Archive | December 2015

Living Empowered

If you are living below potential, today’s devotional, reposted from Christine Caine, will encourage you on your way to going deeper and living a more empowered life.

 

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free …” (Luke 4:18).

When it comes to computers and technology, Nick is the super whiz of the family. With his computer, he can do all kinds of neat things with photos, videos, PowerPoint, music – you name it. But when he starts explaining how I can do the same with my computer, everything starts to go fuzzy. So here we have a girl (that would be me) who has a computer with the capacity to do all that she needs done, but she does not take the time to learn the programs.

I can’t help but think that this is how we are with God sometimes. He has not only saved us, but He has given us His Holy Spirit so that we can reach our full potential and complete His mission here on earth.

Jesus clearly tells us why we have the power of the Holy Spirit working in our lives: The Spirit of the Lord is upon us to enable us to reach out beyond ourselves and help others.

Let’s not let our relationship with God be like my relationship with my computer – barely scratching the surface of our potential. Let’s allow the Holy Spirit to unleash awesome power within us, making us more like Jesus and bringing hope and life and liberty to a lost, sick and brokenhearted humanity.”

 

(c) 2015 Christine Caine Used with Permission All Rights Reserved http://www.christinecaine.com/cmspage.php?intid=55&intversion=1699

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Sing Your Song

Today’s devotional encourages us to, like Mary, sing our own song of worship to the One who came to earth to free us from our sin and make it possible to be reconciled to God.

 

“And Mary said: “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me — holy is his name.” — Luke 1:46-49

I’ve always been deeply moved by Mary’s faith. Not only did she accept her divine assignment, she did it willingly with thanksgiving and praise. After Elizabeth blessed her, Mary began to declare the goodness and faithfulness of God. She did not accept her purpose begrudgingly but with passion and humility. She considered that to obey the call of God was an honor and not a burden.

She gave all the glory to God, proclaimed his goodness and faithfulness, and even declared, “From now on all generations will call me blessed.” It required great faith to make that statement in her condition. Remember, she was an unwed teenage girl and her reputation was at stake, but she chose to believe God despite the circumstances. She knew that he was worthy of her trust and so she entrusted her future to Him.

Once Mary had decided to pay the price to fulfill her calling, she was all in. She wholeheartedly trusted that God was who He said He was and that He would do all he had said He would do. Instead of waiting for a physical sign that she was pregnant, Mary prophesied her future when the promise was still in seed form inside her womb. And guess what?

On this Christmas Eve you and I are indeed calling Mary, the mother of Jesus, blessed.

There are so many lessons that we can learn from this amazing woman of God on this day before Christmas. She was relentlessly steadfast and kept her eyes unflinchingly fixed on the author of the Promise that she carried. She committed to enjoy and celebrate the journey and not merely endure this calling as a burdensome obligation. She surrounded herself with great faith-filled people and reminded herself of all the amazing things God had done for her people thus far. She knew that the same God who had been faithful to them would also be faithful to His Promise in her.

Let’s determine to be people of faith who expect to hear from God through His Word, who will not hesitate to say yes to our divine assignments when He gives them to us, and who will surround ourselves with people who inspire us to see the dream come to pass.

As we go forward, let’s never forget to give Him all the praise and honor that He is due and continually speak words of life that affirm the dream and the promise that we carry. Each word we speak either waters the seed or destroys it, so let’s speak life.”

 

(c) 2015 Christine Caine Used with Permission all rights reserved http://www.christinecaine.com/

Healthy Regret

Today’s devotional by Max Lucado shows us that regret doesn’t have to lead to misery if we allow the Holy Spirit to use it to bring us to repentance.

A Healthy Regret

“There is an old story about the time Emperor Frederick the Great visited Potsdam Prison. He spoke with the prisoners, and each man claimed to be innocent, a victim of the system. One man, however, sat silently in the corner.

The ruler asked him, “And you, sir, who do you blame for your sentence?”

His response was, “Your majesty, I am guilty and richly deserve my punishment.” Surprised, the emperor shouted for the prison warden: “Come and get this man out of here before he corrupts all these innocent people.”

The ruler can set us free once we admit we are wrong.

We do ourselves no favors in justifying our deeds or glossing over our sins. When my daughter Andrea was five or six, she got a splinter in her finger. I took her to the restroom and set out some tweezers, ointment, and a Band-Aid.

She didn’t like what she saw. “I just want the Band-Aid, Daddy”

Sometimes we are just like Andrea. We come to Christ with our sin, but all we want is a covering. We want to skip the treatment. We want to hide our sin. And one wonders if God, even in his great mercy, will heal what we conceal. “If we say we have no sin, we are fooling ourselves, and the truth is not in us. But if we confess our sins, he will forgive our sins, because we can trust God to do what is right” (1 John 1:8–9).

Going to God is not going to Santa Claus. A child sits on the chubby lap of Ol’ Saint Nick, and Santa pinches the youngster’s cheek and asks, “Have you been a good little girl?”

“Yes,” she giggles. Then she tells him what she wants and down she bounds. It’s a game. It’s childish. No one takes Santa’s question seriously. That may work in a department store, but it won’t work with God.

How can God heal what we deny? How can God touch what we cover up? How can we have communion while we keep secrets? How can God grant us pardon when we won’t admit our guilt?

Ahh, there’s that word: guilt. Isn’t that what we avoid? Guilt. Isn’t that what we detest? But is guilt so bad? What does guilt imply if not that we know right from wrong, that we aspire to be better than we are, that we know there is a high country and we are in the low country. That’s what guilt is: a healthy regret for telling God one thing and doing another.

Guilt is the nerve ending of the heart. It yanks us back when we are too near the fire. Godly sorrow “makes people change their hearts and lives. This leads to salvation, and you cannot be sorry for that” (2 Cor. 7:10).

To feel guilt is no tragedy; to feel no guilt is.”

 

(c) 2015 Max Lucado  Used with Permission All Rights Reserved maxlucado.com

He’s Got it Covered

Today’s devotional, reposted from Holley Gerth’s blog, is like a life ring tossed out to a struggling swimmer from a nearby boat. Take a breather from all of the Christmas hoopla and enjoy today’s post.

 

“The wrapping paper lays scattered across the coffee table. Cookie dough sits in the refrigerator waiting for its turn in the oven. Text messages and voicemails beckon “answer me” from your phone. The to-do has a few lonely items without a checkmark next to them. Sometimes it feels this time of year that it will never be done. 

So we rush through the holy. We stress out through the sacred. We worry that we won’t get it right. We fall wrappinginto bed exhausted at night. We act like Christmas coming depends on us but Christmas is a Person and He already came.

He whispers to our weary hearts what He said on the cross: “It is finished” {John 19:30}.

In other words, all that really needs doing has already been done. We can relax, rest, enjoy…let the house get a little messy, the wrapping paper be a bit crooked, the cookies be scandalously eaten raw with the family and friends we’ve finally gotten back to on that phone.

Christmas is meant to be a gift not a burden. Receive it. Know that you’re loved. Know that it’s enough. Know there is grace for you that came on a tree without any twinkling lights. Know that it is finished. 

Then rest. And rejoice. Because Christ still has Christmas covered. 

Always has, always will. Whew.”

(c) 2015 Holley Gerth  Used with Permission http://holleygerth.com/rest-rejoice

That Which Costs Me Nothing

Tis the season to be jolly, and to give and receive gifts. Pretty much everyone I know enjoys receiving gifts, but i don’t know of anyone who would enjoy a gift that someone dug out of a dumpster, or one that was purchased at the cheapest possible place without any forethought or consideration of the recipient. God gave us the best, the ultimate gift – His Son – so shouldn’t we give something of value in return? But what do you get the guy who has everything? The one thing He doesn’t have but we do that we can give Him is ourselves. King David, in a scene from the Old Testament said that he wasn’t going to give God “that which costs me nothing”. He knew that a meaningful gift is one that costs us something whether it’s time, money, or effort. This Christmas let’s not give some quick, cheap gift to God, but rather let’s give that which costs us something. Click on the arrow to listen to Pastor Marlan’s Christmas message and find out how to give God a meaningful gift this year.

 

 

Click on the Publications page to access this week’s bulletin

Get Some Rest

Rest – such a lovely word! Difficult to do, though, when your brain is stuck on the “on” position and you feel like you’ve been run through the spin cycle a couple of times. Max Lucado reminds us that God is in control not us, so we can relax.

 

“So don’t worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will have its own worries. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” – Matt. 6:34

Easy to say. Not always easy to do, right? We are so prone to worry. Just last night I was worrying in my sleep. I dreamed that I was diagnosed with ALS, a degenerative muscle disease, which took the life of my father. I awakened from the dream and, right there in the middle of the night, began to worry. Then Jesus’ words came to my mind: “Don’t worry about tomorrow.” And for once, I decided not to. I dropped the burlap sack. After all, why let tomorrow’s imaginary problem rob tonight’s rest? Can I prevent the disease by staying awake? Will I postpone the affliction by thinking about it? Of course not. So I did the most spiritual thing I could have done. I went back to sleep.

Why don’t you do the same? God is leading you. Leave tomorrow’s problems until tomorrow.

Arthur Hays Sulzberger was the publisher of the New York Times during the Second World War. Because of the world conflict, he found it almost impossible to sleep. He was never able to banish worries from his mind until he adopted as his motto these five words — “one step enough for me” — taken from the hymn “Lead Kindly Light.”

Lead, kindly Light …
Keep Thou my feet; I do not ask to see
The distant scene; one step enough for me.

God isn’t going to let you see the distant scene either. So you might as well quit looking for it. He promises a lamp unto our feet, not a crystal ball into the future. We do not need to know what will happen tomorrow. We only need to know he leads us and “we will find grace to help us when we need it” (Heb. 4:16 NLT).”

(c) 2015 Max Lucado Used with Permission maxlucado.com

The Silence of God

Today’s devotional by Nathan Betts of  RZIM reminds us that even when God is not speaking He is still listening. Click on read more to view the entire devotional – it’s worth the read!

“God’s silence is often a challenge to belief. One point I glean from the early part of this story is that God’s silence does not necessarily imply that God is inactive. In Israel’s case, God had been silent for years, yet in this angelic encounter, nearly the first words of instruction from the Lord are, ‘Your prayer has been heard.’ For those of us who are immersed in the urgency of the digital world, we would do well to heed the implicit lesson of patience found in this story. God had been silent for a long time, but God was listening. There are times in our lives in which we do not hear God’s voice. Gabriel’s words tell us that although we might not hear God speaking, God is still listening.

After Zechariah objects to the seemingly audacious promise given from the Lord, Gabriel points out that it is not on his own authority that he speaks, but God’s. Implicit in Gabriel’s statement is the reality that God is bringing help to Israel, not because of what Zechariah or Elizabeth have done, but rather because of who God is. Historically speaking, God was the one who helped, rescued, and saved Israel countless times. The people of Israel knew this history well and they also knew why God had reached down and helped them. This much was clear in the mind of Israel: God’s salvation came only because of God’s character. God’s saving power came, not because of humanity’s effort, but because of God’s nature to save.” read more

(c) 2015 Nathan Betts Slice of Infinity RZIM Used with permission http://rzim.org/a-slice-of-infinity/the-silence-of-god