Archive for December, 2014

Not the Way I Planned

Sunday, December 28th, 2014

The Scripture setting for this message is found in II Kings 5:1–13; the focus is verse 13:

And [Naaman’s] servants came near, and spake unto him, and said, My father, if the prophet had bid thee do some great thing, wouldest thou not have done it? how much rather then, when he saith to thee, Wash, and be clean? (KJV).

We all have our own plans in life, own expectations, etc. There are our plans, and then there are God’s plans. If we’ve walked with God long enough, we’ve learned that our plans never equal God’s plans. While we may already have this revelation in our lives, we need to step back and think: Do I listen to God’s plan when He reveals it?

A message about abiding by and listening to God’s plan is found in II Kings 5:1; this is a story about a man named Naaman. Naaman was praised by the people and found favor with the King. He had everything money could buy, but he was a leper. Naaman was a captain of an army and won many battles. He had conquered all but his mortality; leprosy was not a battle he could win.

We too can feel like we have everything in life: job, home, family, car, etc. A small change in our circumstances can leave us feeling like our life is falling apart and maybe that God has left us. When trials come our way, and we have nowhere left to turn, we need to go to God. God can make a way when there doesn’t seem to be a way.

A Blessing in a Trial

In this story about Naaman and his leprosy, we read about a young handmaiden who worked for Naaman’s wife. She was a captive, put to work in Naaman’s household. Unlike the idol-worshippers around her, she worshiped the one true God. She saw an opportunity to witness to Naaman’s wife about the God that she served. She encouraged Naaman’s wife to instruct him to go to see the prophet Elisha so he could be healed (II Kings 5:3).

The handmaiden did know God, but was a captive in a land that served idols. She was a stranger to this land, but it was here that God used her as a witness to His power and might. This wasn’t her ultimate plan, but it was God’s plan. Naaman didn’t know God, but he was about to experience the greatest miracle in his life. He wouldn’t have an opportunity to experience a healing without leprosy in his body. This wasn’t in his plan, but it was in God’s plan.

Many times we experience a blessing from God that we wouldn’t receive if we didn’t walk a particular path. We need to realize that everything is in God’s timing and according to His plan. When we follow His plan, not only do we get to experience His presence and His blessings in our lives, but others will see and experience His blessings as well.

Deliverance God’s Way

Naaman set out to find the prophet Elisha at the prompting of his wife’s handmaiden. He had tried everything else―why not try God? Naaman brought his army, along with gold, silver, and clothing to meet the man of God (II Kings 5:9). Elisha heard of Naaman’s arrival and sent out his servant with a message of deliverance (II Kings 5:10). Naaman didn’t expect for the servant to come out and meet him; he expected Elisha appear. This wasn’t his way―it was God’s way.

Elisha’s messenger told Naaman to wash in the Jordan river seven times (II Kings 5:10). Again, this is not what Naaman had expected. He wanted the man of God to come out, wave his hand, and declare him clean. Afterward, once he heard of the prophet’s decree, he was astonished he wasn’t instructed to even wash in a cleaner river (II Kings 5:11–12).

Elisha’s direction was simple, but Naaman was expecting something more extravagant. Many times God has a direction for us to follow that is quite simple for us to receive a blessing, but we look for something else―another way―something that matches our expectations. We may have our miracle “figured out” and we may have marked out the way God is going to move in our life. But, if we’re going to experience a blessing or a miracle in our life, we need to remember:

1) God is greater than us.
2) God is God―we’re not.
3) God gives the directions―we don’t.

John 14:6 tells us that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. He gives the directions to us and we are commanded to follow them. If we stop looking for God’s plan to align with what we have in mind, we will start reaping the benefits of His plan.

Stop Making Excuses

It is sometimes in the simple directions we start to make excuses for why we shouldn’t abide by God’s direction. Naaman had an excuse for why he should work for his healing. He made an excuse as to the water he had to dip in. He made an excuse for the number of times he was told to wash.

Why did Naaman make an excuse? It’s human nature. God knows that humans make excuses, which is why we have the example of Naaman in the Bible. In our human nature, we’re trained to think we can “handle” everything life puts in our path, and that we don’t need God. And, because we think we don’t need God, we make excuses as to why we should follow His Word.

If Naaman kept making excuses, and hadn’t washed in the Jordan river, he would have died a leper. He finally realized he wasn’t God, his plan didn’t matter, and he had to follow the command of the prophet―the mouthpiece of God. If we don’t follow the basic principles found in God’s Word (Acts 2:38) we are going to die a sinner. We can’t get to Heaven on our own accord or by our own plan. We need to abide by God’s plan and direction for our life.

God’s Way

Naaman finally washed seven times in the river and came out clean (II Kings 5:14). After experiencing the miracle, Naaman decided to worship the one true God and to forsake his idols (II Kings 15:15). He walked into the river a leper and came out different―the Lord not only healed his body, but started a work in Naaman’s heart.

In this story, we learn not to underestimate God and His plan for our life. It could be just one action (washing in the Jordan river) that will not only take care of a physical ailment in our body, but will lead us in a life of righteousness and fullness in Him. Ultimately, there is no greater plan that we could ever follow: one plan that will lead to spending an eternity with our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

APC Christmas Program

Monday, December 22nd, 2014

I Want Presence for Christmas

Sunday, December 21st, 2014

This sermon is the third segment in the Christmas Worth Having series. Our Scripture setting is found in Matthew 1:18–23, with the key scripture in verse 23:

Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us (KJV).

In our Christmas celebrations, we give each other presents. However, in trying to find the perfect gift for our loved ones, gift-giving sometimes side-tracks us from what Christmas is all about. Christmas isn’t about presents, but presence―His presence.  If we allow God’s presence into our lives this Christmas, we will see the many benefits.

God’s Presence Will Change Us

Christmas should not just be a “story” that we celebrate with friends and family. Christmas is about our Savior, our Redeemer, and a gift that is offered to us and is given freely―that gift is His presence.

When we experience God’s presence in our life, it is life-changing. We never walk away from an encounter with God the same way we entered. Moses told the Lord, “if thy presence go not with me, carry us not up hence” (Exodus 33:15, KJV). Moses basically wouldn’t depart to any place without God’s presence. In Psalms 55:11, David prayed that he would not be cast away from God’s presence. God’s presence, to both these men of God, was worth more than anything else and we need to feel the same way. Once we receive His presence, we will be unwilling to go anywhere without it.

God’s Presence is Always Good

Scripture tells us in James 1:17 that “every good and perfect gift is from above.” Psalms 86:8 reiterates that there is no one like God and no one who can give like Him. No gift is in comparison to what the Lord will bestow upon His children. God is ready and willing to pour out His presence in our lives. Psalms 16:11 notes that in God’s presence is fullness of joy―this joy cannot be found in anything else. There will always be a time of gladness and refreshing in His presence (Acts 3:19).

When it comes to giving, Jesus’s gift is always right and perfect. We need to realize that His gift is good and accept it. Many times God provides a blessing in our life and we neglect to take it because we do not see it as “good.” If we trust what Scripture says, and look back to what God has done in our life, we will know that what God does is good.

God’s Presence Always Fits

There are two types of people: (1) those who reach out and accept God’s presence and (2) those who don’t. Jesus’ gift will always fit every person and is for every situation. It is in Him that we will find our every need (Philippians 4:19).

In Luke 2:30, Simeon realized that Jesus was the answer to every situation. His eyes saw his salvation―the absolute solution. God’s solution was a relationship that Christ would bring to all humanity. The answer was His Spirit. The Holy Ghost is God’s gift and salvation to all men.

God’s Presence this Christmas

This Christmas, we need more of God’s presence not just at our “events,” but in our lives. Matthew 1:23 explains that Jesus was named Emmanuel―being translated, “God with us.” God didn’t just desire to be with us, but to dwell in us through the infilling of the Holy Ghost. If we follow the direction given in Acts 2:38, we can receive the gift of His presence―the Holy Ghost. We will find a reason to celebrate Him not just this Christmas, but all year long.

Character of Christmas

Thursday, December 18th, 2014

Character is defined as the mental and moral qualities distinctive to an individual, encompassing their behavior and thoughts. Character, in short, is who we really are. There are many characters in the story of Christmas, and we can learn valuable lessons from them: who God wants us to model ourselves after and we shouldn’t.

Most of the time we tend to study the Bible scripture-by-scripture or by topic. Character studies are a different way to study the Bible, as they look at a unique individual and examine their life after they’ve lived it. We can apply their life lessons to our own and our spiritual walk with God. In this “character study” of Christmas, we will look at Herod, Mary, and Joseph.

Herod

Herod’s story in relation to the birth of Christ is founded in Matthew 2. Herod was placed into power in Judea by the Roman empire. During this time, it was common for the Romans to conquer and area and set up a leader to rule over the area, but the individual would take direction from Roman leadership. History tells us that Herod was obsessed with power and called himself the “King of the Jews,” even though was an Edomite by lineage.

Through the study of Herod, we can see what God teaches us about ego, insecurity, and façade. Herod’s life teaches us:

The Top Four Ways to be an Insecure Christian

Feeling Disturbed and Threatened by Anyone Else with Power or Authority

Herod, when hearing about the birth of Christ, he was troubled (Matthew 2:3). If we find ourselves threatened by someone else’s success, or intimidated when others come to help, these are not characteristics we should display. Herod felt this way, and instead of embracing the Savior that was to come, he set out to try to destroy Him (Matthew 2:16).

Using People to Serve Our Purpose

Herod tried to manipulate the wise men to obtain information about Jesus that would aid him in his rise to power. There are people we know that will stay around others as long as they are getting what they want, but when that stops, they suddenly “disappear.” Herod allowed his purpose to rise over the people (the wise men) he was speaking with. We should never let solving a problem become more important than loving people. People are always more important than our agenda. God interrupted His plan because of His love for people. God’s Plan A did not involve going to a cross.

Lying to Hide

Herod said what he wanted to give the perception of what he “needed.” All was done to serve his own purpose and to hide the truth (Matthew 2:4–7). Many times we cloak our real issues. We try to evade and avoid uncomfortable circumstances instead of confronting problems or people face-to-face.

Jesus knows there is nothing wrong with confrontation—He knows people have conflict. However, there is a right way to deal with conflict. Jesus explains in Matthew 5:23–24 that we should reconcile a conflict with a brother before we offer a gift on God’s altar. Additionally in Matthew 18:15, Jesus explains that if someone offends us, we should go and tell them. If we reconcile our differences, we will “…gain [our] brother” (KJV).

Working to Destroy Any Potential Threat to Our Ego

Herod was a monster and a murderer, and would kill anyone or anything that got in his way. Augustus Caesar said that he would rather be Herod’s sow than his son. Herod killed two of his sons and his wife due to suspicion. We have to be careful not to become too consumed by our ego that we forget to trust others and God.

Herod’s life can be summed up in one word: insecurity. When we feel insecure, we want to eliminate any threat. When we come to Christ and surrender our life to Him, we can’t let the “natural” human feelings compromise our relationship with Christ. A life lived for Christ does not breed insecurity—it abolishes it.

Proverbs 14:26 says, “In the fear of the LORD is strong confidence: and his children shall have a place of refuge” (KJV). God’s children always have a place of refuge in Him. We are wise to take our fears, threats, and worries and cast them on the LORD. We need to have a strong confidence that He can navigate us through our life’s problems.

Mary

Mary’s story begins in Luke 1:28. We learn that she is chosen by God to be the selected vessel to bear His son, Jesus. In all of Mary’s experiences, we can learn about faith, willingness, and purity.

Example of Purity

In Luke 1:28, Scripture states:

And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favored, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women (KJV).

Mary was a woman who was blessed among all other women, and was favored by the Lord in how she conducted herself spiritually and morally. She was “pure” in God’s eyes. Nazareth was a city that was known for promiscuous women, but in the midst of the city, Mary was maintaining her purity to such an extent that God chose her in the middle of it. Because of her purity, she was chosen to give birth to God’s child.

Example of Faith and Willingness

When Mary was told by the angel that she would bear a child and his name would be Jesus (Luke 1:31), she asked “how shall this be, seeing I know not a man?” (Luke 1:34, KJV). While Mary had a close walk with the Lord, she still had questions. She didn’t understand all the “details” about what God was preparing to do in her life. God is not intimidated by our questions—our whole Christian life should be a quest for knowledge to know more about Him.

When we ask God a question, we may not like the answer. Mary wasn’t married, and she was a virgin. When the angel told her she would conceive a child, Mary could have been very easily concerned about what people would think about her. But, she knew that nothing is impossible with God (Luke 1:37). She responded to the angel, “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word” (Luke 1:38, KJV). Mary basically said “here is your servant, Lord.” She offered herself and her will over to God.

Mary understood the social conundrums that she could face and the possibility of death by accepting God’s plan. She didn’t have a promise that her fiancée (Joseph) wouldn’t stone her to death (as was customary of the time). But, Mary understood the significance of what God wanted to do in her life. There must be a willingness for God’s will to manifest in our life regardless of how uncomfortable it can be for us. God’s will does not always match our want.

Mary’s faith becomes an important characteristic because despite her odds she holds onto a firm trust (belief) in God. She knows that God is active in her life. In our own walk with God, the more we align ourselves to Him the more He can trust us with His will.

Joseph

Joseph’s story begins in Matthew 1:18. Scripture explains that Joseph was espoused (engaged) to Mary, and that he discovers prior to marriage, Mary is found with child (pregnant). Later in Scripture when Jesus turns the age of 12, we do not read anything about Joseph. Theologians believe that Joseph was much older than Mary and may have died, which would explain the absence of him at the cross, and all the accounts of Jesus’ ministry.

When we learn about the Christmas story, Joseph tends to be a back-drop character—one only found in the shadow of the story. But, we need to remember that just as God chose Mary to bear His child, God chose Joseph to be a key character in this story. Not every man is Israel would have done what Joseph did in reaction to the events that would transpire.

Example of Humility

Humility is the freedom from pride and arrogance. When we read about Joseph, Scripture tells us in Matthew 1:19 that when Joseph discovers his bride-to-be (Mary) is pregnant, he did not want to “make her a publick example, [and] was minded to put her away privily” (KJV). According to Mosaic law, in was in Joseph’s full rights as the fiancée to humiliate Mary for pregnancy outside of the bonds of marriage. He had every right to walk away from this promise of marriage, or to stone her to death, but his goal was to deal with the matter privately.

Joseph’s ideal was to handle the situation the right way. He wanted to extend mercy to Mary. Matthew 5:7 tells us “blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy” (KJV). Joseph was free from pride and arrogance, and put aside his ego by not exercising his right to take Mary’s life. Philippians 2:3 says “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves” (KJV). We are to put others first instead of ourselves, and Joseph did this per his actions when he responded to the news that Mary was pregnant.

Example of Balance

Scripture tells us that after Joseph hears the news of Mary’s pregnancy, he “thought on these things” (Matthew 1:20). Joseph wasn’t hasty in his actions—he took time, stopped, thought about it, and weighed his options. Joseph thought about this long enough that the Lord appeared to him in a dream. God told Joseph the same message the angel gave Mary—that she would conceive a son through the Holy Ghost, His name would be called Jesus, and He would save people from their sins (Matthew 1:20–21).

Throughout Scripture, we cannot identify a time when Joseph speaks; we only see Joseph think, listen, and obey. We can observe great things from his character and behavior. Joseph held within his power to divert God’s plan to save the world through His son, Jesus Christ. But, because Joseph was a man of balance and paused long enough to think about his decision, he was able to take the right action.

Living an unbalanced life can cause a lot of problems. If we do not live a balanced life, we can:

End Up with A Lot of Anger

Proverbs 14:16 notes, “A wise man feareth, and departeth from evil: but the fool rageth, and is confident” (KJV). The wise are cautious and avoid danger whenever they are able—they do not plunge ahead into the unknown. However, those who are short-tempered do foolish things.

Act Based on a Lack of Information

If we don’t take the time to obtain correct information or all of the necessary information, we can act improperly. Proverbs 18:13 says, “He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him” (KJV). We need to listen before we speak, and listen before we act. God will show us how to distinguish from right and right, but we must listen to Him.

Example of Integrity

Joseph was completely enamored at what was happening to his wife’s body. He was determined to treat her and her child with respect and integrity; therefore, Joseph “knew [Mary] not till she had brought forth her firstborn son” (Matthew 1:25, KJV). As her husband, he had every right to exercise certain rights in their relationship, but he abstained until Jesus was born. Joseph allowed God to interrupt his plans and use him and Mary for a greater plan. We can ask ourselves today, Are we willing to let God interrupt our plans?

Clues of Character

God uses characters—people and their behaviors—to paint a part of the picture that comes with serving Him. In this story of Christmas, we could read about Christ’s birth without these character details. But, God wanted us to see the story so we could not only learn about our Savior, but how we can live a life that is pleasing to Him.

Adapted from Wednesday Night Bible Study on December 17, 2014

Give Me a Peace of Christmas

Sunday, December 14th, 2014

This sermon is the second segment in the Christmas Worth Having series. Our Scripture setting is found in Luke 2:8–14, with the key scripture in verse 14:

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men (KJV).

What is Peace?

Christmas is a time a year that is supposed to accentuate pace. Mankind has always tried to secure the “promised peace” from the birth of Jesus. The Old Testament prophet Isaiah even shared this truth when he proclaimed that Jesus would be the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6).

The shepherds heard about this promised peace, but even 30 years later after Jesus was born, they didn’t yet see it. We might too discount the promise of peace in our lives, which translates into how we feel about Christmas. We might ask ourselves, why is there not peace―even today? To understand peace, we need to understand the following.

Accept the Probability of Chaos

God’s peace is not the absence of “bad stuff” in our life. Peace is when we can have faith in God through the chaos, problems, and tension in our life. Matthew 5:45 tells us that God rains on the just and the unjust. Translation? Everyone is going to get wet. Just because we know Jesus doesn’t mean we aren’t going to experience hardship in our life.

Things may not work perfectly in our life and go according to “our plans.” Deviation can be a good thing, especially when God is involved. We may not see our plans play out perfectly in our life because it isn’t the right time according to God, or it’s just not right for us. When we allow God to show up in His perfect timing, and we look for His “yes,” we allow His “yes” to be the best that it can be for us. Jesus said that He is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6). We might have chaos, but we need to remember that God is in control.

Accept the Reason for Our Random

A lot of us love the idea of order―a place for everything, and everything in it’s place. But, when things aren’t organized and don’t fall into place, we assume “it’s just not meant to be.” This isn’t the case with God. God is a God of divine order; nothing happens on accident.

In the first century during the birth of Christ, all of these events were happening at different times and places. Luke wanted to show how all of these events were all a part of a divinely ordered plan of salvation so God could redeem people back to Himself (Luke 1:3). This Christmas story relates to the marvelous work of God in our life. Our Christmas may seem very random, but God is writing an incredible story in our life. We get a “peace of Christmas” when we understand the reason for our random. All things work out for our good (Romans 8:28).

Accept that Our Peace is Different than God’s Peace

We have to stop thinking about peace in the context of the human definition. Jesus defined His peace as different than what the world gives (John 14:25). His peace is a consistent, lasting peace that is promised to all.

Peace means “to set at one again” or “to make things right.” There is peace because we have a Savior that came to make things right in our life again so we can have a right standing with God. We were all born into sin, but Jesus came to break that yoke of sin and to set things right.

Finding a Peace of Christmas

Jesus’ peace came in spite of everything else going on in the world. We need to remember this Christmas season that God can offer us something beyond what the world can offer―a relationship with Him. This is a peace that passes all understanding (Philippians 4:7). If we can get Jesus into our heart, and seek the kingdom of God and His righteousness, peace will be added to us (Matthew 6:33). When we have true peace, we will find it everywhere we look. We will find a peace of Christmas.

The Most Valuable Gift Exchange

Friday, December 12th, 2014

The “gift giving” season is categorized as one of the most fascinating and stressful times of the year. The hustle and bustle of Christmas is described with catchphrases such as “give the gift of [insert item here] this season.” Even more so, the question, “what am I going to get” unashamedly pops into many minds of adults and children alike.

Some people have professed how this season is among the most tiresome and dreaded, simply due to the giving-and-getting aspect that comes along with it. Let’s all be honest; we equally love to give and to get gifts. I would be remiss if I did not include one of the familiar verses of Scripture in reference to getting. It simply states:

Wisdom is the principle thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting, get understanding (Proverbs 4:7, KJV).

Now how, may I ask, do you get wisdom and understanding? I believe that there are many ways to interpret this scripture, but here we have the perfect opportunity to explore the greatest gifts we can get and give this holiday season.

The wisdom and understanding Proverbs 4:7 refers to goes far beyond modern intellect and fleshly knowledge. The wisdom and understanding discussed here is the same wisdom and understanding that:

  • King Solomon, the son of King David, prayed for when God visited him in his dream and told him that he could ask for anything his heart desired (II Chronicles 1:10).
  • Lead Phineas, the grandson of Aaron the priest, to halt the rebellious acts of the people of God that caused terrible plagues (Numbers 25).
  • Caused Job, even in his darkest hour, to say, “The Lord gives, and the Lord has taken away, blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21).

May I heavily submit that this wisdom and understanding is straight from the throne of God? This is a visible manifestation of Christ in action in your life! This manifestation is the Holy Ghost; it guides your decision-making and rules your everyday life even in the midst of adversity.

This wisdom and understanding (the Holy Ghost) is meant to be pursued and coveted. It is to be desired above any gift you could ever receive. This wisdom and understanding will carry you straight through to eternity, for it will create a solid foundation of truth for you to stand upon that goes beyond cultural boundaries and norms. It will lift you up into the heavenly place, and will seat you with Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.

This wisdom comes only from having a deeply rooted awe and reverence for the Most High (Proverbs 1:7), and this understanding comes only from keeping the laws of God and being doers of the Word of God (Deuteronomy 4:6).

To get the wisdom and understanding within your heart and mind that Jesus is the only source—the only way, truth, and life—is far more precious than any other gift that could be given this holiday season.

And, last but not least, the greatest gift you could give is to not just to give yourself, but to literally give yourself as a gift to God. Romans 12:1 says:

I beseech you therefore brethren by the mercies of God that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice; holy, acceptable unto God which is your reasonable service (KJV).

Here is where we tie the exchange of gifts together: the truth is, to give God everything you are requires you to receive His wisdom and understanding.

Since the things of God are foolish to man, it is hard in the natural mind to understand the importance and beauty in giving God your heart, soul, mind and strength, so that you are consumed with the presence of God on a consistent basis. But, when you begin your journey of seeking God with a sincere heart, you will automatically seek after His wisdom and understanding. This will create a heart of humility within you that will have your soul desiring to surrender everything that you are before a holy God.

In all reality, this gift exchange is very unfair. Christ, the spotless Lamb humiliated by humankind, humbled Himself and became a servant to bring eternal salvation to the world. Whereas humanity—the likes of you and me—are only able to offer up ourselves, with all of our spots and blemishes, to this holy God who craves fellowship with us. I must say we are getting the better end of this gift exchange!

So, this holiday season, because of the beauty and surrender that is found in being a participant in this spiritual gift exchange, take the time to excuse yourself from the holiday hustle and bustle, find a quiet place to pray, and seek the Lord for his wisdom and understanding. Ask God for a deep awe and reverence of His presence, and ask Him to develop within you a heart that will allow you to give yourself fully to Him.

This is the most powerful exchange of gifts that can happen in this present day and age. These are the only gifts that will never become old and dull and will persist throughout eternity.

The Gifts of Promise

Thursday, December 11th, 2014

It is important for Christians to learn about the gifts that we have in our life as part of the New Testament church. God is pouring out many promises in our lives, and we should be excited about those promises!

Seasons of Promise

Our Christian walk is full of promises of salvation. John 10:7–10 states:

Then said Jesus unto them again, Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep. All that ever came before me are thieves and robbers: but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture. The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly (KJV).

The human life is comprised of days, which turn into months, which turn into seasons. But, our “seasons” aren’t just dictated by the time of year, or the weather, but can be impacted by circumstances that occur in day-to-day life.

In John 10:10, Jesus explains that the “thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy…” (KJV). He is referencing none other but our sworn enemy—the devil. He will come to steal any victory that we have in our day-to-day life. He will try to magnify the hard “reality” of our circumstances to crush our faith. The devil comes to steal our peace, our blessings, our joy, etc. A preacher once asked, “Will we be a prisoner of reality, or will we be free in the promises of God?”

Remember, the devil can only take the unpleasant parts of our lives and emphasize them. He can’t create anything “new”—he’s been using the same tactics to attack the children of God that he’s always used. He’s not the originator—God is the originator!  Instead of focusing on what the devil is trying to magnify in our life, we should focus on the promises of God!

God Always Gives Us a Way Out

Because God knows the end from the beginning (Isaiah 46:10)—because He created everything—He knows something we don’t know. He knows the way to escape. I Corinthians 10:13 tells us:

There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it (KJV).

God will never temp us beyond what we are able to bear, and He will provide a way for us to escape our trials and tribulations. Scripture reminds us that others who have gone before us, and even those who are fighting the good fight of faith with us now, have been tempted in the same way that we are (Hebrews 12:1). But, they too have been able to escape and overcome through Jesus Christ.

If the devil’s main goal is to get our focus off God, we need to make an effort to focus on God. We need to listen as God provides direction to us to overcome the trials in our lives. A way of escape is a promise that God has for us today, but believing in that promise takes faith.

God Gave Us His Word

Every man has been given a measure of faith (Romans 12:3). But, how do we increase that measure of faith the Lord has given us? Romans 10:17 says, “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (KJV).

When we hear the Word of God, and read the Word of God, we will start to learn about the blessings and promises of God. When we see how God of the Old Testament gave and fulfilled promises—that increases our faith. When we see how God of the New Testament gave and fulfilled promises—that increases our faith. When we see how God today gives us a promise in our lives, and He fulfills it—that too increases our faith!

We need to get enough faith—through hearing and reading the Word of God—and take a step toward the promise that God has in store for each and every one of us. When the blessing comes, our confidence increases in God and His Word.

Hebrews 11 is known as the “faith” chapter in the Bible. We can see verse after verse of Scripture that all begin with “by faith…” It takes faith to obtain the promises of God, and we are given countless examples of people in the Bible that were obedient to God, stepped out in faith, and received their promise.

Our promise comes through the Word of God in itself. We can hide His Word continually in our hearts and apply it to our lives daily. We know the Bible is the infallible Word of God—and since God cannot lie (Titus 1:2)—the Word and His promises are true.

God Gave Us the Spirit of Promise—the Holy Ghost

Luke 24:46–49 notes:

And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And ye are witnesses of these things. And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high (KJV).

Jesus told His followers to tarry at Jerusalem until they were “endued with power from on high.” This power was to be His Spirit—the Holy Ghost—that would come down from Heaven and fill them with His presence. This was a promise to the New Testament believers, and is a promise for us today! We are the continuation of the New Testament church; we continue to experience un-ending “acts” (miracles, signs, and wonders) of the Lord that were first documented in the Book of Acts. If we wait on God, and tarry in His presence, He will fill us with the precious gift of the Holy Ghost.

Ephesians 1:11–14 says:

In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will: That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ. In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory (KJV).

The Holy Ghost is the “holy Spirit of promise” referenced in this verse, and is the “earnest of our inheritance.” The word “earnest” in the Greek is the word arrabón, which means earnest-money, or the large part of the payment given in advance as a security that the whole will be paid afterward. We are just experiencing a small part of our full promise (inheritance)! We will receive the rest of that promise—the whole part—once we make it to heaven!

Jesus promised that if we were obedient to His Word—repent and are baptized in Jesus’ name, as dictated in Acts 2:38—we shall receive the promise (the gift) of the Holy Ghost. Through the infilling of the Holy Ghost, we will experience additional promises:

  • Power—Jesus has given us power through the Holy Ghost to “tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy” (Luke 10:19). We will overcome in any adversity.
  • Comfort & Knowledge—The promise (the Holy Ghost) is also called our Comforter (John 14:26). The Comforter will send peace to us in every situation, and will give us knowledge beyond what we can learn on our own!
  • Rest—The Holy Ghost will give us rest and will refresh us (Isaiah 28:12). No matter the trial or the circumstance, we can always find rest in the Holy Ghost!

Without this promise of the Holy Ghost working in our lives—shaping us in holiness and righteousness—Scripture tells us in Hebrews 12:14 that without it “no man shall see the Lord” (KJV). If we don’t latch onto the promises of God in this life, we lose out on the ability to partake in His everlasting promises one day around His throne in heaven.

The Promise is for Everyone

God has given us so many promises in life; we could never thank Him for all of them! These key promises are relevant to living a blessed life. We need to remember that God gave these promises to all—especially the Spirit of Promise—which Acts 2:39 tells us “is to you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the LORD our God shall call” (KJV). Don’t miss out on the promises and blessings of God. Take a step out in faith and see what promises you receive.

Adapted from Wednesday Night Bible Study on December 10, 2014

#Christmas

Monday, December 8th, 2014

Join us for our annual Christmas program.

The fun starts Sunday night, December 21st at 6PM.

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Don’t Abandon Christmas

Sunday, December 7th, 2014

The focus of the message is found in Luke 1:13-17, with the key scriptures starting at verse 15:

For [John] shall be great in the sight of the LORD, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother’s womb. And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the LORD their God. And he shall go before Him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the LORD (KJV).

A shocking statistic shows in a recent survey that 45% of people in North America dread Christmas. The pressure to please during the season drowns out the true joy. Some have resolved to not even celebrate Christmas, or have convinced themselves that it is only a celebration for children. Christmas is for all people—for the goodwill of all men (Luke 2:14).

Luke ties the story of John’s birth into the global Christmas story (the birth of Jesus). These stories are tied to give the entire world hope and to change it forever.

Zacharias was a worker in the temple (Levite) and his wife, Elizabeth, was a daughter of Aaron. Both could trace their bloodlines back to one of the priests in the Old Testament temple. Zacharias and Elizabeth devoted their lives to work in the temple. Scripture notes they were both righteous and walked in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord (Luke 1:6). They were faithful (blameless), and God-loving people. However, they didn’t have a child.

At this time it had been 400 years since a preacher/prophet had delivered a message (active prophetic word) from the Lord. There were two groups of people during this time: 1) people conforming to the culture around them by worshiping false gods/religions and 2) people who were manipulating truth and making it serve themselves (adding man-made ordinances); they turned truth into a lie. Zacharias and Elizabeth were not a part of either group. They were still doing what God had told them to do. They were waiting on a promise.

This story shows us that we still need to keep Christmas around. Our current culture tells us that truth equals something else. But, we need to hold onto Christmas! There are real reasons to celebrate Jesus!

Christmas Reminds Us…

God Hears Our Prayers

The angel in Luke 1:13 told Zacharias, “your prayer is heard.” It’s possible that this couple prayed their entire lives to have a child. Now that they were both “well stricken in age” (Luke 1:7), God was going to answer their prayer.

God Keeps His Appointments

It’s not that God doesn’t hear our prayers, but He has a special time and place to fulfill them. The angel told Zacharias that his prayer would be “fulfilled in their season” (Luke 1:20). When God answers a prayer, He will do more than we’ve ever asked. We have to ask ourselves if we want an immediate blessing or if we want to wait for our miracle!

God Still Works Miracles

In Biblical times, it was a stigma against a woman if she was unable to bear children. Elizabeth had given up the “perspective of possibility” to have a child and gave into impossibility. However, God blessed her with a child (Luke 1:24). Anything becomes possible when we put it in God’s hands, for with God all things are possible (Matthew 19:26).

It was then in the sixth month, the same angel that delivered a message to Zacharias, was sent to a city in Nazareth. Before the Savior could show up, the voice crying in the wilderness had to come—that was John. There are circumstances in life that prepare the way for future blessings. And, when we celebrate Christmas, it too will usher other blessings into our lives—joy unspeakable, and full of glory.

Who Was that Baby?

Thursday, December 4th, 2014

 

 

 

The Identity of Jesus Christ

As we enter into the Christmas season—centering on Jesus Christ and His birth—it is important for all Christians to know the true identity of Jesus Christ. Our key verse is found in Deuteronomy 6:4:

Here O Israel: the LORD our God is one LORD (KJV).

Old Testament Revelation

Deuteronomy 6:4 was revelatory in the Old Testament time because polytheism—the worship of many gods—was rampant in culture. This verse reveals that there is one God. The belief in one God is known as monotheism. Jesus later explained that this was the first of all the commandments in Mark 12:29.

When we read in Scripture the many names of God—Elohim, Lord, Father, Holy Spirit, etc.—these all refer to one God, not many.

The Old Testament gives us clues as to Jesus’ identity. We receive a prophecy of the birth of Jesus in Isaiah 9:6:

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 (KJV).

In this scripture alone, the child that is born in Bethlehem—Jesus—is called the mighty God and everlasting Father.

Who Did Jesus Say He Was?

In John 10:30 Jesus says, “I and my Father are one” (KJV). Later in Scripture we read the Pharisees and religious leaders went to stone Jesus because they said he had blasphemed (made Himself equal to) God. Again, Jesus identifies Himself in John 14:8–10:

Philip saith unto him, Lord, shew us the Father, and it sufficeth us. Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father? Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? (KJV).

One God Manifested in Three Ways

Scripture teaches us that there is one God, who is manifested in three different ways. However, much of mainstream Christianity believes that there are three separate persons. This belief is known as the Trinity. The ideology of the Trinity states God exists in three separate coequal and coeternal persons—God the Father as a person, the son of God as a person, and the Holy Spirit as a person.

The concept of the Trinity does not come from Scripture, but from a shift in doctrinal position at the Council of Nicaea in 325 AD. The word “trinity” is not found in the Bible. Three “persons” are never associated with God in Scripture except in Hebrews 1:3, which refers to the “express image”—Jesus—as the “icon” of something bigger (God).

Colossians 2:9 tells us, “For in [Jesus] dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily” (KJV). From Scripture we know that all of God was in Jesus Christ. I John 3:1–5 explains that we are all sons of God, and He was manifested to take away our sins because in Him there was no sin. In Scripture, any “plurality” describing Jesus refers to His attributes: titles, roles, manifestations (the way He reveals Himself), modes of activity, and aspects of His self-revelation.

There are not three distinct centers of consciousness. One God of glory has revealed Himself in three different ways. He has revealed Himself to us as the:

  • Father in parental relationship to all of humanity,
  • Son in human flesh, and
  • Holy Spirit in spiritual action.

These three manifestations of God are ways for Him to show and reveal Himself to us, all as one God.

The Father

God is the Father of creation, believers, and the only begotten son (Jesus). Malachi 2:10 tells us, “Have we not all one father? Hath not one God created us?” (KJV). Very plainly, Scriptures indicated one God created all things.

Galatians 4:6 expounds further into our relationship with God saying, “And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father” (KJV). We have the spirit of adoption working in us, and we can call God our Father.

Hebrews 1:5 indicates “Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son” (KJV). From these scriptures, we can see that God is the Father in all creation.

The Son

The Son (Jesus) refers to God’s incarnation—His presence in bodily form. The man Jesus was literally conceived of the Spirit of God, and therefore, was known as the Son of God. Luke 1:35 explains the conception of Jesus:

And the angel answered and said unto [Mary], The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God (KJV).

God manifested Himself in a bodily form through Jesus Christ.

The Holy Spirit

The Holy Spirit (also known as the Holy Ghost) refers to God in activity, specifically in relationship in our hearts. God’s Spirit is used for anointing, indwelling in, and sanctifying humanity—we have the Holy Ghost working in us. Acts 1:5 tells us that believers would be baptized with the Holy Ghost, and that through the Holy Ghost they would receive power to be witnesses (Acts 1:8).

The Holy Spirit actually best describes God’s fundamental nature. John 4:24 notes directly that “God is a Spirit.”

Why is it Important to Understand the Nature of God?

In 325 AD when the Council of Nicaea introduced the concept of the Trinity, they not only changed the true identity of God, but also the fundamental doctrine. Once the identity of God was changed, the doctrinal mode of baptism was changed as well.

Scripture is very specific concerning the method of salvation, as it dictates how believers are to respond to the Gospel. Our obedience to the Word is important in our walk as Christians. Resources (including the Encyclopedia Britannica written in the early 1900s) show the Apostle’s teachings directed how people were baptized—the mode was in the name of Jesus. All Christians followed this doctrinal directive, even those belonging to the Catholic church.

Matthew 28:19 is a commonly misunderstood and misapplied scripture in the New Testament. Jesus told His disciples to, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost” (KJV). No concept of a Trinity is identified in this verse. We are commanded to baptize in the name. The name is singular.

Why Was God Manifested as Three?

Hebrews 2:9 explains that Jesus was made a little lower than the angels and that he would “taste death for every man.” God had three manifestations to redeem fallen man. As the Father He made us; as the Son, He bought us back from our sins; as a Spirit, He creates and molds us in the way of righteousness. God had many different roles, but only one name. He had different titles, but one name.

Our Savior

Isaiah 45:21 notes that God said, “there is no God else beside me; a just God and a Saviour; there is none beside me” (KJV). God identifies Himself as our Savior! We are then shown in Luke 2:11, “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord” (KJV). Jesus was the child born in the city of David, and He is called our Savior by the angel of the Lord.

Acts 4:12 notes, “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (KJV). From all three scriptures we can see that both God and Jesus have been identified as our Savior, and there is no other name whereby we can be saved.

What is the Name?

In John 5:43 Jesus says, “I am come in my Father’s name…” (KJV). In culture today, sons are commonly named after their fathers. Jesus had His father’s name as well—His father’s name was Jesus. We learned in Luke 1:35 that the Holy Ghost overshadowed Mary and she conceived Jesus. Jesus later shares the name of the Holy Ghost in John 14:26: “the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, who the Father will send in my name…” (KJV).

There was only one name. That name was Jesus! Through Scripture we can discern the name “Jesus” was tied to the three manifestations of God. And, all of them were one.

In Matthew 28:19 the disciples baptized in the name. There name is singular. Just as we all have one name, there was only one name in which to baptize unto salvation. Jesus said He had come in His father’s name. His name was Jesus. The Comforter (the Holy Ghost) would come in Jesus’ name.

Peter preached the Gospel message on the day of Pentecost, and all disciples were present to hear that message—including Matthew. There was no disagreement regarding the method of salvation in Acts 2:38:

Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost (KJV, emphasis added).

Peter, as well as the other disciples, were correctly fulfilling Jesus’ command to baptize in the name. They evoked the name Jesus in baptism—not titles. “There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism” (Ephesians 4:5). There is only one message and only one way to baptize unto salvation.

When Jesus gave His command in Matthew 28:19 to baptize in the name—which is Jesus—there is no other place in Scripture where people were baptized any other way:

  • Acts 2:38—Peter commanded people to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ.
  • Acts 8:12—After Philip preached, the people were baptized in the name of Jesus Christ.
  • Acts 10:48—All in Cornelius’ house were commanded by Peter to be baptized in the name of the Lord (Jesus Christ).
  • Acts 19:5—Paul passing through Ephesus baptized believers in the name of the Lord Jesus.

Who Was Jesus Christ?

Jesus is God incarnate—invested with a bodily nature and form. We are told in Colossians 2:9 that in Jesus dwelled the fullness of the godhead bodily. All of God was in Jesus (a human body). Because God is a Spirit (John 4:24), and a spirit has not flesh and bones (Luke 24:39), God needed a body to sacrifice for our sins (II Corinthians 5:19).

Paul shared in Hebrews 9:22 without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sins. To fulfill the Old Testament law, and become the ultimate sacrifice, God had to don a body. Therefore, God chose to wrap Himself in flesh and become the ultimate sacrifice in Christ Jesus.

Matthew 1:22 explains how a virgin would be with child, and the child’s name would be Emmanuel, being interpreted, “God with us.” God was still God of the universe when He was wrapped in flesh dwelling among us. Jesus wasn’t just an ordinary human being—He was God manifested in the flesh. Because Jesus was God wrapped in flesh, we can expect the extraordinary with Him!

Many people are confused at Jesus’ baptism, when there was a voice from heaven, and the Holy Spirit descended on Jesus like a dove (Luke 3:22). God is God, and can be anywhere at any time. He is not limited by boundaries, and was not limited by boundaries when He was in human form. Paul said great is the mystery of godliness (I Timothy 3:16)! God could appear as Jesus in the flesh, a voice from heaven, and a figure like a dove all at the same time.

Jesus’ Humanity

We read in John 1:1, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (KJV). But, later in verse 14 scripture states, “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” (KJV).

The Word was God, and that Word (God) was made flesh and dwelt among us (Jesus). If God was in Jesus, and Jesus was a man. What is the difference between Jesus and us?

Jesus Had No Sin

Scripture tells us in I John 3:5, “And ye know that [Jesus] was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin” (KJV). Peter indicates the same in I Peter 2:22 and the writer of Hebrews notes that Jesus was in all points tempted yet without sin (Hebrews 4:15).

Jesus’ Deity

While Jesus was human, He was also divine. Colossians 1:12–20 states:

Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins: Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist. And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence. For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell; (KJV).

Jesus was the ultimate sacrifice for our sins through His death on the cross. He is the head of the body of believers, and it is through Him that we obtain salvation.

We must learn to distinguish between the two aspects of Jesus Christ—divine and human. Sometimes He spoke from His human standpoint (He could thirst) and sometimes He spoke from his divine standpoint (He could save). While we can distinguish the two aspects of Jesus as human and divine, we cannot separate them.

The Office of the Son

God’s manifestation of the Son had a beginning and it has an ending. Hebrews 1:5 indicates Jesus’ beginning (He was begotten on a day). There was an appointed time that Jesus was born, and today He exists as a continual mediator between believers and God by His sacrifice on Calvary (I Timothy 2:5). Jesus’ blood that was shed on the cross continues to flow today to cover every sin we’ve ever committed—past, present, and future.

Jesus’ role will one day end as the Redeemer, and will reign as the one true God. Scripture states in I Corinthians 15:24–28:

Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. For he hath put all things under his feet. But when he saith all things are put under him, it is manifest that he is excepted, which did put all things under him. And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all (KJV).

We won’t see three people in heaven. We will see what John saw and described in Revelation 4:2: “And immediately I was in the spirit: and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne” (KJV). Jesus is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the ending, which was, and which is to come (Revelation 1:8)—He is the first and the last (Revelation 1:17). When John looked up into heaven, he saw Jesus sitting upon the throne.

Jesus was that Baby

Through this study, we can discern who the child born in Bethlehem was—Jesus Christ. It is because of God’s grace that we have an opportunity to fellowship with Him in a way He always wanted us to live. He has given us His Word to understand who He is, and what He has done for us.

 

Adapted from Wednesday Night Bible Study on December 3, 2014

Getting to Give

Tuesday, December 2nd, 2014

The Best Gifts

Christmas time is upon us, and the slogan we hear all too often is, “Christmas is the season of giving!” We are reminded every time we run an errand and hear the clanging brass of a tarnished bell being rung outside of a store. Or, when we are inside a store, we hear the sales clerk asking us if we need our purchase gift wrapped, all the while trying to drown out the incessant droning of Christmas music repeating the same theme.

Giving is a hard concept to miss this time of year…

Scripture does corroborate the concept of giving in Acts 20:35, when Jesus says, “…It is more blessed to give than receive” (KJV). We are instructed to give all through the Bible, with an amalgam of verses providing insight into giving to the less fortunate, anyone in need, the church, etc.

While giving is important, a Biblical concept, and more widely practiced this time of year, we forget to focus on the aspect of “getting” sometimes. That’s right—I said getting instead of giving. We can’t forget getting, as such in the concept of giving there must be a recipient on the other side of that gift. And, in all reality, we’re going to “get” even whilst we’re trying to give.

But the getting I’m talking about isn’t in tangible, earthly gifts. It’s in the heavenly ones.

I Corinthians 12:31 tells us plainly to “covet earnestly the best gifts” (KJV). Before you, dear reader, become concerned about my message of getting, Scripture tells us to covet (desire) the best gifts—but what are those gifts? In the context of Scripture, these gifts are all outlined in I Corinthians 12, noting there are “diversities of gifts, but the same spirit” (I Corinthians 12:4, KJV):

For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues; (I Corinthians 12:8–10, KJV).

These are all gifts that God has in store for His children who have been born again—repented, baptized in the lovely name of Jesus, and filled with the marvelous gift of the Holy Ghost (Acts 2:38). God wants to pour out these gifts on all of us so we can operate in one or more, or all of them. We need to focus on coveting (yearning to possess) these gifts—focus on getting!

A woman told a story of a dream she had. In her dream, the Lord led her into a room with millions of presents, each wrapped in dazzling gold paper with intricate ribbons, perfectly ornamenting each gift. Upon each gift was attached a card, scripting out name after name of recipients. But, the woman noticed one alarming detail—a thick layer of dust covered all of the gifts in the room. The Lord spoke to the woman and explained that these were all the gifts He had for His children that were unwanted, never asked for, never sought for, never desired…

We can’t become so focused with earthly treasures that we forget to ask the Lord for the gifts He is ready and willing to pour out on us each and every day. We can’t let those gifts in store for each of us go untouched! We can’t get caught up in a mundane experience with Jesus; we need to seek out more of Him—a supernatural move of His presence in our lives.

And, the best part? We get to use these gifts, the best gifts, to help others. We can use these gifts to edify and lift up the church. In God’s plan, He does want us to give, but He wants us to get so we can turn around and give again.

When we give…

…it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again (Luke 6:38, KJV).

When we get from God, and give to others, God said He’s going to give back to us again (more getting). But, He’ll give us back so much, that it will be “running over”—which means, we can give again!

This Christmas season, focus on the getting from God first, so you can give to others—the best gifts—that are better than anything money can buy; the gift of God’s blessings in their life.