Monthly Archives: December 2022

Be Blessed – Sat – 22-12-31



This summer I attended a Major League Baseball game. As I passed through the gate, stadium security staff watched me. I placed my phone and other metallic items in a small tub and stepped through the metal detector. It took just a moment. I think there was also a dog present to sniff out bad stuff. I’m sure the stadium also had additional security measures. I didn’t look for security cameras, but I’m sure they exist and people monitored them.

I’m actually grateful the teams provide security. We live in an age when wicked people seek to kill others. Not because of personal animosity, but to make a statement, maybe for a political cause, or just seeking notoriety. Some of us are old enough to remember skyscrapers crumbling to the ground or snipers terrorizing a city. It wasn’t that long ago when another school was victimized by a mass shooting. I want people watching out for the bad guys so I can enjoy life.

Psalms 1:6 reassures me as well with these words, “For the LORD watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.” (NIV) This verse does not promise the physical security provided by stadium staff. Evil people still commit crimes against others every day. Some of the victims are follower of Jesus. But the Lord does protect our life and relationship with him. Remember that, and enjoy your day.


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Bumper music “Landing Place” performed by Mark July, used under license from Shutterstock.


Be Blessed – Fri – 22-12-30



Would you rather sit or stand? It all depends, doesn’t it. If I’m watching a movie, I want to sit. Even better, I want to sit munching popcorn. But if I’m in the checkout line, I’ll stand. There are other times we want to stand. Imagine being at a party. People are standing in groups talking and laughing. You approach a group of people. They’re good people, leaders in your community. When you step up to them, don’t you want to stand with them? How it would hurt to be rejected and told to move along.

Another place we sometimes stand is the court of law. None of us want to be accused of a crime and endure a trial. But if that happens, I want to stand at the end and be declared not guilty, rather than dragged away to jail.

Psalms 1:5 says, “Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.” (NIV) The picture is the court of law. In this case, God’s court on the day of judgement. The wicked are not left standing, they are hauled to punishment. They will not join the group declared righteous by God.

This Psalm urges us not to walk with the wicked. It is far better to delight in God’s word and draw life from it like a tree rooted next to a stream.


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Bumper music “Landing Place” performed by Mark July, used under license from Shutterstock.


Be Blessed – Thu – 22-12-29



When I was a teen, I spent a summer working for a wheat farmer. I jockeyed a combine through his fields. I enjoyed feeling the vibrations and hearing the shush of grain and stalks mixed with the rumble and whirl of the large machine. Grain filled the hopper as the combine spread a trail of straw on the stubble. The strong Kansas wind quickly blew away the chaff falling out the back. Running the combine was my favorite activity, better than the plowing, planting or herding cattle I did that summer.

In ancient Israel, they harvested stalks of grain by hand and hauled it to a threshing floor. Oxen drug a heavy sled over the stalks to separate the grain. Then people used crude pitch forks to throw the crushed stalks in the air. The wind blew the chaff away and the grain fell back to the threshing floor. Grain was valuable. Chaff was not. Chaff was driven away by the force of the wind.

Psalms 1:4 says this, “Not so the wicked! They are like chaff that the wind blows away.” (NIV) This verse is a contrast with the person who delights in God’s law. They flourish in everything. The wind doesn’t move them. They are like trees anchored by roots running deep next to a stream. Don’t let the gusts and squalls of life aimlessly scatter you. Take time today and follow God’s word.


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Bumper music “Landing Place” performed by Mark July, used under license from Shutterstock.


Be Blessed – Wed – 22-12-28



Our neighborhood plants trees along the curbs and sidewalks. The dream of tree-lined streets spangled in autumn colors motivates the effort. On our block, the trees are still young and barely shade the street. Some were damaged by the weather in recent years and needed to be replanted. I noticed one of these new trees did not survive the drought we experienced this summer. Leafless twigs branched from a trunk you could easily wrap your fingers around. The lack of water killed it. Trees need water. Being planted between a sidewalk and the street is not the best habitat for a tree.

Psalms 1:3 uses the image of a tree planted by a stream to describe a blessed person. It reads, “He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.” (NIV)

What kind of person does this verse describe? Someone who delights in God’s word. Like the tree by the water, those who delight in God’s word draw life from it. Everything we need to flourish emotionally and spiritually can be found in the bible. Hope, encouragement, guidance, assurance of God’s love and purpose and more are found in its words.

Our daily lives are not always the best environment for our emotional and spiritual well-being. But if you spend time in God’s word, you can flourish like a tree planted next to a stream.


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Bumper music “Landing Place” performed by Mark July, used under license from Shutterstock.


Be Blessed – Tue – 22-12-27



What images dance through your mind when you hear the word delight? Do you see babies or puppies? I used that word for an image search on the internet. Evidently, most people associate candy and food with delight. The names of many different food products also contain the word. I decided to search for videos instead. Again, I found food dominated the results.

Come to think of it, I can delight in frozen custard or a slice of warm, cherry pie covered in ice cream. I scoop up a bite and savor the rich creaminess melting through the tangy filling. Are you hungry yet?

Delight also describes a memory of my wide-eyed children one Christmas morning many years ago. We gave them a huge box containing ready-to-assemble pieces of a plastic slide. Stood on end, the flat box was taller they were. Their eyes popped and mouths fell open. They tore the wrapping paper off with enthusiasm. They wanted to find the treasure inside.

This is the attitude described in Psalms 1:2, “But his delight is in the law of the LORD,

and on his law he meditates day and night.” (NIV)

Are you eager to dig into God’s word to discover the treasures there? Do your eyes light up as you open the book? Do you read and savor its truth and teachings? You will be blessed if you do. Spend some time today delighting in God’s word.


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Bumper music “Landing Place” performed by Mark July, used under license from Shutterstock.


Be Blessed – Mon – 22-12-26



Do you know the advice about walking alone in a dark alley? It’s easy. Don’t do it. I can’t say I’ve ever walked alone down a dark alley. But I have walked alone without a flashlight down a dark trail in the woods. The hair on the back of my neck stood at attention and saluted. I scanned every direction for the eyes of wild animals, but only saw moonlight and shadow. In retrospect, my fear was unfounded.

But dark alleys are another thing. Danger is far more likely in them than in the woods. We know this and avoid dark alleys to enhance our physical safety.

We should also be concerned about protecting our morals and ethics. The psalmist puts it this way in Psalms 1:1, “Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers.”

The wicked, sinners and mockers are all unsavory characters. Oh sure, we may laugh along with the mockers when they heap scorn on something or someone good. But they are just as dangerous as the wicked who advise us to do wrong.

So, if you want to be blessed today, don’t take advice from the ungodly, hang out with those who sin or even gather with mockers. If you wouldn’t walk alone down a dark alley, why would you hang with the wrong crowd?


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Bumper music “Landing Place” performed by Mark July, used under license from Shutterstock.


Christmas – Sun – 22-12-25



Christmas is filled with traditions. One is the Christmas tree. They come in all shapes and sizes. Short, tall, fat, skinny and in every combination. My earliest memories of Christmas include an aluminum tree that changed color. It reflected light from a spotlight with a color wheel. Red, blue, green and yellow.

My wife Elaine remembers live Christmas trees from her childhood. Her father always cut a red cedar that grew somewhere on the farm, often in the barb wire fence. He thought buying a tree a waste of money. Cutting a tree let him clean up the pasture and celebrate Christmas at the same time.

I’m not sure what lasting memories of trees my children have. We usually had an artificial tree. Though we set up a real tree a few years. No, they were not red cedars. We purchased them from a lot run by the Boy Scouts. Later we were given an artificial tree a friend had used for several years. We often had to hot glue its pieces back together. But it held our ornaments and lights well. I think our daughter still has that tree.

All the variety in trees makes me reflect on God’s love. He loves people of all sizes, shapes and colors. He adorns us with love and lights our life. Luke 2:14 says, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.” (NIV)

Merry Christmas.


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Bumper music “Landing Place” performed by Mark July, used under license from Shutterstock.


Christmas Foretold – Sat – 22-12-24



Have you ever waited a long time for something precious? Some couples struggle with infertility. They long for a child. They consult doctors, endure injections and face repeated, disappointing tests. This may last a few years. Then one day, for some, the tests are positive and a few months later they hold a precious newborn child. What emotion must flood their souls.

I wonder if the emotion Simeon experienced when he held the infant Jesus was anything like that. He had waited years for that moment. Luke 2:28-32 says, ‘Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying: “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all people, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.”’ (NIV)

This is more than the account of an old man rejoicing over baby Jesus. Simeon also references a prophecy from Isaiah 42:6. Jesus was a light for the Gentiles. He would reveal God and his truth to the non-Jewish world, as well as bring glory to Israel.

The accounts of Christmas are far more than a heart-warming story of Jesus’ birth. They record the conclusion of plans laid before time. They show the fulfillment of prophecies delivered hundreds of years before the events unfold. As you celebrate Christmas, give praise to our eternal God.


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Bumper music “Landing Place” performed by Mark July, used under license from Shutterstock.


Christmas Foretold – Fri – 22-12-23



Many years ago, my family attended a small, rural church. The church hosted a walk-through Nativity play. Since the church was in northern Michigan, we set everything up inside. People entered a dark room and saw a few shepherds and a couple of live sheep. After the shepherds recited a few lines, a black cloth screen fell and a spotlight shone on angels perched  behind the shepherds. People enjoyed the scene.

It depicted the events recorded in Luke 2:8-14: ‘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 of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ 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, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.” (NIV)

The last phase about peace on earth also fulfills the prophecy of Isaiah 9:6. Take a moment to praise God for the gift of peace through his son.


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Bumper music “Landing Place” performed by Mark July, used under license from Shutterstock.


Christmas Foretold – Thu – 22-12-22



Do you like puzzles? In Matthew’s account of the birth of Jesus, we find a puzzle. Matthew tells us Joseph stayed in Egypt until Herod died. Matthew 2:22-23 says, ‘But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning in Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. Having been warned in a dream, he withdrew to the district of Galilee, and he went and lived in a town called Nazareth. So was fulfilled what was said through the prophets: “He will be called a Nazarene.”’ (NIV)

So what’s the puzzle? Nowhere in the Old Testament does the word Nazarene occur. Who is the prophet mentioned?

We can understand it this way. Sometimes a word refers to a place of origin and sometimes it refers to a characteristic. Take the word hoosier. In the Midwest, this word is used of someone who comes from the state of Indiana. But the word can also refer to an awkward, unsophisticated person, whether he or she comes from Indiana or not. This usage often shows disdain.

The word Nazarene may have had a similar usage. People from Nazareth were despised, as John 1:46 demonstrates. Isaiah 53:3 says this about the Messiah, “He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces

he was despised, and we esteemed him not.” (NIV)


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Bumper music “Landing Place” performed by Mark July, used under license from Shutterstock.


Christmas Foretold – Wed – 22-12-21



Have you ever been tricked? The people who love practical jokes are those pulling them on others. Most don’t want to be the victim of a prank. Even harmless tricks can embarrass us. Remember the wind-up hand buzzer? You placed it in your palm and shook hands with your unsuspecting victim. When their hand made contact, the device buzzed and fluttered in their hand, startling them. Some people get angry when another tricks them. I’m sure you know people like that as well.

The villain in the accounts of Jesus’ birth, King Herod, was tricked by the Magi. They were supposed to return and report Jesus’ location in Bethlehem. But they were warned and didn’t return. Matthew 2:16-18 says, ‘Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, became furious, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had ascertained from the wise men. Then was fulfilled what was spoken by the prophet Jeremiah: “A voice was heard in Ramah, weeping and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be comforted, because they are no more.”’ (NIV)

Here again, we see the fulfillment of prophecy given over 500 years before the birth of Jesus. Today, praise God who knows all things before they happen.


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Bumper music “Landing Place” performed by Mark July, used under license from Shutterstock.