The Holy Surprise

Read Luke 2:8-14.

How many Christmas pageants, manger scenes, musical compositions, or paintings, or poems, or stories have tried to pass on to us something of the astonishment, the wonder, the fear, the hope, that are described in this story of the shepherds on the hillside?

There they were tending their sheep, some of them probably dozing off, or thinking of what they would do when they got back home, or of how their children were, or their wives, or girl friends, or their parents. Nothing special going on.

And then, “Lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them; and they were sore afraid” (KN).

Who wouldn’t be afraid? If you have been present when an eclipse of the sun makes important changes in the quality of light, you know how disorienting that can be–even when you knew it was going to happen!

But here, we are told, the fear didn’t last. The message was one of incredible joy, or reassurance. What was the angel telling them? Of the birth of a baby? That they could understand, though this wasn’t the usual mode of announcement. But a baby who was Christ the Lord? They were even told how to identify that baby!

And then, as though to add even greater authenticity to the message of the angel, came this multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and foretelling an era of peace-which, according to the Jewish counterpart of the word for peace, shalom, means full and complete life.

Had you been on the hillside, what would you have thought?


PRAYER: Glory to you, 0 God, in the highest. And on earth may there be peace. Amen.

-Martha Whitmore Hickman


Top Ten Things To Say About A Christmas Gift You Don’t Like

  1. Hey! There’s a gift!
  2. Well, well, well …
  3. Boy, if I had not recently shot up 4 sizes that would’ve fit.
  4. This is perfect for wearing around the basement.
  5. Gosh. I hope this never catches fire! It is fire season though. There are lots of unexplained fires.
  6. If the dog buries it, I’ll be furious!
  7. I love it — but I fear the jealousy it will inspire.
  8. Sadly, tomorrow I enter the Federal Witness Protection Program.
  9. To think — I got this the year I vowed to give all my gifts to charity.

And the Number One Thing to say about a Christmas gift you don’t like:

  1. “I really don’t deserve this.”


Read Hosea 12:2-6

Hold fast to love and justice, and wait continually for your God. -Hosea 12:6 (RSV)

Advent, like Lent, reminds us that there is value in waiting. Advent is our time to wait seriously for God to lead us from our self-imposed prisons such as our failures at love, our misunderstandings with others, our rigid belief-systems. Because such are our sins, we wait in bondage. Because we still want our way even if it is destructive, we pay a high price. We continue to follow after false gods of gadgetry or accumulations of possessions, power, and prestige. Meanwhile, the truly needy are truly neglected and the destitute truly ignored. No matter how we try to gloss it over, God will never accept our rationalizations.

And so this Advent we wait. We wait for a Savior. We wait for someone who can help us cut through all our false values and false pride. We wait for someone who not only knows our weaknesses but who, through the strength of a loving God, can help us overcome them. We wait for the one who forgives

our failures and inspires us to try again.

Christ is coming. And his coming makes our waiting creatively and powerfully worthwhile.

PRAYER: We wait, 0 Lord, for the coming of your Word to us. May we not fail to hear and to see. Amen.



When we wait for God, we never wait in vain.

-Stan Smith (North Carolina)



  1. What do you get if you cross Santa with a detective ?
  2. Santa Clues!


Q: Why does Santa Claus go down the chimney on Christmas Eve?

A: Because it ” soots ” him!


  1. What happened when Guy ate the Christmas decorations?
  2. He went down with tinsel-itis.


Read Isaiah 2: 1-5

Where there is no vision, the people perish. -Proverbs 29:18 (KJV)

A grapevine wreath hangs on our door year round. It keeps before us Isaiah’s vision-a vision born at Christmas and made real by the Resurrection. During Advent, blue ribbon and white doves symbolizing Isaiah’s peace with justice adorn the wreath. At Christmas, the white ribbon and a candle symbolize the Light born into the world. On Epiphany, January 6, red ribbon and stars mark the beginning of our journey to carry the Christmas vision, t? follow a star .. At Lent we remove everything but a purple ribbon, for Lent IS a somber time to look inside ourselves. But at Easter, symbols of new life and opportunity to carry forth the vision-white ribbon greens and butterflies-adorn our wreath.

At Pentecost, red ribbon and a descending white dove remind us that the Holy Spirit empowers us to carry the vision into an often hostile world. During Ordinary Time, green wraps the wreath, and we look for symbols to remind us that it is often in “ordinary times” that we have the opportunity all year to live out God’s vision of peace and justice and love.

PRAYER: God, help us this Advent to see the vision you have given us. Amen.



The Christmas vision means hope for tomorrow.   

-Janet McNish Bugg (Tennessee)



One Christmas, Joe and Peter built a skating rink in the middle of a field. A shepherd leading his flock decided to take a shortcut across the rink. The sheep, however, were afraid of the ice and wouldn’t cross it. Desperate, the shepherd began tugging them to the other side.

‘Look at that, ‘remarked Peter to Joe, ‘That guy is trying to pull the wool over our ice!’


Maria went to the Post Office to buy stamps for her Christmas cards.

‘ What denomination?’ asked the clerk.

‘Oh! Good heavens! Have we come to this?’ said Maria, ‘Well give me 50 Methodist and 50 Baptist ones please.


I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray.  – 2 Corinthians 11: 3 NIV

Temptation begins in your mind. Satan gave Eve the idea of eating the forbidden fruit. Eve wasn’t just standing there trying to figure out how to disobey God. You must understand that the initial thought to do evil, is not from you, The new nature you have from God would not come up with that. The devil studies you the way a coach studies the game film of his opponents. Satan knows your weak spots. He knows which temptation has the best chance of success against you. How often have you ended up saying “I promised God and myself that I’d never do that again,” yet you did it. That’s because Satan knows what works on you.

But before you feel defenseless and get discouraged, God gives us this assurance: “No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man [we’re all cut from the same bolt of cloth]; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it” (1 Co 10: 13 NAS). God builds a back door into every temptation with a lighted “exit” sign over it. The key word in this Scripture is “with.” The way of escape comes with the temptation. So while you will never be exempt from temptation, you can be victorious over it. And the Good News is, when Satan discovers that his strategies against you are not working, he goes looking elsewhere.

Taken from the Best of the Word for Today, 2007


A lawyer, who had a wife and 12 children, needed to move because his rental agreement was terminated by the owner who wanted to reoccupy the home. 

 But he was having a lot of difficulty finding a new house.

 When he said, he had 12 children, no one would rent a home to him because they

felt that the children would destroy the place.

 He couldn’t say he had no children, because he couldn’t lie. We all know lawyers cannot and do not lie.

 So, he sent his wife for a walk to the cemetery with 11 of their kids.

 He took the remaining one with him to see rental homes with the real estate agent.

 He loved one of the homes and the price was right — the agent asked:

 “How many children do you have?

  He answered: “Twelve.”

 The agent asked, “Where are the others?”

 The lawyer, with his best courtroom sad look answered, “They’re in the cemetery with their mother.”

 MORAL: It’s not necessary to lie, one only has to choose the right words…

and don’t forget, most politicians are unfortunately lawyers.



By grace you have been saved.  – Ephesians 2:5 NAS

Have you any idea of the mess you were in, or moving toward, when God reached down and saved you?

Perhaps an illustration may help you get the picture. If you took your children to a petting zoo and a little lamb came running towards you, you probably wouldn’t be afraid at all because lambs are harmless. You might even reach out your hand and let the lamb lick it. But let’s say you’re at the zoo and the alarm goes out that a lion has escaped from its cage. If you’re standing there and that lion comes running towards you, you’ll be terrified and start to run because you know what lions can do. But just suppose that the runaway lion comers you in one part of the zoo and comes up to you-but instead of attacking you it gently licks your hand the way the lamb did. If that happened whose gentleness would you appreciate more, the lamb’s or the lion’s? You’d appreciate the lion’s gentleness more because you

know that he could just as easily have destroyed you without violating his nature as a lion. Well, grace is God’s kindness and gentleness to us when He could have backed us into a comer as guilty sinners and destroyed us without violating His holy character. But God wanted to make us His children, so instead

of expressing His wrath against us He poured it out upon His own sinless Son on the cross. Jesus took our punishment so God could embrace us. Hence, we have a brand-new relationship with God through grace. Isn’t that: amazing!

Taken from the Best of the Word for Today, 2007


I was having trouble with the idea of turning 30 and was oversensitive to any signs of advancing age. When I found a prominent gray hair in my bangs, I pointed to my forehead. “Have you seen this?” I indignantly asked my husband.

“What?” he asked. “The wrinkles?”


At Sea World, our grandson absolutely refused to see the show featuring Shamu the killer whale, but he wouldn’t tell us why.

No amount of discussion could get him to change his mind.

Later, when we got home, we discovered the reason for his reluctance.

An aunt had told him how exciting the show would be because “They choose children from the audience to feed Shamu.”


Put on the full armor of God. – Ephesians 6: 11 NAS

An important key to the effectiveness of a soldier’s armor is putting it on correctly so that the pieces fit together and provide maximum protection. So, how do you “put on the full armor of God?” By prayer: “Pray at all times in the Spirit” (Eph 6:18 NAS). Praying in the power of the Spirit clothes us for spiritual warfare. You need to pray specifically at the start of every day, asking God to clothe you with each piece of His armor. Don’t go into battle spiritually underdressed. Again Paul writes: “Put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh” (Ro 13: 14 NAS). This is one of the best verses in the Bible regarding how to win over temptation. Don’t give Satan an inch or he’ll take a mile.

Trainers who want to train dogs to listen to them and obey their commands no matter what, start by throwing a juicy piece of red meat in front of the dog. The untrained dog goes for the meat immediately, but eventually the trainer teaches the dog to keep its attention on him no matter what’s put in front of him. When the process is successful the dog will not take its eyes off its master, even when the “temptation” of meat is right under its nose. There’s an important lesson here for you. If you keep your eyes on Jesus it won’t matter what kind of meaty lie or temptation Satan throws your way. Every now and then you may want to “go for it,” but if you keep your eyes on Jesus and listen to His voice alone, you’ll be victorious every time.

Taken from the Best of the Word for Today, 2007


I’m seriously considering asking my ex-wife to remarry me…

But I’m worried she will think I’m just after her for my money.


A man was being tailgated by a stressed-out woman on a busy boulevard. Suddenly, the light turned yellow, just in front of him. He did the right thing, stopping at the crosswalk, even though he could have beaten the red light by accelerating through the intersection.

The tailgating woman hit the roof, and the horn, screaming in frustration as she missed her chance to get through the intersection with him. As she was still in mid-rant, she heard a tap on her window and looked up into the face of a very serious police officer. The officer ordered her to exit her car with her hands up. He took her to the police station where she was searched, fingerprinted, photographed, and placed in a cell.

After a couple of hours, a policeman approached the cell and opened the door. She was escorted back to the booking desk where the arresting officer was waiting with her personal effects.

He said, “I’m very sorry for this mistake. You see, I pulled up behind your car while you were blowing your horn, flipping the guy off in front of you, and cussing a blue streak at him. I noticed the ‘Choose Life’ license plate holder, the ‘What Would Jesus Do’ bumper sticker, the ‘Follow Me to Sunday School’ bumper sticker and the chrome-plated Christian fish emblem on the trunk. Naturally, I assumed you had stolen the car.”


Put on the full armor of God.  – Ephesians 6: 11 NAS

Lt’s look at the last 3 pieces of armor:

(1) The shield a/faith. Paul says that the shield of faith allows us to “extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one” (Eph 6:16 NAS). Do you remember in the old western movies, the battles between the Indians and the settlers? The settlers would circle the wagons, then the Indians would shoot flaming

arrows into them. Smart thinking! You can’t fight fires and foes at the same time. Flaming arrows are a huge distraction. And Satan uses the same tactic against us. But faith (and focus) snuffs out those flaming arrows,

(2) The helmet of salvation. This helmet protects your mind, which has to do with your new identity as a Christian. Your salvation isn’t just a ticket out of hell, it’s everything you are in Jesus Christ-a blood bought, Spirit fined, totally forgiven, absolutely redeemed, heaven- bound child of God. (3) The sword of the Spirit, Paul says that the sword of the Spirit is the Word of God. This is rich, because the word for Scripture here is not logos, but rhema, which means an “utterance.” This refers to our speaking God’s Word to defeat Satan in battle; using the right Scripture at the right time to deal with the problem at hand. Three times Satan came at Jesus in the wilderness and 3 times Jesus answered, “It is written” (See Mt 4:4~ 10). He carved Satan up with the Word! The devil can outargue and outdebate you, but he has no answer for the Word of God. So memorize the Scriptures, then use them as a weapon against your enemy.

Taken from the Best of the Word for Today, 2007


A new missionary recruit went to Venezuela for the first time. He was struggling with the language and didn’t understand a whole lot of what was going on. Intending to visit one of the local churches, he got lost, but eventually got back on track and found the place.

Having arrived late, the church was already packed. The only pew left was the one on the front row.

So as not to make a fool of himself, he decided to pick someone out of the crowd to imitate. He chose to follow the man sitting next to him on the front pew. As they sang, the man clapped his hands, so the missionary recruit clapped too.

When the man stood up to pray, the missionary recruit stood up too. When the man sat down, he sat down. When the man held the cup and bread for the Lord’s Supper, he held the cup and bread.

During the preaching, the recruit didn’t understand a thing. He just sat there and tried to look just like that man in the front pew.

Then the preacher said some words that he didn’t understand and he saw the man next to him stand up. So he stood up too. Suddenly a hush fell over the entire congregation. A few people gasped. He looked around and saw that nobody else was standing. So he sat down.

After the service ended, the preacher stood at the door shaking the hands of those who were leaving. When the missionary recruit stretched out his hand to greet the preacher, the preacher said, in English: “I take it you don’t speak Spanish.”

The missionary recruit replied: “No I don’t. It’s that obvious?”

“Well yes,” said the preacher, “I announced that the Acosta family had a newborn baby boy and would the proud father please stand up.”


Put on the full armor of God.  – Ephesians 6: 11 NAS

Let’s take a look at the 6 pieces of God’s armor described by Paul in Ephesians 6: 14-17. The first 3 are things we wear all the time. The last 3 ate things we pick up as needed for the moment. Let’s check out the first 3:

(1) The belt of truth. “Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth” (Eph 6: 14 NAS). During World War II, a plane flew many miles past its destination because the crew didn’t realize they had a strong tail wind and refused to believe what the plane’s instruments were telling them. All on board

perished. Sadly, when the plane was found years later the instruments were still in perfect working order. God’s Word is your infallible instrument panel. Read it daily. Believe it no matter what your senses or the devil may be telling you.

(2) The breastplate of righteousness. The breastplate covers your heart, which must beat in sync with God’s Word. When it doesn’t, God sets off a warning beeper that something’s wrong-it’s not wise to ignore those signals.

(3) The shoes of peace. Shoes mean that you’re going somewhere. Don’t expect to hear from God if you remain frozen in the same spot. When you move ahead for God He confirms the rightness of your direction by the peace He gives you. That puts a firm foundation under you. But why does God say, “Stand firm” instead of “Go fight?” Because the battle has already been won! We’re not fighting for

victory, but from victory. Jesus has already conquered the big 3-the world, the flesh and the devil. All we’re doing is mopping up!

Taken from the Best of the Word for Today, 2007


After four years of separation, a husband and his wife finally divorced amicably. He wanted to date again, but he had no idea of how to start, so he decided to look in the personals column of the local newspaper. After reading through all the listings, he circled three that seemed possible in terms of age and interest, but he put off calling them.

Two days later, there was a message on his answering machine from his ex-wife. “I came over to your house to borrow some tools today and saw the ads you circled in the paper. Don’t call the one in the second column. It’s me.”


Regard one another as more important than yourselves. – Philippians 2:3 NAS

Concerning General Robert E. Lee, J. Steven Wilkins wrote: “The degree to which Lee was indifferent to his own honor was astonishing. After the civil war Lee received distinguished visitors from the north into his home in Lexington. Assuming that the Lees, like many prominent families in the north, had household servants, the guests, after retiring to bed, would leave their boots outside their bedroom door to be cleaned and ‘blacked.’ Many a night it was the old General himself who stayed up after the others retired, and-in order not to embarrass his guests-collected the boots, cleaned and polished them himself.” Paul writes, “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others” (Php 2:3-4 NAS). Paul points out that walking in humility means practicing 3 things: (1) Sitting on the temptation to promote yourself. Trusting God to promote you when He, not you, determines the time’s right. (2) Standing up for others. Like who? Whoever popped into your mind as you read that last sentence. Think of the least liked person you know, or the one who’s made a royal mess of life. Stand up for them. Ask, “How can I serve them?” Then do it-and keep doing it. (3) Bowing low before God. Accepting His discipline. Acknowledging your dependence. Giving Him all the glory. The path to greatness in God’s Kingdom leads through the valley of selflessness. Why? Because some things only grow there- like humility!

Taken from the Best of Word for Today , 2007



(men don’t always say what they mean) – ladies, please allow me to translate for your future benefit:



He means: “I have no idea how it works”



He means: “I can’t hear the game over the vacuum cleaner”


When a man says ’THAT’S INTERESTING DEAR.’

He means: “Are you still talking?”


When a man says: “IT’S A GUY THING”

He means: “There is no rational thought pattern connected with this, and you have no chance at all of making it logical”


Follow the Lord’s rules for doing his work. –  2 Timothy 2:5 TLB

Are you so eager to stay in everybody’s good graces that you’re complying with their every demand, even though it’s draining you? Good people bum out every day because they lack discernment when it comes to setting boundaries. And once that happens it’s hard to fix, because none of us (not even those “ordained by God!”) can break His natural laws without consequences. A well-known Bible teacher writes: “Once when I was complaining about my heavy schedule I heard God’s Spirit say, ‘You’re the one who makes the schedule; if you don’t like it, do something about it.?’

Paul told Timothy: “Follow the Lord’s rules for doing his work … as an athlete … follows the rules or is disqualified.” Not every problem is spiritual, some are physical. Furthermore, you can’t blame the devil for things that are your fault. We resent people who pressure us, yet we keep doing what they want: and it feeds our silent anger. You’re allowing yourself to be pressured by not taking responsibility for your own life! The fact is, many wen-intentioned folks are walking around burned out and depressed because they can’t say no. They forget that Jesus is our example; that even He made time for rest and

renewal. The answer lies in: (a) putting your life under the guidance of the Holy Spirit; (b) learning to put first things first; (c) not expecting everybody to understand when you set boundaries. Remember, Solomon said, “A friend loveth at all times” (Pr 17: 17), not just when you comply with their wishes.

So if saying no cost” you the friendship, it wasn’t a healthy friendship to start with!

Taken from the Best of Word for Today , 2007


Thanksgiving Turkey Song

(sung to the tune O Christmas Tree)


O turkey dear O turkey dear

How lovely are thy feathers

O turkey dear O turkey dear

There could be nothing better!

We celebrate Thanksgiving Day

By putting your carcass on display.

O turkey dear O turkey dear

You thought we were friends who came to greet you.


O turkey dear O turkey dear

We gathered here to eat you!

O turkey day O turkey day

The family is all together

O turkey day O turkey day

We’ve over come bad weather

Seeing the family is so fab

We’ll see ya’ll again in rehab.

O turkey day O turkey day

We’ll drink away your memory.


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