Editor’s note: It’s the first day of Advent and the start of something new! The Jesus Over Everything by Lisa Whittle is our brand-new community Online Bible Study starting tomorrow, November 30th and you do not want to miss it! Oh, do we need this study now more than ever! I need Jesus to be my #1 in this season, to put Him in His rightful place: First. Over everything. How about you?
You’re going to love Lisa Whittle’s writing and Bible teaching… she’s funny yet convicting, real and honest! Here she is with a special Advent message for us and learn more about accessing the Jesus Over Everything free videos and downloads when you sign up here! ~ Laurie McClure, editor at Devotionals Daily (and OBS Leader!)
Happy Advent season to you. I want to share with you for a few minutes a message God has put on my heart.
I was talking with someone the other day and I asked her how she was, and she said to me, “the holidays are historically a difficult season for me,” and I know that’s true. The holidays are often difficult for a lot of people.
And even more so, this holiday season is tough for people I know. We’ve all been quite worn down from a difficult 2020.
But here’s what I want you to know.
It is a strategy of the enemy – who we know is real – to keep us in a state of discouragement, disarray and complication.
It says in John 10:10,
Satan comes to steal, kill and destroy.
Those are his goals.
What does he come to steal, kill and destroy? The physical body? That also may be true but maybe even more so I believe he comes to steal, kill and destroy our hope, our mental health, and our sense of peace. And, he’s tried to do that in a big way this past year, hasn’t he?
But. In that very same verse, Jesus reminds us of the solution that is found in one source — Him. In John 10:10, He says,
I came that they may have life and have it more abundantly.
I believe He added that last part, the word “abundantly,” so we would know it isn’t just about existing. It is about a good life. A life lived in fullness, even in the midst of deep difficulty.
You may say yes, Lisa I’m on board with this idea. But I just can’t seem to get there. I understand. I’ve often said, “the struggle is real but so is the help of God.” Jesus is ready to help us. But we have to do our part. He has to be in charge of our lives. In the #1 priority spot, in order to make our lives work right. It’s the only way it can.
His arrival. The birth of Jesus thousands of years ago was for THIS moment right now. He came for 2020 and 2021.
The hope who will not disappoint. According to Romans 5:5, Jesus is OUR only hope right now and forevermore.
Friend, there is a battle going on for you right now. Satan wants to keep you hopeless. He wants to keep you unsettled and your life complicated because if you stay there, you stay ineffective for the Kingdom of God. You stay worried. You stay without meaning or peace.
Jesus fights for and with you to believe and trust – but today He’s asking to have that seat of authority in your life that He deserves. That is how you will be able to do this because the priority of Jesus brings order to the chaos of our lives. It’s a job only He is big enough to do.
That is why I so want to invite you to join me for the Jesus Over Everything study with the community here at FaithGateway. It gets started tomorrow, and it’s not too late for you to jump right in for the Advent-to-New-Year 2021 season. The study isn’t a traditional Christmas study, but it will help you get things in order to fight your anxiety and hopelessness and take your life back.
That Baby born in a manger was and is our hope. He hasn’t lost a bit of power. We just need to give the power in our lives back to Him.
As you journey through this season and into the new year, I hope you’ll remember the power of some of my favorite verses – In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God, and the word was God. In him was life and life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.
Amen and amen. Jesus over everything. He is the great light of this world – our light – until the end.
As we light our candles for advent, I invite you to join me in asking Jesus to be first, be #1 in our lives. Jesus over everything.
Sowing Faith Seeds
And I will make every effort to see that after my departure you will always be able to remember these things. 2 Peter 1:15
If Wall Street measured spiritual wealth, my childhood portfolio was a bust.
Unlike many of my friends who were second, third, or even fourth generation Christians, I wasn’t reared in a spiritual home. Santa sat right next to baby Jesus on the Christmas mantle. Our church attendance was spotty. And no one ever explained how Jesus fit into my Easter basket with the chocolate eggs and jelly beans.
But as I look back on my early years, there were a few deposits in my spiritual bank account.
One day my dad sketched the story of Noah and the flood. The story and stick figure drawings fascinated me. I’d never heard the story before. I had no idea it was true, nor that it came from the Bible.
When I was six, I attended Vacation Bible School with a friend. A week later the minister and two blue-haired ladies presented me with a black King James Version Bible. On the inside someone had neatly inscribed my name and written a verse—John 3:16.
I thought of my paltry nest egg of spiritual assets when I read 2 Peter 1:12-15.
God had revealed to Peter that his death was imminent. The bold apostle had survived much persecution for his faith, but now the day of his departure was at hand. As many do when they know their lives are ending, Peter wanted to leave a legacy for his children—an inheritance to ensure their future success.
But unlike many who bequeathed houses, businesses, and land, Peter wasn’t concerned with leaving a financial legacy. He wanted to leave a spiritual legacy.
I want to leave a spiritual legacy for my children too. I want to make every effort for my children (both biological and spiritual) to remember the truths I based my life on. Whether or not we have children of our own, we should all be investing in and discipling someone younger than us. Especially young believers who didn’t grow up in a Christian home.
How do we disciple others? Here are a few ideas:
Memorize Scripture and teach it to others. When we hide God’s Word in our hearts, He promises it will always accomplish the purpose He has for it.
Personalize a One Year Bible for someone. As you read through the Bible, write notes, insights, and prayers in the margins. Claim promises in prayer for them and note the date you prayed.
When you reach the end of the Bible, present it on a special occasion (birthday, graduation, marriage) as a gift. I gave a Bible to each of my daughters on their sixteenth birthdays.
Live a life of integrity and authenticity. You don’t have to be perfect—only Jesus never sinned—but you do have to be humble and transparent. If you sin, confess it, repent of it, and ask whomever you sinned against to forgive you.
Keep a journal. Like the apostle Peter, write down meaningful Bible verses, truths you’ve learned about God, and answers to prayers. Write prayers for your loved ones, recording promises and the hope God gives you. Compose psalms of praise.
When Peter died, he left behind a legacy of Scripture, wise counsel, faith, and authenticity that has influenced countless generations. We can do the same.
Saying “Yes” to God
by Debbie Holloway, crosswalk.com
It seems like every day one hears about all kinds of troubling behavior from people who ought to know better. A family friend leaves his wife and children for his secretary. A pastor resigns from his parish after his drug addiction is discovered. A CEO is caught with his hands on company money. We see it in the news. We hear about it from friends. It invades our households. Destructive, self-centered, sin. And so often the guilty party seems completely blind to his error, or unable to fathom how he ever made such a huge mistake.
As a recent member of what most would consider the “adult” world, I have often pondered how seemingly well-adjusted, often God-fearing members of society can justify such actions in their minds. In fact, in my more panicky moments, I have had a fear of suddenly lapsing into some dreaded sin myself – like these perfectly capable people I see all around me.
After all, does my righteousness exceed that of the Pharisees? How can I claim to have more wisdom than my parents or my pastor? Do I know more about the world than my professors? Could I possibly have a better understanding of morals and truth than my government leaders? If I watch them stumble into seemingly obvious moral blunders, how could I possibly escape the same fate?
After recently confiding this dread to a loved one, I was reminded that drastic sin or extreme lifestyle choices don’t just appear out of nowhere. Adultery doesn’t just happen. Divorce doesn’t just happen. Heartless slander and libel don’t just happen. Sin must begin as a small seed, creep in, take root, and grow. We can choose to feed it …or starve it.
The hard part is that often our sin nature is just as appealing as the prompting of Holy Spirit. Far too often we know right away what the godly course of action would be. Humility. Purity. Hard work. Compassion. Faithfulness. But we still get tired, exasperated, lustful, and proud. So we start making decisions which violate our consciences. Tiny decisions that seem meaningless. But those tiny choices grow and grow. Eventually, our life becomes a messy sin explosion and we cry out, “Where did I lose control?”
The comforting part is that it’s a process. I won’t wake up one morning and all of a sudden think it’s totally OK to steal someone’s car or send nasty, gossipy emails about people I don’t like. 1 John 1:7 says that,
“If we walk in the light, as [God] is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
If I say “yes” to God when he shows me how I can remain faithful to him in my lifestyle, in the little things, that will strengthen me to say “no” to life-wrecking choices.