Have you ever wondered about how the holidays have evolved into such a frenzied and hectic time of year? Well, celebrating Christmas did not start out this way, it began as a proclamation of peace and wonder to the whole world.
“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6)
When it came time for the fulfillment of this prophecy the people who received the announcement were so moved with awe and wonderment that they stopped what they were doing to go and see this newly born Savior.
“Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that happened, which the Lord has made known to us. And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger.” (Luke 2:15-16)
Celebrating Christmas began with receiving a gift from God in the birth of His Son, Jesus and it caused the people to pause from their daily routines to take time to worship and praise God for sending a Savior into a needy and lost world.
This holiday let’s join in with the multitude of the heavenly hosts who praised God by saying;
“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom He is pleased.” (Luke 2:14)
Take time to celebrate the Gift of Jesus more than the gifts we expect to receive this Christmas!
“He is the radiance of the glory of God…” (Hebrews 1:3)
So often we think of success in terms of attaining wealth, position and honors but what does it take to build a lifestyle of success that has a lasting effect on those around us and possibly the world? It is in how we choose to go about achieving the outcomes we desire.
King Solomon, arguably the most wise, successful and wealthiest man on earth, understood the importance of seeking wisdom from God in how to live a successful life.
“Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.” (Ecclesiates 12:13)
Solomon understood that every deed of man would come under the scrutiny of God’s judgement, not that we should live in fear but that we would be encouraged to embrace the wisdom of God’s definition of successful living. That by choosing His ways over our ways and living our lives in fellowship with Him rather than away from Him, we would live a life of lasting honor and not one resulting in judgement.
“He stores up sound wisdom for the upright; He is a shield to those who walk in integrity.” (Proverbs 2:7)
If we walk with God He promises to be a shield of sound wisdom in our lives that will protect us from straying from His best for our lives.
“Guarding the paths of justice and watching over the way of His saints.” (Proverbs 2:8)
Your life may not appear all that successful at the moment but if you choose to trust in God, to live according to His ways, your life will be honored and the people around you will be blessed in ways that wealth and position can not, even though these may be a byproduct. God’s way of living is the most successful decision you will ever make. His way of living is purposeful and fulfilling, a faith journey of discovery that teaches us true success. Our greatest accomplishment and goal is to live a life with no secrets and no evil deeds that will bring us into judgement at the end. (Ecclesiates 12:14) This is successful living.
“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33)
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There is power in a name based on what it represents. The name of God is no exception.
“O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens.” (Psalm 8:1)
God declares that His name is established forever and so powerful that whatever we perceive to be the greatest enemy in our lives is weak before Him and will have to acknowledge the incomparable name of God.
His name is representative of all creation set in place by Him and yet He cares about and for all mankind.
“…what is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that You care for him?” (Psalm 8:4)
Mankind is a picture of God’s loving-kindness and grace. He has crowned us with glory and honor and given us dominion over the works of His hands, putting all things under our feet. (Psalm 8:5,6)
How then are we to live in such a way that honors this magnificent gift of dominion to rule and manage all that God has entrusted to us? We are to glorify His Name with the understanding that we have only what has been given to us to manage here on earth. To do this properly we must agree with God and His purpose for creating mankind. We must believe by faith in the name of His Son Jesus, the Savior of the world.
“Therefore God has highly exalted Him and bestowed on Him the Name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:9-11)
Magnifying the name of God happens when we fulfill His purpose for our lives. Are you living in the light and power of Your namesake? If not, choose today to live and walk in a manner worthy of your calling. (Ephesians 4:1)
“O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is Your name in all the earth!”
Cultivating a lifestyle of prayer takes intentionality and an awareness that God is always with you. Jesus promised that He would be with those who would choose to follow Him.
“And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20)
He also promised that if we pray in secret to guard against hypocrisy and insincere desires to be seen by others (pride) that He would reward us openly.
“But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” (Matthew 6:6)
Growing up under the influence of my mom taught me how to cultivate a lifestyle of prayer. In our large family it was hard to have a secret place to pray but I eventually noticed that she routinely rose early in the morning when the house was quiet or found a corner in the house very late in the night.
Her prayers were sometimes quiet and at times fervent and passionate, often with tears and always on her knees. It was as if the more she prayed the more she realized her need to pray. She came to know that God was with her.
As I began my young faith walk and would face difficulties of my own she began saying to me; “honey, pray about everything.” She knew that cultivating a prayer life was the greatest assurance of knowing God for myself and mom was right.
“You will seek Me and find Me, when you seek Me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:13)
“And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who seek Him.” (Hebrews 11:6)
(Reposted in honor of my mom’s life – 1933~2020)
The word prisoner carries a negative connotation and yet in the context of faith in God it is a positive attribute that points to a lifestyle of built on hope. Whereas a prisoner loses his/her freedom to choose and are held bound to obey a higher authority, God followers are invited into a lifestyle of eternal hope.
Hope anchored in God is described as a stronghold; a well-fortified place, a fortress and a refuge from anyone whose aim is to keep us from fulfilling our destiny according to God’s will. It is also a place of restoration in the aftermath of great lost.
“Return to your stronghold, O prisoners of hope; today I declare that I will restore to you double.” (Zechariah 9:12)
In seasons of hardship its easy to forget that our position of strength is to remain in God’s stronghold of protection and His promise of restoration to all those who have placed their hope in Jesus, His Son. Jesus is the fulfillment of our hope.
“For all the promises of God find their Yes in Him (Jesus).” (2Corinthians 1:20)
Who is your stronghold and in whom have you placed your hope? In God we have the full assurance of hope until the end, the fulfillment of His promises. (Hebrews 6:11)
“But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.
The Lord is my portion, says my soul, therefore I will hope in Him.” (Lamentations 3:21-24)
He is Hope Eternal
The ability to hear causes us to take notice, to observe or pay attention to what we are being informed of. Hearing is listening.
Are you a good listener? Whether you believe you are a good listener or not, God has plenty to say about the art of being a good listener. The word is used so often in the Bible God must have known we would be challenged in this area.
“Listen diligently to Me…incline your ear, and come to Me; hear, that your soul may live…” (Isaiah 55:2,3)
The livelihood of our souls depends on how great a listener we are to not only what God speaks into our lives but how well we apply it. God tells us that it was because the Israelites refused to hear His words they turned back to the sin of their forefathers.
“They have turned back to the iniquities of their forefathers, who refused to hear My words.” (Jeremiah 11:10)
Listening and believing go hand in hand with God. He promises to bless those who believe what He speaks.
“And blessed is she who believes that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.” (Luke 1:45)
Listening and obedience go hand in hand with God who entrusted an entire nation under the leadership of Moses to bring them into the promised land.
“…He is faithful in all My house.” (Numbers 12:7)
Hearing God can’t be done well in a noisy and hectic lifestyle. We must learn to guard our hearts for the quiet times that are needed to hear and grow in our knowledge of God and the daily fellowship and blessings that knowing Him offer.
“Let me hear what God the Lord will speak, for He will speak peace to His people, to His saints; but let them not turn back to folly.” (Psalm 85:8)
“Be still, and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10)
For more trust in God than in each other
For more loving actions free of charge
For more adoring glances fueled by committment
And a thousand kisses yet not one less enjoyed!
Decision making can be one of the toughest aspects of life and relationships because of the long-term ramifications that lay in the balance. With all the careful reasoning, resolution of doubts and inner conflicts leading to a final decision we still lack the eternal perspective that is needed when making wise decisions. We must at some point acknowledge out need to the One who does know the future and who tells us that He is eager to respond to those who seek His perspective.
“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” (James 1:5)
Because we’ve all been given a free will to make our own life choices, the bible speaks to the way of the wise and the way of the foolish. We have a choice to either listen to God and heed His voice of wisdom or to do what seems right in our own eyes. Those who choose not to listen to God move through life doing what seems right in their own, limited perspective. Real progress in life is hindered and the long term outcomes don’t end well.
“But they did not obey or incline their ear, but walked in their own counsels and the stubbornness of their evil hearts, and went backward and not forward.” (Jeremiah 7:24)
To know wisdom is to know the God of wisdom.
“For My people are foolish; they know Me not;” (Jeremiah 4:22)
God’s wisdom opens the door to the eternal perspective we lack when making major life decisions. Seeking His input sets the wise apart from the foolish. The fool in time will suffer harm while the seekers of wisdom become wiser.
“Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.” (Proverbs 13:20)
God has a good plan for all His children and is eager to grant us the eternal perspective we need when making decisions. Ask in faith (James 1:6) and it will be given to you.
“Whoever trusts in his own mind is a fool; but he who walks in wisdom will be delivered.” (Proverbs 28:26)
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