence.

In His Truth.

For He is Immanuel…God with us. Always with us.

And He never changes.

Dear God,

Thank you for the gift of Jesus! We celebrate the treasure of all that He is in our lives, Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace, and so much more. We recognize His Powerful Presence over all, and we worship Him as King of Kings and Lord and Lords.

We thank you that you made a way for us to be set free through the sacrifice of Christ on our behalf. Thank you for giving us the gift of eternal life, to all that have believed in Your Name. We bring to you today, every need and concern that we have, every fear and pain of loss we’ve experienced this year. We ask for your healing and grace, for your strength and your peace to fill us afresh.

We draw near to you, and thank you that you are close. 

Our Immanuel…God with us.

In Jesus’ Name, 

Amen.

Find more by Debbie at http://www.debbiemcdaniel.com, FacebookInstagram or Twitter.

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The Pursuit of Family: Just Wanting it Makes You Happier

BreakPoint.org

We’ve reached a barking point in American history. (Yeah, I’m sorry for that one.) A few years ago, for the first time ever, the number of dogs in this country surpassed the number of children under eighteen. According to Statista, there are 90 million dogs in America today, up from just 68 million in 2000. And a higher percentage of American households own dogs than ever before.

By contrast, there are just over 73 million children. That still sounds like a lot, but as a percentage of the population, children have never been rarer. In 1960, for instance, over one-in-three Americans were under the age of eighteen. According to government projections, by 2050, children will make up less than a quarter of the population.

As you’d expect, this drop in birth rates corresponds to a drop in marriages. What you might not expect is that it also corresponds to a drop in happiness. The General Social Survey in 2018 found that Americans today are more miserable than they’ve been in decades. And replacing family with dogs isn’t reversing the trend.

Of course, what we increasingly hear today, in print and on television and movies, is that what will make us happy is the freedom that can come only from singleness and childlessness. Writing in The Atlantic recently, Mandy Len Catron bemoaned all of the things “What You Lose When You Gain a Spouse.” According to her, family life is isolating and unfair to outsiders, because spouses give most of their attention to each other and to their kids. When people get married, she writes, they retreat into “socially neglectful cocoons.”

London School of Economics professor Paul Dolan goes even further in his book, “Happily Ever After.” He says the only reason married people report being happier on average than singles is that they’re lying to save face. The book was corrected, by the way, when this claim turned out to be unsupportable.

In reality, the statistics are clear: Married people really are happier than those who are unmarried—by an average of ten percentage points. But is that because marriage makes people happy, or because happy people are more likely to get married?

A new paper by the Institute for Family Studies offers a surprising answer. Instead of looking at the effect of family itself, author James McQuivey decided to look at the effect of the desire for family. He asked over a thousand men and women how much they value having an emotionally intimate relationship, sexual faithfulness, and children. He then combined these answers into a single measure, which we might call a desire for a traditional, nuclear family.

He discovered that scoring higher on this measure predicted greater happiness and overall life satisfaction—regardless of whether or not the respondent was actually married or had kids!

It’s one of those results that makes you do a double take. After all, you’d expect people who want a family life and haven’t found it to be dissatisfied. But on average, they’re not. As McQuivey says, “[i]f you merely have the desire to pair bond and procreate, you are already happier than average…”

Act on that desire, he adds, and your happiness jumps, while your life satisfaction (a separate metric) “practically leaps off the chart.”

In other words, contrary to the thesis that getting married and having kids dooms you to misery, committing to a family is one of the most effective means ever created to train people to care for others. And a cornerstone of psychology is that other-centeredness brings human beings happiness.

Look, dogs are great and all, but we were made for communion with other people. The family bond is so central to our design that merely pursuing it leads to greater happiness.

For a society like ours, one in the midst of family and happiness shortages, the solution is obvious, but it won’t be found at the dog park.

Download MP3 Audio Here.

Publication Date: December 5, 2019

Photo courtesy: Blake Barlow/Unsplash


BreakPoint is a program of the Colson Center for Christian Worldview. BreakPoint commentaries offer incisive content people can’t find anywhere else; content that cuts through the fog of relativism and the news cycle with truth and compassion. Founded by Chuck Colson (1931 – 2012) in 1991 as a daily radio broadcast, BreakPoint provides a Christian perspective on today’s news and trends. Today, you can get it in written and a variety of audio formats: on the web, the radio, or your favorite podcast app on the go.

John Stonestreet is President of the Colson Center for Christian Worldview, and radio host of BreakPoint, a daily national radio program providing thought-provoking commentaries on current events and life issues from a biblical worldview. John holds degrees from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (IL) and Bryan College (TN), and is the co-author of Making Sense of Your World: A Biblical Worldview.

Somebody Loves You – December 25, 2019

WEDNESDAY December 25, 2019

Christmas Day

So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
Luke 2:6-7

Remember, the streets and inns within the city of Bethlehem were filled with people who had traveled there for the worldwide census. Joseph and Mary looked everywhere for a vacant room to find rest, but every place was filled to capacity. Mary was expecting to have her Baby soon. Finally, the only place available to them was a humble stable where animals where kept and fed.

At last, having found a safe place to stay, Mary went into labor, and gave birth to her Son. Then Mary wrapped Him in swaddling cloths and gently laid Him in a simple manger. Our Savior, the King of kings, was born and laid in a humble manger used as a trough to feed the animals. Jesus, Creator of the world, entered the world He created; He was both human and divine:

He [Jesus] is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth… (Colossians 1:15-16).

Think about this amazing day. Even though God sent His Son to be the Savior of the world (John 3:16), most people in the city of Bethlehem remained oblivious to the wonderful miracle that had taken place––the Savior had been born!

Sadly, even today, there are so many people who remain unaware of the true meaning of Christmas. Our streets and cities are full of people getting gifts for friends and family, but how many of them have stopped to think about God’s greatest gift––God’s Son––given to us?

Christmas Day we can contemplate the meaning of Jesus’ birth and rejoice in our salvation.

Miracle of miracles! You, O Christ, that baby in Mary’s arms are both God and human being. You make God accessible to me.
~A. W. Tozer~

For more from Raul Ries, please visit Somebodylovesyouradio.org!

Praying the Names of God – December 25

From Praying the Names of Jesus Week Two, Day Three

The Name
According to Jewish tradition, one of the names for the Messiah is “Light.” How fitting, then, that Jesus is called the “Light of the world.” John’s Gospel portrays Jesus as the light that vanquishes the darkness brought on by sin — a darkness that ends in death. Christ has opened the eyes of a sin-darkened world to the truth of the gospel. We who believe in him have moved from darkness to light, from death to life. When we pray to Jesus as the Light of the world, let us remember that we are calling on the One who was so determined to draw us into his light that he spent nine months in the darkness of his mother’s womb in order to become one of us. Let us ask Jesus, our Light, to make us shine with his reflected glory.

Key Scripture
I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life. John 8:12

***

Wednesday
Praying the Name

After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. Matthew 17:1 – 2

This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. 1 John 1:5 – 7

Reflect On: Matthew 17:1 – 2 and 1 John 1:5 – 7.

Praise God: For there is no darkness in him.

Offer Thanks: For the grace to walk in the light.

Confess: Any tendency to make peace with habitual failings.

Ask God: To draw you more powerfully toward his light.

A few years ago, we hosted a young woman from South Africa who joined our family in late May for a year-long stay. I couldn’t help smiling when she remarked how cold it was one warm spring afternoon. Then summer arrived, the temperature heated up, and Sarina began to feel right at home. The only thing that seemed alien to her was how intent everyone was on spending every minute of their free time outdoors — boating, gardening, golfing, biking, beachcombing. She didn’t solve the puzzle until she lived through her first Michigan winter. Then she understood just how starved for warmth and light we northerners are by the time spring arrives.

I love all the images in Scripture that associate God with light. That association is strong and consistent, beginning in the first chapter of the Bible. The book of Genesis portrays God creating light when the earth was yet a formless void and “darkness was over the surface of the deep.” Throughout Scripture, divine appearances are often marked by light. The psalmist describes a luminous God, wrapped in light as in a garment. Indeed, God is so bright that to look at him, as Moses did, was to have your own face shine with reflected glory. Later, the New Testament describes Jesus’ dazzling transfiguration on the mountain top. The scene was so brilliant that the three disciples who were with him were literally awestruck, falling to the ground. Matthew’s Gospel says of Jesus, “His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light” (Matthew 17:2).

Whatever darkness still surrounds or resides in us, we need to remember that there is not a shred of darkness in our God. And we are to be pitied if we do not long to spend every day all day basking in his light. But how do we do it? To put it plainly, living in the light requires effort impelled by grace. At a minimum it means following the lighted path of God’s commandments. But even more than laws, we are called to follow the world’s true light, Jesus Christ, imitating his life as we are able. It’s that simple—and that difficult.

Today, thank God for all the ways you have perceived his light at work in your life. Then examine your heart with respect to Exodus 20:1 – 17 and Matthew 22:34 – 40, which record his commandments. Before you go to bed tonight, pray the words of “Lead, Kindly Light,” a hymn written by John Henry Newman:

Lead, Kindly Light, amid the encircling gloom
Lead thou me on!
The night is dark, and I am far from home —
Lead thou me on!
Keep thou my feet; I do not ask to see
The distant scene — one step enough for me.

I was not ever thus, nor pray’d that thou
Shouldst lead me on.
I loved to choose and see my path, but now
Lead thou me on!
I loved the garish day, and, spite of fears,
Pride ruled my will: remember not past years.
So long thy power hath blest me, sure it still
Will lead me on,
O’er moor and fen, o’er crag and torrent, till
The night is gone;
And with the morn those angel faces smile
Which I have loved long since, and lost awhile.
At Sea. June 16, 1833

 

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