Advent 2018

Advent 2018 – Day 1

Each year for over three decades, our family has celebrated a season called Advent. We follow a devotional theme every day for the 24 days leading up to Christmas. Please join us in this latest journey here at my website!

Advent is about waiting for things about to come; it looks to the future. With that in mind, the theme for Advent 2018 is: God’s ‘I WILL’ promises.

I want to begin with an ‘I WILL’ promise that lays a strong foundation for all the other promises that we will look at in the days ahead. Ironically, instead of being an “I will,” this first promise is an ‘I will NOT.’ In scripture, God repeatedly makes promises about things he will do, but in Psalm 89:33,34, God says,

I will never stop loving [David]

Nor let my promise to him fail.

I will not break my covenant,

I will not take back a single word I said.

Promises are only as good as the person making them. If the person will not carry through and fulfill those promises, the oaths are worthless. But we have a God who does not change his mind according to his mood and whimsy. He is not capricious. Our God keeps his word. As one of his prophets once said, “God is not man that he should lie. He is not human, that he should change his mind. Has he ever spoken and failed to act? Has he ever promised and not carried through?” (Num. 23:19)

We can rely on our heavenly Father to make good on every one of his promises. As you prepare for Christmas during this new Advent season, please pause and remember to rest on this solid foundation: God has promised he will never to stop loving us. That is a promise he will keep forever!


Advent 2018 – Day 2

Today is the second in our series of Advent devotionals on the theme, God’s ‘I WILL’ promises. I am glad you returned!

Have you ever given your word that you would do something? Last year I said that I would help with an ESL class, but when the Fall arrived, I was experiencing intense back pain and unable to stand erect in a classroom. Sadly, I had to renege on my promise to teach and thus I had to disappoint the person in charge.

God also has given his word and, as we saw yesterday, he never backs out of his commitments. But he also has determined that come what may, he will accomplish his purposes. In Isaiah 46:10, he says:
Only I can tell you what is going to happen even before it happens.
Everything I plan will come to pass, for I do whatever I wish.

Later, in Isaiah 55:11 he adds, “It is the same with my word. I send it out, and it always produces fruit. It will accomplish all I want it to, and it will prosper everywhere I send it.”

And what is his purpose? In Isaiah 45:23, he explains, “I have sworn by my own name, and I will never go back on my word: Every knee will bow to me, and every tongue will confess allegiance to my name.”

Is God accomplishing his purpose in your life? Have you bowed before him today and given him your word of loyalty to Jesus?


Advent 2018 – Day 3

Welcome back for the third in our series of Advent devotionals on the theme of God’s ‘I WILL’ promises.

The other evening a young woman visited our apartment, and as she and I talked, we each shared how we had just completed our Christmas shopping. It wasn’t even December, but our gifts were bought, wrapped and even shipped! We patted ourselves on the back for being so on top of things! And yes, there was a measure of pride that we had completed this daunting task well ahead of most of our friends.

I don’t think the Lord worries too much about when we complete our holiday shopping, but God has no pleasure in human pride. In 2 Chronicles 7:14,15, we find another of his I WILL promises:

If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves
and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways,
I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and heal their land.
I will listen to every prayer made in this place.

The antidote to pride is humility. And the reward of humility is the promise that God will hear our cry and the assurance that he will forgive us.

What better gift at Christmas can we receive than to know that the Lord of all the Universe is waiting to listen to our humble prayers and is ready to lift any burden of guilt from our shoulders! Have you sent him a thank-you note?


Advent 2018 – Day 4

Thanks for coming back to join me for the fourth of our Advent devotionals on the theme of God’s ‘I WILL’ promises.

Last year at the beginning of December, I was awaiting major spinal surgery. The pain was intense, keeping me awake long into the night. I used a walker. My back was bent at 45 degrees. Then, over a period of almost seven hours, my surgeon operated. With skill, he fused five of my vertebrae and slowly constructed a cage of titanium rods and nuts and bolts. He carved out space to ease pressure on the nerves passing through the compressed spinal column. After the operation, I was at last free to stand up straight without pain. It felt like a Christmas miracle!

But God does even more amazing surgery! In Ezekiel 36:26, he promises to do open heart surgery:

I will give you a new heart with new and right desires,
and I will put a new spirit in you.
I will take out your stony heart of sin and give you a new obedient heart.

When doctors in the operating room perform heart surgery, they work hard to avoid infections, match blood types, and avoid rejection. But none of those problems arise in God’s surgical procedure. His Son is the true universal donor.

Before a patient receives a new heart, we all know that someone else had to die to make the surgery possible. God’s own Son came to earth at Christmas. Jesus grew up, taught his disciples, and performed a multitude of miracles. Finally, at the cross, he gave up his own heart that we might live. He will put a new heart in all those who believe!

Have you experienced God’s open heart surgery? Have you thanked the Lord for his gift?


Advent 2018 – Day 5

Here we are again, now on the fifth day of our Advent series on God’s “I WILL” promises. My hope is that these brief thoughts will prepare your heart for the holiday ahead!

Have you ever tried to memorize scripture? When I was younger and my mind more nimble, I memorized the gospel of John. This year, as I recovered from spinal surgery, I determined to rememorize the same gospel. I only got through the first eight chapters, but I can attest to the fact that it was a lot harder task this time around. As fast as I memorized one chapter, another slipped away.

If you have a hard time memorizing scripture, take heart! God promises better times are ahead. In Jeremiah 31:33-34, he says he will put His law in our hearts:

“But this is the new covenant I will make with the people of Israel after those days,” says the Lord. “I will put my instructions deep within them, and I will write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. And they will not need to teach their neighbors, nor will they need to teach their relatives, saying, ‘You should know the Lord.’ For everyone, from the least to the greatest, will know me already,” says the Lord.

Until that day comes, you and I will need to toil in order to carve God’s words into our daily lives. Why not take time today to review a favorite passage of scripture that you memorized as a child?


Advent 2018 – Day 6

You came back! I hope you are enjoying the devotionals in this Advent series on God’s “I WILL” promises.

Recently, two of my dear friends died within a single week. Neither death was expected. One woman was the caregiver for her husband; we were all shocked to find that Carol was the first to go! The other woman enjoyed a delicious Thanksgiving dinner and, after one last sip of coffee, had a stroke; June died the next day. It will be a hard Christmas for their families.

When we walk through the valley of the shadow of death or whether we sit down to eat in the presence of our enemies, we look to God for protection. How encouraging to hear God say in Isaiah 43:2:

When you go through deep waters, I will be with you.
When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown.
When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up;
the flames will not consume you.

Again, in Isaiah 41:13, he tells us, “I hold you by your right hand— I, the Lord your God. And I say to you, ‘Don’t be afraid. I will be here to help you.’” And in Ex. 14:14, Moses records, “The Lord himself will fight for you. Just stay calm!”

These promises comfort us. There is no question that God has all the power needed to uphold his end of the contract. Our only responsibility is to trust and stay calm.

What trials are you facing in the weeks ahead? Can you take a deep breath, lean back and trust his arms to catch you?


Advent 2018 – Day 7

A whole week of Advent has already slipped by! Thanks for coming back to learn more about God’s “I WILL” promises.

Once, when I was in grade school, I played the role of Mary and held the baby Jesus in our church’s Christmas nativity. I don’t remember trying out for the part. And I don’t think I was type cast for the role. More likely, people assigned the role to me because I was the pastor’s daughter!

Have you ever tried out for a sports team or auditioned for a role in a play or a choir? What emotions went through you? Perhaps you felt nervous about whether you would pass muster and be accepted. Were you disappointed if you did not get the role you sought? Or maybe you were upset because others got the position you wanted, not because they were more qualified, but because they knew someone who was making the cuts and assigning roles.

God does not play favorites. In John 6:37, 39, Jesus said, “All that the Father has given me will come to me, and the man who comes to me I will never turn away. . . . And this is the will of God, that I should not lose even one of all those he has given me, but that I should raise them up at the last day.” All who come to Jesus will be welcomed. Not even one will be rejected!

Many years after my first time taking the part of Mary, I was assigned the role of Jesus’ mother a second time. I stood at the foot of the cross in our church’s annual Easter play. This time I held no plastic doll representing the Christ child. This time I was old enough to appreciate that my Savior faced rejection by his own people so that I could live with him forever.

This Christmas, don’t forget to look beyond the manger to the cross. He waits to welcome each of us into his embrace.


Advent 2018 – Day 8

Thanks for returning to join us for today’s devotional in our Advent series on the theme of God’s “I WILL” promises.

In December of last year, my husband and I spent our first Christmas at our new apartment in our retirement community. Decades of shoveling snow, cleaning gutters and raking leaves had lost their delight, and I now enjoyed being able to watch snow descend without feeling any need to clear it away. We can walk to a pharmacy, a restaurant, the bank, my physical therapist and the mail room, all without stepping outside. If we need a new light bulb, a staff person comes to change it! We have everything we need at our fingertips. Almost.

Even the best retirement community cannot truly supply every need. Our new home cannot guarantee health or financial security. Meeting those needs is in God’s wise hands. Jesus promises us in Matthew 6:31-33:

“So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.”

Perhaps you think this promise is only for super holy saints like Peter and Paul, but in Philippians 4:19, Paul assures us, “This same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.”

Because God is meeting all your needs, why not look around you today and ask how God might use you this Christmas season to meet the need of a friend, a neighbor, coworker or even a stranger?


Advent 2018 – Day 9

Thanks for coming back to read another Advent devotional about God’s “I WILL” promises. I hope your moments spent here are like a quiet eddy in the rush of the holiday activities.

“Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.” I laugh when I hear those familiar words. All too often I can’t get to sleep, and in the wee hours of the morning I am wide awake. I write letters to my kids, I clean the floors, or write devotionals like this one. Sleep many times eludes me, and I rise in the morning feeling groggy and unprepared for a new day.

Yet I take comfort because the Lord knows my body needs rest. He will eventually allow me to rest. In Matthew 11:28-29, Jesus promised:

“Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”

These words echoed those of the prophet Isaiah centuries earlier, “Even youths will become weak and tired, and young men will fall in exhaustion. But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.”

Are you exhausted from Christmas shopping, baking and parties? Reread the verses above and see if you can find the clues on how to receive God’s strength.


Advent 2018 – Day 10

Back again? I’m so grateful that in the hustle and bustle of the season, you have chosen to spend a few moments here reading about God’s “I WILL” promises.

An earlier Advent devotional in this series mentioned my friend Fred who lost his wife just a few weeks ago. Fred is grieving as we near Christmas. He does not look forward to being “home for the holidays” because home without his wife is no longer the same. After 62 years of marriage, Fred does not want to be alone to face his first Christmas without his life companion.

In this world, we cannot hold on to any person forever. Sooner or later, we must bid our spouses and friends goodbye. We mourn. Tears fall. But God promises us a Comforter, one who will remain by our side eternally. In John 14: 15, Jesus’ disciples were sad as they heard Jesus was about to leave them. Their Master assured them that he would return: “I will ask the Father, and he will send you a Comforter who will never leave you.” Then he added, “No, I will not abandon you as orphans—I will come to you.”

When we trust in Christ, we need never fear being alone again. Do you know someone who is going to pass the day all by himself this Christmas? Is there room at your “inn”? Why not invite them to join you at your table?

PS: Have you been enjoying these thoughts on God’s “I WILL” promises? Would you take a minute and shoot me an e-mail to tell me which of the Advent devotionals has touched you most? Or do you have a favorite “I WILL” promise I haven’t mentioned yet? Share it with me!


Advent 2018 – Day 11

Thanks for pausing from your Christmas activities to spend a moment here. Here’s another of God’s “I WILL” promises to take with you today.

Given all the running around as we shop for gifts and attend Christmas parties, it is easy to catch a cold and end up in bed. I remember one horrible holiday when my husband and I both came down with the stomach flu. Unfortunately, the turkey was already defrosted and had to be cooked. The odor of the roasting bird permeated the house, and instead of being a sweet fragrance of good things to come, the scent nauseated my already queasy stomach. Gene and I could barely face a cup of broth, let alone sitting down to turkey, stuffing and mashed potatoes.

There is never a good time to be sick. Feeling lousy interrupts our plans, keeps us from work, and slows us down. Many of the people Jesus met faced chronic health issues. One man was born blind. Another had been crippled for almost forty years. Others were tormented by evil spirits for many years. They had no hope for a cure.

In Jeremiah 30:12,13, the Lord told his people that their wound was chronic and incurable! There was no one to plead their cause. There was no healing to hope for, no recovery in sight, because nothing on earth could remove their sin. But all that changes in verse 17 when the Lord promises: “I will give you back your health and I will heal your wounds.” In the next five verses, he offers six more “I will” promises of restoration and health. Count them for yourself!

Why not take time today to thank the Lord for healing your soul and restoring your spirit? And then take another moment to call someone who is feeling sick or who is stuck in bed, and sing a Christmas carol to them over the phone!


Advent 2018 – Day 12

Welcome to newcomers to our Advent series on God’s “I WILL” promises. I hope you return again and again!

As we open Christmas cards these days, inevitably one card will quote the angels announcement to the shepherds of Bethlehem: “Peace on earth and good will towards men!” But as we look around our world it is often hard to imagine a day when God’s peace will truly reign in our world. Refugees flood into camps, looking for relief from warring factions. Politicians throw accusations at each other and demand government inquiries. Rogue shooters kill innocent victims attending concerts or young students inside schools.

Life in Jesus’ time was no different. Jewish authorities dragged early Christians from their homes and killed innocent men and women. The believers fled and scattered across the known world. All this was predicted by Old Testament prophets, but in Isaiah 26:3, the great prophet also wrote, “You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you! “

Jesus made a similar promise: “I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.” Following his lead, Paul wrote in Philippians 4:6,7, “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”

God’s peace is not a treaty between warring factions. It does not establish international boundary lines. No, it settles down deep inside each individual that trusts in God.

As you open the greeting cards that arrive in today’s mail, pause to pray for those who sent the cards. Ask God to let his peace descend on each friend or family member who took time to mail a greeting to you.


Advent 2018 – Day 13

We are over halfway through Advent already! Thanks for returning to read about God’s “I WILL” promises!

Every year my husband and I shop on line and in stores, searching for the perfect Christmas gift for each person on our list. The process can be mentally and physically exhausting. Even trying to find a single gift for a grandchild can be frustrating if we aren’t sure what the recipient really needs or wants.

In Malachi 3:10, we read: “Bring all the tithes into the storehouse so there will be enough food in my Temple. If you do,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, “I will open the windows of heaven for you. I will pour out a blessing so great you won’t have enough room to take it in! Try it! Put me to the test!”

Our Heavenly Father is waiting to pour out gifts upon us. The process of choosing gifts for his children is not exhausting. He already knows exactly what we need, with the right size and color and style! And he selects not a single present but an abundance of gifts for each child!

Jesus said in Mt. 7:9-11: “You parents—if your children ask for a loaf of bread, do you give them a stone instead? Or if they ask for a fish, do you give them a snake? Of course not! So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him.”

Every year I ask God for a special Christmas gift, and he always surprises me with a unique blessing. One year it was a publishing contract for my book. Last December it was a successful spinal surgery. Have you asked God for your Christmas gift this year?


Advent 2018 – Day 14

Are gifts accumulating under your tree? Are you eager to open them? Don’t hurry through these last days of Advent without remembering the rest of God’s “I WILL” promises.

What was your favorite Christmas gift when you were a child? A bike? A dollhouse? A video game? I bet that a heavy stack of math textbooks wasn’t top on your wish list, but, when he was in high school, that is what my husband Gene asked for each year from his father. Every November, Gene would give his dad a list of titles of math and chemistry texts that he wanted for Christmas, and every year his father would select the books that he could afford. Often, Dad bought his son the entire list, a gift purchased at great financial sacrifice given his limited income.

Yesterday we saw how God loves to give good gifts to his children too. In Isaiah 44:3, the Lord says: “I will pour out water to quench your thirst and to irrigate your parched fields. And I will pour out my Spirit on your descendants, and my blessing on your children.”

Our Father gives from the depth of his heart, and he offers his very self, his own Holy Spirit, to dwell within us. That gift did not come without severe sacrifice. It required the death of his own Son. In John 15:26, Jesus explained that he would have to die in order for the Spirit to come: “But I will send you the Advocate—the Spirit of truth. He will come to you from the Father and will testify all about me.”

Jesus sacrificed that you and I might have the Spirit of truth dwell within us. What are you willing to sacrifice this season so that others might know about Jesus?


Advent 2018 – Day 15

Here we are on Day 15 and we still have not exhausted the supply of “I WILL” promises from God!

Every year in December, familiar jokes appear about the dad trying to assemble his daughter’s dollhouse or mom struggling to put together her son’s bicycle on the night before Christmas. No one ever looks at the instructions until long after some key steps have been ignored.

God has promised us something far better than a printed set of directions for assembling our future. In Psalm 32:8 he promises, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you.” He himself will instruct us the whole way, guiding us step by step from point A to point Z.

Jesus added in John 16:13: “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own but will tell you what he has heard. He will tell you about the future.” Only our God can know all the past (‘what he has heard’) but also prepare us for what is to come (‘about the future’).

No wonder we read in James 1:5: “If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.”

Do you need wisdom for the new year? The Holy Spirit is like our private tutor, teaching us about the Father and the Son. Sit quietly and listen for his voice today, and then pay careful attention to the lessons your tutor has for you. Don’t omit any steps!


Advent 2018 – Day 16

Glad you are back! This series of Advent devotionals on God’s “I WILL” promises is my own Christmas gift to you!

As a child, were you ever tempted to get a sneak preview of what was hiding under the Christmas tree? Did you shake a gift to see if it contained a new Lego set? Or did the wrapping paper somehow tear a wee bit, just enough to reveal the contents of the package? Those colorful packages with their bright bows made it hard to resist temptation!

When God inspired Paul to write a letter to Corinth, he may have had you in mind! In 1 Cor. 10:13, we read: “The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.” Again, in Revelation 3:10, God wrote to his people saying, “I will keep you from the hour of testing.”

The Lord promises a way to escape temptation. The problem is that all too often we ignore the way of escape. Or we make up arguments that justify our giving in to temptation. Worse, sometimes we don’t even bother with an excuse. We simply give in, like me eating Christmas cookies. That is why, as Jesus prayed in the Garden before his arrest, he reminded the disciples, “Pray that you will not be overcome by temptation.” (Luke 22:40,46)

This Christmas, we may no longer be shaking gifts to guess at their contents, but we all still face temptations. Take a moment today to reflect on the Lord’s Prayer, especially the part where it says, “Don’t let us yield to temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.”


Advent 2018 – Day 17

Thanks for hanging out with me during Advent. Here’s another of God’s “I WILL” promises!

During Christmas, families gather, and for many families, that means sky-rocketing stress. Voices get louder, harsher. Old wounds reopen. But for my family, I am grateful that times together are marked by explosions of laughter and love. My daughter has an uncanny ability to find gifts that exactly fit the recipient. Her gift may fill a need or produce chuckles, but each one is an expression of her love.

All my life I have felt inadequate in the area of loving others. I feel I can never begin to measure up to all I receive from others, let alone from the Lord. For a long time I felt guilty not being able to fulfill the most basic of Jesus’ commands, “Love one another.” But then I read Rom. 13:8, “One debt you can never finish paying is the debt of love that you owe each other.”

In contrast, God owes us no debt, but he offers his love exuberantly. In Zeph. 3:17, we read, “The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.”

I don’t know if you need to enjoy the quiet blanket of God’s love today or whether you are ready to dance with him in loud singing, but I am confident that God rejoices over each one of his children, including you!


Advent 2018 – Day 18

God’s “I WILL” promises keep coming. Here’s another for you to ponder during this Advent season.

Every year we receive Christmas letters from friends with news of how God has blessed them in the past twelve months. Recently, we had a face-to-face reunion with old friends over lunch. We hadn’t seen Roger and Bobbie for about thirty years. Back then, we babysat for each other’s kids as they toddled about the house. Today, those kids have grown up and have children of their own!

What gave us great encouragement was seeing how, despite the decades apart, God had been faithful to each of our families during the intervening years. Roger shared amazing ways God had protected their children. My husband and I talked about how God had blessed us with a new home and renewed health.

Isaiah 41 is a wonderful chapter about encouragement. It begins with people inspiring each other, saying, “Be strong!” or “It is good!” The message seems to be a positive one until you discover that the craftsmen were in the process of making wooden idols! Verse 8, however, begins with the word “but.” Suddenly the passage shifts its focus. God speaks and says that if the people want real encouragement they shouldn’t look to each other but to him. In verse 10, he says, “Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t look anxiously about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.”

Look around you today. Do you see anyone who is feeling low and needs a word of hope? Can you point them to the only true source of encouragement?


Advent 2018 – Day 19

In a few days, people all over the country will be traveling home for Christmas. I am glad that wherever you settle for the holidays, you can still read about God’s “I WILL” promises here.

As I mentioned once before, 2017 marked our first Christmas in our new apartment. We lived in our previous home for over 40 years, and we experienced lots of laughter and blessings there. In all that time, however, I never felt a strong emotional attachment to the house. If God had asked me to pack up and move at any time in those years, I could have said goodbye to that physical structure without regrets.

I feel very different about our new apartment. I love every square foot of it (with the possible exception of the piles of papers that clutter my desk). What never happened in my previous home, occurred here the first night: This is home. This is where I can relax and kick off my shoes. This is where I hope to settle in and dwell for years to come.

In John 14:23, Jesus said to his disciples, “All who love me will do what I say. My Father will love them, and we will come and make our home with each of them.” We know God is preparing a place for us to live with him in Heaven, but in the meantime, He promises to make his home within us!

Does the Lord feel at home in your heart? Is he merely a visitor sitting primly in the living room of your heart, or does he dwell there? Why not invite him to settle in, relax, and kick off his shoes?


Advent 2018 – Day 20

We are almost through Advent. Do you have a favorite “I WILL” promise from God? I’ve been looking forward to today because, of all God’s promises to me, this is my favorite.

My son John’s youngest girl, Lydia, will be experiencing her first Christmas this year. Her dark hair and brown eyes glow as she looks at the ornaments on the tree. Lydia cannot yet walk, so John or his wife Kelly carry her everywhere in their arms. Watching them, I think of the message of Isaiah 46:3,4:

“Listen to me, descendants of Jacob,
all you who remain in Israel.
I have cared for you since you were born.
Yes, I carried you before you were born.

I will be your God throughout your lifetime—
until your hair is white with age.
I made you, and I will care for you.
I will carry you along and save you.”

Reading the previous chapters, you’d find that the craftsmen of the land have been carving idols out of wood. When people needed the idol in a different place, however, the priests had to carry the figure in their arms or haul it in a wagon because the god could not walk on its own strength. The wooden idol had no power to meet its own needs, let alone the needs of those who worshiped it. How different our God is: He has made us and he carries us!

Over a decade ago, I remember our son John tenderly carrying his frail grandfather up our front stairs so that Opa could join the family at the table for a holiday meal. What a picture of our God’s gentle care for us when our hair turns gray!

Where has the Lord carried you this day? Pause to give him thanks.


Advent 2018 – Day 21

Thankyou for staying with me through this Advent season. We have just a few more stories about God’s “I WILL” promises, though you’ll find plenty more in the Bible.

When my husband was a child, Christmas holidays were difficult. Gene’s mother was hospitalized for many years. Family finances were tight. His father felt exhausted being a single parent. As a boy, Gene would bring up their meager holiday decorations from the basement, set them up in the living room, and send out Christmas cards, because no one else had energy to do it. While his friends looked forward to school vacation days, for Gene the holiday celebrations often took on the flavor of grim determination.

After we married, things changed. One day, while Gene was at work, I set up the Christmas tree and decorated the house. He came home to a wreath on the door and the warm glow of colored lights. His eyes lit up with wonder like those of a child as he took it all in.

In Joel 2:25,27, we read a poignant promise from God: “I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten, . . . Then you shall know that I am in the midst of Israel: I am the Lord your God and there is no other. My people shall never be put to shame.”

The prophet Joel was right. For years, Gene missed out on the joy of family celebrations, but God eventually gave him a new family and restored the joys he richly deserved as a child of God.

Someone you know may be facing difficulty this season. Why not share the hope of God’s restoration with your friend?


Advent 2018 – Day 22

Only three more days until Christmas! And I have three more very special “I WILL” promises from God that I want to share with you.

Not so very long ago, parents hid their gifts for their children and did not put them under the tree until Christmas eve. Children would run downstairs on Christmas morning and be astonished by the pile of bright packages awaiting them. Only then did the children realize that all through the season their parents had been busy preparing wonderful surprises for those they loved.

Our heavenly Father is no different. He loves to surprise his children. On Christmas, we remember how he sent his Son to be born in – surprise! – a stable! And on Good Friday we remember how Jesus laid down his life for those he loved. Surprise! On Easter, he resurrected!

Before Jesus left this earth, he explained to his followers that he would be going back to the Father in order to prepare a place for those he loved. Then, in John 14:3,he made a very special promise: “When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am.”

Jesus has promised to return again. That day will be full of surprises. Isaiah says the eyes of the blind will be opened, the ears of the deaf will be unstopped, the lame will leap, the tongue of the mute will shout for joy! Then we will all be together with him forever.

If you already have eyes to see, ears to hear and a tongue to shout, why not use them today to express your thanks for Jesus’ promise to return when all is prepared for you in Heaven?


Advent 2018 – Day 23

As Christmas draws ever nearer, some people dread the arrival of this holiday. For them, there is no joy. They may have lost a loved one. Their bodies may be wracked with pain. They have faced persecution, beatings and even death. Their tears flow at the thought of another holiday spent in sorrow.

But God provides a promise for these who weep. In Isaiah 25:8, we read:

“He will swallow up death forever!
The Sovereign Lord will wipe away all tears.
He will remove forever all insults and mockery
against his land and people.
The Lord has spoken!”

Someone might point out to me that this is not an “I WILL” promise but a “HE WILL” promise, which I grant is true, but go back and reread the last line of the verse: “The Lord has spoken.” The oath is God’s own.

In Rev. 7:17, an angel explained to the apostle John that one day, “The Lamb on the throne will be their Shepherd. He will lead them to springs of life-giving water. And God will wipe every tear from their eyes.” The Sovereign Lord of the universe promises that he himself will wipe away our tears! What’s more, we learn in 21:4, that there will be no more death, no more sorrow, no more pain. All these things will be gone forever.

Why not sing the favorite old carol “Joy to the World”? Pay special attention to the verse where it says, “No more shall sin or sorrow reign!”


Advent 2018 – Day 24

Thanks to all of you who have stayed with these “I WILL” promises throughout this entire season of Advent! Today I offer you the last of the series and wish you a joyous Christmas celebration tomorrow!

The promise from God for today is a simple one. It is found in Jeremiah 32:38: “They will be my people, and I will be their God.” Over two dozen times, God has affirmed that promise throughout the Old Testament. He has repeatedly chosen to associate himself with those who claim him as their God.

Such a wonderful promise demands a response from us. And so we close this series with one final oath. Only this one is not an “I WILL” by God but a “WE WILL” declaration by Joshua. In Joshua 24:15, the author of that book challenged those around him to follow the Lord: “But if you refuse to serve the Lord, then choose today whom you will serve. Would you prefer the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates? Or will it be the gods of the Amorites in whose land you now live? But as for me and my family, we will serve the Lord.”

The greatest gift you can give to the Lord this Christmas is to make that choice. The question today is what “YOU WILL” do.