Our Instruction Manual For What’s Ahead

Monday, 2018-12-31

Bible Reference: 2 Timothy 3:15–17
Translation: The Message (MSG)

Bible Text:  There’s nothing like the written Word of God for showing you the way to salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. Every part of Scripture is God-breathed and useful one way or another—showing us truth, exposing our rebellion, correcting our mistakes, training us to live God’s way. Through the Word we are put together and shaped up for the tasks God has for us.

OBSERVATION: Wouldn’t you hate being on a support desk and receiving calls from users of a product for which you wrote explicit instructions on how to use the product? Yet we have a similar situation in that God sacrificed His very own Son so that we might one day be with Him in glory. Then He spoke through prophets of old to give us His Book of Instructions (the Bible) to teach us how to live like Him and accept His precious gift of salvation. Are you referencing the Bible daily to help keep you on track and pleasing to God?

APPLICATION:  There are times in my job where a vendor will tell us that if we abuse their help desk because we opted not to take the training they offered to us on recent product enhancements, we could very well see fees included in our monthly bill. Imagine if you have at least one Bible sitting on your coffee table gathering dust, then to stand before God in judgment and tell Him that you never knew it was necessary to accept His Son in order to get into heaven? Imagine how God will penalize us for continuing with our excuses of not knowing His Word well enough to share it with others? In the working world we find as much, or more, practical help from users of a product we own, than we do from the text books written by the designer and producer of the products. These groups often meet together in something most vendors call ‘A User Community’. Did you know that one of the largest ‘User Communities’ of the Bible exists right in your own neighborhood, and its known as ‘The Church’! Many admit that these folk are flawed and need help just like yourself, who may not be a part of the community. Friends, the whole concept of a ‘Community’ is that we can share the way that we understand how a product works; how we use a product; and how it is practical for us. For those struggling with proper use of the product, they come to the ‘Community’ to unload their frustrations and misunderstandings. Those of us who successfully use the product every day, we simply share how we use it and how we understand the product should be used. One of the most productive communities that I’m a part of, is monitored by staff of the product owner, and they will chime in from time to time and share with the group about how the product is designed to work in certain scenarios. In the church ‘Community’, we have pastors and teachers and leaders who are equipped to chime in and speak to the way they understand the Word of God was written and what the writer probably intended. Community members are the church attendees, and are most often users of the Bible, because they have accepted the One whom God sent to love on them; to open their eyes to the truth of His Word; and to prepare them for the day of His return when He will come to gather His church, or community of believers, to go with Him and spend eternity in heaven worshiping Him and the Father. Friends, we were intricately designed and made by God. Because He turned us lose to live on this earth, His perfectly designed human beings quickly become flawed by the sin that abounds on earth. So God gave His Word to us through writers that He inspired, so that we could understand the concept that He intended for us, and also know how to unravel ourselves from sin by accepting Him as our Lord, Savior, Protector, Deliverer and soon coming King of all kings. His text-book (the Bible) teaches that this is the only means of us uniting with He and the Father. How are you doing with that friend? May I recommend that you look around the following page for more scripture and help in understanding this truth: https://nuggetsfromgodsword.org/to-know-jesus/.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, thank You for Your Word, and thank You for all that is available to us today to help us understand Your Word more fully. Thank You for the church, a body of believers who strive to know more about God, so that they may be of help to others in the community (church), and to evangelize those who find excuses for their lack of acceptance or knowledge of the One who totally gave His life, so that they might see the likes of heaven and the Father. Lord, we find our way to the cross every time that we are in bad straights and need a quick fix. As we dig into the depths of Your Word and learn more about the enormous love expressed for us, may we accept that gift and study Your Word more intently so that we can understand all that You have to offer us. May we be participators in our church community to receive the benefits of being helped by others; may we willingly share with others so that we might help others; and as we anticipate the glories of heaven, may that bring such joy to our hearts that we will be totally enveloped in the hope of looking into Your wonderful face one day and singing endless praises to You and the Father throughout eternity! To God be the Glory, for the great things He has done – especially for us! AMEN!

Coming Soon!

Saturday, 2018-12-29

Bible Reference: Revelation 22:11-14
Translation: Common English Bible (CEB)

Bible Text: 11 Let those who do wrong keep doing what is wrong. Let the filthy still be filthy. Let those who are righteous keep doing what is right. Let those who are holy still be holy. 12 “Look! I’m coming soon. My reward is with me, to repay all people as their actions deserve. 13 I am the alpha and the omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end. 14 Favored are those who wash their robes so that they may have the right of access to the tree of life and may enter the city by the gates.

OBSERVATION: As we meditate on this Scripture today and its revelation of the end of time here on earth, it would be most appropriate for us to also meditate on the end of this year, for there are many similarities. For in each, there were opportunities, decisions and directions that made us different to what we were when we started our journey.

APPLICATION: I was touched by the Word of God today as I was reminded that after everything that impacts a life on earth, yet there are some who will face eternity doing wrong things; some will face a holy and righteous God in an unclean, or filthy manner; however there will be some who accepted Jesus as their Lord and Savior here on earth, and therefore come before the Master righteous and holy. The Word is clear in verse 14 that some of these will be received and favored by our King, and some will be rejected and left outside of the gates. Each one reading this devotional today can identify exactly which group you will be in, should that time of eternity be today. I am convinced that there are some things that most of us would want to seek God’s face for, so that we might approach our day of reconciliation with Him in our proudest form. Let me remind each of us, that this is not something that any of us should delay in doing, for we are not promised a certain time period here on earth. God may be ready for us before we could finish reading this devotional. But friends, this also brings us to another transitional period in our lives – the end of one year and the beginning of another. For some of us, 2018 has been a year of successes, good decisions and changes that have impacted us and everyone around us. However, others may frown at what I just said, because they have dealt with many, many challenges, possible losses, and many missed opportunities. So this may be a time of reflection on what might you do differently in 2019. Praise God that you have made it to this point in the devotional, because I have the answer to your dilemma! You see, I have read through the entire Bible again, and I know who holds tomorrow in His hands. I know the One who has today, and every day in 2019, in His control. So you have a choice: a). Try and plunder through 2019 in much the same way as you did in 2018. But remember the meaning of insanity: when you do the same in 2019 as you did in 2018, but expect different results. It just doesn’t work my friend. However, your other choice is b). Place your hand in the hand of the only One who knows what’s ahead, and who can do anything about your circumstances that you will face in 2019. Oh, and by the way, my Savior stands ready to accept you, should you choose to surrender your life into His hands today. Please consider going into 2019, not just better than you were in 2018, but with the confidence of knowing that it’s not just you having to make these important decisions that impact your future, but now you have a God who actually rules and reigns over all things and knows about that future that seems so uncertain. He will be your guide, your strength and your sustainer. Greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world, my friend!

PRAYER: Coming to the end of a year, reminds me that one day I will also come to the end of my life here on earth. Lord, You have seen the mess that we could make of our lives here on earth when we try to do it by ourselves. However, I am reminded that You have given us the opportunity to correct our situation here on earth, by surrendering ourselves to the lordship of Your precious Son, Jesus. You have also shown us that our surrender to You brings peace to our lives now, because of the hope we have in all that You have promised when our time here on earth is finished. Lord, we look forward to 2019 with great anticipation, knowing that the One in whom we place our trust for 2019, will also be the One welcoming us home to glory at Your appointed time! Come Lord Jesus, come! AMEN!

Robe Yourself With Virtues of God

Friday, 2018-12-28

Bible Reference: Colossians 3:12-14
Translation: The Passion Translation (TPT)

Bible Text: 12 You are always and dearly loved by God! So robe yourself with virtues of God, since you have been divinely chosen to be holy. Be merciful as you endeavor to understand others, and be compassionate, showing kindness toward all. Be gentle and humble, unoffendable in your patience with others. 13 Tolerate the weaknesses of those in the family of faith, forgiving one another in the same way you have been graciously forgiven by Jesus Christ. If you find fault with someone, release this same gift of forgiveness to them. 14 For love is supreme and must flow through each of these virtues. Love becomes the mark[k] of true maturity.[l]

OBSERVATION: Around this time of the year we begin to reflect over the accomplishments, failures, heartaches and missed goals of the year about to end, and many of us will begin to set goals for the incoming year. It’s always good to have something to reach towards, for without that, we might tend to merely exist and settle for anything that comes our way. What if we chose some spiritual goals for 2019? Let’s meditate on the ones listed in today’s Scripture and see what God might be directing us towards.

APPLICATION: I believe that we unconsciously set New Years’ goals for ourselves, depending on our audience at the time. For we tend to concentrate on spiritual goals when we are with God or His people; and we tend to drift more into financial and other personal goals when we are with our friends and family. This may not be a bad philosophy, but we might question ourselves as to why is there a need to compartmentalize depending on the audience. I believe that when God listens to the cry of His precious child’s heart, He listens for everything that might be troubling that child, or being celebrated by them. After all, if we are going through financial woes, don’t you know that will have a serious impact on our trust in God, our celebration of His blessings, and our requests made of Him? On the flip side of the coin, don’t you know that our attitudes will be drastically impacted when we are struggling in our relationship with God? So might we not be much more content to speak with God about all aspects of our life, and seek His direction as we establish goals for the New Year? After all, He’s the only One who truly knows what will transpire next year, so His guidance is vital. However friends, I believe that God has given us some virtues to look at enhancing in the days ahead. Think about these things: be holy as our Father is holy; be merciful as we seek to understand others; be compassionate and show kindness to others, as you take the focus off self and all that you want; be gentle; be humble; be so patient with others that you would never offend them; learn to tolerate the weaknesses of believers, for you are one also, and you could also easily fall short in multiple ways; God has forgiven you, so learn to also forgive others, especially for their faults; and love – remember, your love for others will be a sign of your maturity in Christ. Friends, can you imagine how much better our world will be (all those that we touch and impact), if we choose to seek God’s help in achieving these virtues in 2019? Can you imagine the reduction in stress levels for us individually when we strive for these goals? I believe that as we work towards these goals, we will see God also bless us with the other things He knows that we need, such as financial freedom; good decisions about people and events that we are a part of, etc. As our priority shifts towards our God and His righteousness, I believe that we will see more clearly how truly serious we are about Him.

PRAYER: Thank You Lord for saving my soul , thank You Lord for making me whole, thank You Lord for giving to me, Thy great salvation so rich and free! Your Word is a light unto our path oh Lord, may we read it, take it to heart and be obedient to it, with Your amazing help! As we depend on You for all that 2019 brings our way, may we never cease to stop asking You for help in living life here on earth as You intended for us. May others see Your virtues in us before we ever open our mouths to evangelize with words! AMEN!

More Important Than Food

Thursday, 2018-12-27

Bible Reference: John 4:31-34
Translation: Contemporary English Version (CEV)

Bible Text:  31  While this was happening, Jesus’ disciples were saying to him, “Teacher, please eat something.” 32  But Jesus told them, “I have food that you don’t know anything about.” 33  His disciples started asking each other, “Has someone brought him something to eat?” 34  Jesus said: My food is to do what God wants! He is the one who sent me, and I must finish the work that he gave me to do.

OBSERVATION: Facing a New Year with our priorities in order should go a long ways, provided that we carefully and prayerfully seek God’s direction for those priorities. Jesus told His disciples that for himself, it was more important than food. Let’s consider this in our meditation today.

APPLICATION: There is a saying I’ve heard around churches, “if you feed them, they will come”! That sounds bad, but it is so true of many folk who attend church today! I believe you will even see this proven at weddings where a couple decides not to have a reception, for attendance is generally down, compared to the weddings that offer a feast afterwards at a reception. Why, even to funerals are now followed by a huge reception that attracts most attendees to eat, rather than spend quality time with the mourning family members. It is unfortunate that we have gotten our priorities so twisted. Perhaps as we face the coming of a brand new year, we may look to the Word of God to make sure that our priorities are in order. Here are some examples for us to take note of, and follow as God leads:

  • John 4:31-34 – In today’s focal passage, Jesus saw an opportunity to speak with unsaved Samaritans, and this was far more satisfying to Him than any amount, or quality, of food that He could physically eat at the time. If it was important to Jesus, should it not be for us also?
  • Matt. 14:15–17; John 4:8; Luke 18:28 – The Disciples were always concerned about the physical need, particularly food!
  • Luke 11:11-13 – Jesus taught the disciples to first remember that God will provide exactly what they need, even though their tendency was to worry about food and physical needs primarily. Imagine pleading and pleading for a hamburger, when God wants to give you a ranch where you could have all the beef you want! He will supply our needs, friends! Praise the wonderful name of Jesus!

Friends, when we get our priorities straight and do what Jesus commands in Matthew 6:33 – seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, then perhaps He will see to it that ALL of our need are met, not just our physical needs of nourishment. Perhaps the next time we become so concerned over whether to have a meal in order to attract folk to an event, particularly a church event, we should read Romans 14:17-18 and remind ourselves of what’s important to the kingdom of heaven! Perhaps if we concentrate more on our spiritual needs and the desire of God for our lives in 2019, we will not only trim some fat, but we will gain a whole lot more faith, hope, love for each other, and gain a closer walk with the Lord than we have ever had before. Friends, can we make this our goal in 2019, God being our helper?

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, please forgive us for allowing our priorities to drift away from the most important person, and the most important thing. We are very close to being blessed with a brand new year, where we have the opportunity to make a brand new start in our spiritual lives. We need to draw close to You Lord, for living in this old wicked world has poisoned us into following the ways of Satan instead of the righteousness that would please You, the one who sacrificed Your very own life for us. Please renew within us a right spirit, so that we might get our priorities straight, and may this all happen so that You might be glorified in all things. AMEN!

God’s Plan Orchestrated For Our Good!

Wednesday, 2018-12-26

Bible Reference: Romans 8:27-28
Translation: The Voice (VOICE)

Bible Text: 27 Don’t you know that He who pursues and explores the human heart intimately knows the Spirit’s mind because He pleads to God for His saints to align their lives with the will of God? 28 We are confident that God is able to orchestrate everything to work toward something good and beautiful when we love Him and accept His invitation to live according to His plan.

OBSERVATION: As we approach the end of the year and begin thinking back to all that has taken place in our lives in 2018, others may hear us moaning ‘poor me’ because of all that has happened. But let’s reflect on the year based on the focal verses above, and see if we could do any better in our time of reflection!

APPLICATION: For some, who may have won the lotto, or been immensely blessed in many ways, it may be easy to reflect on how good God is, and the many ways in which He has blessed. But there are some who may have experienced great life events, that may have involved losing a loved one; or medical challenges that may have almost caused separation from life to death for a precious family member; or losing a house or a car because of devastating financial burdens; or any number of things that you may have wished were more ‘normal’ or in line with others who were ‘truly blessed’. However, if we look at the year in light of what today’s Scripture is teaching us, how might we answer this question of ‘blessings’ more appropriately, or how might we understand more clearly how God’s hand was right plumb in the middle of our circumstances? Friends, the Word of God says that our Savior is ‘pursuing and exploring our heart’ and petitioning the Father on our behalf that we may stay aligned with His will for our lives. Is it any wonder why we reflect on circumstances and wonder why we chose to take a certain road home in lieu of another, after hearing of the awful accident around the time of our travel home? Or that we chose to go to the hospital for expert medical help, instead of playing doctor and treating our chest pains with aspirin? Or that we chose to share our testimony with our best friend, at a time that God was already working out His salvation plan in her life? Friends, for each of these examples we may easily brush them off as just being something you would have done anyway, or we may call them coincidence or good luck, but please notice again from the Scripture that neither of these words are used – not even in this modern translation of the Bible. There is nothing haphazard about God’s plan, or about His actions in working out His plan in our lives. Remember, we are His workmanship, and for those who have accepted Him as Lord, we are His prized possession on loan only, to this world for just a little while longer. So let’s look for, and expect to see His love and His caring touch work through us in miraculous ways. Verse 28 is a commonly recited verse, but I pray that it takes on a more enriched meaning to you as you were reminded of verse 27. I love the way that the Voice has translated the condition in verse 28: ‘when we love Him and accept His invitation to live according to His plan’. So friends, whether you reflect on 2018, or look towards 2019, try creating a sense of accountability with God on whether you could honestly say that you have loved Him sincerely, and you have accepted His plan for your life. Learn to praise Him unconditionally for everything that has transpired in your life, because you know that He has worked it out with the Father for your good!

PRAYER: Lord You are so good to us! You amaze us with Your love and Your goodness, so much so that we may tend to question ‘why me Lord?’. Thank You for the lessons taught in these special verses today, for we are reminded of Your unconditional love for us, and how You love us enough that You keep us constantly before the Father, for our good. Help us Lord to keep this awesome news in mind, especially when things don’t appear to be going our way. May we be encouraged to share that special love with those that we come into contact with today. AMEN!

Light Up The World

Tuesday, 2018-12-25

Bible Reference: Matthew 5:14-16
Translation: The Passion Translation (TPT)

Bible Text: “Your lives light up the world. Let others see your light from a distance, for how can you hide a city that stands on a hilltop? And who would light a lamp and then hide it in an obscure place? Instead, it’s placed where everyone in the house can benefit from its light. So don’t hide your light!]Let it shine brightly before others, so that the commendable things you do will shine as light upon them, and then they will give their praise to your Father in heaven.”

OBSERVATION: In the Word of God, Jesus was referred to as ‘The Light’. Those who know Jesus and seek to live like He exampled for us, must also live as the ‘Light’ to those around them. Let’s meditate on what this might look like, and whether we are anywhere close to being a ‘Light’ that may guide others.

APPLICATION: There are so many examples of being a light in this world. In my younger days I owned a boat, and sometimes travelled at night to help a minister return home to the mainland from an island church that he may have ministered at that day. Across the harbor was a light that indicated the location of the dock to which I was traveling. On several occasions that light was out, so you could only imagine what a plunder, and danger, it was to find that dock on a dark, cold night, and avoid hitting other boaters returning from that dock. In similar fashion, the Bible says that we are to follow the example of Jesus and be a light in this ‘dark’ world in which we live. But how exactly may that be accomplish this, you might ask. Friends, I believe that when we are looked upon as true children of God, then others are recognizing the Fruits of the Spirit in us. Until this is achieved, or earned, others will look at us as hypocrites, or in worst shape than they are spiritually. So why do I look at this as ‘Light’ to a lost and fallen world? Let me encourage you to think about traveling down a long dark road. Think about the bumps and bruises you have already suffered from the inability to see where you are going, and what is standing in your way as obstructions. But suddenly you hear a voice calling you to follow them off to the right, however you can’t even see them, or where they are headed. Off to your left you see the form of a person beckoning you to follow them, and they are surrounded by light, and off in the distance you could see a well lit building, that you are convinced they are heading to. I believe that your decision has been made for you, for you are looking for relief from the darkness that has plagued you in your travel. The same is true with our everyday lives, friends. For people of the world, are looking for a way to improve/enhance/brighten their challenging walk here on earth. Why follow off to the right for more of the same? But to follow one on the road to the left (as in my above example), they must have seen evidence in your life that you have been with the Light of the World and that you know where you are going. If you have not experienced The Light, then it is impossible to reflect that light for others to follow. God knew that the world was filled with the darkness of sin, and had no Light form to run to and be guided by, so He sent His Son, Jesus, born as a baby so that we could identify with Him. May we truly be the Light of the World – The Light that represents God Himself, this Christmas and celebrate it like never before. For Jesus, the Light of the World, was miraculously born with every intention of saving us from the darkness of sin, and opening the gates of heaven for all who believe in Him, to rule and reign in our lives. Merry Christmas friends! Go now and be a LIGHT to the world!

PRAYER: Light brought into a dark room spells ‘Relief’ and saves us from hurting ourselves because of the absence of light. Thank You Father for rescuing us from the darkness of sin in this old wicked world, by sending us the ‘LIGHT’ needed to overcome darkness/sin. Because of that Light, we can now boast of eternal life with the Creator of this universe – with God, the Father; God, the Son; and God, the Holy Spirit. Now oh Lord, may we go and be Light to all those around us who walk in darkness. May they see Your beauty, Your glory and Your everlasting peace, in every aspect of our lives who claim You as Lord. AMEN!

Lives Filled With Good Works

Saturday, 2018-12-22

Bible Reference: Ephesians 2:10
Translation: GOD’S WORD Translation (GW)

Bible Text:  10 God has made us what we are. He has created us in Christ Jesus to live lives filled with good works that he has prepared for us to do.

OBSERVATION: God sent us His precious, one and only Son, to show us what good works He would demonstrate to us while here on earth. He then gave each of us opportunity to accept Jesus as our Lord, and to become His ‘sheep’, who would look to their leader for leadership and mentorship. As His sons and daughters, we too have been created for good works that our Master has prepared just for us. Let us contemplate those good works and how we might respond to the work God has laid out for us!

APPLICATION: Christmas would not be merry if we didn’t, or don’t, know the end of the story. In like manner, our efforts to be kind, loving, supportive, and God-like, would be of no value unless we stop to reflect on: all that God has already done for us; all that He has promised to us while here on earth; and the home He has prepared for us in Glory! Friends, as we reflect on the miracles of Jesus Christ, and as we reflect on the many times that He has answered our prayers, even though so unworthy of His mighty works, who are we to go into this Christmas season expecting anything, or thinking that we deserve anything? You know, when we consider all the ‘gifts’ given to us, especially this year, could we not turn this Christmas into a second Thanksgiving Day this year? However, notice again what our focal verse says. It reveals what God expects from us, for it says that He expects us to live life in a state of readiness to do the good works that He has already prepared for us. Now let me say that I don’t believe that you will awaken each day and find your list of God-things to do on your kitchen counter. Rather, I believe that your surrendered life will be led by the One you have surrendered to, and that He will lead you into circumstances where you will just open the flood gates of heaven, and allow God to become real in the lives of those you encounter. Not sure about you friend, but there is no way that I could prepare my daily schedule knowing full well who I will encounter and what their needs might be. So I am convinced that our relationship with Jesus Christ must be one of trust and dependence on Him. In fact, we might start each day with the words of an old chorus: ‘wherever You lead, I’ll go’, because unless we are led by Him, we will wind up getting together with friends to jive around and chat about things of mutual interest; unless we are led by our Lord, we will mix with those who tickle our fancies, and bless us in some way. It is so important for us to remember that if God has already prepared the things for us to do, then we must look to Him for His orders, His direction and His leadership. I believe that each of our families will be blessed beyond measure this Christmas, if we are obedient to the things already planned for us by our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Oh that He may rule and reign in us, and through us, this Christmas!

PRAYER: Lord God, please show me what You have ordained for me to do over the next few days, and please give me the humility, strength, wisdom and desire to be obedient to Your will. I believe that I can safely say that my readers and I would like nothing more than to humbly obey Your will for our lives. Please tender our hearts and make us especially sensitive to Your direction as we seek to be Your hands and feet in the lives of others this Christmas. May it be obvious to those we come into contact with, that the baby we especially honor this time of the year, is also the King who rules all other kings, and Lord of all who seek to know Him more intimately. AMEN!

Ultimate Obedience

Friday, 2018-12-21

Bible Reference: Matthew 1:20-25
Translation: The Voice Translation (Voice)

Bible Text: 20 Now when Joseph had decided to act on his instincts, a messenger of the Lord came to him in a dream. Messenger of the Lord said: Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to wed Mary and bring her into your home and family as your wife. She did not sneak off and sleep with someone else—rather, she conceived the baby she now carries through the miraculous wonder-working of the Holy Spirit. 21 She will have a son, and you will name Him Jesus, which means “the Lord saves,” because this Jesus is the person who will save all of His people from sin.
24 Joseph woke up from his dream and did exactly what the messenger had told him to do: he married Mary and brought her into his home as his wife 25 (though he did not consummate their marriage until after her son was born). And when the baby was born, Joseph named Him Jesus, Savior.

OBSERVATION: All the characters in the Christmas story are just outstanding, but let’s focus on Joseph today. Like any of us, Joseph was able to think of many reasons why he should not follow through with his betrothal to Mary, but in an awesome act of faith, Joseph followed through in obedience to the message from God through the angel. Let us place ourselves in Joseph’s shoes and ponder what we might do in a similar circumstance, considering our current level of faith!

APPLICATION:  Kids learn at a very early age that if you really want to get to another kid, just mention something bad about their mom. As adults we become very tender anytime we hear something derogatory about almost any close relative, whether spouse; child; sibling or parents. So as I meditated on this very common passage of scripture that we hear almost every Christmas, I tried to imagine what Joseph must have been thinking when, in spite of him having no sexual relations with Mary, yet he found that the woman he was about to marry was already pregnant. I’m sure his mind must have travelled along the road of infidelity on Mary’s part, and the mockery that he would receive from family and friends. Like us, Joseph had already made plans in his mind how he was going to handle the break-off of the engagement so that there would not be a negative impact on Mary. However, I believe that as Joseph pondered these things in his heart, he must have really been hoping that there would be some miraculous explanation about this whole earth-shattering event in his life, for I believe that love is just that way, it hears bad things, but expects clarification to help an individual make good on his/her commitment to one another. But here comes the kicker, hope came in a very unexpected, and yes, miraculous way, for an angel appeared to Joseph as he slept and dreamed. However the message was very clear. In fact, so much so, that there is no doubt expressed in the Word of God! Joseph simply followed the instructions given to him by the angel. He married his awesome bride, and from every indication, he took care of her as if the baby was his very own flesh and blood. This is an awesome story of obedience to the Holy Spirit, friends. Yes, we can surmise what may have happened if Joseph decided to ignore God, but I sincerely believe that God works very much the same today. When he speaks to us, there is often doubting on our part, or trying to conjure up a plan to escape His plan, but since we are His servants, who should be constantly asking for His guidance and understanding of His will for our lives, we should carefully listen. Therefore, when it becomes evident to us, we simply obey and thank God for it. The obedience of Mary and Joseph led to the fulfilment of prophecy, and to being used by God to birth into this world the Savior, who would ultimately prove to be the very Son of God and redeemer of all who trust Him as their Lord and Savior. Friends, the obedience talked about here led to something BIG, I mean HUGE! Imagine what miracles can be wrought through you and me if only we will humble ourselves in obedience to the King of kings! We may look at the challenges of reaching our family and friends for the Lord as virtually impossible in our eyes, but compared to the miracle of a virgin girl becoming conceived without sexual relations by a man makes our challenges somewhat lame in comparison. Being led by God to witness to, and encourage, a lost friend may sound impossible to us because we are so convinced that we know the negativity of the person so well, but the same God who got through to Joseph, can also redirect our doubtful minds and lead us and the friend we are directed to, towards total obedience. Are you prepared to imitate the obedience and faith of Joseph this Christmas? God has a plan, and you and I could very well be in the very middle of it, if only we will surrender our will to the Master.

PRAYER: Dear Lord, You are truly in control of this whole universe, and especially in control of Your children seeking Your will for their very next move. As in the case of Joseph, I pray that we will look beyond the possibilities of our natural eyes, and instead rest our very selves at the control of our Savior during this time of the year when most folk stop to reflect on the newborn Christ-child as being the very meaning and reason for Christmas. Lord, may joy bells ring out loudly this Christmas as our family and friends find peace in the grace and power of the new-born King, Jesus, our Lord and the Savior of the world! AMEN!

Serve Each Other

Thursday, 2018-12-20

Bible Reference: Galatians 5:13-15
Translation: The VOICE (Voice)

Bible Text: 13 Brothers and sisters, God has called you to freedom! Hear the call, and do not spoil this gift by using your liberty to engage in what your flesh desires; instead, use it to serve each other as Jesus taught through love. 14 For the whole law comes down to this one instruction: “Love your neighbor as yourself,”[a] so 15 why all this vicious gnawing on each other? If you are not careful, you will find you’ve eaten each other alive!

OBSERVATION: To think of a king, or a president, or a ruler of any nation, one would normally think of all the fanfare; all the servitude that surrounds them; and all of the assistants that take care of their every need or want. However, Jesus was born into a humble setting, and while He was supremely God, yet we read story after story about how He sought to serve those with whom He interacted. As we meditate together on this, let us evaluate how well we are following His example.

APPLICATION: God has blessed us beyond measure with the freedom of salvation – meaning that, in spite of our sinful lives, and the temptations of a sinful world around us, yet He sent His very own Son to be born among us, as an indication of identifying with us and the challenges that the world places on us to conform with its ideas, customs and evil implications. I believe that during this same Christmas season, we could very easily be reminded that this Jesus, was the very Son of God. In fact, God taught us that He and His Son are one. May we be reminded that there was great purpose in God sending His Son, for to those who would trust in Him and accept Him as Lord of their life, to those God would extend salvation from sin, and the promise of eternity in Heaven with the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. With this undeserved ‘freedom’ from our sin, we could very easily sit back in our recliners and declare that ‘we have it made’, so let us coast on into eternity one day without any worries. However, while that might be a true statement, the Word of God will show us, as it did in these verses today, that if we are to follow in the footsteps of Jesus, then our hearts will be inclined to serve others. You might ask, or ponder, how can I possibly serve others, after all I have such limited talent? With a new heart filled with the awesome presence of God, I believe that you will see people in a different light, for you will see them through the lens of their Savior. You may have seen them as just another servant of yours, but with the eyes of Jesus you might see them as a lonely widow; or a poor and broken widower; or a fatherless child who is desperately looking for a good role model; or a prisoner who may have committed the most horrific crime, but needs the Lord. Friends, you’ve been given the awesome gift of ‘freedom’ from your sin by the holy Son of God, in return, what are you prepared to give to those that you come into contact with today? How might Jesus help them today? Might He use you in His service to help them? Will Jesus know that you are willing to serve? Why not join me in offering up: “Here I am Lord Jesus, use me”!

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, thank You for serving us in so many ways, beginning with Your very humble beginning here on earth as a baby born in a stable. Thank You for placing us right in the middle of folk in our workplace; in our neighborhood; in our schools; and in our churches; most of whom need something fulfillment and encouragement in their lives. We could never take Your place as Savior, but we could very easily stop our excuses, and be the hands and feet of Jesus as we seek to serve them and their needs. No doubt they will see Jesus in practical ways then, and want to accept Him unconditionally as Lord over every aspect of their lives! Help us Lord to remain humble, but true to You and Your Word. May we seek to ‘S E R V E’ this Christmas, and discontinue the selfishness of always wanting more – especially in adding more to our already filled closets; homes; vehicles and lives in general. Show us Lord how we might imitate You, and Your expectations for this lost world in which we live. AMEN!

Tell The World About Jesus

Wednesday, 2018-12-19

Bible Reference: John 1:6-9
Translation: New Century Version (NCV)

Bible Text: 6 There was a man named John, who was sent by God. 7 He came to tell people about the light. Through him all people could hear about the light and believe. 8 John was not the light. But he came to tell people about the light. 9 The true light was coming into the world. This is the true light that gives light to all people.

OBSERVATION: Like John, we have a responsibility to tell about the Light of the word, Jesus!

APPLICATION:  Not only was Jesus born through miraculous means, but God also miraculously created a forerunner to tell the world about the Savior that was to come, and his name was John. I believe that God also created others to share the responsibility in John’s absence. If you haven’t guessed already, I believe those partners of John are you and I. No, I didn’t make an error in what I said. I didn’t mean the pastors and preachers and evangelists. I really meant those of us that are saved, filled with the Holy Spirit and prepared spiritually to share the love story about Jesus with those that He loves and that we should care about. There are many stories about John and the extremes he went to in accomplishing his responsibility. I wonder if others who know us, know that we are recipients of the most precious gift of all. I wonder if they know and recognize that because of God’s promise of eternal life, that we are making every effort to convince our family and friends of their need for this Savior of ours! Friends, John was the forerunner of Jesus, and we are the forerunner of His return. The dark world that we  live in today is so full of sin and evil in so many ways, that there appears to be no ‘light’ at the end of our ‘dark tunnel’. My desire is to see the light of Jesus blot out the darkness and get the attention of our friends that are so enveloped in darkness, so that they may surrender to the lordship of Jesus, the ultimate Light of the world! But how will they know if we don’t tell them? Like John, we have a responsibility to tell about the Light of the word, Jesus!

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, thank You for using a humble servant of yours to show me the Light of the world! Thank You for being my Savior and my Lord, especially in this dark world in which I live. I am convinced from our scripture today that we are to be partners with John and humble servants of Yours, and to share that Light with all those that we come into contact with. Lord, may your Light shine through my readers and I so that the world may know and believe. I ask these things knowing that there are many that each of us know personally who need You, the Light of the world! Amen!