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Afflicted

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Contrary to what might be expected, I look back on experiences that at the time seemed especially desolating and painful, with particular satisfaction. Indeed, I can say with complete truthfulness that everything I have learned in my seventy five years in this world, everything that has truly enhanced and enlightened my existence, has been through affliction and not through happiness, whether pursued or attained. … This, of course, is what the Cross signifies. And it is the Cross, more than anything else, that has called me inexorably to Christ. —Malcom Muggeridge

Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I obey your word. You are good, and what you do is good; teach me your decrees. (Psalm 119:67-68, NIV)

We can stand affliction better than we can stand prosperity, for in prosperity we forget God. —Dwight L Moody

It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees. The law from your mouth is more precious to me than thousands of pieces of silver and gold. (Psalm 119:71-72, NIV)

Those who dive in the sea of affliction bring up rare pearls. — C.H. Spurgeon

For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:17-18, NIV)


Dec. 26

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Best and happiest of all, the Time before him was his own, to make amends in! “I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future.”                 — Ebenezer Scrooge, "A Christmas Carol"


We are moving soberly towards the new year, joy for an anguishing world. — Madeleine L’Engle


Dec. 25

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A little guy at an orphanage in South Korea thankfully receiving a soccer ball from Santa.

Jesus, you are the Messiah, the profound mystery that sets our hearts ablaze. The lowly babe, sought by shepherds on that holy night, has become our King of righteousness. Now, as we behold your glory, the incomprehensible becomes comprehensible. With songs of angels and laughter that frees our soul, we celebrate your birth. Light of the world, you penetrated the darkness and brought hope to our hearts. … May our lives be a gift that honors you. — Brian Simmons & Gretchen Rodriguez


Dec. 23

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Imagine what it would be like to be at the Father’s side one moment and struggling to sleep in a cattle trough the next. Imagine what it would be like to go from hearing the praise of angels to suffering the taunts of stupid people. The cost to Jesus is an indication of the incredible value of what he came to give us. And because no one will fully know what that cost Jesus, we can only begin to understand the incredible value of his gift to us. — Michael Card


Dec. 22

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And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:10-11, ESV)

XMAS Day
by G. K. Chesterton

Good news: but if you ask me what it is, I know not;
It is a track of feet in the snow,
It is a lantern showing a path,
It is a door set open.


Dec. 21

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Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. (Luke 2:19, NIV)

We know that in the midst of this romantic tale lies a real story of deprivation and glory, of simplicity and splendor. A small woman, a small baby, the rags of poverty, the riches of salvation—all of these elements are woven so tightly into a single fabric that there is no sorting the warp from the woof. The only place where all of the majesty of that first Christmas, complete with all of its earth-shattering splendor could live was within the heart of a real woman in a real stable on a real night, making possible the real story of our salvation. The heart is that small, fleshly vault that holds vast treasures none can ever take away. Thus, we return to a crude manger each Christmas to look again at a story quickly told but never forgotten. Mary's pondering was contagious. Now the whole world ponders this glorious epoch of redemption. — Calvin Miller


Dec. 20

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The scenery of Christmas has become too familiar and comfortable. It blocks our view into the depth of the stark mystery of it all. … What if Christmas day were both a beginning and an end? The beginning of a celebration of Jesus that would not end until the next Christmas, when it would begin all over again? What if the wise men’s worship and the shepherds’ awe became, if not a daily, then at least a weekly occurrence for us? What if the peace and rest of the nativity became a part of every day? What if Christmas were no longer a “holiday,” but a holy day, infusing all our days with holiness? — Michael Card


Dec. 19

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The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger. (Luke 2:11-12, NLT)


The birth of this little boy [Jesus] is the beginning of a confrontation between the kingdom of God—in all its apparent weakness, insignificance and vulnerability—and the kingdom of the world. Augustus never heard of Jesus of Nazareth. But within a century or so his successors in Rome had not only heard of him; they were taking steps to obliterate his followers. Within just over three centuries the Emperor himself became a Christian. When you see the manger on a card, or in a church, don’t stop at the crib. See what it’s pointing to, it is pointing to the explosive truth that the baby lying there is already being spoken of as the true king of the world.                                                                         — N. T. Wright


Dec. 18

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Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus
by Charles Wesley

Come, Thou long expected Jesus
Born to set Thy people free;
From our fears and sins release us,
Let us find our rest in Thee.
Israel’s Strength and Consolation,
Hope of all the earth Thou art;
Dear Desire of every nation,
Joy of every longing heart.

Born Thy people to deliver,
Born a child and yet a King,
Born to reign in us forever,
Now Thy gracious kingdom bring.
By Thine own eternal Spirit
Rule in all our hearts alone;
By Thine all sufficient merit,
Raise us to Thy glorious throne.