Signed, Sealed, Delivered For Christmas, and Hope at Christmastime

Signed, Sealed, Delivered for Christmas, and Hope at Christmastime

Copyright 2014 Crown Media United States LLC/Photographer:Eike Schroter

In Signed, Sealed, and Delivered For Christmas, Oliver, Rita, Norman, and Shane (whom Oliver formally calls Ms. McInerney) have a very special job – they track down the recipients of undelivered mail, and deliver it to them. At Christmas time, they run the Dear Santa project, where they provide the gifts for children that they requested in their letters to Santa. At the last minute, they receive a letter that’s a little bit different – it was addressed to God, rather than Santa! It’s from a girl whose mother’s in the hospital. They do their best to track her down, and give her a Merry Christmas. Throughout the process, Ms. McInerney appears uncomfortable, due to memories of the Christmas her dad walked out on her, and she personally wrote a letter to God that she hadn’t received a response to. Also, Oliver is given another last minute letter to deliver that a child had sent to God a long time ago, but he just can’t seem to track down its writer. As the four of them help out the little girl whose mom is in the hospital, will the mystery solve itself?

The fact that her dad had left when she was a child and didn’t come back after she mailed her letter to God caused Ms. McInerney to reject Him. At one point, she opens up to Oliver about what happened that Christmas, and he says that sometimes, someone else having a great Christmas can cause us to relive our pain if we don’t let Christmas do its job, and that the way to hold firm in a storm is “. . . by trusting that that the one thing that matters in this world will never let go (of you).” He continues on to tell her “Perfect love casts out all that pain, all that fear, and replaces it with hope, and hope is what you were asking for.” He concludes by saying “. . . every Christmas since, hope is what you have been given . . . It’s right here for you.”

Maybe you’re dealing with a painful situation. Maybe, like Ms. McInerney, you’ve become skeptical towards God because of what you’re going through. Maybe the holidays, which are supposed to be filled with joy, seem to intensify the pain you’re going through, by contrast. If so, know that God’s perfect love is ready to meet you right where you are, and bring about healing in your life. The Christmas story is all about hope – hope for a world that couldn’t save itself, but now wouldn’t need to, because a Savior had been born. The hope that because of what He’s done for us, we can now approach God with confidence. Hope that no matter what’s going on in our lives, He will find a way to rescue us if we’ll open ourselves up to Him.

Romans 15:13 says “. . . may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Know that if you’ll come to God, He will cause you to overflow with hope this holiday season. Don’t keep your distance from Him. Turn to Him, and receive the hope that He is offering you!

Read Through the Story of Jesus’ Birth by Christmas

Read Through the Story of Jesus' Birth by Christmas Title CC

The Christmas season is filled with lots of fun and celebration! Do you know what we’re celebrating? The birth of God’s Son! He came to save us, and make a way for us to have a relationship with God. That’s definitely a reason to celebrate! This December, read through the story of Jesus’ birth, and be reminded of what Christmas is really all about. Read a few verses every day, and finish it by Christmas!

Read Through the Story of Jesus' Birth by Christmas

Cyber Monday Special, and a New Release

Cyber Monday Special, and a New Release CC

For Cyber Monday, Called and Created is offering a special deal – the Love Notes From God bundle, for only $5! The Love Notes From God bundle includes both the Love Notes From God devotional AND the brand new Love Notes From God Journal that goes along with it. At $5 for the entire bundle, you get both the devotional and the journal for the same price that the devotional typically costs on its own. Make sure you take advantage of this deal – it ends at 12 pm CST!

The Love Notes From God devotional is a 14 day devotional that’s all about God’s love for you! In the devotional, I took 14 scriptures about God’s love and put them in the form of love notes from Him to you. There’s a devotion to go along with each love note, complete with a key thought for the day, a short prayer, and a few extra scriptures for further study. Also included in the journal is a set of printable graphics that correspond with the love notes, that you can print out and either give to someone else, or keep for your own encouragement!

The Love Notes From God Journal is a brand new journal I just came out with that goes along with the Love Notes From God devotional. There are three journal pages to go with each day’s devotion. The first page provides a place for you to write down your reflections on the devotion for the day. The second page is filled with questions that go along with the day’s devotion, along with a space to answer each of them, to help you process what you read. The third page is devoted to prayer, complete with a spot for you to write out a prayer to God, as well as a place to record what you feel that He is saying to you!

The Love Notes From God devotional and Love Notes From God Journal can be purchased separately at Called and Created’s store, or they can be purchased together in the Love Notes From God bundle for a discounted price. Today, the price of the Love Notes From God bundle is even lower than normal for a special Cyber Monday deal. You can purchase both the devotional and the journal for just $5!

Visit http://calledandcreated.com/store/ to check out the new Love Notes From God Journal, and to take advantage of Called and Created’s Cyber Monday special!

Money Lessons from It’s a Wonderful Life

money lessons c and c

In the classic Christmas movie It’s a Wonderful Life, George Bailey, who’s considering committing suicide, is visited by an angel who shows him what the world would be like without him.

Not only is It’s a Wonderful Life a great movie about the difference 1 person’s life can make, it also teaches us some very valuable lessons about money! Here are a few of them.

How a bank really works.

When the stock market crashes, a mob rushes to the Building and Loan. When someone wants to withdraw their money, George says they are thinking of the Building and Loan all wrong, as if he has the money out back in a safe. He explains that their money is in the houses other people took out a loan to build.

A bank works the same way. They don’t simply store the money you deposit, and pay you interest for letting them store it. They loan out the money you deposit, and charge a higher interest rate on the loans than they pay you. In other words, they make money off of your money, and pay you a little of what they made off of it. Not only that, but they actually loan out many times more than what is deposited with them. They keep a certain amount of money on hand, but not enough to give everyone back their money if they all demanded it at once. That’s why banks get in trouble if too many people try to withdraw their money at the same time.

Buy in a down market.

When the stock market crashes, Potter offers to pay the Bank and Loan shareholders 50 cents on the dollar for their shares. George responded by telling them that Potter was buying, not selling, and that he was picking up bargains. Potter was trying to take over the bank and loan by purchasing all the shares 50% off. The people were willing to sell this low because things weren’t going well.

To succeed financially, buy when everyone else is trying to sell. You can score some pretty big bargains on investments in an economy that has taken a turn for the worse. Then when the economy recovers, you’ll have a bunch of assets waiting to make you tons of money!

When you panic, you lose money.

George told the frantic crowd that Potter was buying, not selling, because they were panicked and he wasn’t. Think about it – the people were willing to receive half of what their shares were worth, because they figured it was better than nothing. Making a snap decision out of panic would have cost them half of their money!.

Never make a financial decision in a state of panic. Let yourself calm down, and think things through rationally so you don’t make a choice you will later regret.

 

God Wants to Glorify You

God Wants to Glorify You

What would you think if I told you that God wants to glorify you? Would you believe me? Would you dismiss my words and remind me that it’s supposed to be the other way around?

Many Christians act as if they’re afraid of any kind of attention being drawn to them. They try to hide from compliments and recognition like they’re scared somebody will assume they’re prideful, and think they’re trying to make it all about themselves. Guess what?!? When God’s children receive glory, He receives glory!

Think about it like this – if a child is well-mannered, respectful, and kind and helpful towards others, and somebody notices, who will they usually make a comment to about it? The parents! Why? Because the way that the child is behaving is likely a result of how the parents raised them. By giving the child credit for being a good kid, you are giving the parents credit for what a good job they are doing on raising their son or daughter!

In the same way, God is our Heavenly Father, so when people recognize us in a positive way, what they’re really recognizing is what God is doing in and through us. When God glorifies us, He gets glory in the process!

Still not convinced? Check out these scriptures on how God glorifies us!

  • God’s glory is upon you! (Is 60:1-2)
  • You display His splendor. (Is 61:3)
  • He has made you great. (Ps 18:35)
  • He’s endowed you with splendor. (Is 60:9)
  • God has crowned you with glory and honor. (Ps 8:5)

Consumed with What Christ Has Done for You

Consumed with What CHrist Has Done for You

How many times have you heard the phrase “It’s not about you?”  Some Christians are constantly reminding themselves and others of this, in an attempt to avoid becoming full of themselves. While we shouldn’t be totally wrapped up in ourselves all the time, the idea that it’s not about us can be over emphasized to the point that it actually holds a portion of the body of Christ back from doing what God’s called them to do.

Here’s what I mean by that. Some people conclude that since it’s about God, not you, if you enjoy doing something that brings you before the eyes of the public, you must be doing it to try to bring glory to yourself instead of Him. Therefore, if you want to do anything like speaking, performing music, acting, writing a book, starting a business, or anything else of the kind, you must an arrogant individual who is out only for yourself. While this is sometimes the cases, it most certainly isn’t true of all who are in such a situation!

Think about all the great evangelists and ministers in Christian history. They drew huge crowds, who came to hear them speak. Were they in it for themselves? Was it all about the show with them? Very few of us would say such a thing, and yet their names were widely known. They stood before many, and yet they drew countless people to God. Some of them, in fact, believed so intensely in the importance of bringing the truth of the gospel in front of as many as possible that they faced persecution in the process. If their careers were built off of pride, would they have put up with this?

It is the same today. Though there are those whose main focus is on their glory rather than that of God, this doesn’t immediately characterize all who are doing something that brings them in front of others as prideful, or mean that their motives are tainted. Some of them truly possess a burning desire to share with the world the One who has changed their lives, and have been gifted in a way that enables them to do so with many people at once, through doing something that they love and are good at.

Those within the Church are different parts of the same body, each of whom are individually designed and gifted by their Heavenly Father. Some people’s talents happen to lend themselves to doing things that are more visible, and some people’s talents lend themselves more to the behind the scenes work. Both are equally important – neither better than the other, just different. It’s just like a puzzle that gets messed up if you try to shove the pieces into places they don’t fit. For the body of Christ to function as it’s supposed to, each part needs to be allowed to do what it has been called to do.

The answer, therefore, to the fear of individuals striving to bring glory to themselves isn’t to try and force them into places that they weren’t created to occupy, merely to keep them from getting a big ego. The best way to keep people, whatever their talents and abilities, from being consumed with themselves, is for them to become consumed with the One who is greater than them. Share Jesus and His finished work at the cross, and people will become so overwhelmed by the One who loved them so, that self won’t even enter the picture. They will be humbled not by being told to remain humble, but by the realization of who He is. Propagate the truths of the gospel, and as others catch a glimpse of their wonder, those truths will become what they, whatever their position, propagate as well!

What Pleases God?

please God

What is it that pleases God? Is it helping out those in need? Making sure we read the Bible and pray daily? Being kind to that person who’s really getting under our skin?

Those are all great things to do, but they aren’t what God’s Word says pleases Him. Do you know what does please Him? According to Hebrews 11:6, faith is what pleases God! Why? Because based off of what that verse says, it takes faith to draw close to Him – first of all, faith that He exists, and secondly, that He rewards those who seek Him!

When you think about it, it really shouldn’t be a surprise that faith is what pleases God, because the entire new covenant (the way God relates to us since Jesus gave His life for us at the cross) is based off of faith. It is through FAITH that we receive salvation (Eph 2:8). It is FAITH in what Jesus did for us that makes us right with God (Rom 3:24). We see God’s promises come to pass when we have FAITH that they will manifest in our lives (Mtt 21:21-22). Since this is the case, wouldn’t it make since that it is through faith that we please God?

Do you know why faith pleases God? Because it is through faith that we can approach God – faith in who He is and what He’s done for us – and what God wants from us most of all is for us to enter into a relationship with Him. Faith makes this possible, and therefore, it pleases God!

We should follow the instructions God gives us in His Word because He knows what’s best for us, but doing and saying all the right things isn’t what pleases Him. It is faith that pleases Him. Draw near to God through faith. Believe that He’s there for you, and that He rewards those who seek Him diligently!

Notice and Thank God for His Goodness

Notice and Thank God for His Goodness

In The Ultimate Gift, Red Stevens heads out on his own to begin the process of building a billion-dollar fortune for himself. After leaving home, he hops a train along with a man who’s a quite a few years older than him. He sees the man writing in the air with his finger, and asks the man what he is doing. The man tells him that he’s making his “Golden List” – a list of 10 things he’s thankful for that day. Red Stevens doesn’t see much to be thankful for, and says he’ll be thankful later on. The man tells him that everyone has at least 10 things to be thankful for, and if he isn’t thankful now for the little things, he never will be thankful for anything!

November is the month in which Thanksgiving takes place. Because of that, around this time of year, people are big into thinking about all the things they have to be thankful for. Developing an attitude of thankfulness is something that’s important for each of us to do. Thankfulness starts with the goodness of God. It is His goodness towards us that gives us a reason to be grateful. After all, if it weren’t for His goodness to us, we would have nothing to be thankful for! The more we learn to recognize God’s goodness and how He’s at work in our lives, the more we will begin to develop a consistent attitude of gratitude, and a habit of giving thanks to Him!

How do we learn to recognize God’s goodness? Because in spite of His constant goodness to us, we often forget to thank Him for, or don’t even realize, all that He does for us. One good way to train ourselves to see how He is working in our lives is by taking time each day to think about how we have seen His blessing on our lives throughout the day. As we do this, we will become used to keeping our eyes open for evidence of His goodness to us, and get in the habit of giving thanks to Him.

Your challenge? Every day until Thanksgiving, make your own “Golden List” each day. Purposefully sit down and make a list of 10 things you are thankful for from throughout the day, and take time to thank God for them. By the time Thanksgiving is here, you’ll have at least begun to make a habit out of noticing the goodness of your Heavenly Father, and giving thanks to Him for all that He does for you!