When the Wise Men came in contact with King Herod, they could have very easily given up.  They could have allowed themselves to be discouraged that Herod knew nothing of the new baby king they had come so far to find.  They could have been frustrated by the fact that they had traveled so far only to experience what seemed like confusion as Herod gathered all his religious leaders together to figure out what the Wise Men were talking about.  Today, we have what the world has interpreted Christmas to be.  Hustle and bustle, rushing here and there, sales, last minute shopping and on and on.  This is not what it is all about! We forget that Christmas would not even be Christmas without Christ.  There would not even be the politically correct statement “Happy Holidays” without Christ.  He is, and will always be the only reason we have Christmas.  Our joy can and will be overrun by everything that Christmas is not, if we allow it. Allowing the true joy of worship and celebration of The Savior King’s birthday,crosstombbirth to bring us peace, is up to us.

Don’t allow the madness of the season to cloud the true intent of Christmas.  If your joy is gone, or fading, or if you are struggling, then pray this for your peace: “Restore to me the joy of my salvation and renew a right spirit within me.” Psalm 51:12 ESV

To me, Christmas is more than a holiday. It is more than parties, gifts, and being exhausted from all the late nights and running around.  It is the fact that I get to celebrate the Savior King, my Hero, and The Father’s rescue plan He implemented for the world at His birth.  It is recognizing, worshiping, and celebrating the One that saved my life.  JESUS CHRIST the SON of GOD, the GREAT I AM

Merry Christmas!

 “What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”? But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”” James 4:1-6 ESV    

The depravity of our heart and the yearning of the human spirit (our soul) is astounding to me. We see in these verses how we all desperately desire to fill voids in both our heart and soul with things of this world, that only The Father Himself can fill. Oh that our passions would truly be His passions. So that as my human spirit, my soul, that makes me, me – yearns for a connection with its creator, and to be complete in Him and through Him. To the point that my spirit is jealous over the wasteful passions of this world. But, how glorious is it that He continues to patiently pour out His grace to my inconsistencies.  How glorious are you Almighty Father, I can not put it into words.

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The reading for today as part of a 21 day challenge called “111” for our student ministry where we are on day number 17 of the 21 days.  Each day there is a chapter to read, after reading the chapter you pick one verse, write one prayer around that verse, and share it with one person.  Todays reading took us to Mark chapter 13.                 Image

It is very difficult to pick just one verse from this chapter. Every time I have read it, even today, there is a sense of urgency that is sparked and renewed inside me. There are three songs that begin to roll through my head as I reflect on the verses as well.  “People Get Ready” (by The Impressions originally) but I hear the version by Newsong in my mind. DC Talk singing Larry Norman’s “Wish We’d All Been Ready” and “So Come” by Crystal Lewis.  Each one of these songs’ lyrics have a very griping text.  When I was younger Mark 13 actually worried and at times scared me. Now that I am further along in my journey, it has formed itself as a burden for those who have rejected Jesus and those who have not had the opportunity to meet Him yet.  The comforting part of Mark 13 and the weightiness of those that have not heard is verse 10.  “And the gospel must first be proclaimed to all nations.” With this I hear Jesus’ words from Matthew 28:18-20 telling us to go so that all nations can hear.  Finally, it brings Jesus’ final two words in Mark 13 “stay awake” bright and alive in a very deep place within. It makes my heart beat faster and heavier, not in fear, but as a soldier that is anticipating a well prepared for battle to begin! Go, Stay Awake, and Be Ready!

Even in the very beginning, God created man to decide for himself whether to follow Him or not; to trust Him to know what was best for us. Through pride, the fall of man came and through pride we still to this very day fall. The older I become, the more it is confirmed that pride is the root of all evil and wrongdoing… sin. That sly snake, aka the devil our enemy, still tries and will always attempt to convince us that not trusting our Creator is well beyond the best thing for us.

Father, help guard our hearts from pride today.  Help us to see it, and to turn from it quickly.  It is the root of our sin.  You are great!  You are good!  All praise be to You, our Creator!  In Jesus name, amen.

Be strong, and trust in Him with all that comes your way today.

Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth!
 Serve the Lord with gladness!
  Come into his presence with singing!
Know that the Lord, he is God!
  It is he who made us, and we are his;
  we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.              
Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
  and his courts with praise!
  Give thanks to him; bless his name!
For the Lord is good;
  his steadfast love endures forever,
  and his faithfulness to all generations.

Psalm 100 ESV

joy gladness thankful

What a blessing to read.  How often we forget, or simply ignore that He is for us. I love each verse here.  Each one can either proceed or follow verse five, as a proclamation or a declaration of who He is and why we praise Him or why we should give Him adoration.

We need to remember to be joyful, serve, and be glad about the privilege of doing it. He is God and He loves us.  He created us with a desire for us to know Him, and through knowing Him and through the revelation of who He is, to call out to Him with a heart of thankfulness.  Through praise, thankfulness, and gladness we not only give Him our own personal worship, but we can bring glory and honor to Him by the way we live out our lives as a testimony to who He is to those we encounter each day.  We can never comprehend his steadfast love for us.  He is loyal, faithful, and committed to us even though we are undeserving.  Because of His unwavering grace, love, and mercy; we should constantly pour ourselves out as an offering to Him.

We much too often forget, or unfortunately choose to live off of our feelings, instead of feeding off of the truth that has been revealed to us.  This truth is given to us through His Word and brought to life in us by the Holy Spirit.  If we feed ourselves on His truth we will give thanks, we will be joyful, and have a heart full of gladness for what has been implanted deep within us.

If you knew you had a birthright of 1 million dollars would you take it? Let’s just say even $1000; would you still take it? Of course you would, who wouldn’t? The amazing thing is you have a birthright that is worth far greater than anything this world can offer.

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” John 14:27 ESV

What a glorious gift we have offered to us. We just have to take it. We are offered a peace that does not fade or wither, rust or grow old. There is nothing about His peace that will ever run out. This peace has been offered to us through a new birth; through a new life in Him. We have the ability to claim this peace and an untroubled heart – as His child, His follower, as His beloved.

Do not walk another moment with a troubled heart. Receive your spiritual birthright that comes from your Father in heaven. If we accept His transformation of peace, we are able to in turn offer His peace to others. If we choose to ignore what is there, what is being offered to us then we cannot share what we do not have.

Don’t wait another second. Receive what is yours through your rebirth in Christ. And allow your troubles to be transformed through His peace.

“For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.”

1 Corinthians 1:17 ESV

 

The calling for us is simple: share and preach the gospel.  Teach the power of the cross with the evidences of its power being lived out through our lives.  Words are empty if there is no truth in action or activity. The proof of our words must be evident in our life.

 

The gospel is the gospel and the cross is the cross.  There is nothing that we can do with our words to give it more power than it has.  The truth is, we can only weaken its power by our words and our lack of proof of belief through our actions.  However, when its power is heard through our willingness to share its transformation to our lives, and then it’s backed up by the actions of the (temple) person that has been transformed, that power has been used to further the truth and power of the Kingdom.

 

Simply put, we must not share in a way that exhibits expectations of gain in this life or eternity; such as a better life here, financial peace, or reward in heaven.  There should be no attempt to play on the emotions of those with whom we are sharing or to set a mood in order to create a weightier, emotional tug on the heart.  The power of the gospel and the power of the work done on the cross are powerful enough. It does not need the words of a polished speaker or the eloquent sharing of a testimony.  It is not dependent on a cool, edgy video or the minor chord that resonates within the emotions of those who are listening.  Preaching the gospel shouldn’t be based on logic or intellect.  The truth is, when looking at the depth of accepting the gospel and following it as best as humanly possible, leads to a journey that is not explainable and is outside of what would be considered logical.

 

Those who believe have trusted in the power of the gospel of Christ and the power of the work that was done through Him on the cross.  Share it and preach the gospel.  Let the power of the cross and the gospel of Christ be shared by our words and backed by the action of a visible life change.