Rebecca Duvall

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Jesus

25 babyJesusI’m thankful for the birth of Jesus, the Son of God, the Messiah, my Lord and Savior. Have you chosen Jesus as your Lord and Savior? I’m thankful for the gift of eternal life in heaven I have been given because of Him. Have you received the gift of eternal life?

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” ~ Luke 2:8-14

My prayer for us today ~ Father God, thank you for the greatest gift of all, Your Son, Jesus Christ. I pray all the world would know and understand the true meaning of this day, Christmas, Amen.

Advent

advent candles 2I must confess, in the past, I have not payed much attention to the lighting of the advent candles on the Sunday’s leading up to Christmas, which is called the advent season. This year, however, I have payed close attention to what was being said during the lighting of the candles.

At the church we attend, Covenant Community Church, a different family or group of people participate in the lighting of the candle or candles each week.

The 1st candle is purple and is the Candle of Hope. We can have hope because God is faithful and will keep the promises he made to us. Our hope comes from God.

And again, Isaiah says, “The Root of Jesse will spring up, one who will arise to rule over the nations;
 in him the Gentiles will hope.” May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. ~ Romans 15:12-13

I’m in awe of God and how much he loves us. He not only sent His one and only Son, Jesus, to die for us, but He also gives to all believers of Jesus the gift of the Holy Spirit, which will not only guide and direct us, but also enable us in all we are called to do. Hallelujah!

The 2nd candle is purple and is the Candle of Peace. God kept His promise of a Savior who would be born in Bethlehem. Help us to be ready to welcome You, O’God!

As it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet:

“ A voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him. Every valley shall be filled in, every mountain and hill made low. The crooked roads shall become straight, the rough ways smooth. And all people will see God’s salvation.’” ~ Luke 3:4-6

I’m extremely grateful for the sacrifice Jesus made for me, and for you, so we could have direct access to God.

The 3rd candle is pink and is the Candle of Joy. It’s because of the hope we have in Jesus and the peace only He can bring to us we can experience true joy.

…and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.

An there were shepherds living out in the fields nerby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on the earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” ~ Luke 2:7-15

The more I know Jesus, the more my heart is opened to see those around me, as it is filled with a deep desire to help them as Jesus helps me.

The 4th candle is purple and is the Candle of Love. God sent his only Son to earth to save us, because he loves us!

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. ~ John 3: 16-17

As I’ve said before, John 3:16 is the first scripture I ever learned. I believed it before I understood it. That’s the wonderful thing about God. He helps us to understand Him and His will for us. We must simply seek Him.

The 5th candle is white and is the Christ Candle. The white candle reminds us that Jesus is the spotless lamb of God, sent to wash away our sins! His birth was for his death, his death was for our birth!

The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” ~ John 1:29

Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council. He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him.”

Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.”

“How can someone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!”

Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” ~ John 3:1-8

Isn’t that beautiful? Jesus’ purpose of becoming flesh here on earth was to die for us so we could be reborn. This helps me trust and believe, even more, God’s almighty plan and timing of it all.

May prayer for us today ~ Father God, we thank you for the precious gift of your son Jesus, whose birth we will celebrate on Christmas. I pray each and everyone across the world will experience hope, peace, joy and love that only comes from You, Amen.

Merry Christmas

baby JesusUp until five years ago I thought Christmas was all about Santa Claus, decorating trees and presents.  Lots and lots of presents, which meant lots and lots of shopping.  The greeting I gave this time of year was always, and still is, ‘Merry Christmas’.

My Christmas was all about planning for the arrival of the fat jolly guy in the red suit who lived at the santaNorth Pole with the elves making presents all year long.  As a child I worried about whether or not I was on Santa’s naughty list.  I always made a Christmas wish list for Santa.  To make sure he knew exactly what I wanted, I would tape a picture of the item and list the stores where he could get it.

Now my Christmas is about celebrating the birth of Jesus, my Lord and Savior.  We still do the same things at Christmas. We still decorate a tree and shop for presents.  I do feel different though.  I notice things I never noticed before, like the to-do list of things that most people could care less if I do or not.  The to-do list is something that brings stress, not joy, to my life.  This year I decided not to do a few of my to-do list items.  I’m not sending out Christmas cards and we didn’t even attempt to make baked goodies this year.

I find myself being bothered by the extra long hours many stores are open.  I use to love it because it gave me extra time to shop.  Now I feel sad for the employees who must work extra hours instead of being home with their families.  I do realize some families look forward to working the extra hours, but I still think the stores have gone a little too far.  Shopping on Thanksgiving Day and in the middle of the night, I think, is not necessary.christmas presents

Last week at church the sermon was about not being haunted by Christmas present.  We were challenged to buy less presents and be more present.  I love that!  I think the most valuable gift you can give someone is your time.  That doesn’t mean you can’t give gifts.  You can make them.  There are so many great gifts to give that can be made.  Pinterest is full of great ideas.  I know its kind of late in the game this year to decide to make Christmas gifts, but think about it for future Birthdays, Anniversaries and certainly for next Christmas.Love Joy Peace

Whether you celebrate the birth of Jesus, Santa Claus, Hanukah, Kwanzaa, nothing or whatever it might be, I wish you and your family a season filled with love, joy, peace and togetherness.

My prayer for us today ~ May God who understands each need, who listens to every prayer, bless you and keep you in His tender loving care, Amen

John 3 16

Persistence Pays Off

math signsI am so excited!  I have to share how amazing and hysterical God is.  For those who don’t know, I’m a numbers geek.  Excel is my favorite software program.  To me, working with numbers is like working on a wonderful puzzle.  No emotions or feelings can change it.  2 + 2 will always equal 4.

My husband does not share this same passion of numbers.  He often says “Math is not my best friend”.  I agree and would even go as far to say math isn’t even a friend of his.

Money has always caused a lot of stress and arguments in our marriage, especially around Christmas.  My husband would like to buy wonderful gifts for everyone, which is great, I would like to also.  The problem is our money coming in (income) doesn’t increase just because our money going out (expenses) increase.  We need to plan ahead, to save, for these occasions. grinch

My husband is the spender in our family.  I’m the grinch when it comes to money.  I write out a  budget each month showing money in and money out.  I factor in things like haircuts, birthday gifts, back to school or summer items, etc.  Then at the bottom it shows what “play” money we have or extra money there is, if any.

I try to explain it to my husband but all he sees is the money coming in.  Then all month long as I pay our bills I’m worried I’m going to bounce a check because my husband spends the money before the bill payments hit the bank.  I do continually remind him we have no extra money until the next check comes in, but he still continues to spend.  Coffee drinks, burgers or downloading music.  The crazy part is when I ask him about it, it’s always “it was only one”.  He doesn’t realize each dollar spent needs to be subtracted from the money available to spend.  Remember, math is not his friend.

To get to the amazing hysterical part…….In the past, whenever I’ve tried to get my husband involved in our finances he’s always made it clear he trusted me and didn’t want to deal with it.  The thought of money stressed him out and he had enough to stress about, so the finances were all on me.

I’ve been praying, for a while, for my husband to get a clue about our money situation or for God to help me explain it to him in a way that he would understand.

My husband is the Small Group Coordinator at our church and a few months ago he said he wanted to bring the Dave Ramsey Financial Peace University course to our church.  At the time I had no idea what it was.  I didn’t think my husband really had a clue either because it had the word financial in it.

To make a long story short…..my husband has been organizing, planning and promoting this course at our church and it will begin in January.  That’s pretty amazing right!  Well the hysterical part is we are taking this course together and working with the couple who will be facilitating it, so if we do it again at our church we will be able to facilitate it together!  My husband even says he is excited about learning how to manage our money together.

I never would have imagined this happening and certainly could not have planned it if I tried.  God always has amazing things for us.  We simply need to invite Him in through prayer.colossians 4

My prayer for us today ~ Lord, I pray we remain alert to recognize when & how you answer our prayers so we don’t miss opportunities you bring our way, Amen

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