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Friday, December 14, 2018

The Christmas Song

Isaiah 57:15 (ESV)
For thus says the One who is high and lifted up,
    who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy:
“I dwell in the high and holy place,
    and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit,
to revive the spirit of the lowly,
    and to revive the heart of the contrite.

Chestnuts roasting on an open fire,
Jack Frost nipping at your nose,
Yuletide carols being sung by a choir,
And folks dressed up like Eskimos.

If there’s one song that has the “Christmas Spirit” it’s this one. It makes us think of a scene from a Norman Rockwell painting. Or maybe we imagine carolers coming to our doors while we offer them some tasty, apple cider fresh off the stove. We attend parties at friends’ houses and services at church. Let’s not forget about being all bundled up on Christmas morning with our families while the most beautiful snowflakes fall to the ground.

And then in the midst of our Christmas illusions, our children storm into the room yelling “Mom!” or “Dad!” because someone hit them, or because one of them use the other’s pellet gun without asking, or because one of the neighbors took their basketball away, or because they fell off the zip line. Oh, for the love of all that is good and right in the world, can we not stay in our little piece of Christmas paradise just a tad bit longer?

That’s life, isn’t it? No matter how perfect we try to paint the canvas of our lives, there will always be something extra put on it that wasn’t in our minds when we dreamed it. Something that cramps our perfect picture. Something that breaks our heart.

A relationship that ended.
A loved one who died prematurely.
The betrayal of a friend.

God isn’t surprised by the interruptions in our lives? In fact, nothing surprises Him. Don’t mistake bad things happening in your life as His loss of control. No, this is not about His ability but about His sovereignty.

While we may wish that bad things would never happen in our lives, they will happen. Jesus said we’d have trouble (John 16:33), but He also promised that He’d calm us in the midst of it (John 14:16). So, no matter where we are in life, whether we expected to be on the path we are on or not, rest assured, that our God can make broken things beautiful.

Friends, we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who’ve been called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28). Press on and trust in the One who will never let you down.

How have you seen God in control in the midst of life’s interruptions?

Dear Lord, we thank You that even in the disasters around us we can rest in the fact that You are in control and weren’t surprised by the situations that we are going through.  In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Still, Still, Still

Psalm 46:10 (ESV)

“Be still, and know that I am God.
    I will be exalted among the nations,
    I will be exalted in the earth!”

Still, still, still, One can hear the falling snow.
For all is hushed, The world is sleeping
Holy Star its vigil keeping
Still, still, still, One can hear the falling snow.

Still, still, still… These words do not seem to have a place in the hustle and bustle of a busy life, especially at Christmas time. Parties, presents, and projects usually have us in a frantic frenzy as we rush from one event to the next. Often, before we know it, Christmas day has come and gone. Only then do we realize that, despite our good intentions, we never experienced the peace that comes from truly relishing in God’s amazing love for us.

Isn’t it interesting that God commands us to “Be still”? Do you think it’s because He knows we sometimes have a hard time doing it on our own?

What happens when we actually take time to be still? The answer lies in Psalm 46:10…”Be still and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth”. When you are still before God, you better understand that whatever you are facing, whatever your day has been like, you can completely rest in the fact that God is God. He’s awesome and amazing and sovereign. He loves us more than we can imagine and He’s got things under control.

Spend time today purposely pursuing stillness in different moments. Perhaps you could wrap up in a blanket & head outside for a peek at the stars, wondering what that holy star looked like, the one that signaled Christ’s birth many years ago. Maybe take a minute to watch your young child sleep and wonder as you gaze at that sweet face, what Mary and Joseph thought of their newborn son. Open your Bible, read a favorite Scripture…then sit and wait.

What truths resonate in your soul about Christ as you take time to be still before Him?

Dear Lord, help is to be still and listen for Your voice. Thank You so many years ago for coming to Earth to show us the way. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Hark! The Herald Angels Sing

1 Peter 1:3 (ESV)
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.

Mild He lays His glory by;
Born that man no more may die.
Born to raise the sons of earth;
Born to give them second birth.

It’s fun to look at a tiny baby and imagine what he will grow up to become. It could be anything – a pilot, a policeman, a chef, an astronaut, a pastor, or a million other options. The future is wide open and full of possibilities.

Jesus was born with one purpose. As it says in the carol, he was “born that man no more may die.” His birth was all about our new birth. In 1 Peter 1:3, Peter praises God for the “new birth into a living hope” – and all that is possible because Jesus laid aside his glory and offered Himself in our place, taking the punishment of death we deserved for our sins. His death and resurrection gives us new life. As you go about your business and your busyness of the season, intentionally take a few moments to slow down and remember that Jesus was born to give YOU a second birth. What a reason to praise Him!

Who in your life doesn’t yet realize the true reason for Jesus’ birth? What will you do to share it with them?

Dear Lord, open our eyes this Christmas Season to those around us. Help us to share the true meaning of Christmas with them. I the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

I'll Be Home For Christmas

Philippians 3:20 (ESV)
But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Christmas Eve will find me
Where the love light gleams
I’ll be home for Christmas
If only in my dreams

The term home is simply defined as this: Where one resides; a familiar setting; a place of origin. Where’s our home?

Our home is the place where we spent most of our years growing up and making memories. It’s where we took our first steps. It’s where we learned to drive a car. It’s where we had our first crush. It’s the place where we graduated high school and college and maybe even met our spouse. A place where we’ve grown into the people we are now. Home for us is where we feel at ease with those we love the most. It’s the place where we can be ourselves and not worry about the world outside.

Or is it? According to Webster, our home is where we reside, it’s our place of origin, our familiar setting. But according to the 1 Peter 2:11, our home isn’t in this world:

"Friends, this world is not your home, so don’t make yourselves cozy in it. Don’t indulge your ego at the expense of your soul."

There is nothing wrong with enjoying places on earth. We have wonderful memories and experiences in different places throughout our lives. But we weren’t meant to be 100% at home here. Our home is with our Jesus in Heaven. Until He says it’s time to be with Him, we’ll stay here. And as much as we love our earthly homes, we’ll never be fully satisfied. Think of what songwriter Laura Story says in her famous song, Blessings:

"What if my greatest disappointments or the aching in this life is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can’t satisfy."

Only Christ can satisfy. Only His presence and peace can bring us pure, unadulterated joy. Only His comfort can truly take us off the ledge of disappointment and disaster. One day we will truly be home with Him. Not just for Christmas but for eternity.

And what a day of rejoicing that will be.

How can you allow Christ to satisfy you and to fulfill your every need this Christmas season, instead of relying on what the world can give?

Dear Lord, thank You that You can satisfy our needs. Thank You for Your presence and the peace it can bring us. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Monday, December 10, 2018

Do You Hear What I Hear

Mark 16:15-16 (ESV)
15 And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. 16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.

Said the little lamb to the shepherd boy
Do you hear what I hear?
Ringing thru the sky, shepherd boy
Do you hear what I hear?

Over 2000 years ago, the Savior of the world was born. Have you ever stopped to think about how people found out about His birth? After all there was no Facebook and no cell phones.  The song “Do You Hear What I Hear?” gives us an example of how the news of His birth might have spread.

The song starts with the Holy Spirit asking the lamb, “Do you see what I see?” The Lamb then goes to the shepherd and asks, “Do you hear what I hear?” The Shepherd immediately goes to the King and asks “Do you know what I know?” When they shared what God had told them, an entire nation heard about the birth of their Savior, Jesus, and what His birth meant for the entire world.

Here’s the great news: this too is our calling as followers of Christ - to share with others what we have been told! God reveals Himself to all of us in different ways, depending on our personalities and gifts. For some, He shows us visible things about Himself, like a star in the sky. Others may grow closer to Him best through reading scriptures, some through singing praises to Him. The question is what are we doing with what God gives us? We have to realize that God will use us to bring people to Him through what He has revealed to us individually.

In this song, God chose a shepherd boy’s voice to tell others about what he had heard and, as a result, an entire nation heard about Jesus’ birth. What about today? If we want people to know about a Savior that has been born, we have to take the time to share with others what He is revealing to us. Lives are changed when we tell the people in our lives what God has shown and done for us.

What has God shown or told you lately that you should be sharing with others?

Dear Lord, help us to take what we have heard and know and share it with others. We pray lives will be changed because of what we share. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Ding Dong! Merrily On High

1 Kings 19:11-12 (ESV)
11 And he said, “Go out and stand on the mount before the Lord.” And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. 12 And after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper.

Ding dong! Merrily on high
In heav’n the bells are ringing:
Ding dong! Verily the sky
Is riv’n with Angel singing.

We have so many bells and chimes and rings in our lives. Whether the microwave is letting us know that the “homemade” chicken nuggets are ready, or our car is beeping to tell us that our seatbelt is unbuckled, or that super annoying “Aaaeee! Aaaeee! Aaaeee!” coming from our alarm clock is piercing through the dark bedroom to jolt us from our slumber; our lives are surrounded by noises and alarms. These alarms can mean so many different things.

From this classic, beautiful Christmas carol we are drawn a picture of the celebrating chimes from heaven. It’s almost as if the author of this song is describing the way we might hear a call from heaven. In several different passages, scripture describes how someone heard from God. In some instances, it was a booming sound like thunder and in others a still, small voice.

Have you ever heard that gentle whisper calling you like Elijah heard in 1 Kings 19:12? God can call us in many different ways. But what he calls each of us to is unique. He may be calling you to minister to a friend going through a tough holiday season. He may be calling you to a new profession. God can use medical doctors to serve those who cannot afford treatment, contractors to build a school in a poverty stricken country, or a lawn care worker to cut the grass of an elderly widow in the neighborhood. Whatever your talent might be, God can use it to bless others. The important thing is for you to listen to His voice, just like the beautiful chimes from heaven. He is calling you to be a light in someone’s life this Christmas.

So, go ahead and hit that snooze on your alarm clock, but answer the call of the Father on your life.

What is God calling you to do for someone else this Christmas season?

Dear Lord, help us to answer the call to help someone in need not only this Christmas Season but throughout the year. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Away In A Manger

Luke 2:6-7 (ESV)

6 And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. 7 And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

Away in a manger, no crib for His bed;
The little Lord Jesus laid down His sweet head

The King of Kings and Lord of Lords is born in a manger with not so much as a bed to lie on. The humble beginnings of our Lord’s life remind us that we are to be humble and thankful for what we have been blessed with. The true meaning of Christmas is reflected so poetically in the story of Jesus’ birth that we cannot help but find ourselves grateful for all that was given to us on that day.

The song describes how even when Jesus wakes, he does not cry out or make a sound. This day was a day of rejoicing, and the baby lying awake on the hay was no ordinary child, He was the Savior of men! The last verse of the song asks the Lord to stay beside us, to lead us, and to eventually take us to Heaven to live with Him. How often is that our prayer? Stay beside me Lord as I make my way through this earthly life.

How glorious and beautiful is the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ. We celebrate His birth and the life that was given to us by Him through His life, death, and resurrection.

Why do you think God chose for his son to be born in a manger instead of a birth fitting of royalty?

Dear Lord, we ask You today to stay beside us as we make our way through this earthly life. In the Name of Jesus, Amen. 

Friday, December 7, 2018

O Come, O Come Emmanuel

Matthew 1:23 (ESV)
“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
    and they shall call his name Immanuel”

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel,
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

Time after time, the Israelites found themselves separated from God - always by their own doing. And God would eventually deliver them, only to be betrayed by His chosen people again. So we find two constant themes in the Old Testament:

The Israelites, no matter how hard they tried, were unfaithful God.
God remained faithful and fulfilled the promises He made to them.

Through His prophets, God made many promises. Isaiah 7:14 says, “Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and you shall call his name Emmanuel.” The name Emmanuel translates as “God with us.” It’s a remarkable promise - the Ultimate Being and Creator of the Universe promising to make Himself physically present with the people who have proven themselves unworthy.

In one of the most somber Christmas songs, “O Come, O Come Emmanuel”, there is an embraced tension within Israel. They are in exile, separated from God yet again. With a sober perspective, they choose to rejoice in the promise God has made to them. With nothing else to cling to, in the midst of desperation and loneliness, they recall and proclaim the promise that God would be with them - knowing that, in spite of their unfaithfulness, God is faithful to His promises.

No one could have expected a baby in a manger to be the start of God’s perfect plan to be “with us.” And yet, that is exactly how God fulfilled His promise.

Are you waiting for God to come through on a promise He has made? Do you feel a sense of loneliness or exile? Rejoice! Rejoice! Through Christ, God has made Himself present to us. His faithfulness is greater than our failure. And His presence is all the reason we need to, once more, rejoice!

Since God is “Emmanuel,” how is God with you this Christmas season?

Dear Lord, help us to be faithful to You in the things that we do. We thank You that You are faithful and always there even when we fail. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Mary Did You Know

Luke 1:38 (ESV)
And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant[a] of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.

Mary, did you know that your Baby Boy would one day walk on water?
Mary, did you know that your Baby Boy would save our sons and daughters?
Did you know that your Baby Boy has come to make you new?
This Child that you delivered will soon deliver you.

Mary, Did You Know? Is one of my favorite Christmas songs.

This touching song has been played for well over three decades during the Christmas season. The lyrics are beautifully written and contain powerful phrases like, “Mary did you know that your baby boy will calm a storm with his hand…” and, “This child that you’ve delivered, will soon deliver you.” It’s a stirring line of questions asked by the songwriter that cause listeners to stand in amazement at the power of our God.

We really don’t know much about Mary except that she was a virgin and probably in her early teens. According to Luke 1:28, we know that she was “highly favored” and that “the Lord was with her.” Even without a stunning resume, God used her. Sweet, little Mary who kept to herself and wasn’t a big “playmaker” was invited by the Creator of the universe to change the world.

Many think the reason He chose her was because of her willingness. Upon hearing God’s plan for her life, Mary responded, “I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true.” (Luke 1:38)

Mary simply said yes to her Lord with no conditions whatsoever.

Where are you in your life right now? How much of “you” have you truly surrendered? Are you living the truth that “your life is not your own” and that you’ve been “brought with a price”? Is there something that you are missing out on because you won’t let Him lead?

We have a Messiah. His name is Jesus. He is the Savior of the world. He walked on water without a single bit of effort. He came and died to make us new. He gave sight to a blind man with some dirt and saliva. He woke up from a deep sleep and calmed a raging storm with his human hand. He fed over 5,000 people with a tiny bit of bread and fish. He does the miraculous.

And He has amazing plans for your life.

What have you not surrendered to God?

What is keeping you from doing so?

Dear Lord, help us to say yes to You like Mary with no conditions. Help us to surrender to You the things that are keeping us from You. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

It Came Upon A Midnight Clear

Revelation 21:3-4 (ESV)
3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. 4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

When the new heaven and earth shall own the Prince of Peace, their King,  And the whole world send back the song which now the angels sing.

When the angels first sang about peace on earth and goodwill to all men, the shepherds must have wondered what was going on. They certainly didn’t hear angelic choirs everyday, and first century Palestine was hardly a peaceful place. The streets buzzed with rumors of revolution and the tension often boiled over into violence. Society was split along lines of gender, race, wealth, and religion. The shepherds themselves were only a few rungs above beggars on the social ladder. For some of us, Christmas itself is a time to be with friends and family, but for others it reminds us that we are alone or separated from loved ones. Two thousand years later, we seem to be as far as ever from “heaven on earth.”

Many people in the first century were expecting a quick fix for the world’s problems, and of course that didn’t happen. It still hasn’t happened. But Christmas reminds us of God’s promise to bring in a kingdom where wars, injustice, and even death will be a thing of the past, and where we will live together with God. That’s our hope. God does have a plan. The best really is to come.

In the meantime, God continues to show His love to us in so many ways. He provides for our needs. He answers our prayers. He invites us to start living today like citizens of the kingdom that has not yet been fully revealed. We can love one another as Christ loved us here and now. We can show His compassion and His unconditional love to others today. We can experience a foretaste of the new Heaven and earth right now. We can share that experience with others. And we can do all this in the knowledge that God’s Kingdom will prevail and that the whole of creation will one day see the truth that those shepherds heard on a remote, Palestinian hillside.

What one thing could you change to give those around you a foretaste of God’s Kingdom of peace?

Dear Lord, help us to show Your compassion and His unconditional love to others today and this Christmas Season. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day

Psalm 29:11 (ESV)
May the Lord give strength to his people!
    May the Lord bless his people with peace!

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor doth he sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail,
With peace on earth, good will to men.”

Who is God to you? Is he your protector? Your provider? This Christmas Season, have you allowed Him to be your peace?

It can be easy to view God simply as a friend to go to in times of trouble or a magic genie that grants all of your prayers. But God is so much more than that, and the blessings He wants to give to you are endless! He offers so many wonderful things—completely free of charge–including hope, joy, and peace for your heart. God wants nothing but the best for you.

Although your circumstances may be difficult, or hard to understand at times, that doesn’t mean that God isn’t there. He cares about you, loves you with a perfect love, and is waiting for you to let Him be your peace. So this Christmas, as you think about all the gifts you need to buy, and your never-ending to-do list, don’t forget to stop and remember that only God can provide you with the unwavering quiet strength that comes from His peace.

In what ways do you find peace and comfort in God?

What difficult circumstances are you currently dealing with that you need God’s peace to help you endure?

Dear Lord, help us this Christmas Season remember that only You can provide us with the unwavering quiet strength that comes from Your peace. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Monday, December 3, 2018

Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas

Luke 10:41-42 (ESV)
41 But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, 42 but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”

Have yourself a merry little Christmas, Let your heart be light.
From now on, our troubles will be out of sight.

Christmas can seem like a rat race at times. There is all of the hectic last-minute shopping at crowded malls, struggling to find the perfect gift for someone, the decorating of the house (including checking every single bulb on the strand of lights to find the one at the very end that shorted out the rest), wrapping present after present after present, or preparing for your extended family take over your house for the day. It is easy to get lost in the busyness of Christmas, and to miss the things that are really important.

We see this happen in the book of Luke, when Jesus went to eat in the home of two sisters, Mary and Martha. Martha spent her time running around cooking, serving dinner, and cleaning. These were all very good things, but “busy” things. Meanwhile, Mary sat in the company of Jesus. When Martha asked Jesus to tell her to work too, He told her, “Mary has chosen what is better.”

Jesus is trying to tell us to live in the moment. It is great that you are willing to be like Martha, and make sure that all of the popcorn is strung up, but it is not worth missing the opportunity to have a real conversation with a family member you don’t see often, or when your child’s face lights up because Santa indeed got that letter and delivered exactly what they asked for. It is not about all that we have to do, the list of things we have check off, but it is all about the moment.

This year, don’t miss out on what is better. Take the opportunity to enjoy the time you have with friends and family. Take time not to worry about the things you have to do, but to enjoy the people you get to be with. Be present where you are, because that is what is better, and have yourself a merry little Christmas.

What are some things you need to take off the list to make yourself become more like Mary?

What are the better things that you will choose to be a part of this Christmas?

Dear Lord, help us to slow down and take the opportunity to enjoy the time we have with friends and family. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Angels We Have Heard On High

Luke 2:14 (ESV)
 “Glory to God in the highest,
    and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

Angels we have on heard high
Sweetly singing o’er the plains
And the mountains in reply
Echoing their joyous strains
Gloria in Excelsis Deo

What inspires awe in you? What things cause you to become speechless when you see them? Is it the sight of a family member you haven’t seen in years? Is it visiting a majestic place like a mountain or a historical place like the ancient pyramids of Egypt? The night Christ was born was the most monumental and awe-inspiring event that has ever occurred in human history, as God sent His one and only Son to earth so that we could ultimately have eternal life. There has not been an event in history before or after Christ’s birth that resulted in such celebration that the angels themselves made their physical presence known and their voices heard in song. Can you imagine how the shepherds’ jaws must have dropped at the sight and sounds of the angels? That moment was so majestic that we probably cannot fully comprehend what it was like because honestly, none of us have encountered such a sight.

It seems like people tend to have fewer experiences these days of complete awe. Technology has brought so much of the world to our living rooms and fingertips that we can see anything we want and feel like we are anywhere we want to be. Unfortunately, most of us probably have fewer awe-inspiring moments with God than we should. Our relationship with Him often becomes too comfortable and even ordinary. This Christmas, make an attempt to regain those awe-inspiring moments with God. Strive to make your relationship with Him something so inspiring that it causes you to rejoice like the angels did. Don’t let your relationship with Him be ordinary, but rather make it extraordinary.
Think about some awe-inspiring moments you’ve had with God. How have these moments transformed you?

What changes do you need to make in your life so that you can start having more awe-inspiring moments with God?

Dear Lord, help us to regain those awe-inspiring moments with You this Christmas.  Help us to slow down and enjoy what You do for us. In the Name of Jesus, Amen. 

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Joy To The World

Psalm 47:1 (ESV)
Clap your hands, all peoples!
    Shout to God with loud songs of joy!

Joy to the World, the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King.

Isaac Watts wrote “Joy to the World” in 1719. Since then, every Christmas season, carolers cast those words into the air like a lifeline out into the ocean of humanity. And every “fish” surely finds something inviting and worth nibbling. The thrill of hope within the message spools out to touch a weary world with anticipation of tasting something truly good!

Joy came to the world because God, our great Creator, loved His creation so much that He sent His Son to reveal His story, so that over time, His character and ultimate good will toward mankind would be recognized. The impact on earth of Christ’s birth will never diminish despite enemies’ attempts to stop it. John 21:25 says that the world would not be able to contain the books that could be written about what the Lord did while on earth. Since then many more testimonies of His transforming love have been and will be written.

Nehemiah 8 records that Nehemiah, the leaders, and the people celebrated the Feast of Tabernacles with great joy, after sharing God’s Word. This season, we too can rejoice! We rejoice at the thought of the Savior’s birth, His purpose, and His inheritance.

What will you rejoice about during this Christmas season?

Dear Lord, help us to look at the things around us and rejoice. Give us the opportunity to share Your joy with those around us. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Friday, November 30, 2018

Right Now

Psalm 118:24 (ESV)
This is the day that the Lord has made;
    let us rejoice and be glad in it.

Imagine waking up tomorrow not slapping the snooze button but awakening—mind, heart, and soul—to possibility. Something better. Something more.

You open your eyes, and before your feet hit the ground running, you pause. You choose not to allow what really matters to get swallowed up by the daily grind, and not to ignore what you really want out of life.

This is the day that God has made. This day. Right now. Whatever moment you are breathing in, God made this day. Even when times are tough, something about this day is good.

This is the day to live without fear of the unknown, without being chained by failure or what-ifs. This is the day to be willing to change, to be open, to believe, to hope. If we don’t attack each day with this intentionality, it’s almost like telling God, “Thanks, but no thanks.”

How different would your day be if you lived out the words of Psalm 118:24?

Is there something you would change?
Is there someone you would reach out to?
Is there something you would need to give?
Is there something you would need to let go of?

It’s not easy putting this into practice. But each day you wake up, you have a chance to get unstuck, to step out of a comfortable routine that may be limiting your potential, and to fight for something that’s important.

This is the day you can switch off autopilot and begin living with passion.

This is the day you can overcome a bad habit or a character flaw.
This is the day that can bring you a step closer to your dreams.
This is the day you can fight for what’s right.
This is the day you can change someone’s life for the better.
Life isn’t just about one day. It’s about this day.

Dear Lord, help us see the changes we need to make in our life, the risks we need to take, the things we need to let go. Thank you for giving each new day as a gift! In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

What Is God’s Purpose for Your Life?

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (ESV)
16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

For Moses and David, God had detailed instructions; but, for most people, He doesn’t give detailed instructions. He does, however, give a wonderful plan for our lives in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 and John 10:10.

For George Bailey in the movie, “It’s A Wonderful Life,” abundance didn’t mean traveling and becoming rich, but it meant helping others and having a wonderful family and friends.

God tells us what his will for your life is in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18.

He says, “Talk to me often,” or “Pray constantly.” Then He says, “Give thanks in everything.”

The passage ends saying, “for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” There is no other place in the Bible where it tells you what God’s will for you is. God’s will in Christ Jesus for you is to be happy, talk to him and be grateful. What a wonderful plan for your life!

For George Bailey, God wanted him to have an attitude of gratitude for his “wonderful life.”

So, in a fallen world, with trials and tribulations: “Rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

Dear Lord, we rejoice when we recall the good in our life. We ask You to fulfill Your Will for our life, and thank You for Your blessings in Jesus Christ’s Name by the power of the Holy Spirit. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

The Joy of the Lord Is Your Strength

Nehemiah 8:10 (ESV)
Then he said to them, “Go your way. Eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send portions to anyone who has nothing ready, for this day is holy to our Lord. And do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”

We all need strength. The Pilgrims needed strength to survive in the New World in “Squanto: A Warrior’s Tale.”

The Jews, who returned from captivity in Babylon and rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem, needed strength to overcome their fear after Ezra read the Law that God had given them, which they had failed to keep. So, Nehemiah offered them joyous strength.

Where do we find that strength that flows from joy?

Well, Paul in I Corinthians 11:23-27 says that one place we find it is by doing what Jesus called us to do: to remember his redemptive sacrifice for us in the act of breaking bread and partaking of wine in communion. Paul is telling us to give thanks that Jesus Christ set us free.

The early Greek-speaking Christians called the communion the Great Thanksgiving or the “Eucharist” in Greek. The Greek word “Eucharist” is made up of three little words like those Russian dolls within a doll within a doll. Inside “eucharist” is the Greek word “charis,” which means “gift” as in “charisma.” The heart of the word “charis” is the word “char,” which means “joy.”

In other words, the strength of the “joy of the Lord” is found in thanksgiving, not in weeping about what you did not do as the Jews were doing according to Nehemiah. The “joy of the Lord” is a gift that you get when you’re giving thanks that Jesus did what you could not: fulfilled the law to set you free.

This is the joyous strength that the Pilgrims found when they celebrated the first Thanksgiving with their Native American neighbors.

Where can you find the “joy of the Lord” that gives you the strength to do what God has called you to do? By giving thanks for Jesus’s death and resurrection on the cross, which set you free to live a more abundant life.

Do you need strength to face today and tomorrow? A good place to start is to give thanks to receive the “joy of the Lord,” as we do as believers in the Great Thanksgiving.

Dear Lord, we want to give You thanks for everyone and everything in our life, and for all the blessings You have bestowed on us in Jesus Christ’s Name by the power of the Holy Spirit. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Go and Tell the Greatest Story

Acts 1:8 (ESV)
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.

Do you love to tell your friends about your favorite team or movie? Perhaps, but talking about Jesus seems hard for many Christians.

In Acts 1:8, Jesus tells his disciples they will be filled with the Holy Spirit, which was their signal that they witness “to the ends of the earth.”

So, did the disciples immediately set off to witness? No. They hang around the Temple in Jerusalem for the next seven chapters until Acts 8:1.

It took persecution to wake them up. The persecution starts in Acts 8:1, and many disciples are driven to the ends of the earth.

Now, God is omnipotent so he could have stopped the persecution. Also, he is omniscient, so he could have warned the believers. Instead, God allowed them to be driven out of Jerusalem.

Within a few years, these handful of believing disciples turned the Roman Empire from the most debauched and cruel empire to a civilized community of law. It wasn’t the power of man. It was the power of God for the work of witnessing.

The disciples didn’t have to change anyone. Only the Holy Spirit can change hearts. For the disciples—for you and me—we merely need to obey Jesus Christ’s command. God will empower you to do it.

Consider the movie “God’s Not Dead 2.” Grace Wesley, a public-school teacher, keeps her faith to herself, until she’s asked a question by a student that demanded an honest answer about Jesus. Answering honestly, Grace faces severe persecution and has to find the power of God’s grace to stand up and witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Like Grace, Jesus tells us we will be empowered to be his witnesses.

How? By trusting Jesus and asking the Holy Spirit to empower you to witness. Trust, then tell everyone that Jesus Christ came to set you, me and them free to live an abundant, eternal life with our Divine Creator.

Dear Lord, we love You and thank You for forgiving us and transforming my life. Sometimes we do not go forth to tell others about Your Good News. Please have Your Holy Spirit empower us to go into all the world to be Your witness throughout our life. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Monday, November 26, 2018


John 1:14 (ESV)
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

God designed reality to be “Both/And,” not “Either/Or.” Thus, Jesus is both fully God and fully Man.

The 2004 movie “The Passion of the Christ” is about the final hours of Jesus Christ that shows both his humanity in his suffering and his divinity in his Resurrection. The movie highlights the spiritual warfare raging around Jesus. Those who see it will understand the price Jesus paid to forgive us our sins.

Now, materialists, humanists, and communists believe that matter is all there is. If matter is all there is, then your life doesn’t matter, because you are expendable. Thus, materialist regimes in the 20th Century (such as Soviet Russia, Communist China and Pol Pot in Cambodia) killed and murdered over 100 million people.

In contrast, agnostics, occultists, and Hindus say that everything is an illusion. However, if everything is just an illusion, then your life doesn’t matter, because you are an illusion. When Mother Theresa rescued the dying off the streets of India, the Hindu leaders tried to burn her to death because her actions meant that these suffering people were not an illusion but had real value.

For Christians, we believe we live in a real world with real pain, and we need a real Savior. So, we are both the material and the spiritual, which are inextricably linked together.

This means you have infinite value, because you were created by God the Father in his image, AND you have infinite value because the Creator God himself, Jesus, died and rose from the dead to give you eternal life.

Being fully God and fully Man, Jesus can triumph over sin as the very Creator God.

Dear Lord, we want to be the person You created and called us to be, and we want to live our life in Your Kingdom. So, help us show forth the fruit of the Holy Spirit to every person, and to manifest the gifts of the Holy Spirit, to take every thought captive for You. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Remember the Sabbath

Deuteronomy 5:15 (ESV)
You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God brought you out from there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the Lord your God commanded you to keep the Sabbath day.

How do you get over fear or anxiety?

Throughout the Bible, we are commanded to “Fear not.” Another frequent command in the Bible helps us do that, “Remember.” Why remember? So that we are not afraid because we remember how God is always there for us in the midst of the problems, trials and tribulations we face every day.

This advice was given to the Jews in Deuteronomy 5:15. God often says to the Israelites something like, “You don’t have to be afraid. I got rid of Pharaoh. I turned you from slaves to free men. I took you through the Red Sea. I brought you into the desert. I fed you mana. Then I fed you quail.” Even so, they mumbled, grumbled and whined. Jesus emphasized the importance of remembering in Matthew 16:9. And, Paul did too in Ephesians 2:12.

The quintessential movie to remember is Cecil B. DeMille’s 1956 classic starring Charlton Heston, “The Ten Commandments” and the many other versions of the story of Moses that have been made into movies many times. In these stories of Moses, the people of Israel constantly forget the great miracles God has done and constantly need to be reminded. When they forget, they whine about the food and ask to go back to slavery in Egypt.

How do you get over being afraid? Just look at what God did in your life. Look back at your life. See what God’s done to protect you and to provide for you. Then, you will not be afraid. Freed from fear, you can go forth in the power of his grace, because you know that God is present in your life.

Dear Lord, please help us to remember Your presence and provision in our life, so we can live a life free from fear and anxiety, and show everyone the victory You provide in Jesus Christ. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.