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Friday, December 21, 2018

God’s Promise for the Pain of Christmas

In review of Joel 2:13, it says, “Return to the LORD your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity” (NIV).

Today’s verse is from Joel 2:13. In it, I’m reminded to not tear my clothing in my grief, but tear my heart instead.” Return to the Lord my God, for he is merciful and compassionate, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. He is eager to relent and not punish.

Deep remorse in Old Testament times was often shown by tearing one's clothes. But God doesn’t want an outward display of penitence without true inward repentance. I need to be sure my attitude toward God is correct, not just my outward actions.

We often have an idealized and romanticized picture of the days leading up to the first Christmas. We see Christmas cards and nativity scenes, and we assume those days were stress-free. But that’s far from how those involved in the first Christmas actually felt. The very first Christmas didn’t start out as a merry time for most of those involved. The news that Jesus was coming stressed everyone out.

Mary was confused and worried. An angel had told her that she would give birth to the Son of God. She didn’t know what would happen to her engagement. Her future seemed bleak.
Joseph was hurt and brokenhearted. His fiancée had told him that she was pregnant. He felt hurt and cheated on. The shepherds were afraid. They saw a bright light and watched angels appear out of nowhere. The wise men were exhausted. They traveled a long way to get to Jesus. They were ready for rest.

What does this Christmas story say to me?

Mary, Joseph, the Shepherds and the wise men had one thing in common: They turned to God.

This verse reminds me to, “Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity” (Joel 2:13 NIV).

No matter what I’m going through, God loves me. When I turn to God, he won’t turn away.

On that very first Christmas, every one of these characters turned to God. They all looked to him to meet their greatest needs.

God was there for Mary, Joseph, the shepherds, and the wise men. He’ll be there for me, too.

Bottom Line:
Let your remorse be truly inward and just outward facing. Return to God for he is gracious and merciful.

What this means to me:
Let my any of my remorse tear at my heart and not just outward signs.” Return to the Lord my God, for he is gracious and merciful. He is not easily angered; he is full of kindness and anxious not to punish me.

In summary, no matter what I'm facing or what I'm going through, I need to return to the Lord, for he is merciful and compassionate, slow to anger, and filled with unfailing love. He is eager to forgive and not punish. However God doesn't want just a surface display of my remorse, he wants true repentance within my heart. I need to be sure my attitude toward God is correct, not just my outward actions.  So at this time in my life, no matter what I'm going through, God loves me. When I turn to God, he won't turn away. I can look to him to meet my greatest needs.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

My Gentle yet Powerful Savior

In review of Isaiah 40:28-29 it says, “Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak” (NIV).

In Isaiah 40:12-31, he describes God's power to create, his provision to sustain, and his presence to help. God is almighty and all-powerful; but even so, he cares for me (and others) personally. There is nothing that can be compared to God. We describe God as best we can with what little we know, but I would only limit my understanding of him when I compare him to what I experience here on earth. I should never limit his work in my life by underestimating him and what he can do.

It’s hard to imagine this, but thousands of years before I was born, God knew just what I needed?

God knew I’d need extra strength so I wouldn’t give up. God knew I needed a Savior so big that the entire Milky Way couldn’t hold him. God knew I needed a Savior so tender and caring that I’d turn to him during times of pain and suffering.

Centuries before Jesus’ birth, the prophet Isaiah announced that God would send his Son to Earth. This was 700 years before the very first Christmas. He told us the Savior would be both powerful and personal, and he’d be strong enough to save us, but also tender and loving.

Most impressively, God tells us that Jesus would have a personal relationship with us. It’s an amazing prediction.

God tells us this in Isaiah 40: “Shout louder—don’t be afraid—tell the cities of Judah, ‘Your God is coming!’ Yes, the Lord God is coming with mighty power; he will rule with awesome strength . . . He will feed his flock like a shepherd; he will carry the lambs in his arms and gently lead the ewes with young” (Isaiah 40:9-11 TLB).

Again, Isaiah didn’t predict just Jesus’ gentleness but also his enormous power. “Look, the nations are like a drop in a bucket; they are considered as a speck of dust in the scales; He lifts up the islands like fine dust” (Isaiah 40:15 HCSB).

Then Isaiah got personal, and he applied the coming of Jesus to my life today. “Lift up your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one and calls forth each of them by name. Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing . . . Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak” (Isaiah 40:26, 28-29 NIV).

Regardless of what I’m facing, my Creator is there for me, with the power of a tsunami and the gentleness of a baby, born in a manger 2,000 years ago.

Bottom Line:
God who created all, never grows weak or weary. It's hard for us to understand him. However he can provide us power when we are weak and tired, and strength when we need it.

What this means to me:
My everlasting God, who created all, never grows faint or weary. I cannot possibly fathom the depths of his understanding. He provides me power when I'm tired and worn out, or when I lack the strength.

In summary, God is almighty and all-powerful, but even so, he cares for me personally. There is nothing that can be compared to God. I should never limit his work in my life by underestimating him and what he can do. Way before I was born, God know just what I would need. He knew that I would need a Savior so tender and caring that I would turn to him, during times of pain and suffering. God tells me that Jesus is ready to have a personal relationship with me. So regardless of what I'm facing, my Creator is there for me, with power and gentleness.

During the course of my day and evenings, I often overlook the greatness of my God and of my Savior Jesus Christ. Time and time again God tells me in his word that he is there for me. I just need to remember to turn toward him for what I need, not just in the morning during my quiet time, but throughout the day. This morning Father, I pray for your wisdom and guidance all day long. Help me to accomplish the work in front of me, to lead and interact rightly with those I work with. It is in your Son Jesus name I pray, amen!

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

When You Look Up, Things Will Look Up

In review of Psalm 8:3-4, 9 it says, “When I look at the night sky and see the work of your fingers—the moon and the stars you set in place—what are mere mortals that you should think about them, human beings that you should care for them? . . . O LORD, our Lord, your majestic name fills the earth!” (NLT).

Today’s passage is Psalm 8:3-4, and 9. It reminds me that when I look at the night sky and see the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars you set in place, what are mere mortals like myself that you should think about them, any human being that you should care for them? O Lord, our Lord, your majestic name fills the earth!

In order to respect God's majesty, I must compare myself to his greatness. When I look at creation, which reflect the Creator in amazing ways, I should feel small by comparison. This is a healthy way to get back to reality, but God does not want us to dwell on our smallness. Humility means proper respect for God, not self-depreciation. As I look at vast expanse of creation, I wonder how God could be concerned for people, who constantly disappoint him. Yet God created us only a little lower than himself. Anytime I begin to question my worth as a person, remember that God considers me highly valuable. I have great worth because I bear the stamp of Him, my Creator. Because God has already declared how valuable I am to him, I can be set free from feelings of worthlessness.
Today I consider the phrase, “Things are looking up!” But what does this mean? It means the situation is improving. My problems are decreasing, and my opportunities are increasing.

This Christmas I need to keep in mind an important truth: Things will start to look up for me when I start looking up. In other words, my circumstances will improve when I stop looking at them and start looking at God.

Over and over in the Bible, we see this phrase: “Lift up your eyes.” It’s another way to say, “Look up. Get your eyes off yourself and onto God.”

God said it to Moses. He said it Abraham. Jesus said it to his followers.

There’s an old rhyme that says, “Two men looked out from prison bars. One saw mud, the other saw stars.” In other words, one inmate looked down in despair, but the other one looked up in hope.

I have that same choice, and I should choose to see the stars. God created every one of them. And those stars are the exact same ones that were shining on the night of Jesus’ birth 2,000 years ago—and King David saw the same stars 1,000 years before that, when he wrote these words:

When I look at the night sky and see the work of your fingers—the moon and the stars you set in place—what are mere mortals that you should think about them, human beings that you should care for them? . . . O Lord, our Lord, your majestic name fills the earth!” (Psalm 8:3-4, 9 NLT).

When I look up and see how big God is, it should shrink the size of my problems.

Bottom Line:
As we look at what God has created, who are we that he should care about us.

What this means to me:
When I look at what God has put in place, who am I that you should care about me. Your name O Lord fills the earth.

In summary, things will start to look up for me when I start looking up. My circumstances will improve when I stop looking at them and start looking at God. Two men looked out, one saw mud, the other saw stars. One looked down in despair while the other one looked up in hope. I have that same choice. When I look up and see how big God is, it should shrink the size of my problems.

Father thank you for the reminder. You are much more than my problems. You can solve any of them or provide comfort, guidance or learning when I look to you. I pray this morning that I will keep this in mind as I finish up my work this week, lead and respond to others. I pray for for your continued wisdom and guidance. In your son Jesus name I pray, amen!

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Making Time to Serve at Work

In review of Galatians 6:3 it says, “If you think you are too important to help someone, you are only fooling yourself. You are not that important” (NLT).

Galatians 6:2-3
Share other's burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ. If I think I'm too important to help someone, I'm only fooling myself. I'm not that important!

I should never think that I can be totally independent and not need help from others. In additional I should never feel excused from the tasking of helping others. The body of Christ only functions when the members work together for the common good. If I see someone in need or could use correction or even encouragement, I need to humbly and gently reach out them and offer to assist or list their load.

God isn’t impressed with my status. He’s impressed with my service. Galatians 6:3 says, “If you think you are too important to help someone, you are only fooling yourself. You are not that important” (NLT).

I’m here on Earth to serve. If I want my work to be a ministry, I have to be willing to lend a helping hand in a practical way—and I can assist people in hundreds of ways. Helping others doesn’t have to be complicated. Just use what I know how to do to help others. That’s called ministry! Every opportunity to meet a need is simply a way to show God’s love. This is true even—and especially—when it comes to my workplace and my co-workers.

Jesus said, “Your attitude must be like my own, for I, the Messiah, did not come to be served, but to serve” (Matthew 20:28 TLB).

It’s my nature to want to be served and to want people to wait on me. I want people to do things for me. Yet the mark of a Christian is the desire to serve. The Spirit of Christ is service and giving yourself away.

It’s easy for me to think, “But I’ve got problems, too. I’ve got things to do. I’ve got goals to achieve. I don’t have time for ministry.” If I don’t have time to help anybody else, my life is too self-centered. It’s that simple. God did not put me here to live only for myself. If I’m too busy for ministry, then I am just too busy.

Being a follower of Christ means accepting people unconditionally, affirming people continually, and assisting people eagerly. God wants me to help others.

Bottom Line:
If you think you are better than others, you really aren’t.

What this means to me:
If I think I'm more important than I really am, I'm only deceiving myself.

In summary, I should never think that I don't need help, nor should I feel that I should be excused from helping others. If I see someone in need, I need to humbly and gently reach out and offer to assist. After all, God is not impressed with my status, He's impressed with my service. I'm here to serve. Jesus my Messiah, did not come to be served, but to serve. It just happens to be my nature to want to be served, yet the mark of Christ's follower is the desire to serve. It is service and giving myself away. If I don't have time to help anybody else, my life is just too self-centered. God wants me to help others.

Father I thank you for this reminder today, especially as I struggle with my time and seems like the constant demand for assistance. I pray this morning that you help me consider my time and to be of service. I ask for your wisdom and guidance in handling my day and work. Help me to lead and respond to others well. In Jesus name I pray, amen!

Monday, December 17, 2018

Learn To Be an Encourager at Work

In review of 1 Thessalonians 5:11 it says, “Encourage one another and build each other up” (NIV).

1 Thessalonians 5:9-11
God choose to save me through the Lord Jesus Christ, not to pour out his anger on me. Christ died for me so that, whether I was dead or alive when he returned, I could live with him forever. So encourage each other and build each other up daily.

If I was near the end of a long race, I’m certain that my legs would ache, my throat would burn, and my whole body would cry out for me to stop. This is when friends and family are most valuable. Their encouragement helps me push through the pain to the finish line. In the same way, Christians are to encourage one another. A word of encouragement offered at the right moment can be the difference between finishing well and collapsing along the way. Look around. Be sensitive to others' need for encouragement, and offer supportive words or actions.

If you want to stand out at work, one trait will put me head and shoulders above everybody else: Is to be an encourager. When you are known for being an encourager at work you’ll be at the top of the class, because encouragement is so difficult to find today.

I live in a deeply negative culture, where put-downs seem to be favorite form of humor. People are constantly demeaned and degraded. They’re criticized and maligned. When somebody comes along and says, “Good job!” it makes a tremendous difference.

Unfortunately, in most workplaces, the message comes through loud and clear that people really don’t matter to the company or the cause. All that matters is their work. The only thing they’re valued for at that job is what they produce.

God calls me to communicate the exact opposite. He didn’t just create those people I work with—he died for them! That’s how much they matter. When I affirm the people I work with—even the ones I may disagree with or don’t get along with or who just absolutely drive me crazy—I am telling them, “They matter to God, and to me.”

Here are three practical ways to affirm others:

Listen to them. The Bible says, “Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2 NLT). One of the greatest gifts I can give people is an attentive ear. When I listen, I’m saying, “You matter. I value what you have to say. I value who you are.” Every time I genuinely listen to people at work, I’m ministering to them.

Use positive words. Ephesians 4:29 says, “Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them” (NLT). God wants me, as a  believer, to be a people builder, not a people user. Most of the world is filled with people users. But when you speak positive words of encouragement to people and I build them up, I’m ministering.

Pray for them. The Bible says in 2 Corinthians 1:11, “You are helping us by praying for us” (NLT). Make a prayer list of the people I work with. Put it in my Bible, pray regularly for them, and watch what happens. It’s difficult to pray for people and not see them start to change! I’m  encouraged to mention that I’m praying for them and ask how else I can pray for them. Even unbelievers appreciate people praying for them. Every time I do this, I’m building a bridge through which I can minister to people.

Bottom Line:
Encourage and build each other up.

What this means to me:
I need to encourage and help build others up, just as I would want to be encouraged.

In summary, I need to encourage and build others up daily. Encouragement helps me push through what I'm up against. So encourage others. Encouragement offered at the right moment can be the difference between finishing well and collapsing along the way. To Stand out, be an encourager. Practical ways to affirm others: 1). Listen, 2). Use positive words, and 3). Pray for them

Today Father I pray that you help me to find ways to encourage those I work with. Help me to listen, be and use positive words and to pray for them. Father I also ask for your wisdom and guidance in my work, how I lead and and how I interact with others. Help me discern and to accomplish what’s most important. It's through your son Jesus name I pray, amen!

God Has Already Written the Final Chapter of My Life

In review of 1 Peter 1:3-4, I read   “All praise to God , the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ . It is by his great mercy that we have been ...