> It’s Christmas time!
> Look at this Christmas passage;
> “A man shall leave his father and mother and shall cleave to his wife;
> and the two shall become one flesh.This mystery is great;
> but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church. “Ephesians 5:31-32
> Is that really a Christmas passage?Jesus left His Father and the Holy
> Spirit to come to earth to get His bride.We are that bride!
> In some mysterious sense the Father had arranged this marriage
> as was the Jewish custom.
> Eph. 1:4 “He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world.”
> He came and paid the price for His bride on the cross.
> We can now be set free from the family of satan.
> We have trusted Christ to be our Savior.
> Therefore the devil can no longer accuse us and torment us
> with our sinful past.Christ has cleansed us with His blood.
> We are now His engaged Bride.
> He has given us the Holy Spirit like our engagement ring. Eph. 1:13-14
> He is now preparing a place for us to spend eternity with Him.
> Just as in Jesus day the groom would go to his parent’s home and add a
> room for his bride. This could take up to a year.
> When everything is ready He will come back.
> This time he will receive His bride and take us to heaven to have a
> wonderful wedding feast.
> Then we will live with our glorious groom forever.
> Praise God for His plan of salvation and choosing us to be His bride!
> It all started with His coming to earth!
>> Rejoice this Christmas that He came for you!
How do you pray for people in need? We often pray that God will deliver them out of their needs.
Have we ever prayed like Paul does in Ephesians 1:17-20?
He prays for these things:
1. That God would give them the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him. Why?
2. So that we would know the HOPE we have of a glorious inheritance in the future.
3. So that we would know the POWER we have for the present situation.
I am praying differently. It sounds like this,
“Lord, I care about my friend who has this need.
I want them to be delivered from the financial, physical or relational pain.
I don’t want them to feel the pain.
However, I ask that You will give them the Spirit of wisdom and reveal Yourself to them.
Let them come to know You better because of this need.
Show them the HOPE they can have for the future.
They are experiencing pain now.
I ask that they begin to see that their ultimate hope is living with You in Your painless presence forever.
I also pray that they will experience your present POWER for their current need.
Remind them of Your power that raised Jesus from the dead.
They have the same power available to them for this need.”
Hope for the future and Power for the present.
What a great way to pray for people.
Oswald Chambers says, “The fiery furnaces are there by God’s direct permission.
It is misleading to imagine that we are developed in spite of our circumstances;
we are developed because of them.
It is mastery in circumstances that is needed, not mastery over them.”
Are you in a fiery furnace today? It could be financial, physical, relational, or emotional.
How are you dealing with it? How do we get that mastery?
One way is by trusting in the very presence of God.
We don’t go through times of suffering alone.
God wants us to allow them to draw us closer to Him and experience His love.
What was the last promise Jesus gave to His men and to us?
“Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:20
The Lord was with Joseph…”his master (Potiphar) saw that the Lord was with him.”
“Joseph’s master took him and put him into the prison…But the Lord was with Joseph.”
Genesis 39:2-3, 20-23
Psalm 46:1 “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.”
Isaiah 41:10 “Do not fear, for I am with you.”
Isaiah 43:2 “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you.”
No matter what you: face – fear – or fight – He is with you.
He is with you actively, not passively.
He will give strength, power, help, courage, comfort and victory.
What are you facing today? He is with you and will go through it with you.
You are not alone – ever!
Call upon Him, Come to Him, Cry out to Him, Collapse upon Him,Crash upon Him, and Count upon Him.
As a Good shepherd He is with His sheep all night long.
Worship In The Heat
I was listening to the news today and came to the conclusion that there isn’t much good happening in the world today. Wars, skirmishes, inflation, poverty, lack of gas, lack of food, murder, scandals, high prices and the list goes on and on. There is nothing positive or happy in the world. The left hates the right, and the right hates the left. No one can get along. The weather is disastrous, floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes and drought. Have I got you feeling bad yet? If your only source of news is what the world offers then I can understand.
Let me give you an alternative. It’s often referred to as the “Good News”. It’s history, future, and daily living rolled into one exciting dialogue. Let me recite some of the things that it says:
How beautiful on the mountains
are the feet of the messenger who brings good news,
the good news of peace and salvation,
the news that the God of Israel reigns!
Isaiah 52:7 (NLT)
And my God will liberally supply (fill to the full) your every need according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19 (AMP)
Of course, you know I am talking about God’s Word, The Bible. The Bible can be and is very practical. In fact it has stated succinctly the reason for our bad feelings: our thought life!
For as he thinks within himself, so he is … Proverbs 23:7 (NASB)
God also gives us a practical approach to not being defeated in our thinking. This is found in Philippians chapter 4 and verse 8:
For the rest, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is worthy of reverence and is honorable and seemly, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely and lovable, whatever is kind and winsome and gracious, if there is any virtue and excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think on and weigh and take account of these things [fix your minds on them]. Philippians 4:8 (AMP)
Our way out is by thinking about that which is good! It must begin with what we put in our minds. So if we continue to put what the world dishes out on a daily basis in our mind and hear this only, this will become our point of reference! This becomes our reality and it truly is very bleak. If however; we fill our minds with the Good News, constantly and consistently we will see the glass as half full, the lining as silver and our future as exciting!
Consider the total commitment of the priests in Leviticus 8:22-23
This was the ceremony of ordination for the priests.
They were being set apart to serve the Lord.
He then presented the other ram, the ram for the ordination, and Aaron and his sons laid their hands on its head. Moses slaughtered the ram and took some of its blood and put it on the lobe of Aaron’s right ear, on the thumb of his right hand and on the big toe of his right foot. (NIV)
What was this to demonstrate?
Could it be that the ear symbolized the head of a person.
This would include the eyes, the ears, the mind and the mouth.
All of these parts of the body were to be dedicated to the Lord.
God wants us to dedicate our conversations, looks, listening, and thoughts to Him.
Holy things are dedicated to God. They are to bring Him glory.
How will this conversation bring glory to God?
How will watching and listening to this movie or TV program bring glory to God?
Are these drifting or fantasy thoughts bringing me any closer to God?
The right thumb could indicate action or service or work with our hands.
How can I connect this job to God and ask Him for strength, wisdom and ability?
Obviously these priests were serving God in the tabernacle.
Your work at home or the office or wherever can also be for God. It can bring glory to Him.
The right toe could signify movement or direction for our life.
Where are you feet taking you? It is a place where God will be glorified?
Is God involved in this decision which will affect your future?
Remember the children’s song –
Oh, be careful little eyes, what you see.
Oh, be careful little eyes, what you see.
There’s a Father up above, looking down in tender love,
So be careful little eyes, what you see.
Be careful little ears what you hear
Be careful little mouth what you say…
Be careful little hands, what you touch…
Be careful little feet, where you go…
Take time today and dedicate your entire body to God.
Ask Him to use your eyes, ears, mind, mouth, hands and feet to bring Him glory.
You are His royal priest! 1 Peter 2:9
A common issue among young women I disciple is the belief that in order to be happy they need to find a husband, a man who will meet their needs and fulfill their expectations. This focus is not only self-centered and unrealistic, but it blinds them to the joys of the life they currently have and leaves them feeling frustrated and depressed. It is also an affront to the Lord who loves them and longs to have an intimate relationship with them.
Having been single, married, and single again after the death of my husband, I can speak from personal experience that what makes both singleness and marriage happy is a close relationship with the Lord where He meets our needs and pours His love into us and through us to others.
Pastor and author Chip Ingram says this,
If you must be completed by another person, you will find that whatever they have to give you will never be enough. Only God, through His Son and through the Holy Spirit, can provide what each of us needs to be complete. When we are whole and secure in Him, then we can approach a relationship in a healthy way.
In a devotional entitled “Satisfied Singleness” Steve Arterburn says,
No matter what your situation, God’s will for you right now is to be satisfied in Him, and to trust His plan for you at this time in your life.
God created us for relationship, first with Him and then with those He brings into our lives. If marriage is a part of His plan for us, we can trust Him to get us ready and to bring the one He’s chosen for us, in His time. In the meantime, we can enjoy His love and share a meaningful life with Him.
Did the disciples of Jesus ever abandon Him?
They sure did and it is recorded in John 6:16-17
After Jesus fed the 5,000 He saw that they were ready to take him
by force and make him king, so He went higher into the hills alone.
His disciples went down to the shore and waited for Him.
He didn’t come and when it got dark they pushed off for Capernaum.
Then a storm hit them. They were about 4 miles out. Jesus walked to them.
They were afraid. He said – “I am here! Don’t be afraid.”
They let Him into the boat and immediately the boat arrived at their destination.
1. Why did His men abandon Him?
2. How did they think He would get to Capernaum?
1. They left Him and went in their strength.
2. A storm hit them very hard.
3. They were in danger.
4. Jesus came to them where they were.
5. They invited Him into the boat.
6. They arrived at their destination immediately.
1. When we leave Jesus we get frustrated.
2. Storms come to make us realize we need Him.
3. Then at the right time He shows up to rescue us.
4. When we get Him into the boat with us we arrive at our destination.
1. Beware of striking out without Him.
2. We can live without Him to our detriment.
3. We can go to work, clean the house, talk to friends, watch TV,
eat food, and many other daily activities without Him.
4. We need to get Him into the boat BEFORE we push off.
1. Wait for Him. They were impatient.
2. Invite Him to join you in your daily life. They were just going
on a short trip.
3. Say, “Come, Lord Jesus, please join me and take charge as I begin
this task,go here, meet with this person, make this phone call,
or make this decision. I wait on You to give me what
I need – courage, love, kindness, joy, or humility”
Psalm 27:14 “Wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous.
Yes, wait patiently for the Lord.” NLT
Take Him with you constantly at the beginning of a thing and
you will arrive at your destination much more quickly than if
you strain at the oars for hours.
Yield to Him and depend on Him. He is the LORD!
You know the 10 commandments. Which one do you think God used the most words to communicate?
Wouldn’t it be one that really mattered to Him? It is #2.
“Don’t make, worship or serve an idol.” Exodus 20:4-6
The apostle Paul was very encouraged with the believers in Thessalonica because,
“You turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God.” 1 Thessalonians 1:9
God is a jealous God and desires our worship and service. Consider three ways we can commit idolatry:
1. If we seek the acceptance and approval of people then acceptance becomes my idol.
Young men join gangs to get acceptance.
2. If we want to control all the people and circumstances in my life then my being in control is my idol.
Addictions to drugs, alcohol, food, sex, work, and entertainment are expressions of control.
3. If we have a standard for how everything is to be done my way, then my standards become an idol.
I just want everyone to do things “right”, the way I do them.
Living for these idols causes us to replace God and become god.
It is all about getting acceptance, being in control, and setting standards for others.
We live for these things instead of living for God and His acceptance, allowing Him to be in control, and letting Him set the standards for us and others.
Are there idols in your life today?
Are you living for a spouse, child, or someone else’s acceptance?
Who or what are you trying to control?
Who are you judging because he/she is not living up to your standards?
Is it time for you to turn from these idols and serve and worship the only true and living God?
Is it time to let Him be God and stop trying to be god?
“Nothing so defiles and entangles the heart of man, as the impure love of things created.”
Thomas A Kempis – The Imitation of Christ
“A committed young missionary came to me for help figuring out his life purpose. Over the weeks we’d been working together, he’d poured out his heart to me. We talked about his dreams for starting a ministry center as well as the disappointment of losing his support, his relational challenges with other missionaries, the passion he had for reaching youth and the times he’s chafed under controlling leaders.
‘So,’ I finally offered, ‘Let me sum up our conversation. I’m hearing that you really feel called to ministry; you just don’t want to get hurt anymore.’
‘Yeah, that’s about it,’ he replied.
After a moment’s reflection, I asked, ‘Think about Jesus’ life for a second. He was betrayed by one of His inner circle, abandoned by His best friends and tortured to death in the process of living out His life purpose. How will you become like Him if you never get hurt? And how will you ever really know Him if your life is nothing like His?’
That rocked him back a bit.
We reflected together on the story of Jesus’ life, pondering how the fellowship of His sufferings is inextricable linked with the power of His resurrection. That conversation transformed this young man’s expectations about his vocation.”
Taken from A Leader’s Life Purpose by Tony Stoltzfus
But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ – the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. I want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in His suffering, becoming like Him in His death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.
The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs – heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in His sufferings in order that we may also share in His glory. I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.
Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when His glory is revealed. If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you… So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.
(I Peter 4:12-19)
This past week I ran my first marathon.
I give all the praise to God! He gave me the strength to finish and then gave me
a dose of humility. I came in dead last! I was not an athlete in High School.
Several years ago while getting a physical the doctor asked me if I was a runner.
“No way,” was my reply. He then told me that I have the heart of a marathon runner.
So, last year I began planning and training.
Check out these running jokes –
“My doctor recently told me that jogging could add years to my life.
I think he was right. I feel ten years older already.”
“You have to stay in shape. My grandmother started walking five miles a day
when she was 60. She’s 97 today and we don’t know where she is.”
All jokes aside, it is difficult to keep our bodies in shape.
Most of don’t do physical labor. Therefore we have to add some kind of exercise to our lives.
Let’s examine Hebrews 12:1-2 and see how living the Christian life is compared with running a race.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith.”
We are reminded of the many people in God’s Word who were stretched physically for God’s work.
“Let us strip off every weight that slows us down.”
Extra weight is removed by a serious runner. What is your weight today? Could it be fear and worry?
“Especially the sin that so easily trips us up.”
Is there a secret sin in your life today? If allowed to continue it will trip you up and cause a major downfall.
“And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.”
Remember the story of the tortious and the hare? Slow and steady wins the race.
I saw many people walking the marathon and they all finished ahead of me.
Endurance is the ability to continue performing a given task over a prolonged period of time.
Will you finish well your life of faith? Even though I was last there were about a dozen other runners who did not finish.
They were picked up by a bus. That would have been embarrassing!
“We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus.”
As Christians we can easily forget we are in a race.
We need to run toward Jesus and run away from anything or anyone who would pull us away from Him.
Look to Him. He is the goal and the finish line.
Let’s run with endurance today. Don’t let your body tell you what to do.
If need be, make a plan to move your muscles.
Ask God what He wants you to do to take better care of His body.