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Sunday, December 29, 2013

Contentment - A Prize Worth Pursuing!

"...for I have learned to be content
whatever the circumstances."
Philippians 4:11 NIV

 I am realizing that many of the Christmas cards I receive address a hopeful message of peace. In this world of stress it seems like peace eludes us all. We desire peace for the nations but there are only wars and rumors of more wars. Many crave inner peace but look for it in all the wrong places. The truth is, inner peace is found only in Jesus Christ. When we accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior and walk in a personal relationship with him we experience inner peace. Our salvation is a free gift and we immediately are at peace regarding where we will spend eternity, but inner peace in our daily life is something believers must position themselves to receive. Unless we abide in our Savior and walk in his ways much of our life will remain stressful and void of inner peace. Lack of personal contentment will suck us dry of our joy and our peace!
It is getting increasingly hard for us to be content in a world that is so full of options. We are always more than ready to trade in the old for the latest and greatest! Downsizing is not attractive unless you are of retirement age. Most of us long for change and our desire for increase keep our minds in a state of always clamoring for more. We are constantly bombarded by ads that promise us different and improved products. It seems impossible to stay ahead of technology. We are tantalized by opportunities to experience more and more pleasure. We are discouraged because a failing economy and the rising cost of living seem to rob us of ever getting ahead.
So how does the Christian balance bettering his or her life and still remain content in the circumstance he or she is living in at the moment? First of all we must realize that God desires for us to be responsible people. We are to have high work ethics and to provide for ourselves through the avenues God has provided as a means for us to earn a living. God has also made us stewards over all he has blessed us with. He wants us to use what we have well and be grateful for all we have been given.
The most effective antidote for discontentment is living in a conscious state of gratitude for our many blessings. Gratitude to God gives us the balance we need in order to practice contentment. When we feel our minds centering too much on feelings of discontentment we must remember that discontentment is a very effective tool of Satan. When our focus is on acquiring more things and we begin to loose our level of happiness without those things, it is time for a step back. Comparing ourselves to others can also be destructive. I don’t know why it is but others always seem to have more, do better, and make more money than we do! This kind of thinking breeds huge amounts of discontentment.
So how are we to live? We are to practice gratitude and help others in need, we are to make our own needs and desires known to God and then we must release the outcome into his capable hands. We must understand that what we want is not always what we need. God alone knows the future and so we trust him to supply our needs and bless us as he chooses. Running ahead of God always causes problems!
It is wonderful to know that if we live our life trusting God to provide all we need, we will experience peace. Discontentment is how Satan worms his way into our lives and steals our peace and joy. It is possible with God’s help to live above discontentment. Remember, our first emotional reaction to something we want does not have to be our last. It is a choice to trust God to help us to be content with what we have.
Having more is not wrong unless we find that we are never satisfied. Sometimes there are things that need to be purchased or replaced, but there are a few questions I must ask myself. How drastically would my life change if I didn’t have________? How would I feel if I lost something that God has allowed me to enjoy for a season? How unhappy would I become without my _________. How crabby, moody, dissatisfied and upset am I because I can’t have _________ or do ________.
The bottom line for me is asking myself a few more important questions. Is my “Jesus joy” in danger because of always wanting more stuff? Has my stress life increased because I am striving to have that which I can’t afford? Does it upset me that I can’t keep up with others? Have I enslaved myself to huge bills because I need instant gratification? Is the source of my happiness centered in stuff or do I know that the things in my life that have no price tag are the things of real importance? Have I allowed Satan to fill my mind with discontentment, steal my peace and squash my joy? How often do I practice gratitude? Have I selfishly stopped giving to God and others?
Contentment also centers on the people in our life. Am I pleased with my spouse? Do I long for someone different? Do I expect too much from my children? Do I always crave more influence, more power, more compliments, more accomplishments, more education, and more attention? Am I ever satisfied or do I selfishly just need more, more, and more?
Have I learned to be happy with my weight or do I always need to be five pounds lighter? Do I despise the way I look? Do I have too much gray hair, not enough curves, too many rolls? Do daily advertisements make us feel we need more muscles and less wrinkles? Am I a victim of always feeling less than beautiful? Do you consider yourself homely instead of handsome? Are you frumpy instead of fabulous? We all love to look good and that is not a bad thing as long as we know that time changes us all. A woman’s real beauty is from within and a man to be praised is a man of integrity and faith.
This year, with God’s help, I am challenged to practice contentment. I must not confuse discouragement and disappointment with discontentment. Discouragement and disappointment happen as a result of something that does or does not happen to us because it is out of our control. However, discontentment is never being satisfied and always craving for more.
Contentment is beautiful! It knows that less is often more, it sees real value in the lives of those we love, it is not ashamed to change with age, it is being grateful for God’s provision and all of our many additional blessings. Contentment is found in all the wonderful “free stuff” that God has provided, such as sunrises and sunsets.  Above all, contentment is being happy in our relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. Contentment frees us from stress, puts a smile on our face and allows us to live a life saturated with inner peace.
  1. Is there something in your life that continues to gnaw at your happiness?
  2. Have you allowed Satan to use the tool of discontentment in your life as a means of stealing your joy and peace?
  3. Do you think that with God’s help, this year might be the beginning of you finding and practicing contentment?
  4. Do you realize that gratitude is the first step in becoming content?

Dear God,
Forgive me when discontentment rules my life. I want to be alert to the red flags that signal to me that I am becoming discontent. God, help me to flee from Satan when he tries to worm his way into my life and plant damaging seeds of discontentment. God I can see that it is the sin of discontentment that steals my joy, robs me of inner peace, and damages my relationship with you. God, I am so in need of your help. Help me to push away all of the influences of materialism in this life. Remind me often of how blessed I am. Remind me that my spouse and children are precious. Help me to know who I am in Christ Jesus and that you will always be more than enough. Help me not to forget that I am loved by you, precious in your sight, and I am your beautiful child. I pray that I will not be dragged down by all of the many options in life that tempt and tantalize me. Teach me to feast on the free things in life and know in my soul that less is indeed more. God, I know that practicing contentment will be a constant struggle in my life. I also know that greater is he that is in me than he that is in this world. Father, please help me this year to be content with whatever circumstance I find myself in. It is easy to be content when I have plenty but help me to also be content when I am in need. I pray Lord that I will always know that I can do all things through you, because you are my source of strength.
In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

The Glory of the Lord

“Comfort, comfort my people, says your God.”
“And the glory of the LORD will be revealed
and all mankind together will see it.”
For the mouth of the LORD has spoken.”
Isaiah 40:1,5 NIV
What does “The Glory of the Lord” look like? I imagine “The Glory of the Lord” to be brilliantly bright! Our eyes do not allow us to look directly into the sun, nor can we who are mere mortals, look directly upon God. When the angel, accompanied by the heavenly host appeared to the shepherds what did the shepherds really see?  Did the heavenly host illuminate the night sky or did they simply hover over the Bethlehem hillside? Was this splendor a reflection of “The Glory of the Lord”? Does “The Glory of the Lord” fill our heart with fear? Isaiah said, “Comfort, comfort my people, says your God.” Why? Because “The Glory of the Lord” will be revealed and all mankind together will see it.” Seeing “The Glory of the Lord” is not to be feared by those who love the Lord, but rather something we are to look forward to and be comforted by.
On the night of Jesus’ birth, he left the splendor of heaven and came near to humanity. God, who created this world, was now being created in the form of a man. A baby fresh from heaven! God came into this world as a baby who would be dependant upon a mother and a father to provide for his needs. From an earthly perspective there was not much glory found in that stable. The baby in the manger did not produce fear, nor did he shine so brightly that Mary and Joseph could not look at him. Jesus was simply wrapped in swaddling clothes. Upon their arrival at the stable, I doubt the shepherds saw a Christmas card picture of the Holy family with halos surrounding the heads. Still, from a heavenly perspective, this baby was clothed in the invisible “Glory of God”.
As believers, when we find Jesus and begin to follow him we experience unspeakable joy that is full of God’s glory! As we begin our journey with Jesus and we walk with him daily in a personal relationship, we are overshadowed by “The Glory of the Lord”. This glory is permeated with God’s amazing grace.  The Bible tells us that now we only see in part but someday we will see “The Glory of the Lord” as face to face! As believers, we are free to worship our King. This relationship allows us to be completely satisfied with Jesus because he fulfills all of our inner longings and gives us peace in the midst of all of our circumstances when we trust him. It is in this experience with the God of the universe that we experience in some small way a foretaste of the divine. It is just a glimpse of what is yet to come.
“The Glory of the Lord” looks like Jesus. It is important for us to remember that it is our kind, encouraging, loving words and deeds that enable others to have a sneak preview of “The Glory of the Lord”. “The Glory of the Lord” is also reflected through our unexplainable and unspeakable joy! “The Glory of the Lord” is seen by others when they observe unexplainable peace in our life in the midst of adversity. “The Glory of the Lord” is displayed through our unshakable faith in God and our love for God and others. We recognize “The Glory of the Lord” in others and others recognize it in us. When others see Jesus through us and we see Jesus in others, it is God who is glorified!
As we observe God at work in our world, we definitely get a taste of his glory. When we observe God’s goodness in any situation wonderful things happen. Lives are changed for the better, love is expressed, hearts are healed, needs are met, hope is stirred, and in all of these scenarios “The Glory of the Lord” is revealed!
When Jesus returns to this earth, his second coming will be noticed by all. Unlike Jesus’ first visit to our planet when a sleeping world didn’t even notice his arrival. However, when Jesus comes a second time to our world he will rule and reign and his glory will be revealed! What will that look like? “The Glory of the Lord” will be manifest in perfect peace, love, and joy. Order, will be restored to this world and his glory will be evident. What man could not accomplish will be accomplished by Jesus Christ and “The Glory of the Lord” will be revealed to all those who rule and reign with him. Now we see only the shadows of is glory but then we will see his glory face to face.
Take comfort in the fact that those who love this King of Glory will be rewarded in heaven for all eternity. I believe that “The Glory of the Lord” will be revealed in heaven in such a way that we will experience a brilliance we have never known before. All the twinkling lights of Christmas will pale compared to the glory of the Bright and Morning Star. “The Glory of the Lord” will be revealed and reflected throughout all of heaven. When we experience the streets of gold and the crystal sea, this will simply be reflections of “The Glory of the Lord”. The truth is that in heaven there will be no need of the sun because the Son will be the light. At this point in time my finite mind can only pitifully imagine the full blown “Glory of the Lord” and what it will be like when it is revealed. But because I belong to Jesus, I am not afraid. I am comforted.
Who is this King of glory? The Lord Almighty, he is the King of Glory! Embrace the comfort of this Christmas message. “The Glory of the Lord” is found in none other than the Son, who came into this world as a baby to seek and save the lost. Those who seek him find him. Do you know this King of glory, who is Jesus Christ the Lord?

  1. Does “The Glory of the Lord” intrigue you?
  2. How have you experienced “The Glory of the Lord” in your life?
  3. Have you seen “The Glory of the Lord” in someone else?
  4. Do you look forward to and long for the day when you will see the complete “Glory of the Lord” revealed?

Dear Father in Heaven,
Holy is your name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Father, to you alone belong all power and all glory forever and ever! I stand amazed at your glory! I am filled with inexpressible and incomprehensible thoughts when it comes to understanding your glory. Yet, today I feel your glory in the form of love in my life. I am in awe of this earthly shadow of your glory. I thank you God that you have allowed me to experience a taste of your glory. Today I am full of hope as I wait for that day when “The Glory of the Lord” will be completely revealed. Father, I pray that I will be the kind of Christian that will be trusting and obedient. Fill me with your Holy Spirit and pour me out to others unbeknown to me. Pour me out to others in a pure way that is free of selfish pride. Use me as you choose to reflect your glory to others. Restore in me the joy of my salvation so that I might be used as a tool to reflect your glory. I do not fear your glory because your glory is my comfort, my peace and my joy. I know that sometimes circumstances are so devastating that I struggle to see your glory, but still, my faith in what is unseen knows that you are always near. Someday I will understand the things that are now hidden from me, but for now, I will accept that some secrets belong to you alone. Father, Christmas is a perfect time for me to reflect on your glory because two thousand years ago heaven came down to our world at Christmas. Because of the fulfillment of that blessed prophetic event, glory fills my soul today. As I worship you, I also bask in your glory!
In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Star of Wonder

“After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea,
during the time of King Herod,
Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked,
“Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews:
We saw his star in the east
and have come to worship him.”
Matthew 2:1-2 NIV
I love looking up into a starlit sky on a clear summer night. Growing up near a city it was very hard to see the stars. The smog from the city plus the bright lights hung a curtain across the sky that the stars could not penetrate. When I would visit the country or go on a camping trip miles away from the city it seemed that the sky lit up and twinkled with millions of stars popping out in front of a black velvet backdrop.
I can’t imagine looking up in the sky and seeing a star so different, so bright, so beautiful, and so intriguing that it stirred wonder in my soul. What would it be like to see a star that was so unusual it begged me to study and search for a reason why it had recently appeared? Such was the case of the three magi from the east. Research and ancient writings revealed that this star was the star announcing a King. It was the star of a special baby who had been born a King. In fact, more specifically, he was born King of the Jews.
This star of wonder was placed by the hand of God in the sky to guide and direct mankind. It is symbolic of the truth that Jesus Christ came to give us guidance and direction. His birth, life, death, and resurrection have provided redemption from the grip of sin and victory over death for all those who will believe in him. In Numbers 24:17 we read, “A star will come out of Jacob” and Jesus said “I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star.” Revelation 22:16 This beautiful eastern star of wonder announced to the entire world that Jesus Christ, the King of all Kings had stepped into our world.
During this holiday season all of us will be bombarded with thousands of lights. The lights of the mall will call us to shop. Car lights and street lights will guide us as we travel to and from holiday visits with our family and celebrations with our friends. Many towns will host a “Festival of Lights”, and we will pay money so that our automobiles can join the slow parade that winds along a paved pathway lined with electric Christmas icons. Our children and grandchildren will giggle, and oooh and ahhh, as the blinking lights delight and entertain their bright eyes while passing through this electric wonderland. Many will decorate the outside of their homes with hundreds of lights and put up multiple Christmas trees inside their home that are pre-strung with twinkling lights. All we have to do is flick a switch and our world will light up in magical delight as we plunge into the hectic month of December. We will laugh, listen to Christmas music, and sip hot cocoa as we bask in the millions of lights that surround us.
But in the midst of all the lights that will eventually fade away, let us make time, actually, let's make that – make LOTS of time, to sit in wonder as we look to “The Star”, who is the light of the world. He is a “Royal Star” of beauty who shines brighter than all the rest. He is the “Bright and Morning Star”! “The Light of the World” has come and we, who love him rejoice in Christ our Savior! This Christmas season we must make time to ponder the miracle of the birth of Jesus Christ, who is “The Star of Wonder”. Rejoice, give thanks and praise God for such a precious gift!
  1. What will you do this week to make time for the King?
  2. Will you follow the star this Christmas season to the manger and worship your king?
  3. Do you depend upon your amazing King to guide you in all things?
  4. Will you allow the lights of the season to point you to Jesus?

Dear Jesus,
You are my king! I love that even though the world was basically unaware of your arrival, your heavenly Father, announced your birth in the elaborate display of a single brilliant star of wonder. Those of us who love you know the real meaning of this star. Jesus Christ, you are the Messiah, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. You are prophecy fulfilled! Jesus, you came into our world without fanfare but you will come again as our triumphant King! You are my hope of glory! Jesus, I pray that every star I see this Christmas season will announce anew in my heart that you are bright, you are beautiful, you are glorious, and you are my King now and forever more! All of the glitz, glitter, and gold of this world cannot compare to your holy splendor. I pray that the twinkle of every commercial light will stir up praise within me when I remember that you are the bright “Morning Star” who brings salvation and wonder to a lost and dying people. You alone are the light that leads to everlasting life and light. Happy Birthday Jesus!
It is in your name I pray. Amen.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Joseph Deals With Christmas

“When Joseph woke up,
he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him
and took Mary home as his wife.
But he had no union with her
until she gave birth to a son.
And he gave him the name Jesus.”
Matthew 1:24-25 NIV

Joseph doesn’t get a lot of billing. Let me just say that after thinking about Joseph, he is now my hero in the Christmas story! Of course, God is front and center but Joseph was a man of great character. He had every reason to run the opposite direction, throw his hands up in despair, and wash his hands of this unbelievable scenario. But he didn’t! That’s why Joseph is my hero.
Coincidently, my husband’s name is also Joseph. Like Joseph there have been many times in our marriage that I’m sure he wanted to run the opposite direction, throw his hands up in despair, and wash his hands of life’s messes. But he didn’t! Honey, you are also my hero! The fact is life is hard, there are surprises and unfair situations often seem to reign. Disappointments continue to fill our years, people disappoint us, and things do not turn out as we had hoped. Like Joseph, our personal formula for survival must be the same as his. We must trust God unconditionally and we must learn to deal with what we find on our plate, no matter how hard it is to swallow.

Christmas is the time of year when Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ and reflect on all of the events that surrounded his birth. This Christmas season I am endeavoring to learn how Joseph dealt with the events that surrounded the birth of his stepson, Jesus Christ. In the book of Matthew we read how Joseph dealt with Christmas.
Joseph loved Mary. In fact they were engaged. I wonder, what emotions flooded Joseph’s mind when Mary announced to Joseph, that she was carrying a child? This child who, believe it or not, was not his, but was a child, who she proclaimed to be the son of God.  I wonder, what was the greatest hurdle Joseph had to overcome? I’m sure his mind was filled with thoughts of anger, unbelief, embarrassment, disappointment, and betrayal. Did he dare believe Mary's outlandish story that proclaimed  the baby she was carrying was the Son of God? All logic screamed impossible! Then there was the problem of what he should do with Mary. It was perfectly in line with the law to have her stoned to death. What would he do? The Bible tells us that because Joseph was a good man he decided to divorce her quietly and not expose her to public disgrace.
God is good all the time, even when things are crumbling all around us. God in his love and mercy sent an angel of the Lord, who appeared to Joseph in a dream. His instructions were very clear and he did not leave out a single detail. “When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. But he had no union with her until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.” Matthew 1:24-25 NIV I’m sure Joseph was grateful for God’s confirmation of truth but still in his humanness he must have had some concerns. God had instructed him not to have any union with her until she gave birth. This would require a great deal of self-control. Furthermore, Joseph was to give the baby the name Jesus, not the customary name of the father. Hummmmm – that was bound to raise a few eyebrows. Perhaps Joseph had questions and even a few hours of sleepless hesitation, but still he obeyed God on all matters. In shear blind faith and total obedience Joseph dealt with Christmas and that is why he is my hero in this story!
That first message from heaven was not the end of Joseph’s problems. As we say, “when it rains it pours”! His next problem was the decree from Caesar Augustus which stated that all of the Roman Empire should be taxed. Everyone was required to go to his own town to register. For Joseph this meant a long trip from Nazareth to Bethlehem, the town of David, which was about seventy miles as the crow flies. Since his car was in the shop he would have to walk. Taking his pregnant wife, who was due any day, was an added problem. Some way some how, Joseph believed that God would provide and he did. God provided a donkey for Mary to ride on. Not too cushy if you ask me, but at least she didn’t have to walk. So Joseph, the bread winner, began to do all he could as the bills started rolling in. Even though Joseph was stressed to the limit, he still dealt with Christmas. Again, for me, he is the hero in this story. Unknown to Joseph, prophecy was being fulfilled because it was prophesied that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem. “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.” Micah 5:2
When Joseph arrived in Bethlehem the search for a place for Mary to rest was at the top of his list. Needless to say, Mary's contractions had begun and to add to this dilemma all he could hear from one innkeeper after another was “no room”. How exasperating! What was he to do? Still he persisted. He dealt with Christmas. Finally, God once again provided, of all places, a stable. Joseph must have been both disappointed and thankful at the same time. I’m sure Joseph was tired, his feet and back must have been aching from the long journey and his eyes longed for sleep. But it was only the beginning. The night was young. He only had a few more things to do and sleep was not one of them. He needed to rustle up some food, deliver a baby, entertain shepherds, and find some time to hold his precious new son. Not a son of blood but a son of love. Yes, Joseph my hero did an excellent job of dealing with Christmas!
After returning to Nazareth there was still one more major problem to deal with. More company, three wise men from the east came to worship Jesus. They came with gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Joseph was a busy man. There was so much to do and so little time to do it. Orders were piling up in the carpenter shop and now this. When was a man supposed to do any work? But still this father dealt with Christmas and all the events that surrounded the birth of this child. He set aside his agenda and welcomed the visitors from the east.
Unexpected company was only the beginning. That night one very tired Joseph was trying to get some much needed sleep. Once again, the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up, he said, “take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.” Matthew 2:13 Talk about a nightmare! Get up now! Escape! Herod was trying to kill Jesus! Fear was front and center. How could he move and relocate in the middle of the night? No good-byes, what would the family think? What would Mary say? God, are you crazy? Questions and more questions, but once again, Joseph dealt with Christmas. He obeyed.
Obedience seemed to be Joseph’s strong suite. This may have been why God hand picked him for the job. What a guy! Certainly, he was a real life hero. Joseph was a loving, protective husband, who obeyed God. “So he (Joseph) got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt, where he stayed until the death of Herod.” Matthew 2:14-15a Reading on in Matthew we learn that Joseph was a major player in God’s plan. “And so it was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: “Out of Egypt I called my son.” Matthew 2:15b (this prophecy found in Hosea 11:1)
God has a plan for each of our lives. We must trust him with all that concerns us. God always goes before us and prepares the way. The lesson I have learned from Joseph today is that I must always be obedient no matter what my emotions are saying, regardless of many unanswered questions I must always believe that God goes before me, and in spite of what seems to me to be illogical. I must know that God’s ways are not man’s ways and I must choose to trust him.
Why do we ever doubt that God is in control? Even in the thunderstorms of adversity, God is perfectly in control as he accomplishing his purpose in our lives. More importantly, he will continue to use people, position, events, decrees, wars, and circumstances to fulfill prophecy until JESUS returns again to this earth! 

  1. What impresses you the most about Joseph?
  2. Does Joseph’s life speak to you regarding your reluctant responses to God?
  3. Do you see that just like Joseph, all of us must deal with life by trusting God and obeying all that he tells us to do?
  4. Is there something that God is asking you to do but you haven’t obeyed?
  5. What is keeping you from obeying?
  6. Do you believe that God can be trusted?

Dear God,
I love this story of Joseph. I love that he was a simple carpenter who trusted you even when he was filled with doubts and fears. His obedience did not depend upon how he felt, what he understood, or if he had enough sleep. I love Joseph because he was not a procrastinator. God, I thank you for this Biblical example of simple obedience. Father, forgive me when I procrastinate regarding your assignments. Forgive me when I chose to disobey your instructions and ignore your message. I pray that in the days ahead you will fill me with so much love for you that I can do nothing less than trust you completely as I step out in blind faith with a will that longs to be simply obedient.
In the name of Jesus I pray. Amen

Sunday, December 1, 2013

No Room

“While they were there,
the time came for the baby to be born,
and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son.
She wrapped him in cloths
and placed him in a manger,
because there was no room for them in the inn.”
Luke 2:6-7 NIV
This morning in my mind, I am in my winter garden. Dark tree trunks jump out from the backdrop of a newly fallen snow. The evergreens are lush and the red poinsettias silently shout out bright red blasts of color. This morning I am purposely setting aside time to meditate on the birth of my Savior. Sure, I am busy during this time of year, but I have found that when I begin my day with Jesus he somehow multiplies my time. I know I still have the same amount of hours in my day but when I start my day with Jesus, he enables me to think clearly, readjust my priorities, and helps me to focus on what seems to be the most important task at hand.
Today, as I reflect on the night that Jesus was born I am filled with sadness. I think that the saddest part of the Christmas story was the fact that no matter how many inn doors Joseph knocked on in Bethlehem, the answer was the same, “No room”.
No room, are you kidding me? How could that be? Couldn’t the God of the universe have done a better job preparing for the birth of his son? God himself was putting on skin and entering our world, but to Joseph and Mary’s dismay she was about to deliver on the “Main Street” of Bethlehem!
The words “no room” keep ringing in my ears. This situation was unbelievable! Not acceptable! And irresponsible! What was God thinking? It was not fitting for a King to be born in full view of the public eye. What about poor Mary, after all she willingly bowed in humility and took on the task of obeying God, and I might add, she also did this with a smile on her face. Didn’t she deserve more? What about Joseph? Wasn’t he trying to be responsible? And now this, no room! Really God? How absolutely absurd!
And then I remember that God did what he does best, he showed up at the last minute and just in the nick of time. The last innkeeper said there is room in the stable. This was not really what Joseph was expecting from a God who owns it all, but nevertheless, he was truly grateful and so he decided to make the best of God’s “less than perfect” plan.
So there among the smelly cattle, the coarse scratchy hay, in the dark of the night, the Son of God was born. No room, only a manger to lay this little stranger in. No soft fluffy pillow, no satin edged blanket, nor was there a beautiful cradle. No doctors, no nurses, no room service! Only the simplicity of the stable, a meager manger, and one very bright star that was now lighting up the sky over the stable!
Relatives did not arrive at the stable to ooh and ahh over this new family member. Friends did not stop by with gifts. It seemed that the arrival of Jesus was unnoticed. The little town of Bethlehem had politely turned away the Christ child. The world seemed to be blind to this blessed event. The Son of God had arrived fresh from heaven and no one seemed to care.
But wait, slowly coming from the distance is a group of dirty shepherds. They began to arrive from the hillside one by one. They smelled of the outdoors and carried the odor of the sheep of their pasture. These sleepy men had been watching their flock when the heavenly host made their announcement, “Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Luke 2:11-12. These simple shepherds believed the angel. Their Messiah had come. Now they obediently made their way to the stable so they could bow before the King. A few lambs may have tagged along. Perhaps one or two curiously nuzzled the baby Jesus as they peered into the manger. Did they sense this was the Lamb of God?
The words “no room” no longer seemed important to Mary and Joseph. They now realized that God’s plan was so different from the ways of men. God had provided all they needed. God had provided a place to rest and worshipers to bow before their precious child, who was on loan to them from his Heavenly Father. Scripture tells us that Mary pondered all of these things in her heart. Luke 2:19
As I think about it, life is not much different today. Jesus Christ has come to a world that continues to turn him away. To so many he is a complete stranger. The hearts of mankind are hard and so full of self that there is absolutely no room for Jesus. People continue to choose to remain blind to the wonderful story of how God sent his son to an uncaring, sinful world so that we might be rescued from the fate of sin. People continue to say, “No room here.”
But praise God, there are individuals who do worship! Like the shepherds we came to Jesus in filthy rags. We were poor and we were needy. Those who worship are among the ones who have recognized who Jesus is. We have welcomed the Son for God, the Messiah, our Savior, our redeemer, and our friend. We have made room in our life for Jesus Christ and we worship him.

  1. What part of this story do you find the most amazing?
  2. Do the words “no room” make you sad?
  3. Do you feel a need to worship when you see how completely God provided for Mary and Joseph?
  4. Have you made room for Jesus in your heart?

If you have already made room for Jesus in your life then by all means worship him with all your heart this Christmas season. If you have not made room for Jesus, simply bow your head in prayer and invite Jesus to come into your heart. Tell him that you now have room for him in your life and invite him into your heart. Now for the first time in your life you will be able to worship the King as you celebrate his birth during this beautiful Christmas season.
Dear God,
When I remember that your son was born into a world that had no room for him I am overcome by sadness. But my sadness has now turned to joy as I realize that you continue to knock at the hearts of mankind asking each individual to make room for your Son in their life. This Christmas I rejoice because I made that choice and I have made room for your son, Jesus. I pray that others will do the same. The birthday of your Son is not just a celebration of your birth, but an opportunity to bow our grateful hearts in worship of our Savior. Lord with all my heart I worship your precious son, Jesus Christ, the Messiah.
It is in his name I pray. Amen.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

A Message From Heaven

Last week’s post challenged us to offer up to God both thanksgiving and praise as we begin preparing our hearts for Thanksgiving. Again this week let us focus on the same tandem actions of “thanksgiving and praise” as we recall all of God’s gracious benefits in our lives.
In addition, if you are like me, as soon as the Thanksgiving leftovers have been eaten I begin to prepare for Christmas. Today begins my five week series of Christmas messages. This week I will begin this Christmas season by considering the message Mary received from heaven.

“The angel went to her and said,
“Greetings, you who are highly favored!
The Lord is with you.”
Luke 1:28 NIV

 When God calls to us from heaven it is important! We hear God’s message through his Word, the Holy Spirit, or a messenger. Often God’s message will encourage us, rebuke us, or teach us new truth. Other times the message from heaven contains a job assignment. Regardless, when God singles us out, speaks to us, or gives us a job to do it is because we, like Mary, have found favor with him. The angel reminded Mary that the Lord was with her just as the Lord is “with us” and he recognizes those who are “with him” and he calls us by name. God knows the ones who are “with him” are available to serve. Our association with the Lord Jesus Christ singles us out. Those who do not know him are not favored or ear marked to do his holy work. The question is not if we are highly favored by God but are we willing to be used by God?
When we hear our own personal, private message from heaven our first response may be that we, like Mary, are greatly troubled. We may even be afraid. Most likely our mind will be full of questions. The request from heaven may take us totally by surprise and our initial response may see the request as unnatural and impossible.  If you read Luke 1:26-34 you will see that all of these things went through the mind of Mary, the mother of Jesus.
Mary’s number one question was, “How can this be?” The angel’s answer to Mary is the same answer that will be given to us. “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you”(vs.35). An amazing power from God himself will come upon us and overshadow all of our concerns! When we bow before God in humble submission to his will for our life, God is pleased. I don’t think it is one bit out of line to imagine him smiling at our obedience.
When God calls to us from heaven and we possess even the smallest measure of doubt, God graciously brings additional confirmation to our heart. God sees when our knees are still shaking and he knows if we are entertaining the thought that perhaps we misunderstood him. God knows when we are about to resist his call and enter into battle armed with our excuses. When we hesitate or doubt that we have indeed heard from heaven we can expect, more likely than not, that we will hear additional confirmations from other believers. God graciously meets our needs even when what we need is confirmation of his will for our job assignment.
Mary was no different, she too needed confirmation. After the angel left her she prepared for a trip to the hill country to visit her relative, Elizabeth, who was soon to be the mother of John the Baptist. Elizabeth had her own job assignment. She was to give birth in her old age to a baby to be named John, who would prepare the way for the Messiah, Jesus Christ. God’s gracious confirmation came to Mary the moment Elizabeth laid eyes on her. “When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear!” Luke 1:41-42 Elizabeth even called Mary the mother of her Lord.
After this encounter joy descended on Mary like early morning dew glistening in the sunlight. It was the joy of knowing without a doubt that God had entrusted her with a very special holy assignment. Mary’s response was, “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me – holy is his name.” Luke 1: 46-49 NIV
When we are on the same page as God our response will be the same as Mary’s. Nothing in this life brings us more joy than knowing we are being used by God for his glory. Mary found favor with God because she was available. We who are available must also be obedient when God calls us from heaven to do his holy work. We must live with our ears tuned upward so we don’t miss any of God’s heavenly messages.
God has all kinds of jobs. You and I are his voice and his hands and feet. As followers of Jesus Christ, we have been equipped to do his good works. God may give us a major assignment that will be seen by all those around us, but I have come to believe that he has far more simple, quiet, behind the scene jobs than he has major assignments. Pay careful attention when God calls you to step up and be a mother or a father, a son or a daughter, a brother or a sister, an aunt or an uncle, a grandparent, a friend, an encourager, a prayer warrior, a giver, or one who dips and gives a cup of cold water, sends a note, or delivers a casserole to a friend in need. All of us are to stand ready to give an account of the hope that lies within us. If you walk with our Savior you will have many jobs to do. Do not be afraid for he is with you! Remember above all that you are favored by him and that is precisely why he is calling you. Take note that he has been mindful of your humble state and has still chosen you to be his servant. Like Mary, rejoice because this is how the Father is doing great things for you! Of course, in this process others benefit as well and when we obey, God is glorified.
The Christmas season is busy. There are so many things to do. At times it seems that the “ings” get the best of us. Decorating, shopping, wrapping, baking, cooking, writing cards, entertaining, party going, and maintaining! Here are some words of caution for me and for you. We must make time for Jesus so that the season does not sweep us away. We must make sure that we leave our schedule open ended so that when we receive a message from heaven we will remember that we are favored of God. He needs us especially during this busy season. We must obey his call to do his holy work even when we are afraid that time will not permit or that God is making an impossible request. We must remember that Jesus is Immanuel, God with us!

  1. What do you think about the fact that you are highly favored by God?
  2. Do you question what you can do that would be of any holy significance? 
  3. What do you think about minor jobs being just as important as major jobs?
  4. Do you find joy in knowing that God wants to do great things for you and he accomplishes these things through trusting you with his work?
  5. When a certain thought repeatedly enters your mind do you recognize that those repeated thoughts are spelling out a job assignment that is coming to you straight from heaven through the Holy Spirit?
  6. Do you understand that the Holy Spirit is confirming that yes indeed; God has a special assignment for you?
Dear God,
I am a bit taken back today to realize that because I have found favor with you this automatically marks me as available for job assignments. I admit that during this busy time of year my heart goes out to others, but frankly God, my schedule is so hectic I’m not sure I can get to this until January. Father, forgive me when I have these thoughts. God, you are the busiest person in the universe, yet still you have time to meet with me, minister to my needs, and one day over 2,000 years ago you took time to send your precious son into our world. I thank you Jesus that you are never too busy for me. During my quiet time, change my thinking and my priorities so that I can be used by you this Christmas season.
In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Thanksgiving and Praise

“Enter his gates with thanksgiving
and his courts with praise;
give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the LORD is good and his love endures forever,
his faithfulness continues through all generations.”
Psalm 100:4-5 NIV

Some things just go together. Things like turkey and stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, hot rolls and butter, and pumpkin pie and whipped cream. Sitting down to a delicious Thanksgiving dinner certainly stimulates our taste buds into action. Be honest, if you are like me you want to wear your most comfortable pants or dress to this gala! Most of us have been waiting all year with wild anticipation for this dinner where all of our favorite, traditional foods will compliment each other in such a way that we will eat until we enter that state of feeling “stuffed”. At our house we always hope that everything will settle enough so that later in the evening we will have enough room in our tummy to have a turkey sandwich and just one more slice of pie! Gluttony, pure gluttony! Sometimes Thanksgiving seems to be a little too much about food. The fact is there are other things that should, without a doubt, be considered on this special American holiday. Things like our faith, freedom, family, and friends.
Another example of things that go together well is thanksgiving and praise. I have been in the company of many people who are indeed thankful for what they have but they seem to be completely void of praise to the One who is their supplier. They think that they are fortunate to have good health and that they are lucky to have met their soul mate. They think only their efforts have lined their bank account. They believe themselves to be their own provider.
As Believers, we do not believe in luck. We believe that God is Sovereign and has a plan for our life. Yes, we know that we are fortunate to have the things we enjoy, but we know that it is the hand of God that has equipped us with intelligence to do our work, and has given us the gifts and abilities to succeed in our jobs. If we happen to be among those who God has blessed with good health we give him thanks and praise. We believe that when we trust God and ask him for direction, it is God who brings our spouse into our life and blesses us with that special one who he has sent to be our helpmate.
The truth is, all that we own, all that we are, all of the spiritual benefits we are privileged to enjoy, all of creation, and every breath we take comes from our Creator, our Savior, our Sustainer. Our God is an awesome God. That is why those who follow Jesus Christ give thanks and praise to our Almighty God. That is why on Thanksgiving and every other day of our lives we are to “Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the LORD is good and his love endures forever, his faithfulness continues through all generations.” Psalm 100:4-5 NIV
We enter his gates not just when we go to church but every day during our time of prayer. God invites us into his courts every single day. He craves our praise and desires to see our thankful heart. The fact that God desires our gratitude and praise may seem that God is interested only in himself. This is simply not true. God never demands our thanksgiving and praise but he always deserves it! Why? Because he is good and his love endures forever. God deserves our thanksgiving and praise because he is faithful. Not only to us, but he promises to be faithful to all generations of believers in the future. God has promised to provide for the needs of his children. However, God is not a wishing well. Those things that come from the hand of God that are above and beyond our needs are additional blessings that he chooses to give us. We can ask God for anything but the bottom line is, he knows what is best for us and so we trust him to answer our request in a manner that is in line with our best interest. Gifts should not be ordered. They should always be graciously received.
It is God who blesses both the godly and the ungodly. We all receive from the same hand. Sometimes this seems extremely unfair. The truth is, God loves all of us and he uses his provisions and blessings as a tool to point all mankind to himself. It is his desire that someday those who pay him no mind will eventually see how much he loves them, through his provision. Narcissistic ideas of accomplishments are void of both thanksgiving and praise. Some people are thankful but it is so noticeable that they speak without praise. Thanksgiving without praise is somehow empty. It is only a follower of Jesus Christ, who gives both thanksgiving and praise. The object of our thanksgiving and praise is none other than our God, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and his precious Holy Spirit that lives within us.


  1. Do you see how beautifully thanksgiving and praise go together?
  2. Most of us are thankful, but how are you doing on your praise?
  3. Will you purpose in your heart to enter the gates and courts of God everyday with a thankful heart and words of praise?
  4. Will you make a conscious effort to offer up to God both gratitude and praise as you prepare for Thanksgiving?
Dear God,
Forgive me when my words and actions seem to mirror that I am ungrateful. Forgive me when I enter your gates and courts with only requests and then leave without offering even one word of praise. Thank you and Praise you God because your love endures forever. Even when I fail, still your love endures forever. Thank you and Praise you God because you are good all the time. Forgive me when I begin to think that just because I am going through a difficult time that you have ceased being good. I thank you and praise you God that you are forever faithful. Even when I am unfaithful, you still remain the same faithful God. You always pursue me, you always provide for me, and you are always waiting for me to enter your courts. Only an awesome God like you is deserving of my thanksgiving and praise.
In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Surrender Is Not Defeat

“For whoever wants to save his life will lose it,
but whoever loses his life for me
and for the gospel will save it.”
Mark 8:35 NIV

For me, surrender is often one of the hardest things for me to do in my Christian walk. Every fiber of my being wants to buy into the messages of the world. Messages that tell me I am in charge of my life, if its to be – it’s up to me, and I deserve to have all I want no matter the cost. At times I so want to “save my life” for my good pleasure, my desires, and my purposes. I want to believe that it is my goals that God should honor. I want to believe that my choices are to be mine and mine alone. I want to write the plan for my life and then wait for God to bring those plans to fruition. To me, surrender at times feels like I am giving up or loosing control. It often feels like failure, and defeat. Who wants to go there? There is no wonder that Jesus issued this warning, “For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it.” Mark 8:35 NIV
God often reminds me that he is the one who made me. He made me just as he wanted me to be. I was created with talents, flaws, and special needs. It is important for me to believe that God has no plan to change me into anyone other than the person he created me to be. I simply must trust him with my life. I must believe that he has greater plans for me than I can ever imagine. He wants only that which is good for me. Isn’t that how we all feel about the ones we love? I must not fear his plan for my life but I must surrender to that plan. Why? Because he loves me!
I find it amazing that God is able to take my gifts and talents and use them to the max! But the sad truth is that when I take charge of my gifts and talents and try to determine the outcome of their use and purpose, I interfere with his perfect plan for me. My plan may be good but it will never be the best until it is surrendered to God. This is not defeat but it is trusting God to use me for his glory as he sees fit.
You see, all gifts and talents have a dark side. This dark side of any gift or talent is manifest by our own selfish desires, our pride, and our extreme need for control. Surrender says Lord, I want my desires to be pleasing to you. Lord, I only want to boast in you as my Savior. It is God who enables us to do all things great or small. Surrender turns loose of control and trust that God will always be more than enough in all things. Surrender knows that I will be a better person regardless of the outcome because I trust my Creator. Surrender knows beyond a shadow of doubt that the moment I surrender my life to God, my life has been saved!
I must never assume that just because I have given my life to Jesus Christ that all my minutes, hours, and days have been automatically surrendered to God. Constantly I am being faced with new circumstances, challenges, lusts, and fears. I give my life to Christ but I surrender my will for my life over and over again. Each problem, situation, test, challenge, and desire has to be sifted through God’s heavenly sifter. The good will automatically sift through without effort, but the lumps of selfishness, pride, lust, anger, and fear must be surrendered. God sees all of my imperfections and he goes to work purifying that which is not good when I lovingly surrender each day every sinful imperfection to him for his sifting and refining.
Surrender is the open door whereby God comes into our thinking and ministers to our emotions. When God sees that we recognize our need for him, and when he sees us lift our hands in downright “God, I give up” surrender, he will then begin to work in our life to bring about his purpose for us. God’s plan is not to destroy who we are but to mold us into all that we were meant to be. Our temperament and our personality will shine for Jesus when we walk the path of surrender. Our talents and giftedness will blossom and bring glory to him! Surrender also allows us to experience peace of heart and mind regarding our future.
Total surrender is not defeat. It is victory! Surrender to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is the key to living the abundant life both now and in eternity. No matter how many days we struggle with getting to the point of total surrender on any issue, the end result is always the same. Sweet peace is the prize that is waiting for us at the end of total relinquishment. We will also discover that joy will fill the void that was previously filled with our controlling, selfish, fearful will.
Every day we face struggling with our own “precious” will. Our emotions always seem to get in the way of our spiritual progress. In our head we know what we must do but in our heart we often struggle. We will always have choices to be made. God wants us to make righteous, holy choices. No way can we do this without the power of God in our lives. The Holy Spirit is always there to help us in our hour of need. Without a doubt God knows that we are dust. Out of dust we were formed into a fragile jar of clay. Inside that jar lives all our gifts and talents. If you are a follower of Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit also lives within you. He is there all day, every day waiting to be summoned. When we recognize our need and call upon the Spirit he responds, and wonderful things happen. Our mind-set changes, our burdens are lifted, and sweet peace is ours. The result of our surrender is nothing short of amazing!
Our God is awesome in every way. There is never a moment that he does not have our best interest close to his heart. He loves us all with an everlasting love and he calls us by name. I do not understand why surrender should be so hard. Under his wings of protection is the safest place any of his children could ever be. Surrender is not to be feared rather it is to be embraced as an open door that will lead to all that God has created us to be! Surrender is the path to blessing.

  1. What are you are struggling with today that needs to be surrendered to God?
  2. Have you called upon the Holy Spirit for his help in your time of need?
  3. Do you really believe that God is good all the time and always has your best interest at heart?
  4. Can you identify what is keeping you from surrendering?
  5. Will you choose to relinquish your _______ to your loving Heavenly Father?
Dear Father,
I am so tired of struggling. Father, I do not know what is best for me. Help me to trust you with my life and the lives of all those I love. I thank you that you continue to call me to come to you, and humbly bow before you in surrender. Father, please take away the ____________ in my heart that keeps me from surrendering to you. Lord, I am weak but you are strong. Thank you Holy Spirit that you are always available to help me in my time of need. Lord, I want to surrender ____________ to you today. Father, I give up, I can not do this alone. I know now that I desperately need your help. Lord, I choose this day to trust you with my life. Thank you for loving me and wanting only what is best for me. Lord, I relinquish to you ___________. Please fill me with your peace and use this struggle in my life for my good and your glory. Father fill me with your peace and give me your joy.
In your name I pray. Amen.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

If It's Not One Thing, It's Another!

“Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith,
love, endurance and gentleness.
Fight the good fight of the faith.”
1Timothy 6:11-12 NIV

 My wise daddy used to say, “It’s a fight from the cradle to the grave!” Without a doubt, I have observed that he spoke the truth. Fight? How can this be right? As Christians aren’t we suppose to be a peaceful bunch? Why is it that the peace we long to have surround us always seems to be an illusive butterfly?
One thing for sure, in this life, if it’s not one thing, it’s another. The air conditioner goes out and the same week someone hits your car in the mall parking lot. Perhaps you have a child who is struggling or a spouse who is on overload and is a bit grouchy. The very next week you discover that the kitchen sink is clogged, the washing machine stops working, and a friend misunderstands you. On top of all this, the phone rings and your dad, who is on the line informs you that your mother is sick and needs your help. To add insult to injury as you rush past a mirror on your way out the door, again it is revealed to you that your beautician has given you the worse haircut of the century! The list seems to be unending. Peace? You’ve got to be kidding!
In my life I am learning that I can only have real peace within my spirit. This peace is not found on this earth but it is a heavenly peace that comes from our Father in heaven. Satan and all of his forces surround us everyday.  Satan knows when we have moved away from God and our mind has become focused on the “negative stuff” of life and Satan knows when we are focused on our Savior. One sure way we know we are on the right track is when Satan begins throwing adversity into our lives. We must never underestimate the lengths Satan will go to in order to discourage us by disrupting our lives. He does this by putting lots and lots of “negative stuff” in our life.
Paul tells Timothy, “fight the good fight of faith”. Paul also tells us how to do it. “Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. 1 Timothy 6:11-12  As believers we are to fight for our faith. Paul says this is a “good fight”, a fight worth fighting for. We fight Satan and his crew by pursuing righteousness. We do this by reading God’s Word. God’s Word teaches us what God says is right and what is wrong. In our attitudes and actions we must pursue and choose right responses and actions. We must learn to recognize Godly behavior and then choose to apply that same behavior to our life. The “good fight” of faith is none other than our faithfulness and loyalty to our Father. When Satan begins to pile on the “negative stuff” we must not cave in to his tactics. Remember your first thought does not have to be your final response.
When I choose faithfulness over unfaithfulness Satan is trampled! When I find it difficult to love, I must start with compassion. I must try to understand where the other person is coming from. When my thought pattern begins to change, Jesus opens my heart to experience his compassion. When I choose to be more understanding and compassionate I am now free to choose to be merciful. I have found that compassion must precede mercy and mercy invokes love. When we look to Jesus we see without a doubt that it was out of his great compassion and mercy that he lovingly chose to take our punishment.
We must not try to do this alone. We must choose to call upon the Holy Spirit in our time of need. He enables us to endure adversity and to take two steps back when necessary. The Holy Spirit prompts us to re-evaluate the situation and then respond in gentleness. Why should we do this? We do this because Satan is defeated when we do. This is how we fight the “good fight” of our faith. A faith that is worth fighting for!
We have been issued the equipment to fight in this battle. We must not try to fight Satan alone, nor should we expect God to rescue us while we continue to run around in confusion as we endeavor to find our own way out of the chaos. This is a battle to be fought by both you and God. The fight is between our sinful  nature verses the Spirit. When we call upon the Holy Spirit he empowers us to side with God instead of Satan.
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore, put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrow of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.” Ephesians 6:10-18 NIV
“Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith,” 1 Peter 5:8-9a NIV Make no mistake Satan prowls around in our homes, our relationships, our responsibilities, our cars, our jobs, our finances, and he uses all that we hold dear to upset our apple cart. He does not fight fair. He is a sneaky liar. He is subtle and he attacks us at our weakest point. He causes disruption, stress, and confusion. We must train ourselves to be self-controlled and alert. We must be intentional about recognizing life for what it is; a struggle of the flesh vs. the spirit. The everyday struggles of life are not just struggles; they are without doubt spiritual struggles. We must not brush them off with the idea that this is “just life”. It is NOT “just life”, it is Satan at his finest hour doing what he does best! Discouragement, disappointment, depression, distractions, delays, division, and discontentment are all in his bag of devastating tricks designed for one purpose alone. That purpose is to cause us to take our eyes off Jesus. Oh how I need this lesson today and every day. I must tune in to the whisper of the Holy Spirit as he reveals to me the mind of Christ. I must seek to know the mind of Christ! One thing for sure, the mind of Christ is always the exact opposite of the way the world thinks. It is Satan who is the prince of this world and he is busy pushing his lies into the minds of all who walk this planet. He does this by attacking us where we live, work, and play.  Remember, if it is not one thing, it is another. Be alert and stand firm!


  1. How do the distractions of life affect you?
  2. Have you considered the very real possibility that Satan is the instigator?
  3. Will you consider the possibility that your faith is worth fighting for?
  4. What can you do to remember Paul’s advise to Timothy?
  5. Will you partner with God and fight the “good fight”?
Dear Father in Heaven,
Oh how I need this lesson today and everyday! I confess that I allow the circumstances of my life to often get the best of me. Father, I pray that I would choose to fight the “good fight” of my faith. I pray that I will recognize that it is Satan who is orchestrating havoc in my life. Lord, I pray that I will stand up tall and firm against him. I pray that, just like you Lord, I would use scripture to rebuke and bind Satan and demand by the power of your name, that he leave my mind. Even though problems remain, I know that your Holy Spirit will enable me to respond in compassion, mercy, love, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. I pray that I will see the pursuit of righteousness is both a privilege and a blessing. I pray I will see that choosing faithfulness produces nothing short of pure joy and inner peace. I thank you Father for peace, this amazing peace that passes all earthly knowledge and understanding, but is none the less real. Lord I give you my frustrations, burdens, challenges, and trials. Help me this day to fight the “good fight".
It is in your name I pray. Amen.