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

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!

Glorify God Through Success

Glorify God Through Success

In the movie Woodawn, black high school running back, Tony Nathan, is encouraged to use his gifts for God. The sports chaplain tells him that it may be God’s plan for him to be a star. His coach takes notice of him, and gives him a chance to play a starting position at which he excels, thrusting him into the limelight. When he feels down because of the obstacles and difficulties he encounters, he is reminded by several people that he has encouraged and given hope to those around him by what he’s been accomplishing. As a matter of fact, the pastor of his church acknowledges in front of the entire congregation that he’s glorifying God by using his ability in football, and applauds him for it.

Sometimes Christians can have this mindset that you can’t desire or strive for success and truly be following God the way you should at the same time – almost like if you’re successful, you mustn’t really be on the path that God has for you. There’s this mentality that if you happen to have a lot of money, are in a career that puts you in the limelight, or really, really succeeding, you’re somehow less of a believer. Actually, nothing could be further from the truth!

God actually WANTS his people to succeed! He desires to lead and guide them, setting them up for success. He promises that if we delight in His Word, EVERYTHING we do will prosper (Ps 1:2-3). Psalm 45:12 declares that people of wealth will seek our favor. Isaiah 60:3&5 say that nations will be drawn to God’s light shining through us, and that the wealth of nations will come to us. Does this sound like God is against you succeeding?

Oftentimes, success can actually open up a greater platform for God’s people to share Him with the world. Those who have an abundance of money have an increased opportunity to bless others financially. If someone is well-known, as long as they stick with God instead of getting caught up in the fame, they are just in a more visible position to tell others about their faith. When believers experience success, and unbelievers ask how they achieved it, they have the chance to point them to the God who is responsible for it!

Obviously not everyone is famous or a billionaire, but God does desire for His people to live a prosperous, successful life in every area – to have successful godly relationships, to have all that they need and more in their finances, to do well in the career path He has for them, and to prosper in every other arena of their lives.

It saddens me when people think they need to choose between God and success. Just like Tony Nathan was able to glorify God through his success, pointing others to Him with the platform he’d been given, God wants us to prosper, and glorify him through that prosperity. Commit your life to the Lord, with the determination to stick close to Him even in the midst of success, and discover the amazing things He has in store for you!

God’s Favor Is Upon You

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In Woodlawn, black running back Tony Nathan goes from remaining silently invisible and taking a backseat on the football team to displaying an huge amount of courage and conviction, and becoming the star of the team. He grew up in the church, but really made his faith his own when a sports chaplain came to his school and shared Jesus with the team members. He goes on to play football both in college and at a professional level. His rise from obscurity to achievement and recognition shows just what can happen through God’s favor upon the life of an individual!

As a child of God, you have a major advantage – His divine favor. It surrounds you like a shield (Ps 5:12), causing you to be in the right place at the right time, attracting people important people to you (Ps 45:12), and making everything you do successful (Deu 28:8). His favor can enable you to rise to heights no one expected, and accomplish what no one thought you could.

It doesn’t matter what your background may be, or what you’re up against. God’s favor can overcome all of that. It can pull you from even the worst of situations, and do what you consider impossible. Regardless of whether you’ve had the most amazing, perfect life ever, or whether your past is one you’d rather forget, God has amazing plans for your life, and nothing is impossible with Him (Mark 10:27). As your Heavenly Father, He is on your side! Because He is for you, none will be able to stand against you (Rom 8:37)!

This favor from God is given to you freely as a gift. It isn’t something you can earn. There’s nothing you need to do to obtain it. All God wants is for you to accept it as yours, simply because you are His. Do so, and begin to live the incredible life that God desires for you!

Time Travel Acheived! – Reliving the 60s

time travel

Have you ever wished that you could time travel? Have you ever wondered what it would be like to visit the past? Well, now you can! As a matter of fact, right at this very moment, you are reliving the decade that took place about 50 years ago – the 60s!

One day, I was watching a show on tv where they were trying to depict the scene of a coffee shop in the 60s. While watching it, something looked familiar. Then I remembered – I had seen almost the exact same thing at a shop that I stopped at to grab coffee a few weeks earlier! After taking some time to research the 60s online, I found that there are many striking similarities between today and back then.

Why should this be a surprise? Ecclesiastes 1:9 specifically tells us that what has been will be again, and that what has been done will once again be done, for there is nothing new under the sun.

History really does repeat itself! Here are a few of the similarities between where we are today, and what was taking place during the 60s –

  • Many were against the Vietnam war, just as there are many today who think that we shouldn’t have gone to war w/Iraq, and who oppose very heavy American military involvement in the Middle East.
  • The civil rights movement was taking place, and today we’re dealing with things like the situation in Baltimore that took place earlier this year, and other similar events.
  • In the 60s, the younger generation began to rebel against more conservative views, and take on the mindset that you should be able to do whatever you want, and people should just accept you. Isn’t that the perspective many young people today have?
  • In the 60s, the feminist movement was big, and it’s an issue we’re hearing a lot about today.
  • In the 60s, the gay rights movement began to pick up, and just recently, the US passed a law allowing same-sex marriage.
  • Starting in the late 60s, the Jesus Movement took place when hippie culture and Christianity collided. Today, we are seeing within the church a resurgence of the kind of thinking that was popular during the Jesus Movement as believers try to remain relevant to the world around them. (The way many are doing this is by trying to be as much like the world as possible so that people will be drawn to Christianity as something cool and trendy. The danger is that we may water down Christianity so much in an attempt to get people to accept it, that even the most basic, essential Christian beliefs become completely eroded.)

Romans 15:4 says that everything that was written in the past was written to teach us. That’s the main reason for studying history – so that we can learn from it, copying what previous generations did right, and hopefully avoiding some of the mistakes that they made. If we’re really reliving the 60s, what can we learn from what happened then that we can apply to our lives today?

Serve Out of Your Position with God As His Child

serve

When it comes to serving, what is your mindset? How do you approach it? Where does your motivation come from?

When you think about what the Bible has to say on serving, what story pops into your mind first? Could it be where Jesus washes His disciples’ feet in John 13? We often use this chapter to say that Jesus set us an example of serving others, and because He did that, it is important for us to follow that example and serve those around us as well.

One of the verses we often overlook or dismiss as inconsequential in John 13 verse 3, which says that Jesus knew three things – that God had given Him authority and power, that He had come from God, and that He was returning to God. It was with that knowledge that He got up from the meal and washed the feet of His disciples. In other words, He wasn’t serving to earn a position with God. He knew that He already belonged to God, who was pleased with Him, and He served out of the position that He had with God.

Sometimes, we have the mindset towards serving that it’s one of the things God demands that we do if we want Him to be pleased with us. We do it in an attempt to earn His approval. If this is our reason for serving – to try to gain a position with God – we will get frustrated and burned out very quickly. On the other hand, if we realize that God already approves of and is pleased with us because of what Jesus did at the cross, we will be motivated to serve and minister to others out of a desire to share the amazing love and grace He has shown to us. This kind of motivation will be far more lasting, because His love and grace are without limit, and He desires to be constantly giving us a greater revelation of just how great they really are!

Why do you serve? To gain a position with God and His approval, out of the position you know you already have with Him as His child? Realize that God already accepts and cares about you, and begin to serve out of a desire to share the One who has shown you amazing goodness, mercy, grace, and love!