THURSDAY, JANUARY 11

Therefore encourage one another and build up one another …. -1 Thessalonians 5:11 (NAS)

Talk about a late bloomer. I still type on an IBM Selectric from 1984. Progress ran off and left me while I thought maybe the computer thing wouldn’t catch on.

My daughter Julie has gently begged me to get a computer. I was sure it was too late. I’d never learn.

Julie began coaxing me to at least get a tablet. I grew weary of saying no. One day, I agreed to just walk into an electronics store. It’s a scary place for me. Not Julie. She goes there often and asks complicated

questions and nods confidently at the answers. “I’ve prayed for the right salesperson for you, Mother,”

She spotted a fella way across the store and dragged me behind her. “This is my mother,” she told the young man like I was Mother of the Year.

“I’m Jeremy.” He smiled.

Julie beamed at me as though his name, being my son’s name, was a sure sign from God. When I became too tired to argue, I sighed. “I’ll take it.”

They both lit up like neon signs, and he asked simply, “What color?”

Oh, how I perked up. I’m all about color. “Gold,” I told him  knowledgeably.

“Mine’s gold too.” He grinned. “Something else I need to tell you, ma’am. You have a good attitude.”

“Whatever do you mean?”

“Well, I could tell from way across the store when y’ all came in that you are teachable.”

Suddenly energized, I thanked Jeremy and asked Julie to take my picture with him-on my new tablet, of course!

Oh, Father, thank YOU for salespeople who encourage fragile beginners.

-Marion Bond West

Digging Deeper: Romans 15:5; Hebrews 10:25

DAILY GUIDEPOSTS

 

All eyes were on the radiant bride as her father escorted her down the aisle. They reached the altar and the waiting groom; the bride kissed her father and placed something in his hand.

The guests in the front pews, and the minister, responded with ripples of laughter. As her father gave her away in marriage, the bride had given him back his credit card.



WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 10

For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff they comfort me. -Psalm 23:4 (NKJV)

I  winced when the chiropractor put his finger on my spine. “I can’t fix this. The vertebrae are fine. This is a disk issue. You need surgery.”

No, God! Not again I limped to my pickup. I was never going to have another surgery, not after the first operation for a ruptured disk four years ago had failed. I’d given up the life I loved as a cattle rancher.

I have nothing left, God. You have taken everything away from me.

I texted my brother: “Pray 4 me. I need strength.”

He replied immediately. “Will do.”

I called my husband. “Maybe this is a blessing in disguise,” he said.

“Your back hasn’t been right for years. Maybe this time you’ll be healed.”

I didn’t share his optimism. I’d already tried Western medicine. Eastern medicine, and everything in between. I tried different doctors, no doctors, and doctors I wasn’t too sure about. I did natural cures, yoga, vitamins, joint solutions, tilt tables, back exercises, brain exercises, and meditation.

Some things helped a little, but nothing really worked. I had long ago accepted my limitations. I’d even found joy here. But this new explosion of pain left me without hope.

Suddenly, unexpected peace stopped my tears. Confused, I glanced at my phone, which I’d silenced. “You’re on the prayer chain at church,” my brother texted,

I could feel the prayers. The one thing that had gotten me through these painful years was my faith that God was behind this and was guiding me to a new place of His choosing. He was with me. I wasn’t

alone. I prayed out loud:

Lord, I’m closer to You now than ever before. Even if I never heal, I would rather be crippled with You than stand without You.

-Erika Bentsen

Digging Deeper: Genesis 26:24; Deuteronomy 31 :6; 2 King.” (>; I (, 1/;

I Chronicles 28:20; Psalm 27

DAILY GUIDEPOSTS

 

Overheard when some children sang “Hark, the Herald Angels Sing” at a recent Christmas concert. The line “God and sinners reconciled” was a tricky one for this age group.

One little boy, with a voice that completely drowned out the rest of the choir, happily belted out, “God and sinners dressed in style!”

 

 



TUESDAY, JANUARY 9

“Yet turn, 0 Lord my God, to the prayer and supplication of Your servant …. “-1 Kings 8:28 (JPS)

When my husband, Keith, and I moved from Los Angeles to Bellingham, Washington, we brought with us some well-loved knickknacks and pieces of art. However, I wanted something for the new house that had never been in the old one. In a museum gift shop, I found a framed paper cut, edged in lace and painted with what seemed like a perfect prayer: “May this home be a place of happiness and health,

generosity and hope.”

I bought it at once, and one of the first things we did when we moved in was to hang it in a prominent place by the front door.

Until Keith got sick, it seemed that prayer was working very well. Suddenly the “health” part was struggling. So were my “happiness” and, ultimately; my “hope.” As I withdrew into myself, the “generosity” part just went away by itself. After Keith died, it got so I averted my eyes when I passed the paper cut-it just wasn’t my prayer any longer.

‘Then a friend called me because she needed help, and I began to spend time with her, trying to cheer her up, opening my home to her when she needed anything, giving her things she could use, sharing as

much time with her as I could.

One day I happened to look at the paper cut, and now that I was able to be generous again, God was showing me that the other parts of the prayer were possible too.

Let me be an instrument of Your generosity God, just as You are the source of all generosity to me.

-Rhoda Blecker

Digging Deeper: 2 Samuel 7:27

DAILY GUIDEPOSTS

 

While a friend and I were visiting Annapolis, we noticed several students on their hands and knees assessing the courtyard with pencils and clipboards in hand. “What are they doing?” I asked our tour guide.

“Each year,” he replied with a grin, “The upperclassmen ask the freshmen how many bricks it took to finish paving this courtyard.”

“So what’s the answer?” my friend asked him when we were out of earshot of the freshmen.

The guide replied, “One.”

 

 



MONDAY, JANUARY 8

‘I hereby command you: Be strong and courageous,’ do not be frightened or dismayed, for the You’re your God is with you wherever you go. -Joshua 1:9 (NRSV)

 

The forecast called for a blizzard. What should we do? Kate was away at a conference, and the kids and I had made plans to see the new Star Wars movie. Snow began falling the night before. It was pretty

thick by Saturday morning.

“What do you say? Do we go for it?” I asked Frances and Benji. Inwardly, I had misgivings. was this a fun adventure or Dad being reckless?

“Yes!” they said excitedly.

I thought about how long we’d waited to see this movie, how much we’d looked forward to it. Surely God was present in our collective yearning.

We donned snow gear and plunged outside. Wind blew pellets in our faces. We trudged along powdery-white sidewalks, practically alone on streets usually packed on a weekend. Subways were still running. We took a train downtown and emerged into even more snow. The theater was hard to see through the horizontal veil, and we were practically alone in it. The Star Wars music struck up. The kids grabbed my arms.

The moment at last!

We loved every minute of it. We emerged breathless and made it home in time to find out that the subways would be shutting down soon. We’d timed it perfectly.

Actually, God had timed it perfectly. I’d worried I was being foolish.

But, really, it was just snow. And the looks on the kids’ faces-well, deep yearnings like that don’t come from nowhere. We had trusted our hearts, and in doing so we’d trusted God to guide us well.

Help me to know when to wait, Lord, and when to venture out in obedience to Your call

-Jim Hinch

Digging Deeper: Psalm 25:4-5; Revelation 14:12

DAILY GUIDEPOSTS

 

My family was visiting a church and the minister announced they had both Spanish and English Bibles for use during the service.

My youngest son tugged at my sleeve and whispered, “Mommy, I want one of those Spanish Bibles.”

“Don’t be silly, you can’t read Spanish,” I quickly rejoined.

Holding out his own Bible to me, my kindergartner explained, “Mom, I can’t read English either.”



FRIDAY, JANUARY 5

FALLING INTO GRACE: Holding On to Faith

“The Lord is my strength and my ‘might and he has become my salvation; this is my God, and I will praise him …. ” –Exodus 15:2 (NRSV)

I had a pretty spectacular fall. Late and rushing, as always, I’d run up the two cement steps to our apartment building and, preparing to wrench open the heavy door, braced all my weight against it … and then missed the handle. I catapulted backward over the steps, landing on the sidewalk. Only slightly less searing than the pain was the realization that everything in my life had changed because of one stupid mishap. Waiting for my husband, Charlie, and the ambulance, I felt agony, humiliation, terror.

Please, God, was all I could think, change this! Take away this pain, this frightening helplessness!

And now two strong women were manipulating my body for the imaging machine. With each X-ray they grew gentler, and I grew more afraid. One of them snatched up a phone on the wall and said a few

quiet, terse words: “We need more pictures.

As dread threatened to overwhelm me, the thought came that this fear and pain were just fractions of what Jesus must have felt in those hours between the Last Supper and His death, Yet He put all His trust

in the Father.

Please, God, help me to do the same.

As one X-ray tech, now very careful, moved me for more images, she noticed the cross around my neck.

“Do you need to take it off?” I asked.

Her eyes met and held mine. “We’re not taking that off”

Lord, thank You for reminders of how much I need You and need to trust You.

-Marci Alborgherti

Digging Deeper: Genesis 50:19-20

 

This New Years I resolved to lead a better life. Now all I have to do is find someone who will trade lives with me.

– Melanie White

 

My new years resolution is not to shovel snow. Since I’m gonna be in Florida, I feel pretty good about it.

– Greg Tamblyn

 

New Years parades have a lot in common with Santa Claus. Nobody is awake to see either one of them.

– Melanie White



THURSDAY, JANUARY 4

Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord -Psalm 27:14 (ESV)

I waste a lot of time waiting. Waiting for Micah to get ready so I can drive my daughter to school. Waiting in car pool to retrieve her each afternoon. Waiting in line at the grocery store. Waiting to talk to my husband after his workday. Today, I’m waiting at the tire store while they rotate my tires.

I grab my smartphone to search how many hours the average person spends waiting, when another customer walks in. The cadence of a cane makes me look up from my time-wasting research. A young,

slender man in fatigue pants limps across the linoleum. His cropped haircut makes me wonder if he’s military. I go back to my search.

Moments later, he’s at the computer in front of me.

“All four tires need to be replaced,” says the salesman. He shows the customer a quote on the computer.

“I can’t spend that much,” I hear him mutter.

The salesman suggests a less expensive brand. The customer shakes his head. I’m curious why their business is taking place at the register directly in front of me. There are three other checkout desks.

“Just two,” says the customer and hands over his debit card.

“Replace the others as soon as possible,” warns the salesman.

The man takes a seat across the room. I scroll an article to discover how much time Americans waste waiting. I hear a voice inside my mind: Pay for the other two tires.

Holy chills run down my back. I’m not wasting time waiting. I’m waiting for a divine opportunity such as this one.

Lord, let me remember that I’m not just waiting; I am waiting to hear from You.

-Stephanie Thompson

Digging Deeper: Psalm 145:15-16; 1 Corinthians 1:7

DAILY GUIDEPOSTS

 

This New Years I’m going to make a resolution I can keep: no dieting all year long.

– Melanie White

 

If you make a New Year’s resolution to eat a healthy diet, and you keep it, you won’t actually live longer, but it will seem longer.

– Greg Tamblyn

 

Youth is when you’re allowed to stay up late on New Year’s Eve. Middle age is when you’re forced to.

– Bill Vaughan

 



WEDNESDAY JANUARY 3

RELYING ON GOD’S UNFAILING LOVE

Peace in Your Presence

On the day I called, you answered me; my strength of soul you increased. -Psalm 138:3 (ESV)

Just a little lump.

It’s amazing how quickly life can shift out of orbit, how a mundane day can suddenly become anything but. All it takes is one fragment of a second when something just doesn’t feel right.

Lord, why? How? my soul screams. I never imagined this for my dear friend Sarah.

Suddenly a whir of doctor’s appointments and biopsies, of friends calling to give advice, of doctors calling to give results, of treatment calendars and care calendars and a chicken-poppy-seed casserole in the oven from the next-door neighbor as you hold hands and pray on the couch.

Big words like cancer and chemotherapy and radiation being tossed around like pinballs, big feelings creeping in and overtaking what was simply joy and peace only days ago. Yet You are here, Lord,

In those crazy, mixed-up moments when I don’t know what to say or what to do or how to act other than to look my friend in her eyes and pull her close and hold on tight. You are here.

When she doesn’t respond, when words can’t be found, when the gap between us is bigger than it has ever been. You are here.

In sickness and in hope and tears and sweat and pain. In every moment. You are here. And in Your presence, peace flows.

Father God, thank You for comfort even in the midst of the hardest days. You are the strength I need when I have no strength to walk forward. Amen.

-Erin MacPherson

Digging Deeper: Romans 8:16-17, 38-39

DAILY GUIDEPOSTS

 

A new years resolution is something that goes in one year and out the other.

– Anonymous

 

My brother’s New Year’s resolution is to move out of my parents house. You’d think after 49 years he’d try another one.

– Wickedwordslinger ‏@StephenBCramer

 

My grandparents had resolutions like donating more time & money to charities. I’ve decided to make my own coffee once a week.

– Erica ‏@SCbchbum



TUESDAY, JANUARY 2

Tuesday, January 2

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. -·Hebrews 11:1 (NKJV)

I keep a favorite necklace hanging from the mirror of the vanity in my bedroom. The long chain holds a glass dome pendant that contains a single mustard seed. On the back is Matthew 17:20 (ESV): “If you have faith like a grain of mustard seed … nothing will be impossible for you. ” I wear the necklace when I’m worried about the outcome of things.

Last night, in the midst of a dream, I heard the necklace fall. I didn’t think much of it, but this morning when I went to pick it up, I noticed it had broken. That glass dome snapped right off the backing, and the

mustard seed was gone.

I searched the surface of the vanity behind my jewelry box and then got down on my hands and knees, thinking it’d be easy to find and fix.

I ran my hands on the floorboards and got back up to search the top of the vanity. No luck; it was gone. I tried to shrug it off but for some reason I couldn’t get the broken necklace out of my mind.

I could replace the mustard seed, but somehow that didn’t seem right. I went back to the vanity and searched one more time, and just as I was getting up I thought, Faith is believing in what is unseen. Fasten the glass dome back in place to help you have faith, even with the seed gone.

Heavenly Father, because of You, broken things aren’t truly broken at all Even when the mustard seed is missing, it’s all the more reason to have faith.

-Sabra Ciancandli

Digging Deeper-: John 20:29; Hebrews 11:1

DAILY GUIDEPOSTS

 

Wait a second, there’s ANOTHER year? I have to do it all over again???

– Jake Vig ‏@Jake_Vig

 

I love when they drop the ball in Times Square. It’s a nice reminder of what I did all year.

– Bridger Winegar @bridger_w

 

I like New Years. The confetti covers up my dandruff.

– Melanie White

 

Every New Years I resolve to lose 20 pounds, and I do. The problem is that I gain 30.

– Melanie White



MONDAY, JANUARY 1

A wise son makes a glad father …. -Proverbs 10:1 (NKJV) .

The Tournament of Roses Parade! Here I was, wedged into the Pasadena bleachers with my husband, taking in a New Year’s celebration I had seen previously only on TV. Fantastic floats covered with

millions of flowers rolled along Colorado Boulevard, rose fragrance wafting in their wake. High-stepping palominos bore their riders on flashing silver saddles. One marching band had scarcely passed our

stand before another band’s brassy march drifted through the sun-drenched morning.

This New Year’s celebration capped our first Christmas holiday with Thad’s California family. Now we would drive back to our home in Wyoming. Frankly, I was ready for quiet time after a week in the

exuberant chaos of a household overstuffed with Thad’s six madcap siblings, spouses, and erratic comings and goings. So when Thad’s dad asked us to stay another day or two, I resisted, to no avail. We had no pressing obligations back home, so my husband insisted we stay to humor his father.

Dad sensed my frustration and cajoled, “In a year or two, you’ll never remember staying here an extra day.”

Ah, but I do remember, even though that was thirty-eight years ago. Mercifully, during those intervening years, I evolved from a self-absorbed bride to the tuned-in mother of four adult children. Only now do I understand the pang of parting with them after even the briefest visit. Though both my husband and his father have passed on, they awakened me to the precious gift of presence. My presence. Once a year, a beautiful parade reminds me.

Loving God, in this coming year, may I better discern where You need me to be-and to be there gladly.

-Gail Thorell Schilling

Digging Deeper: Exodus 20:12; Proverbs 22:6

DAILY GUIDEPOSTS

 

A Bad Dream?

Jemima was taking an afternoon nap on New Year’s Eve before the festivities. After she woke up, she confided to Max, her husband, ‘I just dreamed that you gave me a diamond ring for a New Year’s present. What do you think it all means?’

‘Aha, you’ll know tonight,’ answered Max smiling broadly.

At midnight, as the New Year was chiming, Max approached Jemima and handed her small package.  Delighted and excited she opened it quickly. There in her hand rested a book entitled: ‘The meaning of dreams’.

 

How you elect to spend New Year’s Eve will depend on your:

  1. age
  2. remaining levels of optimism
  3. threshold of pain

– Joseph Connolly

 

An optimist stays up until midnight to see the new year in. A pessimist stays up to make sure the old year leaves.  – Bill Vaughan



WORN, FADED AND BEAUTIFUL

Read 2 Corinthians 4:1-12

Paul wrote, “We have this treasure in earthen vessels, to show that the transcendent power belongs to God and not to us.” -2 Corinthians 4:7 (RSV)

The white pitcher’s once-bright finish is now dulled with time. Embellished by tinges of brown, a checkerboard pattern of cracks is scattered across the glaze. On one side there is the faint imprint of a bouquet of pink and blue flowers. The scalloped lip of the pitcher dips at one edge, forming a shallow

spout. The handle is gracefully curved, and the body widens as it nears the base. The charm of the pitcher lies in the character etched by the years into its finish. The faded bouquet imprinted on its side betrays countless washings. The pitcher has grown beautiful not by being set upon a shelf in some china cabinet but by being used over the years. The finish has worn, the flowers have faded, and the pitcher has become beautiful, like a face creased by years of laughing. Christians, like pitchers, are made for a particular purpose.

God bestows gifts on each of us that we may enrich the lives of others. With years of service, we become beautiful-not because we have been saved high on a shelf where we cannot be marred but because we have been used for God’s purposes.

 

PRAYER: Dear God, help us open ourselves to being used again and again for your work. Amen.

 

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY : We become beautiful as we allow ourselves to be used for

God’s purposes.

–Stephanie Whitson (Nebraska)

The Upper Room

 

It was Christmas Eve in at the meat counter and a woman was anxiously picking over the last few remaining turkeys in the hope of finding a large one.

In desperation she called over a shop assistant and said, ‘Excuse me. Do these turkeys get any bigger?’

‘No, madam, ‘he replied, ‘they’re all dead.’

 

Q: Why was Santa’s little helper depressed?

A: Because he had low elf esteem.

 

Q: What do you get when you cross an archer with a gift-wrapper?

A: Ribbon hood.




 

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