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.
The Lord has been speaking to me today about desire. When God created man, He placed in him the ability to experience feelings and emotions. He enables us to give and receive love, to feel joy, happiness. He even enabled us to feel sadness and anger. God also placed within us the ability to feel desire. I believe that His intent was for us to desire Him, to want to be close to Him and to live in a relationship with Him. But, like so many other things, desire became corrupted by the fall of man.
The definition of desire is “to long or hope for.” Desire can be good or bad, depending on the motivation of the person experiencing the desire and what is being desired. So, what does God’s word say about desire?
For one thing, desire is a heart issue. In Matthew 6:21, Jesus said that our heart’s desires are dictated by what we treasure. If we treasure earthly things, then that is what our hearts will desire, but if we treasure the things of God, our desire will be for them. This doesn’t mean that all earthly things are bad. God does want us to have our heart’s desires, but He wants us to desire Him first. Psalm 37:4 says that those who delight in Him will be given their heart’s desires.
The Lord wants us to produce fruit for His Kingdom. In the parable of the seed in the fourth chapter of the Gospel of Mark, the seed represents God’s word, His message of Good News. This parable tells us that if we allow worries, wealth, or the desire for other things (seeking the things of the world over the things of the kingdom) crowd out the word of God in our lives, then we will bear no fruit (Mark 4:19).
So, what should we desire? We should desire God. We should desire a relationship with Him, desire to spend time with Him, desire to worship Him and praise Him. We should also desire the gifts of the Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:31). We should desire to do what pleases God (Philippians 2:13). And, of course, we should have a desire for the word and the ways of God.
My prayer today is that I will always desire to seek the Lord and His righteousness above all else.
God asked me today, “Why do you praise Me?
In preparation for Christmas, I have been reading some Advent and Christmas devotionals. This morning, as I was reading one, I heard a voice in my head saying, “God so love the world.” That phrase kept repeating and it got me thinking. That is the reason for Christmas. God loved us so much the He sent His Son to earth in the form of a tiny baby.
As I reflected on this, scenes from the life of Jesus on earth starting playing in my head. It hit me that, throughout that time, our enemy Satan tried very hard to prevent Jesus from accomplishing His mission–to free us from the bondage of our sin and restore our relationship with God. Satan knew that this was Jesus’ mission and could see the writing on the wall. If Jesus fulfilled what God sent Him to do, not only would we be freed from sin, but he would be defeated. So, the enemy of our souls tried his best to prevent it from happening.
First, he tried to create scandal by preventing Joseph from taking Mary as his wife because she was with child. Joseph planned to quietly divorce Mary. But, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream to calm his fears and explain that the child Mary was carrying was the Son of God. In obedience to God, Joseph took Mary as his wife (Luke 1:18-25). Scandal prevented, Satan thwarted,
When Jesus was born, Satan tried using King Herod to end Jesus’ mission. Herod had learned of Jesus’ birth and knew that the prophecies spoke of a new King who would be born. Realizing that Jesus was that King, Herod tried to preserve his own reign by having the child killed. But, once again, an angel of the Lord spoke to Joseph in a dream, warning him about Herod’s plot. Joseph took Jesus and Mary and fled to Egypt (Luke 2:13-18). Catastrophe averted, Satan thwarted again.
Years later, when Jesus began His ministry, Satan decided that he would take it into his own hands to destroy Jesus’ mission. When Jesus had spent forty days and nights fasting in the wilderness, Satan appeared to Him. Knowing that Jesus would be weak and hungry, Satan tried to tempt Him. Temptation had worked with Adam and Eve in the garden, so Satan, the father of lies, must have figured it was worth another shot. But Jesus leaned on God’s word and resisted Satan’s attempts (Matthew 4:1-11). Temptation avoided, Satan thwarted yet again.
Then came the day of the cross. Satan likely rejoiced, watching with glee as Jesus was tried, beaten, scorned, and then nailed to a cross to die. When Jesus gave up His last breath, Satan probably thought he had won. After all, Jesus was dead. But, the enemy’s celebration was cut short three days later when Jesus, the Son of God, our Savior and Deliverer, rose from the grave. We were freed from the bondage of our sin. Mission accomplished, Satan defeated!
Thank You, Lord, for this reminder that the joyous event we celebrate on Christmas, the birth of Your Son, is ultimately about the cross. It’s about Your great love for us that was shown by giving Jesus to die for us while we were sinners and totally undeserving of it. In Jesus’ name. Amen!
Let freedom ring! Freedom is a word that we hear in many songs, especially patriotic ones. We cherish our freedom. In our nation, we enjoy many freedoms. But, are we truly free?
True freedom–freedom from the bondage of sin–comes from God and it is given to us through His Son, Jesus Christ. Freedom was the goal in Jesus’ coming to earth as a man. In Luke 4:18, Jesus proclaims that He came to set the captive free, to give freedom to the oppressed. Throughout His ministry, He set many people free from infirmities.
But the greatest freedom He gave was freedom from sin. Through Him, anyone who believes is set free from the bondage of sin (Acts 13:39). He gave His own life as a ransom, paying the price for our sins. For that, we should be truly thankful. It is a freedom that we should cherish above all other freedoms because it allows us to have access to God’s presence, now and for eternity.
We should never take our freedom for granted. For one thing, we must not use our freedom as an excuse to sin (Galatians 5:13). We need to live righteously, standing firm against sin so that we don’t become slaves to it again (Galatians 5:1). We need to remain in Jesus’ word. His word is truth and He has told us that truth will set us free (John 8:31-32).
Jesus is the way, He is the truth, and He is the life. Our freedom is found in Him and, if we abide in Him and in His word, we will remain truly free.