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Archive for December, 2011

Christmas 2011 and the New Year 2012

December 26th, 2011

Christmas 2011 and New Year 2012

I trust that you enjoyed a blessed and joyous Christmas with family and friends. The real gifts of Christmas are not the ones gaily wrapped and waiting under a lighted, ornament adorned tree, however lovingly chosen and joyfully given they are. The real gift of Christmas is the One the Bible calls God’s “indescribable Gift” – His Son Jesus – and the irreplaceable gifts of love and companionship from family and friends! Whatever your circumstances right now, the blessing and joy of a Savior’s birth can be, and should be, yours on Christmas Day and every day of life that follows.

I think I will take the next few days to enjoy this transitional week from the well worn year of 2011 and the waiting-to-be-discovered 2012. I will resume EveryDay Life for the New Year, and hope that you will continue to invest a brief bit of your mornings with me in giving priority everyday to the wisdom and encouragement of God’s powerful Word. Even a few minutes each day can result in amazing spiritual life and development. I so enjoy sharing thoughts and comments that God has invested in my life, and continues to develop and broaden.

This year has seen a growing circle of readers in Bulgaria where EveryDay Life has been translated by a friend and pastor, Lusi Arsov. Just a bit less than 2,ooo readers have signed up to receive EDL there. And this year has seen new readers in Norway, Philippines, Spain, and China, and many friends that report they forward EveryDay Life to friends with their comment or recommendation. I am glad that you are part of sharing God’s Word with others. I am often encouraged by the kind and timely responses I have received from many of you of how God has touched your heart or given you EDL as a tool to share an encouraging word with someone else. Your encouragement and partnership is an invaluable gift from God.

Let’s anticipate the sovereign intervention of God in our lives, families, churches, communities, nation, and world in 2012. He is truly God Who “crowns the year with His goodness.” Let’s press on to know the Lord together . .

Devotionals

Christmas is Amazing!

December 23rd, 2011

“They spread the word . . about this Child, and all who heard it were amazed.” Luke 2:17 NKJV

“No matter what else has been ordinary in your life, Christmas is amazing!

My thoughts today are that “Christmas is amazing.”

An amazing life is exactly what I think every person is looking for amazing relationships and friends, an amazing job, an amazing marriage and family, and an amazing faith experience. People yearn for life out of the ordinary, somehow beyond the routine and predictable, that’s stimulating and invigorating, an exciting adventure that makes one’s heart beat faster, your eyes sparkle with expectation, and your dreams feel closer.

A lot of things are described as amazing, some sincerely, others not so much. Steve Jobs and Apple Corporation amazed an industry industry with the IPod and IPhone, and more recently, the IPad. Too many advertised gadgets fall far short of that overused adjective. Really, there aren’t many times or places where such a description is true. Maybe your experience of something or some place seems amazing at first, but seldom remains so.

Each year, you find many things you hope to be spectacular can’t quite live up to their promise or your expectations. The NBA advertises itself as “where amazing happens!” That’s probably a promise bigger than the NBA can achieve – entertaining, yes; amazing, not really. But I know where amazing really does happen; that happens in your heart when you invite Jesus there.

I want you to hear God whisper into your heart, “No matter where else things have been ordinary in your life, Christmas is where amazing happens!” Here’s what the Bible says about Jesus’ birth, “When they had seen Him, the shepherds spread the word concerning what had been told them (by the Angel) about this Child, and all who heard it were amazed.” Luke 2:17-18 NKJV. All who heard the shepherds’ testimony were amazed. Christmas is amazing because a child, conceived supernaturally and born miraculously, was God’s one and only Son who became your Savior, dying on a cross to express God’s astonishing love and grace in order to give you an amazing life you long for, abundantly now and eternally forever. An amazing life is your choice.

“When the right time came, God sent His Son, born of a woman . . so He could adopt us as His very own children.” Galatians 4:4-7 NLT. Now that’s truly amazing! Deep in the heart of every person is the yearning in one’s soul that you need a Savior. Every effort of your own fails to provide that needed forgiveness, cleansing, and newness. Christmas is all about a Savior! Jesus can make amazing happen in your heart. John 3:16-17.

Christmas is God’s promise that the deepest longing of your heart can be realized. If Christmas is less than amazing to you, it is because you are missing Jesus at the center of your celebration. You alone cannot repair the damage to the soul that sin has done; you cannot just start over and do better. To be redeemed; you need a Redeemer. Romans 8:32-39 NIV. Now that’s when and where amazing really happens, not just at Christmas but any and every day.

My prayer this Christmas is that you will spread the word about this amazing Child.

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Sight Unseen

December 22nd, 2011

“We live by faith, not by sight.” 2 Corinthians 5:7 NIV

“Faith is a non-negotiable for experiencing God.”

My thoughts today are about “sight unseen.”

People say that “seeing is believing,” but is that always true? With the capability of CGI special effects (Computer Generated Imagery) and the ability to Photoshop digital pictures, can it still be assumed that “seeing is believing?” With today’s digital gymnastics can you believe everything you see, really?

That assumption was turned upside down when Jesus said that “believing is seeing!” When Thomas, a disciple of Jesus, was told of Jesus’ resurrection, he dismissed the claim, “Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.” John 20:25/29 NKJV. Imagine Thomas’ surprise when Jesus appeared, alive and well! “Because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” Jesus reserved His praise for those who believed sight unseen!

Paul instructed the believers at Corinth, “We live by faith, not by sight.” 2 Corinthians 5:7 NIV. Which describes your spiritual life – faith or sight? Sight is the folly of trusting only what you can physically experience for yourself through your five senses – seeing, touching, hearing, smelling, tasting. Here’s the problem with that requirement. “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love Him. But we know these things because God has revealed them to us by His Spirit.” 1 Corinthians 2:9-10 NLT.

Faith rests solely on what God says to be true, strengthened by the personal testimony of those who have found His Word reliable. “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” Hebrews 11:1 NIV. Faith envisions a greater reality, sight unseen.

“So you see, it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to Him must believe that there is a God and that He rewards those who sincerely seek Him.” Hebrews 11:6 NLT. Faith is a non-negotiable for experiencing God. How do you develop and practice that kind of faith? “Fix your eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:18 NIV.

Be clear on this: faith is not talking a good game; faith is acting according to, and consistent with, your faith. Faith is not a mental exercise or a talking point; it is obedience and action. “By faith, Enoch pleased God . . by faith, Noah built . . by faith, Abraham obeyed . . by faith, Sarah conceived . . by faith, Moses forsook . . by faith, Israel passed through the Red Sea . . through faith subdued, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped lions, quenched violence, escaped the  sword, were strong, became valiant, turned armies to flight, received their dead raised to life.” Read Hebrews 11:2-39 NKJV. Faith results in action verbs -something you are empowered to  do at the prompting of your faith. That’s what real, Biblical faith can do, sight unseen!

My prayer for you today is that you anchor your life on the integrity of God’s Word.

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Right Thing To Do

December 21st, 2011

“It would not be right for us . .” Acts 6:2 NIV

“The easiest or familiar is seldom the best or right thing.”

My thoughts today are about the “right thing to do.”

I am not thinking so much about things right or wrong, as I am about differentiating between the good and best. It is often said that “good is the enemy of the best.” Something may seem to be good enough but good enough will never accomplish what’s best. Your best is always the right thing to do.

There will always seem more than you have enough time, energy, or ability to do; that could be because there are some things you aren’t meant to do. A successful life is found in knowing what is yours to do and doing that well; a highly successful life is reserved for those who also know what they are not meant to do, and leave those things to others. The latter is more important than you may realize.

Success eventually requires hard choices. The very abilities, effort, energy, and focus that brings success in your endeavors can be stretched thin by a growing diversity of demands and expectations. When you are feeling the pressure to do more than you have time or ability to do, demands and deadlines will sometimes clarify what is “your business to do,” and what is none of your business.

The first century Church in Jerusalem grew so rapidly that the apostles could not keep up with everything that needed to be done. There was a problem no caring person would deny; some people were not being taken care of in an equitable manner as others were. For this to be done should something else be left undone? Wisely, the apostles in charge evaluated the problem as proper food distribution to both Greek and Hebrew widows – reaffirmed the priorities as prayer and the teaching of God’s Word – and made a choice both wise and practical; this is something that must be done but can be done by others. Always do the right thing simply because it is the right thing to do.

Their reasoning? “It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the Word of God to wait on tables. Choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them . . this proposal pleased the whole group.” Acts 6:2-5 NIV. Life is better when you keep it clear and simple. The apostles recognized that the investment of themselves in what had arisen would mean their neglect of what was their priority. While you busy yourself doing what someone else could do, you miss what you should do. Every responsibility is not necessarily your responsibility. “They made me keeper of the vineyards, but my own vineyard I have neglected.” Song 1:6 NIV. Multi-gifted people are especially tempted in this area. Knowing how and when to say no is as important as being willing to say yes.

You are more effective when you are occupied with the things that are right for you – that best fit your skill-set and are within your Godly assignment. The easiest and familiar thing to do is seldom the best or right thing for you. Few of us are given the luxury of opportunity and authority to always do what we would prefer to do, nor should we. Effectiveness comes with focus; focus comes from priorities. That’s where you find the right thing for you. The Apostle Paul determined, “I am focusing all my energies in this one thing . .” Philippians 3:13 NLT. See Psalm 27:4 NKJV.

My prayer for you today is that you do what you know God has given you to do.

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God Is Enough

December 20th, 2011

“Be strong in the Lord; draw your strength from Him.” Ephesians 6:10 Amplified

“Learn to depend more on God and less on yourself.”

My thoughts today are that “God is enough!”

Life can make demands that have a way of making you feel less than adequate. In the course of everyday life, you inevitably face needs beyond your resources, hard questions without an adequate answer, tasks bigger than abilities, and challenges greater than your courage. The question is: what will you do when a fitting response is required?

Some people meet such moments and simply give up trying, convinced they are unable, so why try. Their non-response prevents them from realizing their potential or the possibilities in God. If you defer everything you think you cannot do, you will soon find that you can do less and less. Paul asked the question everyone asks themselves at one time or another, “Who is sufficient for these things?” 2 Corinthians 2:16 NKJV.

Before you incorrectly answer Paul’s rhetorical question, read on and find his answer – “And we have such trust through Christ toward God. Not that (you) are sufficient to think anything as being of (yourself), but (your) sufficiency is from God, Who also made (you) sufficient as a minister of the new Covenant . . of the Spirit for . . the Spirit gives life.” 2 Corinthians 3:5-6 NKJV. That’s your answer; God is sufficient and empowers you with His own sufficiency. Is God ever less than enough? Here is God’s promise of being able to “supply all your need according to His riches in Glory by Christ Jesus. Now to our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen.” Philippians 4:19-20 NKJV.

Blessed is the individual who learns that God is not limited by your limitations. Read 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 NKJV. Don’t be surprised when God asks you to step out in courageous, daring faith to do something you don’t feel qualified to do. Why would God ask such a thing of you? That’s exactly when and where you learn to depend more on God and less on yourself, as those the Bible describes as going “from strength to strength.” Psalm 84:7 NIV. At such times, you discover you are capable of more than you dared imagine, because God is working in you – “Who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us.” Ephesians 3:20 NIV.

Dependence on God is strength, not weakness. This Bible verse says it all, “In conclusion, be strong in the Lord [be empowered trough your union with Him]; draw your strength from Him {that strength which His boundless might provides].” Ephesians 6:10 Amplified Bible. The maximum power is available to you from the ultimate Source, God Almighty! Paul describes a harrowing experience in Asia with “pressure far beyond our ability to endure, so that we even despaired of life . . this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead.” 2 Corinthians 1:8-11 NIV. How could God “who raises the dead” not be enough for any and all situations?

My prayer for you today is: learn that depending on God is when you are most strong.

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