1 A, B, C's For A New Year
"I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty." Revelation 1:18
Once again we are ending one year and crossing over into another. Perhaps you can look back and see that 2006 was an eventful year in your life filled with challenges that helped you mature and grow as a Christian. I became a grandmother for the first time this year and my heart has opened with a new kind of love. Maybe you feel like your life is just the same as it was this time last year. You might possibly feel like you have lost a year and passed the time aimlessly without Spiritual growth. Life goes on. Jesus is Lord of that which was, the past. Jesus is Lord of today, the now. And Jesus is Lord of that which is to come, tomorow. As we enter this new year let's ask God to be with us and lead us through the coming year of 2007. Our Bible begins in Genesis 1:1&2 with, "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep..." You don't have to begin this year in darkness. Let God bring light into your life and fill the void. In the last chapter in Revelation we read, "I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last." (Revelation 22:13) Turn to the Lord today and let Him go with you through the whole year, the beginning until the end.
2 Accept The Gift
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16
I received many wonderful gifts for Christmas from my family and friends. When my son handed me a wrapped gift, I opened it and found a clock that had family pictures inserted around the outer edge. I can use it all year, and be reminded of those I love each time I look to see what time it is. The gift would do me no good if I had never accepted it. God's Word has been given to remind us of the wonderful gift of salvation. God loved us so much that He gave His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, to live on this earth, and give His life as a sacrifice for our sin. But His gift must be accepted and received to give you eternal life. This could be the most important year in your life. You have probably heard John 3:16 many times in your life. But it won't do you any good if you have not received the gift that God has given. Admit that you are a sinner. "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God." (Romans 3:23) "For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." (Romans 6:23) Believe in your heart, and Confess with your mouth. "That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation." (Romans 10:9&10)
“Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” John 14:1-3
A is for Accept. B is for Believe. We begin our Christian journey through faith by believing God's Word. We believe that Christ has the power to save our soul from hell, but we don't always believe that He is able to carry us through life's journey. Paul told the believers in Rome, "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose... What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?" (Romans 8:28, 31&32) We don't know what this year will bring. We may be facing difficult times. But keep on believing the Word of God. God's Word is full of wonderful promises. Read and believe.
4 Bear One Another's Burdens
“Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:2
I believe that most people go through low times in their lives when they think that no one cares about them. We often hear children say, "It's not fair" when things don't go their way. They think that no one cares about what happens to them. As we grow older we may not say those words out loud, but we often feel that life is unfair and nobody cares that we have been mistreated. We need to remember that Jesus cares. We read in I Peter 5:7, "Casting all your care upon him: for he careth for you." We also need to show others that we care. Many times people don't expect us to have an answer to their problems, they just want someone to listen. Open up your heart with love and understanding. When friends ask you to pray for them, make sure you remember to call out their names to God in prayer. We all have burdens that we must bear, but they are much lighter when they are shared.
5 Cast All Your Care Upon Him
“Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.” I Peter 5:7
We talked about bearing one another's burdens. Sometimes we may have problems that we can't tell to our closest friends. We may grow so weary that words of comfort from our family don't bring comfort to our tired body. But it is a blessing to know that we can find comfort in the Words of our Lord. Jesus said, "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." (Matthew 11:28) Don't let fear and anxiety overcome your soul. Tell it to Jesus. Don't let troubles and trials cause you to sink in deep depression. Tell it to Jesus. When you feel that no one else cares, remember that Jesus cares. He died for you. He can lift you up. The 23rd Psalm is a wonderful picture of how our Good Shepherd cares for His sheep. "The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever."
6 Confess Your Sin
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” I John 1:9
When our children were young we taught them to say, "Please", and "Thank you". Because they learned this from an early age, it was natural. It is a little harder, even for adults, to say, "I'm sorry". We don't like to admit that we are wrong. But to receive God's gift of salvation, we must confess that we are a sinner and trust in Jesus to save us. After we are saved we try to live pure and clean but we are not perfect and we often fall to temptation. Our verse above tells us, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." As we begin a new year, let's wipe the slate clean and strive to live a clean and holy life. Pray these words of David found in Psalm 139:23 & 24, "Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting." Sometimes it's hard to say, "I'm sorry", but God will forgive.
7 Do The Right Thing
“But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.” James 1:22
Nike may have publicized the phrase, "Just do it", but there are times in our lives when we need to consider what is the right thing to do, and "just do it". Doing the right thing is usually not the easiest thing to do, or the popular thing to do, but Christians should live like Christians. When Daniel was a young boy he was carried away as a captive into Babylon. "But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king's meat, nor with the wine which he drank: therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself." (Daniel 1:8) Sometimes it takes a great deal of effort to do the right thing. Purpose in your heart to do the right thing. Make up your mind that you are going to follow God's Word.
8 Edify One Another
"Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do." I Thessalonians 5:11
As Christians we are told to edify one another. We should lift up each other in prayer. When someone has a problem we should pray for him/her, but we usually tell everyone else except the Lord. When someone falls or makes a mistake we should try to comfort him/her instead of laughing and pointing out the mistake. I am afraid that many times we are prone to cut others down when we should try to build them up. When I am feeling really low it lifts my spirit for a friend to say, "Hang in there, I am praying for you." I remember hearing the lines in a Christmas song a few years ago, "And so this is Christmas, and what have you done, Another year over, a new one just begun." I began trying to think of what I had done to make a difference in the lives of those around me. When the new year began, I made sure that everyday I did something special for at least one person that I came in contact with. At the end of the next year I still couldn't remember any great accomplishments, but I knew that I had done small things for people throughout the year. Begin today. Look for ways that you can edify someone, and build him/her up. Make a difference in the lives of those around you. Be a friend.
9 Exercise Unto Godliness
"But refuse profane and old wives' fables, and exercise thyself rather unto godliness. For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come." I Timothy 4:7 & 8
How many people made a New Year's resolution to exercise? I think that diet and exercise are probably on the top of most lists of resolutions. There are probably many people who put it at the top of their lists every year. When I saw the sales ads last weekend, they were all filled with all sorts of exercise equipment. As we go through the alphabet of ways to be a better person through the new year, I could not pass up letter "e" for "exercise". Paul told Timothy that "bodily exercise" profits a little, "but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come." We can exercise everyday, and it helps a little, but our bodies still grow older with each passing year. When we exercise unto godliness we are promised that it not only helps us now, but also in eternity. You might even find ways to do both. Read your Bible while you ride your exercise bike. Take a walk with Christian friends and uplift each other. Put gospel preaching or music in your headphones while you exercise. Join us each day as we look at more ways to exercise godliness through the year.
10 Fight A Good Fight And Finish Your Course
"I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing." I Timothy 4:7 & 8
In the previous verse Paul says, "For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand." Paul knew he was nearing the end of his life, and he didn't quit. He said, "I have fought a good fight..." We need to put on the whole armor of God and fight against the devil, and not fight against each other. "Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:" (Ephesians 6:13-17) Today I want to encourage you to stand up for what's right and keep on keeping on. Just before young David fought against Goliath he asked, "...Is there not a cause?" (I Samuel 17:29) Fight for the cause of Christ. We often get discouraged and are tempted to say, "I quit." Don't quit. Keep the faith, that is your shield. And keep the Word of God, that is your sword of the Spirit. And you shall receive a crown of righteousness.
“After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen. For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” Matthew 6:9-15
We've read this prayer of our Lord many times. But how many times have we read and thought about the following verses? Jesus said that we are to forgive others, and if we don't forgive others, God our Father will not forgive us. You may have hard feelings against someone that you have held deep down for many years. You may be holding on to those feelings of anger because you were hurt and you don't think you can forgive and forget. You may be thinking that the person who hurt you should be the one to ask for forgiveness. But let me remind you of the words of our Lord while He was on the cross. "Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do..." (Luke 23:34) Jesus forgives. He wants us to forgive others. Now is a good time to let go of the anger you have kept bottled up all these years. Forgive.
12 Follow God
“Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children;” Ephesians 5:1
There are many verses in the Bible that tell us what we should be. I used those thoughts for devotions once with this verse as my theme, Be Followers Of God. If we follow God we will have a desire to be holy, be patient, be content, be kind, and merciful. We can't be all those things in the flesh, but we must follow God. There are many attractions in the world today that call out to us. The commercials on television hire beautiful people to tell us to be like them. I am reminded of the verse in Judges 9:4, "And they gave him threescore and ten pieces of silver out of the house of Baal-berith, wherewith Abimelech hired vain and light persons, which followed him." Don't be a vain and light person, following after the rich and famous. Follow God. He knows the way. He is the way.
13 Go And Tell
“And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” Mark 16:15
Jesus appeared to the disciples after He resurrected from the dead and gave them this message. The message still speaks to us today. Jesus wants us to go and tell the world that He loves and forgives all who will call upon His name and believe in Him. When Jesus told the disciples to go and preach they had limited capabilities in their travel. Today we have the Bible, and tracts, and gospel songs. We can hear the gospel on the radio and television, and in comfortable churches. We can talk on telephones and computers. We should be getting the gospel out more than any other people throughout all time. But I am afraid that many of us fail to tell others what our blessed Lord has done for us. I try to live as a Christian should and let my life be an example to those I see, but I fail to witness to those around me. I pray for people, but I don't know what to say to them. Please pray for me that I will be a better witness for the cause of Christ.
14 Grow In Grace
“But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever.” II Peter 3:18
Peter also said in his first letter, "Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings, As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby: If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious." (I Peter 2:1-3) Paul also spoke of new Christians as "babes in Christ". (I Corinthians 3:1) Just as babies drink milk to grow, we feed on the "milk of the word" of God to grow. We are reminded in these verses that we need to grow up. It sounds like Peter is tired of the bickering and fighting among the believers. In essence he tells them to put aside all their anger and bitterness and basically "grow up". When you hear someone lose his temper you may also feel like saying, "He needs to grow up." We are not surprised that children argue over toys but as they grow older we expect them to behave better and be more gracious toward each other. If someone in your church is asked to sing more than you are, don't get envious. If your name was overlooked for a special part, or if someone didn't send you a Christmas card, don't speak evil of that person. Don't be a hypocrite and act one way at church and live worldly through the week. It's time to grow up. God is gracious to us. We need to feast on His Word and grow in grace.
15 The Gift Of Helping
"Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular. And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues." I Corinthians 12:28
God has given people different talents and gifts. Some have been called to be preachers and teachers of God's Word. Some people have wonderful voices and can sing beautifully. My daughter has a gift of music and can play many different kinds of instruments. You may feel that you don't have any special gifts to use for God. Read the verse again. See the little word, "helps"? You may not have any of the other gifts, but you can help. Have you ever noticed that some people just step right up and start helping when there is work to be done? I know some people that are retired and they volunteer at the reception desk in the hospital. They have the gift of helps. Keep your eyes and ears open and pray that God will show you where you are needed. You may not have the time to do big things, like going on missions trips to help those in need, but you can do little things everyday to be a help to others. God may lead you to give some money to someone in need. He may show you someone who could use a box of groceries. Look inside to the gifts God has given you, and try to be a help to others spiritually, physically, or financially.
"He that hath ears to hear, let him hear." Matthew 11:15
This message is repeated at least 16 times in the New Testament. It is repeated with each of the seven letters to the seven churches in the first three chapters of Revelation. God wants us to hear His Word. Look at how God spoke to Elijah in I Kings 19:9-13. "And he came thither unto a cave, and lodged there; and, behold, the word of the LORD came to him, and he said unto him, What doest thou here, Elijah? And he said, I have been very jealous for the LORD God of hosts: for the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away. And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the LORD. And, behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the LORD; but the LORD was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake; but the LORD was not in the earthquake: And after the earthquake a fire; but the LORD was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice. And it was so, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle, and went out, and stood in the entering in of the cave. And, behold, there came a voice unto him, and said, What doest thou here, Elijah?" We often look for God in the midst of awesome events, but God may be trying to speak to us in a still small voice. We have to be close to someone to hear a still small voice. Also, look at the question God asked Elijah. "What doest thou here, Elijah?" Is God asking you the same question? Look at where you are. Are you where God wants you to be? Listen for the still small voice of the Lord and let Him guide you to where you ought to be.
"Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up." James 4:10
Humility seems to be a lost trait in our society. Our bookstores are filled with books on how to lift ourselves up. But when we see how great and powerful and holy God is, we realize how small and unworthy we are. When David faced Goliath he did so trusting in God. He did not put his confidence in his own ability. When the three Hebrew children didn't bow to the king of Babylon it wasn't pride that caused them not to bow. It was their faith and trust in God that helped them stand firm and saved them in the fiery furnace. Samuel gave the message from God to King Saul in I Samuel 15:17. "And Samuel said, When thou wast little in thine own sight, wast thou not made the head of the tribes of Israel, and the LORD anointed thee king over Israel?" I enjoy listening to a preacher who stands and tells how much God has done, but I really have a problem with one who continually uses the statements, "I did this..." and "I did that..." God's Word teaches that we are to humble ourselves in the sight of God, and He shall lift us up. Don't let pride rule in your heart and life.
18 Honor Your Father And Mother
“Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. Honour thy father and mother; which is the first commandment with promise; That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth.” Ephesians 6:1-3
We have days set aside to honor men and women who have had an impact on the future of our country. God commands us also to honor our parents. We should live and act in such a way that shows honor and respect to them. Notice also that this is the "first commandment with promise". This was one of the Ten Commandments given to Moses on Mount Sinai. "Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee." (Exodus 20:12) Jesus also mentioned this commandment when He was talking to the rich young ruler. "Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother." (Luke 18:20) We think of adultery, murder, and stealing as terrible sins. Notice that Jesus lists "Honour thy father and thy mother" in with these sins. This commandment even comes with a promise, "That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth."
19 I Must Decrease And He Must Increase
“He must increase, but I must decrease.” John 3:30
John the Baptist came as "the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord..." (John 1:23) He came to bear witness of the Light. If we want to be a witness and let the Light shine through our lives we need to have this same spirit, "He must increase, but I must decrease." This does not go along with the modern age. Advertisements constantly build us up. We are made to feel like we have to drive the right car, live in the right neighborhood, and wear the right brand names to look like the world. Try praying this simple prayer as you start your day, "He must increase, but I must decrease." Put God first in your life. Jesus said, "But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you." (Matthew 6:33)
20 Judge Not
"Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye." Matthew 7:1-5
Jesus gave this example to teach us not to judge others. We judge and criticize others for their faults when our faults are much larger. As I began thinking about this verse, "Judge not, that ye be not judged", I tried to think of the ways we judge others. Almost all of them are covered by another saying of our Lord in John 7:24. "Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment." When we judge people by the color of their skin we are judging them by their appearance. When we look at a group of young people and judge them by the clothes they wear and how they style their hair, we are judging them by their appearance. We make judgments about people when we see what kind of car they drive or what neighborhood they live in. Some people appear to have more money, when they actually just have more debt. God does not want us to be prejudiced against other people.
21 Know The Lord God
“Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.” Psalm 100:3
In our modern age of technology we can know a lot of things. Information is just beyond our fingertips with the search engines available online. In just a few moments we can access valuable information that took years of research. Even in the depths of this vast knowledge, none is so important as the truth found in this verse. "Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture." Do you know the Lord God Almighty? Do you know the Creator of the universe? You may have heard about God in Sunday School, but do you really know God? Do you know the truth of John 3:16? "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." The is the most important thing you can ever know. Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ as your own personal Lord and Savior and you can know God and be one of His sheep.
"O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the LORD our maker. For he is our God; and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand. To day if ye will hear his voice, Harden not your heart, as in the provocation, and as in the day of temptation in the wilderness:" Psalms 95:6-8
Have you ever bowed down and knelt before the Lord God, your maker? Each day we have been looking at things we can do to glorify God in our lives this coming year. What about today? God has given you today. You are not promised tomorrow. "To day if ye will hear his voice, Harden not your heart..." Listen to God today. Kneel at the cross today, and worship the Lord. Look unto Jesus, "Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." (Philippians 2:6-11) You can be sure that one day you will kneel and bow to Jesus. Don't wait until it is too late. Don't harden your heart. Hear Jesus calling to you today. "Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me." (Revelation 3:20) Kneel at His feet and confess your sin. Believe in your heart and ask Him to save you. This can be the beginning of a new life in Christ Jesus.
"These things I comand you, that ye love one another." John 15:14
Do you remember what Jesus said was the greatest commandment? "Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying, Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets." (Matthew 22:35-40) Do you love God with all your heart and soul? Do you love your neighbor as much as you love yourself? The 13th chapter of I Corinthians tells us that all the good we do is as nothing if we don't do it in charity, or love. We can give all our possessions to feed the poor, but without love it is nothing. Love is longsuffering and is kind. Love is not easily provoked and thinks no evil. Love never fails. We are going through the alphabet to see ways to glorify God in the new year, but all of the things we have mentioned are nothing without love. If you find it difficult to love others, then pray that God will give you a loving heart.
24 Let Your Light Shine
"Ye are the light of the world, A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven." Matthew 5:14-16
This is such a simple message it is often taught to children. I remember singing, "This little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine..." when I just a young girl. Even in its simplicity, this is a very important lesson. Jesus is the Light of the world. We are to be a reflection of His Light. Does your light shine for Jesus? Do the people around you know that you are a Christian? Those that are lost in sin are in a world of darkness. We need to let our light shine so that they can see Christ in us and see their need for salvation. If you know that little children's song, sing it as you go through your day today, and let your light shine. "This little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine. Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine."
25 Live For God
“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. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” Romans 12:1-2
In ages past many men and women have died for the cause of Christ. We are blessed in our country today that we have the freedom to worship without fear of persecution. We have not been asked to die for our faith, but God's Word tells us to live by our faith. "...Present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service." I did not make New Years Resolutions this year, but it has helped me to study God's Word and try to find things that God wants us to do. As I come to these verses in Romans, I see that this is my "reasonable service". God gave His Son to die for me, and it is my duty to live for Him. We live in the world, but we are not to be conformed to the world, following the fads and fashions of the world. We are to be holy and follow God. Then we can "prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God." I want to know God's will for my life. I need to get up each morning and ask God what He wants me to do with the day He has given me. I can't expect God to show me what He wants for my future if I am not willing to give Him my life today. We want our life to be mapped out like MapQuest so that we can see all the turns, and ups and downs, in our paths. But I think it is more like the GPS which tells you there's a right turn just ahead. If we keep living for God and following His guidance, He will lead us in His good and perfect will and tell us when to turn.
“Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper. The ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away. Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. For the LORD knoweth the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish.” Psalm 1
This Psalm tells us how we can have a blessed, happy New Year. The secret is in the second verse "But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night." (Psalm 1:2) You can read your Bible daily and think about the verses as you go throughout the day. I try to meditate in the car because I can shut out all the outside noise. It is important to take time each day to think about the things of God.
27 Magnify The Lord
"And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord, And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour." Luke 1:46 & 47
We just celebrated the birth of Jesus during the Christmas season, and many plays were performed with "Mary" reciting these verses. How can we magnify the Lord as Mary did? Psalm 69:30 gives us two ways to magnify God. "I will praise the name of God with a song, and will magnify him with thanksgiving." We can sing praises unto God. I like to sing. When I am tired and weary I can sing one of the old hymns and find comfort and peace from God. Sometimes I sing praises to God while I am shopping at the grocery store or WalMart. Another way we can magnify God is to be thankful unto Him. We should not wait until Thanksgiving to give God thanks. God blesses us everyday, as we see in Psalm 68:19, "Blessed be the Lord, who daily loadeth us with benefits, even the God of our salvation. Selah." We can spend from now through eternity praising God and thanking Him for His wonderful gift of salvation. As you go about your day today, say with Mary, "My soul doth magnify the Lord, And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour."
28 Make A Difference
“And of some have compassion, making a difference: And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh.” Jude 22 & 23
I have been reading through II Samuel about the life of David and God showed me some verses which I had never noticed before. "Moreover the Philistines had yet war again with Israel; and David went down, and his servants with him, and fought against the Philistines: and David waxed faint. And Ishbi-benob, which was of the sons of the giant, the weight of whose spear weighed three hundred shekels of brass in weight, he being girded with a new sword, thought to have slain David. But Abishai the son of Zeruiah succoured him, and smote the Philistine, and killed him..." (II Samuel 21:15-17) Verse 15 tells us that King David was at war with the Philistines and that he waxed faint. David had won many battles. God had delivered him from the giant, Goliath, when he was just a youth. Now he was older, and the enemy was just as big and just as strong. This giant had a new sword and "thought to have slain David." How many times has the enemy thought he had you down? I Peter 5:8 tells us the devil goes against us "like a roaring lion... seeking whom he may devour". Just as David thought it was over, Abishai came to his rescue and saved him. I want to challenge you today to be a friend like Abishai. Make a diference! When your friends are being tried and tempted by Satan don't join the enemy forces. The enemies are giants and they attack with spears and swords. The Israelites probably thought David would stand strong in the battle because he had won so many battles before. There were many who were too busy fighting their own battles to notice that King David was in trouble. But God let Abishai be at the right place to step up and save David. Keep your eyes and heart open to those around you. Just because they won their battles in the past, that doesn't mean they don't need help to keep from falling. They may be weak and need you to step in with compassion and make a difference in their lives. Make a difference! Pull them out of the fire. We often use the phrase "throwing gas on the fire" when people see trouble and they say things to add to the trouble. Don't throw gas on the fire when you see people in need. Do all you can to make a difference in the lives of those around you and continually lift them up in prayer.
29 What's Your Name?
"A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favour rather than silver and gold." Proverbs 22:1
What do people call you? I don't mean your given name. What do they call you behind your back? Do they call you a "cheat" or "troublemaker"? How many call you a "true friend"? This verse in Proverbs tells us that a good name is better than great riches. Do you have a Christian testimony at work or school? In Bible days people were named according to their character. Think of words which relate to your character... integrity or cheat, caring or judgmental, loving or mean, helpful or hurtful, meek or proud. If you aren't happy with the names people call you, then maybe it's time to change your name. God changed Jacob's name to Israel, which means prince of God. Pray that God will help you build Christian character and give you a good name.
30 Open The Door Of Your Heart
"Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me." Revelation 3:20
Jesus humbled Himself and came down from heaven to a sin-cursed world to give His life for you and me. He has extended an invitation to you and all you have to do is to open the door of your heart and believe in Him. He doesn't force His way into your life, but He is standing, waiting, for you to invite Him in. It's as easy as A, B, C. Admit that you are a sinner. "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;" (Romans 3:23) Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. "For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." (Romans 6:23) Confess. "That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation." (Romans 10:9 & 10) Open the door of your heart and let Christ come in.
31 Occupy Till I Come
"And as they heard these things, he added and spake a parable, because he was nigh to Jerusalem, and because they thought that the kingdom of God should immediately appear. He said therefore, A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom, and to return. And he called his ten servants, and delivered them ten pounds, and said unto them, Occupy till I come." Luke 19:11-13
Each of the ten servants were given one pound and told to "Occupy till I come." When the nobleman returned the first servant said that his pound had gained ten pounds. "And he said unto him, Well, thou good servant: because thou hast been faithful in a very little, have thou authority over ten cities." (Luke 19:17) One servant hid his pound and the nobleman took it from him and gave it to the servant with ten pounds. We all would like to hear God say, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant." (Matthew 25:21) Are we good and faithful servants? Are we using the talents and abilities that God has give us for His glory?. I am reminded of the verse in I Corinthians 10:31, "Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God." We don't have time to just sit around and wait for the Lord to return. We need to get busy and "occupy" till He comes.
32 Pray Without Ceasing
“Pray without ceasing.” I Thessalonians 5:16
There are many verses in the Bible about prayer. We once spent two months looking at how Prayer Changes Lives. I chose this verse because we are looking at things we can do through the new year to be a better Christian and glorify God. This verse shows that we are to pray everyday, throughout the day. We can even meditate in prayer in our beds at night. We can pray anytime, all the time, anywhere, everywhere. We can offer up prayers of thanksgiving for the blessings God has given, and prayers of supplication, when we call on God to fill our needs. We can pray when we are at church worshipping our Lord, and we can pray when we are alone. We can call out to God out loud and lift our voices to Him, and we can quietly bow our heads and give Him thanks for our food. There are many stories in our Bible of men and women whose prayers were answered. There have been many times in my own life when my prayers were answered. Some have said that prayer is a sign of weakness for people who can't handle things on their own. I guess that is true, but when I am weak and go to God in prayer, He strengthens me. I am glad that we don't have to stand on our own. We have a Saviour who was tempted like we are and who is touched with our prayers. There is so much more in the Bible about prayer. Use the link above to read more about the amazing power of prayer.
33 Ponder Your Path
“Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be established. Turn not to the right hand nor to the left: remove thy foot from evil.” Proverbs 4:26 & 27
When you got up this morning did you take time to think about what you would do today? Throughout the day did you think about which direction you would take and what decisions you would make? This verse in Proverbs tells us to "ponder" our path and "remove thy foot from evil". We should think about where we are going and what we are doing. Jesus said, "Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it." (Matthew 7:13 & 14) Ponder your path. Don't make hasty decisions that you will later regret. For more devotional ideas see Ponder Your Path.
34 Praise The Lord
"Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all the earth: make a loud noise, and rejoice, and sing praise." Psalm 98:4
When I think of praising the Lord, I think of the Psalms. There are so many verses which remind us to praise the Lord. We are told to praise Him with thanksgiving and song. The last 5 Psalms all begin, "Praise ye the LORD." Listen to the sounds of praise in Psalm 150. "Praise ye the LORD. Praise God in his sanctuary: praise him in the firmament of his power. Praise him for his mighty acts: praise him according to his excellent greatness. Praise him with the sound of the trumpet: praise him with the psaltery and harp. Praise him with the timbrel and dance: praise him with stringed instruments and organs. Praise him upon the loud cymbals: praise him upon the high sounding cymbals. Let every thing that hath breath praise the LORD. Praise ye the LORD." Don't walk around with your head hung down. Lift up your voice and praise the Lord. Psalm 119:164 says, "Seven times a day do I praise thee because of thy righteous judgments." How many times a day do you praise the Lord?
35 Press Toward The Mark
“Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:13 & 14
I should never reach the point in my life in which I think, "I have arrived." If I think I have risen above sin, I will surely fall to temptation. If I saved all the money I made, it could be wiped out instantly through sickness, or a natural disaster. I will never reach the point of perfection or great wisdom. But... I keep pressing on. Paul said that we can forget those things which are behind. Don't let the life that you lived as a lost sinner keep you from having the victory as a Christian. Press on and reach forward to those things which are before. Don't quit. The best is yet to come!
36 Quench Not The Spirit
"Quench not the Spirit." I Thessalonians 5:19
Sometimes I say things that hurt the ones I love. The pain that I cause others, also causes me pain. That is more than just my conscience. I have grieved the Holy Spirit. In Ephesians 5:18 Paul tells us to be "filled with the Spirit". In these last few verses of I Thessalonians Paul gives us several statements that would help us to have a Spirit filled life. Read these verses and try to let God fill your life. "Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. Quench not the Spirit. Despise not prophesyings. Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. Abstain from all appearance of evil. And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God that your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ." (I Thessalonians 5:16-23)
"Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice." Philippians 4:4
We have been going through the alphabet as we look at Bible principals for the New Year. Our purpose is to find verses that we can apply to our lives to be better Christians, and live a life that will glorify God. If one of your New Year's Resolutions was to memorize scripture, this is a good verse to learn and practice. It's easy to learn. "Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice." See, you can probably say it already. But it is not always easy to practice. It's hard to rejoice when you break a tooth and spend valuable time sitting in a dentist chair. It's hard to feel sunny on the inside when the days are cold and dreary on the outside. Heartache, grief, and pain can bring heaviness that robs us of our joy. Jesus told the disciples, "As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love... These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full." (John 15:9 & 11) Jesus loves us and can give us an inner joy that the world can't understand. Today is the Lord's day. Remember that Jesus loves you and "Rejoice!"
38 Remember Your Creator
“Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them;” Ecclesiastes 12:1
The New Year is an exciting time to look forward to what God has planned for our lives. As we look forward, there are also things that God tells us to remember. Solomon implores us to remember our Creator while we are young. The rest of this chapter describes what it is like to be old. He tells us, “the keepers of the house shall tremble” speaking of our knees shaking. Verse 3 tells us “The grinders cease because they are few” (our teeth) and “those that look out of the windows be darkened” (our eyesight). Then in verse 4, “all the daughters of musick shall be brought low” (our hearing). Verse 5 begins, “Also when they shall be afraid of that which is high, and fears shall be in the way, and the almond tree shall flourish (gray hair) …because man goeth to his long home, and the mourners go about the streets.” “Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.” (Ecclesiastes 12:7) Take time to meditate on the things of God. “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.” (Ecclesiastes 12:13)
39 Run The Race
“Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:1 & 2
The 11th chapter of Hebrews names some of the great men and women of faith. We read of Abel and a more excellent sacrifice, Enoch who pleased God, Noah who prepared an ark to the saving of his house. Abraham and Sara "looked for a city... whose builder and maker is God." (Hebrews 11:10) Moses, "choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season." (Hebrews 11:25) These men and women, and many more, kept the faith. They didn't quit when things got tough. "Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith..." There are times in our lives when we feel like quitting. We think that the things we do for our Lord are so small and that nobody really cares what we do. In II Peter 2:5 we read that Noah was a preacher of righteousness, and he may have felt discouraged when people didn't listen, but his family was saved. Don't get discouraged if people laugh at you and don't quit when you feel like giving up. Run your race. Jesus didn't quit when He faced the cruel death on the cross. He finished his course. Keep on keeping on. Don't let 2007 be the year you quit.
40 Read And Study The Word
“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” II Timothy 2:15
When you hold your Bible in your hands do you think about it being the Word of God? How blessed we are to be able to hold God's Word in our hands. Many Christians in foreign lands would love to be able to read the Bible. We should take time to read and study the Word everyday, but I am afraid that we often get busy and neglect our quiet time with God. The Bible can be a source of comfort and strength in times of trouble. Don't let your Bible gather dust on the shelf. Pick it up and read it. Pray that God will teach you from His Word. Learn memory verses so that you can find comfort in them when you don't have the written Word with you. God can show you wonderful things from His living Word. Open up the Word and let God speak to you today.
41 Sing Unto The Lord
"I will sing unto the LORD as long as I live: I will sing praise to my God while I have my being." Psalm 104:33
I was standing in the checkout line one day and the cashier said that people had been coming through her line singing all day. I had not realized that I had been singing loud enough for other people to hear. I like to sing. I sing at church. I sing at work. When my children were babies I loved to sing to them as I rocked them, and played with them. Do you sing unto the Lord? You may think that you don't have a good singing "voice". You can still sing praises to the Lord. One of my favorite times to sing to God is when I am driving alone in the car. I sing the old hymns with all my heart and soul and nothing interrupts my praise. I have found that when I am alone and I sing to God there is nothing pretentious about my singing. I am not singing to please other people or worrying about how I sound. In the car I can sing to the Lord as soft, or as loud as I want and no one else hears me. We have so much noise in our lives today, from televisions, radios, computers, and telephones, that we may forget how important it is to sing. I want to say with the Psalmist, "I will sing unto the LORD as long as I live: I will sing praise to my God while I have my being."
42 Seek The Kingdom Of God
“Consider the lilies how they grow: they toil not, they spin not; and yet I say unto you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. If then God so clothe the grass, which is to day in the field, and to morrow is cast into the oven; how much more will he clothe you, O ye of little faith? And seek not ye what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink, neither be ye of doubtful mind. For all these things do the nations of the world seek after: and your Father knoweth that ye have need of these things. But rather seek ye the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you. Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” Luke 12:27-32
What are you seeking? Many people in the world today are seeking wealth and fame. People stand in line to buy lottery tickets, hoping to "win big". They allow themselves to be ridiculed on television for the chance to become the next American Idol. Jesus tells us to lay up treasures in heaven, and not on the earth. Listen to the parable Jesus told just before the words in our verses above. "And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully: And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits? And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry. But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided? So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God." (Luke 12:16-21) Jesus wants us to give to Him and lay up treasures in heaven. "For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." (Luke 12:34)
43 Trust In The Lord
"Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths." Proverbs 3:5 & 6
My son is scheduled to graduate from college in about three months. He is completing job applications for when he finishes school. My youngest son is a sophomore in college and is changing his major next year as he tries to find his path in life. My daughter is a junior in high school and is also struggling with the decision of which direction to take after high school. For each of them, the only help I can give them is to remind them to pray. Then pray some more. I can't tell them what to be "when they grow up". They need to seek the Lord's will for their lives and then trust Him as they go in the direction they feel He is leading. I never chose my occupation as my career. After my youngest daughter started school I started praying that God would put me in the right job. Someone called and asked me to go for an interview for a part-time position. That was nine years ago and I have been working there full-time and God has blessed. I didn't know which path to take, but when God opened the door, I started through and He keeps leading me. I think it is hard for young adults to choose a career and know what path they want to take. They need to read this verse and follow where they feel God is leading. "Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths."
44 Think On These Things
"Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things." Philippians 4:8
Who does your thinking? When we are young our parents tell us what to do and what to think. Now that you are older, who tells you what to think? There are many things in our lives that determine what we think. Commercials on television and magazine ads try to make us think that we are nothing if we don't use certain products and wear certain clothes. Our friends may make us think we aren't "cool" if we don't follow the crowd and think like they do. Many times these voices in our lives carry our minds away from things that are true and honest. Things that we see with our eyes are far from pure and lovely. It is seldom that we hear news of "good report". There is a verse in Psalms that I really like. It begins, "Be still, and know that I am God..." (Psalm 46:10) Have you ever heard anyone say, "It is so loud in here, I can't hear myself think"? Turn off the noise of the world for a little while and "think on these things".
“Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it." Malachi 3:10
My Dad taught me to tithe, or give to the Lord, when I was a young girl. I followed his example and taught my children the importance of giving back to God. All that we have, we have by the goodness of God. He has blessed us and supplied our needs time and time again. Many people quote Philippians 4:10, "But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus." Paul is commending the Philippian believers here because they had given again and again. "Now ye Philippians know also, that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church communicated with me as concerning giving and receiving, but ye only. For even in Thessalonica ye sent once and again unto my necessity. Not because I desire a gift: but I desire fruit that may abound to your account. But I have all, and abound: I am full, having received of Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you, an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, wellpleasing to God. But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus." (Philippians 4:15-19) Give to the Lord and He will bless you. Read the verse in Malachi again, "Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it."
"A wise man will hear, and will increase learning; and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels." Proverbs 1:5
"Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth understanding. For the merchandise of it is better than the merchandise of silver, and the gain thereof than fine gold." Proverbs 3:13 & 14
“Wisdom is the principal thing: therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding.” Proverbs 4:7
It should not surprise us that the book of Proverbs is filled with verses of wisdom and understanding. When God told King Solomon to ask what he would of God, Solomon asked for an understanding heart. "And now, O LORD my God, thou hast made thy servant king instead of David my father: and I am but a little child: I know not how to go out or come in... Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people that I may discern between good and bad: for who is able to judge this thy so great a people? And the speech pleased the Lord, that Solomon had asked this thing. And God said unto him, Because thou hast asked this thing, and hast not asked for thyself long life; neither hast asked riches for thyself, nor hast asked the life of thine enemies; but hast asked for thyself understanding to discern judgment; Behold, I have done according to thy words: lo, I have given thee a wise and an understanding heart; so that there was none like thee before thee, neither after thee shall any arise like unto thee. And I have also given thee that which thou hast not asked, both riches, and honour: so that there shall not be any among the kings like unto thee all thy days." (I Kings 3:7-13) Solomon knew the importance of wisdom and an understanding heart. In James 1:5 we read, "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him." If you want to have more wisdom and understanding through this new year, ask God in faith, and He shall give it to you.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16
Valentine's Day is not a religious holiday, but we can use this time to think about God's love. John 15:13 tells us, "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." Jesus gave His life on a cruel cross and became the sacrifice for our sin. There is no greater love than this. For some, February 14th is a day of sadness in that it accentuates the fact that they don't have a true love. For many more, February 14th is a reminder of love they used to have. You don't have to feel alone. You can have the love of God in your heart and life. Accept God's gift of love. Ask Jesus to forgive you of your sin and believe that He alone can give you this gift of eternal life. He loves you so much that He died for you. That is the greatest love.
"And the apostles gathered themselves together unto Jesus, and told him all things, both what they had done, and what they had taught. And he said unto them, Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while: for there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat." Mark 6:30 & 31
I have heard people say, "You need to come apart, before you come apart." Does the stress of everything you have going on make you feel like you are falling apart? Is your schedule so tight you feel like you are coming apart at the seams? We are in the midst of winter, and I am beginning to feel like I need a vacation. When my children were small I would get really depressed by the end of February each year. I loved being a stay-at-home mom, but it was hard in the cold winter when I could not spend time with the children outside. I need sunshine. I have read that there is a disease which some people get when they don't get enough sunshine. Maybe that was my problem. When I go on vacation I like to sit and relax and enjoy the bright sunshine. Jesus understands our need to take a break from our jobs and stress of our tight schedules. Even those who are doing the Lord's work, like the apostles were, need to come apart and "rest a while". Maybe you have so much going on, and you feel like so many are depending on you, that you don't take time for yourself. This year, give yourself a break. Take a vacation, even if you just sit around the house for a few days. And while we are talking about rest, make sure you try to get enough sleep each night. It can make a big difference in your day.
"And some days after Paul said unto Barnabas, Let us go again and visit our brethren in every city where we have preached the word of the Lord, and see how they do." Acts 15:36
It is sad that people don't take time to visit. When I was young we went to visit my grandparents at least once a week. My mom did sewing for people and women would sit and visit with Mom when they brought their material and patterns over. Neighbors could even visit out by the clothes lines when they hung up their laundry to dry. I used to think my dad knew everybody because he was always doing things for people, like stacking fire wood and cleaning their gutters. Today we have so many time saving conveniences, we should have more time to visit. But we seem to be pushed for time more than ever. When is the last time you went to visit a close friend, or dear family member? Have you talked to your Mom and Dad, or Grandparents lately? If you live too far to visit in person, you can call them on the phone. Paul made several trips to visit the churches and also wrote letters to them. Take time to visit with your family and friends and "see how they do".
"But ye shall recieve power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth." Acts 1:8
Jesus told us to be witnesses for Him. We have so many opportunities to witness for the Lord. I have failed in this area of God's instruction for my life. When I am waiting in the doctor's office, or standing in the check-out line at WalMart I could talk to people and tell them what a wonderful God I serve. I am praying for boldness so that I can be a witness for my Lord. I am trying to give out gospel tracts to store clerks and different people that I see each day. Maybe this would be a way that you, too, could be a witness. We have talked about how we can witness in our words, and witness by giving out the Word in tracts. Maybe the most important way we can be a true witness to those around us is in our living. When we act just like the world and people can't see a difference in our lives, it won't matter much what our words say. People will call us hypocrites and not listen to our witness. Let me ask you to pray that I will be a better witness for our Lord, and I will pray that you, too, will be a better witness!
"They that sow in tears shall reap in joy. He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him." Psalm 126:6
When I was growing up Mom wouldn't let us roam the neighborhood, so many of the kids came to our house to play. We had two trees that were perfect for climbing in the front yard, and a swing set in the back, and one or the other was usually full on summer days. As I started growing older, I remember God giving me a burden for these playmates. One night when I was about thirteen years old I went to bed crying and praying that God would save them. That was many years ago and we moved shortly after that, but I still think of them sometimes and pray for them. I don't know the last time I sowed in tears. I think that as I got older I became embarrased by my tears. There is no reason to be ashamed of tears. My Bible tells me in John 11:35 that "Jesus wept." I also read in Psalm 56:8 that David cried unto God and said, "...put thou my tears into thy bottle: are they not in thy book?" When my Grandpa was dying of cancer I went to hear him preach on Mother's Day. During his message he said that he often cried while he preached and he asked God to take away his tears. His heart and his sermons became cold, so he prayed for God to give him back his tears. That was the last sermon he was able to preach. I don't want to have a cold, hard heart. I pray that God will give me a burden for lost souls and let me "come again with rejoicing".
“Give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name; worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness." Psalm 29:2
Today is President's Day. This day has been set aside to honor George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. We honor them, but we do not worship them. Some rulers have demanded worship from their subjects, such as King Nebuchadnezzar. The three Hebrew children were commanded to bow down and worship the golden image, or be thrown into a fiery furnace. "Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, answered and said to the king, O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter. If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up." (Daniel 3:16-18) They had such faith in God that they were willing to give their lives before they would worship anything other than God Almighty. The furnace was heated seven times hotter and they were thrown in. "Then Nebuchadnezzar the king was astonied, and rose up in haste, and spake, and said unto his counsellors, Did not we cast three men bound into the midst of the fire? They answered and said unto the king, True, O king. He answered and said, Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God." (Daniel 3:24-25) We want the Lord to walk with us in the midst of our storms and trials, but we do not worship Him in faith as these three Hebrews. We honor God, like we may honor the Presidents, but do we truly worship Him? I overheard a man at work say one Monday, "I don't go to church, but I am reverent to God on Sunday." God gave the Ten Commandments to Moses and the first one says, "Thou shalt have no other gods before me. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation fo them that hate me; And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments." (Exodus 20:2-6) "Give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name; worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness." (Psalm 29:2)
"Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come. But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up. Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.” Matthew 24:42-44
Again in Matthew 25:13 Jesus said, "Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh." Jesus is coming back, and He told us to watch for His coming. We have verses that tell us how to watch. "Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong." (I Corinthians 16:13) "Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving." (Colossians 4:2) "But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer. And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins." (I Peter 4:7-8) We also have a warning in Revelation 3:3, "Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee." Are you watching for the coming of our Lord? This could be the year, this could be the day, this could be the hour.
"As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us." Psalm 103:12
We have come to the last three letters of the alphabet with our A,B,C's for the New Year. I didn't know exactly what to use for the letter "X". There were no words that begin with this obscure letter. I tried to think of how we use this letter and immediately my mind went back to grade school and these big, red marks became vivid. The "X" told me that I was wrong. Then I began to think of how God's Word also showed me I was wrong. "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;" (Romans 3:23) Holy Ghost conviction showed me the big, red "X's" in my life. I cried. I repented. I told God I was sorry for my sin, and He removed my sin "as far as the east is from the west..." He crossed that sin out of my life. God tells me in Jeremiah 31:34, "...I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more." Isn't that wonderful! The Holy Spirit may show you some big, red "X's" in your life, but we have this promise, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." (I John 1:9)
"Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." Matthew 11:28-30
Are you laboring under a burden too heavy to bear? Jesus offers you an invitation... "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." Don't keep trying to carry your load all alone. When the farmers of that day put a yoke on two oxen, each would help carry the load. Jesus said, "Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." We don't know what we may have to face through the remainder of this year. We may feel heartache and sorrow, but we don't have to go through it alone. Let Jesus help you bear your burdens. Decide today that you will take the yoke with Jesus and let Him give you rest for your soul.
56 Yield Yourselves To God
"Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God." Romans 6:12-13
These verses in Romans tell us to yield, or submit, ourselves to God. We see this further expounded in Romans 12:1, "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. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God." In both cases we are to give ourselves to be used of God, and not yield ourselves to the world or unrighteousness of sin. Do you remember the story of Elijah and the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel? "So Ahab sent unto all the children of Israel, and gathered the prophets together unto mount Carmel. And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye between two opinions? if the LORD be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered him not a word." (I Kings 18:20-21) Elijah challenged the people to make a decision. What have you decided? Are you yielding yourself to God, or to sin?
57 The Zeal Of The Lord
"For out of Jerusalem shall go forth a remnant, and they that escape out of mount Zion: the zeal of the LORD of hosts shall do this." II Kings 19:30
Some mornings when I wake up early, I get up and read my Bible while I ride my bike. This morning I woke up, but I was just too tired to ride my bike. As I lay there hesitating it was as though God said, "Get up and see what I have for you today." I didn't feel like riding my bike, but I decided that I would get up and read. I opened my Bible and lifted the burgandy ribbon from the book of II Kings and continued with the story of King Hezekiah. The Assyrian army was about to destroy Jerusalem. King Hezekiah took the threatening letter and spread it out before the Lord and prayed,"Now therefore, O LORD our God, I beseech thee, save thou us out of his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that thou art the LORD God, even thou only. Then Isaiah the son of Amoz sent to Hezekiah, saying, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, That which thou hast prayed to me against Sennaccherib king of Assyria I have heard." (II Kings 19:19-20) The Jews were facing destruction but God heard and answered their prayer. When I came to verse 30, I knew this was the message God had for me today. "...the zeal of the LORD of hosts shall do this." We have been going through the alphabet since New Year's Day looking at Biblical principals to follow through the coming year. I never write out a list of New Year's Resolutions because I am always afraid I won't follow through. As I thought about ending this series and all the verses of exhortation to be a better Christian and live for God, I realized that I can't do it on my own. There are many areas in my life that need improvement and sometimes the task seems too great. It is in those times that I need to let go and let God. I need to spread my problems out before God and leave them on the altar. I am nothing in myself, but I was reminded today, "...the zeal of the LORD of hosts shall do this." I thanked God for nudging me to read this morning, and leading me to the right place. I carried the verse with me all day and when I felt like the task was too big and I was too small I let go and let God have my problem, praying, "...the zeal of the LORD of hosts hosts shall do this." So, how does our history lesson end? "And it came to pass that night, that the angel of the LORD went out, and smote in the camp of the Assyrians an hundred fourscore and five thousand: and when they arose early in the morning, behold, they were all dead corpses." (II Kings 19:35) King Sennacherib went back to Nineveh and he was killed by his own sons. God delivered the Israelites out of the hand of the Assyrians and He can help you in your time of need.