God

Make Jesus the Star of Christmas

pexels-photo-217840When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. And going into the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. (Matthew 2:10–11)

It’s Christmas, starring Jesus, the reason we have anything to celebrate at all. Whether the advent of His coming is acknowledged or whether He is ‘Xed out of the world’s gatherings and plans, Jesus came to bring hope to the entire world. Despite His hope-bringing mission, He takes a less than leading role to our culture’s Xmas symbols which saturate the season with substitutions for Christ and distractions from Christ. Nevertheless in the hearts and minds of those who have accepted His sacrifice and who absolutely adore Him, Christmas is a time of reflection on a precious babe who made His appearance on the Earth He created to meet our desperate need for a Savior. The fact that Jesus left His position in heaven to descend to Earth should not be second to anything else this wonderful season has to offer, but should instead point us to everything true and pure that should be celebrated at Christmastime. Using this thoughtful list, make Jesus the star of the season in your life by sharing the kind of hope and love that make this the most wonderful time of the year.

  1. Give the best of your time, talent or resources as a symbol of how God gave us His very best in giving us Jesus and later Jesus gave the ultimate sacrifice of His own life to take away the sins of the world and to make things right again between humanity and God
  2. Share a smile, an encouraging word, but most of all share and spread the truth of Christmas to keep the message of Christ’s coming to Earth as the main reason for celebration and to remind us of His promised return as a glimmer of hope in a world that needs every reminder of the plan of salvation, that the story of Jesus is (fortunately) to be continued…
  3. Forgive Honor Jesus Christ by remembering His mission on Earth—to give us access to God again through the forgiveness of our sins. If God was willing to forgive, then you should let go of the heavy weight and toxicity of an unforgiving heart; do yourself a favor and forgive.
  4. Commune It is hard to celebrate baby Jesus without celebrating resurrected Jesus and soon coming King Jesus. Find a personal and maybe even a creative way to connect with our Savior, to remember His sacrifice, and to anticipate His return. Be intentional about not following the world’s pattern of being primarily focused on the materialistic and the substitutionary symbols of the season, but settle in to calm and allow moments for worship and intimacy
  5. Be Gracious Do something unexpected for someone, such as increasing your tipping at your salon, pet groomers, or favorite lunch spot; doing something nice for a widow; babysit for or take groceries to a single mother; or whatever you find in your heart to do to shine the brightness of the light inside of you because of Jesus

 Happy a Merry Christmas! 

 

 

 

 

 

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10 Easy Steps to Studying Scripture

pexels-photo-24165But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. 2 Peter 3:18

Your growth as a Christian is key to your spiritual livelihood. There is grace to be enjoyed and wisdom to be gained that will make you aware of all of the many different graces that are lavished on the believer by our heavenly Father. If you are spiritually immature then, like newborn babies, [you are to] crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good. When you taste something delicious, the natural response is to eat more or to desire more. Similarly, since you have tasted the goodness of God, allow that encounter to produce a constant craving for His word. It is a fact that you will not grow spiritually without spending time in God’s word, because God’s word is a seed that when planted in your heart, produces fruit that matures (Luke 8:11). Any urge to avoid such a crucial part to the development of your new life, or any distraction that keeps you too busy to spend quality time with the Lord threatens your ability to be spiritually productive. It is through the word that we are taught, reproofed, corrected, trained, and made complete, equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:17).

No matter your level of understanding, God will give you the portion of grace that you need in order to understand how to walk in his ways and to do His will for your life. While it is true that you can learn from preachers and teachers, from books written by wise men and women, what you are learning is the result of those individuals’ personal study and time spent with God. God gave them what they are sharing with you, God inspired them to write what is in the pages of their books, but He desires time spent directly with you in order to share with you knowledge of Himself and His ways, in order to directly feed you pure spiritual milk. God’s word is God-breathed, meaning He said it all, He just used Holy Spirit inspired men to write it down (2 Timothy 3:16). The contents of biblically sound books you read with your awareness of God’s word firsthand, makes these secondary sources of godly information a useful tool to supplement, not to replace your primary Bible study. So, since you should study for yourself so that you can properly and accurately handle the word of God, how do you study Scripture in a way that is not intimidating or overwhelming? Well, it’s simple, pray first asking the Holy Spirit to guide you into the deep things of God and to open your eyes so that revelation knowledge is yours. Apply these 10 Easy Steps to make the most of your regular, quality time with God:

  1. Limit distractions (Bible reading via technology is convenient because our devices are at our fingertips, but be mindful of alerts and the temptation to rush your quality time in order to surf the internet, return a call, post that picture or status update to social media, etc.)
  2. Think about what you know about the book of the Bible itself (its author, audience, purpose, issues, themes)
  3. Context: do not settle on a Scripture’s meaning by one verse alone
  4. Think about how the Scripture was relevant at the time it was written and how it is relevant today; consider how the Scripture can be applied right now
  5. Use a good study Bible (one that I use is Dake’s Annotated Reference Bible); study Bible annotations are the author’s revealed knowledge of Scripture, that being clear, a good study Bible like the one written by Finis Dake is the compilation of a lifetime of work which resulted in some of the best study notes you will find
  6. Use a concordance to find Scriptures related to a matter of personal importance to you, perhaps something you need God to help you with or a topic you would like more understanding of (i.e. Forgiveness), if you use Dake’s reference Bible, impressive components of a concordance are included. I use Strong’s Concordance which I have recently discovered to be very useful, I will revise this post as I become more familiar with this amazing tool.
  7. Your study of Scripture is not a sprint, it is a marathon, a thorough study is more beneficial than a quick read through; so take the time to thoroughly digest what you are reading
  8. Take notes while reading to record the revelation that God is giving you while you are reading
  9. Read and meditate on God’s word daily; our spirit needs daily nourishment in order to thrive
  10. Always remember that you personally know the Author, pray and ask the Holy Spirit to teach you the deep truths of God…God does not reveal His deep truths to outsiders

Happy Bible Reading!

 

 

 

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Are You Prepared?

pexels-photo-70298But while they were going away to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were prepared went in with him to the marriage feast; and the door was shut. (Matthew 25:10)

Being prepared is a must in any season. Whether you are preparing for a storm, marriage, college, or to buy a house, you either have your business in order or you are in the process of having it in order because you intend to be ready when the time comes for an event that will affect your life. As words of wisdom or words of warning are shared to emphasize the importance of being prepared for today, likewise, a loving Father, God shares the need for preparedness as it concerns our tomorrow. When I think of people who heed a warning to be prepared and people who procrastinate or show disregard and are as a result left to deal with the consequences of their folly, I think of the ten virgins that Jesus taught about in one of His many parables. These women could not be more distinct. Half of them were wise and the other half were foolish. The bridegroom, who they were awaiting, delayed his arrival for some reason, so they all fell asleep. The wise women ensured that they had oil enough to shine bright at the appointed time. Their display of wisdom is the opposite of the foolish women at such a critical time, lacking oil, and upon awakening to notice of the bridegroom being nearby, they attempted to buy oil at the eleventh hour, but it was too late. As a result of their carelessness, they missed the opportunity to enter into the marriage feast and they were shut out. It is a lot like life itself, when you are prepared, you are ready for any occasion whether it is to receive a blessing or to be one, but when you are unprepared, you are not ready for opportunities that could have otherwise been yours and you are faced with negative consequences that could have been avoided if you would have taken heed. Yet, there is a time to take heed and it is not the eleventh hour. Similarly, Christ’s return is to be prepared for, He has tarried like the bridegroom, but as with the moral of the Parable of Ten Virgins, God advises us to be wise and to watch for Christ’s return in that we continue to be ready, continue to be about the business He’s assigned us to fulfill. The mercy and the grace of God readily available to those who do not know Him, those that find themselves unprepared should heed Love, and not be ignorant to the fact that one day there will not be another day, another hour, another minute, another second to get ready. Opportunities will not always avail themselves. Time is not a commodity. The appointed time is now. If we can prepare for a storm, a successful marriage, a great college experience, to find the perfect house, for this temporary dwelling place, we can exercise wisdom in preparing for the certainty of Christ’s return. Are you prepared?

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