Quick Thought – Thursday, February 15, 2018 (Lent)

Read

Matthew 4:1-11

And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry.
Matthew 4:2

Reflect

Ashes for Ash WednesdayWhat’s the longest you’ve ever gone without food? Without water? Scientists tell us that you can go for more than three weeks without food. There are some accounts of people fasting for as much as 40 days.

But water? That’s a different story. The human body can only last about a week without water. So how did Jesus do it?

First, the Bible never specifically says that Jesus gave up water for 40 days. It says He fasted, so there’s every possibility – and even likelihood – that Jesus drank water while He was in the wilderness. (That’s actually a desert. We think of wilderness and picture lush green woods. That doesn’t exist in Israel.)

But even if Jesus did go without water, it would have been a supernatural act, completed through the power of the Holy Spirit. In so doing, Jesus showed us that the only way we can do anything worthwhile for Him is through that same Spirit-led power.

Today, on Ash Wednesday, we start the season of Lent, where the tradition is to give up something special until Easter. Sometimes you’ll catch children offering to give up eating vegetables or doing their chores. Clearly that isn’t the point. The only point of a “Lenten rule” is to give up something that will help focus us more on the Lord’s will for our life.

If we are to be successful in fasting from anything – food, soft drinks, sweets, TV, etc. – it will be with the help of God’s Holy Spirit. A wonderful Easter is usually established by a special and sacrificial Lent. Don’t let the next six weeks slip by without growing closer to the Lord. Today, if you haven’t done so already, pray about what the Lord might have you give up this Lenten season.

Reflection copyright © 2018 Doug DeBolt.

Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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Quick Thought – Wednesday, February 14, 2018 (Valentine’s Day)

Read

Colossians 3:1-17

And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.
Colossians 3:14

Reflect

Hands making a heartFabius and Lucilla had a problem. Both were Christians, and they had met and fallen in love. That shouldn’t be a problem, but in 3rd century Rome, it was. Emperor Claudius had issued an edict preventing young men from marrying (after all, an unmarried soldier is a better fighter). But Fabius and Lucilla desperately wanted to get married.

So in the dead of night, they had both sought out a priest named Valentine. They had heard rumors that he would marry young people in violation of the edict. A shadowy figure approached them. “Fabius?” The young man nodded. “Both of you, come with me.”

The figure led them to a nearby door, entered and beckoned them to do the same. Once inside, he lit a candle, and removed the hood from his head. “I am Valentine,” he said. “I understand you are both in love.”

Such is the legend of St. Valentine – the Roman priest who defied the edict of his emperor, and eventually paid for it with his life.

Today, most of us remember Valentine by giving cards, flowers, candy and gifts to the special people in our life. But the greater homage that we can pay to this saint is to show the kind of true love that he was willing to die for. Valentine’s Day is so often an “ooey, gooey” holiday. But the love of St. Valentine – which was the love that originated in Christ himself – is a love rooted in sacrifice. The love that gives you butterflies is nice, but it pales in comparison to love that leads you to lay down your life for someone else.

Today, I hope that you enjoy the day, and that there is someone who can enjoy it with you. But before you venture out for an evening of fun and romance, be sure to include the Lord in the center of your love. Pray that He will honor your time together, and that He will lead you both into a deeper relationship with each other, and with Him.

Reflection copyright © 2018 Doug DeBolt.

Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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Quick Thought – Monday, January 1, 2018 (New Year’s Day)

Read

John 8:1-11

Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.”
John 8:10-11

Reflect

New Year's Eve fireworksShe was dirty, half-naked and ashamed. Taken from her home in the middle of the day, several angry men shouted horrible things at her as they dragged her through the streets. With hatred in their eyes, hearts and voices, they threw her at the teacher’s feet.

Of course, they technically did have a point. The woman had broken the law – numerous times, in fact, and practically every day for as long as she could remember. In fact, some of the men who were now shouting at her were actually customers, and good ones at that. But today, they seemed to have a point to make, and they were willing to use her to make it.

These men had burst into her home and caught her in the act with one of their own. Even while they violently grabbed her and tossed her barely clothed into the street, they told their friend to just walk away. Apparently, the crime only pertained to a woman today.

And so, “dangerous criminal” in hand, they made their way to the famed teacher who was now in town and cast her at him like one might discard a piece of garbage. And then they challenged him – “Teacher, do we uphold the law of Moses and kill this woman, or do we let her live?”

They had hoped to catch Jesus in a no-win situation – either he agrees to kill the woman, and so disappoint his “love, joy and peace” followers, or he agrees to let her live, and thereby is just as guilty as she is by association.

Most of us know the rest of the story – that Jesus challenged them to go ahead with the stoning, but that only the ones who hadn’t sinned were allowed to do the stoning. And that the men were so convicted in their hearts that they simply dropped their rocks and walked away.

But what happened next is the most wonderful part of the story. Jesus and the woman are left standing together, and Jesus looks her in the eyes and says, “Who is left to accuse you?” She looks around and says, “No one, Lord.” To which Jesus replies, “Well, I don’t accuse you either. Go and sin no more.”

That’s our challenge this New Year’s Day. To begin again. To take stock of where we’ve faltered in our lives and make the determination to never go there again. People get caught up in New Year’s Resolutions, as though mustering some special will on this day will have a lasting effect. Instead, we need to see that each of us is left standing alone with the Lord, and that He’s challenging us to, “Go and sin no more.”

He’s not condemning us, and in spite of what the world may say, His is the only opinion that truly matters. In 2016, take the Lord’s hand and accept His forgiveness. Don’t simply resolve to do things differently. Follow the Lord’s lead and let his love lead you into new and better ways today, and throughout the New Year.

Reflection copyright © 2018 Doug DeBolt.

Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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Ultimate Christmas Countdown – Wednesday, December 13, 2017

11 Days Until Christmas!

Song: “Little Drummer Boy,” by the Harry Simeone Chorale
Christmas Album: “Noel,” by Josh Groban
Christmas DVD: “Home Alone 2: Lost in New York”
Netflix Movie: “Dear Santa”
Amazon Prime Movie: “Rudolph and Frosty’s Christmas in July”
Feeln Movie: “Coming Home for Christmas”
On TV:
• “Switched for Christmas,” 6 p.m., Hallmark
• “The Santa Clause,” 6:40 p.m., FreeForm
• “This Christmas,” 8 p.m., AMC
• “My Christmas Dream,” 8 p.m., Hallmark
• “Dear Santa,” 8 p.m., Lifetime Movies
• “The Santa Clause 3,” 8:50 p.m., FreeForm
• “A Christmas Carol (1999),” 9 p.m., TNT
• “Christmas at Holly Lodge,” 10 p.m., Hallmark
• “Becoming Santa,” 10 p.m., Lifetime Movies
• “A Christmas Carol (1984),” 10:30 p.m., AMC
• “Office Christmas Party,” 10:30 p.m., Showtime
Recipe: Southern Snowballs

Quick Thought for Christmas 

Read

Isaiah 7:10-17
Matthew 1:18-25

“Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.”
Isaiah 7:14

Reflect

Picture this situation.

Sweet little Mary McNamara came home one day with a big dilemma. She had some huge news – HUGE NEWS – to tell her parents. It would shake their world and change the course of her life, and she was sure they wouldn’t understand. No one would.

The only thing to do was take a deep breath and tell them. They’d find out eventually, and it would better if it came from her.

“Mom, Dad. I have something to tell you. A little more than a month ago, an angel came to me and told me I was going to have a baby, and that it would be God’s child. And I’ve never been with a guy. I mean, I’m dating Joe Carpenter, but we’ve never even been alone together. But that day, after the angel left, something felt different. And now I’ve missed my period, and I took a pregnancy test. And I’m definitely pregnant.”

Of course, her parents must have been so excited…

How would you have responded? How do you think they responded?

In Mary’s time, this could have meant death for her, especially if Joseph wasn’t so understanding. Fortunately, God spoke to Joseph’s heart, and he married her in spite of something so unexplainable – at least when looking at it as people naturally would.

Of course, this pregnancy was predicted more than 700 years earlier when Isaiah wrote that a virgin would conceive and have a son. It had to happen in order for God’s plan to be complete. But when it did happen, no one understood. They likely wrote it off as a naive young girl who simply got herself into trouble.

God does things in His own way and in His own timing. This Christmas season, look for the little miracles that God might do in and around you. Make sure you don’t discount His works and write them off as coincidence. And keep your heart focused on His constant presence as the day of Christmas draws ever nearer.

Reflection copyright © 2017 by Doug DeBolt.

Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

 

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Ultimate Christmas Countdown – Tuesday, December 12, 2017

13 Days Until Christmas!

Song: “White Christmas,” by Bing CrosbyWhite Christmas Bing
Christmas Album:
“When My Heart Finds Christmas,” by Harry Connick Jr.
Christmas DVD: “How the Grinch Stole Christmas”
Netflix Movie: “Christmas in the City”
Amazon Prime Movie: “Frasier: Perspectives on Christmas”
Feeln Movie: “A Dog Named Christmas”
On TV:
• “Snow Bride,” 6 p.m., Hallmark
• “The Polar Express,” 6:40 p.m., FreeForm
• “Scrooged,” 8 p.m. and 10 p.m, AMC
• “A Gift to Remember,” 8 p.m., Hallmark
• “The Holiday,” 8 p.m., Lifetime
• “The Santa Clause,” 8:50 p.m., FreeForm
• “Gwen Stefani’s You Make It Feel Like Christmas,” 9 p.m., NBC
• “A Wish for Christmas,” 10 p.m., Hallmark
Recipe: Free Range Fruitcake

Quick Thought for Christmas 

Read

Isaiah 9:1-7

For to us a child is born,
    to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
    and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Isaiah 9:6

Reflect

The Jews were indeed looking for a warrior king, and that definitely meant it had to be a man. A grown man, ready to step in and lead a nation into battle against its oppressors.

Amazingly, God had told them exactly where to look for their Messiah. In Isaiah 9:6, they were told that the Messiah would be a child, and in Micah 5:2, they were informed that their Savior would come from Bethlehem.

And just like we’ve read earlier, they were also told that the Messiah wouldn’t be about war, but peace. “Wonderful Counselor.” “Mighty God.” “Everlasting Father.” “Prince of Peace.” Those aren’t words of war. They’re words of comfort and peace.

During this season of Christmas, peace can be a little elusive. We’re surrounded by so much seasonal noise and clamor – buy the gifts, fix the dinner, go to the party. Lost in the shuffle is the peace that comes with a close relationship with the promised Savior, Jesus Christ.

Today, try to spend just a few minutes with that child Savior, and seek his counsel, comfort and peace. Prepare your heart for a joyous celebration that is now less than two weeks away.

Reflection copyright © 2017 by Doug DeBolt.

Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

 

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Ultimate Christmas Countdown – Monday, December 11, 2017

14 Days Until Christmas!

Disney Christmas CarolSong: “Christmastime Is Here,” by the Vince Guaraldi Trio
Christmas Album: “Christmas Portrait,” by the Carpenters
Christmas DVD: “Disney’s A Christmas Carol”
Netflix Movie: “The Heart of Christmas”
Amazon Prime Movie: “Small Town Santa”
Feeln Movie: “Candles on Bay Street”
On TV:
• “Elf,” 5:50 p.m., FreeForm
• “Christmas in Mississippi,” 6 p.m., Lifetime
• “A Dream of Christmas,” 6 p.m., Hallmark
• “A Night at the Movies – Merry Christmas!” 6:45 p.m., TCM
• “The Great Christmas Light Fight,” 8 p.m., ABC
• “Disney’s Fairy Tale Weddings: Holiday Magic,” 8 p.m., FreeForm
• “Once Upon a Holiday,” 8 p.m., Hallmark
• “Four Christmases and a Wedding,” 8 p.m., Lifetime
• Monday Night Football: New England at Miami, 8:15 p.m., ESPN
• “The Polar Express,” 9 p.m., FreeForm
• “I’m Not Ready for Christmas,” 10 p.m., Hallmark
• “Dear Santa,” 10:14 p.m., Lifetime
Recipe: Blueberry Peach Frozen Salad

Quick Thought for Christmas 

Read

Zechariah 9:9-13

Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion!
    Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem!
Behold, your king is coming to you;
    righteous and having salvation is he,
humble and mounted on a donkey,
    on a colt, the foal of a donkey.
Zechariah 9:9

Reflect

God is very good about telling us what to expect. That was the major role for Old Testament prophets – bringing messages about God’s plans and purposes for the future. And when it came to the Messiah, God painted a very clear picture about what He would look like.

But in spite of God’s prophetic messages, people have consistently managed to overlook God’s plans and instead place their own expectations on Him. Today’s scripture is a great point.

The people of Israel desperately wanted a deliverer – someone who would overthrow and destroy their oppressors. They looked for a regal king who would be a warlike Messiah who would exact revenge for the hundreds and hundreds of years that they were kept in submission to people who had nothing but contempt for them.

But who did God tell them to look for? A good and righteous king who would come riding on a donkey.

That’s an important image, because throughout the Old Testament, kings who rode on horses brought war. But kings who rode on donkeys always brought peace. And God was telling them to expect a peaceful king who was gentle and kind.

Jesus started out life in peace and humility, and when he entered Jerusalem a few decades later, he was the prophetic picture of peace and humility – riding on a donkey. (Matthew 21)

Today, spend at least a few minutes thinking about the peace that Jesus brings to your life. If you don’t have any peace, pray for just that. And pray that the peace of Christ will reside in you throughout this Christmas season so that you can have a truly joyous celebration on Christmas Day.

Reflection copyright © 2017 by Doug DeBolt.

Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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Ultimate Christmas Countdown – Sunday, December 10, 2017

15 Days Until Christmas!

Song:“Mary, Did You Know?” by Pentatonix
Christmas Album: “These Are Special Times,” by Celine Dion
Christmas DVD: “The Muppet Christmas Carol”
Netflix Movie: “Christmas Ranch”
Amazon Prime Movie: “Frosty’s Winter Wonderland”
muppet-carolFeeln Movie: “The Road to Christmas”
On TV:
• “Christmas in Evergreen,” 6 p.m., Hallmark
• “Christmas With the Kranks,” 6 p.m., Lifetime
• “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation,” 6:30 p.m., FreeForm
• “Christmas Belle,” 7 p.m., ION
• “Miracle on 34th Street (1947),” 7:45 p.m., 9:45 p.m., Sundance
• Sunday Night Football, Baltimore at Pittsburgh, 8 p.m., NBC
• “Sharing Christmas,” 8 p.m., Hallmark
• “A Christmas Reunion,” 8 p.m., Lifetime
• “Elf,” 8:40 p.m., FreeForm
• “A Royal Christmas Ball,” 9 p.m., ION
• “A Gift to Remember,” 10 p.m., Hallmark
• “A Very Merry Toy Store,” 10:02 pm., Lifetime
• “Four Christmases,” 10:50 p.m., FreeForm
Recipe: Mulled Cider

Quick Thought for Christmas 

Read

Galatians 4:1-7

But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.
Galatians 4:4-5

Reflect

Izzy simply couldn’t wait for Christmas. All year long, he bugged his Dad, begging him to speed up Christmas and get it here quickly. “How long do I have to wait?” he pleaded, over and over.

“Christmas is coming soon enough,” his Dad told him. “Just be patient.”

Patience, of course, had its limits. After all, he only wanted one thing for Christmas. Most kids had lists a mile long. Izzy just had the one thing. Certainly his folks could make an exception and get it here sooner than December 25.

He couldn’t see that his father had a plan. Izzy’s Dad had gotten the present even before his son had started asking for it, and he knew exactly when he wanted to give it to him – Christmas Eve. He would slip it simply into the house without a lot of fanfare, and place it unwrapped in the living room. And in spite of Izzy’s pleas, that’s exactly what he did.

After church on Christmas Eve, Izzy came home and pleaded once more, “Is it time?” He looked around the living room and saw wrapped presents under the tree. He ran around the living room, looking behind and under everything. But he couldn’t see that the one thing he had asked for was sitting in the middle of the room, right in front of him.

“When the fullness of time had come,” God sent His son. And when He did, the people of Israel who had been crying out for a Savior didn’t recognize that their hopes and promises had been fulfilled. They cried out for centuries, not seeing that God had a plan, and would only unveil it when the time was right to fulfill all of the promises and prophecies about the Messiah.

He has been with us now for more than 2,000 years, and still too many people don’t recognize Him, even though He’s standing right in front of them. Don’t make that mistake this Christmas. Instead of running around and filling your season with busyness, you can find true fulfillment by looking in the one direction that will really fulfill you – Jesus Christ.

Reflection copyright © 2017 by Doug DeBolt.

Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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