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Posts Tagged ‘holiday’

The First Christmas

This is the final day of this 5 Day reading plan. Here are the verses for today. Luke 2:11-12; Micah 5:2; John 3:17; Acts 5:31; 1 John 4:14; and Isaiah 7:14. I pray blessings for all.

The focus of the first Christmas was Jesus. It was His day. There was no competition from commercialism seeking economic gain. The gifts were given to Him. God was the recipient of gratitude and generosity. He was glorified on this day of salvation for all who would come to believe in Jesus as God’s only Son. There was an appreciation for the Almighty’s descent into the decadence of humanity. There was no feuding from other faiths jockeying with each other for time in the Savior’s spotlight. On the contrary, there was a religious respect and humble worship from those who traveled great distances from their diverse origins of belief. On this day, Jesus unified sincere seekers of truth.

The first Christmas, however, was not without controversy. Politically, Jesus was a lightning rod (some things never change). Government leaders felt threatened, as if a traitor had infiltrated their influence over the masses. Involuntary spies were sent to validate His presence. Once His birth had been verified, the powers-that-be went to work. Insecurity and fear drive people to commit irrational acts, and it was no different back then.

So what started as a celestial coronation for the Prince of Peace ended with jealous leaders taking severe and deadly action. The Christ-child was driven from their pitiful, but powerful presence. They destroyed other God-fearing people in the process. The community was cast into chaos when Christ was removed from their culture.

From the first Christmas we can learn to keep Christ central in worship and society. He is the wonder of our worship. He is the reason for our giving gifts. It is because we celebrate His birthday that we pause to pray, reflect, and plan to follow His will in a more robust and intentional manner. Our Master came to earth and made Himself like man. He took on the form of a servant, though He could have crowned Himself as King. He pointed us to the love and forgiveness of His heavenly Father. The Christ-child was born of a virgin. He was God who dwelt among us, but sometimes we forget Him, even on His birthday.

One reason we have failed to keep Christ in Christmas is that we have failed to keep Him in some of our churches. Why should the culture embrace the Christ of Christmas, when some of our churches have marginalized their Master? Let’s start by inviting the Almighty back into our churches with fresh and revitalized reverence in worship, evangelism, and discipleship. Let’s prayerfully and responsibly “lay hands” on leaders who fear God, hate sin, love people, and teach the Bible. Christmas is losing its luster for the Lord because Christians have forgotten to fear God.

His birth is only significant if His death and resurrection are significant. The Christ of Christmas becomes compelling when we, as followers, flock to Him in faithfulness and obedience. Let all who name the name of Jesus revisit Him in the awe and worship of that first Christmas. Let’s exclaim with enthusiasm to a hurting world, that He has come to heal broken hearts and revive sick souls. We unapologetically celebrate His birthday with passion because God is with us.

He is transforming us into the likeness of His Son. Let’s make this Christmas like the first Christmas. Let’s invite the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with forgiveness, joy, hope, peace, and love while we worship our Lord together. The first Christmas fuels our faith and recalibrates us to Christ.

Prayer

Heavenly Father, I praise You for sending Your perfect son into our imperfect world so we might know You and be known by You, in Jesus’ precious name I pray, amen.

Application

Read the Christmas story to your family and ask each person which character they most relate to in this season of their life. 

For more devotions from Boyd Bailey, visit https://www.wisdomhunters.com/ 

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This is Day 4 of the reading plan Seeking Daily the Heart of God. Here are the verses for today: John 3:16; Genesis 22:12; Isaiah 9:6; Romans 5:8; Romans 8:32; Ephesians 2:4; 1 John 4:9; Galatians 2:20; and Matthew 22:37-39. Have a very Merry Christmas, and be always in His will and protection. God bless you!

Love is a radical giver—intentionally and indiscriminately. Love gives. It gives individually and internationally. Love gives. It gives bountifully and without bias. Love gives because generosity is its nature. A soldier who gives for love of country, or a mother who gives for love of her child reveals their character. A husband who loves his wife gives her emotional attention. A wife who loves her husband gives him physical affection. Love gives as a matter of course. It’s natural.

God’s love is the gold standard. His banner of love is raised high above the most hideous criminal to the most innocent child. God gave the ultimate gift of His son Jesus, because He loved all of us—each one of us. Just as rays of sunlight warm all of us and each of us, so the love of the Lord is for the world, and each one. We are individually loved by Jesus. Since God is love, His love is effortless. His loving offer of forgiveness comes to us by belief in Jesus.

How can we intentionally love the Lord, people, and ourselves? Love begins by being loved by the One who is love. Once we receive Christ into our life by faith, His very nature of love resides within us. The deeper we fall in love with the Lover of our souls, the greater our capacity to love. His love gives us peace, so we are able to offer calm in the middle of conflict. His love gives us patience, so we are able to extend a compassionate ear to a fearful foe. His love gives us forgiveness, so we are able to offer total forgiveness to a friend or family member. Love gives.

How can we love ourselves by giving to ourselves? We love when we give ourselves the gift of margin. Margin is time for prayer, exercise, thinking, reading, hobbies and being creative. We can love ourselves by having more or less time with people. Nonetheless, we love ourselves, so we are better prepared to love God and others. An unloved self is a loveless self. Not narcissism of course, but a healthy love of self, like Jesus loves us. Our soul care, emotional fitness, mental refreshment, spiritual nurture and physical rest all contribute to a loving life. Love gives. So, receive God’s love in Christ and from an overflowing heart of love–love generously.

Prayer

Heavenly Father, by faith I receive Your love into my life in Christ, so I am able to love like Jesus loves.

Application

What is one way I can grow my love for others in a radical way?

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Verse of the Day 12/25/2020

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6 KJV https://bible.com/verse-of-the-day/isa.9.6/

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This is Day 3 of the reading plan Seeking Daily the Heart of God. These are the verses for today: Romans 15:13; Job 11:18; Psalms 25:5; Proverbs 24:14; Isaiah 57:10; 1 Thessalonians 1:3; 1 Timothy 1:1; and Psalms 42:11. Merry Christmas! 🎄🙏✝️🙏

Trust in the God of hope fills the hearts of Jesus followers with joy and peace, overflowing with hope, all powered by the Holy Spirit. Our Christian hope is secure in Christ—the originator and giver of hope—no other foundation is as unshakable and secure as His. Like the El Capitan Mountain in Yosemite National Park, our heavenly hope is massive and unmovable. Fear is unable to scale to the top, only faith is victorious because of the well-worn path marked by God’s promises. Led by the Holy Spirit, joy and peace accompany those who persevere in their journey of hope.

Though Paul experienced much, much more than his share of suffering, he never lost hope but instead, anticipated hopeful outcomes and a hopeful destination. Painful circumstances were his opportunity to lift his eyes off his own needs to look to the needs of others while looking to the Lord who richly provides. This wise follower of Jesus knew he could not be the ultimate solution for those who found themselves in what seemed to be hopeless situations. Instead Paul wisely pointed them to a “lively hope”, a hope built on “nothing less than Jesus’ blood and His righteousness.”

Is your hope vibrant and alive or struggling on the verge of extinction? Begin to process your hope in God with this acronym: H- heaven’s resources at your disposal for soul strength and anticipation of the Lord’s loving presence. O- opportunity to trust Jesus with conditions or critics out of your control, knowing He has your best interest in mind. P- persevere through trials as a testimony to a faith filled life. E- encouraged by the Spirit’s wise leadership and empowerment.  

Others look to you for encouragement, so keep Christ your solid rock of hope and stand strong as a hopeful example to the hurting and the hopeless. Meditate on the truth of Scripture to fuel your faith and hope in the Lord, and others will learn to draw their hope from God’s written word. Hope in man many times leads to disappointment, but hope in the Lord’s unfailing love gives peace, security and rest to the soul. When downcast, cast your cares on the One who cares most. Out of the praises from your lips will the God of hope fill your life with joy and trust in Him.

Prayer

Heavenly Father, give me the faith to hope in You and not in hollow hopes on earth, in Jesus’ name, amen.

Application

Who needs from me an encouraging word from God’s word?

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Verse of the Day 12/24/2020

Matthew 2:10‭-‬11 KJV #God #JesusChrist #HappyBirthday #manger #worship #MerryChristmasEve https://bible.com/bible/1/mat.2.10-11.KJV

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This is Day 2 of “Seeking Daily the Heart of God“, a 5 day reading plan. Below is today’s devotional. The verses for today are: Luke 2:14; Jeremiah 33:9; Zachariah 9:10; Colossians 1:10; Revelations 1:5; Romans 5:1-2; and Philippians 4:7. God bless you, and be safe and well.

Peace on earth begins with peace in the hearts of people. Outward peace is the product of inward peace. Once a soul has experienced peace with God there is a serenity that seeps into human relationships and calms the rough waters of conflict. 

It is a grace-based belief system that allows citizens and countries to get together and accept one another’s differences. Without conversations of grace, there is no context for peace. Indeed, nations that believe “might is right”, with whom forgiveness is a foreign language, will remain restless with no peace in sight. However men, women, children and governments who embrace reconciliation will experience an incomprehensible peace.

Jesus came to earth first and foremost as a peace envoy on behalf of Almighty God. Do you have peace in your heart this Christmas season? Or is there restlessness in your soul that needs the comfort of Christ’s peace? The peace of God is your best prescription for insomnia. Peace brings deep abiding sleep.

Does this mean that we can experience 100% peace on earth? No, because the truth is divisive and not everyone believes the truth. So while Jesus is the “Prince of Peace”, listen to His challenging words, “Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division. From now on there will be five in one family divided against each other, three against two and two against three” (Luke 12:51-52).

So what is the role of Christians in promoting peace on earth and good will toward men? Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called the sons of God” (Matthew 5:9). Followers of the Lord know grace best governs relationships, families, cities and countries. It is God’s grace that allows you to influence the process of peace.

So, stand for the truth in a spirit of grace and humility this Christmas season, and trust God for His peace to reign in your heart and in the hearts of those around you. Take the high road of heaven and proclaim in celebration of Christ’s birth, “Peace on earth and goodwill toward men.” Christmas is God’s gift of peace in the person of His son Jesus.

Prayer

Heavenly Father, I praise You for the peace on earth You offer through Your son and our Savior Jesus Christ, in His name I pray, amen.

Application

Am I submitted to God, and am I allowing His peace to reign in my heart and mind? How can I, in humility and love, bring peace to a hard family issue this holiday season?

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Verse of the Day 12/23/2020

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. Luke 2:14 KJV https://bible.com/bible/1/luk.2.14.KJV

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Make Room for Joy

This is Day 1 of a new reading plan I am starting. Seeking Daily the Heart of God ~ Christmas. Below is the devotional, and these are today’s verses: Luke 2:7; John 3:1-16; Galatians 4:4; Philippians 2:8; 1 Timothy 3:16; John 1:14; and Hebrews 2:2. Have a glorious day, and be blessed by the One and only True God who is Worthy to be praised!

Busyness can build walls around our hearts—where joy is uninvited into a crowded life. Before we realize what has happened, we are sucked into a crazy cycle of fatigue, frustration and faithless living. Culture can keep us on a carousel of dizzying activities, for what seems in the beginning harmless, even exhilarating—but over time becomes distracting to the Lord’s best. Unmet expectations nurture anger in ungrateful hearts, condensing room for joyful praise to Jesus.

The circumstances surrounding the first Christmas were strikingly similar to our modern day celebration of Christ’s birthday. A bustling season of census taking turned Bethlehem into temporary mayhem, like rabid fans descending into a city for a championship game. Traffic snarls, tempers flare, restaurants with two-hour waits and no vacancy lights flash orange with hopeless repetition to all looking for a place to stay the night. Experiencing real-time rejection, Joseph finds a way to care for his young wife and new baby. The room he found was not suitable for human royalty, but the humble manger became a joyful birthday party for baby King Jesus.

As faithful followers of Jesus we can expect joy filled hearts, because the heart of our Savior has radical happiness. Expectation of God’s grace excites our emotions over what we can expect in the acquisition of His good gifts. The Lord’s blessings prompt pleasurable feelings with worship and thanks, which cause us to shout out joyful praise and gratitude to our great Jehovah Jireh!  Our heavenly Father provided the birth of His Son, who with joyful obedience, gave His all for us.

You make room for the joy of Jesus when you invite Jesus into your heart for healing and peace. By faith and through God’s grace, invite Jesus Christ to come into your life so you will experience the new birth of salvation, and begin to grow into a life of joyful obedience. Ask the Holy Spirit to show you what needs to change in your schedule, so you can make room for what matters most to Christ. A life with margin is able to experience life to the fullest—framed by joy.

Prayer

Heavenly Father, help me make room for Jesus and the joy He gives, in His name, amen.

Application

What in my schedule needs to change so I have margin to make the best decisions?

For more devotions from Boyd Bailey and Wisdom Hunters, visit: https://www.wisdomhunters.com/

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Verse of the Day 12/22/2020

And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. John 1:14 KJV God #Jesus #Word #BecameFlesh #Grace #Glory #OnlyBegotten https://bible.com/bible/1/jhn.1.14.KJV

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This is the final day of this reading, Unto Us. http://www.Bible.com/reading-plans/. These are the verses for this day: Isaiah 9:6-7; John 14:27; Philippians 4:6-7; 1 Thessalonians 5:23; and 1 John 5:23. My prayer for everyone is to know the gift of salvation through Jesus Christ our Savior and Lord. Next, I pray for everyone a peaceful Merry Christmas. 🙏✝️🙏❤️🎆🎄

Peace. It doesn’t matter where we live or what we believe, we all desire peace. Because our souls long for it, we attempt to attain it in a variety of ways—people, leaders, finances, comfort, substances. No matter how hard we try, we’ll never have true and lasting peace until we meet the source of it. 

In Isaiah 9:6, Jesus is called the Prince of Peace. The Hebrew language defines it this way:

Prince — sar
Prince, ruler, leader, official, captain

Peace — shalom
Completeness, soundness, welfare, peace, safety; with God in covenant relationship

When you put these two words together in a title, you have a leader who provides complete soundness, peace, and safety. How amazing is that? With one name, He’s instantly different than any human ruler we’ve ever seen on earth. When He came, He was clothed in God’s peace. 

Jesus’ peace invites a calmness into our lives no matter what’s looming around us. He gives us peace during the trials of life and encourages us not to be troubled (John 14:27). He offers peace to us while we’re on our personal journey with Christ until He returns (1 Thessalonians 5:23). When fear threatens to overwhelm us, His peace calms us, guards us, and is beyond what our finite minds can fathom (Philippians 4:7).

Jesus, our Prince of Peace, is the only way we can have peace with God. When we say yes to Jesus and believe that He died and rose again, we are invited into a right relationship with Him. He longs to be a restorer of relationships, and in doing so, we learn how to be peacemakers in a world that desperately needs it.

No matter where you are on your journey with Christ, set aside some time today to ponder Jesus as your Prince of Peace.

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Everlasting Father

This is Day 4 of the 5 day plan “Unto Us.” The verses belonging to this day are: Psalms 68:5; Isaiah 9:6-7; Isaiah 40:28; and Romans 8:38-39. Be blessed.

The word father can evoke a wide range of emotions for us. Maybe we smile when we hear the word, because it brings up wonderful memories of our own father. Or perhaps our hearts feel torn, because we miss our fathers, or we’re grieving the loss of a relationship that never met our expectations. However you see your earthly father, your Heavenly Father cares deeply for you and is always near.

Isaiah 9:6 tells us that Jesus is our Everlasting Father. The Hebrew language defines it this way:

Everlasting — ‘ad
Forever, continuing future; of continuous existence 

Father — ‘ab
Father; God as Father; ruler or chief

These two words tell us that Jesus, our Everlasting Father, is the God of continuous existence. That means He existed before time began, and He exists without the assistance of anyone. He wasn’t created, and doesn’t need the help of anyone or anything. He sufficiently sets the bar for any earthly father to strive for. And He cares for us in a tender, fatherly way. 

We may not truly understand the goodness of our Everlasting Father because of our earthly experiences. One of our greatest challenges in understanding our Everlasting Father is the baggage we carry from our own fathers. Whether we had an engaged, caring, and dependable father or a distant, neglectful, and mean one, Jesus is the kind of Father that all of us wish we’d had. The good news is that He came to earth to rob our brokenness and replace it with a hope-filled eternity. 

We don’t have to fear that we’ll be separated from Jesus. He’s everlasting and always near. There is no death, fear of the future, or anything else that exists that can separate us from our Everlasting Father. We may not know what lies ahead, but we can trust Him fully. He’s worthy of it. 

Lean back and rest in your Everlasting Father’s comfortable arms. Spend time talking to Him and listening for His guidance on the concerns and joys that are heavy on your heart.

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Verse of the Day 12/20/2020

Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. Isaiah 7:14 KJV https://bible.com/verse-of-the-day/isa.7.14/391 #God #Jesus #Immanuel #Lord #virginbirth #Holy

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Mighty God

This is day 3 of Unto Us http://www.Bible.com/reading-plans/. These verses that go with today’s reading are: Isaiah 9:6-7; 2 Corinthians 12:9; Ephesians 3:20; Philippians 2:5-11; Philippians 4:13; and Colossians 1:15-20. Be blessed today with the knowledge of salvation from our loving Savior Jesus Christ!

At times, we may feel weak and unable to handle the situations in front of us. The good news is that there is One who is stronger and more powerful than anything we face.  

In Isaiah 9:6, we see that Jesus is the Mighty God. The Hebrew language defines it this way:

Mighty — gibbowr. Strong, mighty; strong man, brave man, mighty man

God — ‘el
The one true God; Jehovah

Combining these two definitions will give us exactly what the name says—Mighty God. Jesus Christ is the one true God, and He possesses all might, power, and strength. His might is unparalleled, unmatched, and unequaled. There is no one like Him, and no one as mighty as Him. Not only does Jesus have the power of God, He is the God of utmost power!

When Jesus walked the earth, His mighty power was displayed by overpowering sickness, sin, demons, and nature. But, it was when He overpowered death by coming back from the dead that we see His might advertised for all to see clearly. The essence of our Mighty God is that His power is not only displayed in our lives when we’re weak, but that He can create something from nothing. In our humanity, we make many things from different materials we possess. But it’s Jesus’ divine strength that truly creates.

Yet, in Christ’s willingness to lay down His life and be poured out to save us, He became nothing. He was strong enough and mighty enough to lay down His perfect, all-powerful strength for everyone. Even if people don’t recognize Him as the mighty God, they will all still bend their knee to Him and confess His lordship one day, for “every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord” (Philippians 2:10-11 NASB). 

This incredible, unspeakable, incomprehensible power that Christ possesses is readily available to us. He gives us strength to endure all things (Philippians 4:13). His power is made perfect when we’re weak (2 Corinthians 12:9). He’s able to do more than we can think, ask, or imagine (Ephesians 3:20). Our job is simply to trust Him and lean into His power so that we can gain the strength we need. 

Our Mighty God is not only able, but He’s absolutely ready and willing to use our lives as a presentation of His all-powerful ability. There’s no one and no thing like Him. Spend some time today appreciating the greatness of our Savior and Mighty God, Jesus Christ. He’s unquestionably worthy of it. 

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Wonderful Counselor

This is day 2 of the 5 Day “Unto Us” reading plan I am doing. The verses in this day’s plan are Isaiah 9:6-7; Matthew 1:18-25; and Luke 2:46-47. Happy reading, and be blessed.

As followers of Jesus who are imperfect, we all need help to live in a way that glorifies God. All of us need wise counsel to help guide our decisions. Fortunately, Isaiah 9:6 tells us that Jesus is our Wonderful Counselor. The Hebrew language, which is the original language of the Old Testament, defines it this way:

Wonderful — pele’
To wonder or marvel at something extraordinary or hard to understand

Counselor — ya’ats
To advise, consult, give counsel, counsel, devise, plan

When we put these two definitions together, we see that Jesus was born with a supernatural capacity to offer the most marvelous counsel and advice we’ll ever know. 

While His wonderfulness may be difficult for us to grasp, there’s nothing He doesn’t understand. Even at the young age of 12, all who listened to Him preach in the synagogue were astonished at His understanding. No idea, concept, or piece of knowledge is beyond His reach or intellect. He is the perfect Messiah and Holy One who provides us the necessary counsel we need. 

But this wonder describes more than just Jesus’ miraculous activity—it’s who He is. Yes, He does wonderful, extraordinary things beyond our comprehension, but He, Himself, is the wonder! Jesus was born both God and man. It may be difficult to fathom, but His entrance from Heaven straight into the world was astoundingly miraculous.

Think about one or two areas of your life where you truly need advice or help. You never have to think, “Well, I’ll just never figure out what to do here.” The truth is that Jesus is not just the Wonderful Counselor, He is your Wonderful Counselor. Followers of Jesus have complete access to Him and His awe-inspiring abilities. We don’t have to hope we get things right—we can trust in the One whose strength is extraordinary to counsel us in our lives. 

His counsel is readily available to us through the Bible and by spending time with Him. When we learn about Him, His character, and His ways, we’ll recognize His leading and His guidance in our lives. Our Wonderful Counselor is ready and willing to guide us in every area of our lives. 

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Happy Thanksgiving 2020

Just want to take a moment to reflect on what I am thankful for this year. First and foremost, Jesus Christ. Without Him I would have no salvation, no hope, no mission, no reason to continue. He is my reason for everything I do (or at least I pray I include Him!).

Secondly, I am grateful for all the blessings He has bestowed upon me and the mercies He has shown. Three years ago I was in a line to get dinner from caring strangers. Today I made soup to add to a dinner at a very good friend’s house with other friends.

Last of all, I am grateful for the little things we often don’t think about, and the big things we do remember. I can breathe on my own without that nasty tube! I can walk again. I have a place to call home. I have a church that puts the God of the Bible first, and they love one another… including me! So much more, but I must be going.

I pray for all who happen onto this page a happy thanksgiving and a safe day. Be good to others and yourself. Most of all, remember why we give thanks. It is because He loved us first while we were yet sinners. (Romans 5:8) If He is willing to sacrifice His one and only Son (John 3:16) while we were dead in our sin, He will definitely hear you prayer of repentance today (Romans 10:9-10). Come. Be saved. God bless you.

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Verse of the Day 11/11/2020

For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them. Matthew 18:20 KJV #God #Lord #promises
https://bible.com/bible/1/mat.18.20.KJV

My gratitude to all of our precious men and women this Veterans Day. Thank you.

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