Should there be more now that the gifts are no longer hiddenÂ , theÂ feasts eaten, the family and friendsÂ departed, and for the most part the travel to and from along with the season is passing on? Do we hear the echoes of…Â butÂ waitÂ there’s more? Did your Christmas feel like an infomercial where just when you thought all the gifts were given out and the food servedÂ someone shouted wait”¦there’s more? Perhaps you were lucky enough to close out Christmas with allÂ that your family and you wishedÂ orÂ wanted and then some? Maybe you feel that your familyÂ gained more blessingsÂ than they needed or perhaps there were additions during the bargain after Christmas sales that heralds through the land each year? Do you find yourself looking around your home, like I do, and thinking we just have too much? If so perchance it is time to evaluate the true necessities of life that will move us closer to Christ.
As the New Year approaches I find myself vowing to get rid of the things we do not need or use. A New Year appears to bringÂ a fresh start and so it is time to get rid of the old and find a place for the new or maybe transform the old into new. Sometimes I think we need to stop and contemplate not only our possessions butÂ on what is really important in our eternalÂ life and God provided just the verse I neededÂ for this week’s focus, Isaiah 40:8.
Many of us are beginning to see the end of the frenzied pace of Christmas preparation and getting ready for the activity packed and carefully planned celebration of Christmas ”“ the celebration of Christ’s birth. Perhaps you have already attended elaborate, feast laden, joyful pre-celebration events, maybe you have the most spectacular tree ever decorated,Â delectable meals planned, and great numbers of family and friends expected to sweep in and enjoy the long-awaited celebration thatÂ someone createdÂ full of hard work and attention to detail. Because that is how many ofÂ us celebrate, it is how we show recognition, it is whatÂ we have come to expect in a celebration in which we honorÂ the birth ofÂ Jesus Christ. It is what we understand, our best, itÂ is the right way to ring in the birth of a king”¦right? Well”¦ it wasn’t that type of celebration over 2000 years ago when Christ was born. But God didn’t sweep in with roaring winds, and great fires. It was not loud; no planned feasts or impromptu onesÂ thrown. It was quiet and dark. He came in softly in the still of the night hidden to most. How can we of reason understand that? This week’s focus verse is Proverbs 3: 5- 6
”Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek His will in all you do and He will show you which path to take.” (NLT)
By now most of us have the decorations up, the gift list almost completed, the menus planned, and the travel arrangements mapped out and we hope everything will go according to our plans. But when we use this word, hope, is that just wishful thinking? Are we simply wishing our hard work, plans, and gifts will turn out? Do we truly understand what hope really means? If so should we not expect with confidence that everything will go as planned? If we hope, we should believe fulfillment will occur with our plans. Are we willing to do whatever is necessary or needed for our Christmas plans to come true? Hope sounds a bit daunting when we put its real meaning behind it. Have we come to rely on only what we can see then to make things happen? Is that what gives us confidence, what we can see? Is Christmas about whatÂ we seeÂ or what is unseen? Our focus verse this week is 2 Corinthians 4:18:
The Christmas season is among us and it has bounded in full force this year in a hectic race against time as Thanksgiving came at the end of November. We are pushing the limits of the clock to get everything done that we “feel” we “must” do; the decorations placed just so, the gifts purchased, the food prepared, the parties, concerts, and events attended, and travel plans made…whew!, but where is God? Have we lost our values or most importantly our priority of why we are feeling so stressed and pushed for time? Does the way we celebrate the season, spend our money, and live our lives show that God is first in our life? Our focus verse this week is Haggai 1:6.
You have planted much but harvest little. You eat but are not satisfied. You drink but are still thirsty. You put on clothes but cannot keep warm. Your wages disappear as though you were putting them in pockets filled with holes! (NLT)
Many times we find ourselves thinking that from our perspective the current situation is hopeless and there is nowhere to go. We may get to this point over health issues, a sudden death of a loved one, or just an overwhelming situation thatÂ is spiraling out of our control. It is then we must stop, refocus, and remember that God is always in control and knows all that is happening to each of us. God is the impossibility specialist. This week we will look at impossible situations made possible through God as our focus verse is,
Luke 1:37; ”For nothing is impossible with God” (NLT)
It was Christmas Eve and he felt himself sinking down in a fog of depression that was bellowing up. He had tried to sound as cheerful as he could under the circumstances. His call with his wife had ended abruptly as the call disconnected. They had spoken, as long as the time allowed, but it was not enough. HeÂ should beÂ with her and his family at this very moment but was not. Continue reading Impossibilities – The Control and Power of God Seen with Faith→
This is the last week of November and although we continue our theme of faith it would be remiss not to tie thanks into this special week as we celebrate Thanksgiving on this Thursday,Â in the United States. As we consider all we have thanks for there are many who feel the burden of life so overwhelming that they cannot seem to find any thanks to voice. It is from this thought pattern that we address and challenge ourselves to remember that the giving of thanks comes from our hearts on the inside and not our outside circumstances. This is what faith and trust truly is and gives us hope for the future. To help put this in perspective we chose as our Bible focus verse this week, Habakkuk 3:17 ”“ 18;
Â ”Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vines;
even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren;
even though the flocks die in the field, and the cattle barns are empty,
This week we are challenged with the question if we have faith and use trust can there be pride?Â Our Bible verse weÂ are focusing onÂ is Habakkuk 2:4;
”Look at the proud! They trust in themselves, and their lives are crooked. But the righteous will live by their faithfulness to God.” (NLT)
This month our verses, unintentionally, have seemed to all be about faith and trust in God. If we will commit our actions, plans, ideas and lives to God, Proverbs 16:3 taught us we will succeed. Last week in John 15:5 we learned that by keeping ourselves in Christ and he in us and not separating we will see our lives full of the fruits of the spirit making our lives here on earth better as we will be better people of Christian character allowing us to serve God’s will and our purpose here on earth.
Our theme of faith and trust continues as the Lord instructs us to ”stick with Him”. We must wait patiently putting our faith only in God and not the world around us as this week’s verse tells us. This is so very hard much of the time at least for me as I am not a very patient person and I want the problems of today ”fixed” yesterday. We want control of our lives and problems mean things are out of our control. We know God is there but we want the problem solved now and because of this we often put our faith andÂ trust in the things of this world over putting our faith and trust in God. Continue reading Faith with Trust Leaves No Room for Pride→
Do you often feel overwhelmed with all yourÂ tasks and can’t seem to get anything done? When I get to this point I realize that my focus is not where it needs to be for I am trying to accomplish tasks on my own and without Christ. It is time for me to refocus my direction at this point and accomplish things with Christ and not alone.This week our focusÂ Bible verse is
Commitment to God is so much easier to say than to do. Our mouths may sayÂ we commitÂ all our actions to GodÂ but in our hearts we expect that weÂ will handle this “thing” on our own. Perhaps it is something we are familiar with and know just ”how and what” to get it accomplished. Why should we bother God? He is busy just look at the mess the world is in. So this week we explore just how much of our life doesÂ God want us to commit? Should we commit just the “big stuff” or does he want the small too? This week’s Bible focus verse is Proverbs 16:3;