God is speaking to me today about humility. One of the things I pray for every day is that He will help me always to turn from pride. My desire is to be humble, just as Jesus was.
The Word of God is very clear on the value of humility in God’s eyes. He cares for the humble, but keeps His distance from the proud (Psalm 138:6). He exalts those who are humble, but humbles those who exalt themselves (Luke 14:11; 18:14). He will lift up all those who humble themselves in His sight (James 4:10). Jesus said that the person who becomes as humble as a child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 18:4).
In Jesus, God has given us the perfect example of humility. Jesus is one with God the Father (John 17:21) yet, out of obedience to the Father, He humbled Himself by taking the form of a man and then willingly gave up His life through the shameful death on a cross (Philippians 2:8). The salvation of each and every one of us was more important to Him than His own life. He humbled himself and died for us so that we could have eternal life with Him in heaven.
The Christmas story (Luke 2:1-20) also gives us some wonderful examples of humility. Jesus is the Son of God and, as such, He reigns over the heavens and the earth. Yet, He came to earth as a tiny baby. He was not born in a palace, but in a dirty stable. He didn’t have an expensive crib or the finest clothes, but slept in a manger wrapped in strips of cloth. His earthly parents were not royalty, but a poor carpenter and his young wife. And His birth was announced, not to all the kings of the earth, but to a group of lowly shepherds.
Lord, I thank You for Your Son, Jesus, who came down from heaven and gave us the perfect example of humility. As we reflect on the story of His birth this Christmas, I pray that we will grow in our desire to be humble servants who strive to be like Him. In Jesus’ name. Amen!
Several years ago, my wife and I were driving from New Jersey to upstate New York to visit our grandchildren. Now, we had been there before and sort of knew the way, but we had recently purchased a GPS device for our car and decided to try it out. We entered the destination and started the navigation.
As we followed the directions being given to us by the device, something just didn’t seem right. It didn’t seem like we were going the way we had gone in the past. But, figuring that a GPS system probably knows a better route, we kept following it. Before long, we found ourselves driving on the most treacherous road we had ever been on. It wound through the mountains and was one of those roads where, on one side of the road, there was nothing but a drop. To top it off, it was only one lane! And, since we had no idea where we were and could not back up or make a u-turn, we had to just keep on following this route. Needless to say, it was a harrowing trip! We eventually did get to our destination, but it took us way longer than it should have. We no longer have that GPS device.
God’s Word is our GPS for our journey through life. Unlike that GPS device I used, God’s Word can be trusted to lead us on the right path (Proverbs 3:5-6). It even lights the path, so we can easily find our way through life (Psalm 119:105). The satellite that my GPS device used was obviously not a good one. It led me down a treacherous path. That is what happens when we try to navigate life while focusing on the world. But, God’s GPS uses the best possible satellite for providing us a path through life–Jesus. Jesus himself tells us that He is the way (John 14:6). When we rely on Him, when we study His Word and do what it says, we can be sure of reaching our desired destination–eternal life with Him in heaven.
Spend time with God’s GPS today. If you don’t do so already, study His Word. As you do, if you allow it to let it transform your heart and mind, it will change your life. A great way to study God’s Word is through tools like BibleGateway.com, a website that includes multiple versions of the Bible, as well as study tools.
In the 1960s, love was a central theme among young people. Many songs spoke of love, often the love between a man and a woman, but sometimes love for everyone. Peace and love! Groovy, man! One of the many hits of The Beatles told us that love was all we really need. Although I’m pretty sure they didn’t intend it this way, you could say that they were telling us that God is all we need.
The word “love” appears quite often in God’s word. In fact, in the NIV, it appears 574 times! The Bible tells us that we should do everything that we do in love (1 Corinthians 16:14). Jesus commanded that we should love one another (John 15:17). Scripture also tells us that love will last forever, along with faith and hope. But of those three things, the greatest is love (1 Corinthians 13:13).
Love was created by God. As children of the living God, as His creation, we are able to love because He loved us first (1 John 4:19). If we love each other, we are born of God and we know God, because love comes from God. God Himself is love (1 John 4:7-8).
So, The Beatles actually did get it right. All we need is love, because love is of God and God is love.
All you need is God!
When should we praise the Lord? How often should we praise Him? Is praise something that we should just do on Sunday mornings? In Psalm 34:1, David supplies us with the answers to these questions. We are to praise the Lord at all times. Not just on Sundays, but on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays! His praise should always be on our lips; we should speak (or sing) His praises constantly. Not once in a while, not when the time is right, not when we can fit it into our schedules. We should be praising Him with our mouths and with our lives 24/7. After all, He is deserving of our praise!
Lord, You are worthy of our praise. Let our hearts always be turned to You and let our mouths and our lives praise You every day. We offer You our praise and pray that it will always be acceptable in Your sight. In Jesus’ name. Amen!
Christmas is just about two weeks away. Houses are lit up with lights, trees adorn our living rooms, Christmas meals are being planned, and shopping malls are jammed with people looking for the perfect gifts for loved ones. The Christmas season is a time filled with joy as we celebrate the greatest Christmas gift, the birth of a tiny baby in Bethlehem.
We all know the story of that first Christmas–the angels, the shepherds, the wise men, Mary, Joseph, and the most important part, the baby lying in the manger, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. As we prepare our hearts for Christmas, what lessons can we learn through those who played a part in the beginning of the greatest story ever told?
From the angels, we learn the importance of praise. On that first Christmas, after the angel messenger announced the birth of Jesus to a group of shepherds who were tending their flocks, the sky was suddenly filled with the sound of praise as a heavenly choir of angels appeared, giving glory and honor to God for what He had done. The angels knew what the birth of Jesus meant to mankind and, even though it wasn’t for their benefit, they praised God for it. Since we do benefit from Jesus’ birth, how much more should our hearts be filled with praise?
From the shepherds, we learn that we should put God first. After hearing about the birth of God’s promised Messiah and witnessing the praise of heaven, they immediately went to Bethlehem to see for themselves. They didn’t say, “When we punch out of work, let’s head over to Bethlehem to check it out.” They just dropped what they were doing and went. The shepherds also teach us about sharing the gospel–the good news. After they had seen what the Lord had done, they told everyone they met what had happened and what they had been told by the angel. Everyone they told was astonished. And they didn’t even know the rest of the story!
The wise men teach us the importance of seeking God, as well as the importance of giving. They traveled from distant lands to find the child whose coming was foretold in the Scriptures. They followed the star that led to Bethlehem and, when they found Jesus, they bowed down and worshiped Him. They then presented Him with gifts. We should always be seeking the presence of God and giving Him the worship that is due Him. And, in worshiping Him, we should give Him not just of our abundance, but of our lives as well.
From Mary and Joseph, we learn obedience. When the angel Gabriel told Mary that God had chosen her to give birth to His Son, how easy it would have been for her to say, “I appreciate that but look, I have a lot to lose if I do this. I mean, what will my parents say, what will people think of me if I show up pregnant when I’m not even married yet? And, what will Joseph think?” But Mary was obedient to God’s will. And, what about Joseph? It would have been easy, understandable even, for him to walk away from the whole situation. But, like Mary, he chose to be obedient to God’s will.
Finally, there is Jesus. We learn so much from Jesus, but one thing that stands out is love. Jesus came to the world as a tiny, fragile, vulnerable, dependent little baby. He stepped out of His heavenly glory to become like one of us, to feel the same pains and hurts that we do, to have the needs that we do. And He did this so that some 33 years later, He could give His life for us. Why? Because He loves us more than we can possibly imagine.
…Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
These are the names attributed to Jesus in Isaiah 9:6. I have read these words many times. I have sung them and heard them sung by others. Today, the Lord wanted me to really think about what they mean.
Wonderful Counselor. Jesus is a source of guidance for us. His words provide us wisdom and counsel. And, since we read in John 1:1 that Jesus is the Word, that applies to every word of the Bible. Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. He is our guide. He shows us how we should live. As the Word of God, He is a light to our path. Jesus truly is a Wonderful Counselor.
Mighty God. Jesus is the Son of God, the second person of the Trinity. Through Him, all things were made. Although He was born as a human child, with all of the frailties we humans have, He was also God incarnate. He has the power to heal and the power to restore. Even in His earthly form, He was able to heal the sick, raise the dead, restore sight to the blind, and enable the lame to walk. He defeated the powers of darkness. Jesus is a Mighty God.
Everlasting Father. This name puzzled me a bit. Jesus is the Son of God. The Father is the first person of the Trinity. So, how could Jesus be the Everlasting Father? As I thought about this, I was reminded of what Jesus Himself has told us. He said that He and the Father are one and that the person who has seen Him has also seen the Father. Jesus points the way to the Father. As part of the triune God, Jesus is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. He is eternal. Jesus is the Everlasting Father.
Prince of Peace. Jesus brings us comfort and peace. When we seek Him through any trials and tribulations that we face, He brings us peace. In John 16:33, Jesus tells us that in this world we will have trouble, tribulations, and trials, but in Him we have peace. Why? Because He has overcome the world. Jesus reigns and He is the Prince of Peace.
Thank You, Lord, for Your Word, for Your Son, Jesus. Thank You that He is the Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and the Prince of Peace.
“Does God cry?” That was the question asked of us by our worship pastor at a choir rehearsal one evening. One response was that we know Jesus cried (John 11:35) and, since Jesus is one with the Father, then the answer must be yes. But, Jesus was also human. Couldn’t it just be the human part of Him that cried? Another response was that, since man was created in God’s image, and we know that man cries, then God must cry also. When the discussion ended, we had come to the conclusion that Goes does cry.
The next day, I decided to search Scripture for an answer to this question. While I could not find a Scripture that said definitively that God cries, I did find one that hints to it: Genesis 6:6. In that verse, we read that, due to man’s rebellion, God was sorry He created him. In one version of the Bible, it says that it broke His heart; in another it says that He was grieved in His heart. I pulled out my thesaurus and discovered that a synonym for the word “grieve” is “cry.” So, if God grieved, it is quite possible that He cried.
I would like to believe that, when we cry, when our hearts are broken or we are grieving, God cries along with us. Since God loves us, it makes sense that He would cry with us. A song by the Gaither Vocal Band says that when we cry, God cries, and when we hurt, God hurts. I believe that is true.
The Bible tells us that David was a man after God’s own heart. Since we know that to be true, wouldn’t it stand to reason that, if David cried, then God must cry, too? 1 Samuel 30:4 says that David and his men wept aloud to the point where they had no strength left to weep any more. 1 Samuel 20:41 says that both David and Jonathan wept together, but it was David who wept the most. So, I believe in my heart that God does cry.
This morning, I read a devotion about spending quiet time with God. I am blessed to be able to do this on a daily basis. For the past several months, I have made it a regular part of my day to spend time with God. My day doesn’t feel complete until I do.
The Holy Spirit reminded me today that spending time with someone with whom you have a close relationship is important. Spending time with that person is vital to making the relationship grow. But, it should also be something you desire.
I am blessed to be married to a wonderful woman. Our relationship is important to me and so is spending time with her. It is something that I desire greatly. I love every minute that I spend with her. Nothing makes me happier in our relationship than just being with her. We don’t need to be doing anything special. Just the fact that she is there with me is enough.
That is what a relationship with the Lord should be like. We should look to spend time in His presence, happy just to know He is near. Psalm 16:11 says that fullness of joy is found in the Lord’s presence. I can say “Amen!” to that as it has become very true for me. I feel joy when I spend time with Him–worshiping Him, talking to Him, listening for what He has to say to me, or just sitting in His presence.
I read Matthew 6:6 today and found it to be very enlightening. Jesus says that, when our Father in heaven sees what is done in the secret place (our quiet time with Him), He rewards it openly. I have seen the truth of these words in my own life. As I have spent time in the secret place, God has rewarded me by enabling me to touch others with the thoughts He gives me. That is a true reward!
Thank You, Lord, for Your presence in my life!
Nothing can separate us from God’s love. His love never fails. It never ends. That is a thought that is beyond wonderful!
Romans 8:38-39 tells us that there is nothing that can separate us from His love. Nothing in heaven and nothing on earth. Not death, not life, not even the powers of hell. In the New Living Translation, it says that not even our fears for today or our worries about tomorrow can separate us from God’s love for us.
That is a very comforting thought! When we look at the things going on in the world today–things like terrorism and natural disasters–it is easy for us to fear for today and, most certainly, to worry about tomorrow. But there is one thing that we don’t need to fear, one thing that we don’t need to worry about, and that is God’s love. God has told us in His word that nothing can take that away from us.
As I meditated on Romans 8:38-39, the Holy Spirit brought another verse to my mind, Hebrews 13:8, which tells us that Jesus is the same today as He was yesterday and He will be tomorrow. He never changes. The same is true for God’s love. It never changes, never fails, and never ends. How amazing is that? Thank You, Lord, for Your love that never fails!
Then God said… and there was.
God’s word is powerful. In the story of Creation, for six days God spoke and the world was created. He didn’t need to hire contractors, landscapers, or scientists and ask them to put it all together. He simply spoke and it came to be. When God said it, it was!
God has given us His word as a manual for life. Psalm 119:105 says that His word is a lamp for our feet and a light to help us to see our path. It helps us to see the way in which we should walk so that we don’t get lost and we don’t stumble.
The word of God is also a powerful weapon. When we are faced with temptation or when we are under attack from the enemy, our best defense, our best plan for overcoming, is to use the word of God. But, for it to be truly effective, it must be in our hearts. We need to read it and allow it to live in us. We need to do what it says. And, we need to cling to it.
Jesus used the parable of the sower (Luke 8:1-15) to explain that the word of God must take root in us so that the Kingdom of God can grow. The key for us here is allowing it to take root. When we simply hear the word, but don’t allow it to take root in our hearts, the enemy can come in and just take it from us. If the word is not deeply rooted in our hearts, it also makes it easy for temptation to cause us to fall away. If we don’t cling to His word, the cares and pleasures of life will try to crowd it out and keep us from maturing in our faith. But, when we hear God’s word and cling to it, when we allow it to take root in us, our lives can be used to produce a great harvest for God’s Kingdom.
Scripture tells us that God’s word is alive and powerful (Hebrews 4:12). He has provided it to us so that we can grow in our faith, stand firm when adversity comes, and be molded more and more into His image.
How much am I worth? What is my value as a person? I have some talents, I am fairly intelligent, I have a nice house and car, a beautiful wife and family. But none of these things reflect my true value. My value is not in things, in people, or in possessions. So, what is my value and what determines it?
I once read in a devotion that there are two things that determine value in life. The first is the price someone is willing to pay for something. The second is who has owned something in the past. God’s word tells me that I have been bought and paid for by Jesus Christ, which means I belong to Him (1 Corinthians 7:23). So, my value is determined by the fact that I belong to Him. He paid for my life with His own.
When I consider what I cost Him, when I think about the price He paid, how can I not feel valued? Jesus is the Son of God, a part of the Trinity, He is King of Kings and Lord of lords, and yet He was willing to pay the greatest price for me. So that I could belong to Him, He paid for me with His life.
Lord, I thank You for what You did for me. You paid for me with Your life. You gave me value by dying for me. I belong to You, Lord. I am Yours. Amen!
During our worship time this morning, my wife, Linda, and I sang a few Christmas carols, one of which was “Joy To the World.” I thought about the lyrics we were singing, particularly “let every heart prepare Him room, and heaven and nature sing,” and I was led to read the gospel accounts of Jesus’ birth. After reading them, I sat and meditated on what I had read. Now I’ve read these passages in Matthew and Luke many times before, but something really stood out to me as I read them today–the reactions or, I should say, the response of the people involved in the story.
First, there were the angels. After the angel messenger appeared to the shepherds to announce the birth of the Savior, Jesus, the sky suddenly filled with a whole army of angels, a heavenly choir, who began lifting their voices in praise (Luke 2:13-14). The hearts of the angels were filled with excitement over the coming of the Savior. That excitement just poured out of their hearts as they sang their praises to God.
Then, after hearing the words spoken to them by the angel messenger and witnessing this heavenly worship service, the hearts of the shepherds were so filled with joy and wonder that they just dropped everything, left their flocks, and hurried (they didn’t take a leisurely stroll, they ran!) to Bethlehem so they could actually see what the angel had told them was happening there (Luke 2:15-16). After seeing Jesus, their hearts were filled to overflowing and they told everyone they knew about it and returned to their flocks praising God (Luke 2:17-18, 20).
Mary had the response that only a mother could have. After witnessing the visit of the shepherds and their response to Jesus, Mary quietly tucked all of these things that happened into the scrapbook of her heart, where she treasured them and thought about them in years to come (Luke 2:19).
And, of course, there were also the wise men, the Magi from the east. These men of great wealth and knowledge had studied the prophecies and read the signs in the heavens. Their hearts were filled with the desire to see the child born to be king of the Jews, so they packed up their things and followed the star which led them on their long journey to see Jesus. When they reached Bethlehem and saw the child, they recognized who He was and their hearts filled with reverence. They bowed down and worshiped Him, then presented Him with gifts worthy of a king (Matthew 2:1-2, 9-11).
The Christmas season is a time to reflect on the wonderful gift that God has given us in sending His Son, this tiny baby born in a manger, who would grow up to sacrifice His own life so that we could have eternal life. My prayer, not just for myself, but for us all, is that the joy of Christmas will fill our hearts and that we will open our hearts to prepare Him room. Let our hearts never be like the inn at Bethlehem and have no room for Him.