Archive for December, 2016

He’s a Keeper

Wednesday, December 28th, 2016

It was a normal day—what day isn’t?—as I found myself behind the wheel of my car, in traffic again, awaiting the light to turn green. Being the anti-driver that I am, I listen to preaching and/or seminar sessions in the car to help make the driving experience bearable and pass by a little faster.

As my mind focused intently to the speaker’s words that day, a green light appeared in my peripheral vision. I moved my foot to the gas pedal, and prepared to advance into the intersection. But, for a brief moment, my shoe caught on the edge of the gas pedal, and it took a few seconds longer than usual to secure my footing to begin my forward propulsion.

Before I entered the intersection, a car—driving in opposing direction—came blazing through the intersection right in front of my car.

My heart leapt into my throat and my foot slammed back on the break. My mind immediately began to think about what would have been if I had already proceeded forward when that car blew the red light. What if my foot hadn’t caught on the pedal and I was able to move forward quickly—resulting in a direct impact?

I very possibly could have been hit by the oncoming car that day, but God had kept His hand of protection on me. If it weren’t for Him my life would probably be much different today.

And now, behold, the LORD hath kept me alive… (Joshua 14:10, KJV).

As we approach the end of another year, we’re presented with a wonderful opportunity to look back over the previous year and to see where God has brought us—the miracles He’s manifested, provision He’s provided, healings He’s handed out, and the like.

In people’s testimonies, I hear more individuals share what God has delivered them from instead of what God has kept them from. I don’t think we realize there is so much more to thank God for in regards to how He’s kept us than we could ever imagine!

In my own life, God kept me from enduring a terrible accident. But, He’s also kept me from terrible decisions, bodily sickness, financial strain, spiritual turmoil, and from Satan’s reach. God keeps us from so much, and there’s more He’s kept us from we have absolutely no knowledge about whatsoever.

When God provides deliverance, this is a blessing and a testimony. But, a larger part of our testimony should be about what God has kept us from. Deliverance is typically a “once-and-done” event, but God’s faithfulness in keeping us is a day-after-day, month-after-month, and year-by-year experience—it doesn’t end until He calls us home.

As we crest the New Year, I encourage all of us to look at what God has kept us from and praise Him for it. Be amazed in how our Protector has shielded us time after time. Be grateful there are unpleasant memories never to be had. Be thankful our God is a Keeper, and He’s kept us alive.

The Gospel of John: Part VII

Thursday, December 22nd, 2016

Our journey through the Gospel of John continues this week as John examines the servant heart of Jesus. Throughout the Gospels, Jesus is shown in many different lights, but no one captures the true servant-like essence of Jesus the way John did. John shows how we too need to be a servant like Jesus.

The Measure of Greatness

He riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself. After that he poureth water into a bason, and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded (John 13:4–5, KJV).

Right before this snapshot of Jesus, Luke depicts the strife between the disciples arguing about who should be the greatest among them (Luke 22:24–26). The world defines greatness through power and prestige, but Jesus teaches greatness is measured not in terms of status but of service. God determines our greatness by how many people we serve, not how many people serve us. God asked us to do something we have every ability to do—to be a servant.

Why Can Anyone Be a Servant?

Anyone Can Make Themselves Available

Real servants will always make themselves available to serve. Jesus got up from the supper table and put on a servant’s towel (John 13:4). He was preparing Himself to serve and put Himself in a place to serve. If we want to effectively serve, we need to do the same. We must put ourselves in opportunities to serve. True servants won’t fill up their schedules with trivial activities to limit their ability for God (II Timothy 2:4–5).To be a servant, our top priority must be God’s Kingdom.

Anyone Can Pay Attention to Needs

Real servants don’t look to take care of just themselves but the needs of others (Philippians 2:4). Those who were a part of the early church sold their possessions to make sure those in the church had their needs met (Acts 2:45). The church should be first before anything else—family and marriage are not eternal institutions, but the church is. Every opportunity we have, we need to do good to all men, especially those in the household of faith (Galatians 6:10).

Anyone Can Do Things with Equal Dedication

The size or portion of what we do in God’s Kingdom is irrelevant. God doesn’t exempt us from what we feel are “mundane” activities—the small things are a crucial part of our character development. When we’re a real servant, there’s nothing that’s beneath us; we’ll continue to add to our service and not graduate from anything. We must remember when we serve, it’s for God and His King and not for anyone else (Colossians 3:23).

Three Mindsets of a Servant

Servants Think More About Others than Themselves

Servants forget about themselves and make sacrifice for others—especially for Jesus. Jesus made Himself a servant because He loved others and we need to do the same (Philippians 2:5–8). By nature, humans are selfish and seek to please ourselves. But, we must choose between meeting our own needs and the needs of other people. If anyone treats us like a servant, we must go the extra mile to serve (Matthew 5:41). If we are offended when others treat us like a servant, then we aren’t one.

Servants Think About Their Work for the Kingdom, Not About What Others are Doing

Servants are simply too busy working for the Lord to compare, criticize, or compete with others. Competition in any amount between God’s servants is ridiculous because 1) we’re all on the same team, 2) our goal is to make God look good and not ourselves, and 3) we’ve all been given unique gifts and different assignments! We are to present ourselves a sacrifice unto God (Romans 12:1); if Jesus isn’t our focus, we’ll see serving as an obligation and not as an opportunity. And, we’ll get too caught up in what others are doing instead of focusing on what God wants us to do (Romans 14:4).

Servants Base Their Identity in Jesus Christ

Servants don’t have to prove their worth to anyone else except Jesus Christ. Jesus took upon the role of a servant because He knew who He was and knew it wouldn’t threaten His self-image (II Corinthians 8:4). His identity was in who He really was. Only secure people in their relationship with God can serve actively and effectively in the Kingdom of God. The closer we get to Jesus, the more we’ll serve others and care less about what they think and only seek validation from God.

The disciples couldn’t hardly conceive washing each other’s feet let alone Jesus washing their feet. But, Jesus washed their feet as an example for them to enter a life of servanthood (John 13:12–15). The identifying characteristic of being a servant is to love one another. Ultimately, our end goal is to sit around the throne of God as His servant and serve Him for all eternity (Revelation 22:1–3).

Adapted from Wednesday Night Bible Study on December 21, 2016

Staging the Stable

Wednesday, December 21st, 2016

When I was in preschool, I procured a laminated construction paper nativity. It was complete with 25 pieces—animals, shepherds, wise men, Mary, Joseph, the manger, etc. Each item was to be added every day of December up to, and including, Christmas day, with Jesus Christ being the final piece.

Each day I would gingerly place each figure onto the laminated surface with putty, rearranging the characters to account for depth. My sisters would plaster their pieces in every possible space on their own laminated nativities. Even as a child, I would explain to my siblings it was impossible for shepherds to float in the air, but my reasoning fell on deaf ears.

As I gazed at the construction paper figures, my mind would think about the preparations that took place in the stable that day—awaiting the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Did some of the figures who were present for Christ’s birth rearrange themselves to make way for Jesus just as my small fingers did in my own nativity?

As I grew older, I understood Mary and Joseph searched for a place to stay prior to Christ’s birth. Mary was “great with child” and they both knew she would deliver soon (Luke 2:5–6). Mary and Joseph didn’t have much of a choice, but they occupied a stable.

As a parent does everything in their power to provide the best care for their children, I am persuaded that even with their limited means, Mary and Joseph did their best to prepare—or stage—the stable as well as they could before the birth of Christ. They knew who was about to enter the world—the Savior to the entire world (Matthew 1:21)—and they wanted to be ready.

Much effort was made before Jesus came on the scene in Bethlehem. There was a desire by many to come to see the King of kings and Lord of lords. Wise men from the East even prepared gifts to bring to meet the child prior to His birth (Matthew 2:11). Every heart knew something needed to be staged (readied) before Jesus arrived.

Whether we are aware or not, we all have a spiritual stable the Lord is looking to abide in. He desires to fill us with His presence, but He can’t come in until we get ready. Can we ask ourselves today how much effort do we extend to stage our own stables before Jesus enters our lives? Do we take Him for granted, or do we make preparations? What efforts do we make to invite in His presence?

Scripture tells us God wants us to have a broken heart and contrite spirit (Psalms 34:18). We need to clean house (Matthew 9:16–17) and empty ourselves so His Spirit can come in (Acts 2:38). We don’t do this once a year around Christmas, but we do it every day we desire to commune with Jesus. It should be done every day!

Let’s get ready to usher in the presence of Emmanuel—the One whose government shall be upon His shoulder. His name is called: Wonderful, Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, and the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6). It’s time to stage the stable.

Christmas Cares

Sunday, December 18th, 2016

Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world: But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons (Galatians 4:3–5, KJV).

There are two different types of people at Christmas—those who care and those who don’t. But, this isn’t a new observation just in our world today. During the time of Jesus’ birth, there were those who didn’t care, but those that did—Mary, Joseph, shepherds, wise men, as well as many others.

Christmas transcends many cultures and is celebrated across the globe. We celebrate Christmas today, but do we really understand what Christmas is about? Do we understand we celebrate Christmas because we serve a God who loved us enough to wrap Himself in flesh, come to dwell among His people, and die on a cross for our sins?

Without Christmas, we wouldn’t really know that we serve a God who cares. God cared enough and loved us enough to give His life. To emulate Christmas today, we need to give and care for others the way God does.

God gifts will always meet a need. Jesus gave His life for us because we needed redemption for our sins. Our relationship with God is not about how He can make us happy. Our relationship with Him is about what we need and what will sustain us here on this earth until we make heaven our home. If we’re going to care for people this Christmas, we need to give a gift that will meet a need.

God gifts cannot be repaid. We cannot give a gift because we’re going to get a gift. We’re admonished in Scripture not to hold back our hands from our brothers in need (I John 3:17–18)—we’re told to love in word and deed. Our gift giving needs to be without any strings attached. Jesus sacrificed His life on the cross for all people even though He knew He wouldn’t get anything in return, and there would be those who would squander His gift (II Corinthians 5:19). We also need to give no matter the outcome, and regardless if we get anything in return.

Because Jesus gave it all, because He loved us, we know that Christmas is about how He cares for us. Let’s follow after Jesus’ example this season, and the rest of our lives, by learning to care for others at Christmas by giving like our Savior.

The Gospel of John: Part VI

Thursday, December 15th, 2016

The Gospel of John continues to weave snap-shots of Jesus’ life through intricate stories that aren’t mentioned elsewhere in Scripture. This week, we continue our study in John 11, with the story of Lazarus. In this Scripture setting, we find God’s process for His promises.

God’s Process

Scripture tells us Lazarus, the brother of Mary and Martha, was sick. But, Jesus did not rush to meet him straightaway and continued to dwell where he was (John 11:1–6). Jesus told Mary and Martha that Lazarus was not sick unto death, but upon the death of their brother, both Martha (John 11:21) and Mary (John 11:32), both told Jesus that Lazarus would not have died if Jesus had been there.

Many times when we have a problem, we think God doesn’t understand our circumstances. We may find ourselves questioning God and His plan, and wondering if He’s truthful. Mary and Martha were frustrated with the process of Jesus, but were missing out on the greater promise. We will learn from this story how God will reveal a deeper glory in our lives in His processes, which will show His power and authority over time.

Promise Principles that Prepare You for the Process of Receiving God’s Promises

God’s Timing is Different than Ours

God’s not limited by time and He doesn’t operate according to our watch. In this Scripture, Jesus abode 2 days where he was until He left to visit Lazarus (John 11:6). There are 2 different types of time references in Scripture: chronos and kairos. Chronos is chronological time; the time in which we are used to and live our lives by. Kairos is opportune time; a time of visitation or a season.

Abraham was a man who experienced both chronos and kairos time in his life. He had to wait 25 years of chronos time before the kairos time of God’s promise (the birth of Isaac) occurred. The key in our life is not to get frustrated while waiting for God to move in our life. We need to be patient and allow the chronos time sync up with the kairos time. Eventually, there will be a now time in the middle of God’s season and He will perform what He said He will do.

God’s Perspective is Different than Ours

God is trying to eliminate our own view of life. Instead, He’s wants us to adopt how He sees things as His perspective is different than ours. When Lazarus died, Jesus said that he only “sleepeth,” and was going to wake him up (John 11:11). Our humanity limits the way we see God working in our life. We can’t see the future or all of the circumstances of the present. We don’t realize how God allows some things to come into our lives to grow us and to provide a benefit we cannot see on our own.

Job was a man that in one day, his entire life came crashing down around Him. In his situation he failed to see God was proving him and not punishing him. He couldn’t understand why tribulation was occurring in his life. If we look at the world with our own eyes, we’ll miss out on the true blessing. It isn’t until we get God’s perspective that we’ll truly understand (Psalms 73:2–17). If our promise looks dead to us (like Lazarus), it may only be sleeping.

God’s Method is Different than Ours

Instead of doling out miracles left and right, God wants us to be invested in our miracles. All throughout Scripture, we see people’s participation in their miracles: Jesus told the blind man to go and wash in the pool of Siloam (John 9:7), the lame man to take up his bed and walk (John 5:8), and the man with a withered hand to stretch it forth (Matthew 12:13). In the story about Lazarus, Jesus told Martha and the people around them to take away the grave stone (John 11:39), called Lazarus himself to come forth (John 11:43), and the men to loose Lazarus from his grave clothes (John 11:44). They all participated in the miracle of Lazarus being resurrected from the dead.

King David, before he entered the palace and occupied the throne had to exercise self-control many times when fleeing Saul. God could have very easily taken Saul out, but God put David through a time of “participation in his miracle” before he truly became king. When we desire a miracle in our life, we want to seek out the easy way. But, there are some things in life God will do for us but others He wants us to do so that we grow. Isaiah said that he would put on the garment of praise (Isaiah 61:3)—we need to take action and follow God’s plan!

God’s Feeling is the Same as Ours

When we hurt, God hurts with us. When Jesus saw the downcast hearts of Mary, Martha, and those around Him, Jesus groaned in His spirit and wept (John 11:33–35). He felt the agony of the loss, pain, and hurt of everyone who didn’t understand the process of God’s promise.

When we experience problems in this life, the one thing that will sustain us is knowing God understands. God promised to always be with us (Matthew 28:20), and He knows everything that we think and feel (Hebrews 4:15). Jesus faced every sort of emotional strain on the cross, was touched with our infirmities, but did it all without sin in His life.

When we’re in the middle of a situation, know that God is there to hear our cry and our call and to wipe away every tear. It’s just the process of God’s promise, and He will carry us through until the end.

Adapted from Wednesday Night Bible Study on December 14, 2016

Christmas Lights and the Rest of Your Life

Wednesday, December 14th, 2016

As a child, during the Christmas season my family would get bundled up, pile in the car, and drive around to gaze at Christmas lights. This is one of my fondest memories of the season—brilliant light landscapes reflecting ever so softly on the white snow.

There are Christmas light scenes from my childhood I can see quite vividly today—beautiful parks, homes, and buildings all lit up in a colorful array to celebrate Christmas. I don’t want to ever forget these memories or my family’s tradition. This is why each year I try to drag my husband out for a yearly light tour. I want to keep these memories alive, create new ones, and continue the activities my parents (and possibly my grandparents) started years ago.

It’s funny how something as insignificant as Christmas light viewing can have a lasting impact on someone. Or, better yet, influence someone to continue the activity long into the future.

I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes… (Psalms 101:3, KJV).

Influence. What we see and do constantly will have a lasting impact on our lives. Just as I was brought up to drive around looking at Christmas lights has now encouraged me continue the activity as an adult.

Christmas-light touring is a bright and cheery activity that promotes family bonding. But, not everything we see—and view on a continual basis—is going to promote something pleasant in our life.

The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness! (Matthew 6:22–23, KJV).

I’m not a crazy person who likes to seek out twinkling lights each year. It’s not wrong to desire pleasant, happy, and good things in our lives. When we put good things before our eyes, our whole life will be the same. But, if we put evil things before our eyes, the latter can be expected.

The Word of God encourages us to keep and guard our hearts (Proverbs 4:23, KJV). We’ve got to ensure what we see is pure, holy, and righteous. There’s a saying that the eyes are the window to the soul. What we see infiltrates our mind and affects our heart. When we don’t protect what we’re seeing, not only can it hurt us, but it can influence us to make poor choices in our lives. Those choices don’t just impact us but the lives of future generations.

Let’s get a light and put it before our eyes today and every day. It’s not going to be Christmas lights, an eco-friendly bulb, or even the sun. We need to look toward the greatest light in all the earth—Jesus Christ (John 8:12).

When we get Jesus before our eyes, He will illuminate our heart. He’ll transform us to be a light not just for ourselves, but a light for others (Matthew 5:14–16)—provoking others to good works (Hebrews 10:24). He’s a light we won’t want to watch just this Christmas season, but one we can seek after every day for the rest of our lives.

Learning from Christmas

Sunday, December 11th, 2016

For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope (Romans 15:4, KJV).

Christmas is a time of celebration where everyone is able to focus on the positive, Scriptural principles of love, peace, and giving. But, Christmas isn’t just a passage in Scripture—it’s there for a specific purpose. II Timothy 3:16 tells us all Scripture is to instruct us in righteousness.

Therefore, Christmas is a time for learning principles that are applicable to every area of our lives and for every time of the year. Instead of focusing on the typical icons of the season, we should consider what Christmas really teaches us.

Don’t Divorce Your Miracle

When Joseph discovered his bride to be was expecting a child, he was concerned what the culture around him would say. He began to think about putting Mary away privately (Matthew 1:19), but before he could subvert the plan of God, the Lord sent an angel to Joseph (Matthew 1:20).

Joseph was about give up on a pending miracle by leaving Mary, choosing to pay attention to the cultural norms instead of the supernatural norms present in His life. But, the angel told Joseph not to dismiss something out of his life just because it wasn’t going the way he thought it should. We can’t let go of the miracle God has in store for us.

God has a Plan

Scripture tells us God rains on the just and the unjust (Matthew 5:45). We’re going to face trials in life no matter who we are. It’s easy to become discontent with life and question what God is doing. But, we must remember God has a master plan for our lives—He is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6).

Sometimes we have chaos in our lives that doesn’t make sense. But, sometimes God brings tribulation into our lives so He can put everything in order (Luke 1:3–4). At Christmas, God pulled random acts together to save the world through the form of an infant. Even today, we don’t realize how God may be writing a unique, special story in our lives to bring about a miracle.

Everybody Needs a Savior

The beginning of Matthew plots out the lineage of Jesus (Matthew 1:1–16). All the many begats are teaching us a lesson. Jesus’ lineage was full of kings, priests, prophets, foreigners, liars, deceivers, and the like. His lineage teaches us one thing—everyone needs Jesus.

From the best to the worst of us, we all need to hear the words of the angel that one night: And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord (Luke 2:10–11, KJV).

The Gospel of John: Part V

Thursday, December 8th, 2016

Our lesson in the Book of John continues with the study of Chapter 6. John continues to give his readers snapshots of Jesus’ life, and in this chapter he shares who Jesus is (the Lamb of God) and why He came (for redemption).

Chapter 6 begins with Jesus teaching to a great crowd along with His disciples. Before departing from the mass of people, Jesus decided to feed them (John 6:1–6). Throughout Scripture we see Jesus teaching many different crowds at various times, but in every instance He didn’t feed them—this time He was going to perform a miracle and teach His disciples something in it.

Why God Performs Miracles

Miracles are So We Can Believe

Knowing Jesus is more than just witnessing, experiencing, or benefitting from Him working in our lives. Jesus performs miracles so we can believe on Him and have a relationship with Him. God interacts with us to restore our lives and His connection with us (Psalms 34:4–8)—He created man in the Garden of Eden for fellowship!

Miracles aren’t Miracles Unless They’re Impossible

The world has tried to redefine miracles today. But, we need to understand miracles—according to God’s definition—are manifestations in our lives that only God can do. We cannot “explain” outcomes/events by any human (earthy) terms. It’s a supernatural move of God!

Miracles Usually Entail God Doing a Lot with a Little

In this story, Andrew had identified a lad who had 5 barley loaves and 2 small fishes (John 6:9). It’s unsure how many people this would have fed, but in the grand scheme of things, Andrew didn’t think it much among so many people. Jesus performed a miracle and extended the loaves and the fishes enough to feed the crowd. If we’re willing to present Him with what we have, He’ll do more with it than we could ever imagine.

Miracles Require Organization and Excellence

Before Jesus performed His miracle, He had His disciples tell the people to sit (John 6:10). He wanted to ready the crowd for what He was about to do. Much like this setting, we need to prepare for a miracle to take place in our lives. God will bring order to what He creates and manifests in our lives. We can’t call it a miracle if there’s just as much chaos in the end as there was in the beginning.

Miracles Mean Things Have to Break Before They Can Be Blessed

Before Jesus fed the 5,000 men, he blessed the food and then broke it (John 6:11). He took the little resources available, tore them into smaller pieces, and multiplied them! God loves to work in brokenness—many of the greatest miracles in our lives will be and have been in the midst of broken times. Note, God will never break something unless He’s getting ready to multiply!

Miracles are Always More than Enough

After Jesus performed His miracle and every one had eaten until they were full, there were fragments left over that filled 12 baskets (John 6:12–13). There were more than 5,000 people who experienced, witnessed, and benefited from a miracle that day, but even more would be touched with the overflow of the miracle in the 12 baskets that remained.

The Main Lesson

The reason Jesus performed this miracle was to teach His disciples a lesson. He wanted them to pay attention to the Miracle-Worker and not just the miracle. Jesus told them not to get too comfortable and/or satisfied with just seeing miracles. The point of the miracle is not to meet our needs, but to believe in the One doing the miracles (John 6:25–27). In everything that God does, the end result is to get us to believe in Him and to restore a relationship with Him.

Jesus feeding the 5,000 was a foreshadow of their (and our) future spiritual bread. Jesus is the bread of life (John 6:43–48), and He had to go to Calvary and be broken so that we all could live (John 6:30–42). We must focus on our spiritual life and relationship with God. We cannot lose sight of the Author of our faith and only focus on the ”results” we see.

At the end of Jesus’ speaking, Peter said:

And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God (John 6:69, KJV).

Are we persuaded today in who we believe in? Do we know who Jesus is? Do we know and have a relationship with the Miracle-Worker, the Bread of Life, and the Savior of the world? The first step is to believe. Then we can watch God reveal Himself in the greatest relationship we’ve ever known.

Adapted from Wednesday Night Bible Study on December 07, 2016

Flake or Snow?

Wednesday, December 7th, 2016

Do you know someone who feels immense joy during the first snowfall of the year? It always amazes me how people literally stop everything they’re doing when the sky release its first snowflake.

Some folks really must have an internal radar to know when the first flake has been disbursed. The moment snow formulates in the stratosphere, the hair begins to rise on the back of their neck, and soon afterward they’ve plastered their face against the nearest window—eagerly waiting to witness the first spec of snowflake fall to the ground.

Snowflakes in themselves don’t amount to much—although, when one falls right onto your eyeball, you might think the exact opposite. But, on the whole, a unique snowflake is small and melts almost instantaneously. It’s true power and vigor doesn’t materialize without additional flakes and/or partnering up with other forces of nature: wind and temperature.

Nature teaches us is a principle God designed for all of his creation—strength and power in numbers (Deuteronomy 32:30). The same holds true for the church:

For the body is not one member, but many (I Corinthians 12:14, KJV).

I Corinthians 12 speaks at great length how the church is comprised of many members with different talent and abilities. But, the true power of the church doesn’t manifest unless everyone is connected and united. There is significant strength in numbers; there’s nothing the church can’t accomplish if its unified.

Snow, when amassed together, maintains its temperature, and begins to harden and solidify. But, if snow becomes separated—through shoveling, walking, or placing a small amount away from the rest—it begins to breakdown and melt. Just like the snow, we must be careful we don’t allow the enemy to cause any schism in the body of Christ (I Corinthians 12:25). A divided body of Christ (or body of snow) cannot stand (Mark 3:25).

All members of the church are all as unique as snowflakes; there isn’t one of us that’s perfectly alike. But, our true worth, beauty, and strength emerges when we’re a part of the church, unified and working with the other members of the body. When we’re rooted and grounded in the faith, we’ll receive power from on high, and nothing can come against us (Acts 1:8).

No one runs inside and shuts up their door at a few sparse snowflakes. But, get a lot of snow and a powerful wind, and you’ve got yourself a force of nature that can’t be reckoned with.

Be a part of the church (Hebrews 10:25) and see the beautiful landscape of God’s Kingdom that results from it.

The Manger

Sunday, December 4th, 2016

And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn. And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger (Luke 2:7–16, KJV).

In the day we live in today, we can see the world has developed a distorted view of Christmas; our ideal today couldn’t be farther from the original intention. Christmas is not about gifts, family, or the like. Christmas is truly all about one thing—the birth of a Savior.

In Scripture, we read about the birth of Jesus in Luke 2. In this story, there’s one seemingly insignificant piece of furniture mentioned. This piece of furniture is the manger.

A manger is a box or trough made of wood, found in a stable or a barn. Its sole purpose is to be the feeding place of livestock. Our Savior, once born, with nowhere else to lay His head, was placed to rest in a manger.

If it weren’t for Jesus, most of us wouldn’t know what a manger is. It would still be an insignificant piece of furniture in a stable. But, once Jesus was laid inside a manger, He transformed the world’s perception of what a manger was. The manager took up a whole new significance in our lives.

Like the manger, we are all defined a particular way by the world—by the way we look, what we’re made from, and what’s inside of us. But, the moment Jesus comes into our lives He completely changes us. Our lives no longer hold the same truths, follow the same pathways, or abide by the same characteristics. We’re completely new in Christ.

When we have an encounter with Jesus, we’re changed inside and out. Scripture tells us:

Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new (II Corinthians 5:17, KJV).

If the world is allowed to have its way in our lives, we will be changed, but for the worse. We need to allow Jesus to reign in our lives and transform us to His image (Romans 12:1–2). We cannot change ourselves and follow our own regime of self-reformation. The only change that can place in our lives with a lasting impact is that of Jesus Christ.

Our lives can become a manger if we just let Jesus in. Starting today, what will our choice be?