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Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Hope and Light


We see the facts surrounding Jesus' birth in Matthew 1:22-25.  All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).  When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. But he did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.



This passage is a very moving revelation of important truths of God’s plan for the world. Even though He is King of Kings, and all will bow in His honor, he was born in a borrowed room not a palace. Jesus came to show God’s love for people who feel they have nothing. God has known the same sadness.



Jesus alone brings hope and light in to a dark world. Once each year, Christmas comes along to renew our hope and to remind us that the darkness of this world cannot overcome the light of the world.



Allow Him to light up the dark areas of your life this year. With light comes clarity and direction. Amen?

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Prepare Your Heart


As we prepare for Christmas, let us center ourselves on the thought that we should live out the Christmas story every day of our lives. Jesus came so that we might "have life and have it to the full" (John 10:10). God wants us to have a full life and I believe that living out the Christmas story each and everyday is a great place to start living to the fullest. You see... the Christmas story is all about obedience and giving glory to God.



But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.-Matthew 1:20-21 

The Christmas story should always be about Jesus!



May we live out the Christmas story by living our lives like Jesus.  Living out the Christmas story means so much more than just these verses. If we begin to live a life of obedience and give glory to God in all we do it is a start. Patterning our lives after Jesus (who is always faithful) is the way to live out the Christmas story. 

Amen?

Monday, November 28, 2016

Birth Plans


Jesus’ birth was planned by God. All details concerning His birth were exactly as they should have been.



Jacob was the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary, and Mary was the mother of Jesus who is called the Messiah. 17 Thus there were fourteen generations in all from Abraham to David, fourteen from David to the exile to Babylon, and fourteen from the exile to the Messiah. 18 This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. 19 Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.

   20 But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” - Matthew 1:16-20



This shows that Jesus was the Son of God. Having no human father, conceived by the Holy Spirit shows His divinity. Born to a human mother shows His humanity.



The Great News is not that we are human, but that Jesus was born, died, and resurrected so that we can have the Holy Spirit living in us.



Are you just human, or holy and human?



Holiness only comes through Jesus. Amen?

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Advent


Today is the first Sunday of Advent. “Advent” simply means coming as in Christ is coming, and for us now He has arrived. This is referring to His birth in history and in humanity. It meant the welcoming or the arrival of a special king and for us; it is our King of kings. This is what the Old Testament prophecies foretold concerning Jesus’ Incarnation, the Word made flesh for our hope and Atonement that brought us our deliverance.   Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel. (Isaiah 7:14)

          Advent represents our expectation, anticipation, and preparation for who Christ is and what He has done for us. He arrived into the world as a human being, being fully God and fully man. He came to identify as one of us, as the Son of Man, as a baby born in a manger. He came for us, He came for you and He comes into our lives and into our hearts. He is coming again in great power and glory to bring His Kingdom into fruition.
Amen?

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Confession


The Bible tells us that if we confess our sins we will be forgiven of our sin and cleansed from all unrighteousness. This is the state of cleansing that God desires for us to be in. That's what Zechariah 1:3-6 is talking about - God’s people will be cleansed by their confession. 

Therefore tell the people: This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘Return to me,’ declares the Lord Almighty, ‘and I will return to you,’ says the Lord Almighty.  Do not be like your ancestors, to whom the earlier prophets proclaimed: This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘Turn from your evil ways and your evil practices.’ But they would not listen or pay attention to me, declares the Lord.  Where are your ancestors now? And the prophets, do they live forever?  But did not my words and my decrees, which I commanded my servants the prophets, overtake your ancestors?

“Then they repented and said, ‘The Lord Almighty has done to us what our ways and practices deserve, just as he determined to do.’”

We see two things here:
1. Repent (Don’t be like your ancestors) - Don't repeat the history of turning from God like we've studied in the Minor Prophets! Turn to God instead!                                                                                   

2. Remember God’s Word is forever (apply it, Joshua 1:7-9) Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go.  Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.  Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” 

Do life God's way not your own way. Realize who is the true power source. 
So he said to me, "This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel: 'Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,' says the LORD Almighty." Zechariah 4:6 

Amen?

Friday, November 25, 2016

Restoration


Today is a day called Black Friday. It’s called that for profitability but real darkness occurs when we find ourselves confronted with our sin. Praise God He reigns and restores! Let’s look at those two words, reigns and restores, and the Scripture that goes with it.



The Lord reigns: The Lord reigns, let the nations tremble; he sits enthroned between the cherubim, let the earth shake. Great is the Lord in Zion; he is exalted over all the nations. Let them praise your great and awesome name—he is holy. The King is mighty, he loves justice— you have established equity; in Jacob, you have done what is just and right. Exalt the Lord our God and worship at his footstool; he is holy. Moses and Aaron were among his priests; Samuel was among those who called on his name; they called on the Lord and he answered them. He spoke to them from the pillar of cloud; they kept his statutes and the decrees he gave them. Lord our God, you answered them; you were to Israel a forgiving God, though you punished their misdeeds. Exalt the Lord our God and worship at his holy mountain, for the Lord our God is holy. and worship at his holy mountain, or the Lord our God is holy. - Psalm 99



The Lord restores: For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. –Ephesians 5:8-10



How does this look in your life?



Be restored and let God reign in your life; today and every day. Amen?

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Gifts of Thankfulness

Happy Thanksgiving! Today is a day to express grateful and thankful hearts. We’ll continue to look at things we should be thankful for from 1 Corinthians 1:7-9.

Therefore you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed. He will also keep you firm to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, who has called you into fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

1. Gifts (v. 7) All believers are blessed with spiritual gifts we should share.
2. Protection (v. 8) Stand firm in the faith and allow the Lord to be your shield.
3. Faithfulness (v. 9) Give thanks to a faithful God by showing your faithfulness.
4. Fellowship (v. 9) Thank you Jesus for bringing us in to the family of God.

May we give thanks for today for all these and more. Amen?

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Thankful for


Let's look at some of things we should be thankful for in 1 Corinthians 1:4-6.
I always thank my God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus. For in him you have been enriched in every way—with all kinds of speech and with all knowledge— God thus confirming our testimony about Christ among you.
1. People (v. 4) Thank those who have taught, led, and mentored you in the faith.
2. Grace (v. 4) Jesus has given us His grace to be received and shared.
3. Wisdom (v. 5) Use the knowledge that has been given you by Christ.
4. Salvation (v. 6) No one can take away your story (testimony), so share it.
Thank you, God, for all you have given us in Jesus Christ. Amen?

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Thanks Giving

We come to God so often with our complaints or requests that we tend to neglect giving thanks to Him. I love what Paul writes to the church in Corinth (and us).


I always thank my God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus. For in him you have been enriched in every way—with all kinds of speech and with all knowledge— God thus confirming our testimony about Christ among you. Therefore you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed. He will also keep you firm to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, who has called you into fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. - 1 Corinthians 1:4­-9   
                              

This passage shows us the how and why should we show our thanks. May we always have a “thanks-giving” heart. Amen?

Monday, November 21, 2016

Face Time

As we celebrate Thanksgiving week may we always be thankful for a holy God. Let’s look at Psalm 11 today.

1 In the LORD I take refuge. How then can you say to me: “Flee like a bird to your mountain. 2 For look, the wicked bend their bows; they set their arrows against the strings to shoot from the shadows at the upright in heart. 3 When the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do?” 4 The LORD is in his holy temple; the LORD is on his heavenly throne. He observes everyone on earth; his eyes examine them. 5 The LORD examines the righteous, but the wicked, those who love violence, he hates with a passion. 6 On the wicked he will rain fiery coals and burning sulfur; a scorching wind will be their lot. 7 For the LORD is righteous, he loves justice; the upright will see his face.

May God help us seek Him and see His face. Amen?

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Showing Thanks

Look at one story of thankfulness found in Luke 17:11-19: 1Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. 12 As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met him. They stood at a distance 13 and called out in a loud voice, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!” 14 When he saw them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed. 15 One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. 16 He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him—and he was a Samaritan. 17 Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? 18 Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?” 19 Then he said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.”



Ten Were Healed – Only One Came Back

1. Only one broke the Levitical law about quarantine.

2. Only one understood what was happening to them in a deeper sense.

3. Only one went from lamenting to thanksgiving and praise.

4. Only one who came back was a Samaritan.

It wasn’t Suzy Sunday School or Deacon Doug who truly understood (got it). It was the Samaritan! The guy that had no business at Jesus feet, but he was the only one who did.

5. Only one saw the difference between being healed and being whole. Nine lepers were so intent on following the law, but the one, who turned around and came back, saw a significant difference in his mind and heart. Clearly in the mind of Jesus there is a difference between being healed and being made whole



Always come back to Jesus with a grateful heart. Amen?

Saturday, November 19, 2016

All the Time

I love Psalm 136:1-4 “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good. His love endures forever. Give thanks to the God of gods. His love endures forever. Give thanks to the Lord of lords: His love endures forever. to him who alone does great wonders, His love endures forever.” I think that this is such an appropriate response to God from a thankful believer.

During this season of Thanksgiving let’s remember that.
Here’s a challenge. Try to respond to things that happen to you today with this response: “His love endures forever!” It will change your outlook and probably someone else’s.

God is good…Amen?

Friday, November 18, 2016

Honor Him

We are to live lives that honor God. 16 Then those who feared the Lord talked with each other, and the Lord listened and heard. A scroll of remembrance was written in his presence concerning those who feared the Lord and honored his name. 17 “On the day when I act,” says the Lord Almighty, “they will be my treasured possession. I will spare them, just as a father has compassion and spares his son who serves him. 18 And you will again see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between those who serve God and those who do not.” - Malachi 3:16-18
In these few verses, we are given the blue print for a life that pleases the Lord.
- fear God with reverence obedience - honor God's name - serve God - do the right thing 
Prayerfully consider today some things that can help you live a life honoring to God. It starts when we must fix our eyes on our unchanging Christ. Amen? 

Thursday, November 17, 2016

The Test

God said to test Him and see if He is still in charge in Malachi, and heaven will be opened up to pour out blessings. He will defend us against our enemies and protect our possessions. The nation that follows Him will experience what it's like to be a country of grace.

Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it. 11 I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not drop their fruit before it is ripe,” says the Lord Almighty. 12 “Then all the nations will call you blessed, for yours will be a delightful land,” says the Lord Almighty.13 “You have spoken arrogantly against me,” says the Lord. “Yet you ask, ‘What have we said against you?’ 14 “You have said, ‘It is futile to serve God. What do we gain by carrying out his requirements and going about like mourners before the Lord Almighty? 15 But now we call the arrogant blessed. Certainly evildoers prosper, and even when they put God to the test, they get away with it.’” Malachi 3:10-15

We are promised these same things today, but will not experience them as long as we stay unfaithful and disobedient. God talks about lives not serving Him in verses 13-15. Where we speak hard, rude words, and curse God. They live for self, break all the rules, and push God to the limit.

We are called “be the church” to people like these. That will start when we repent and “take the plank out of our own eye”. Amen?

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

A Way Out


Let’s look to Christ through His Word in Malachi 3:7-10:
 Ever since the time of your ancestors you have turned away from my decrees and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you,” says the Lord Almighty. “But you ask, ‘How are we to return?’ “Will a mere mortal rob God? Yet you rob me. “But you ask, ‘How are we robbing you?’ “In tithes and offerings. You are under a curse—your whole nation—because you are robbing me. 10 Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house.

We see the problem in verse 7. God’s people are ignoring God’s commands, not focusing on His purposes, and needing to return to God. These same problems occur today. Praise God that we are given the solution in verses 8-10. We begin by being honest – no more lies or deceit. We must stop robbing God, and give the church our tithe. It’s all God’s anyway, so let’s remember that.

If we are willing, we can apply God’s solution to our lives today. Amen?

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Who is in Charge?

How does this reminder from the Word of God make you feel? Malachi 3:6 says "For I am the Lord, and I do not change." Does this knowledge (or reminder) effect your life?
I think that we should have a passionate and clear vision of what God has called us to do. We should not judge our faith by public opinion polls or what’s fashionable, because these things change. I am a big believer in learning from the past but we also need to keep focused vertically and forward. Isaiah 43:18-19 "Do not call to mind the former things, or ponder things of the past. Behold, I will do something new." 
 How do you apply this verse to your life?
This is a new day! Today you stand on the edge of a new change, a new challenge, and a new commitment. The only way to proceed is trust, obey, and know the Word of God.
Trust in the one who knows your future. Amen?

Monday, November 14, 2016

Privileged

God calls on all believers to be good stewards of what He has entrusted to them. Consider this great teaching verse from Paul:
For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich. - 2 Corinthians 8:9.
Someone once said, "You can give without loving, but you cannot love without giving." Prayerfully consider the following questions.

Does your giving reflect your gratefulness, your eagerness, and your love? 

Do you give spiritually and sacrificially?
 
What and how am I giving?

We should never neglect the privilege of giving back to the One who gave Himself for us.

Remember giving is a privilege. Amen?

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Church Musts

I came across this list recently from a journal entitled:  "Six Things We, the Church, Must Do". Prayerfully consider each call to action. 

We Must Speak the truth.

We Must Consult the Designer’s Manual, the Bible on all matters.

We Must Remember the Children, and teach them God's ways.

We Must Resist the Pressure from the world.

We Must Act Now, because waiting is not an option.

We Must Seek God every minute of our lives.

 People only change their minds when they allow God to change their heart.

May we be about God's business (and make it a must). Amen?

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Not Afraid

 I love this quote from Rick Warren: "I have discovered one great common denominator in every growing church, regardless of denomination or location: leadership that is not afraid to believe God. Growing churches are led by leaders who expect their congregation to grow. They are people of faith who believe the promises of God, even in discouraging times."
 
We live in a time of great change. There is one thing that should never change: our love, focus and devotion to Jesus Christ. Jesus never changes, so there is none better to follow - Amen?

Do not let politics, storms, anything or anyone else influence that choice. 

Always believe in and follow God's plan. Amen?

Friday, November 11, 2016

Life Care

I read an article recently titled, Does the Church really matter to God? It really got me thinking because in record numbers people leave the church every day. This is one of those "minor prophet" verses that we probably never read or skipped over. It's God's Word to the church for all time.

Amos 5:21-24 really talks about what matters to God:
I hate all your show and pretense-the hypocrisy of your religious festivals and solemn assemblies. I will not accept your burnt offerings and grain offerings. I won't even notice all your choice peace offerings. Away with your noisy hymns of praise! I will not listen to the music of your harps. Instead, I want to see a mighty flood of justice, an endless river of righteous living. 

Whenever you see the word "justice" in the Bible it is usually in regards to caring for people's needs. Living a "righteous life" means doing it God's way.   

Imagine that?

God wants us to take care of others and live a Christ-honoring life - a radical concept by most standards of "church". By the way, church, He means do this every single day - not just on Sunday (or when the Pastor is looking).

Always be the church that matters to God. Amen?

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Master Choice


Let's continue our study of what Jesus teaches us about treasure today in Matthew Chapter 6 verse 24. He tells us there is a choice about having two kinds of Masters 24 “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.
He says we either hate or love them. When it comes to Jesus there is no neutrality. We are for Him or against Him. We either leave (reject) or cleave (receive) Jesus as Lord and Savior.
What is your answer to this question: Is it easier to believe in Jesus, or obey Him?
The choice is this: Serve God, or the God of this world (material things). As for me and my house we will serve the Lord. Amen?

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Heart Problems


We continue today looking at the great wisdom Jesus shared in Matthew Chapter six about treasures in heaven. He gives a warning about two kinds of hearts.
21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. 22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!

Let’s make this clear. A good heart is like a good eye (or vision). Spiritually being in God’s Light brings clarity to our world and purpose. A bad heart is like a bad eye (or vision). This represents the darkness of sin, and confusion to our world and purpose.

You can tell if you have a spiritual heart problem by your vision. Are the things of God clear to you?



Bring the Light of Christ in to everything you do. Amen?

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Making Wise Choices

In Matthew 6:19-24 Jesus talks about having Treasures in Heaven instead of accumulating wealth here in this life. Over the next few days we’ll unpack this great teaching and hopefully apply its lessons to our lives. Today let’s look at the first two verses about being rich?

19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.

There is a contrast here about two kinds of riches. There are Earthly riches, which you leave, and are temporary. Jesus says do not store up or focus on these, but instead on heavenly riches, which you receive in Glory which are eternal.

Our problem with riches is we choose the wrong thing.  May we follow Jesus’ example and focus on what really lasts. Amen?

Monday, November 7, 2016

Qualifications


May we all join in prayer for tomorrow's election. The only way to restore morals and righteousness in America is to elect godly people to positions of authority. Proverbs 29:2 tells us; With good men in authority, the people rejoice; but with the wicked in power, they groan” .
The Word of God gives us the basic qualifications of a good
candidate. ‘’Find some capable, godly, honest men who hate
bribes, and… let these men be responsible to serve the 
people with justice at all times” (Exodus 18:21-22).
The six qualifications listed in this passage are:
1. A demonstrated capability in managing business
2. Godliness - spiritual maturity
3. Honesty
4. Integrity
5. Industriousness
6. Justice
May we apply the God-given standards carefully and prayerfully in selecting our candidate.

Amen?

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Truth


It isn't what we think, feel, or wish for, that makes it right. The Bible shows us what is truth from God. God's Word says in Titus 2:1, "You must teach what is in accord with sound doctrine." Sound doctrine is what biblical truth is! It’s nice that we don’t have to make things up or figure them out all the time. We just have to have faith in the Word and obey.
A long time ago a man asked Jesus, “What is truth”? Sadly, he didn’t realize the very essence of it was standing right in front of him. Jesus has given us His Spirit and Word. May we consume and live by them.
We don't have to stretch the truth – just live it! Amen?

Saturday, November 5, 2016

To Know Him


God offers salvation to everyone, but only few will accept. We, who are His, know that He is always with us. God's Word says in Psalm 4:3, "Know that the Lord has set apart the godly for Himself; the Lord will hear when I call to Him." People in a close relationship know each other’s voice no matter if it’s a child’s or an adult.
Jesus, the Good Shepherd, reminds us that even animals (sheep) know the voice of one who cares, protects, and loves them. May we always obey that voice and know He always hears ours.
Amen?

Friday, November 4, 2016

I’m Mad


There are things that happen that should make us mad. Some may think that anger is a sin, but it’s not. The Bible is clear on this subject. God's Word says in Psalm 4:4, "In your anger do not sin; when you are on your beds, search your hearts and be silent." So it’s not the anger but not to let it cause you to sin. Which is difficult. Jesus got mad but He never sinned.
For believers to gain this same type of control we need to take to heart the rest of this verse. Let’s break it down:
When you are in your beds – You can think clearly and rationally about what has happened or to come. Be still, quiet, and calm.
Search your hearts – Psalm 139:23 says, “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts”. Allow His thoughts and ways become yours.
Be silent – Allow God to speak and the Holy Spirit minister to you.
Do not let your temper rule who you are. Be still. Be quiet. Hear and Obey God.
Amen?