Today many are edging toward a time of last-minute shopping for Christmas gifts. I want to share a thought from Lisa Appelo to help us maintain a proper perspective: “We bring gifts because of Jesus — not Santa.”
Lisa has learned important life lessons through hard experiences that include grief and loss. Her personal example increases my faith and gives me hope. To learn more about her story and to find encouragement for faith, hope, and grief visit her website at LisaAppelo.com.
Lisa reminds us that Jesus modeled generosity, compassion, and gift giving. As John 3:16 says, “God so loved the world that He gave his One and only Son that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.”
There is no CHRISTmas without CHRIST after all! According to Lisa, we give at Christmas because God first gave to us.
Lisa is wisely teaching her children to give to needs around them and thinks that Christmas is a great time to see and meet the needs of others.
May we remember the world’s greatest Gift ever given as we celebrate this Season of that Gift. And may we each receive that which we all need this year — faith and hope that are at the heart of a real Christmas.
CHRISTmas blessings to you all!
Danielle Garrand’s article for CBS News on 12/4/20 featured an example of one of God’s creatures bringing joy to humans.
This particular example was a koala celebrating Christmas the best way it could. The brief article was entitled “Koala wanders into Australian family’s home and climbs their Christmas tree.” The accompanying photo gave me joy… and hope.
Amanda McCormick was surprised to find a koala perched in her Christmas tree. Apparently the koala entered a South Australian home, perched itself within a Christmas tree, and was found appearing to be very content among the ornaments.
The koala embraced the Christmas tree as we
should embrace Christmas celebrations that honor Christ. There is no Christmas without Christ’s birth! On the night of His birth God sent angels to proclaim, “good news of great joy which will be for all the people.” (Luke 2: 10)
The koala appeared to be content just being in his place as we should be content being in our place. Psalm 46: 10 says, “Be still and know that I am God.” This realization brings contentment.
The koala brought joy to the McCormick family and to countless readers around the world. Koalas naturally climb trees to perch. That is how Creator God designed them. If we live as God designed us, then our lives will bring joy to others.
To share joyful blessings is to share hope. I can think of no better way to celebrate Christmas. What a surprise to be reminded by a koala that decorated a Christmas tree in Australia!
Whether or not you have a Christmas tree and whether or not it is decorated with a koala, may you celebrate the real “Reason for the Season.” Have a joyful CHRISTmas!
Today is Pearl Harbor Day and marks 79 years since a terrible attack by Japanese planes that left thousands of American victims. It led to America’s entering into World War 2 and many more lives being lost. The cause was just, and when it was over — for a time — freedom and peace reigned. Unfortunately humankind does not embrace peace for long.
Today flags are at half-mast, and remembrance events are being held across America. I think it is important to remember such historic yet tragic events. They provide hope for the future and remind us to work harder to pursue peace.
These events remind me to be grateful for our military men and women. I especially think of the Greatest Generation. It is personal for me, because my parents were included in that generation.
Also these remembrances can remind us that we should follow the Prince of Peace. Only He can bring lasting peace to human hearts.
“Now may the Lord of Peace Himself continually grant you peace in every circumstance. The Lord be with you all.”
(2 Thessalonians 3: 16)
“Therefore having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Romans 5: 1)
“The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.” (Romans 8: 6)
To read other posts regarding historic Pearl Harbor Day, please go to posts of 12/7/2018 and 12/7/2019. Look for the hope, and remember to pursue peace!
I am thankful that my mother loved hymns, because she made sure that their music and messages were part of my childhood. I remember thinking as a child that “WHISPERING HOPE” was especially beautiful. Written by Septimus Winner, a well-known poet, composer, and violinist, this hymn was published in 1868.
Even when I was a child maybe that word, hope, held special meaning for me. Of course I did not imagine I would someday aim to share hope by writing a blog. No one even knew what a blog was when I was born during the mid-twentieth century!
If you do not know the song or have not heard it in awhile, please find it, listen, and be blessed. The hymn as sung by Jim Reeves is a favorite of many. May you be blessed with hope and comfort by its music and message. I will include the hopeful and comforting lyrics below.
“Soft as the voice of an angel breathing a lesson unheard,
Hope with a gentle persuasion whispers her comforting word.
Wait till the darkness is over, wait till the tempest is gone;
Hope for the sunshine tomorrow after the shower is gone.
Whispering hope, oh how welcome thy voice
Making my heart in its sorrow rejoice.
Whispering hope, oh how welcome thy voice
Making my heart in its sorrow rejoice.”
Like many who author hymns, Winner based his on Scripture. His lyrics refer to Hebrews 6:19 and to the anchor that holds a believer’s soul steadfast… the “whispering hope.” The truth of this verse gives hope and comfort, so we can find these blessings in the hymn… thanks to one who surely had experienced that hope himself.
“This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil.” (Hebrews 6: 19)
Today is a US national holiday called Thanksgiving Day. No matter where you are, I hope you join me in giving sincere thanks for blessings from above.
May our hearts be filled with gratitude and recognition of blessings beyond measure. With attitudes of gratitude we will find that God is a God of Hope.
There is wisdom in the quotes below and promises associated with the following instructions from the Bible:
“The best things in life are not things.” (John Ruskin)
“The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched — they must be felt with the heart.” (Helen Keller)
“Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving.”
(Colossians 4: 2)
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and pleading with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”
(Philippians 4: 6 & 7)
Please know that this hopeful messenger is thankful for you, the unseen reader. Let us pray for each other and keep sharing hope from our God of Hope.
[For history associated with Thanksgiving, please see these blogposts: November 20, 21, 22 of 2018 and November 27, 2019.]
The Bible exhorts all of us to praise God. When I do that, it gives me hope. The 100th Psalm is perfect to prepare a heart for giving thanks.
“Shout joyfully to the Lord, all the earth.
Serve the Lord with gladness; Come before Him with joyful singing. Know that the Lord Himself is God; It is He Who has made us and not we ourselves; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture. Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him, bless His name. For the Lord is good; His lovingkindness is everlasting and His faithfulness to all generations.”
(Psalm 100: 1-5)
My traditional Thanksgiving holiday will be observed differently this year and will be missing loved ones who usually gather with us. However, it is still a day to give thanks to God and praise His name.
Having an attitude of gratitude pleases God, Who gives every good thing. Below is an acrostic for the word, grateful. It reminds us of His love, a great reason to be grateful.
While my calendar indicates that next week brings the official holiday of Thanksgiving Day, my Bible teaches to have an attitude of gratitude every day. As I prepare to observe Thanksgiving Day, I will ponder the message of Psalm 100.
My heartful of gratitude and hope is more important than a tableful of traditional turkey and trimmings. I am blessed and hopeful, because “His lovingkindness is everlasting.”
“Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above coming down from the Father of Lights, with Whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.” (James 1: 17)
Established in 1861, the Medal of Honor is my nation’s highest military decoration for valor. It is awarded to members of the US armed forces, who distinguish themselves “conspicuously by gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his or her life above and beyond the call of duty….”
Of more than 3,500 Medal of Honor recipients, nine were chaplains. These included four during the Civil War, one from World War II, one from the Korean War, and three from the Vietnam War.
In commemoration of Veterans Day I will feature one decorated veteran to represent other honorable veterans. All of them are worthy of high regard and remembrance. Today I will share about one hero, the only Chaplain from WW2 to receive the highest honor.
Lt. Commander Joseph Timothy O’Callahan (1905–1964) was awarded the Medal of Honor in 1946:
“For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as Chaplain on board the USS Franklin when that vessel was fiercely attacked by enemy Japanese aircraft…” in March 1945.
“A valiant and forceful leader, calmly braving the perilous barriers of flame and twisted metal to aid his men and his ship, Lt. Comdr. O’Callahan groped his way through smoke-filled corridors to the open flight deck and into the midst of violently exploding bombs, shells, rockets, and other armament. With the ship rocked by incessant explosions with debris and fragments raining down and fires raging in ever-increasing fury, he ministered to the wounded and dying, comforting and encouraging men of all faiths; he organized and led firefighting crews into the blazing inferno on the flight deck; he directed the jettisoning of live ammunition and the flooding of the magazine; he manned a hose to cool hot, armed bombs rolling dangerously on the listing deck, continuing his efforts, despite searing, suffocating smoke which forced men to fall back gasping and imperiled others who replaced them.
Serving with courage, fortitude, and deep spiritual strength, Lt. Cmdr. O’Callahan inspired the gallant officers and men of the Franklin to fight heroically and with profound faith in the face of almost certain death and to return their stricken ship to port.”
I am thankful for such veterans of our military. Many did selflessly go above and beyond their duty, and even more veterans honorably met their duty. They are all heroes. Their sacrificial service and valor give me hope. The gallant actions of Medal of Honor recipients give me hope.
These heroes have inspired young men and women all across America to follow their example, and it is an honorable choice to represent our country, protect our freedom, and serve under the flag of the USA.
“A nation that does not honor its heroes will not long endure.” (Abraham Lincoln)
“For by You I can run upon a troop; By my God I can leap over a wall. As for God, His way is blameless; The word of the LORD is tested; He is a shield to all who take refuge in Him. He trains my hands for battle so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze. You have also given me the shield of Your salvation, and Your help makes me great. You enlarge my steps under me, and my feet have not slipped. I pursued my enemies and destroyed them, and I did not turn back until they were consumed. And I have devoured them and shattered them so that they did not rise; And they fell under my feet. For You have girded me with strength for battle; You have subdued under me those who rose up against me.” (2 Samuel 22: 30-40)
“The LORD lives, and be my rock; And exalted be God, the Rock of my salvation, the God who executes vengeance for me, and brings down peoples under me, Who also brings me out from my enemies; You even lift me above those who rise up against me; You rescue me from the violent man. Therefore I will give thanks to You, O LORD, among the nations, and I will sing praises to Your name.”
(2 Samuel 22: 47-50)
Are you worried about… a little scared of… or even terrified by your world today? I understand that it is difficult to maintain calmness in an unsettled and uncertain world.
I was just reminded of Romans 8:28, and it gave me hope and peace. If you need hope and peace just now, consider one of my favorite verses.
“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28)
I believe this verse; I have experienced it again and again in my life. When something shakes my world, I am learning to trust God to work together all things for my good. It is neither magic nor coincidence. It is the hand of Almighty and Sovereign God Who loves me enough to take care of me.
If you do not have a relationship with Father God through faith in Jesus Christ, then make the decision now to invite Him into your heart and life. I have found that trusting Him is better than coping with this world on my own. He is big enough to change things when I can not.
Sometimes He may not change things; sometimes He changes me. He knows that which is best. He can lead me through that which I must face, and with His strength and help, I can get through it. I can know His peace and hope as I trust Him.
Try Him, trust Him, learn to love Him, and you, too, will see that He will work together all things for your good. Peace and hope are certainly better than unrest and fear today or anyday.
Three W’s may be good reminders and prescriptions for health, safety, and hope in our world today. They make it easy to remember new behaviors that are now commonly accepted in the midst of pandemic. The letter W issues a call to (1) wash hands often; (2) wear masks when in public; and (3) watch our distance around others.
Washing hands may or may not prevent spread of covid19 germs, but it does wash away many germs and bacteria. That has to keep us healthier in some ways.
Wearing masks may or may not prevent spread of covid19 germs, but it decreases likelihood of breathing in many germs and bacteria. That must keep us safer in some ways.
Watching our distance to keep at least 6 feet away from others may or may not prevent spread of covid19 germs, but it protects us and others from transmission of many germs and bacteria. This social distancing surely promotes health and safety of us all.
To commit behaviors intentionally that are good for me gives me hope. I have a more positive attitude if I feel I am doing the right things to prevent illness especially if the illness is potentially serious. So I wash, wear, watch, and hope. Also I pray, which is always good for increasing my hope.
Health, safety, and hope relate not only to my physical being but to my spiritual being as well. It can not be wise to be concerned only with my physical body and ignore my spiritual being, which is far more important. Based on Biblical teaching I believe that my physical body will return to dust someday while my spirit is eternal so will live forever.
Therefore I will be sure I have asked Jesus Christ to wash me by His blood that was shed for all humanity to pay our sin debt. He alone can cleanse me from all sin and leave me whiter than snow.
“Purify me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.” (Psalm 51:7)
I will be sure I now wear his garments and that I am clothed in His righteousness. He alone can wrap me in robes of righteousness leaving me forgiven.
“I will rejoice greatly in the LORD, My soul will exult in my God; For He has clothed me with garments of salvation, He has wrapped me with a robe of righteousness, As a bridegroom decks himself with a garland, And as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.” (Isaiah 61:10)
I will watch my distance and be intentional to remain near His love, mercy, and grace. He promised to never leave me nor forsake me, but I need to be constantly aware of His presence and choose to abide in His love and care.
“Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me.” (John 15::4)
If I choose Him and His way of salvation, then I will be healthier, safer, and more hopeful in this world and better suited for the world to follow. Unlike this sin-infected and death-ravaged world, the world to come will be perfectly perfect. Christ Jesus will rule and reign, and there will be no more sin, death, sorrow, nor tears.
“and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:4)
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” (1 Peter 1:3)
I now allow the 3 W’s to remind me of Biblical truths that fill me with hope. They are the best prescription available and just what the Great Physician ordered!
“And hearing this, Jesus said to them, ‘It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick; I did not come to call the righteous but sinners.'” (Mark 2:17)