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"Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward, even forever more. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.”


- Isaiah 9:7

Stargazing -  

Waking up with a cough in the wee hours of the morning is actually good for something, I discovered this past weekend.

It’s a perfect time to stargaze.

So this past Saturday morning, around 3 am, I pulled on a robe and my slippers and went out our back door to stand in the yard and look up. It helped a lot that it was still around 60 degrees (we’ve had a warm November here in the Texas Hill Country), but even when I lived in Minnesota, I occasionally braved a frigid winter midnight to admire the star-studded heavens. As always, the simple truth that I’m looking at stars burning gazillions of miles away astounds me, let alone knowing that the light I see actually left those stars even more gazillion years ago! I’m entranced, intrigued, and awed all at the same time, and every time I make a midnight visit to the universe, I can’t believe I’m not spending my life gazing at those stars.

Nerdy? Maybe. Reverent? You bet. Nothing makes me feel smaller, and yet so incredibly blessed, than to witness God’s work of the heavens. I want to set up a honking big speaker system and shout out to everyone to look at what God has created…but I don’t expect my neighbors would exactly appreciate that at three in the morning. So instead, I praise God, I embrace the night sky studded with a million stars, and when I begin to feel the cold seeping in under my robe, I go back inside and get in bed. As I fall asleep, I say a prayer for all the people who are unaware of the nightly spectacle and the nearness and largesse of God, and I thank God for all the blessings in my life.

Especially stars.

“By the word of the LORD the heavens were made, And by the breath of His mouth all their host.” Psalm 33:6 

Jan Dunlap is the author of the new suspense novel Heaven’s Gate: Archangels Book I, the bestselling memoir Saved by Gracie: How a Rough-and-tumble Rescue Dog Dragged Me Back to Health, Happiness and God (Authentic Publishing) and the acclaimed Birder Murder Mystery series (North Star Press, Inc.). She holds MA degrees in Theology and English Studies and lives in the Hill Country of Texas where she spends every clear night marveling at the stars and the brilliance of God’s creation. She is a frequent contributor to FaithHappenings.com and welcomes visitors at www.jandunlap.com and on Facebook at her two author pages BirderMurderMama and Archangels.

More of Jan Dunlap: http://www.jandunlap.com/

From: The Cure 

By John Lynch


In my eagerness to "fix" conflicts, I often push people to apologize. But no one stays "fixed" when I force the issue. I can say "I'm sorry," but sometimes those are just words. Nothing has been reconciled. We're left each defending our turf, still just as resentful, even if the "right" words have been spoken. Grace always invites rather than demands reconciliation. An apology may push the issue away for the moment, but it won't heal a relationship, and it rarely solves any issue.

… 

I AM FULFILLED WHEN I HAVE EXPERIENCED LOVE. Love completely satisfies our longing, ambitions, and potential. God, the ultimate fulfiller, invites us to trust Him. Those who hang out long enough in the Room of Grace experience too much love to return to their previous existence. Received love turns shaky pretenders into confident dreamers. It turns miserably self-sufficient strivers into wonderfully released receivers. It turns cynical and smug judges into safe and discerning protectors. It turns anxious self-protectors into daring lovers.

These posts first appeared on the TrueFace website or Facebook Page and are shared here with permission. TrueFace works to see hundreds of thousands of high-trust cultures of grace multiplied around the world. TrueFace pursues this vision by building and restoring trust in leaders and those who follow them. We do this by teaching leaders how to "trust God and others with themselves."

More of John Lynch, Bruce McNicol and Bill Thrall - TrueFace: www.trueface.org

Integrity: The Lost Art of Following Through -  

This devotional was written by Jim Liebelt

 

Simply let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No’ be ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one. —Matthew 5:37

 

Most of us have recent examples where we’ve observed the truth in the phrase “Talk is cheap.” For example when my wife and I moved into a new home, it was a year filled with promises from vendors and contractors who rarely followed through on their word without some kind of nagging or pressure from us. It seems our society is filled with people who have lost the art of following through on promises they have made.

 

It would be nice if we could say that Christians are immune from the “talk is cheap” phenomenon, but we aren’t. I see it happen within our ranks all of the time. More indicting, the truth is that I’m just as guilty. Perhaps I’ve snuggled up too close (once again!) to our culture and have been unintentionally influenced by it – but I find that I promise more often than I deliver. While not intentionally lying, from “I’ll pray for you” to “I’ll help you with that project,” I’ve delivered verbal assurances where I haven’t thought seriously enough about the actual follow-through. Looking back, it’s embarrassing, and I honestly want to do better.

 

Some may observe, “Everyone does it – we don’t mean to do it – it’s harmless.” For the most part, that observation is likely accurate. Most lapses in following through do not rise to the level of life or death issues; however, I believe that as Christ-followers, we are held to a higher standard. The Scriptures make it clear that integrity, honesty, and following through on our promises are important to our own souls and to our relationships. While words are important, actions do speak louder. Our actions reveal more about our faith than all of the words we can muster. As such, I’m not suggesting that we stop making promises to protect ourselves from lying. I’m suggesting that we honor God by acting on what we promise.

 

I know that I won’t always be perfect in this area from here on out, but my goal is to intentionally think more about following though – in the very moment I commit to something – and to remind myself that too often my own talk is cheap. Today, I encourage you to do the same.

 

GOING DEEPER:

1. Think of a recent time when a person or company didn’t deliver on a promise to you. How did you react? What difference did it make in your perception of that person/company?

 

2. Evaluate whether or not you need to admit that too often your talk is cheap. Ask God to help you be a person of your word.

 

FURTHER READING:

Proverbs 10:9, 13:3, 14:23, 19:20; 2 Corinthians 9:2-5

This devotional originally appeared in “HomeWord with Jim Burns” on Crosswalk’s Family Devotional section. For more information about HomeWord with Jim Burns devotionals, please visit us online.

More of HomeWord with Jim Burns: http://www.crosswalk.com/devotionals/homeword/

Kramer -  

This devotional was written by Linda Vujnov   

 

For great is his love toward us, and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever. Praise the Lord. —Psalm 117:2

 

Kramer lived a reckless life before we met him. His evenings were consumed with dodging unbalanced toddlers desperate to grab his fur, escaping coyotes during late night searches for shelter, and eating meals scavenged from overturned food containers, I imagine. He has always been too ashamed to share the details. When he arrived at the animal shelter, he was underweight at 10 pounds and his enormous under bite and duck footed paws made him undesirable. Since he needed a family, and our teenage son is a sap for the unsightly, we brought Kramer home. I needed more coaxing after our initial encounter though. His bad teeth and irritable growl at the moment I tried to pick him up reinforced my decision to keep my distance. “I do not like him,” I announced. “He is too small, and he’s ugly.” My criticisms cut through the heart of our youngest child, but the dog’s psyche was unharmed. I’ve been known to carelessly speak my mind.

 

Kramer immediately accepted our family and made a home for himself atop our couch cushion that offered a perfect view of the threatening, outside world. Although he hated being picked up, he stole every opportunity to settle into any available lap and sleep away the day, and surprisingly, I was beginning to like him.

 

As we grew accustomed to each other, his faults began to expose themselves. His unnerving habit of “marking” his territory all over the house quickly became a nuisance especially after we had the carpets cleaned and he found it necessary to repeat the marking process. After fits of frustration from cleaning and sanitizing, I would settle in an overstuffed chair and Kramer would curl up in my lap, breathe a heavy sigh, and steal my heart again. Overlooking this annoying practice was almost instantaneous since his affection was so abundant. I was instantly reminded of God’s unrelenting love for me and the fact that He is never disappointed with my behaviors. God knows my mess ups and mistakes before they happen. He is in no way surprised by my missteps or misgivings.

 

God saw every sin before it was committed and yet sent His Son as a sacrifice; a replacement for our unsightly sin. His love for us runs deep and his affection stretches wide. So jump up, heave a sigh, and curl up in the lap of your wonderful Savior. Christ, too, takes pleasure in our affection for Him for we are His beloved.

 

Kramer continues to annoy me, but thankfully for him, I have a short memory.

 

GOING DEEPER:

1. What keeps you from accepting God’s love and forgiveness?

 

2. How can you show affection for God today?

 

FURTHER READING:

Romans 8:38-39; Ephesians 3:18-19

This devotional originally appeared in “HomeWord with Jim Burns” on Crosswalk’s Family Devotional section. For more information about HomeWord with Jim Burns devotionals, please visit us online.

More of HomeWord with Jim Burns: http://www.crosswalk.com/devotionals/homeword/

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