Archive for December, 2012

How Long Will Christmas Last?

Posted on December 27, 2012 by Dr. Jerry Rankin

“Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.” Luke 2:19

Christmas is over for another year. The gifts have been exchanged with friends and loved ones, decorations taken down and packed away and the Christmas tree thrown out with the trash. Admittedly, in the midst of the beauty of colorful lights and lilting carols heard and sung once a year, the season is actually quite a hassle.

Shopping is filled with anxiety in trying to select just the right gifts that will be appreciated while maneuvering among congested traffic and shoppers to find the best bargain. The pilgrimage home to gather with scattered family members, sometimes in inclement weather and enduring improvised sleeping arrangements at grandmother’s house, …

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Emmanuel: God with Us!

Posted on December 21, 2012 by Dr. Jerry Rankin

There was no mistaking the identity of the baby born in Bethlehem that first Christmas. The angel declared to the shepherds,“ Today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11). He was Christ, the long-awaited Messiah promised to Israel centuries ago and predicted by the prophets.

He was a Savior, confirmed by the name “Jesus” as revealed to Joseph–”And you shall call His name Jesus, for it is He who will save His people from their sins” (Matt. 1:21). The Jews thought more in terms of a political savior saving them from Roman oppression, but the subsequent events of the cross brought clarity to His role as …

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Christmas Greetings

Posted on December 19, 2012 by Dr. Jerry Rankin

Colorful decorations and the music of the season fill the days with a joyful spirit; Christmas pageants and special programs remind us that we celebrate God becoming man to redeem us from sin and give us an eternal hope–don’t miss the current “Rankin Connecting” on “Emmanuel: God with Us!” But one of our greatest blessings is re-connecting annually with friends from all over the world through greetings and family updates that come with the mountain of Christmas cards and letters.

While we didn’t send personalized cards and greetings this year, we trust our far-flung family and friends will access this site to receive our heart-felt wishes for a blessed Christmas and a God-glorifying new year. We

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Prayer is Work

Posted on December 14, 2012 by Dr. Jerry Rankin

“Epaphras…always laboring earnestly for you in his prayers, that you may stand perfect and fully assured in all the will of God.” Colossians 4:12

I am concluding this series of devotionals on the prayers of Paul with a final observation that prayer is work. Having led a number of prayer conferences and discipled believers over the years, I have found that few are truly satisfied with their practice of prayer. I can personally testify that it is a struggle to experience a consistent intimacy with God. Too often we resort to a perfunctory discipline, trying to find creative words worthy of communing with the Father and succumbing to repetitious expressions.

Concentration is difficult as our minds tend to wander. While …

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The Outcome of Intercession

Posted on December 7, 2012 by Dr. Jerry Rankin

“In order that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you and you in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.” 2 Thessalonians 1:12

Prayers that Paul prayed for the churches and co-workers who were recipients of his epistles reveal a great deal about the nature of prayer and God’s desire for us. They are also guidelines by which we can learn to pray more effectively. In this tenth devotional reflection of the series we get fresh insight into the ultimate purpose of intercessory prayer.

Many of our public prayers are quite general as we pray for God’s blessings or for those in crisis, for our city and nation and for …

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Christmas Gifts—Hassle or Blessing?

Posted on December 5, 2012 by Dr. Jerry Rankin

I cannot begin to identify with those diligent, organized people who complete their Christmas shopping before the calendar turns to December. It is not that I resent those who brag about completing their list in after-Thanksgiving sales, or the extremists who get their Christmas shopping done in August; I relish organizing a task and getting it done in advance. But I have never gotten on track with early Christmas shopping. Seldom is a gift bought in the Rankin household prior to a week or two before Christmas.

I donʼt mind shopping when I know what Iʼm looking for and where to find it. But the idea of browsing the mall, looking at all the hyped merchandise to find something appropriate …

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Fall Enhancements

Posted on December 3, 2012 by Dr. Jerry Rankin

My Mississippi buddies raise their eyebrows when I mention that my hobby is yard work. They are incredulous when I explain that I don’t fish, hunt or play golf; my recreation and enjoyment comes from spending time in the yard and seeing the vision of landscaping materialize. I am finding at my age I dare not put in a full day lest the cost be exacted in an aftermath of aches and pain. However, personal satisfaction is seldom excelled by anything than surveying flowering shrubs and a well-manicured lawn in the fading twilight of the day.

After three years of sodding grass, tilling and mulching flower beds, digging holes and planting trees, I find myself anticipating reaching the point of …

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