Sunday, December 31, 2017

Looking For God In 2018

“You chart the path ahead of me and tell mewhen to stop and rest.Every moment youknow where I am.” Psalm 139:3

“The Lord says, “‘I will guide you along the
best pathway for your life. I will advise you
and watch over you.’” Psalm 32:8

“Because of Christ, we have received an
inheritance from God, for He chose us from
the beginning and all things happen just as
He decided years ago.” Ephesians 1:11

“The Lord will work out His plans for my
life – for Your faithful love, O Lord, endures
forever. Don’t abandon me, for You made
me!” Psalm 138:8

“Seek His will in all you do and He will
direct your paths.” Proverbs 3:6

Prayer: Grant us wisdom, give us faith, increase our trust and watch over us each day, Father, as we seek Your plan for our lives. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 139:3: Psalm 32:8; Ephesians 1:11; Psalm 138:8; Proverbs 3:6

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Some Final Words

Often what we find depends on what we look for. Here are a few things to look for in the days we will face together:
Look for God’s presence. When fear grips us or failure would defeat us, or if life’s challenges seem to be larger than we are or the nights are longer than usual, remember, we are never alone if Jesus rules and reigns in our lives. He promised that “He will never leave us nor forsake us.” When life turns to shambles, He will wrap His loving arms around us and protect us because He is with us.
Look for God’s power. The psalmist said that “God is our refuge and strength.” Often we look to people for insights and advice when we are faced with difficult problems. But their solutions are never as good as the solutions that come from God. God is the greatest asset any Christian has but we must go to Him and draw from His strength and power.
Look for God’s provision. “My God shall supply all your needs.” Though we may fail Him, He will not fail us. Though we may fail to claim His promises, it does not mean they are not available. If we look to and trust in Him, He will not let us down.
Prayer: Father, we look to You in faith believing that You will meet our every need if we trust You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: 1 Kings 8:56-58; Psalm 46:1-3; Philippians 4:19

Friday, December 29, 2017

What To Expect In 2018

As we come to the close of this year and face the uncertainties that are before us in the year to come, it is important to pause, listen to and accept a promise from our God:
“For I know the plans I have for you, says the LORD. They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.
In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you search for me with all your heart, you will find me, declares the Lord.”
This is one of God’s if – thens. There can be no misunderstanding of what He is talking about in this passage of Scripture. God knows our future. He very carefully designed it in our best interest to enable us to find and follow His will. Because He knows our future, He assures us that it can be one of goodness and hope – not one of disaster.
But if we want this future that contains goodness and hope we must study His Word and go to Him in earnest prayer. He assures us that He will listen to us but then we must also search for Him with all of our hearts.
Perhaps we have prayed and even searched for Him in years past, but did not do so with all our heart.

Prayer: Lord, may we come to You this year with a sincerity and singleness of heart to find Your plans. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Why Parenting Matters

There is limited information in Scripture that describes the home life of Jesus. Every now and then we get a glimpse of something. But there can be little doubt that God and His teachings were at the center of everything.
We read that “Jesus kept increasing in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and man.” No doubt His knowledge of and reverence for the Law and Prophets shaped His life and His reverence and relationship with His Heavenly Father and others.
Luke’s Gospel tells us about a family trip to the temple. On the way home, they noticed that He was not with them. When they returned to the temple they found Him listening to and answering questions of the learned teachers. At the tender age of twelve Jesus demonstrated to others the deep understanding of God’s Word that obviously came from His parents.
Mary and Joseph realized that they were obligated to God for the welfare of His only begotten Son. While He was waiting to begin His public ministry He listened to their teachings and followed their examples of Godly living.
Parents can never overlook or underestimate the influence and impact they have on their children. Parents must follow the example of Joseph and Mary in raising their children.
Prayer: We pray, Father, that parents will realize how important the gift of a child is and the trust You place in them to raise them to know, love, trust and serve You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Luke 2:52 And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Why Fathers Matter

We rarely think of Joseph when we speak of Mary and her son, Jesus. But Joseph was a very special individual as well.
In describing him, Matthew says that he was a “just” or “righteous” man. And because of that, he was a “decent,” “fair” and “righteous” man. When he was faced with an incredibly difficult decision – whether or not he should abandon Mary – an angel appeared and advised him to “go ahead with your marriage to Mary.”
Initially, Scripture informs us, “that not wanting to disgrace her, he planned to send her away.” He was well aware of the fact that stoning was the legal prescription for what people would think of Mary’s being pregnant without being married. If he took Mary to be his wife he could be humiliated or ridiculed by those around him. But he chose to obey the command of the angel to marry her. As a “righteous” man he was also a “merciful” man, a man willing to listen to, hear and obey God. Joseph was a man of great character.
But there is more. Not only was he righteous, merciful and obedient to the voice of God, but he was a man who was sensitive and discrete. Joseph was open to the voice of God and responded immediately when God spoke to him and protected the reputation and honor of Mary – thereby revealing he was a man of integrity.
Prayer: Lord, we pray for fathers everywhere who will strive to be like the earthly father of Your Son. We ask that You will raise up men of integrity to honor You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Matthew 1:18-25 Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Why Mothers Matter

One of the most beautiful passages in Scripture is found in Luke’s Gospel. It is called “The Magnificat.” We have Mary proclaiming, “My soul magnifies the Lord.” The word soul is a special word and in Hebrew is used to reveal or describe a person’s entire identity. It is the very essence – or being or character – of a person. In this one word, Mary reveals that all of her is committed to the Lord. The sum and substance of her life was to worship God in all of His Majesty!
If we want to study the smallest particle of God’s creation we put it under a microscope to magnify it. This enlarges, or expands, every detail of the particle so we can discover its intricacies, its subtleties and its structure. Mary was determined to put God under her “microscope” so she could understand Him personally, intimately and completely.
In her “song” she magnified her Lord – not her Son. Often we become overly concerned about the way our children look rather than what they look at. Not so Mary. She recognized her responsibility as a mother and knew that if God were first in her life, He would be first in her child’s life. She had her priorities right.
God entrusted Mary with the Messiah because He was at the center of her life and knew that her Son would be nurtured in what matters most in the life of a child: knowing, understanding and following His will.
Prayer: We ask, Lord, that all mothers everywhere will recognize the importance of being a mother and the trust You place in them to raise children to know You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Luke 1:46-55 “My soul magnifies the Lord, And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior. For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant; For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed.

Monday, December 25, 2017

The Birth Of Jesus

“And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born. She gave birth to her first child, a son. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no lodging available for them.
That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.”
Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying,
Glory to God in highest heaven,
and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.”
When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, “Let’s go to Bethlehem! Let’s see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.
They hurried to the village and found Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in the manger.”

Luke 2:6-16
New Living Translation

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Joseph's Dream

“…Mary, was engaged to be married to Joseph. But before the marriage took place, while she was still a virgin, she became pregnant through the power of the Holy Spirit. Joseph, her fiancĂ©, was a good man and did not want to disgrace her publicly, so he decided to break the engagement quietly.
As he considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. ‘Joseph, son of David,’ the angel said, ‘do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit. And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.’
All of this occurred to fulfill the Lord’s message through his prophet:
‘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.”’
When Joseph woke up, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded and took Mary as his wife.”
When the Lord calls us to do His work, and we are faithful and obedient to Him, great things happen!
Matthew 1:18-24 New Living Translation

Saturday, December 23, 2017

The Angel's Visit To Mary

In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a village in Galilee, to a virgin named Mary. She was engaged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of King David. Gabriel appeared to her and said, “Greetings, favored woman! The Lord is with you!”
Confused and disturbed, Mary tried to think of what the angel could mean. “Don’t be afraid, Mary,” the angel told her, “for you have found favor with God! You will conceive and give birth to a son, and will name him Jesus. He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David. And he will reign over Israel forever; his Kingdom will never end!”
Mary asked the angel, “But how can this happen? I am a virgin.”
The angel replied, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the baby to be born will be holy, and He will be called the Son of God. What’s more, your relative Elizabeth has become pregnant in her old age! People used to say she was barren, but she’s now in her sixth month. For nothing is impossible with God.”
Mary responded, “I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true.” And though the angel left her, she was not alone.
Luke 1:26-38 New Living Translation

Friday, December 22, 2017

Prophecies From Isaiah

Therefore, the Lord Himself will give you a sign. Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call his name Immanuel – God with us!
The people who walk in darkness
Will see a great light;
Those who live in a dark land,
The light will come to them.
For a child will be born to us, a
son given to us;
And the government will rest on
His shoulders!
And His name will be called:
Wonderful!
Counselor!
Mighty God!
Eternal Father!
Prince of Peace!
There will be no end to the increase
of His government or of His peace.
The spirit of the LORD will rest on Him,
The spirit of wisdom and understanding.
The spirit of counsel and strength,
The spirit of knowledge and
the fear of the Lord.
PrayerThank You God, for keeping Your word! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Isaiah 7:14; Isaiah 9:2, 6-7; Isaiah 11:2-3

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Christ's Day

On Mother’s Day we focus all of our attention on our Mothers, recalling and remembering how much they struggled to raise us. Lovingly we shower gifts on them, purchase cards that describe her many sacrifices for us and the unending care she gave to us. She deserves all of the attention and recognition we can give her.
On Father’s Day, we turn our thoughts to him – what he has done for us and express our gratitude for the time he spent with us. We recall his efforts to teach us to throw a ball, catch a pass, cast a fishing line or attend a special event. He, too, deserves all the attention and recognition we can give him.
We also give recognition and attention to our Grandparents, to brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles and friends and relatives on their special days.
But what will we do that is really special or unique to show our appreciation and gratitude for Christ on His day this year?
Will there be an envelope under the tree with a special love-offering that recognizes His importance in our lives? Will it match the amount we gave others?
Will we sacrifice some of our time to show God’s love by being with those who would otherwise be alone and lonely on His day?
Will we share a meal with someone who is hungry? Give some clothes to those who are cold and have little? Spend time reading His story to children?
“In as much as you have done it to the least of these, you have done it unto Me!”
Prayer: Take Your peace from us Father, until and unless we show others Your love on Your day. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Matthew 25:40 And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

The Joy That Comes From Christmas

A young run-away girl collapsed on the streets of a large city at the beginning of the Christmas season. She was rushed to a hospital, placed in intensive care and finally made it to a room where she made slow progress in regaining her health.
One evening a group of carolers stopped by her room and sang the beautiful songs that describe the birth of Jesus. After they sang, a young lady approached her bed and asked if she knew the Baby that they sang about.
Quietly, barely above a whisper she said, “I heard about Him when I went to Sunday school. But don’t remember too much about Him.”
The young lady reminded her of the story and meaning of the birth of Jesus and the plan of salvation. She accepted the Lord as her Savior.
Finally, it was time for her to leave and a nurse said, “Well, now that you’re better, it’s time for you to leave.”
Happily she said, “Yes, but I’m not leaving alone. I’m taking Jesus with me. Do you know Jesus?”
“Oh, yes,” replied the nurse, in a grumpy voice.
“Well, then,” she asked, “why aren’t you filled with joy like I am? If you truly know Jesus, you’ll be happy all the time.”
David said, “Restore the joy of Your salvation!”
Prayer: Lord, sometimes we surrender our joy to the stress and strains of life. Come now and return the joy we once had when we accepted Christ. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 51:12 Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, And uphold me by Your generous Spirit.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

No Mistake

Walter came home from Sunday school with a question all over his face. “Mom,” he asked, “did the shepherds have washing machines where they kept their sheep?”
“Shepherds? Washers?” After a moment she said, “No, darling, they did not have washing machines. Why do you ask?”
“Well, Mrs. Mathis was reading the story of the birth of Jesus and she said, ‘While shepherds washed their socks that night...’ and I didn’t understand what was going on.”
While we often think of the shepherds in the field that night, the glory that appeared with the angel and the fear that gripped them, we seldom connect the shepherds in that field with the Good Shepherd.
Jesus said, “I am the Good Shepherd” twice in John’s Gospel. In those statements he summarizes all of the prophetic images of His role as prophesier in the Old Testament. This declaration is a claim to His divinity as revealed in the Old Testament and focuses on His love, protection and guidance of us – His lambs.
But there is more. Not only is He our Shepherd but He chose to identify Himself as the good shepherd – and good is a term that carries with it nobility. It stands in sharp contrast to shepherds who were hired hands who worked and cared only for their own self-interests.
Prayer: We thank You, Lord, for loving us, for being our Good Shepherd and for laying down Your life for us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Luke 2:8 Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night.

Monday, December 18, 2017

No Room, But...

The annual church Christmas play was rapidly approaching and Mrs. Adams was assigning roles to the children in her Sunday school class. “Albert,” she said, “I’d like you to be the inn keeper this year.”
“No way, not me, absolutely not!” said Albert. “I’m not going to be the one who turned Mary and Joseph away from a good night’s rest.”
“Oh, please,” she begged. “I really need you to do this. We won’t be able to have the play without you,” she pleaded. Finally he agreed.
On the night of the performance, Joseph went to the door and knocked. “Who’s there?” he asked.
“My name’s Joseph and Mary and I need a place to sleep,” was the reply.
“I’m sorry,” he said politely. “We have no rooms available.” And then added kindly, “But if you’d like you can rest awhile and I’ll get you some cookies and milk.”
There are many, like Albert, who would gladly give our Lord some “cookies and milk” but would never allow Him to come into their hearts and change their lives. It’s enjoyable to visit the manger, sing a few carols, read the story of His birth and then exchange gifts. But to make Him a permanent resident?
See Him now: Patiently standing. Gently knocking. Carefully listening. Waiting hopefully. Wanting desperately to save us and give us eternal life.
Prayer: We thank You, Father, for wanting to be our Savior and to fellowship with us. Come, dwell within us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Revelation 3:20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Never Quit!

“Don’t let this be you!” said a coach to his football team after a difficult loss. He was pointing to a picture of a player sitting in front of his locker. His helmet was between his feet. His elbows were on his knees and his head was between his hands with a look of sadness in his eyes. Under his helmet were the words, “I quit!”
As we look into the manger this Christmas we can rejoice together and say, “Thank You, God, that You never quit!”
Whenever we think of the eternal love that God has for us we often forget about the disappointments He must have endured. Imagine, if you can, what must have entered into His mind and heart when Adam and Eve rejected His path. Consider, if you will, the many agreements He made with people who promised to obey Him and then abandoned their word when they thought He was out of sight. We will never know the grief He suffered because of the hope He had that people would love Him and be obedient to Him.
But, He never gave up. He never quit. Finally, John wrote, “We have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son to be the Savior of the world!”
All of us have suffered many losses in life. None, however, can ever be compared to God’s losses. But He refused to give up even though it cost the life of His Son.
Prayer: We thank You, Father, for Your unfailing love and determination to rescue us. We are overwhelmed when we think that You would sacrifice Your Son for us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: 1 John 4:14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son as Savior of the world.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Gifts

Christmas gifts generate great excitement and interest. After the presents are wrapped and placed under the tree, many people spend countless hours trying to figure out what might be on the inside. Sometimes the gifts are carefully shaken or lifted to see if the weight or size might give an indication about what could be inside.
But when God gave us the first Christmas gift its value was obvious. It was a gift of love that could not be measured or found outside of Him. It was a gift of mercy that only He could provide. And it was a gift of grace that only He could provide through His Son.
God’s love is ultimately expressed in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. His love is the source of His mercy and grace and it is because of His love that we have mercy and grace. It was because of His love that He gave His only begotten Son so that whoever believes in Him will find His mercy and enjoy His grace and be with Him forever in eternity.
John says something very significant about this love. “If God loved us,” he says, “we ought to love one another.” His love does not end with our salvation, but with our obligation to share His love with others. It begins a pattern of self-sacrificing love that Christians must live by sharing His mercy and grace with others.
Prayer: Lord, we often forget how responsible we are to share Your gifts of love, mercy and salvation with others. Give us no peace until we share Your gifts. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: 1 John 4:11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Planning Ahead

It was the Sunday before Christmas and the teacher of the fifth grade class was reviewing the details of the birth of Jesus. With carefully chosen words she talked about the difficult journey to Bethlehem. Then she said with sadness, “And when they arrived, there was no room for them in the inn. Wasn’t that terrible?”
George, after thinking for a moment about the vacations his family had taken and the plans they made said without thinking, “Why didn’t Joseph make a reservation?”
There will be many around us during this holiday season who will make no room – no reservation – for Jesus to be with them once again this year. We often remind each other that “He’s the reason for the Season” but do not take time to explain to others what that reason is. We are quick to condemn those who want to take “Christ out of Christmas” but do not take time to plant the message of Christ in their minds and hearts at Christmas. We place the manger scene under the tree, cover it with presents and then wrap it back up and forget about His birth and its significance for another year.
Hanging next to Jesus on a cross was a thief who was dying for crimes he committed. In his final moments he turned to Him and said, “Jesus, remember me.” And Jesus said, “I will. Today you will be with me in paradise.” Today is the best day to make your reservation to be with Him if you have not done so.
Prayer: Your Word, Lord, declares that “Today is the day of salvation.” May we take advantage of this day! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Luke 2:1-7 And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Facing Fear With Facts

A bright light on a dark night would frighten most individuals if it was unexpected. How much more frightening would it be if an angel of the Lord suddenly appeared and God's glory lit up the area where sheep were quietly sleeping and shepherds were watching to make certain that they were safe.
Sensing the fear of the shepherds the angel said confidently, “Don’t be afraid of this Light!” The angel wanted to calm their pounding hearts. “I came with Good News. News that will bring great joy to everyone, everywhere who is willing to accept the Good News!”
How gracious is our God. The shepherds did what any of us would do: react with apprehension and fear. Yet, God, in His love and mercy first gave them His assurance that they were safe and then explained to them what had happened. “A Savior, Christ, who is the Anointed One, the One that you have been waiting for, even the LORD, has been born!”
There is a wonderful lesson here for each of us. Rarely do we get through any day without something unusual – sometimes a tragedy, perhaps a life threatening or grief producing event – invading our lives. It is normal and natural to react with fear and wonder.
But as God said to the shepherds then and as He says to us every day, “Don’t be afraid. Good News awaits you. Your Savior is here. Turn to Him in faith and He will save you!”
Prayer: How thankful we are, Father, to know that Your Son, our Savior, is with us every moment of every day. Calm our fears, encourage our hearts through Him. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Luke 2:8-12 Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

The Real Thing!

It has always been difficult for missionary families to be together at special times. Often hearts ache for the joy and happiness that unites loved ones at special times for special reasons and seasons.
The headmaster of a school for the children of missionaries knew that feeling very well. His parents were missionaries and he spent many birthdays alone as well as many holidays. He knew that one of his students was having a particularly difficult time one Christmas and decided to visit him in his room.
After talking for a few minutes he asked, “John, what would you like for Christmas this year?”
Looking at a picture of his father on the wall he said, “I would like my father to step out of that frame.”
That’s what Jesus did. He “stepped out” of the Old Testament “frames” that prophesied of His coming. He became the “real thing” when he walked among the people, laid His hands on the sick and restored them to health, fed the hungry with bread that would last throughout eternity and gave the water of life to those dying of thirst.
The Son of God willingly and voluntarily made Himself “nothing” when He assumed a human body and a human nature and became the “real thing.” Jesus is God seeing us through human eyes, hearing us with human ears, touching lives with human hands and loving us with a human heart. In Jesus, we see God with us!

Prayer: Thank You, Father, for sending us the “Real Thing.” Through Him we know how much You love us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Philippians 2:5-11 who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. 

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

What Kind Of Day Will It Be?

As you look forward to Christmas, what special memories will remain with you after it’s over? Will it be a “horrible day,” a “holiday” or a “holy day?”
For some it will be a “horrible” day. It will be a day when families gather and feuds erupt, unwanted gifts are exchanged, stomachs are stuffed, alcohol generated hangovers will dull minds and memories, and promises to “never do this again” are made. Not ever!
Or, will it be a holiday? Families traveling many miles to get together to share problems and pains that brought them closer together, share joyous memories of special events that united them in love and laughter, introducing a new-born child or one who will soon be the next in-law uniting two “love-birds.”
Would it not be special, however, if we made it a holy day? A day of worship and praise, a day when we set aside time to emphasize the gift of our new birth through Christ?
Paul wrote some inspiring words about the gift of our new birth made possible because of the birth of Jesus. “You have clothed yourselves with a brand-new nature that is continually being renewed as you learn more and more about Christ, who created this new nature within you.”
This “new nature” means it is possible for us to have a new life through His Son and one day we will be like Him and spend eternity with Him.
Prayer: We thank You, Lord, for the gift of Jesus Who will give us a new life and the joy and peace of salvation. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Colossians 3:10 and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him,

Monday, December 11, 2017

Where's Jesus' Present?

It was Christmas Eve. The tree was brightly decorated, the presents were wrapped with beautiful paper and bows, the meal was over and the family gathered together to read the Story of the Birth of Jesus.
"Now,” said Dad, “let each one of us say a prayer and I will end our prayer time before we go to bed.”
After praying, Susie went to the tree and began to look at each present. She looked at the name on each of them very carefully. The family was curious but quiet.
Finally, Susie, looked at each member of the family and asked, “Where’s the present for Jesus? What are we giving Him this year?”
Stunned, the family sat in silence. No one had thought about a gift for Him.
Paul has a suggestion for the best gift we could give Christ this Christmas. Writing to the Romans he said, “And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies – your entire self – to God...be a living and holy sacrifice to Him – the kind He will accept.”
When we think of giving gifts this Christmas each of us would do well to think first of the gift we will give God. We need to take Paul’s words seriously, and give the most valuable gift – the gift of ourselves – to God!
Prayer: Heavenly Father, trouble our hearts with the words of Paul this season, and carefully and prayerfully consider, first and foremost, the gift we will give You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Romans 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Whose Party?

Competent! Outstanding! Careful! Friendly! Supportive! Bright! Cheerful! Caring! Gracious! And the list of words to describe Beth, the secretary to the president of the company, could go on and on. She was loved by everyone in the company.
When it came time for her birthday one year, her co-workers decided to honor her with a lavish party. They rented a beautiful ballroom, hired the best caterer, designed a special cake, had special napkins with her name on them and collected money to buy a gift.
All went well. The tables were beautifully set, the caterer was on time, the guests arrived and there was excitement in the room. Everyone kept looking at the entrance awaiting the arrival of Beth. After waiting for fifteen minutes the co-worker who organized the event said to Beth’s best friend, “Where is she?”
“I’m not sure,” she replied. “I’ll phone her.”
She did – and discovered that she was at her favorite sandwich shop enjoying her lunch alone. No one thought to invite Beth to her celebration!
There will be many parties this Christmas. And as usual, the Guest, Whose birthday we celebrate, will not be invited. Tables will be set, lights will blink, guests will arrive, laughter will ring out, gifts will be exchanged, everyone will have fun – but Jesus will not be present. No one will think to invite Him – the One who should be the main attraction.
Prayer: Lord of the season, may we place Your Son, our Savior, at the center of everything we do this Christmas. May we never forget, “It’s all about Him.” In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Matthew 2:11 And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

The Promise of Peace

A professor stood before his class and boasted, "The Bible is false. It cannot be believed. It says, 'Peace and good will toward men.' History cannot account for a time when there were no wars!"
Disturbed, Arthur went to his pastor and related the incident. Calmly, his pastor said, "Art, that's not what the angels said. They said, 'Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace on earth among men with whom He is pleased.'"
Politicians speak of peace through treaties and boundaries, threats and sanctions, wars and rumors of wars. But that is not the peace that God speaks of in His Word. His Word speaks of a peace that comes through salvation and surrender to the Prince of Peace. It is a peace that comes from the new heart that He implants within us. It is a peace that Christians enjoy when we open the door to our hearts and allow Him to come in and rule our lives.
The peace that Scripture speaks of will never come from a non-peaceful source. It is a peace that comes though the risen Christ and has its source in God Himself.
We cannot find peace in a turbulent, war-torn world until we make peace with God through Jesus Christ. Only when we go to Him with humility and faith and ask for His forgiveness will He grant us His peace.
Prayer: We pray, Heavenly Father for Your peace – a peace that comes from the God of all comfort Who gives us His peace that assures us of His presence and power. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Luke 2:13-14 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”

Friday, December 8, 2017

Can You See Him Now?

It was the very first Christmas that Jo Ann’s church had a Nativity scene on the front lawn. Working anxiously, she kept arranging, then rearranging, the figures to make certain they could all be seen.
Finally she sent her friend, Alice, to the edge of the lawn and asked, “How do they look?”
“Fine, they are all O.K.,” came the answer.
Suddenly Jo Ann began to rearrange them once again. “What are you doing? I said they were fine,” said Alice grumpily.
“Yes, I heard what you said,” responded Jo Ann. “But I just want to make sure that Jesus is visible so all of the people can see Him!”
Often Santa gets more attention than our Savior does during these Holy Days. Children anxiously stand in line waiting their turn to ask for gifts and have their picture taken with him. Rarely, however, do children pose at the manger to have a picture taken with the Baby Jesus. Could it be that He is not visible to most people at Christmas? Do we make any effort at all to make Him visible?
Matthew wrote about a group of shepherds who said, “Let’s go to Bethlehem...and see this wonderful thing that has happened which the Lord has told us about.”
This “wonderful thing,” Jesus, is what the world needs to see. Let’s be certain He is always visible – especially in our lives!
Prayer: Lord, may we not allow Your Son to be hidden or to be placed behind the “false idols” that so many worship at Christmas. Let us make Him visible! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Luke 2:15 So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, “Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.”

Thursday, December 7, 2017

A Gift For Eternity

Timothy had done very well in his first semester at college. Excitement was building in the family as the day approached when he would be home for Christmas. His mother wanted to make it a special event, one he would remember for years to come.
“Let’s give Timothy a wristwatch for Christmas,” she said. “He’s done so well and I want him to know how much we appreciate all of his hard work.”
“But,” protested his father, “what happened to that crush proof, waterproof, shock proof, scratch proof watch we gave him when he left for college?”
“He can’t find it,” said his mother.
In giving us the gift of His Son, God gave us Someone Who will be with us forever. A Gift that will be with us until the end of our lives and throughout eternity. An indestructible, ever-present Presence.
Jesus promised us to “be sure of this – I am with you always and everywhere, even to the end of the age.”
Some would ask, “What does it mean that He will be with us? Did he not leave His disciples when He ascended into heaven?” No, He didn't.
When He left them physically He sent the Holy Spirit to be His presence with them personally. We know He was called “Immanuel – God with us” when He was born. We know He is with us now through the Holy Spirit.
Prayer: It’s easy, Father, for us to lose sight of You and Your messages at this time of the year. But help us to pause, pray frequently and sense Your presence within us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Matthew 28:20 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.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

How To Learn Understanding

James the Fifth of Scotland ruled his subjects quite differently than other rulers did. Historians say that he would often lay aside his royal robes, put on the clothes of an ordinary man, work as they worked and live as they lived. His disguise allowed him to move freely among his people without being recognized.
He did this, we are told, to gain an understanding of their needs and problems, sorrows and difficulties. Then, when he returned to his throne, he would have a clearer insight of his subjects and was better able to rule over them with compassion and care.
That is what Jesus, the King of kings, did. He laid aside His glory. Paul writing of this said, “Though he was God, He did not demand and cling to His right as God. He made himself nothing, He took the humble position of a slave and appeared in human form!”
It is common for most of us to be selfish and express our pride by “demanding our rights!” We want what we think is “rightfully” ours for any number of reasons. We believe that we have earned something or deserve something and therefore demand something!
But not Jesus. He laid aside every right that was rightfully His in order to serve others.
As His followers we are to live as He lived. We must develop an attitude of love and humility and willingly and sacrificially serve others as He did!
Prayer: We thank You, Lord, for becoming like one of us and for going through everything that we go through. Knowing this enables us to know just how much You do care. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 2:5-8 “I will declare the decree: The Lord has said to Me, ‘You are My Son, Today I have begotten You. Ask of Me, and I will give You The nations for Your inheritance, And the ends of the earth for Your possession.

Monday, December 4, 2017

"Love With Skin On It!"

A young man, who grew up in a housing project, having little hope and few goods, heard an evangelist preaching “love” on a street corner. After listening for a few moments he shouted to the preacher, “I’m sick and tired of you people talking about love. I want to see love. I want to feel love. I want to see love with some skin on it!”
That’s Christmas: “God’s love with skin on it.”
Paul wrote, “For in Christ the fullness of God lives in a human body!”
In Jesus, we see Someone bringing love to life – but a very special type of love. It is God’s love. We see this love coming to life when Jesus fed the hungry, gave sight to the blind, cleansed the lepers, healed the sick, offering water to a thirsty soul, calming the waves to relieve the fears of experienced fishermen, washing dirty feet, spending time with little children, teaching people the truth that brought meaning and purpose to their lives and finally hanging lifeless from a cross – abandoned and alone.
Jesus is God loving through a human heart, healing with a human hand, walking on errands of mercy with human feet, showing love, grace and mercy to those who would do Him harm.
Jesus is God loving the least, the last and the lost. In Jesus, God showed His love with “skin on it.”
Prayer: Help us, Father, to put Your “love in our skin” and take Your love to those in need. May we be as faithful in caring for others as You are in caring for us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Colossians 2:9 For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily;

Sunday, December 3, 2017

What Gift?

Joyce fell behind in her Christmas shopping and suddenly realized that she had neglected to purchase cards for her friends. Hurriedly, she ran to the card section of a large greeting card store and purchased 100 cards with a beautiful scene of a family gathered in front of a glowing fireplace enjoying its warmth.
Returning home she hastily signed each of the cards without reading the message. Several days later she was sitting with her husband reviewing the guest list for a family dinner. She decided to show him the card she had sent to their friends.
After looking at the picture, she opened the card and read the verse to Jason, her husband:
“This card is sent to you to say,
A lovely gift is on the way!”
Quite a surprise!
God sent us a “card” to inform us that He would and did send us a “lovely gift” – His son. All of the books of the Bible tell us of the Gift that He was going to send, tell us the reason He sent us this gift and what we can enjoy now and in the life to come because of this gift.
But as with every gift, there are two parts: one is giving and the other is receiving. An angel rejoiced and proclaimed: “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior which is Christ the Lord.” That is God giving. And John said, “As many as received Him...to them He gave life.” But the choice to receive God’s gift is ours.
Prayer: We thank You, Father, for the Gift of life You provided for each of us. May we accept Your Gift in faith believing. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Luke 1:11 & John 1:12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name:

Saturday, December 2, 2017

What's In A Name?

Initially He was named Jesus. Now we also call Him Christ.
Jesus was the name given to Him when He was born. It means the same as the Jewish name, Joshua, which literally means God is salvation! So, the message that God sent to Joseph through His angels was, “You shall call Him ‘God is salvation’ for He shall save His people from their sins.” That name, Jesus, tells us all that we need to know because it reveals God’s plan and purpose: God will save humanity through His only begotten Son.
Christ is more than a name. It is a title. It comes from the Greek word Christos, meaning “anointed” or “anointed one.” Its meaning is the same as the Hebrew word Messiah. John quoted Andrew in a conversation that he had with his brother Peter. Said Andrew, “We have found the Messiah (which translated means Christ).” So the terms Messiah and Christ are titles given to Jesus that assure us that He is the anointed one. Jesus is the One whom God anointed to fulfill the promises and prophecies of the Old Testament.
The name Jesus proves that He was human, lived life on our level and faced the same issues and problems that we face. But the title Christ assures us that this One, once called Jesus, can lift us up to God’s level because He is the One whom God anointed to be our Savior.
Prayer: We thank You, Lord, for what You did for us through Your Son, our Savior. We rejoice in Your love, mercy and grace that brought our salvation thru Him. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: John 1:41 He first found his own brother Simon, and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which is translated, the Christ).

Friday, December 1, 2017

Are You Ready For Christmas?

Hal and Matt, two longtime friends, accidentally met in a department store a few weeks before Christmas. They gave each other a forced smile – as if they were happy to see each other – but wished their meeting was under different circumstances.
“You know,” said Hal, “I’ve come to the conclusion that Christmas has become a wrap race.”
“I agree,” replied Matt. “And I’ll tell you something else. I've finally discovered the real meaning of the word Yule.”
“Oh,” responded Hal. “What is it? I'd like to know myself.”
“It’s my wife saying in a very convincing voice, ‘You’ll buy me this and then you’ll buy me that!’ I feel like I have no choice but to buy her whatever she asks for,” replied Matt. “Every thing seems to be about things.”
It would be a wise investment of our time this Christmas to try to imagine what God might have seen when He looked into the manger. Certainly it was more, much more, than a Baby. Did He see the crowds ridiculing and mocking His Son? Did He turn His head when He saw the “kiss of betrayal” from Judas? Was His mind troubled by the trial that unjustly condemned His Son? Did He weep when He saw Jesus hanging from the cross? Certainly. But let’s not forget to see the smile that was on His face and the peace that flooded into His heart when He saw the empty tomb.
Prayer: Help us, Heavenly Father, to get ready for Christmas by seeing its sights and sounds thru Your eyes. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: John 14:9 Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?