Friday, December 29, 2017
In review of Galatians 5:22-23 it says, “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”
Good fruit is the result of following the leading of the Holy Spirit.
What this means to me:
There is good fruit that comes from following the lead of the Holy Spirit. This fruit makes a difference.
Today's passages come from the last part of Galatians 5, where Paul speaks of living by the Spirit's power. He starts by telling us to let the Holy Spirit guide our lives. Then we won't be doing what our sinful nature craves. The Holy Spirit produces good fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. So since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit's leading in every part of our lives. Let us not become conceited, or provoke one another, or be jealous of one another.
As I do this I should be careful not to confuse my subjective feelings with the Spirit's leading. I’m reminded this morning that being led by the Holy Spirit involves the desire to hear, the readiness to obey God's Word, and the sensitivity to discern between my feelings and his promptings. Live each day controlled and guided by the Holy Spirit. Then the words of Christ will be in my mind, the love of Christ will be behind my actions, and the power of the Christ will help me control my selfish desires.
If I try to rely on my own wisdom I will make wrong choices. If I try to follow the Spirit by my own human effort, I will fail. My only way to freedom from my evil desires is through the empowering of the Holy Spirit. In order to deal with evil desires, I must deal with them decisively, crucify them.
The fruit of the Spirit is the spontaneous work of the Holy Spirit in us. The Spirit produces these character traits that are found in the nature of Christ. They are the by-products of Christ's control, we can't obtain them by trying to get them without his help. If I want the fruit of the Spirit to grow in me, I must join my life to his. I must know him, love him, remember him, and imitate him. As a result, I will fulfill the intended purpose of the law, to love God and my neighbors.
As this year comes to an end, I’m encouraged to meditate on the positive aspects of my life. Focus on a loving Savior who died to grant me eternal life walking streets of pure gold and on His Spirit, who empowers me to display the character of Christ. Keep opening the Word of God and let it come alive in my life. Let it take root in my soul. Lastly cherish each day for the priceless gift that it is.
Thursday, December 28, 2017
In review of Hebrews 12:2, it says, “We must keep our eyes on Jesus, who leads us and makes our faith complete. He endured the shame of being nailed to a cross, because he knew that later on he would be glad he did. Now he is seated at the right side of God’s throne!”
Fix your eyes on Jesus, the perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross and it’s shame. Now He sits at the Father’s right hand.
What this means to me:
As my example I can look to Jesus, who leads me and makes my faith complete. He endured all kinds of shame in being nailed to a cross, because he know what laid ahead and what his actions would do for all mankind. Now he is seated at God’s right.
We are surrounded by a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith. Therefore, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. Let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. I can do this by keeping my eyes on Jesus, my champion who initiates and perfect my faith. He did so because of the joy He saw awaiting him and endured the cross and the shame associated with it. Now he sits on God's right hand side. So I shouldn’t forget the encouraging words God spoke, to not make light of His discipline, and not give up when He corrects me. For the Lord disciplines those he loves and he punishes each one he accepts as his child.
Also, I do not struggle alone, and I am not the first to struggle with the problems I face. Others have run the race and won, and their witness stirs us to run and win also. I need to give up whatever endangers my relationship with God. To live effectively, I must keep my eyes on Jesus. I will stumble if I look away from him to stare at myself or at the circumstances. I need to be running for Christ, not myself, and I must always keep him in sight.
When hardship and discouragement come, it's easy to lose sight of the big picture. But I'm not alone; there is help. Many have already made it through life, enduring far more difficult circumstances than what I'm experiencing. Suffering is the training ground for Christian maturity. It develops our patience and makes our final victory sweet.
I’m reminded this morning that it was the priceless value of my eternal soul that drove Jesus to endure the cross. To Jesus, I am a priceless treasure. No one else will love me like God does. So when life becomes difficult and the pain is choking out every positive reminder of the blessings in my life, meditate on this: “God loved me enough to send His one and only Sun to die in my place.”
Wednesday, December 27, 2017
In review of Psalm 37:25 it says, “As long as I can remember, good people have never been left helpless, and their children have never gone begging for food.”
God never forsakes the righteous, nor leaves their children begging for food.
What this means to me:
Good and righteous people have never been abandoned or left helpless, nor have their children gone hungry.
Today's verse comes from Psalm 37. In it David tells us to trust in the Lord and wait patiently for him to act. He also tells us that we should never envy evil people, even though some may be extremely popular or excessively rich. No matter how much they have, their possessions will fade and vanish like grass that withers and dies. David also calls me to take delight in the Lord and to commit everything I do to him.
The person in whom God delights is one who follows God, trusts him, and tries to do his will. God watches over and makes firm every step that person takes. To get God's direction, then seek his advice before I step out.
In David's day, Israel obeyed God's laws that ensured the poor were treated fairly and mercifully. As long as Israel was obedient, food would be available for everyone. When Israel forgot God, the rich took care only of themselves, and the poor suffered.
When I see a brother or sister suffering today, I can respond in one of three ways: (1) I can say, as Job's friends did, that those who suffer brought it on themselves. (2) I can say that this is a test to help the poor develop more patience and trust in God. (3) I can help those who are in need. David would approve of only the last option.
If someone has a need I can meet, I should help them out. Give what is due to God (a tithe) and then enjoy the rest. God gives us a harvest of abundance, not so we can hoard it but so that we can share it. He gives us the provision so that we can live a rich and full life in Him.
Live in the here and now without fear of tomorrow. Be anxious for nothing! Don’t base my happiness on some future event that may or may not ever take place. No one is promised tomorrow. Make the most of today; God has already taken care of all of my tomorrows.
I can store up treasures in heaven by tithing, sharing the love of the Lord, and following His commands. Do I own my possessions or do my possessions own me? Seek first the Kingdom, and all of these things will be added unto me.
Tuesday, December 26, 2017
In review of Ezekiel 36:26 it says, “I will give you a new heart and a new mind. I will take away your stubborn heart of stone and give you an obedient heart.”
God can change your stubborn heart and replace it with an obedient one.
What this means to me:
God has given me a new heart and put a new spirit in me; he has removed my stubborn heart and given me an obedient heart.
In this prophecy from Ezekiel, he said that Israel would be restored as a nation and would return to its own land. The mountains were symbolic of Israel's strength. But to the exiles in Babylon, this seemed impossible. This message again emphasized God's sovereignty and trustworthiness. He would first judge the nations used to punish Israel and then restore his people.
In this passage God promised to restore Israel not only physically, but spiritually. To accomplish this, God would give them a new heart for following him and put his Spirit with them; to transform them and empower them to do his will. Again the new covenant was promised, ultimately to be fulfilled in Christ. No matter how impure my life is, God offers me a fresh start. I can have my sins washed away, receive a new heart from God, and have his Spirit within me, if I accept God's promise. There is no sense in patching up my old life when I can have a new one.
God said his people should be ashamed of their sins. Seems the people had become so callous that they had lost all sensitivity to sin. First they had to "remember" their sins, then despise them, and finally repent of them. As I examine my life, I may find that we, too, have lost our sensitivity to certain sins. But if we measure ourselves against God's standard of right living, we will be ashamed. To regain sensitivity we must recognize our sin for what it is, be sorry for displeasing God, and ask his forgiveness. The Holy Spirit will guide us, making us responsive and receptive to God's truth.
If I ask, God will come to my aid. I cannot expect his mercy, however, until we have received a new heart from him. I can be thankful that his invitation is always open.
I’m reminded this morning to be open and willing to a change of plans when God changes my heart. I may think I’m at a place where I have it all figured out. Everything seems to be moving along just fine. However, if I’m not where God wants me to be, it’s time to head in a new direction.
God’s plans are not always my plans. His ways are not always my ways. However if I follow his lead, the path will take me somewhere far greater than I could have ever anticipated. The path may not be strewn with rose petals and rainbows, but it will make me into a servant, someone God can use to further His kingdom.
The Bible suggests that I write out my plan for the upcoming year and make it plain. Pray about my plan. God will give me the desires of my heart, but He will never take me down a path that will endanger my eternal soul. Remember, He can see my end from my beginning.
So If God changes my heart, be willing to adjust the sail on my ship. God might be directing me toward deeper waters that will bring me into closer Commitment with Him.
Friday, December 22, 2017
In review of Luke 2:11-12 it says, “There is born to you this day in the city of David, a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.”
Christ our savior and Lord, was born and was laid in a manger wrapped snugly in strips of cloth.
What this means to me:
Christ my savior and Lord was born in the city of David, in the meagerst of conditions. He was laid in a manger, wrapped snugly in strips of cloth.
Today's passage comes from Luke chapter 2 where shepherds are told of Christ's birth. Luke tells us that In nearby fields, shepherds were guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the radiance of the Lord's glory surrounded them. At first 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, the Lord has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David. You will recognize him by seeing a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger. Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others, praising God and saying, "Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased." When the angels 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."
God continued to reveal the news about his Son, but not those we might expect. Luke records that Jesus' birth was announced to shepherds in the fields. Here the angels invited these shepherds to greet the Lamb of God, who could take away the sins of the world forever.
Luke records that the shepherds ran to see the baby; then they spread the word. Jesus is my messiah, my savior. Do I look forward to meeting him in prayer and in his Word each day? Have I discovered a Lord so wonderful that I can't help sharing my joy with my friends?
The greatest event in history had just happened! The Messiah had been born! For ages the Jews had waited for this event, and when it occurred, the announcement came to humble shepherds. I'm reminded that the Good News about Jesus is that he comes to all, including the plain and the ordinary. He comes to anyone with a heart humble enough to accept him. No matter my situation, I can have Jesus in my life. I don't need extraordinary qualifications, he accepts me just as I am.
Today and everyday, I have reason to rejoice... for Christ the Savior was born. As I celebrate this, keep CHRIST in Christmas! And keep in mind: it’s not about the gifts under the tree but about the One who died ON the tree to redeem us from our sins. He is the greatest Gift of all.
This gift to me, grants me eternal life with Him. This Gift sets the captives free and heals all of our diseases. Born in a humble stable next to stinking cattle, Baby Jesus came into this world in the most lowly of ways. But He is coming back to rule and to reign at the right hand of God the Father.
As I gather with family and friends this Christmas, remember the true reason for the season. Amid the chaos of tinsel and toys, dinner parties and late nights spent wrapping the perfect present, remember the Child who as born to die in my place.
Thank You, God, for the Babe in Bethlehem’s manger who has granted each and every one of us the gift of eternal life.
Thursday, December 21, 2017
In review of Isaiah 42:8 it says, “I am the Lord, that is My name; and My glory I will not give to another, nor My praise to carved images.”
God is our Lord, don’t give glory to anyone but Him.
What this means to me:
God is my Lord, I am to not give glory due to him, to anyone else, or any carved idols.
Today's passage comes from Isaiah 42 and speaks of the Lord's chosen servant. Some of these same verses are quoted in Matthew 12:18-21 with reference to Christ. The chosen servant reveals a character of gentleness, encouragement, justice, and truth. When I feel broken and bruised or burned out in my spiritual life, God won't step on you or toss you aside as useless, but will gently pick you up. God's loving attributes are desperately needed in the world today. Through God's Spirit, we can show such sensitivity to people around us, reflecting God's goodness and honesty to them.
These verses are about the Servant-Messiah, not the servant Cyrus spoken of in the previous chapter. Israel and the Messiah are both often call servant. Israel, as God's servant, was to help bring the world to a knowledge of God. The Messiah, Jesus, would fulfill this task and show God himself to the world.
I'm reminded this morning that part of Christ's mission on earth was to demonstrate God's righteousness and to be a light for the Gentiles (to all nations). Through Christ, all people have the opportunity to share in his mission. God calls me to be servants of his Son demonstrating God's righteousness and bringing his light. What a rare privilege it is to help the Messiah fulfill his mission! But I must seek his righteousness before I demonstrate it to others, and let his light shine in me before I can be a light myself.
God shares His glory with no one. Jesus didn’t come to earth because He needed us. He came because we needed Him. If anyone tries to take God’s glory, He will take His anointing away. Be warned the glory belongs to the Lord. When I share His message, do not add to it or take away from it. The Word needs no further interpretation. It was inspired by Almighty God, and its message is life-changing and true. Give God the glory, showers of blessings are likely to head my way.
Wednesday, December 20, 2017
In review of Psalm 139:7 it says, “Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence?”
God is everywhere, there is no escaping is presence
What this means to me:
There is no where I can go that you can’t see or influence.
Sometimes we don't let people get to know us completely because we are afraid they will discover something about us that they won't like. I'm reminded this morning that God already knows everything about me, even the number of hairs on my head, and he still accepts and loves me. God is with me through every situation, in every trial; protecting, loving, and guiding. He knows and loves me completely.
God is omnipresent, he is present everywhere. Because of this, I can never escape from his Spirit. This is good news, because no matter what I do or where I go, I can never be far from God's comforting presence. When I feel worthless or even begin to hate myself, I can remember that God's Spirit is ready and willing to work within us. I should have as much respect for myself as my Maker has for me.
God’s presence has no limit. I can cut myself off from people, but I cannot hid from God. When I am in the dark and feeling totally alone, God is still there. He knows my movements before I even make them. He knows my thoughts before I think them. He knows my words before I speak them. His ways are higher than my ways. He sees my secret sin. He also sees my good deeds that no one else sees. His point of view is out of this world, and His Word promises that He will repay evil for evil and good for good.
Given this, I should consider today if I have any unconfessed sin. If so bring it before the Lord and start a new chapter in my life. Get things right and get plugged into God. It is the only way to live a successful life.
Tuesday, December 19, 2017
In review of James 2:17 it says, “Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.”
Faith by itself, if it doesn’t have works is useless.
What this means to me:
Just having faith isn’t enough. My faith needs to produce good deeds, otherwise it is useless.
What good is it, if I say I have faith, but don't back it up by any actions that show it. That kind of faith can't save anyone. Faith by itself isn't enough. Unless it produces good deeds it is dead and useless.
When someone claims to have faith, what he or she may have is intellectual assent, agreement with a set of Christian teachings, and as such it would be incomplete faith. True faith transforms conduct as well as thoughts. If a life remains unchanged, then I wouldn't truly believe the truths I claim to believe.
There is no way to earn salvation by serving and obeying God. But such actions show that our commitment to God is real. Deeds of loving service are not a substitute for, but rather a verification of, our faith in Christ. Good deeds can never earn salvation, true faith always results in a changed life and good deeds.
I’m also reminded this morning that I will never possess what I do not pursue. I can’t launch a great dream without taking a risk. There are two kinds people: dreamers and doers. Am I just dreaming, or am I actually doing?
Go as far as I can, and God will do the rest. God is waiting to bless with blessing I can’t even begin to comprehend. The only thing stopping me from achieving absolute, off-the-charts success is myself. So let go of my fear and start moving toward the goal that Christ has set before me.
Monday, December 18, 2017
In review of Philippians 4:13 it says, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
Christ will give you the strength to face anything
What this means to me:
I can do everything that God asks me to do with the help of Christ who gives me the power and the strength.
Today's passage comes from Philippians 4, in it Paul tells us how he is able to face whatever comes his way. He know how to be content whether he had plenty or whether he was in need. The secret was drawing on Christ's power for strength. I too can learn to rely on God's promises and Christ's power to help me be content. If I find myself wanting more, ask God to remove that desire and teach me contentment in every circumstance. He will supply all my needs, but in a way that he knows is best for me.
Paul was content because he could see life from God's point of view. He focused on what he was supposed to do, not what he felt he should have. Paul had his priorities straight, and he was grateful for everything God had given him. Paul had detached himself from the nonessentials so that he could concentrate on the eternal. Often the desire for more or better prossessions is really a longing to fill an empty place in life. To what am I drawn when I feel empty inside? How can I find true contentment? The answer lies in my perspective, my priorities, and my source of power.
Can I really do everything? The power we receive in union with Christ is sufficient to do his will and to face the challenges that arise from my commitment to doing it. He does not grant use superhuman ability to accomplish anything we can imagine without regard to his interests. As we contend for the faith, we will face troubles, pressures, and trials. As they come, ask Christ to strengthen me.
So I can transform my attitude from “I can’t” to “I will by the grace of God.” God is all-powerful and He deeply desires to give me the very best. In order to receive it, I need to anticipate that I’ll receive His best. If I think I’m going to succeed, I will. If I think I’ll fail, I will. It’s better to focus on achieving excellence in all I do, and get ready to fight the floodgates of rich success!
Friday, December 15, 2017
In review of Psalm 32:7 it says, “You are my hiding place; You shall preserve me from trouble; you shall surround me with songs of deliverance.”
God is a refuge, he protects from trouble, and He saves.
What this means to me:
God is my hiding place from every storm of life that comes around; He protects me from trouble and puts song in my heart because of His deliverance.
Today's passage comes from Psalm 32. In this psalm David tells of how forgiveness brings true joy. For only when we ask God to forgive our sins will he give use real happiness and relief from guilt, and helps save us.
David tells us that there is joy for those whose disobedience is forgiven, whose sin is put out of sight! Such joy for those whose record the Lord has cleared of guilt, whose lives are lived in complete honesty! David tells us that when he refused to confess, his body wasted away. Finally he confessed all his sins and stopped trying to hide guilt. Therefore he tells us to pray while there's still time, so that we won’t drown in the floodwaters of judgment. For the Lord is our hiding place; He protects from trouble and surrounds us with songs of victory.
The Lord will guide us along the best pathway for our lives. He will advise and watch over us. While many sorrows come to the wicked, unfailing love will surround those who trust in the Lord. So rejoice in the Lord and be glad, all who obey Him!
God wants to forgive. It has always been part of his loving nature. Confession is to agree with God, acknowledgment that He is right to declare what we have done as sinful, and that we are wrong to desire or to do it. It means affirming my intention of abandoning that sin in order to follow God more faithfully.
When a day of trouble comes, I should get down on my knees, confess and pray. He will preserve me, just like he did David and countless others. Nothing can shorten his arm, he can reach me wherever I am, and deliver me from even my greatest foe.
Thursday, December 14, 2017
In review of Joshua 1:8 it says, “Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do.”
Success will come from always studying and meditating on His Word. This will help you obey what is written in it.
What this means to me:
God has given me His book of instructions, the Bible. I am to meditate on it day and night so that I can remind myself to obey everything written in it. This will help me prosper and succeed in all that I do.
Today’s passage comes from the first chapter in the book of Joshua. After wandering for 40 years in the wilderness, a new generation is ready to enter Canaan. But first God prepares both Joshua and the nation by teaching them the importance of courageous and consistent faith. The nation then miraculously crosses the Jordan River to begin the long awaited conquest of the Promised Land. Like Joshua, I, too, need faith to begin and continue living the Christian life.
This is also a timely reminder for me as I prepare to take on a new role in my career. I am to be strong and courageous, for am the one who will lead a new team toward the company's mission. Therefore I am to be strong and very courageous. Their is also a reminder for me to be careful to obey all the instructions given to me from His Word. I should never deviate from it, turning to the left or the right. Then I'll be successful in everything I do. Study His Word continually. Meditate on it day and night so I can be sure to obey what is written it. For then I will prosper and succeed in what I do. The Lord's command to me is to be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord my God is with me wherever I go.
I'm reminded of this success in comments from my team after I announced my decision to leave my current role for a new one. People remember me for my leadership, direction, investment and integrity. As I move forward, I must remain on the path of integrity and have a heart for leading people well.
Every new job is a challenge. Without God it can be frightening. With God it can be a great adventure. Just as God was with Joshua, he will be we me as I face new challenges. I may not conquer nations, but every day I will face tough situations, difficult people, and temptations. God promises, however, that he will never abandon me or fail to help. By asking God to direct me I can conquer many of life's challenges.
For Joshua to succeed, he needed to (1) be strong and courageous because the task ahead would not be easy, (2) obey God's law, and (3) constantly read and study the Book of Instruction; God's Word. To be successful, follow God's words to Joshua. I may not succeed by the world's standards, but I will be a success in God's eyes; and his opinion is most important.
After all, success is not money, power, or obtaining a goal. Success is not a destination; it’s a journey. Achieving a goal doesn’t guarantee contentment. I just need to continue to make it a goal to seek God’s will for my life. In His presence my soul will be satisfied. Walking hand-in-hand with the Savior, even during time of unspeakable sorrow, is my only guarantee of knowing true joy.
Meditate on His Word, and God will direct me down the paths of righteousness. I don’t believe I will ever regret a single day spent in His presence.
Wednesday, December 13, 2017
In review of Psalm 3:3 it says, “But Lord, you are my shield, my glory, and my only hope. You alone can lift my head, now bowed in shame.”
Lord you are our protection and hope. You alone can lift us up.
What this means to me:
God is my protection, the glory in my life, and my only true hope. He alone can lift up my head.
Today's verse comes from Psalm 3. In a time of fleeing, David shows how he confidently trusts God for protection and peace. David was in a minority. Not only did David's enemies view life differently, they actively sought to harm him. Instead of trusting in his army to defeat Absalom, he depended upon God's mercy therefore, he was at peace with whatever outcome occurred, knowing that God's great purpose would prevail. I too can overcome any fear by trusting God for his protection even in my darkest hour.
When writing this Psalm, David was running for his life from his rebellious son, Absalom, and a host of other traitors. When circumstances go against me, I can be tempted to think that God is also against me. But David reminds me that the opposite is true. When everything seems to go wrong, God is still for me. If a circumstance has turned against me, don't blame God, rather seek him as God responds when we earnestly pray to him.
Sleep doesn't come easily during a crisis. David could have had sleepless nights when his son Absalom rebelled and gathered any army to kill him. But he slept peacefully, even during the rebellion. The difference is because David cried out to the Lord, and the Lord heard him. The assurance of answered prayer brings peace. It is easier to sleep well when we have full assurance that God is in control of circumstances. If I find myself lying awake at night worrying about what I can't change, I should pour out my heart to God, and thank him that he is in control. Then sleep will come. David realized that faith in God's timing was the answer to his question about the success the wicked had unfairly achieved.
So I can praise God, the Glory and the Lifter of my head. Praise Him for the good things in my life and for the trials. He alone is worthy! When I begin to praise God, the rest of the world just melts away. The evil of the day moves into the background as God takes center stage.
I have been placed on this earth with a divine purpose. I have a destiny that no one else can fulfill. I am unique! I am blessed and highly favored of God! I can accomplish more in one hour with God’s favor than most people can in a lifetime.
It’s not how long I live, but how strong I live. Joseph went from jailhouse to the penthouse in one day. He found great favor with both God and men. Am I looking for God’s favor in my life? Take advantage of the Holy Spirit’s anointing and tap into the Source of all life, knowing that every good and perfect thing comes from above.
I am called with a holy calling. The vision I have for my life is inspired by the fire of hope, which comes from God’s anointing. This hope should impassion me to work with God to reach my divine destiny. Go after it with my eye on the prize, for nothing is impossible with God.
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