Tag Archives: Wellness and tagged aerobics

Give Thanks To God

1 Thessalonians 5:18 

In every thing give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

Ephesians 5:18-20 (ASV)

Be filled with the Spirit; speaking one to another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; giving thanks always for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father.

Psalm 136:26 

Give thanks to the God of heaven,
  For His lovingkindness (graciousness, mercy, compassion) endures forever.

Image result for pictures of giving thanks to GodImage result for pictures of giving thanks to God

Image result for pictures of giving thanks to GodImage result for pictures of giving thanks to God
Image result for pictures of giving thanks to GodImage result for pictures of giving thanks to God
Image result for pictures of giving thanks to GodImage result for pictures of giving thanks to God

Thanks Journal

From: Our Daily Bread

Thanks Journal
Read: Psalm 117 | Bible in a Year: Zechariah 1–4; Revelation 18

Praise the Lord, all you nations; extol him, all you peoples. Psalm 117:1

When I was a new believer in Jesus, a spiritual mentor encouraged me to keep a thanks journal. It was a little booklet I carried with me everywhere I went. Sometimes I would record a thanksgiving right away. Other times, I would pen it at the end of the week during a time of reflection.

Taking note of praise items is a good habit—one I’m considering re-establishing in my life. It would help me to be mindful of God’s presence and grateful for His provision and care.

In the shortest of all the psalms, Psalm 117, the writer encourages everyone to praise the Lord because “great is his love toward us” (v. 2).

Think about it: How has the Lord shown His love toward you today, this week, this month, and this year? Don’t just look for the spectacular. His love is seen in the ordinary, everyday circumstances of life. Then consider how He has shown His love toward your family, your church, and to others. Let your mind soak up the extent of His love for all of us.

The psalmist added that “the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever” (v. 2 emphasis added). In other words, He will continue to love us! So we will continue to have many things to praise God for in the coming days. As His dearly loved children, may praising and thanking God characterize our lives!

Father, if we were to record all of Your blessings, we could not complete the task in a lifetime. But we can pause this moment to say a simple “Thank You” for Your faithfulness and goodness.

Remember to thank God for the ordinary as well as the extraordinary.

 

A New Day

From: Our Daily Journey

A New Day

Read:

Jeremiah 31:31-34
I will put my instructions deep within them, and I will write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people (Jeremiah 31:33).

It was a cold December when my father’s health began to dramatically fail. The joy of Christmas was a bit muted. Two weeks later on his ninetieth birthday, my dad went to be with his Savior. There were tears of grief, but there was also joy. My father had been set free from the ravages of disease. And when he took his last breath, he enjoyed a truly new day in Jesus’ presence!

As we celebrate Advent and the mystery of Christ coming to earth, we see a shadow—the shadow of the cross—amid the joy and light of the season. We recognize that Jesus’ birth was part of God’s plan that would ultimately lead to His death. And Jeremiah’s prophecy several hundred years before (Jeremiah 31:31-34) pointed to a new covenant that God would establish through Christ.

During days of destruction for Judah, Jeremiah prophesied a time when God would “make a new covenant with [His] people” (Jeremiah 31:31) and—ultimately—all those who would one day believe in Jesus. This new covenant would resolve the problem of human sinfulness by not only “[forgiving] their wickedness” and forgetting their sin (Jeremiah 31:34), but actually placing God’s “instructions deep within them” and writing “them on their hearts” (Jeremiah 31:33).

As the writer of Hebrews declares, this is possible because Jesus was “given a ministry that is far superior to the old priesthood” (Hebrews 8:6). Although the priesthood graciously revealed God to His people, through the coming of Jesus we’re transformed by the Holy Spirit indwelling us and working within us when we receive Christ as Savior (Romans 7:6).

Because of the new covenant, we can experience joy in the midst of pain and sorrow—for Jesus by His Spirit is within us and our future with Him is secure!

 

Pummeled by the Waves

By: Jennifer Slattery, author

woman-swimming-lake_si.jpg

Do you ever feel like you’re struggling to keep your head above water? Like you’re lost at sea, surrounded by fog and never-ending waves? Perhaps you’ve become so exhausted, you’ve begun to wonder if you’ll remain lost at sea forever.

Often, when I face a rough period, I’m reminded of my first open water swim. The water was cold and somehow the 500 meters across the lake seemed double to the 20-lap equivalent in the pool. There weren’t any clearly marked lines painted along the bottom. Only a blur of feet pelting me in the head and face and the occasional buoy shrouded in fog.

As wave after wave swept over me, filling my nose and mouth with murky lake water, it felt like I was fighting a losing battle. For every exhausting stroke forward, the current seemed to take me two strokes back. The harder the current pulled, the harder I kicked. Before long, my tense muscles killed my buoyancy. My legs sank, throwing my entire body off alignment for about two minutes. Then, muscle memory kicked in and my body relaxed, allowing me to follow the gentle ebb and flow of the current.

The result? The minute I quit fighting and striving and pounding the water, I started to relax. And a relaxed body floats much better than a tense one. Before long, I fell into a nice, smooth rhythm that carried me to shore.

I think the same holds true for our spiritual life as. We’ll hear God’s call. Maybe it’s to start a new Sunday school class or join a ministry, or maybe it’s to go back to school after 10, 20, or 30 years out … and all we can see are the crashing waves, threatening to hold us back.

We begin to sink under a torrent of to-do lists and expectations, forgetting that the God who told us to jump in is ready and able to carry us to the shore. The waves don’t surprise Him; the fog doesn’t daunt Him. He knows which way the wind is blowing, which way the waves will crash, and which currents will carry us the farthest. In fact, He’s got our entire journey mapped out and has assumed full responsibility to get us there.

“Then he said to me, “This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel: Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the LORD of hosts” Zechariah 4:6 (ESV).

It is our choice, then, how we will respond. We can relax, surrendering to God in whatever direction He carries us, knowing that He will not let us drown. Or we can pummel against the waves, beating ourselves into a frenzy of exhaustion as we fight against the current.

Are you tired today? Feeling discouraged? Pause to meditate on the words of your Savior:

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28 (NIV).

Jesus knows exactly what you are facing and how hard it is. He’s got a plan and the power to carry out. Trust in Him, and wait for Him. He won’t abandon you nor close His ears to your pleas.

What On Earth

Matthew 28:19-20  (NKJV)

19 Go therefore[a] and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.[b]

Image result for picture of Christ on earthImage result for picture of Christ on earth
Image result for picture of Christ on earthImage result for picture of Christ on earth
Image result for picture of Christ on earthImage result for picture of Christ on earth
Image result for picture of Christ on earthImage result for picture of Christ on earth

What on Earth?

From: Our Daily Bread

What on Earth?

My God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19

When Andrew Cheatle lost his cell phone at the beach, he thought it was gone forever. About a week later, however, fisherman Glen Kerley called him. He had pulled Cheatle’s phone, still functional after it dried, out of a 25-pound cod.

Life is full of odd stories, and we find more than a few of them in the Bible. One day tax collectors came to Peter demanding to know, “Doesn’t your teacher pay the temple tax?” (Matt. 17:24). Jesus turned the situation into a teaching moment. He wanted Peter to understand His role as king. Taxes weren’t collected from the children of the king, and the Lord made it clear that neither He nor His children owed any temple tax (vv. 25–26).

Yet Jesus wanted to be careful not to “cause offense” (v. 27), so He told Peter to go fishing. (This is the odd part of the story.) Peter found a coin in the mouth of the first fish he caught.

What on earth is Jesus doing here? A better question is, “What in God’s kingdom is Jesus doing?” He is the rightful King—even when many do not recognize Him as such. When we accept His role as Lord in our lives, we become His children.

Life will still throw its various demands at us, but Jesus will provide for us. As former pastor David Pompo put it, “When we’re fishing for our Father, we can depend on Him for all we need.”

Lord, teach us to bask in the wonderful realization that You provide everything we need.

We are children of the King!

 

God’s Love Letter

From: Our Daily Journey

God’s Love Letter

Read:

1 Peter 1:13-25
You have been born again, but not to a life that will quickly end. Your new life will last forever because it comes from the eternal, living word of God (1 Peter 1:23).

Many years ago, a love-struck groom on a military base penned a love letter to his young bride. But then the letter was lost by the postal service. Forty-six years later, a crew dismantling an old post office discovered it. They turned it over to the postmaster who found the man and his wife and gave it to them days after their fiftieth wedding anniversary! The love expressed in the letter had endured the test of several decades.

What the young man wrote to his wife was heartfelt, but it pales in comparison to the love letter God has extended to us in Scripture. Peter reminded a group of believers in Jesus, who had come to faith outside of Judaism, of the Word of God they had received—the message of the gospel. These were people who were struggling to form a community of faith in the midst of a foreign land.

The believers had been “ransomed” from their former sinful lifestyles (1 Peter 1:18-20). They’d been born again through the work of the life-changing message of Jesus (1 Peter 1:23). This living and enduring Word—through the power of Jesus, the eternal Word (John 1:1)—awakened new life within them, initiated their living in a way set apart for Him, drew them toward obedience to Him, and reinforced the permanence of their new life in Christ (1 Peter 1:22,24). Peter shared that the “Good News” of Jesus would stand forever because the God who made it possible was eternal and faithful (1 Peter 1:25).

As we continue to live in the midst of a broken world, let’s renew our faith and love in Jesus by opening and reading God’s love letter to us—the Bible. Through the Scriptures, we can be reminded of all that Jesus provides and turn to Him for new life, deeper love, and an eternal, living hope.

 

“Walk in the Light”

By Oswald Chambers

 

To mistake freedom from sin only on the conscious level of our lives for complete deliverance from sin by the atonement through the Cross of Christ is a great error. No one fully knows what sin is until he is born again. Sin is what Jesus Christ faced at Calvary. The evidence that I have been delivered from sin is that I know the real nature of sin in me. For a person to really know what sin is requires the full work and deep touch of the atonement of Jesus Christ, that is, the imparting of His absolute perfection.

The Holy Spirit applies or administers the work of the atonement to us in the deep unconscious realm as well as in the conscious realm. And it is not until we truly perceive the unrivaled power of the Spirit in us that we understand the meaning of 1 John 1:7 , which says, “…the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.” This verse does not refer only to conscious sin, but also to the tremendously profound understanding of sin which only the Holy Spirit in me can accomplish.

I must “walk in the light as He is in the light…”— not in the light of my own conscience, but in God’s light. If I will walk there, with nothing held back or hidden, then this amazing truth is revealed to me: “…the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses [me] from all sin” so that God Almighty can see nothing to rebuke in me. On the conscious level it produces a keen, sorrowful knowledge of what sin really is. The love of God working in me causes me to hate, with the Holy Spirit’s hatred for sin, anything that is not in keeping with God’s holiness. To “walk in the light” means that everything that is of the darkness actually drives me closer to the center of the light.

Merry Christmas!

 

Luke 2:11-14    (KJV)

11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

 

Image result for christmas picturesImage result for christmas pictures
Image result for christmas picturesImage result for christmas pictures
Image result for christmas picturesImage result for christmas pictures

Image result for christmas picturesImage result for christmas pictures

 

Traditions and Christmas

From: Our Daily Bread

Traditions and Christmas
Read: Luke 2:1–10 | Bible in a Year: Zephaniah 1–3; Revelation 16

I bring you good news that will cause great joy . . . a Savior has been born to you. Luke 2:10–11

As you savor a candy cane this Christmas, say “danke schön” to the Germans, for that confectionary treat was first created in Cologne. As you admire your poinsettia, say “gracias” to Mexico, where the plant originated. Say “merci beaucoup” to the French for the term noel, and give a “cheers” to the English for your mistletoe.

But as we enjoy our traditions and festivities of the Christmas season—customs that have been collected from around the world—let’s save our most sincere and heartfelt “thank you” for our good, merciful, and loving God. From Him came the reason for our Christmas celebration: the baby born in that Judean manger more than 2,000 years ago. An angel announced the arrival of this gift to mankind by saying, “I bring you good news that will cause great joy . . . a Savior has been born to you” (Luke 2:10–11).

This Christmas, even in the light of the sparkling Christmas tree and surrounded by newly opened presents, the true excitement comes when we turn our attention to the baby named Jesus, who came to “save his people from their sins” (Matt. 1:21). His birth transcends tradition: It is our central focus as we send praises to God for this indescribable Christmas gift.

Lord, we thank You for coming to join us on that first Christmas. During a time of the year filled with many traditions, help us to keep You first.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him. Romans 15:13

 

His Birth and Our New Birth

December 25 

By Oswald Chambers

His Birth and Our New Birth

His Birth in History. “…that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God (Luke 1:35). Jesus Christ was born into this world, not from it. He did not emerge out of history; He came into history from the outside. Jesus Christ is not the best human being the human race can boast of— He is a Being for whom the human race can take no credit at all. He is not man becoming God, but God Incarnate— God coming into human flesh from outside it. His life is the highest and the holiest entering through the most humble of doors. Our Lord’s birth was an advent— the appearance of God in human form.

His Birth in Me. “My little children, for whom I labor in birth again until Christ is formed in you…” (Galatians 4:19). Just as our Lord came into human history from outside it, He must also come into me from outside. Have I allowed my personal human life to become a “Bethlehem” for the Son of God? I cannot enter the realm of the kingdom of God unless I am born again from above by a birth totally unlike physical birth. “You must be born again” (John 3:7). This is not a command, but a fact based on the authority of God. The evidence of the new birth is that I yield myself so completely to God that “Christ is formed” in me. And once “Christ is formed” in me, His nature immediately begins to work through me.

God Evident in the Flesh. This is what is made so profoundly possible for you and for me through the redemption of man by Jesus Christ.

Good News Of Great Joy

Luke 2: 9-11
9  Just then, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 
11 Today in the City of David a Savior has been born to you. He is Christ the Lord!
Image result for picture of happy children on morning christmas morningImage result for picture of happy children on morning christmas morning
Image result for picture of happy children on morning christmas morningImage result for picture of happy children on morning christmas morning
Image result for picture of happy children on morning christmas morningImage result for picture of happy children on morning christmas morning
Image result for picture of happy children on morning christmas morningImage result for picture of happy children on morning christmas morning

A Thrill of Hope

From: Our Daily Bread

A Thrill of Hope
Read: Luke 2:11–20 | Bible in a Year: Habakkuk 1–3; Revelation 15

Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. Luke 2:11

Reginald Fessenden had been working for years to achieve wireless radio communication. Other scientists found his ideas radical and unorthodox, and doubted he would succeed. But he claims that on December 24, 1906, he became the first person to ever play music over the radio.

Fessenden held a contract with a fruit company which had installed wireless systems on roughly a dozen boats to communicate about the harvesting and marketing of bananas. That Christmas Eve, Fessenden said that he told the wireless operators on board all ships to pay attention. At 9 o’clock they heard his voice.

He reportedly played a record of an operatic aria, and then he pulled out his violin, playing “O Holy Night” and singing the words to the last verse as he played. Finally, he offered Christmas greetings and read from Luke 2 the story of angels announcing the birth of a Savior to shepherds in Bethlehem.

Both the shepherds in Bethlehem over two thousand years ago and the sailors on board the United Fruit Company ships in 1906 heard an unexpected, surprising message of hope on a dark night. And God still speaks that same message of hope to us today. A Savior has been born for us—Christ the Lord! (Luke 2:11). We can join the choir of angels and believers through the ages who respond with “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests” (v. 14).

God, we give You glory and thank You for sending Your Son Jesus Christ to be our Savior!

Without Christ there is no hope. Charles Spurgeon.

 

Light of the World

From: Our Daily Journey

Light of the World

Read:

Colossians 1:15-20
Everything was created through him and for him (Colossians 1:16).

An amazing phenomenon has recently been discovered: As a sperm meets an egg at human conception, a flash of light is emitted! Researchers have actually captured these mini-fireworks on film.

It’s amazing to consider that Jesus, the One who created light, also establishes life in a flash of light (Genesis 1:3Luke 1:35). The One who “is a light to reveal God to the nations” and the “light of the world” has also designed life to begin with light (Luke 2:32John 8:12).

During this Advent season, we often reflect on the light God has brought to the world through His Son. Paul wrote that Jesus is “the visible image of the invisible God” and “through him God created everything” (Colossians 1:15-16). In these words that may have been part of an early church confession of faith or a hymn, the apostle revealed that “[Christ] existed before anything else, and he holds all creation together” (Colossians 1:17).

This Giver of Light has created all we see—from the flash of light at conception to the countless shining stars in the night sky. And He sustains it by His divine power. So even though the darkness of sin, brokenness, and suffering may threaten to overwhelm us, He remains our beacon of hope. He provides the spark of strength we need to remain firm in our faith (1 Corinthians 1:8).

Have some dark clouds settled on you today? The effects of broken relationships or painful losses? Remember that the One who “made peace with everything in heaven and on earth” can illumine your path with His brilliant light (Colossians 1:20). The One who “made the things we can see and the things we can’t see” will sustain you by His love and power (Colossians 1:16).

He is your Creator, Sustainer, and Light.

 

Tumbleweed Christmas

By: Danni Andrew

tumbleweed-christmas-tree_si.jpg

“Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel, which means `God is with us.'” Matthew 1:23 NLT

My memory wanders back to a much simpler time, when life for this six-year-old child was one of great wonder. It was the winter of 1970 and my family had only recently moved to the Southwest. Snow covered the landscape and it seemed the wind blew constantly. With Christmas just around the corner, I worried as there was no tree in our living room, and no gifts to wonder about. As a small child my understanding about finances was slim, nor did I consider where the gifts might come from.

Christmas morning dawned as I crept quietly to the living room. In the faint shadows just before daylight, I could see a tree with presents under it. Afraid of being in trouble I ran back to my bed, waiting impatiently for the call announcing that it was time to get up. In my imagination, I saw the green boughs of a Christmas tree, and I imagined what was in those gifts under that tree.

“Time to get up”, echoed through our home and my little heart beat wildly. Unable to contain my excitement any longer, I ran to the living room. My small feet skidded to a stop. Before me stood a tree like none I had ever seen before. Two tumbleweeds, one on top of the other, and lightly dusted with spray snow, graced the corner of our living room. Upon that pitiful little “tree” my Mother had made a paper chain of red and green construction paper. Ropes of popcorn also circled the little tree. Behind the tree, nailed to the wall, were four stockings. In each of those stockings we found an orange and a candy cane. Each present contained a pair of flannel pajamas, made with expert care by my Mother’s hands.

As I stared at our Christmas tree, tears welled up inside of my heart. My dreams of a big, green tree decorated with tinsel and lights were gone, and my little heart was broken. Somewhere deep within me I knew that my Mother had done all that she could do for us on that cold morning. My young heart also knew that I must hide my disappointment and put on a face of surprise and happiness.

As the years passed and I became an adult, I realized the love that had gone into that tree. There had not been any electricity in our house, yet my Mother had made flannel pajamas on an old treadle sewing machine. When asked of that Christmas she had dropped her head, almost embarrassed to speak of such things. Somehow she knew that I had been disappointed. A child’s heart does not understand these things, but as an adult I have learned to cherish the memory of that tumbleweed Christmas tree. To remember the love that was put into it by my Mother who was determined to do something with nothing for her children.

“And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” Matthew 1:21 NLT

As I ponder my plans for the holidays, I think of what Christmas really means. It is not about what I might get for Christmas; it is so much more about what Jesus did for me. It is also about what I can do for others. Whether I have a lot of money or very little, it does not matter what I get or how much money was spent. Every time I think of that tumbleweed Christmas tree, I am reminded of what Christmas is really about.

God With Us

Emmanuel means God with us. The little baby grew up to be the healer, and Savior of the world.

The Return to Nazareth   Luke 2: 40-41
39  When Jesus’ parents had done everything required by the Law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. 

40  And the Child grew and became strong. He was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was upon Him.

41 Every year His parents went to Jerusalem for the Feast of the Passover.…

Image result for pictures of jesus healingImage result for pictures of jesus healing
Image result for pictures of jesus healingImage result for pictures of jesus healing
Image result for pictures of jesus healingImage result for pictures of jesus healing
Image result for pictures of jesus healingImage result for pictures of jesus healing

God with Us

From: Our Daily Bread

God with Us
Read: Matthew 1:18–23 | Bible in a Year: Nahum 1–3; Revelation 14

The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel. Matthew 1:23

“Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me, Christ within me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me, Christ at my right, Christ at my left . . .” These hymn lyrics, written by the fifth-century Celtic Christian St. Patrick, echo in my mind when I read Matthew’s account of Jesus’s birth. They feel like a warm embrace, reminding me that I’m never alone.

Matthew’s account tells us that God dwelling with His people is at the heart of Christmas. Quoting Isaiah’s prophecy of a child who would be called Immanuel, meaning “God with us” (Isa. 7:14), Matthew points to the ultimate fulfillment of that prophecy—Jesus, the One born by the power of the Holy Spirit to be God with us. This truth is so central that Matthew begins and ends his gospel with it, concluding with Jesus’s words to His disciples: “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matt. 28:20).

St. Patrick’s lyrics remind me that Christ is with believers always through His Spirit living within. When I’m nervous or afraid, I can hold fast to His promises that He will never leave me. When I can’t fall asleep, I can ask Him to give me His peace. When I’m celebrating and filled with joy, I can thank Him for His gracious work in my life.

Jesus, Immanuel—God with us.

Father God, thank You for sending Your Son to be God with us. May we experience Your presence this day.

God’s love became Incarnate at Bethlehem.

 

God incarnate, the end of fear

Author: Charles Spurgeon, Theologian

‘And the angel said unto them, Fear not.’ Luke 2:10

Suggested Further Reading: Isaiah 9:2–7

Observe the angel’s word, ‘Unto you is born.’ Our Lord Jesus Christ is in some senses more man than Adam. Adam was not born; Adam never had to struggle through the risks and weaknesses of infancy; he knew not the littleness of childhood; he was full grown at once. Father Adam could not sympathise with me as a babe and a child. But how man-like is Jesus! He is cradled with us in the manger; he does not begin with us in mid-life, as Adam, but he accompanies us in the pains and feebleness and infirmities of infancy, and he continues with us even to the grave. Beloved, this is such sweet comfort. He that is God this day was once an infant: so that if my cares are little and even trivial and comparatively infantile, I may go to him, for he was once a child. Though the great ones of the earth may sneer at the child of poverty, and say, ‘You are too mean, and your trouble is too slight for pity,’ I recollect with humble joy, that the King of heaven did hang upon a woman’s breast, and was wrapped in swaddling bands, and therefore I tell him all my griefs. How wonderful that he should have been an infant, and yet should be God over all, blessed for ever! I am not afraid of God now; this blessed link between me and God, the holy child Jesus, has taken all fear away. Observe, the angel told them somewhat of his office, as well as of his birth. ‘Unto you is born this day a Saviour.’ The very object for which he was born and came into this world was that he might deliver us from sin. What was it that made us afraid? Were we not afraid of God because we felt that we were lost through sin? Well then, here is joy upon joy.

For meditation: Adam was created, but never born; he identifies with us only as a creature and a sinner (Romans 5:12). Christ, the second Adam (Romans 5:14), was never created, but his birth was an important part of his identification with us, so that believers could be identified with him as sons of God (Galatians 4:4–5).

 

The incarnation and birth of Christ

Author: Charles Spurgeon, great pastor and evangelist

“But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from old, from everlasting.” Micah 5:2

Suggested Further Reading: Hebrews 10:5-7

“Go,” saith the Father, “and thy Father’s blessing on thy head!” Then comes the unrobing. How do angels crowd around to see the Son of God take off his robes! He laid aside his crown; he said, “My father, I am Lord over all, blessed for ever, but I will lay my crown aside, and be as mortal men are.” He strips himself of his bright vest of glory; “Father,” he says, “I will wear a robe of clay, just such as men wear.” Then he takes off all those jewels wherewith he was glorified; he lays aside his starry mantles and robes of light, to dress himself in the simple garments of the peasant of Galilee. What a solemn disrobing that must have been! And next, can you picture the dismissal! The angels attend the Saviour through the streets, until they approach the doors; when an angel cries, “Lift up your heads, O ye gates, and be ye lifted up ye everlasting doors, and let the king of glory through!” I think the angels must have wept when they lost the company of Jesus—when the Sun of heaven bereaved them of all its light. But they went after him. They descended with him; and when his spirit entered into flesh, and he became a babe, he was attended by that mighty host of angels, who after they had been with him to Bethlehem’s manger, and seen him safely laid on his mother’s breast, in their journey upwards appeared to the shepherds and told them that he was born king of the Jews. The Father sent him! Contemplate that subject. Let your soul get hold of it, and in every period of his life think that he suffered what the Father willed; that every step of his life was marked with the approval of the great I AM.

For meditation: When we think of the birth of the Son of God, our eyes are rightly focused on earth. But are we in danger of forgetting God the Father in heaven, the one who so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son (John 3:16)? May we remember to give “Glory to God in the highest” (Luke 2:14).

 

The Miracle of Christmas

By: Wally Odum, Author

The Christmas story began in an unlikely town—Nazareth. Nathaniel spoke for a generation of Jewish people when he asked Philip, “Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” (John 1:46). God wasn’t deterred by the reputations of the town of Nazareth or the region of Galilee. He was willing to go to an improbable place to find a young girl who had faith. He searched the world for the right young woman to carry His Son.

And was Mary ever the right choice! I have trouble believing for a miracle even though there are historical precedences for it. Here was a young girl who believed for a miracle that had never been experienced before and hasn’t been experienced since. She would be pregnant without the involvement of a man. A virgin would give birth to the Son of God.

The social implications of her response were staggering. She was engaged to Joseph, but they had not yet begun to live together. The betrothal was for a full year and then the marriage would have taken place. However, unfaithfulness during the betrothal period was as serious as adultery after marriage. She and Joseph, and ultimately Jesus, would live under a cloud of suspicion for the rest of their lives.

Mary’s response to the angel’s announcement was predictable. She was “troubled.” The Greek word means that she was thoroughly confused and perplexed. Why shouldn’t she be? This had never happened before in all human history.

Mary asked the only question that made sense at the time: “ ‘How will this be,’ Mary asked the angel, ‘since I am a virgin?’ ” (Luke 1:34).

The angel’s response showed that this would have to be the result of the Holy Spirit’s activity. “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God” (Luke 1:35).

Miracles just don’t happen without the activity of the Holy Spirit. It was true then for this amazing event and it’s true now. So here is a lesson for all of us from the Christmas story, and it applies to us not just at Christmas, but every other day of our lives. We cannot live the life God wants for us, and achieve the dreams he has for us, without the power of the Holy Spirit.

The work of the Holy Spirit was God’s side of the miracle, but what about Mary’s responsibility? Tucked away in the original language of her conversation with the angel was a word that isn’t noticed from a quick reading of the exchange with Gabriel. The angel said to Mary, “For nothing is impossible with God” (Luke 1:37). Mary responded to the angel: “May it be to me as you have said” (Luke 1:38).

Literally, the angel said to Mary, “No rhema of God is powerless.” A rhema is a Greek expression for a “word.” When God speaks, what He says isn’t powerless but is able to bring a miracle to pass. She got the message. She responded, literally, “Let it be to me according to your rhema.” Mary was saying, “If the rhema of God is powerful and does not fail, then let that word work for me.” God wants that to be our response. “Since your Word is not powerless, let it be to me according to your Word.”

We learn from Mary to never give up on the rhema of God. There may seem to be obstacles to God’s promises, but those obstacles can’t stop us if we hold fast to what God has said. His word is powerful. The power of the Holy Spirit and the power of God’s Word are still available. This would be a good time to watch what God will do. It worked for Mary and it will work for us.

Glory To God In The Highest

Glory To God In The HIghest
A psalm. For giving grateful praise.  Psalm 100
Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.
Worship the Lord with gladness;
come before him with joyful songs.
Know that the Lord is God.
It is he who made us, and we are his 100:3 Or and not we ourselves;
we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
 
Enter his gates with thanksgiving
and his courts with praise;
give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;
Image result for pictures of church choirsImage result for pictures of church choirs
Image result for pictures of church choirsImage result for pictures of church choirs
 Image result for picture of heavenly choirImage result for picture of heavenly choir
 Image result for picture of heavenly choirImage result for picture of heavenly choir

Silent Night of the Soul

From: Our Daily Bread

Silent Night of the Soul

If anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone; the new is here! 2 Corinthians 5:17

Long before Joseph Mohr and Franz Gruber created the familiar carol “Silent Night,” Angelus Silesius had written:

Lo! in the silent night a child to God is born,
And all is brought again that ere was lost or lorn.
Could but thy soul, O man, become a silent night
God would be born in thee and set all things aright.

Silesius, a Polish monk, published the poem in 1657 in The Cherubic Pilgrim.During our church’s annual Christmas Eve service, the choir sang a beautiful rendition of the song titled “Could but Thy Soul Become a Silent Night.”

The twofold mystery of Christmas is that God became one of us so that we might become one with Him. Jesus suffered everything that was wrong so that we could be made right. That’s why the apostle Paul could write, “If anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone; the new is here! All this is from God who reconciled us to himself through Christ” (2 Cor. 5:17–18).

Whether our Christmas is filled with family and friends or empty of all we long for, we know that Jesus came to be born in us.

Ah, would thy heart but be a manger for the birth,
God would once more become a child on earth.

Lord Jesus, thank You for being born into this dark world so that we might be born again into Your life and light.

God became one of us so that we might become one with Him.

Silent Night of the Soul

From: Nancy E. Head, Author

Silent Night of the Soul

If anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone; the new is here! 2 Corinthians 5:17

Long before Joseph Mohr and Franz Gruber created the familiar carol “Silent Night,” Angelus Silesius had written:

Lo! in the silent night a child to God is born,
And all is brought again that ere was lost or lorn.
Could but thy soul, O man, become a silent night
God would be born in thee and set all things aright.

Silesius, a Polish monk, published the poem in 1657 in The Cherubic Pilgrim.During our church’s annual Christmas Eve service, the choir sang a beautiful rendition of the song titled “Could but Thy Soul Become a Silent Night.”

The twofold mystery of Christmas is that God became one of us so that we might become one with Him. Jesus suffered everything that was wrong so that we could be made right. That’s why the apostle Paul could write, “If anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone; the new is here! All this is from God who reconciled us to himself through Christ” (2 Cor. 5:17–18).

Whether our Christmas is filled with family and friends or empty of all we long for, we know that Jesus came to be born in us.

Ah, would thy heart but be a manger for the birth,
God would once more become a child on earth.

Lord Jesus, thank You for being born into this dark world so that we might be born again into Your life and light.

God became one of us so that we might become one with Him.

God’s Choir

By: Katy Kauffman, Author

angels-sky-nativity

Children’s choirs filled the steps and sang cherished Christmas songs. Little faces filled the big screens on the church walls, and parents took pictures of their kids during the annual family Christmas program.

Then the adult choir sang. The choir director, one of my favorites of any church, led the choir in beautiful ballads and gospel renditions of Christmas hymns. He appeared on screen a couple of times as he kept tempo, mouthed the words, and moved to the beat of the songs as he directed the choir.

Then it hit me. God is a master director. From the beginning of time, He has directed the dancing and swaying of stars and galaxies. He gave the birds their songs and the human spirit its hope. He orchestrated the coming of His Son to earth—prophesying Jesus’ arrival hundreds of years before it happened and moving heaven and earth to make the birth perfect. Yet, God’s definition of perfectwasn’t Jesus being born in a palace or grandeur. Perfect included a stable, a godly virgin, a caring carpenter, shepherds, angels, a shining star, and peace on earth.

And there was music.

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” Luke 2:14NKJV

Whether the angels sang these words or shouted them, I don’t know. But it was either a song or it was as beautiful as one. The glory of God was displayed at the angels’ appearing, and their message was that peace and goodwill had been born that night.

God’s choir today is you and me. Angels still do His bidding, but He calls us, His children, to “sing” for Him. To proclaim the gospel and to share the hope that life with God is possible. Every day God orchestrates the building of relationships and the timing of “chance” encounters, moving us into place so that we can share His truth and love with just the right person at the just the time.

Let’s be ready to sing! The Baby born in Bethlehem grew up to be the Man who died for the sin of every person who has lived or will ever live. Believing in Him gives us eternal life by the grace of God. And by the daily work of God in our lives, we can be His choir singing with our lives and our words that Jesus is both Savior and Lord.

Jesus is alive today, working with His people to spread the good news. This partnership of heart and work for God’s kingdom started with the disciples—“They went out and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word” (Mark 16:20 NKJV) that they shared.

How is God directing you to share His light and truth this Christmas? Don’t miss the chance to participate in God’s eternal song. Now and in the new year. God needs you in His choir. Are you singing?

Going Home For Christmas

 Home For Christmas Is So Wonderful.
I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. Genesis 28:15
Image result for pictures of People coming home for ChristmasImage result for pictures of People coming home for Christmas
Image result for pictures of soldiers coming home for ChristmasImage result for pictures of soldiers coming home for Christmas
Image result for pictures of soldiers coming home for ChristmasImage result for pictures of soldiers coming home for Christmas
Image result for pictures of soldiers coming home for ChristmasImage result for pictures of soldiers coming home for Christmas

Home for Christmas

From: Our Daily Bread

Home for Christmas

I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. Genesis 28:15

One year Christmas found me on assignment in a place many of my friends couldn’t locate on a map. Trudging from my worksite back to my room, I braced against the chill wind blowing off the bleak Black Sea. I missed home.

When I arrived at my room, I opened the door to a magical moment. My artistic roommate had completed his latest project—a nineteen-inch ceramic Christmas tree that now illuminated our darkened room with sparkling dots of color. If only for a moment, I was home again!

As Jacob fled from his brother Esau, he found himself in a strange and lonely place too. Asleep on the hard ground, he met God in a dream. And God promised Jacob a home. “I will give you and your descendants the land on which you are lying,” He told him. “All peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring” (Gen. 28:13–14).

From Jacob, of course, would come the promised Messiah, the One who left His home to draw us to Himself. “I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am,” Jesus told His disciples (John 14:3).

That December night I sat in the darkness of my room and gazed at that Christmas tree. Perhaps inevitably I thought of the Light that entered the world to show us the way home.

Lord, no matter where we are today, we can thank You for preparing a place for us to be with You. And we have the presence of Your Spirit today!

Home is not so much a place on a map, as it is a place to belong. God gives us that place.

Wonderful Counselor

From: Our Daily Journey

Wonderful Counselor

Read:

Isaiah 9:1-7
For a child is born to us . . . and he will be called: Wonderful Counselor (Isaiah 9:6).

In the well-loved comic strip Peanuts, Lucy sets up her makeshift office and advertises that she will dispense advice for a small charge. Then Charlie Brown approaches and tells her how he feels overlooked and unimportant. When he finishes describing his sense of isolation, the unconcerned “counselor” flippantly gives him the simplistic solution to “go make some friends,” and then tries to collect her fee. Ouch.

When we bring our problems and concerns to Jesus, the outcome is very different. Nearly 750 years before Christ was born, Isaiah predicted that the coming Messiah would be called the Wonderful Counselor (Isaiah 9:6).

A good counselor knows how to get to the core of a problem and ways to resolve it. Because Jesus had a complete understanding of human nature (John 2:24-25), during His earthly ministry He was able to help a woman see that her splintered love life was a result of seeking satisfaction she could only find in Him (John 4:14-18). Jesus also diagnosed the Pharisees’ false piety as a symptom of their self-centeredness (Matthew 23:1-7). And when His disciples began to argue over who was the most important, He knew their thoughts and led them to humility (Luke 9:46-48).

The point of Jesus’ ministry of counseling—both in His earthly ministry and in our lives today—is peace. The Hebrew word for peace, shalom, refers to much more than temporary relief from problems. As the Prince of Peace, Jesus helps us to find harmony with God and others. He’s our advocate when we sin (1 John 2:1-2). He also helps our relationships to flourish as we extend His grace and love to others.

We can trust Jesus to guide us toward the path of healing. No one understands and loves us like He does!

What Christmas is About

Image result for picture of the shepherds

From: Harvest Ministries

Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this. —Isaiah 9:7

As we look at our world today, we realize that part of the promise of Isaiah 9:6–7 has not yet been fulfilled. The Son has been given. The Child has been born. But He has not yet taken the government upon His shoulders. We do not yet have peace with judgment and justice. But the good news is that there will come a day when Christ will return. He will establish His kingdom on this earth. And it will be the righteous rule of God himself.

Before Jesus could take the government upon His shoulder, He had to take the cross upon His shoulder. Before He could wear the crown of glory as King of Kings, He had to wear the shameful crown of thorns and give His life as a sacrifice for the sins of the world. The first time, a star marked His arrival. But the next time He comes, the heavens will roll back like a scroll, all of the stars will fall from the sky, and He himself will light it.

Christ came to this earth. God came near to you so you can come near to Him—to give your life purpose and meaning, to forgive you of your sins, and to give you the hope of heaven beyond the grave. Christmas is not about tinsel or shopping or presents. Christmas is not about the gifts under the tree. Rather, Christmas is about the gift that was given on the tree when Christ died there for our sins and gave us the gift of eternal life.

 

Be Imitators Of Christ

1 Thessalonians 5:18  (KJV)

18 In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

Image result for picture of mary talking to the angel

Don’t Just Celebrate…Imitate!

From: Joe Stowell

“Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children.” Ephesians 5:1

I can still remember my dad standing there, coat on and hat in hand on Christmas afternoon asking me, “Joe, do you want to come with me?” His question made me uncomfortable because I knew I should say yes, but being deep into playing with my Christmas presents, going with him was not my idea of a great way to spend Christmas afternoon.

My idea of Christmas was a time to celebrate Christ’s birth by giving and getting gifts, eating some of Mom’s all-time best cooking, and lots of play time with my new toys!

My dad liked all that kind of stuff too. But every year he had something else in mind. He knew that Christmas was more than a celebration of Christ’s birth. For him, the spirit of Christmas had a deeper meaning. He knew that the highest form of honoring Jesus is more than celebration—it’s imitation.

In fact, seeing Christmas as merely celebration can have a selfish bent to it. It can end up being primarily about days off from work, parties, family, friends, games, football, gifts, and lots of great food. But imitation—not celebration—pays a higher compliment to the one whose life we celebrate.

For Jesus, Christmas was not warm, convenient, or comfortable. In our modern-day materialized blur of Christmas, we must keep reminding ourselves that the birth of Jesus put into motion the central act of God’s redemptive plan, and it came at a cost. Not only did Jesus temporarily relinquish the glorious privileges of heaven, He ultimately gave His life on a blood-stained cross where His sinless body bore the weight of my sin—and yours. Jesus presented our world with a costly redemptive gift. Which is precisely why my dad was on his way out the front door.

His mission? To visit an elderly widow who lived down the street. With no children and no family, she spent every holiday alone. And every Christmas my dad, in the midst of celebration, gave the gift of himself, sharing a few moments of companionship to help ease her lonely heart.

I learned a valuable lesson from my dad. Around all of our lives there are people who long for a touch from heaven through some caring, even sacrificial, act of love on their behalf. Who are the people you could call on Christmas day? Check your party lists. Is there someone who will go nowhere if not invited by you?

Indelibly etched on my memory are those two or three times when I stood up from my toys, grabbed my coat, put my hand in Dad’s, and walked down the street to spend an hour imitating Christ’s gift of Himself.

This year, let’s do more than celebrate Christ. Let’s honor Him by imitating the grace of His selfless and sacrificial love for us.

 

Wonderful Impossibilities

Wonderful Impossibilities

Photo Source: Rgbstock / Composition: Sue Chastain

“When God intends to make something wonderful he begins with a difficulty. When he intends to make something very wonderful, he begins with an impossibility.” 

– Former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Coggan

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” (Ephesians 3:20-21, NIV)

GOD CAN DO THE IMPOSSIBLE FOR YOU

The birth of Jesus was not just a difficulty; it was an impossibility. Mary was a virgin. Only God could breathe life into her womb. And just as God caused her to conceive the perfect, sinless Savior — fully God, fully human — he can accomplish through you, those things that seem impossible in your life.

The Greatest Christmas Gift

The Greatest Christmas Gift

Photo Source: Pixabay / Composition: Sue Chastain

“This is Christmas: not the tinsel, not the giving and receiving, not even the carols, but the humble heart that receives anew the wondrous gift, the Christ.”

– Frank McKibben

“But there is a great difference between Adam’s sin and God’s gracious gift. For the sin of this one man, Adam, brought death to many. But even greater is God’s wonderful grace and his gift of forgiveness to many through this other man, Jesus Christ. And the result of God’s gracious gift is very different from the result of that one man’s sin. For Adam’s sin led to condemnation, but God’s gift leads to our being made right with God … For the sin of this one man, Adam, caused death to rule over many. But even greater is God’s wonderful grace and his gift of righteousness, for all who receive it will live in triumph over sin and death through this one man, Jesus Christ.” (Romans 5:15-17, NLT)

JESUS CHRIST IS THE GREATEST GIFT

Each year we are reminded that Christmas should not be just about giving and receiving presents. Yet, if we honestly consider the heart of Christmas, it is, indeed, all about gift giving. At Christmas, we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, the greatest gift ever given, by the greatest gift-giver of all, our wonderful God and Father.

 

Worthy of Our Worship – Christmas Devotional – Dec. 20

From: Harvest Ministries

Worthy of Our Worship

“When they saw the star, they were filled with joy! They entered the house and saw the child with his mother, Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasure chests and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.” —Matthew 2:10–11

The wise men, these followers of the stars, met the Lord Jesus Christ who created the stars. They were occultists, yet God reached into their dark world with a star to bring them to their Creator.

Matthew’s gospel tells us, “They entered the house and saw the child with his mother, Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasure chests and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh” (2:11).

Everyone worships at Christmas. There are no exceptions to this. Christians worship. Atheists worship. Skeptics worship. Republicans worship. Democrats worship. Independents worship. Everyone worships at Christmas, but not everyone worships God at Christmas. Some worship material things, which they never seem to have enough of. Others worship their bodies. Others worship their families. But everyone worships something or someone.

The wise men worshiped Jesus. And what does it mean to worship? Our modern word worship comes from the old English word worthship. We worship the One who is worthy. A god of our own making isn’t worthy of our worship, but the true God is worthy of our praise.

Two words often are used in the Scriptures to define worship. One word means to bow down and do homage, which speaks of reverence and respect. The other means to kiss toward, which speaks of intimacy and friendship. So when we put these two words together, we get an idea of what worship actually is. To worship is to bow down and have reverence, and it is also to have tender intimacy.

Jesus was born, He died, and He rose from the dead so that you and I could come into a relationship with Him and become God’s adopted children. Simply put, we should worship the Lord because He deserves it—every day of the year.

God’s Love For You, Jesus Christ

Luke 1:39-45   (NIV)

Mary Visits Elizabeth

39 At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, 40 where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth.41 When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42 In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! 43 But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. 45 Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!”

Image result for pictures of mary and elizabeth of the BibleImage result for pictures of mary and elizabeth of the Bible
Image result for pictures of mary and elizabeth of the BibleImage result for pictures of mary and elizabeth of the Bible
Image result for pictures of mary and elizabeth of the BibleImage result for pictures of mary and elizabeth of the Bible
Image result for pictures of mary and elizabeth of the BibleImage result for pictures of mary and elizabeth of the Bible

 Extreme Measures

From: Our Daily Bread

Extreme Measures
Read: Luke 19:1–10 | Bible in a Year: Jonah 1–4; Revelation 10

The Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost. Luke 19:10

A few years ago, a friend of mine lost track of her young son while walking through a swarm of people at Union Station in Chicago. Needless to say, it was a terrifying experience. Frantically, she yelled his name and ran back up the escalator, retracing her steps in an effort to find her little boy. The minutes of separation seemed like hours, until suddenly—thankfully—her son emerged from the crowd and ran to the safety of her arms.

Thinking of my friend who would have done anything to find her child fills me with a renewed sense of gratitude for the amazing work God did to save us. From the time God’s first image-bearers—Adam and Eve—wandered off in sin, He lamented the loss of fellowship with His people. He went to great lengths to restore the relationship by sending His one and only Son “to seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:10). Without the birth of Jesus, and without His willingness to die to pay the price for our sin and to bring us to God, we would have nothing to celebrate at Christmastime.

So this Christmas, let’s be thankful that God took extreme measures by sending Jesus to reclaim our fellowship with Him. Although we once were lost, because of Jesus we have been found!

Heavenly Father, in the midst of all the joy of Christmas, remind me that the true meaning of this season lies in the depth of Your love. Thank You for sending Jesus to reclaim undeserving people like me!

Christmas is about God taking extreme measures to reclaim those who were lost.

His Name is Wonderful – Christmas Devotional – Dec. 15

From: Crosswalk.com

 

His Name is Wonderful

And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. 
Isaiah 9:6

Certain verses of Scripture leap to our minds as we draw close to Christmas. In the majestic titles of Jesus found in the prophecy of Isaiah 9:6, we find Him to be everything we need. We find Him not only the “reason for the season” but the name that should be on our lips every day as God puts us in touch with others over the Christmas holidays.

Who doesn’t need to know the Wonderful Counselor? Who doesn’t need to know this One who can offer advice when they are facing a difficult situation? This One who has the answers for their marriage and family dilemmas?

Who doesn’t need to know the Mighty God? You certainly know people who are dealing with a rebellious teenager or an aging parent or a sick child or an impossible job situation. When was the last time you told them how strong the arms of your God are? Perhaps you need to be reminded of how mighty God is by reading Isaiah 40.

Who doesn’t need to know the Eternal Father? Who doesn’t need the sense of hope that comes from knowing that—although we may suffer for a while—we have a God who dwells in eternity, which means that there is more to life than what we see around us?

Who doesn’t need to know the Prince of Peace? In a culture of road rage and long lines and short fuses, with strained relationships and simmering discontentment, who isn’t starving for deeper, more-lasting peace? Who doesn’t need to know why even the most desirable possessions and experiences leave them feeling unsatisfied? Who doesn’t need a peace that passes understanding? Who doesn’t need more of the Prince of Peace and His peace in their home?

This Christmas, be watching for people who need to know Jesus for who He is.

How Close You Can Get, and Miss it All – Christmas Devotional – Dec. 19

From: Crosswalk.com

How Close You Can Get, and Miss it All

The saddest story of Christmas is how those closest to Christ’s birth completely missed that first Christmas; and that tragedy has continued to this day. You can be so close and yet so far away!

The real purpose of Christmas was shown by God at Christ’s birth, God confronted the world with the only gift everyone really needs.

Christmas is about the gift no one seeks but everyone needs.

God so loved the world that He sent Jesus to save lost people from their sins.

God came to provide the only gift that everyone absolutely, critically needs—the substitutionary death of His Son, who came to meet our critical, eternal-life-threatening need prompted by our sins.

So the gift of Christmas is Christ’s work of salvation. That gift involves meeting the critical needs each of us have in our lost, sinful and fallen condition.

Today as we continue to see those elements of salvation that Christ’s birth has brought, we do so by asking the question, “How close can someone get to Christ and His gift of Christmas and not be saved?”

The answer is sadly that you can get very close. Missing Jesus and His salvation is seen most vividly in the story of Christmas. Those closest to the coming of Christ were most untouched by it! In both Luke and Matthew’s record we find that you can grow up in the shadow of God’s Temple, hear God’s Word every day of your life, meet the Wise men themselves, explain the Old Testament to them—and still miss everything, if it is not inside your heart and mind.

ACQUAINTANCE vs. KNOWLEDGE

Christmas is a time to remember that Jesus came to save us from sin and live within us. Beware of getting so close in every way—but in your heart, to Christ. Beware of being acquainted with Christ but never knowing Him. Webster’s Dictionary says that knowledge has three levels: recognitionacquaintance, and experience. Knowing Christ means a personal experience of His grace that leads us to partake of His salvation.

How close can you get to Jesus and still be too far away? That is what the religious leaders of Christ’s day demonstrate to us this Christmas. So close they got, and yet so far away they remained. It is possible to be as close as them, and yet miss all that Christ and Christmas have to offer.

Matthew 2 and Luke 1 introduce us the chief priests and scribes, with daily immersion in the Scriptures, endless hours of singing and serving, and constant exposure to all that God had left to point to Him and His salvation—they only held God’s Word externally—never in their wills and souls. God was only near in their mouths—and not in their hearts.

Christmas is a time to remember that Jesus came to save us from sin and live within us. Beware of getting so close in every way—but in your heart, to Christ. Beware of being acquainted with Christ but never knowing Him.

 

John’s Questions

From: Our Daily Journey

John’s Questions

Read:

Matthew 11:2-11
Are you the Messiah we’ve been expecting, or should we keep looking for someone else? (Matthew 11:3).

The wealthy and powerful often have their names chiseled into cornerstones of large buildings after a lavish donation in an attempt to leave their mark on history. Although philanthropy can be a good thing, the memory of those who gave will fade with the years.

John the Baptist was not wealthy, yet his name lives on in the pages of the Bible. Jesus said of him, “Of all who have ever lived, none is greater” (Matthew 11:11). That seems like the ultimate honor.

But consider the context of Jesus’ statement. John had been imprisoned for over a year at this point, and he had begun to question some things about Christ. So he sent some followers to ask Jesus, “Are you the Messiah we’ve been expecting, or should we keep looking for someone else?” (Matthew 11:3).

Jesus said, “Go back to John and tell him what you have heard and seen—the blind see, the lame walk, those with leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life, and the Good News is being preached to the poor” (Matthew 11:4-5).

Jesus’ words reassured John and his disciples, but the Lord didn’t rescue him. Instead, He continued teaching the people by quoting Malachi’s prophecy: “John is the man to whom the Scriptures refer when they say, ‘Look, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, and he will prepare your way before you’ ” (Matthew 11:10). The powerful prophet’s work had run its course.

Now consider Jesus’ conclusion to His statement about John: “Yet even the least person in the Kingdom of Heaven is greater than he is!” (Matthew 11:11).

Buildings crumble; trust funds get misspent; names and people are forgotten. But Jesus is doing something entirely new that will last forever—and He’s doing it with us.

Christ Is Our Hope

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.   Romans 15:13 

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.    Hebrews 11:1

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.1 Corinthians 13:13 

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.   Matthew 11:28 |

You are my refuge and my shield;
I have put my hope in your word.   Psalm 119:114 

” My hope is built on Jesus blood and righteousness.”   Belief In Jesus is a safe guarantee  of salvation.  John 3:16  ( Simposious)

Image result for pictures of hopeImage result for pictures of hope

Image result for pictures of hopeImage result for pictures of hope
Image result for pictures of hopeImage result for pictures of hope
Image result for picture of mangerImage result for picture of Christ of the cross

Everlasting Hope

From: Our Daily Bread

Everlasting Hope
Read: Psalm 146 | Bible in a Year: Obadiah; Revelation 9

Blessed are those whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord their God. Psalm 146:5

The week before Christmas, two months after my mom died, holiday shopping and decorating sat at the bottom of my priority list. I resisted my husband’s attempts to comfort me as I grieved the loss of our family’s faith-filled matriarch. I sulked as our son, Xavier, stretched and stapled strands of Christmas lights onto the inside walls of our home. Without a word, he plugged in the cord before he and his dad left for work.

As the colorful bulbs blinked, God gently drew me out of my darkness. No matter how painful the circumstances, my hope remained secure in the light of God’s truth, which always reveals His unchanging character.

Psalm 146 affirms what God reminded me on that difficult morning: My endless “hope is in the Lord,” my helper, my mighty and merciful God (v. 5). As Creator of all, He “remains faithful forever” (v. 6). He “upholds the cause of the oppressed,” protecting us and providing for us (v. 7). “The Lord lifts up those who are bowed down” (v. 8). He “watches over” us, “sustains” us, and will always be King (vv. 9–10).

Sometimes, when Christmas rolls around, our days will overflow with joyful moments. Sometimes, we’ll face loss, experience hurt, or feel alone. But at all times, God promises to be our light in the darkness, offering us tangible help and everlasting hope.

Father God, thanks for inviting us to know and rely on Your unchanging character as the source of our eternal hope.

God secures our hope in His unchanging character.

 

A Second Chance

From: Our Daily Journey

A Second Chance

Read:

John 3:1-17
God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him (John 3:17).

In an annual custom dating back to Medieval England, the mayor of the town of High Wycombe attends a weighing-in ceremony where residents witness whether their representative has been getting fat on taxpayers’ money. If the mayor has remained the same weight or has lost weight, the crowd cheers; but if he has put on weight, the crowd jeers at his obvious “overindulgence” throughout the year. In times past, the crowd would go so far as to pelt the offending mayor with rotten tomatoes and fruit.

How would you stand up under public scrutiny? Would the crowds cheer your efforts throughout the year, or would they jeer at how you’ve squandered your resources?

Most of us wouldn’t measure up to the judgments of others, and all of us have fallen short of God’s standard (Romans 3:23). Sin keeps us separated from Him and leaves us spiritually dead, with no hope of entering “the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit” (John 3:5).

By His grace, however, and through faith in Him and His gift to us, we can stand blameless and confident before God (Ephesians 2:8-9). For “He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him” (John 3:16-17).

As we reflect on how we’ve lived and what we’ve done throughout this year, may we not become disheartened by our failings but rather be encouraged in the knowledge that the birth of Jesus points to the hope we have in the God of second chances. Truly “the faithful love of the Lord never ends! . . . His mercies begin afresh each morning” (Lamentations 3:22-23).

 

Multi-Tasking Prayer

By: Melissa Spoelstra. Author

woman-praying-distractions_si.jpg

I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. ~ Ephesians 3:16-19

A few weeks ago I found myself with some extra time. I had a few hours before I was scheduled to speak at an event in another city. Because I was in a hotel room, there was no laundry to do, errands to run, or chores to complete. I remember thinking how it would be great to spend some time in prayer. While I had dialogued with the Lord here and there, it had been a while since I had taken a chunk of time to spend dedicated to prayer. I piddled around the room, straightening things from my suitcase, and finally settled in on my knees. I felt distracted and wondered if I should answer emails since I had the benefit of Wi-Fi. After all, I could pray on the plane, but I couldn’t work on my laptop. My internal conversation revealed a battle against the discipline of prayer.

Thankfully I talked to myself instead of listening to myself. Even though my flesh didn’t want to pray, I knew my spirit desperately needed some focused time in God’s presence. I began praising God. I confessed sin and thanked Him for so many blessings in my life. Then I poured out my heart with personal requests as well as things for my family, friends, and the long list of concerns written in my journal. The closeness I felt with Jesus as I sat quietly and listened was priceless. There is an intimacy with Christ that only intentional prayer can bring.

So why do I fight spending time in prayer? Why don’t I want to do it? Why do other things seem to crowd out prayer so often? Every time I actually take the time to pray, I am blessed and so glad I did it. I can never remember regretting time spent with the Lord in prayer.

Is there any chance that you struggle alongside me? I’ve met many people who share my struggle to be disciplined in prayer. God tells us to pray. Jesus modeled it in His own life and even taught us in the Gospels how to do it. If I must battle how to spend the time when I’m alone with no distractions, the busy flow of the holidays only compounds the opposition to taking time to pray. Because of this, we must fight to make the time and attention to pray during the Christmas season.

Of course, we don’t have to be alone or on our knees to pray. We can talk to God while driving in the car, exercising, baking cookies, or really doing anything. However, there is a difference in the intensity of focus when we are multitasking and praying. I’d rather pray while doing other things than not pray at all, but I think we should persevere in finding some time to be still in prayer.

Jesus went out to a remote place to pray. Where is a quiet place where you could meet Jesus alone during the holiday season? In the movie War Room, the main character used a closet as a special place to meet with Jesus. Honestly, my living room rug is the location where I most frequently find myself on my knees or on my face with the Lord. As you reflect upon your prayer life, where do you pray most often? The place isn’t as important as the ritual itself, but having a special location to meet with Jesus can serve as a prayer reminder.

This holiday season, consider choosing a new location in your home for prayer. Is there a special chair, a closet, or a window seat that could be a place to celebrate the Savior’s birth in prayer? After you’ve selected a location, next you’ll need to set a time. We aren’t talking about carving out an hour each day. Maybe start with only five or ten minutes. By making the goal manageable, you’ll be more likely to keep the appointment. What if you set your alarm for ten minutes earlier and shared your morning coffee with Jesus? Perhaps you’re a night owl, and before you turn in at night, you’ll stop at your special location to praise, confess, thank, and ask!

Prayer is one of our most powerful ways to stay close to Jesus, and yet it is often neglected during the very holidays we set aside to remember His birth. As you think about one or two small changes you can make in your prayer life this season, consider these verses in Scripture regarding prayer: “The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results” (James 5:16). “Never stop praying” (1 Thessalonians 5:17).

Lord, I love talking and listening to You in prayer, but sometimes I struggle to be disciplined in it. Help me to make time with You a priority. Teach me to pray. As I celebrate Your birth this month, I long to know You more. Show me where I can meet with You in a special place. Give me the discernment to see which time of day would be best to be still in Your presence. Help me to be dedicated in meeting You there. Lord, I want to know You and be a prayer warrior for others as well! In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.