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Monday Morning Encouragement -- The Beginning of Advent: Hope


"We wait in hope for the Lord; He is our help and our shield." Psalm 33:20

Dear Friends,

I pray you are well. 

Last year I wrote four devotionals for the Advent Season, and I have decided to share those same devotionals again this year. My reason is two-fold: 

First, they were well-received and I know they are as relevant today as they were twelve months ago. God's word is always current, isn't it?

Second, I selfishly want to slow down this month as much as I can and focus on God's precious gift to us: Jesus. My work is particularly hectic now, and will be through Christmas. So, I'm going to take a little break while still hopefully encouraging you through this holy season with reprints from last year's Advent devotionals.

God bless you and keep you during this lovely celebration of our Savior's birth.

Monday Morning Encouragement -- Grateful Praise


In preparation for Thanksgiving Day in the U.S., I want to share a psalm of praise to God for the many blessings we enjoy.

Monday Morning Encouragement -- He Is Forever On The Throne


"Your throne, O God, is forever and ever. The scepter of your kingdom is a scepter of uprightness;" Psalm 45:6

It's been quite a week. For me, personally, it's been hectic. With this season comes more online orders to fill and ship, and that has meant overtime and a need to decompress when I come home. 

Our country is in a state of decompression, too, I think, after Tuesday's election. Some citizens are elated. Others, not so much. There's still uncertainty as to who won offices in a number of states, and that can lead to doubt and worry. 

Monday Morning Encouragement -- Give God His Due


"And He said to them, 'Whose likeness and inscription is this?' They said to Him, 'Caesar’s.' Then He said to them, 'Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s; and to God the things that are God’s.' And hearing this, they were amazed, and leaving Him, they went away." Matthew 22:20:22

It if it weren't so sad, it would be almost comical how the Pharisees failed at their attempts to trap Jesus. They plotted and schemed, and came up with what they thought were clever ways to trip up the Lord and discredit Him. But He saw through them every time, and revealed their hypocrisy and evil intents. 

When they approached Him and asked, "Tell us then, what do You think? Is it lawful to give a poll-tax (individual tax) to Caesar, or not?” (Matthew 22:17), Jesus knew that if He said taxes should be paid, the Pharisees could accuse Him of denying God's sovereignty over Israel. And that would make Him an enemy of the Jews. On the other hand, if He said that taxes should not be paid, He would be perceived as an enemy of Rome. 

The Pharisees foolishly thought they had the Lord in a no-win situation, but they were sorely mistaken. Jesus asked them to show Him the coin used for the poll-tax -- a Roman coin. They did so, and then He gave them an answer that would reverberate throughout history: "Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's; and to God the things that are God's." 

Per gotquestions.org:

"When Jesus said, 'Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s,' He was drawing a sharp distinction between two kingdoms. There is a kingdom of this world, and Caesar holds power over it. But there is another kingdom, not of this world, and Jesus is King of that (John 18:36). Christians are part of both kingdoms, at least temporarily. Under Caesar, we have certain obligations that involve material things. Under Christ, we have other obligations that involve things eternal. If Caesar demands money, give it to him—it’s only mammon. But make sure you also give God what He demands.

"Caesar minted coins, as he had a right to do, and he demanded some coins in return, as was his right. After all, his image was stamped on what he had made. God has 'minted' the human soul, and He has stamped His image on every one (Genesis 1:27). So give Caesar his due—the temporary stuff of this world—but make sure to give God His due: “Offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness” (Romans 6:13). 

Today's music video Perfect Wisdom of God by Keith and Kristyn Getty speaks to God's sovereignty and amazing love for us.

I love you, I'm thinking of you, and I'm praying for you.

And I'm praying for God's perfect will in tomorrow's election in America.

Monday Morning Encouragement -- Joy in the Lord


"These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full." John 15:11

In the English Standard Version of the Bible, the words "joy", "joyful" or "rejoice" are found 430 times, while the words "happy" and "happiness" are found only 10 times.

For the Christian, joy is not dependent upon happenings (which are external and temporary), but rather on the ongoing relationship he or she has with Christ (which is internal and eternal).

Jesus explained to His disciples that joy comes to those who abide -- or remain -- in Him. 


Guest Bath Progress - Recessed Wall Niche

My guest bath progress slowed down the past few weeks while I tended to outdoor projects that needed to be completed before cold weather set in. I'm glad I took the time to do that, because this morning we received our first of the season snow, mixed with rain, and tonight it's supposed to freeze. 

On Monday I found time to finish the recessed wall niche, and I'm loving the way it looks.

Monday Morning Encouragement -- Ambassadors for Christ


Source: Heartlight.org

"Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making His appeal through us;"

Something happened to me at work last week that God used to make an impact on me in a way that I did not expect. It all began when a co-worker who has a long history of bullying others displayed aggressive behavior over something that he did not like. I had momentarily parked the cart I use to do my job in the aisle just long enough to pick up a tool box. Before I could return to the cart, this associate rammed my cart with his own cart to get it out of his way. When that didn't quite do the job, he rammed it a second time.

Monday Morning Encouragement -- God's Great Love


"But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with Him and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus." 

Ephesians 2:4-7

I don't doubt God's love for me. When I consider how unworthy I am of Christ's sacrifice on the cross, the horrific suffering He endured to save me from the consequences of my sin, I know He loves me, and I rejoice in His love.

Without Jesus I would be lost and hopeless. I know this because that's how my life was before I surrendered to Him.

God pursues us because He loves us, and He loves us not because we are lovable. 

Monday Morning Encouragement -- The Best Place Possible


"Straightening up, Jesus said to her, 'Woman, where are they? Did no one condemn you?' She said, 'No one, Lord.' And Jesus said, 'I do not condemn you, either. Go. From now on sin no more.'" John 8:10-11

Throughout Jesus' ministry the Scribes and Pharisees did their best to discredit Him. This time they brought a woman caught in the act of adultery to the Lord, asking Him if He would uphold the law that gave death as a penalty for her sin (Leviticus 20:10, Deuteronomy 22:22). 

It's interesting that the man involved with the woman does not appear to be present. The Mosaic Law stated that both the woman and the man must die. Why didn't the accusers bring her partner to the Lord, as well? 

Thrifted Crate Flipped for Fall


Today I'm sharing a thrift flip with you. And honestly, I'm kind of excited about the way it turned out. It's something that can be displayed throughout the year, and right now it's styled for fall.

A while ago I bought a small crate for $2 at the thrift store. It apparently had been used as a wall shelf with little cup hooks attached (one was missing).

Monday Morning Encouragement -- Press On


"Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus."       Philippians 3:13-14

If anyone had reason to believe he had "made it", it was the Apostle Paul. A great evangelist, church planter, exhorter, mentor. Paul did it all and did it well. But after all his years of faithful service, he still did not see himself as having been transformed into the image of Christ -- of knowing "Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death" (Philippians 3:10).

He didn't elaborate on where he didn't measure up, he simply stated that he hadn't yet arrived. Paul always sought to grow in his faith, to press on toward everything to which Christ had called him. And the closer he grew to Christ, the more humble he became.