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The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned. 3 You have enlarged the nation and increased their joy; they rejoice before you as people rejoice at the harvest, as warriors rejoice when dividing the plunder. 4 For as in the day of Midian’s defeat, you have shattered the yoke that burdens them, the bar across their shoulders, the rod of their oppressor. 5 Every warrior’s boot used in battle and every garment rolled in blood will be destined for burning, will be fuel for the fire. 

-Isaiah 9:2-5

Day Eight

December 10

Hey! If Christmas Crazy is knocking on your door, don’t answer it!

We’re back. The stage is set, and the pregnant women are wide-eyed with wonder. Perhaps Mary is still carrying a backpack and Elizabeth is wiping her hands on a dishtowel. My storytelling brain could supply endless details, but we can count on God’s Word to tell us what we need to know. So let’s pick up in Luke 1:40 where we read that Mary, “entered the house of Zacharias and greeted Elizabeth” and “when Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.”

Whoa! Are we at breakneck speed here? Did you feel it, too?

Before Elizabeth can put on coffee, and before either woman can wade into their miraculous stories, GOD Himself sets the tone for the visit by testifying that HE is in their midst in more ways than one. 

-  I love knowing you and I can also experience the blessing of having God frame our conversations—today—right in the middle of Christmas Crazy. What is one way we can recognize His Presence and invite Him into our interactions with others as we go about our day?  

Shellie Rushing Tomlinson is a Jesus loving, humor-gathering author, speaker, and radio host known as The Belle of All Things Southern. Shellie believes "The whole world stops for a story." She lives in Louisiana and stacks her stories up at All Things Southern.com

More of Shellie Rushing Tomlinson: http://www.allthingssouthern.com/

IT JUST DOES NOT BELONG!   

BY THEODORE EPP

In Strength for the Journey

1 John 3:1-10

To live under the dominion of sin without any evidence of righteousness demonstrates that the person has not been born again. The reasons for this are clearly pointed out in some of these verses.

First John 3:4, for example, says that sin is contrary to the law of God. Verse 5 says that sin is contrary to the mission, or the work, of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Christ not only came to take away the guilt of sin, but He broke sin's power so that the believer need not live under its dominion.

When we do commit an act of sin and then confess it, God is faithful and just to forgive our sins, and our Advocate with the Father maintains our standing of righteousness before Him.

Some have used these verses to teach that a person reaches a certain place in his Christian life after which he no longer commits any sin. These verses do not give any license to sin, but they contrast the state, or behavior, of the children of God with the state, or behavior, of the children of the world.

A continual practice of sin in the life shows that the person is a child of the Devil rather than a child of God. "The devil sinneth from the beginning" (v. 8), and his children continue to live in sin, for that is in keeping with the character of their heredity.

"Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?" (Rom. 6:16).

Devotions.org, a division of Back to Bible has a daily source of devotions to keep you in touch with God and His word, written by some of today's top authors and Bible teachers. Browse the variety of resources completely on their website. 

More of Devotions.Org: http://www.backtothebible.org/devotions

Jesus declared: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” (Matthew 5:9) Clearly, Jesus is extending his blessing on all who would take on the hard work of peacemaking.

But what does making peace look like in our world today? Maybe the following story involving our 5-year-old granddaughter Reese will serve as a starting point. 

I ask you—what is not to love about this adorable, witty, engaging, free-spirited little girl who loves animals and critters of all shapes and sizes, including worms, toads, butterflies, and grasshoppers which she loves to catch and torment unintentionally!

Well, one day last summer she was outside playing with her best friend Alana in the backyard. And toward the back of the backyard is a small woods that the kids often play in.

When Reese’s mom, Gretchen, looked out the back window and didn’t see them, she went out and began calling for them. No one answered, so she went back to the woods to do some searching and was horrified by what she saw.

She saw her sweet little daughter with the help of her friend, with a pair of scissors, cutting her own hair. I mean big globs of hair being butchered off of her head.

You can see in the photo a side shot with her hair hacked off above the ear. Just lovely work there isn’t it? I think she has a future as a beautician, don’t you? 

And then there is the shot of the back of her head, where her golden locks are no longer flowing gracefully down her neck.

Needless to say, her mom was not happy, and Reese had a longer than normal time-out, and some privileges taken away for a while. And the rest of the day was a rather somber one as Reese knew she had crossed a line that she was now regretting.

But that night, as Gretchen was tucking her in bed, Reese said something that will go down in the annals of family lore.

She said this: “Mom, I know that you are not happy with me cutting my hair. But I know you still love me…And I know God still loves me.”

Wow. What was going on there? Wonderful, deep theological truth! Yes, mom was unhappy—very upset actually. And there was not a lot of peace inside of either mom or daughter that day.

But at the same time, Reese had done her soul work—and found peace for two reasons: First, because she knew that even though she had transgressed royally, her mom still loved her. And second, because moms are human—and may momentarily forget that they love their children—God never does. And so she found peace in that also, as did her mom, which translated into big hugs and kisses at the end of that day.

It was a 5-year-old’s lesson in peacemaking—and there was blessing for both mom and child that night. In the words of Jesus, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.”


This originally appeared here and is shared with the author's permission.


John Merritt is a modern-day adventurer trapped in a pastor’s body. When not behind a pulpit you will find John lobster diving, heli-skiing, hauling in yellow fin tuna, calling mallards from a duck blind, or running Grand Canyon whitewater. John is married to Debbie for 40 years and has three children and five grandchildren. 

More of John Merritt: www.pastorjohnmerritt.com

Our regularly scheduled "Long Devotions for Women" will continue next week, but we want to invite you to join us for this month's special "Choosing Christmas" series with Shellie Tomlinson in our Short Devotions for Women in Soul Care. 


Merry Christmas!

Shellie Rushing Tomlinson is a Jesus loving, humor-gathering author, speaker, and radio host known as The Belle of All Things Southern. Shellie believes "The whole world stops for a story." She lives in Louisiana and stacks her stories up at All Things Southern.com

More of Shellie Rushing Tomlinson: http://www.allthingssouthern.com/

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