Weekly Spiritual Readings

December 12, 2014

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You will never have true pleasure or peace or joy or comfort until you have found Christ.  --D.L. Moody

Christ doesn’t want a place in your life; He wants it all. He doesn’t want you to fit Him into your plans; He wants to fit

you into His. --J. Budziszewski

Prayer is not just icing on the cake of a so-called spiritual life; prayer is warm, close communication with the living

God. --Edith Schaeffer

There is no greener pasture than where the Shepherd leads you. --Jan Carlberg

We can never become fully intimate with a God we do not completely trust. --Charles Stanley

When you and I hurt deeply, what we really need is not an explanation from God but a revelation of God. We need to see how great God is; we need to recover our lost perspective on life. Things get out of proportion when we are suffering, and it takes a vision of something bigger than ourselves to get life’s dimensions adjusted again.
--Warren W. Wiersbe

We are never more fulfilled than when our longing for God is met by His presence in our lives. --Billy Graham


You Don't Have to be a Tree by Sally I. Kennedy
You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. 1 John 4:4
Although the calendar was barely registering December, the boxes with the train were hauled down from the attic. To the delight of the youngsters, their dad assembled all the cars and the track. All set to circle 'round the Christmas tree once the tree was put up!
The adults were getting ready to go out that evening, and they heard the kids in the living room. A little voice, "But I want to watch the video......"", followed by a quick comeback, "No! you can't watch the video. You have to be the tree."
When the kids' parents rounded the corner, they could see the younger child. He was standing stock-still as the train chug-chugged and circled its way around him. His arms were raised straight overhead with palms touching, trying hard to be 'the Christmas tree' as he tried to turn his head to view the video playing on TV.
Sometimes I feel like the child who was trying to be the tree, even though it wasn't what he really wanted to do. The world tells me to do this, that, and the other thing; buy this, that, and the other thing; be this, that, and the other thing. Sometimes I even forget I have a choice.
I do have a choice. I can choose to listen to a higher authority. The world will squeeze us into its mold, if we let it. But the Holy Spirit, living inside all believers, will guide and instruct us day by day, moment by moment, and all we have to do is listen and obey.
Nope, we don't have to "be a tree." That's good news!


Collector of Cracked Pots By Gene Markland
One of my favorite movie heroes is Indiana Jones. I love to watch his adventures as he searches for artifacts from past civilizations. Real life archaeologists sometimes search for years to find only scattered pieces of pottery. It’s amazing how painstakingly they put all the shattered pieces together. In many instances they are able to completely reconstruct the pottery to its original form.
Other than the obvious cracks, once the repairs are made, it looks as good as new. Once restored, a quality piece is usually placed in a museum where it is illuminated by special light and prominently displayed on a pedestal for all to see and enjoy.
But there are also private collectors of such treasures. One day while praying in the Spirit, I saw such a place in a vision. I entered a large building, which was rather plain, and followed a dimly lit carpeted hallway into a large room. The room was dark except for an area to the left, so I made my way there.
Before me stood a large wall painted with swirling brush strokes, giving it the appearance of a work of art. In front of the wall was a row of lighted glass pedestals with pottery sitting atop each one. It looked like a room in a museum. Each piece of pottery was splashed with light so that it was visible top, bottom, and sides.
As I approached for a closer examination, I noticed two things. Each pot was beautiful and unique in it’s own right, and each one was cracked. Some had one or two obvious cracks, and others had cracks like a spider web, surrounding it. But all were obviously painstakingly repaired and displayed in a place of honor.
I closely examined the first pot on my left. It was a plain earthen vessel with no visible decoration. It had one large crack from top to bottom, which had somehow been perfectly repaired. The crack, however, was still visible.
The next pot to my right was a large ornate vessel with designs depicting battles won and lost. It was a Kingly vessel of blue, with numerous flaws, which had been repaired.
Next was a beautiful classic pot, tall and thin, with leaves of green and gold decorations. Though repaired, one large crack spiraled around from the top to the bottom. It appeared to be the vessel of a scholar.
The next one was a wide short pot upon which were etchings of fish and the sea. The outside was fine but there was a large crack on the inside, which had been painstakingly supported and reinforced so the repair would hold.
The last pot in the row was a normal looking vessel at first glance, but closer inspection revealed a pot that had been shattered and put together more than once. It seemed that even the pieces had been broken. It was, however, masterfully reconstructed and sealed.
I stepped back and pondered these artifacts, wondering about their significance, when a voice spoke from behind me and said, “Would you like to know the significance of those pots?” Standing with my arms crossed, I didn’t turn around. Assuming this was the proprietor I answered. “Yes sir, please tell me.”
“Look closely at the placard on the first pedestal,” He said. Stepping over to it, I leaned down and read, “Adam.”
“Adam?” I said.
“Yes.” He replied. “Adam had a large flaw, one which cost me dearly. But the cost was a price that I was more than willing to pay.”
He instructed me to look at the next one. The placard read, “David.”
“Yes,” He said. "The King had many flaws, but what a beautiful vessel. Don’t you agree?”
“Yes,” I replied.
He spoke softly and said, “This was a vessel that captured my heart.”
The next pot, a classic with leaves of green and gold, had a placard, which read “Paul.”
“Paul, Paul,” the voice said, “a vessel of educated substance, refined and stately. This spiral crack caused it great weakness, but my grace was sufficient. ”
The wide pot with ocean etchings had a placard, which read, “Peter.”
“This vessel,” said the voice “was large, strong, and capable of much, but suffered severe damage on the inside. I had to hold it together for some time until the repair was complete. It became one of my greatest works. Now look closely at the next vessel.
I leaned down to read the placard on the twice-shattered pot and beheld my own name. Tears filled my eyes as I remembered the shattering that almost destroyed me, the destruction of my childhood due to my parents’ divorce.
“I am like a broken vessel” (Psalm 31:12 KJV)
I turned to face the collector of cracked pots and beheld the Father! His eyes were as penetrating as His smile was warm. I felt the strength of His embrace as I said, “Thank you for putting together the shattered pieces of my life Father.” Unspoken love and acceptance passed between us.
He stepped over and picked up the Adam pot. “Son, he said, ever since that first vessel Adam, there have been flaws and cracks in every vessel which has come afterward.“
He went from pedestal to pedestal, carefully holding, and softly rubbing each pot. Then with an expert eye, He placed each one back on their pedestal so that the light reflected the unique beauty of each vessel.
He spoke again, “I sent my son Jesus to pay the price of all the cracked pots and to bring the pieces to me. And you know son, it wasn’t until I repaired the cracks that the vessels had their greatest use.”
When he finished, He gave me a pat on the shoulder and a quick smile as He walked past me toward the darkened area of the room. It lit up as He entered, and to my amazement, the light revealed the room to be enormous. It stretched out as far as I could see. My eyes quickly searched for Father and I saw Him walking, far away in the distance…in the middle of a sea of pedestals which held His redeemed collection of cracked pots, a collection which no man can number.
“And yet, O Lord, you are our Father. We are the clay, and you are the potter. We are all formed by your hand” (Isaiah 64:8 NLT).


Leith Anderson, a minister, shared this experience: As a boy, he grew up outside of New York City and was an avid fan of the old Brooklyn Dodgers. One day his father took him to a World Series game between the Dodgers and the Yankees. He was so excited, and he just knew the Dodgers would trounce the Yankees. Unfortunately, the Dodgers never got on base, and his excitement was shattered.
Years later, he was engrossed in a conversation with a man who was a walking sports almanac. Leith told him about the first major league game he attended and added, "It was such a disappointment. I was a Dodger fan and the Dodgers never got on base." The man said, "You were there? You were at the game when Don Larsen pitched the first perfect game in all of World Series history?"
Leith replied, ''Yeah, but uh, we lost." He then realized that he had been so caught up in his team's defeat that he missed out on the fact that he was a witness to a far greater page of history.
I wonder how often the same thing happens to us. We get so caught up in the "defeats" in our lives, the times when things don't turn out the way we want them to. So we're depressed because an illness continues to linger, or when people don't treat us the way we think they ought to, or when we face financial difficulties.
But we are often so blinded by the pain and disappointment of our "defeat" that we fail to appreciate the fact that we might be witness to something far greater that God is doing in our lives.
Remember when Paul was in prison? He wrote to the Philippian Christians, "But I want you to know, brethren, that the things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel." (Phil. 1:12)
While most of us would have focused on the "defeat" (being in prison even though he was innocent), Paul was able to see what God was doing in his life. It's not an easy thing to do. It's never easy to view things from a heavenly perspective rather than an earthly one, but it is especially difficult in the midst of pain and defeat. But it is learning how to have a heavenly view that helps us to know joy no matter what happens in our lives.


Right after World War II, a U.S. Army officer and his wife were stationed in Japan. That country had been devastated by the war. The post-war economy was in shambles. Unemployment approached 60%. People came to the Army wife's door daily looking for work. One man said that he could do wonders for her garden if she would only give him a chance. So, for the first time in her life, this young Army wife hired a gardener. He spoke no English, but the wife, through sign language and pencil and paper gave him instructions about where to plant, prune, and pamper her garden. He listened politely and followed her instructions exactly. The garden emerged as the finest in the neighborhood.
When she finally realized that her new gardener knew far more about the matter than she, the wife stopped giving him directions and let him freely care for the garden. It was magnificent. Then one day the gardener came with an interpreter who expressed the appreciation but the regrets of the gardener. "He will no longer be able to care for your garden. He must leave."
The wife expressed her regrets and thanked him through the interpreter for making hers such a fine garden. Out of politeness, she asked the interpreter, "Where is he going?"
The interpreter replied that the gardener was returning to his old job as the Professor of Horticulture at the University of Tokyo.
Can you imagine the look that must have been on that Army wife's face when she discovered, that her gardener was the university professor of horticulture? No wonder he knew so much about gardening! Imagine having someone at your disposal with that amount of knowledge. What a beautiful lawn I could have!
And yet, we have something far greater that we often take for granted. We have someone who has that kind of intimate knowledge about everything in our lives -- He knows our purpose, He knows what brings us joy, He knows what we need to do to be fulfilled in life. And He's close enough to us that He's willing to listen to us and communicate to us. Imagine taking advantage of having someone with that amount of knowledge. What a beautiful life I could have!
"O Lord, you have searched me and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways...Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain." (Psalm 139:1-3,6)


Tommy Bolt, winner of the 1958 US Open, tells the story of an incident he had during one of his golf tournaments. Bolt arrived at the golf course for the tournament and was approached by a youngster, “Mr. Bolt, do you need a caddy, sir?” Bolt went to the caddy master and asked about the youngster. The man said, “He’s a real good caddy, knows the course, the greens, and the rules of the game. But he talks a lot.”
So Bolt went back to the youngster and said, “You can caddy for me on one condition: Don’t say a word.” The young man accepted and carried Bolt's bag. The first three rounds went well, and Bolt was in contention in the fourth round, when an errant tee shot landed in the rough. The ball was sitting down in a bad patch of turf, with a difficult shot to the green which was well guarded by water on the right.
Bolt asked his caddy, “You think a five iron will do the trick?” The kid shook his head no, but never said a word.
“What, you want me to hit a six iron?” Again, the kid shook his head no, but did not speak. Bolt grabbed a six iron and lashed the ball out of the rough and landed on the green, rolling to within three feet of the hole.
As they walked to the green, Bolt said, “Aren’t you going to say something now, after seeing a shot like that?” His caddy then replied, “Mr. Bolt, that wasn’t your ball.”
Many of us go through life like that. We don't want to hear what anyone else has to say. In fact, we don't even want to hear what God has to say. And when we become intent on doing things our way without listening to the voices of wisdom around us, we are headed for disaster.
Solomon advised us to, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths." (Proverbs 3:5-6)
He also encouraged us to: "Incline your ear and hear the words of the wise, and apply your heart to my knowledge; For it is a pleasant thing if you keep them within you." (Proverbs 22:17-18)
If you're inclined to tell others, "I don't want to hear anything that you have to say", you may want to reconsider. The time may come when you wish you had listened.


Many of you are familiar with the cartoon strip, Calvin and Hobbes. Calvin is a little boy with an overactive imagination and a stuffed tiger, Hobbes, who comes to life as his imaginary friend. In one cartoon strip, Calvin turns to his friend Hobbes and says, "I feel bad I called Susie names and hurt her feelings. I'm sorry I did that."
Hobbes replies, "Maybe you should apologize to her."
Calvin thinks about it for a moment and then responds, "I keep hoping there's a less obvious solution."
Many of us keep looking for a less obvious solution. We know we've done something to hurt someone around us. But we are so hesitant to say, "I'm sorry." I'm convinced that while those two words are some of the hardest words for us to say, they are two words that have the most potential to improve our relationships.
What a difference it would make in our marriages, in our friendships, in our churches, if we weren't so obstinate in refusing to admit that we've done something wrong. Our pride stands in the way, and we continue to search for a less obvious solution.
"Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift." (Matthew 5:23-24)


Small Straws In A Soft Wind by Marsha Burns
Rise up above worldly view--away from your cares and burdens--and seek Me. For, surely I will be found by you, says the Lord. True wisdom comes from My Spirit and not from the earth. Do not invest your life and energy in that which is temporary, but live now in eternity by abiding in Me. Allow the process of spiritual transformation to take place in your life now. James 3:13-18 Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth. This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.

Refuse to give up or let up; keep pushing against the powers of darkness until you have complete breakthrough. I have made a way of perfection in every circumstance. But, you must stay in the flow of My Spirit. This is a time when you need to mind your own business and maintain good boundaries for yourself and others. Stay within the confines of righteous authority, says the Lord. Psalms 138:8 The LORD will perfect that which concerns me; Your mercy, O LORD, endures forever; do not forsake the works of Your hands.

Be diligent to do all that you have been given to accomplish. This is not a time to slack off or procrastinate. To do so would get you out of the flow of My Spirit. Stay present with Me, and I will give you supernatural ability to perform even the most difficult of tasks, says the Lord. Be strong and overcome. Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

You are in the early stages--the very beginning of the current spiritual season. And, you can barely tell a difference from the last season; the changes are imperceptible. But, the subtleties are important and powerful. Take the time to evaluate what has occurred in the past two months, and you will see more clearly the significance of what I am doing in your life, says the Lord. Zechariah 4:10 For who has despised the day of small things?

Your recent situations have been a testing ground. This is a prime time for you to learn from your mistakes as well as from the things you have done right. Pay attention to the hardships and the victories. Both are equally important to your spiritual positioning. My desire is for you to see and understand the difference between walking in the Spirit and living in the flesh, says the Lord. Romans 5:3-4 And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope.


The Trumpet by Bill Burns
"Set the trumpet to your mouth!" Hosea 8:1
I can see that the hearts of My people are in a better place than they have been. I can see that the hearts of My people are rejoicing because they know that I am for them. I can see them in this present situation and I am filled with joy for the very fact they are coming higher into this new season. There is a process of elevation that is taking place. There is the process of putting worry and fear down that has diminished and brought them into a place of extreme delight and joy in My kingdom, says the Lord. And, this I say, continue this process and do not let the enemy steal from you the joy you have. Be full of joy and the glory of God. Enjoy the journey, says the Most Holy.


"Today Is The Day To Live"
So many times we put off till tomorrow
What we can do today
We say some other time
Some other day
But today is the day to live
The day to do the many things left undone
The day that we give what we have to give
The day to play and have some fun
Life is for the living
Today reach out to someone who is in need
Touch a hand, change a life
Give gifts that keep on giving
Call family, call friends
Tell someone how much you love them
Today spread joy, cheer and happiness
Let your light shine its brightest
Today give the gift of love
Share the many blessings and gifts
God has given you
Today live and dare to be you
Written by: Tammy B. 7/9/01


The mess to clean after a party because it means I have been surrounded by friends.
The taxes I pay because it means that I'm employed.
The clothes that fit a little too snug because it means I have enough to eat.
My shadow who watches me work because it means I am out in the sunshine.
A lawn that needs mowing, windows that need cleaning and gutters that need fixing because it means I have a home.
All the complaining I hear about our government because it means we have freedom of speech.
The space I find at the far end of the parking lot because it means I am capable of walking.
My huge heating bill because it means I am warm.
The lady behind me in church who sings off key because it means that I can hear.
The piles of laundry and ironing because it means I have clothes to wear.
Weariness and aching muscles at the end of the day because it means I have been productive.
The alarm that goes off in the early morning hours because it means that I'm alive.
Getting too much email bogs me down but at least I know I have friends who are thinking of me.
Even though I clutch my blanket and growl when the alarm rings, thank you, Lord, that I can hear. There are many who are deaf.
Even though I keep my eyes closed against the morning light as long as possible, thank you, Lord, that I can see. Many are blind.
Even though I huddle in my bed and put off rising, thank you Lord, that I have the strength to rise. There are many who are bedridden.
Even though the first hour of my day is hectic, when socks are lost, toast is burned and tempers are short, thank you, Lord, for My family. There are many who are lonely.
Even though our breakfast table never looks like the pictures in magazines and the menu is at times unbalanced, thank you, Lord, for the food we have. There are many who are hungry;
Even though the routine of my job often is hard, thank you, Lord, for the opportunity to work. There are many who have no job.
Even though I grumble and bemoan my fate from day to day and wish my circumstances were not so modest, thank you, Lord, for life.
Pass this on to the friends you know. A friend is someone we turn to when our spirits need a lift. A friend is someone we treasure for our friendship is a gift. A friend is someone who fills our lives with beauty, joy, and grace and makes the world we live in a better and happier place. --Author Unknown.


He who guards his mouth and his tongue, guards his soul from troubles. Proverbs 21:23

Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.
Proverbs 16:24

A man's pride will bring him low, but a humble spirit will obtain honor. Proverbs 29:23

Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. Hebrews 12:10-11

No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it. 1 Corinthians 10:13

I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength. Philippians 4:12-13

For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD bestows favor and honor; no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless. O LORD Almighty, blessed is the man who trusts in you. Psalm 84:11-12

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God--not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
Ephesians 2:8-10


It was the biggest night of the year in a little town called Cornwall. It was the night of the annual Christmas pageant. It's an especially big deal for the children in town -- they get to try out for the roles in the Christmas story. Everybody wants a part.
Which leads us to the problem of Harold. Harold really wanted to be in the play, too, but he was - well, he was kind of a slow and simple kid. The directors were ambivalent - I mean, they knew Harold would be crushed if he didn't have a part, but they were afraid he might mess up the town's magic moment. Finally, they decided to cast Harold as the innkeeper - the one who turns Mary and Joseph away the night Jesus is to be born. He had only one line - "I'm sorry, we have no room." Well, no one could imagine what that one line was going to do to everyone's Christmas.
The night of the pageant the church was packed, as usual. The Christmas story unfolded according to plan - angels singing, Joseph's dream, and the trip to Bethlehem. Finally, Joseph and Mary arrived at the door of the Bethlehem inn, looking appropriately tired. Joseph knocked on the inn door and Harold was there to open the door.
Joseph asked his question on cue - "Do you have a room for the night?" Harold froze. After a long pause, Harold mumbled his line, "I'm sorry - we have no room." And, with a little coaching, he shut the door. The directors heaved a sigh of relief - prematurely. As Mary and Joseph disappeared into the night, the set suddenly started shaking again - and the door opened. Harold was back! And then, in an unrehearsed moment that folks would not soon forget, Harold went running after the young couple, shouting as loud as he could -- "Wait! Don't go Joseph. Bring Mary back! You can have MY room!"
I think little Harold may have understood the real issue of Christmas better than anyone else there that night. How can you leave Jesus outside? You have to make room for Jesus. And that may be the issue for you this Christmas. What will you do with this Son of God who came to earth to find you?
Jesus is the One who trades a throne room for a stable, and the praise of angels for human mockery. This is the Creator who gives Himself on a cross! The Bible gives us the only appropriate response: "The life I now live I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me." (Galatians 2:20) You look at what Jesus did to pay for your sin on that cross, and you say those life-changing words - "For me."
Jesus is at YOUR door this Christmas. Maybe He's been knocking for a long time. Maybe He won't keep knocking much longer. All your life - even the events of the last few months - have been to prepare you for this crossroads moment with Jesus your Savior. Don't leave Him outside any longer. Open the door this Christmas Day. "Jesus, I cannot keep You out any longer. Come on in. You can have my room... my life."


God, I offer myself to Thee--to build with me and to do with me as Thou wilt. Relieve me of the bondage of self, that I may better do Thy will. Take away my difficulties, that victory over them may bear witness to those I would help of Thy Power, Thy Love, and Thy Way of Life. May I do Thy will always! Alcoholics Anonymous, p. 63


Read Through The Bible
Nehemiah 6
Conspiracy Against Nehemiah
1 Now it happened when Sanballat, Tobiah, Geshem the Arab, and the rest of our enemies heard that I had rebuilt the wall, and that there were no breaks left in it (though at that time I had not hung the doors in the gates), 2 that Sanballat and Geshem sent to me, saying, “Come, let us meet together among the villages in the plain of Ono.” But they thought to do me harm. 3 So I sent messengers to them, saying, “I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down. Why should the work cease while I leave it and go down to you?” 4 But they sent me this message four times, and I answered them in the same manner. 5 Then Sanballat sent his servant to me as before, the fifth time, with an open letter in his hand. 6 In it was written: It is reported among the nations, and Geshem says, that you and the Jews plan to rebel; therefore, according to these rumors, you are rebuilding the wall, that you may be their king. 7 And you have also appointed prophets to proclaim concerning you at Jerusalem, saying, “There is a king in Judah!” Now these matters will be reported to the king. So come, therefore, and let us consult together. 8 Then I sent to him, saying, “No such things as you say are being done, but you invent them in your own heart.” 9 For they all were trying to make us afraid, saying, “Their hands will be weakened in the work, and it will not be done.” Now therefore, O God, strengthen my hands. 10 Afterward I came to the house of Shemaiah the son of Delaiah, the son of Mehetabel, who was a secret informer; and he said, “Let us meet together in the house of God, within the temple, and let us close the doors of the temple, for they are coming to kill you; indeed, at night they will come to kill you.” 11 And I said, “Should such a man as I flee? And who is there such as I who would go into the temple to save his life? I will not go in!” 12 Then I perceived that God had not sent him at all, but that he pronounced this prophecy against me because Tobiah and Sanballat had hired him. 13 For this reason he was hired, that I should be afraid and act that way and sin, so that they might have cause for an evil report, that they might reproach me. 14 My God, remember Tobiah and Sanballat, according to these their works, and the prophetess Noadiah and the rest of the prophets who would have made me afraid.
The Wall Completed
15 So the wall was finished on the twenty-fifth day of Elul, in fifty-two days. 16 And it happened, when all our enemies heard of it, and all the nations around us saw these things, that they were very disheartened in their own eyes; for they perceived that this work was done by our God. 17 Also in those days the nobles of Judah sent many letters to Tobiah, and the letters of Tobiah came to them. 18 For many in Judah were pledged to him, because he was the son-in-law of Shechaniah the son of Arah, and his son Jehohanan had married the daughter of Meshullam the son of Berechiah. 19 Also they reported his good deeds before me, and reported my words to him. Tobiah sent letters to frighten me.


"Lord, thanks for working on me! You never discard or throw me away as junk; you restore, renew and reveal to me Your everlasting skill in "making it over" with Your skillful hands....I place myself in YOUR carpenter shop this Christmas--fix what's wrong, make ME anew, and may I display the beauty of your work. In Jesus' Name, Amen."
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