Acts 20:35. . . remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how He said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.
In an attempt to keep seven-year old Jessica occupied during their long drive, one of her parents suggested, 'Hey, Jessica, why don't you write out your Christmas list while we're driving?'
'OK,' she eagerly agreed, and she pulled out her paper and pencil. Jessica thought a moment then carefully put her thoughts down on the paper. She thought some more and added more words to the page. Carefully, thoughtfully her list grew until finally it was complete.
When she read her list to her mom and dad they were shocked! Their daughter's inventory wasn't anything like they thought it would be. Instead of writing out a list of the things she wanted to receive, Jessica made a list of all the people she wanted to give to and the gifts she wanted to give. Her own name and her own wants were nowhere on that paper. Without a doubt, this little gal understands the true meaning of Christmas!
You know a person is truly unselfish when the first thing that comes to mind is giving and not receiving. May this lesson from a little child help us all to examine our own hearts and our spirit of giving throughout this Christmas season.
Thank you, Jessica, for reminding us of the best way to make out our Christmas list!
Lord, help me to grow in unselfishness and be just like Jessica.
EPHESIANS 5:1-2 (NKJV) Therefore, be imitators of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.
The voice on the radio was loud and clear as it called out the invitation to an upcoming concert-'Coming soon to your local performing arts center, a special presentation by Elvis Presley tribute artist . . .' The date, time, and place, and the name of the performer were all spelled out so everyone could be there to see this man imitate the popular singer and performer, Elvis Presley. I'm sure Elvis himself had no idea that decades after his death, others would still be trying to be just like he was.
These performers try to look like him, sound like him and sing his music just as he did. They make every effort to talk and walk and move just like Elvis. In every detail possible, they try to be like the one they admire so much.
As believers in Christ, you and I are called to be tribute artists as well. Ephesians 5:1 tells us to be 'imitators of Christ'. Ours is to be not just a performance, but a true and genuine day by day, hour by hour representation of the Lord Jesus Christ. It's not about trying to imitate the way He dressed or the sound of His voice. It's about living a life-style that reflects His character, and the only way we can accomplish this is to be 'filled with the Spirit,' (Ephesians 5:18). How exciting that God not only calls us to imitate Christ, but gives us His Spirit to help us do that.
There are thousands of Elvis Presley imitators and some of them are quite authentic, while others give a very poor impression of who he was. How authentic is your day by day presentation of the Lord Jesus Christ?
Lord Jesus, help me today to live a life that is so in keeping with the way You lived Your life that others will look at me and see You.
EPHESIANS 5:18 20 (KJV)Be filled with the Spirit . . . Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Remember the old dot matrix printers? How wonderful it was when they first came out with paper that was connected and you could print banners from your home or office computer. Anybody could do it, and no matter how long the message was, it was printable in one long strip. Your message could go on and on and on and it was OK. In fact, it was kind of intriguing. (Obviously, it doesn't take much to entertain me!)
The novelty of it had people printing banners for all kinds of things, and displaying them everywhere! It was fun, inexpensive, and it let others see what was important to us at that time.
I don't remember seeing any that were specifically banners of thanksgiving, but the Apostle Paul, in his letters in the New Testament, gives numerous commands to live with a spirit of thankfulness to God that goes on and on and on, and displays for the world His goodness and greatness. Yet do we really live this way?
In the book RESPECTABLE SINS, author Jerry Bridges puts it this way, 'Taking for granted all the temporal provisions and spiritual blessings that God has so richly bestowed on us, and so failing to continually give Him thanks, is one of our 'acceptable' sins. In fact, far too many Christians wouldn't think of it as sin. Yet Paul, in his description of a Spirit-filled person, said we're to be 'giving thanks always and for everything to God (Ephesians 5:20). Note the words always and everything. That means our whole lives should be ones of continually giving thanks.'
So, rather than sinning against the Lord, let's develop the habit of thanking and giving credit to the One who created us and the entire world around us. You can start by standing right where you are and thanking Him for things around you that you can actually reach out and touch'-furniture, plants, books, and the many devices that allow you to communicate with others, and bring you news and information, etc.
Don't limit your expressions of gratitude to material things, though. Start naming the things He gives that you cannot touch like the love of family and friends, health, your job, light, and whatever else comes to your mind. Once you start acknowledging God's blessings, you may find it hard to stop!
And don't forget to thank Him for who He is'-Father, Son, and Holy Spirit'-and for what each person of the Holy Trinity means to you. Your list could go on, and on, and on'-and it should as a continual banner of Thanks.
PRAYER: Great and Gracious Father, open my eyes to see the multitude of blessings You shower upon me. Open my heart to appreciate them. Open my mouth in humble thanksgiving. May Your heart be warmed with my gratitude.
WORDS TO PONDER: 'Being joyful and grateful is evidence of being filled with the Spirit of God.'
PSALMS 40:8 (NIV)I desire to do Your will, O my God;Your law is within my heart.
In 1956 Red (Woodrow Wilson) Sovine, country gospel singer, recorded a poem put to music that asked many very thought-provoking questions. The poem was written a few years earlier by the very talented Lois F.K. Blanchard Eades. Mrs. Eades was an author, poet, and English professor at a Christian university-and she was a pastor's wife. In her many roles, she interacted with people and came to know our human tendencies quite well. Putting her pen to paper she wrote, 'If Jesus Came to Your House'.
If Jesus came to your house to spend a day or two'- If He came unexpectedly, I wonder what you'd do. Oh, I know you'd give your nicest room to such an honored Guest, And all the food you'd serve to Him would be the very best, And you would keep assuring Him you're glad to have Him there- That serving Him in your own home is joy beyond compare.
But'-when you saw Him coming, would you meet Him at the door With arms outstretched in welcome to your heavenly Visitor? Or would you have to change your clothes before you let Him in? Or hide some magazines and put the Bible where they'd been? Would you turn off the radio and hope He hadn't heard? And wish you hadn't uttered that last, loud, hasty word?
Would you hide your worldly music and put some hymn books out? Could you let Jesus walk right in, or would you rush about? And I wonder'-if the Saviour spent a day or two with you, Would you go right on doing the things you always do? Would you go right on saying the things you always say? Would life for you continue as it does from day to day?
Would your family conversation keep up its usual pace? And would you find it hard each meal to say a table grace? Would you sing the songs you always sing, and read the books you read, And let Him know the things on which your mind and spirit feed? Would you take Jesus with you everywhere you'd planned to go? Or would you, maybe, change your plans for just a day or so?
Would you be glad to have Him meet your very closest friends? Or would you hope they'd stay away until His visit ends? Would you be glad to have Him stay forever on and on? Or would you sigh with great relief when He at last was gone? It might be interesting to know the things that you would do If Jesus Christ in person came to spend some time with you.
For decades, the words of this poem have touched the hearts of people challenging them to be genuine in their faith and live it every moment of their lives. Mrs. Eades died in 2011, but she left us with a valuable question-What would you do if Jesus came to your house?
PRAYER: Dear Jesus, be the Lord of my heart and mind so that at any time You could enter my home and be a welcomed Guest.
WORDS TO PONDER: 'Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.'
-The Lord Jesus Christ, Revelation 3:20
Please note: According to the research I did, the poem is not copyrighted, so you may freely reproduce it for your own personal use.
You can also hear the actual recording of Red Sovine singing this song on YouTube.
PSALM 40:1 (KJV)I waited patiently for the Lord and He inclined unto me and heard my cry.
A local pastor shared with me once that he was writing a book on the importance of solitude and prayer. This man has spent his entire adult life in ministry, preaching and teaching the Word of God and serving others. He is well educated, gifted in many areas, and his influence reaches far beyond Hanover, Pennsylvania, but he told me that the one thing that changed his ministry and made it truly fruitful is daily solitude and time in prayer. He is committed to spending time alone every morning shutting out everything else as he talks to and listens to God. He calls upon Him for many things, and prays, by name, for hundreds of people each week. While that might sound boring to many folks, or too time-consuming for the busy person, this pastor told me, 'I actually look forward to that time. It invigorates me and gets me moving in God's direction. I miss it if I don't have it.'
Paul tells us in I Thessalonians 5:17 to 'pray without ceasing''-to live in an attitude of prayer, constantly knowing that Christ is by our side and accessible to us every hour of every day. While that's true and extremely important, it should never become a substitute for deep committed time alone with the Lord when we shut out all others and empty our hearts and minds of the cares and activities of life, and just talk with and listen to Him.
Henri J. M. Nouwen said, 'Without solitude it is virtually impossible to live a spiritual life. Solitude begins with a time and a place for God, and Him alone.'
Since we know that having a deep walk with Christ depends on intentionally spending time with Him each day in prayer and Bible reading, the question for each of us then becomes, 'Am I willing to commit to a daily time alone with Him when I empty my heart and mind of all other distractions and commune with Him?' If not, we must ask, 'What's keeping me from it?'
PRAYER: Lord, in an era when technology connects us with people all over the world in just a matter of seconds, solitude is becoming more and more of a rare thing. Help us see it as a treasure and discipline ourselves to spend that time alone with You each day so that we may experience the fullness of Your love and the greatness of Your work in our lives.
WORDS TO PONDER: 'Prayer is in very deed the pulse of the spiritual life.' -Andrew Murray
I THESSALONIANS 4:1-2, 7 (NKJV)Finally, brethren, we urge and exhort in the Lord Jesus that you should abound more and more, just as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God; for you know what commandments we gave you through the Lord Jesus . . . For God did not call us to uncleanness, but in holiness.
I pulled the book off my shelf and stared at the cover. It read, THE PURSUIT OF HOLINESS, by Jerry Bridges. The title reminded me that holiness'-a lifestyle of reflecting the love and light of the Lord Jesus Christ-is not something we achieve instantly, but rather a day by day, hour by hour transformation that comes as we pursue knowing Him and allowing His Spirit to work in us. It's a process of growth.
Bridges states, 'The New Testament writers assume our growth and continually urge us to pursue it. We're to pursue holiness 'more and more,' and to love each other 'more and more' (I Thessalonians 4:1, 9-10). We're to possess the qualities of Christian character 'in increasing measure' (2 Peter 1:8, NIV).'
We achieve this Christ-likeness by growing a little more and doing a little more each day. That may sound exhausting and time consuming, and you may ask, 'How can I add one more thing to my already-full schedule?' But the key lies not in doing more good, but rather in being saturated with His Word, and surrendered to His Spirit.
Sometimes we get the idea that if we do more good, we'll be more like Christ. We'll be holy. I think we have that backwards. The truth is, if we inwardly become more like Christ, we will automatically do more good until it becomes a lifestyle for us.
The good news is that you don't become holy by your own power or in your own strength, but by surrendering to be the vessel through which God works. Let Him put His thoughts in your mind. Let Him prompt you to do acts of kindness and generosity . . . to hold the door for someone, to let another driver go first, to smile as you pass a stranger, to speak kindly instead of harshly. Remember, holiness is a process of growth. It happens a little at a time, as more and more, you grow close to Christ and allow His Power to work within you.
PRAYER: Holy Spirit, please do Your work in me, and through me, and for me so that I may live a life of holiness reflecting the love and light of the Lord Jesus Christ.
WORDS TO PONDER: 'Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever! Amen.
GENESIS 1:27 AND 31.So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them . . . and behold it was very good.
The question of why man exits has been discussed throughout the ages. Philosophers debate it, poets write of it, musicians herald it, and theologians proclaim it. The true answer to this perplexing question is clearly and simply stated in the pages of Scripture in both the Old and New Testaments. We need only look to the Bible for the answer.
1. We were created in the image of God to reflect His glory.
. . . I have created him for my glory, I have formed him; yea, I have made him. -Isaiah 43:7
2. We were created for His pleasure.
Thou are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour, and power: for Thou hast created all things, and for Thy pleasure they are and were created. -Revelation 4:11
3. We were made for fellowship/relationship with God and with others.
And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone, I will make him an help meet for him . . . And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day . . . And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where are thou? -Genesis 2:18; 3:8 and 9
4. We were made to rule over and take care of His creation.
And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. -Genesis 1:26
Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of Thy hands; Thou hast put all things under his feet: All sheep and oxen, yea and the beasts of the field; The fowl of the air, and the fish of the sea, and whatsoever passeth through the paths of the seas. -Psalm 8:6-8
It's obvious as we review these verses that we were created uniquely, deliberately and purposefully. We're no accident or happenstance! Let's live each day reflecting His glory and fulfilling His purposes.
Heavenly Father, knowing that You made each one of us as part of Your intentional design makes my heart rejoice. Thank You for the reassurance and motivation that brings to us as Your children.
PSALM 55:17 (KJV)Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud: and He shall hear my voice.
The telephone company delivered new books yesterday. They're a wonderful resource and certainly help when we're trying to locate specific people, places or services, but since things change so rapidly, these books have to be updated every year. Here's a list of numbers that will never be out dated or out of service because the lines of Heaven are always open and always operating.
Emergency Phone Numbers
When in sorrow call John 14 When men fail you call Psalm 27 If you want to be fruitful call John 15 When you have sinned call Psalm 51 When you have worry call Matthew 6:19-34 When you are in danger call Psalm 91 When God seems far away call Psalm 139 When you faith needs stirring call Hebrews 11 When you are lonely and fearful call Psalm 23 When you grow bitter and critical call I Corinthians 13 For Paul's secret to happiness call Colossians 3:12-17 For understanding of Christianity call II Corinthians 5:15-19 When you feel down and out call Romans 8:31 When you want peace and rest call Matthew 11:25-30 When the world seems bigger that God call Psalm 90 When you want Christian assurance call Romans 8:1-30 When you leave home for labor or travel call Psalm 121 When your prayers grow narrow or selfish call Psalm 67 For a great invention/opportunity call Isaiah 55 When you want courage for a task call Joshua 1 For how to get along with fellow men call Romans 12 When you think of investments and returns call Mark 10 If you are depressed call Psalm 27 If your pocketbook is empty call Psalm 37 If you are losing confidence in people call I Corinthians 13 If people seem unkind call John 15 If discouraged about your work call Psalm 126 If you find the world growing small and yourself great Psalm 19
For dealing with fear call Psalm 34:7 For security call Psalm 121:3 For assurance call Mark 8:35 For reassurance call Psalm 145:18
-Original Source Unknown
Lord, it's a comfort to know that any time I call on You, You hear and You answer. I never get a busy signal or and 'Out of service' message. Because of Jesus, the lines of communication with You are always open. How I praise You for this gift!
PHILIPPIANS 1:21 (NKJV)And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.
David Brainerd (1728-1747) was a man well-known for his passion for God, and his compassion for others. After his commitment to Christ at the age of 21, Brainerd gave his total focus to training, and then carrying the message of Christ to others. His faith and his commitment are nearly unparalleled.
On one of his many mission trips to preach the gospel to Native Americans in the northeastern states, a severe storm broke out. Howling winds and pelting rain made it impossible for Brainerd to continue his journey. With no houses or shelters of any kind in sight, the young missionary took refuge from the storm in the only place he could find'-a large hollow tree. Ah! Relief from the rain and wind, but before long, he began to feel hungry. Since he wasn't carrying any food with him, he turned his Heavenly Father and talked to Him about the situation.
It wasn't long until Brainerd's meal arrived, carried in by a chatty little squirrel who laid a pile of nuts at the opening of the tree. And it was the same little messenger from God who brought nuts to the stranded missionary for three days as he waited for the storm to pass and for traveling conditions to improve.
Our God is amazing! He used ravens to feed a hungry prophet named Elijah, and a squirrel to cater meals for this young missionary. Most of us will never face a situation like David Brainerd's, but no matter when, or in what area of our lives, we find ourselves feeling helpless and in need, God is able to provide all that we need to sustain us. We only have to ask, and He is faithful.
PRAYER: Lord, thank You for men and women like David Brainerd whose lives have been used to demonstrate Your power, goodness, and greatness.
WORDS TO PONDER: 'Trials are not enemies of faith but are opportunities to prove God's faithfulness.' -Unknown